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How to create a great social media content schedule

Yeah that's right, I'm doin' that.

I often run into examples of poorly executed social media "programs". Generally this comes from a highly undervalued view of social media, poor planning and an under-estimation of the complexity of the channels.

Quite often this will lead to an inconsistent and off-topic communication plan when it comes to talking to your fans or brand advocates through social media channels. Here are a few things I see happen all the time:

  1. You talk endlessly about yourself, your product and special offers. You're talking at your consumers, fans, brand advocates not to them.
  2. You talk endlessly about completely off-topic content. Try to be relevant to your brand values.
  3. You are always borrowing the content of others. You have content in your business, I know you do. Now use it.
I'm going to give you some insight into a process I've used over the years at both Honeypot Marketing and ArtBarn Media in order to put together a simple, effective and organized social media communications program.
Step #1 - Define your company (brand) values. 
This is not a complex or overly difficult thing to do. In 3-5 simple words or basic statements describe what you stand for and what makes your company or you different. What's it all about?
Let's use the simple example of Bob's Restaurant.  It's a mid-range restaurant in a small urban center of 130,000 people, the market is competitive but Bob's been at this for 35 years. It's a family owned business with a loyal following, Bob is passionate about his work and the food that is produced. There is a focus on local suppliers, fresh daily specials and events which are catered and also regularly occurring weekly events.
At the most atomic and basic level, the things that make Bob's Restaurent different are in fact: food, events, people, environment. We're avoiding complexity and intentionally keeping it simple.
Step #2 - Expand on your values...
Now let's dig a little bit deeper (but not too much) into what those atomic brand and company statements mean...
  • Food - the food is made fresh everyday, daily specials are always unique, the ingredients are from local suppliers, the chef puts creativity into every special and plate.
  • Events - events are unique and frequent, from daily events to special events we are always dedicated to creating amazing experiences for all of our guests.
  • People - our staff are the heart and soul of our business, we care about each other and work hard to make our workplace fun and exciting even though it can be stressful at times.
  • Environment - we've spent years, countless hours and invested in the ambiance of our business, we are always looking to make our restaurant feel like home, a comfortable atmosphere where our customers are comfortable and welcomed.
Step #3 - Build a content plan based on your values.
Okay, we're getting there! Now that we've laid out our company in a simple and concise manner we can build out a content plan that makes sense. We're going to build content and messaging that always supports the values above and communicates these to our fans on all of the social networks we are engaged with daily.
When building out a content plan it's very important to plan, create and schedule. This will ensure that you're not running around every day trying to create content in an ad-hoc and chaotic manner. We're going to use photos, videos and small stories to communicate the points in Step #2 in a casual, fun and engaging manner.
  • Food - we're going to take 50 pictures of all of our menu items, the chef is going to give us a brief description of each and what makes it unique.
  • Events - we know that 50% of our events are planned. We're going to use the creative we've already made, take photos at the events and also re-use photos from our previous events.
  • People - we're going to take short videos and take pictures of our staff. We want to tell their story and we also are going to take pictures of staff in their environment and show some behind the scenes peeks for our customers.
  • Environment - we're going to take some pictures of our restaurant, the ambiance and tell our story. How did we get here? What did we do that was a challenge? We want our customers to understand and feel the same passion we feel for this business.
Step #4 - Pick a couple of days and get that content together!
Get a decent camera and video camera, plan out a couple of days and then simply build out a database of the content in Step #3. Use Flickr to store photos, load up videos on YouTube and get all of your content organized.
This is not a huge job, especially considering that we're building out a schedule that we can then have posting to our social media profiles on a regular basis. By doing this all at once you can work it into your workflow once a month or every 6 weeks. It will be very manageable, trust me. 🙂
Step #5 - Use a social media management software package.
I prefer Hootsuite for it's ability to tie into multiple social networks, multiple team member support, scheduling and authorizing posts. The most important thing here is the scheduling portion. Take a few hours and write your content, lay it out so that you're posting your content at the appropriate time of day and also planning it out so you're not flooding the channels all at once.
If you've never done this before then use your intuition on the most effective time of day to post content, social media isn't magic, it's a channel that allow you to talk directly to your customers and potential customers and allows them to talk back. Using the restaurant example above, posting food features 1 hour before lunch or dinner would be a logical and intuitive place to start.
Once you got some analytics data, you can then go back and start to see what content, what voice, what time of day and what rich media is the most engagig to your fans. You can revise all of this in fairly short order.
Step #6 - Implement your schedule and prepare for real time posting!
Congratulations! You've just off-loaded 60%-70% of the daily overhead of your social media program. Now you can focus on the real-time updates, cool events that happen and monitor your channels to provide responses to inquiries.
Your messaging will be on point and relevant to your business without being too blunt or being so completely off-topic that you're simply adding to the white noise of social networks. You'll be engaging and unique to your customers (turning them into brand advocates) and will give you the opportunity to reach into their networks naturally.
How can you prepare for real-time posting? Make sure you and/or your staff have capable smart phones and are comfortable with providing updates, photos and discussion with your customers. Be prepared, because the more successful you are with your social media program the more prepared you will have to be to respond to your networks.
Wrapping it up.
There's alot more to your social media plan than I've covered here. Landing pages, contests, engagement strategies, partnership programs and more advanced content campaigns are all a part of  a highly successful social media plan that doesn't suck.
The goal of this post is to give you a head start when implementing your own social media plan and community management. It's an important first step as it provides the organization and foundation to move into more advanced and effective program elements.
Social media marketing will lift your business, doesn't matter if you're a large enterprise or a local small business. Hopefully the simple steps above give you a jump start into your social media planning.

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Promoting Your Facebook Presence

I’ll bet you have some great Facebook Strategies you’ve implemented like the ideas below. Add a comment below and the best suggestions will be added to this list with a link back to your site.

I know social media marketing is a hot topic these days and there are a lot of companies attempting to get their foot in the door with social networks. The appeal of these networks is incredible, mainly for the viral and exponential nature of the system.

My network is a connected graph with exponential growth possibilities. My 400+ friends all have approximately 350 friends (on average and informally) if any company can get their foot into the door and illicit a response from my friends and their friends then the brand spread and effectiveness of that “sharing” can be astounding.

Does your Social Media Strategy Make Sense?

Social Media Strategies

In addition to that it’s much more than the one way conversation that Television, Radio and even a Landing Page can provide. I get feedback, I gain key influencers, brand advocates and it’s the consumers doing the marketing for me. This dynamic is much more than a shift, it’s a paradigm shift in the way we consumer, promote and self market to each other.

So what does this mean for the average company and internet marketer?

Well to be quite honest it means that you’re not likely doing anything with your social media presence. The fact is that the vast majority of companies out there are not effectively utilizing their Facebook presence.

Having said that I have informally seen a great deal of excellent brand identities on Facebook. I’m also going to ignore some of the more popular examples here like Ford, Starbucks and Heinz.

I’m looking at smaller operations that have actionable changes you can make that will help you make more of your page, presence and ROI. Some of my personal favorites are:

Northern Edge Algonquin Park
Echo Valley Ranch and Spa

Looking at these three, and yes all of them come from my casual usage of Facebook rather than any in depth digging. These are quite simply excellent pages that keep me interested, returning, visiting and interacting. This is isn’t a massive empirical case study, this is me looking at things that just “work”.

Let’s break it down what do these people do that most people do not do on Facebook?

  1. Mention users by name. They thank new members and reference them directly. This is a great way to start a 2 way conversation.
  2. Utilize events. I’m always surprised at how few brands actually maintain the events on their page through the events application. It’s not only a great way to determine participation, it helps to organize the event as well.
  3. Allow user submitted photographs. This is a key for the travel and tourism sector since it’s so applicable but it’s something that many brands can leverage. Think about it, lots of room here for innovative ideas.
  4. Respond to comment threads without sounding impersonal. By actually naming the commentor and responding like a real live human being rather than a 2 dimensional drone then there is a ton of opportunity to interact directly with your users and build strong relationships.
  5. Asking questions. This doesn’t have to be exactly polling per say. Just update the status and ask a question, you might be surprised at what comes out of it, like lots of comments and even more visitors and people interacting with your page which is the goal here.
  6. Exclusive Facebook only Offers. I get alot of grief for ever bringing this up but it’s a key way to get new users. I know you have users on your main domain already, maybe they are members of your facebook presence, maybe not. But do not offer the same thing to both, welcome them to join you on Facebook to become eligible - exclusivity is important, plus joining you doesn’t cost a thing.
  7. Nifty, groovy, neato Facebook applications. Now obviously if you have the budget creating an extremely useful custom Facebook application is preferable here since it makes you stand out from the crowd in a big way but for those on a shoestring budget consider adding even the most simple applications like Social RSS which will automatically post your content from your blog or news site onto your facebook page without human intervention. It’s simpe, it’s free and it keep your content flowing on Facebook. There is nothing worse than a stale page.
  8. Add notes to your Facebook Page. This means unique Facebook only content. Yeah that’s right, only on Facebook. This increases the exclusivity of being a member, if you clone your current efforts then you will severely reduce the attraction and interaction on your page. What is the point after all of having members who do not interact? Nada, zip, zero.
  9. Use videos. Not high production quality videos. I mean grass roots real live videos, simple, fun and engaging. Think about a walk through of your office, handheld videos from events. This is Facebook and Social Media Marketing is not the same as traditional marketing. You don’t need a fancy intro, a bit of camera jiggle is fine and non scripted videos make people like you more, you’re real. You are after all real, aren’t you?
  10. Incite conversation. This means being controversial but not rude. We don’t want to get people angry (unless your goal is to rile people up into action) but you do want to get them talking on a controversial debate. Why not? Play the referee, being on either side of a debate will alienate people to you and we definitely do not want that.

That a pretty basic actionable breakdown of things you can work into your social media marketing strategy without breaking the bank or hiring a team of 10 people to manage. This stuff is easy, so get on out there and start optimizing your own Facebook presence, these actions have a huge ROI and lead to many many good things.

Anything else that I’m certain I’ve missed? I’ll bet you have some great Facebook Strategies you’ve implemented like the above - comment below and the best suggestions will be added to this list with a link back to your site.

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Absolute Casino – Social Media and Gaming

Absolute Gaming - Social Media and Casino

I've been in the eGaming industry on a number of levels and in a number of capacities for 7.5 years now, a lifetime in that sector. Over the past couple of years specifically it has become increasingly clear that the industry is completely stagnant from a product perspective. I were to specifically look at the following major channels: Sports, Casino, and Poker you can see some innovation there.

Sports: the introduction of live betting and interacting with customers through social media (not spamming them) has grown the industry somewhat. Personally I enjoy "In Game" Betting.

Poker: arguably this is the most social and progressive of the channels. Since poker is community based there a a number of interesting innovations that have taken place but as for pur "innovation" it's still Texas Holdem without a ton of innovative build outs to that strategy and product development.

Casino: this is the stagnant sector. The traditional "money sucking machine" of the industry the competitive landscape is filled with less than reputable (trust me) offshore operators who hold their concepts of slow payouts, shady tactics and questionable marketing very near and dear to their hearts.

There are a number of reasons that this sector has not innovated from lack of regulations (promoting owners with criminal histories to maintain a fairly decent operation) to software providers who do not innovate their products or services which will always impact the marketing (if you haven't got anything but another Casino Bonus to promote then what are you *really* selling?)

Well I ran into Absolute Casino today and was very impressed. The actual site on registration is clearly in a testing phase but the concept is fantastic (it's actually exciting - which is new for me especially in the past couple of years). A social network aware multiplayer casino with Facebook integration.

This is brilliance and something I personally have pitched to previous consulting clients. The problem they have is paralysis, everything is so comfortable for them at the moment that innovation has gone out the window. There is also a level of arrogance, simply put - many operators are completely unwilling to invest the money and the resources into innovative products.

But if you look at Facebook, have a peek at the Poker, Casino and Gaming apps. There are hundreds of thousands of people playing on a regular basis. Mainly because Facebook makes it social, I'm not downloading some software client and clicking on a video slot machine. The interaction is the thing that makes this extremely unique.

I look forward to checking out the final product in a month or two. It should be very cool and could potential be a disruptive force in the world of eGaming. I hope so. The industry simply is no longer interesting and it is clearly being left behind, with it's head stuck in the sand.

But it's nice to know I am not alone in this point of view. Hussein Chahine who is the founder of Advanced Gaming Labs (and Absolute Casino) has it dead to rights:

“I have been a technology provider to the gaming and betting industry for the past five years and it became clear to me that the industry has stopped innovating. The technology suppliers are too removed from the consumer, while the operators are falling short of understanding and building a business that embraces today’s social-networked internet world. This has presented a unique opportunity for us to enter the market as a new gaming company, where millions of concurrent players are empowered to connect [and] compete.”

This should be of particular interest to any affiliates out there who are making money from the traditional model. The days for these sites are numbered unless there is innovation, have a look at the next generation of gaming providers and set yourself up for shifts in the industry. Being left behind is the worst danger.

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Internet Marketing Minute Podcast

The Internet Marketing Minute Well I've finally decided to get things in gear with my Internet Marketing Podcast. I'm thinking of the following format:

  1. Limited to (around) 1 minute each and every day. This makes it manageable for me personally as I'm swamped with both Honeypot Marketing and Natural Traction.
  2. Low production value. I'm not going to spend hours tweaking intros and outros - I'm not really a radio guy in fact. I'm thinking you want the information in the minute not a minute of music.
  3. Highlight one strategy each and every day. This is will be a focused podcast not one about last great conference I went to and how I met up with Matt Cutts and we got drunk. There are enough podcasts like that.
  4. Stay out of SEO rambling debates and debates among arrogant designers who think there is no value in SEO or Internet Marketing.

Now I am thinking one thing here. Since I have years of online gambling marketing and sportsbook internet marketing experience I could focus on that here and then do a more general podcast on Honeypot Marketing. I'm actually thinking of leaving it up to you all out there.

Anyone have any thoughts on this? Basically it comes down to a niche podcast versus a generic podcast. I'm thinking out loud and need some input.

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

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50 Twitter Tips for Conversion

So here it is: Twitter.  It’s everywhere being hyped as the next great thing, but what can it do for your business?

Like any emerging technology the uses are somewhat open ended and there are still many questions.
A few things are absolutely certain:

  1. Twitter offers you an opportunity to engage a large number of people who are comfortable online. Which means they will either purchase online or talk a lot online.
  2. Twitter is growing dramatically. How long that growth will last is up for debate but the reality is that it is here now and barriers to entry are very low. It’s free and only requires and strategy which is embracing.
  3. Twitter can benefit your company through customer service, product promotion, marketing and PR just to name a few.

I’ve put this guide together to get you started on your Twitter campaign and strategy. It is our hope that you find this guide useful. Please forward this to your friends, colleagues and relatives!

Also I'm looking forward to your comments, additions, thoughts, and general input on any of this.


  1. Engage your followers. Simply throwing promotional offers at people will only add to the white noise on Twitter and you will not stand out. Send @ replies, help out, discuss and be real.
  2. Reference your site frequently. You don't even need to always reference your newest content, reference your most useful content. With the stream of messages on Twitter. There is nothing wrong with referencing.
  3. Create a custom Twitter landing page and direct users there. Use the KISS approach, one offer specifically for Twitter users, you'll notice a huge difference.
  4. Do not be afraid to unfollow people who are adding to your white noise. Like any list you want to target your audience, some affiliate marketers out there will only Tweet offers and junk. Lose them.
  5. ReTweet valuable tweets from your followers. This is a huge thing and extremely complementary. I find on my lists that there are about 5% if the users that I ReTweet multiple times. Is that a new rule 95/5? 95% of your ReTweets come from 5% of your users.
  6. Ask your users questions. There are two ways to do it. Informally by simply throwing it out there and asking for a response. Formally by using TwtPoll, which will track responses. Either way ask engaging questions of your users, something that will incite debate and opinion.
  7. Exclusive offers. When I say exclusive I mean exclusive, don't just regurgitate another offer, make it exclusive and time limited to Twitter users otherwise you risk being in the "white noise" category.
  8. Incentives for followers. We effectively use $50 Cash Cards for the nth Twitter follower for doing nothing more than simply following. We do it every thousand followers but pick your metric and follow-up on it.
  9. Monitor Twitter Search. You would be amazed at how many active discussions you can miss if you don't watch the buzz. Get in there!
  10. Join Twitter Business Directories. Two good examples are WeFollow.com and Twellow.com, add yourself to relevant categories and search out potential leads on a regular basis.
  11. Engage a key individual in the Twitter dialog. A good strategy is joining your CEO's profile to your corporate profile. Not only will you gain a wider following, you'll have the ability to channel directly to your "go to guy (or girl)".
  12. Follow PR and News Sources. You'll create a direct dialog to the people who can get your message out there.
  13. Engage Anger. If you're a business there is likely someone ready get annoyed with you. Don't shy away from them, embrace and communicate them, you may have your next great advocate out there screaming good things about you.
  14. Live Updates from Events or Conferences. This will create buzz and excitement from your user base. No one cares if "it's a hot day here in Glendale Arizona" but they might care about "The boss just gave a great tip on our newest product release".
  15. Follow people. Alot. I can't stress this enough. Some people think it is a badge of honor to have significantly more people following you than you follow. Not true. What you are really saying is I want a one way conversation, not very social at all.
  16. Figure out "Social Engagement". How do you engage social media? You be social and engage. Why many people don't understand this I will never know.
  17. Twitter about your competition. Why not? Even link to them, if you are confident in your product then you have an opportunity to show the world you have the superior product.
  18. Complement your competition. When your competitors do something right then do not shy away from it. Give them a shout out. It shows strength and confidence.
  19. Send useful links which may not be directly related to your business. It could be a news event or something you found useful. People appreciate tips and advice.
  20. Create a custom background for your Twitter page with your contact information. You would be amazed at how many people will reach out to you directly. Check out the Honeypot Marketing Twitter page, nothing fancy but it works.
  21. Add your Twitter profile to your email signature. Sounds basic enough but emails get passed around quite a bit.
  22. Add TwitterCounter and Twitter badges to your site. Not rocket science but highly effective. Internet marketing is a two way street, go both ways.
  23. Engage in polarizing discussion. Is @oprah adding nothing of value? Tell her, it will polarize but it will get you engaged.
  24. Auto Follow people who follow you. I use Tweetlater.com to automate this process but it is (to me) a common courtesy and I just think it works well, saves a ton of time too. You can purge lists once a month or so to keep your list up to date.
  25. Provide customer support. Whatever you do or sell, people will have a problem. Utilizing Twitter as a rapid response tool is incredibly effective and generally people only need a minor tip to get on track.
  26. Create a daily digest of your tweets for your blog. This not only incites the search engines into ranking you quickly (more customers!) but it provides a history and a sense that your company has fully engaged the community. That's a good thing right?
  27. Twitter your knowledge. No matter who you are and what you know, your background and experience will help those and could position you as a thought leader. Cheesy term but true. You'll become an expert and people will respect that and as such respect your company.
  28. Stay on Target. You want to communicate with people and lead them to and end goal. Never lose sight of that. Sketch out your conversion path (whatever it might be) and make sure you are achieving that goal. You will be surprised at how quickly results will happen.
  29. Don't necessarily try to sell "stuff". Selling "things" may or may not work for you on Twitter. Be realistic about your end goal, branding, customer service, lead generation. Generally using Twitter as a conduit makes it a great lead generator, not a closer.
  30. Talk about how your product helped a customer. If they are on Twitter ask them to participate in the dialog and back you up. Bringing it full circle will provide you incredible benefits.
  31. Create a Twitter Interview. I refuse to engage in the mangling of the English language for the purposes of branding Twitter. Some people call them Twinterviews - horrible. Set up a series of 10-15 questions and ask the your interviewee to @ reply them. You can even ask your followers to DM you specific open questions. Works like a charm.
  32. Ask people to ReTweet but not everyday. Asking people to ReTweet directly on occasion will indicate that this is an important message. With a good following you'll get help.
  33. Don't be afraid to go offline. Sometimes you can't engage completely on Twitter so take it to phone, email or face to face (if possible). Only so much can be communicated in 140 characters.
  34. Ask your followers what they think of your offers. It's a form of Direct Market Research. Example: "Would you rather get 20% off or a free movie pass for two? Let us know!".
  35. Use TwitPic. Post pictures of your events, office, people in your office. Be human! No likes a marketing driod Twitter profile. You can *really* connect with people by being just like everyone else.
  36. Tweet company events. Did Joy in Accounting just have her first child? Tell everyone about it and how happy you all are for her. Unless of course your company is a sweatshop, which I highly doubt it is.
  37. Tweet the success of your customers. If you are B2B Congratulate your clients on a successful promo or campaign. Spread the love.
  38. Don't insult people. Unless this your personal account and you'll do whatever you want then fine. But never insult a client or competitor, you'll look bad for ages and you can damage your own future reputation. Trust me there can be an idiot factor on Twitter and it can be difficult sometimes. I know I've lashed out a few times on my personal account. Oopsie.
  39. Conduct Website Testing. If you have a new promo or landing page ask your users which they like better. You are after all trying to appeal to them are you not?
  40. Define your objectives. I have alluded to it earlier but make sure everyone in your company understands what you are trying to do. Maybe directly selling your product won't be successful but selling your service will be.
  41. Test, test, test. Twitter is an emerging technology; to be honest no one quite knows what to do with it just yet. That makes testing your message and conversion flow critical.
  42. Don't be afraid to change course. Things change and you should change with them, if you found a sweet spot for communication or sales try to move in that direction without being scared to do so.
  43. Automate your blog and Twitter accounts in both directions. We love WordPress so it's a no brainer for us. Every post gets an automatic tweet which will drive your customers to you. Simple.
  44. Integrate Twitter into your online strategy. We are huge proponents of integrated marketing. That includes Traditional and Emerging Marketing with the same message. Tip: when going online don't change the message just go a bit more grass roots style.
  45. Tell people who exactly is Tweeting. You may have a corporate profile like http://twitter.com/honeypot_mkting but start out by saying "Morning All, @dannomatic is here this morning". People like to know who you are and will be far more willing to engage you.
  46. Create a corporate Twitter Meetup. Admittedly this is a bit nerdy but it doesn't have to be. Have an open house meeting to invite your Twitter followers to the office, then Tweet about it. Buzz is amazing.
  47. Create time limited promotions and update it on Twitter. Real and effective time limited promotions could include giving out a free whitepaper or case study for a limited time. Link via DM to a PDF but only keep access open for a few hours. When it's over redirect the link to a thank you and registration for email download. Then you'll capture the traffic, which is bound to happen after time has expired.
  48. Create a Twitter only contest. Be creative but run it exclusively on Twitter and give away your product as prizing. It doesn't need to be fancy, just fun.
  49. Create a tone of helpful information. Example: "Did you know that the Magic Bullet can slice and dice? Check out the top features here..." and link to a blog post or information sheet - product knowledge is important and leads to the conversion or sale.
  50. Deep link people into your website and blog. You've likely invested heavily in that glitzy shiny website. Point out useful company information, employee profiles, product information, review, and news. It surprises us to see Twitter being used to link to one page on a website. Deep linking encourages people to dig deep into your site, increasing the opportunity for the conversion.
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Building Great Links

Link Building is always a topic of conversation for anyone in the world of Internet Marketing. People who push only organic SEO tend to be quite focused on the overall process of building masses of links with target anchor text on sites which may pass link juice.

Personally that's a narrow minded point of view that really limits your overall link building goals. The reality of the situation is that links drive traffic, reputation, new visitors and potentially new customers. A well thought out online promotional program will assist you in your organic SEO link building efforts. But you need to have a holistic view of link building.

We build links to achieve a number of goals:

  1. Promote the site. We produce great content and we want the world to know about it.
  2. Highlight other sites we think are great. We do this by commenting on articles we love, participating in discussions.
  3. We are promoting a contest or promotion based around a product. This could be considered link baiting but it's also showing people how creative and fun we might. When I was Director of Internet Marketing for BetUS we had alot of fun with this great link bait program - it was flattering that Rand Fishkin from SEOMoz thought it was genius marketing. We had fun doing it and it was very successful.
  4. We are building links to increase our search rankings. When I was at Bodog we built links for SEO specifically but tracked it with Clicktracks and optimized from there - times were very different but it was (and is) an effective tactic - it certainly worked there. Check out the case study on Lyris.
  5. We are participating in a community such as StumbleUpon, Facebook and Twitter. This isn't for the purpose of building links directly. It's promoting our product, service or just talking to people. We generate content, talk to people and they shockingly enough they may link to us directly but that's not the initial goal (we don't whack people over the head).

I just finished watching Rand Fishkin's Whiteboard Friday on the same subject. I strongly suggest you check it out:

What other link building tactics do you use now? Let me know what you think of my take on link building awesomeness. Have a great Friday the 13th!


Dan Nedelko

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Using StumbleUpon Effectively

Social Network Marketing is currently a hot topic in the world of Internet Marketing. Many people want to integrate a social media and social networking component to their marketing mix. The most common problem I see is Social Media Marketing thrown together in an ad hoc fashion and poorly executed.

The key risk from a marketing perspective is this: poorly executed SEO will result in no rankings, poorly executed PPC results in wasted budgets, poorly executed Social Media Marketing can result in a bad reputation, negative buzz and angry users.

You need to be very cautious when executing a Social Media Marketing campaign - do not just throw something together and start talking to an online community, the ramifications could be not only worse than you expected they could be difficult to undo.

Planning, education and execution are critical to a successful social media program. I would suggest that you consider the following points before launching a social media marketing program:

  1. Which social media sites will you be targeting? Is your content appropriate for that network? For example: Digg is extremely popular among technology and design audiences. StumbleUpon is popular for humor, entertainment and gaming audiences. Newsvine is popular among politcal junkies (these are fairly simplistic examples but you get the point).
  2. What voice do you want to project for your product to these audiences? Direct marketing doesn't generally work well. Informational, educational and interesting content is needed with a subtle hint towards promoting your product.
  3. What are you trying to say to the audience? Social Media Marketing is really about starting an ongoing dialogue with an audience, it's about building trust relationships that are subtle. Formulating a message is extremely important, continuing the dialogue in a genuine way is critical. If you are not going to do that then you need to reconsider leveraging this medium.
  4. Social Media Networks are composed of and run by real people. Remember that. This is not traditional advertising. You are developing a conversation with real people.
  5. Be prepared to hear things you may not like. You may get no reaction. You may in fact get a negative reaction. Ensure that you know how to deal with a negative reaction and always remember that someone who gives you a reaction is someone who cares. Engage them and sort it out, it will be worth it!
  6. Be prepared to engage the community as a community member. Participate in a very real way, if you do any less your programs will not succeed.

Although I've gone off on a tangent slightly, I am laying the ground work for this screencast and discussing one of my favorite sites: StumbleUpon. I'm not going to introduce Stumbleupon in this article, I do that in the screencast below. You can also learn about StumbleUpon right here.

So enjoy the screencast and I'm sure I've missed something in my overview so let me know by leaving a comment. Click Play and watch my screencast on Stumbleupon, you might find it useful!

If you are already on StumbleUpon or ready to join and get into it, add me to your friend list or subscribe to my stumbles.

Happy Stumbling!

Dan Nedelko

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