Monday, December 31, 2012

20 of the Most Memorable Marketing Moments in 2012 [INFOGRAPHIC]

You're probably knee deep in 2013 prediction blog posts -- posts looking forward to all the amazing things (hopefully all amazing, right?) marketing has in store for us in 2013. Heck -- we even published one of our own a few weeks ago -- and an ebook to boot! But how about we accompany all that looking forward with a little looking back? 2012 was a great year, after all -- full of memorable marketing moments that we should take a minute to celebrate.
So, we put together a list of 20 memorable marketing moments in 2012 that we thought represented some monumental strides for our industry. And then, because we're marketers, we made them into an infographic. Big surprise. (Many thanks to our own Desmond Wong for creating this swanky visual, by the way).
Take a look at some of our favorite marketing moments this year, and of course share some of your own favorite moments in the comments!
(Click infographic to enlarge.)
20 Memorable Marketing Moments of 2012 HubSpot Infographic
And for those of you who prefer text over visual content, you can find the timeline of 2012 memorable marketing events below:
January 10: The integration of social media and search becomes more evident when Google announces a radical shift in personalization, aggressively pushing Google+ social data and user profiles into SERPs.
February 14: Pinterest reaches 11 million monthly unique visits, making it the fastest growth of any other standalone site ever.
February 27: NASCAR's Brad Keselowski tweets from his car while racing in the Daytona 500 and gains more than 100,000 followers during that period.
March 5: The "Stop Kony" campaign launches and goes viral. The film garnered 94 million views on YouTube and causes the Kony 2012 site to crash.
April 9: Facebook acquires photo-filtering app Instagram for $1 billion, a sign that visual content is on the rise.
May 1: SEOmoz announces $18 million of Series B funding in style with an outrageous, meme-packed press release.
May 18: Facebook goes public, but the stock is plagued by technical delays at the start of trading and ends the day up just 23 cents from its initial public offering price of $38 a share.
June 29: Twitter and LinkedIn break up, disabling the automatic posting of tweets to LinkedIn.
August 8: American gymnast McKayla Maroney's scornful scowl becomes a meme legend, making it one of the most memorable and repurposed images from the 2012 London Summer Olympics.
August 28: The world’s largest event for inbound marketers, INBOUND 2012 (a HubSpot production) overtakes Boston, MA for four days. During the conference, HubSpot announces HubSpot 3.
September 6: HootSuite acquires Twitter management tool Seesmic for an undisclosed amount.
October 4: Facebook hits a record 1 billion users.
October 22: During its Q3 earnings call, Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer states she plans to transform the company into a mobile- and technology-focused company. Marketers can expect new mobile platforms over the next year.
October 28: The San Francisco Giants get so creative and engaged in social media when they sweep the Detroit Tigers to win the World Series that the team actually matched President Obama's near-perfect Klout score of 99.
November 4: HubSpot raises $35 million in its mezzanine round of funding. Investors include Altimeter Capital, Cross Creek Capital, and an unnamed investor.
November 6: This day ends the most expensive U.S. Presidential election in history at a whopping $6 billion -- $2 billion was in advertising alone. The election was also the most tweeted political event in history with more than 20 million tweets.
November 6: The photo of President Barack Obama hugging first lady Michelle Obama gets Liked more than 4 million times and shared more than 560,000 times on Facebook, and retweeted more than 800,000 times on Twitter, making it the most popular image ever posted to both sites.
November 12: The Oxford American Dictionary names ‘GIF’ the word of the year. Yes, that’s right. The compressed file format for images that marketers love and use to create simple, looping animations, turned 25 this year.
November 24: Global phenomenon and Korean star of Gangnam Style, Psy beats two world records in one month. First, he collects a Guinness World Record for having the most-liked video on Youtube. Then 'Gangnam Style' becomes the most watched video on YouTube ever at more than 800 million views.
December 31: This marks the last day of Newsweek’s 80-year run as a print publication. The magazine makes the switch to an online-only format in January 2013 -- even more evidence the world is going digital.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

5 Ways to Uncover Scammy SEO Agencies

Is your SEO company scamming you?
Are they using spammy tactics that could actually harm your website?
Can they actually produce results, or are they just stealing your money?
Don’t waste any more time wondering.. here’s a checklist of 5 ways to put your SEO firm to the test…
  1. They don’t charge enough
  2. They Have Publicly Posted Complaints
  3. They Don’t Share Case Studies or References
  4. They Don’t Measure Themselves
  5. They Don’t Share the Secret Sauce

#1) They Don’t Charge Enough

Plain and simple, you get what you pay for.
Assuming you want your SEO firm to produce meaningful results, make sure they charge more than your car payment.
I’ve actually taken these cheap SEO companies for a couple test drives.  In every case, one or more of the following were true:
  • They aren’t actually doing.. ANYTHING.
  • Their strategy is non-existent or piss-poor at best.
  • Their talent is untrained and inexperience, leaving you low-quality of service.
  • They build un-natural, spammy, low-quality links that will eventually harm your website.
Long story short, don’t fall for this:
cheap seo company pricing chart
OK, now that we know they will be sufficiently funded to actually deliver quality work, move onto some routine due diligence…

#2) They Have Publicly Posted Complaints

Gain insight into how they perform at their worst.
Another quick and easy method: Google the company’s name followed by “reviews” or “complaints”.
If you see, or… run for the hills.
Don’t stop at the 1st page, scour the 2nd and 3rd pages as well.
Here is a good Google search to unveil the ugly skeletons:
(review OR complaint OR scam OR spam) seo company name
Replace “seo company name” with the name of the company in question.
You can also search the BBB to dig up some dirt.
Here’s an example of a company that you do NOT want to work with:
SEO comapny reviews SERP
Now that we know the company is clean on the surface, let’s look under the hood and kick the tires a little…

#3) They Don’t Share Case Studies or References

The proof is in the pudding, taste theirs before opening your wallet.
High-quality SEO companies have references and case studies that are relevant to your company; They have produced results that align with your goals.

Ask them to share a relevant case study.

How to tell the case study is effective:
  1. Uses easy to understand metrics (numbers)
  2. Shows a baseline measurement and relevant growth of that metric (a before and after type story)
  3. Communicates the tools and methods used to prodcue this growth
  4. Includes a testimonial from the case studies client
The case study should be compelling and convince you that they can do the same for you.

Ask them for 3 references.

Here are some questions to ask when you call the references:
  • What do they do for you on a monthly basis?
  • What type of increase in inquires or sales did you see coming from your website?
    • After what period of time of working with them did you see this increase?
  • Do they respond to your requests in a timely manner?
  • If there is one thing you could change about their performance and service, what would that be?
  • Have you ever recommended them to a close colleague?
If you’ve made it this far and they’re still looking good, it’s time to dust off your microscope and really dig deep…

#4) They Don’t Measure Themselves

It’s a numbers game, baby.
Every SEO company should take baseline measurements of where you stand before working with them. Why? – So they can later prove that what they’re doing is working.
You should be provided with a list of focus keywords – These are relevant keywords for your business.
They should send you something like this: internet marketing keyword rankings

Ask them: “If you were me, what KPI’s would you track?”

Here are some examples of what GOOD companies will respond with:
  • Return on Marketing Dollars (ROMD) – ROI.
  • Cost per lead (or cost per sale) – Another measure of ROI, lower the better, obviously.
  • Number of unique keywords that send traffic – This measures how well you’re capturing the long-tail, that is, search queries that contain more than 3 words.  For instance, “mortgage rates” is a short-tail keyword, whereas ”mortgage rates for townhouse in Maryland” is a long-tail keyword.
  • Non-branded, organic traffic – Measuring traffic from search engines where your brand or product name was NOT included in the search query.
  • Conversions via non-branded, organic traffic – I REALLY like this one.. A conversion is when a visitor converts into a lead or buys something from your site.  This KPI gives you a gauge on the QUALITY of the traffic that your SEO firm is building.  So what if your visitors are increasing, if they aren’t converting into leads or sales, then those visitors are essentially worthless.

Ask them if they’re willing to do a custom report

Your company is unique, your report should be too.
If you’re impressed with their responses thus far, there’s only 1 more item to check…

#5) They Don’t Share the Secret Sauce

If they keep it a secret.. they probably don’t know the formula.
NEWS FLASH: SEO is NOT “magic” or “voodoo”
When a practice is hard to understand, people label it “magic” — so that makes your CPA a wizard and your lawyer a ninja… but the truth is, SEO isn’t all that complicated.
That said, it does takes several different disciplines to be effective. It is half art, half science.
At the end of the day, SEO is making Google’s job easy.

Google is in the information business

Google (and the other search engines) are in the business of providing quality information. To do this well, Google needs a way to find and figure out which websites have the best information (this is their algorithm).
How do they do this?  Well, that’s the “code” that SEO companies are trying to crack. All we know for certain is the following 2 ingredients will always be part of the recipe:
  • Add valuable content to your website – You want to show Google that you’re open for business and staying current.  By adding timely and relevant content to your website, you’re telling Google: “I know my industry and I’m keeping up to date on the latest practices, regulations, etc..”
  • Having other websites to link to yours – Think of every link pointing to your website as a “thumbs up” that builds your credibility.  Remember, Google wants to serve relevant content, content that is popular is usually good.  What better way for Google to measure your website’s popularity than to count how many links you have.
Now, that is very over simplified.  To expand, we have to take into account the quality of these links. Think about it this way: Say I have 500 friends (links) and you have 150. Your friends are all well-to-do, they have college degrees and work at reputable companies whereas my friends are high-school drop outs who are homeless or at best they wash cars for a living.
Who do you think Google would be more likely to trust?
A more applicable example might look like this: If your website has links from quality publications (eg. while my website has links from, Google will favor your website over mine.

Ask them for their secret sauce (strategy)

This is where the men separate from the boys.. and where you learn how your SEO company is going to help you drive qualified traffic. Here are some questions to ask and their respective answers:

How are you going to help with content creation?

The scam artist: “We use off-shore resources and automated news scrappers to create blog posts.”
The real SEO: “First we’ll start by creating a publishing schedule. This is a list of keyword rich headlines which gives us a framework for the types of content we want to produce.  Ideally, the content comes from within your organization, but if you don’t have the resources, we can help procure a professional writer who has experience with your industry.
Either way, we will have our SEO experts review and optimize the content before it’s posted to your website.
Additionally, we can leverage the content you’re already producing (whitepapers, case studies, webinars, emails, sales presentations, etc..).  These assets can be transcribed, organized, and optimized to draw relevant traffic from the search engines.”

How are we going to get more websites to link to us?

The scam artist: ”We have a network of websites which we use to build links to your website.  We also submit your website to over 100 directories.  Lastly, we will social bookmarking to build links to your website.”
The real SEO: “Let’s start with your existing links and optimize those.  That is, we will make sure they all point to working and relevant pages, investigate the anchor text distribution (you don’t want to have the exact same anchor text for every link), and ask webmasters that already link to you to link to you again, from a different yet still relevant page of their website.
In a similar vain, we can contact your clients, partners, and vendors, on your behalf, to make sure they’re linking to you in a preferred fashion.  If you would rather reach out, we will provide you with the specific language and code to give them.
We will find websites & blogs who write about your industry, or about the industries your product or service caters to, and reach out to them to procure “guest posting” opportunities.  This is where your content will be posted on their website, giving you exposure to their audience and a relevant link back to your website (which, as you know, Google loves to see).
Let’s not forget internal linking, that is, how the pages within your websites link to one another.  Search engines learn a lot about your specific offerings by investigating how you link to your content throughout your site.  For example, if you have a page that you want to rank for a specific keyword, but you never link to that page from anywhere within your website, then Google is going to assume that you don’t think that page is important.  Whereas if you link to that page from several pages, then Google will recognize that you consider that page important and give it more credit.”

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

How the Grinch Stole Social Media

A little bit of humor for all you bloggers out there...Happy Holidays!

Everyone at the office liked Facebook a lot
But the Grinch at the top of the org chart did not.
The Grinch hated Facebook! And social media all!
Now, please don’t ask why. No one quite can recall.
It could be, perhaps, that his PC was busted.
It could be his iPad got stolen, or rusted.
But I think that the most likely reason of all
Was that he just didn’t know a poke from a wall.
Whatever the reason, be it knowledge or none,
He stood there in judgment, condemning every +1.
He looked out from his chair with a sour, Grinchy frown
At the warm, backlit tablets that seemed to abound,
For he knew everyone on the org chart beneath
Was busy now RTing and at-replying to Tweets.
“They’re using my bandwidth,” he snarled with a sneer.
“Next week I’ll fire them! Before the first of the year!”
Then he growled, with his Grinch fingers nervously drumming,
“I must find some way to keep productivity humming!
“For, tomorrow, I know is a paid holiday
They’ll sleep in late! They may even go on ‘vacay’!
And what will they do with their precious free time?
They’ll post statuses—oh yes, as sure as this rhymes
They’ll go to SCVNGR and Foursquare
Checking out their check-ins
They’ll blog and they’ll comment
And their Pinterests they’ll pin!”
Then he got an idea! An awful idea!
The Grinch got a wonderful, awful idea!
“But then! When they’re back! Oh, they’ll pay, yes they’ll pay
I won’t give them access! It will be better that way!
They’ll shriek and they’ll shout; cry, whine and pout
They’ll call for my head and they’ll call me a lout
They’ll take longer lunches and stare at the wall
They’ll dash down to Starbucks for ventis and talls
They’ll claim they can’t think straight, say they can’t think at all.
They’ll print our advice from Baer, Brogan, and Falls
And they’ll ask me to change, but I won’t change at all.
No, I won’t give them their Facebook, Instagram or YouTube
No, I won’t give them the chance to waste time in their cubes.”
“I know just what to do!” The Grinch laughed in his suit.
“I’ll make a profile for myself, toot sweet and sweet toot.”
He thought to himself, as he clicked, dragged and dropped,
“They’ll think it’s not real! That it’s been PhotoShopped!”
He set about crafting his holiday ruse
“They’ll think I gave in to social media use!”
They’ll come back excited, he thought—perhaps even “friend” him
Oh, yes, this great big surprise he knew would upend them
He got so engrossed he could barely see
That the rest of the office was gone, except he.
He typed and uploaded, hitting every last key,
Then he paused for a smile and a quick simile
“I made it look real. I made it look just like me.”
And then, out of nowhere, a comment appeared
A “Hi! Happy Holidays!” from a client quite dear.
Then a quick “Merry Christmas” appeared on his wall.
Then “You’re finally here!” from his old cousin Paul.
A like and a share later, he was having a ball.
Until the Grinch stopped and remembered the intent of it all.
“This isn’t for fun.” And he clicked away from his wall.
The next morning, the Grinch sat down by the tree
His family beside him, his wife and kids three
They opened their presents and shouted with glee
He was almost content, perhaps even happy.
With his brood’s turn to unwrap now completed
They handed his presents to where he was seated
“Open them! Open them!” First a shout, and then screams.
“We bought them last night, the gifts of your dreams!”
He undid the paper.
An iPad appeared.
In the other box, a PC,
With all kinds of sweet gear.
“We saw you joined Facebook!”
One of the children exclaimed.
“We saw that you finally stopped being lame!”
“Well, this isn’t quite what I wanted…”
He started to say
But then he decided to log on anyway.
He clicked over to Facebook, and off came his socks!
500 friend requests right there in his inbox!
Some from old friends and some from the gym
All of these people wanting to connect with…him?
The holiday passed. He slept eight hours straight.
When the morning came, there was no room for debate.
He called in his team, and stared all of them down
He put on his best post-holiday frown.
“I’m changing a policy right here, right today.
We can no longer use social media this way.”
He heard a sigh and the words “my resume.”
“Any objections? Anything to say?”
“Yeah, I do,” said a voice from his now sullen team.
“Don’t you think this is a little extreme?
Don’t you see the value? Won’t you even try?
Don’t you understand the true ROI?
Our customers want to connect with us there.
We’re not wasting time. We have good ideas.”
The Grinch started to turn and walk away.
“No, we can no longer use social media this way.”
Then suddenly he turned back,
And continued to say…
“No, I mean it needs to be used in a strategic way.
I understand now that it’s here to stay.
I now know it’s about work, not just about play.
I didn’t think so until just yesterday
But I’m a pretty fast learner, thanks to Wikipedi-ay”
“That’s Wikipedia,” someone responded, “not ‘ay’.”
“OK,” they heard the Grinch say.
“I like it better that way anyway.”
So they grabbed pens and tablets, wrote down thoughts and plans.
“We’ll crowdsource ideas from connections and fans!”
“We’ll use LinkedIn for hiring and for retention!”
“We’ll measure results and track all our mentions!”
“We’ll make sure our content engages, inspires!”
“We’ll use it to solve problems! To extinguish small fires!”
The thinking continued, each person by name,
Offered opinions quite worthy, and none quite the same,
Until someone said something deserving of blame.
“What if we did something like… what’s the name of that game?”
“Farmville?” said The Grinch. “That sounds kind of lame.”
Then they all laughed, and The Grinch got knee-slappy.
He couldn’t even tell what made him most happy.
Was it simply because he had tried something new?
Or the chance for a big boost in revenue?
No—while the latter was certainly true—
It was more about what connects him,
And me,
And you.
We all want success, to be heard, to be better
We can spend our time bitter, or working together.
So this holiday season, I hope you will find
Fewer Grinches, and more friends, in real life and online.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

We are now a society of multi-taskers and multi-screeners

We are a nation of multi-taskers. As you read this, you’re either doing something else, or this is the “something else” you’re doing while your work on other projects or relax in front of another device. Not only are we multi-taskers, we’re also multi-screeners. Whether it’s a smartphone, tablet, PC/laptop, TV or something other device, we’re consuming, creating, and curating content across multiple devices, often at the same time. It seems that we’re rewiring our brains simply by how we interact with content and devices as part of our everyday lives.
As we become increasingly wired…or wireless, that leaves room for two types of people in this world, those who are always-on and those who are at least connected. I’ve long maintained that the net result of connectedness is a narrowing attention span. I don’t necessarily believe that attention is as much distracted as it is focused on what’s important in the moment. As such, businesses are simply trying to reach an audience or audience segments, but instead an audience with an audience of audiences that is interconnected by shared interests and experiences.
How you design, sell, market, and serve will require nothing short of complete transformation over the next 10 years. This is true in not only how you engage connected customers but employees as well. It’s a lifestyle and as businesses, we must become connected to earn relevance. If we don’t, then we earn just the opposite, irrelevance. I refer to this transitory economic state as Digital Darwinism, when technology and society evolve faster than the ability to adapt.
So what does this multi-tasking multi-screen audience with an audience of audiences look like you ask? Google recently released a telling report, “The New Multiscreen World” that reveals the extent of cross platform consumer behavior.
The study offers an awakening glimpse into the impact of connected consumerism and how it forces a shift in the future of customer engagement. In short, your customer base is fragmented. Just showing up in new channels and creating website-like presences in social networks isn’t enough. Designing apps or creating digital assets for mobile devices is only part of the solution. Without a vision, without an articulation of the overall experience and how customer engagement takes shape in each channel and as a whole, any work you do may hurt more than it helps.
What does the multi-screen world look like today?

According to Google’s research, 90% of all media interactions are screen based, including smartphones, laptops, tablets, and TVs. On average, consumers spend 4.4 hours of leisure time in front of these screens every day. On the contrast, only 10% of all media interactions are non-screen based. The victims of this attention shift come as no surprise as radio, newspapers, and magazines were threatened long ago.

The four screens are becoming equal in how they lure our attention. In each sitting or interaction, time spent on each device isn’t that far apart.
TV – 43 minutes
PC/Laptop – 39
Tablet – 30
Smartphone – 17
Not only are consumers spending a significant amount of time on these devices outside of work, they’re doing so at the same time. And, as the once king of the living room, the idea of a TV, it too is evolving. Programs, how they’re watched and when, will undergo an significant transformation over the next several years. This will be primarily fueled by content consumption behavior and how Generation-C blurs the lines between the screens. As they become more capable, content will freely traverse devices creating an overlap in the roles they play.

Content Context is King

I’ve long maintained that while content is important, context is truly how we’re digitally seduced. That context may shift from device to device. Google found that as consumers move seamlessly between devices each day, they tend to focus usage of each device based on context as well as…
- The amount of time they have or need
- They goal they want to accomplish
- Their location
- Their attitude and state of mind
Each device serves a particular purpose.

Computers Keep Us Productive and Informed

24% of our daily media interactions occur on a PC
40% use PCs to find information
29% use them to keep up to date
69% of use is at home and 31% out of home
Usage is productive and task-oriented
It requires significant amount of time and focus
The mindset is serious with a research intensive attitude

Smart Phones Keep Us Connected

38% of our daily media interactions occur on a smartphone
60% of this usage is at home and 40% out of home
54% of attention is dedicated to communication and 33% is entertainment
People use smart phones to communicate and connect in short bursts of time. And, they need information quickly and efficiently.

Tablets Keep us Entertained

9% of daily media interactions occur on tablets
79% use tablets at home and 21% out of home
63% of usage is for entertainment purposes and 32% is for communication
Tablets are mostly used for entertainment and browsing
Consumers loose their sense of time as tablets inspire a relaxed and leisurely approach

Sequential vs. Simultaneous Usage

As a nation of multi-taskers and multi-screeners, Google observed two forms of distinct behavior.
Sequential usage follows consumers as they begin their journey on one screen and continue that journey across devices at different times to accomplish a specific task. Think about seeing an idea for a trip on your smart phone and then continuing your research to tablet for research and eventually your PC to book the trip.
90% of consumers use multiple screens sequentially to accomplish a task over time.
The top activities for sequential screening include:
Browsing the internet – 81%
Social networking – 72%
Online shopping – 67%
Research/Search – 63%
Managing Finances – 46%
Planning a trip – 43%
Google’s research found that smartphones are the most common starting places for online activities.
PCs are the source of more complex activity.
Tablets are typically the starting point for shopping and trip planning
Simultaneous usage occurs as the consumer is using more than one device at the same time for either a related or an unrelated activity. Social TV is one of the most common examples of simultaneous multi-screening. While watching TV, consumers will use either a tablet, PC, and/or a smart phone to have conversations on social networks about what’s on the TV or just in general, play games, or look up more information about the show that they’re watching.
On average, Google found that we use three different screen combinations every day.
81% – Smartphone and Television
66% – Smartphone and Laptop/PC
66% – Laptop/PC and Television
How are people using these devices simultaneously and to what extent?
Smartphones: 57% of the time consumers us a smartphone, they’re also using another device. 28% of the time is with a PC/Laptop and 29% is with a TV.
Tablets: 75% of the time tablets are used, it’s done so with a smartphone (35%) and TVs (44%).
TVs: 77% of people who watch TV do so with another device. 49% use a smartphone and 34% watch TV with their laptop.
PCs/Laptops: 67% of those who use their laptop/PC are also using another device.
What are people doing during they’re multi-screening?

They’re doing the things that single screeners often do, but just at the same time…
Email = 60%
Internet browsing = 44%
Social networking = 42%
Playing games = 25%
Searching = 23%
In Summary
Consumers are incredibly connected and their attention can only be described as fragmented as best.. As they multi-task and multi-screen, new touchpoints emerge for engagement. Google refers to these new touch points as “found time.” These micro-moments emerge as consumers see or think of something something and reach for the screen that’s closest to them to search. Google found that consumers use these micro-moments across multiple screens to search, shop, communicate and keep entertained….spontaneously. This offers advertisers net additional opportunities to engage consumers throughout the day in ways that are contextually relevant to each screen.
Here’s what real people have to say about how their new found time helps them:
“I’m online more than before, for sure. I check a lot more stuff every day than I normally would have never done, because it’s so easy to check. I can go to 10 apps, when I have 15 free minutes, I can check my bank account or I can check the news or I can check some music websites that are very cool.” – Leum
“I scan for deals on Groupon or Twitter when I’m waiting in line. It’s life time management. Whether it’s something urgent for business or something fun – I get to choose what to look at.” – Maria
That’s what this is about. Your business must now understand how consumer behavior is splintering away from the customer that you know and creating a new type of customer you need to know.
The future is indeed bright across the screens, but what’s happening now is happening by happenstance. Imagine what this will look like once you start to design experiences around found time and the multi-tasking, multi-screen consumer journey. Beyond understanding, for any this to be optimized and beneficial to your business, takes vision and architecture. You are the architect of new experiences for a new generation of connected consumers.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Top 7 Marketing Trends of 2012 [Research / Charts]

In terms of marketing, 2012 was a year that showed that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
The forces behind 2012’s top seven marketing trends were the same as those of 2011; the difference was that their impact increased.
Here are the top seven marketing trends of 2012 and what they mean for your 2013 marketing plans. Included are 21 marketing tactics you can use to meet the challenges they present.
1. Social media goes mass market. Social media platforms matured as revealed by shifting participant demographics. This means men and women are more evenly balanced and there’s a wider range of ages active on those platforms that have been around longer.
  • Integrated social media approach required. A Facebook Page is no longer sufficient. A real social media marketing plan is needed.  (Here’s a seven step social media strategy.)
  • Businesses must be prepared to respond to customers on social media. Companies must understand that if you’ve got an entry to your business on social media, you must be staffed to respond. (Hey’s it’s the one thing 70% of firms do wrong!)
  • Social media activity is a significant factor behind the growth of Big Data. With increased, trackable activity and engagement on social media, the amount of prospect and customer information has exploded. To select and manage those actions that generate leads and sales requires strong data analysis.
  • Social media needs to prove its ROI. Social media is beyond the point where it’s something you play with on the side. Requiring real resources and budget, social media must show it drives bottom line results. The best way to do this is to incorporate a social media call-to-action. (Here’s some expert input on social media ROI to help you.)
2. Content takes a seat at the marketing table. After years of having to explain what content marketing is, it’s finally taken its position at the marketing table. Driven by social media, search optimization and purchase support, content marketing is a necessary component of an integrated marketing plan. More importantly, customers trust content not advertising.
  • Companies need an integrated content marketing strategy. Place a robust editorial calendar at the heart of your content marketing plan. (To better understand the content marketing landscape, check B2B trends and B2C trends.)
  • 2012 was the year of the photo. Easy-to-take on any type of cellphone, photographs dominate social media and content marketing. Think Facebook, Instagram and Flickr. Facebook is the largest library of photos (not all marketing related)
  • Businesses can supplement original content with content curation. Since marketers’ biggest challenge is creating enough quality content, add content curation to extend your offering. Understand that humans are required for content curation!
  • Surprise! Consumers pay for content. While readers have developed advertising blindness, a segment is willing to pay for content in a variety of formats to fulfill different needs. Unfortunately for traditional media entities, these options may vary and don’t yield as much revenue as print and television advertising. 
3. Connected we live. 2012 was (finally) mobile’s year, but it was not just smartphones. It was an array of tablets in different sizes. Further there are now three major platforms to deal with: iOS, Android and Windows8.
We live in a four screen world. Devices now go everywhere including the bathroom.  (Here’s how we consume content now!)
  • Businesses need to provide mobile options. This means you need a streamlined mobile website and a mobile app since consumers use both alternatives equally. Consider the type of information your audience will seek on these devices.
  • Mobile search is a must to be findable. Since consumers use search to navigate the mobile web and mobile search is separate from web-based search, you need to have a separate budget to present to management. Further, optimize for terms consumers use on-the-go.
  • Responsive design is useful. It enables your website to adjust to the user’s screen size. In 2012, a wide variety of tablet size options were introduced.
4. Skip the mall – Commerce is everywhere. With connected consumers you must respond with a connected marketing approach. In today’s multi-screen world, buyers use different devices to gather information at different points in the shopping process. (Here’s data on how social media drives shopping.)
  • Mobile commerce. Leverage the power of smartphones to gather information at retail and share it. Don’t underestimate the power of text, talk and photos of product.
  • Couch commerce. Tablets enable consumers to learn the latest styles and get purchase inspiration from the comfort of their own couch. You must reach your customers where they lounge.
  • Showrooming. Consumers examine merchandise in a bricks-and-mortar retail establishment, then buy it online, often at a lower price or better deal from another merchant. Marketers must be prepared to go the extra distance so as not to lose these sales. 
  • Social commerce.  Realize that people to shop with friends and others and engage with them over shopping related content. 
5. Search remains a force. Despite Panda and Penguin, marketers must be visible on search. This translates to quality content and social presence.
  • Quality content required. High quality content in a variety of formats helps build search rankings.
  • Social media presence helpful. Have outposts on various social media platforms. Be where your customers are.
6. Television is alive (but it’s often viewed as a side course of content). Television viewing remains relatively stable but how and what we view is different. Business Insider’s Henry Blodget thinks the television market is prime for disintermediation.
  • Television becomes background noise. Concurrent use of computers, smartphones and tablets continues to grow. Television viewing is no longer appointment based; it’s time shifted. Interestingly, age is a factor in how different audiences use concurrent devices. (via Nielsen.)
  • Over-the-top television programming continues to grow. Cable and satellite firms beware. The services consumers favor base their appeal on age. 
7. Email is no longer sexy but it still closes the deal. While everyone’s buzzing about social media, the bottom line is that marketers more efficiently convert email registrants over other forms of social media.Social media drives 3% inbound traffic
  • Marketers need to continue to build their house email file. Understand that every email list has attrition over time.
  • Targeted emailings help maintain house file health. Send members of your email list information they want and need. Don’t push promotions.
2012 was a year when many trends such as social media, content marketing and mobile, matured. As a result, marketers need to continue to improve their related marketing and ensure their strategies show a return.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Six Social-Digital Trends for 2013

Screen Shot 2012-12-15 at 1.38.35 PM
Originally published on Harvard Business Review

It's that time of year again — time to take a stab at what's going to matter in the year ahead as technology continues to influence how we work and live. In previous years, I've looked at trends under the "social media" lens because that has been the major disruptive force, creating both opportunities and threats. This year, I'm using the umbrella term "social-digital" to broaden the focus. First, a quick re-cap from the last year:
While I didn't specifically connect it to the election, social sharing was a trend I cited and one that many of us felt because of the election. You couldn't get away from Facebook posts and streams of tweets from friends who were all too happy to leverage their networks to talk politics, often sharing posts and memes in support of their candidate (Big bird, binders and bayonets anyone)?
And social TV, another trend I saw growing, has continued to gain steam, though interestingly enough it has been TV itself fueling the trend. For example the popular series The Walking Dead has been experimenting with simple Twitter hash tags for each episode in addition to the official one connected with the series. Social entertainment platforms however like Get Glue, which was recently acquired for 25 million in cash have yet to go mainstream.
What has gone mainstream, however, is the micro-economy fueled by once unknown entities such as Kickstarter. Individuals are now raising thousands and even millions of dollars without a middleman thanks to crowdfunding. On the flipside, gamification has lost some of its luster, taking a backseat to useful functionality. A recent Gartner study urges us not to "believe the hype." I may have been too caught up by the promise of making experiences sticky via serving up rewards, when this comes at the expense of raw utility.
The cult of influence continues to attract a following with new digital influence measurement services like Little Bird receiving funding, followed by studies crowning the most influential CMOs.
So what can we potentially expect to see next year? In no particular order, here are six social-digital trends to watch in 2013:
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The Content Economy Content may become your company's most valuable asset in 2013. For years Google has been refining it's algorithm cracking down on unsavory tactics that compromise the quality of search results. The algorithms are good enough now that the most compelling content dominates search results. Organizations must create compelling content to exploit this. Some already have, including companies like Coke and Intel, who launched groups focused purely on content. Separately, Facebook is making it's own changes, forcing companies to rely on both creativity and spending (promoted posts) to ensure their content is seen and shared. Brands like Oreo may have unwittingly set the bar for content creation for other organizations by pioneering a form of "content marketing" putting out one piece of timely, relevant and highly creative content every day as part of a campaign. In 2013, content will not only be king, but queen, prince and jester, too.
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Cyborg Central Think your mobile phone is making you part computer? Now it has accomplices. Gadgets like "fuel bands" and Google Glasses are just a preview of what we'll see more of in 2013 as we begin to mesh machines with humans. There are already ski goggles which display a tiny screen which lets you not only sync to your mobile device but helps you determine where you are and how fast you are going. As we move into the next year, the phrase "personal computing" will begin to take on another meaning.
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The Smobile Web Social + mobile = "smobile." While there's no real insight in pointing out that both mobile and social are going to be big in 2013, I believe they're becoming co-dependent, and most businesses aren't ready for that. A smobile Web means your customers, coworkers and colleagues expect their digital experiences will be optimized for mobile/social sharing and as a result spend less time tethered to a PC or television.The technology for this is evolving rapidly. Near field communication, or NFC technology, for example, allows you to transfer data to your mobile device via a touch rather than scanning a QR code, which seems cumbersome in comparison. While Instagram developed for smobile before the traditional web, Facebook is still playing catch-up, but by the end of 2013 it may become one of the leaders. Will you be ready for the smobile web?

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Sensory Intelligence Sensors will get smarter and become more pervasive. We already have cars that can help us parallel park and seats that vibrate if we're too close to another vehicle. We have thermostats that learn based on how you use them, eventually programming themselves. In 2013 there will be sensors built into athletes' helmets that measure the impact of blows and provide real time data outputs thus potentially preventing further injury. Sensors will be everywhere, in our homes, transportation, technology, and clothing. They will become a part of our lives and will tie into our existing devices and networks, If our plants need water, we'll get a text or tweet, and even a note of thanks. Now that's smart.
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Social Commerce In many ways, social has mirrored the original digital revolution. And when digital took on transactions and financial exchanges, things really picked up. So it will go for social as we begin to buy each other gifts through social networks or even set up a storefront. The idea of social commerce isn't new, but signs indicate that 2013 may be the year it actually begins to coalesce.
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Data Surplus, Insight Deficit  Facebook has already begin rolling out its "Photo Sync" feature which automatically downloads photos from your mobile device to Facebook (privately). Some see this as a land grab for data but it's not the only one. "The cloud," "social data," or the overhyped macro label, "big data" will dominate the tech conversation. While it's true that more of our data is being collected, mined and stored, that doesn't mean people know what to do with it. There aren't enough qualified human beings (analysts, sociologists, strategists, anthropologists etc) to mine all this data. But this won't last for long. 2013 may be the year we focus less on data and start thinking about how to understand, interpret and make good use of it.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Facebook Now Includes Business Pages in Local Mobile Search Results

For local businesses, there's now all the more reason to create a Facebook Page. Yesterday, Facebook announced updates to the 'Nearby' tab within its mobile app, giving local businesses an even better opportunity to get discovered by Facebook mobile users. And considering there are more than 600 million of them, this isn't really a benefit brick-and-mortar businesses should overlook. In fact, with Facebook's latest update, it seems like Google might have some new competition when it comes to local search.
Let's take a quick look at what Facebook's updates actually entail, and how local businesses can win their piece of the Facebook local search pie.

What Exactly Did Facebook Do to Its Nearby Tab?

Before yesterday's update, the Nearby tab was dedicated to showing users where their Facebook friends had checked in. With Facebook's update, now users of the Facebook app (for both iOS and Android) will not only see which friends have checked in at specific places, but they'll also be able to discover places and businesses that are nearby. These results are ranked primarily by the recommendations of the particular user's friends, which factor in criteria such as star ratings, check-ins, and Likes. And if there are no recommendations from the user's network available, result rankings will default to the larger Facebook community’s engagement with that business or place.

places nearby resized 600

Furthermore, Facebook mobile users will now be able to search for places by category -- such as restaurants, coffee, nightlife, outdoors, arts, hotels, and shopping.

nearby categories resized 600

Finally, users will also have the ability to connect to businesses directly within the Nearby tab on their smartphone by performing actions like Liking, checking in, calling, or getting directions. They'll also have the opportunity to share their recommendations with either the public (by default) or just to specific Facebook connections, as well as rate places using a five-star rating system (which are always public, but editable over time). That being said, users will only be able to leave ratings if they've legitimately checked in.

How Should Local Businesses Make the Most of These Updates?

Great question! If your business has a brick-and-mortar location, here's what you should be doing to make sure you show up in the Nearby tab ...
  • First and foremost, create a Facebook business page! Follow our simple step-by-step instructions, accompanied by a video tutorial, to get set yours up today.
  • Make sure your page is updated with all your business' basic information in its 'About' section, especially your physical address, store hours, phone number, and other critical company details.
  • Check to ensure your page category is accurate, so people will be able to find you when looking for your specific type of business. To change your page's category, click 'Edit Page' from the top of your page, select 'Update Info,' choose the page grouping and the appropriate category for your page, and then click 'Save Changes.'
  • Encourage engagement! Use your marketing assets to motivate your mobile Facebook users to Like, check into, rate, and recommend your place page in Facebook mobile.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Online Marketing News: Sins of Site Design, Google+ Communities, Twitter Photo Filter, Holiday Spending

Infographic 8 Deadly Sins of Site Design

8 Deadly Sins of Site Design

This recent infographic from Nexus Themes targets 8 common mistakes that drive customers away from your website.  These sins include:
  • Bad Navigation
  • Too Many Ads
  • Bad Content Structure
  • Obtrusive Use of Audio & Video
  • Registration Requirement
  • Boring Content, Boring Design
  • Poor Legibility
  • Lack of Frequency
Yahoo Has More Users Than Gmail – Introduces A Faster, Cleaner Email Interface
Yahoo has begun pouring effort into updating their email platform across all platforms.  A more modern design is being implemented in hopes of attracting users to actually use their Yahoo! Mail account, instead of using it as a repository for junk mail.  Via Marketing Pilgrim.
First Look At Google+ Communities: The Importance For Brands, Search and PR
If you have used Facebook or LinkedIn Groups for business, you’ll be interested in Google+’s new feature.  Communities is another step by Google towards building authority around individuals related to a particular subject.  Via Econsultancy.
Twitter Adds Instagram-Like Photo Filters
Last week Instagram pulled Twitter Cards support from its app, meaning that users who shared  their images were relegated to simple links.  Twitter has teamed up with Aviary to provide it’s own series of photo filters.  Via Mashable.
For Email Marketers, List Segmentation Is a Top Priority
Finding a way to harness big data is a priority for many digital marketers.  For email marketers, segmenting consumers based on a series of characteristics and finding ways to target those consumers is no longer a stretch goal, it’s a reality.   Via eMarketer.

TopRank Team News

Evan Prokop – Traveling in Australia?  Don’t Use Apple Maps, or You May Die, Warn Australian Police
Apple Maps has garnered plenty of criticism since its launch, but the recent warnings from Australian police are certainly the most severe.  Due to incorrect directions, several people have been led to remote areas far from access to food and water, leading Australian police to advise against relying on the service.  Via Search Engine Watch.
Jolina Pettice – 5 Ways Social Media Will Change The Way You Work in 2013
Last year 73% of Fortune 500 companies were active on Twitter. What does 2013 hold for social media and business? Read on to find out.  Via Forbes.
Thom Craver – Google Makes Structured Data Easy with Data Highlighter
Rich Snippets are an excellent way to provide semantic data to search engines. In practice, however, it has been a tedious and technical process to implement.  Google Webmaster Tools has added a new tool to help make the process easier by highlighting text on a page. It only works for events at the moment, but it’s a good start.  Via State of Search.
Brian Larson – It’s Not Just for Landing Pages – Split Testing In Twitter
While most marketers don’t need to be sold on the benefit of conducting AB or multivariate tests on their webpages, very few are taking that scientific approach to social. The first question to ask re this epidemic  (that may be overly dramatic) is ‘Why’.  I’d venture to guess the reason is that most marketers have not developed the processes to address the ‘How’. Luckily, Social Media Examiner has the laid out the game plan to address that very question.  Via Social Media Examiner.
Rob Bayne – Social Media and the Boardroom: Much Work Remains
The role of business and social media has changed from something only the online marketing department was concerned about, to something that impacts companies in a multitude of ways.  Only 14% of companies are regularly engaged in monitoring social media sentiment, is yours one?  Via Social Media Today.
Mike Odden – Arrests Over $850M Facebook Botnet Crime Spree
10 suspects in a Facebook cybercrime ring have been arrested in the US  UK and other countries  around the world.  Facebook users had been targeted since 2010.  Via BBC.
Miranda Miller – U.S. Online Holiday Spending Approaches $27 Billion
Online spending is up again this year, continuing a steady year-over-year growth trend as more consumers take to doing their holiday shopping online. comScore reports $26.6 billion has been spent in the first 37 days of the 2012 holiday shopping season, up 13% over the same period last year.  Via Comscore.
Mike Yanke – Holiday Traditions Falls As NORAD To Track Santa With Bing Maps
A long-standing holiday tradition, dating back five years now, will fall in 2012 as NORAD’s Santa Tracking will be supported by Bing Maps rather than Google.  Does this mean that Bing Maps are emerging as victorious in the online map wars – or does it mean that Google hates Christmas?  Because it can only be one or the other, after all.  Search Engine Land reports.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Human Algorithm: Redefining the Value of Data

The onslaught of real-time social, local, mobile (SoLoMo) technology is nothing short of overwhelming. Besides the gadgets, apps, social networks and appliances that continue to emerge, the pace of innovation is only outdone by the volumes of data that each produce. Everything we share, everywhere we go, everything we say and everyone we follow or connect with, generates valuable information that can be used to improve consumer experiences and ultimately improve products and services.
While the amount of personal and ambient information churned out by SoLoMo is often inundating or even perplexing, it is this “big” data that will help businesses evolve and adapt in a new era of connected consumerism. More importantly, the study and understanding of relevant big data will shift organizations from simply reacting to trends to predicting the next disruption and adapting ahead of competition—thus, marking the shift from rigid to adaptive business models
From business to education to government and everything in between, without studying how the undercurrent of behavior is evolving, organizations cannot effectively adapt to new trends and opportunities. Change though, cannot be undertaken simply because of pervasive data.
Without interpretation, insight and the ability to put knowledge to work, any investment in technology and resources is premature. But, by investing in human capital to make sense of would be ominous data, organizations can modernize the role of business intelligence to introduce a human touch. SoLoMo analysis becomes the sustenance that feeds the insights for more informed and inspired innovation. The result is nothing less than relevance and a significant competitive advantage.

From Information Paralysis to Analysis

You’ve heard that old saying, over analysis leads to paralysis. In the face of big data, it’s easy to see the tidal wave that can result from the influx of inputs and sources. Equally, the lack of governance, support and transparency can lead to stalls and or the abandonment of new efforts altogether.
The reality is though that how organizations connected with customers yesterday is not how customers will be served tomorrow. Meaning, the entire infrastructure in how we market, sell, help, and create now requires companies to not only study data and behavior but also change how it thinks about customers. This is a bona fide renaissance and to lead a new era of customer engagement requires knowledge acumen. I refer to the confluence of data and interpretation as the human algorithm—the ability to humanize technology and data to put a face, personality, and voice to the need and chance for change. Data tells a story, it just needs help finding its rhythm and rhyme.
On the surface, social, mobile and other disruptive technologies are valued for the communities of people they bring together. Open a window to look inside and you realize that the undercurrent of transformation is information. To adapt and ultimately lead change requires an official role to not only listen, but study.
Today many businesses use any one of the myriad of social media management systems to monitor conversations, track sentiment and measure share of voice. That’s not intelligence however. Much of what we see today is important, but it’s measuring activity not translating behavior into creativity or strategy. Part of the problem is that social media lives in a silo unto itself. Indeed, organizations employ business intelligence and research teams today. The reality is though that BI too sits in a silo. Either way, information or the lack thereof is either held prisoner within one part of organization or it’s under valued and not in demand among the very teams that can benefit from it.

The Human Side of Information

The human algorithm is part understanding and part communication. The ability to communicate and apply insights internally and externally is the key to unlocking opportunities to earn relevance. Beyond research, beyond intelligence, the human algorithm is a function of extracting insights with intention, humanizing trends ad possibilities and working with strategists to improve and innovate everything from processes to products to overall experiences.
The idea of the human algorithm is to serve as the human counterpart to the abundance of new social intelligence and listening platforms hitting the market every day. Someone has to be on the other side of data to interpret it beyond routine. Someone has to redefine the typical buckets where data is poured. And someone has to redefine the value of data to save important findings from a slow and eventual death by three-ring binders rich with direction and meaning.
One place where the human algorithm can have an immediate impact is in social media listening. In addition to tracking simple data signals such as conversations, sentiment, share of voice and service inquiries, data can present insights into preferences, trends, areas for innovation or refinement, R&D, co-creation, et al. Even though sophisticated tools can help track data points that can lead to these insights, it still takes a human touch to surface them and in turn advocate findings within the organization. It’s the difference between insights, actionable insights, and executed insights.
The truth is that a community or social media manager is not tasked with this type of responsibility therefore, insights largely remain undiscovered. It takes a new role that unites the disciplines of business intelligence and social media with the perseverance of a change agent. Without it, all of the insights capable of leading organizations to the next big thing will meet its long time arch nemeses fear and skepticism.
Big data is just that…it’s big. While the profusion of information today can lead to analysis paralysis, by listening with intent, organizations can tune-in the signals that will direct opportunities to adapt to and lead this new era connected consumerism. This is about innovation—inside and out. Those who don’t plug in and invest in technology’s human counterparts are in turn making an investment toward potential irrelevance. But remember, data is just the beginning. Data must always tell a story and that takes a human touch to extract data, surface trends, and translate them into actionable insights across the entire organization.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Make Money Online With PayPal

Most of you  might  be  well aware of PayPal. For those
who have no knowledge about it,  it is a global business
which allows payments and transfers through the World
Wide Web. PayPal works well for  people who do online
jobs, as they can  get  their  money immediately and can
enjoy  100%  profit  within  seconds.  PayPal  has  made
things easier and earning money is no more a tedious task.

Are you ready to earn some cash directly in to your PayPal account?   If yes,  you  must  check  if you  have  the  basic  English skills. You must have sound knowledge of basic English grammar. Are you wondering what it is all about? It is merely writing articles online. If you have no knowledge on a particular subject, you have the liberty to do a research on it and then start writing in your own words without grammatical errors. Keep the language simple and sophisticated. Any reader should be able to understand the subject and most likely complete reading the article. The first thing you will have to do is locate and visit websites online where you can sell articles of 500 words or which accommodate half a page or one page.

If you are totally new to online writing, you can refer GAF, which provides several ideas to write. People post specific job types on this site which can be bid for. When you complete the work on the same day, your PayPal account is updated immediately. It sounds thrilling and exciting. This is a good time to make more money as you might have plenty of expenses for Christmas.

Keep in mind that your article should have unique content with no typos and grammatical errors. Google rates a website based on its unique content, which is the whole purpose of writing articles. Appearing on the first page when a Google search is made is the main goal of any website. If you are badly in need of more money, you can sell a pack of articles on a particular topic. Each article has to be unique with a word count ranging from 400-500. This is the best way to earn more money on a single day.

There are also a few sites online which pay you every day in PayPal and also pay you on a monthly basis.The monthly pay is based on the number of page views that your article attracts. There are certain sites online which pay you more for the articles you write. These genuine sites can be trusted as they have earned a good reputation. You can be assured that you will be paid the money that you deserve. For example: At the same time, they might expect articles of a little higher standard than the others.

You can also try your hand at online surveys. All you have to do is join the online survey sites which are free. Start taking surveys and get paid for it. The money that you earn through online surveys is 100% profitable as you do not have to spend a single dime for joining these sites.

The two methods that I have mentioned above require a little of your time and concentration. Just by
sitting at home, in your leisure time, you can earn money. These two methods are popularly used by
people to earn money online with PayPal. With no second thought, start your work right away.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Easy+Ways+to+Make+Your+Blog+More+InteractiveThe advice  you get on making blogs  more interactive
is boring  and  played out.  People will tell  you to add
interesting   content  so  that  others  will  comment, or
will tell you  to comment  on your own blog and check
for answers so that people feel that they are interacting
with the real blog writer….yawn! Try them if you want
but try  not  to fall asleep.  This  article gives you a few
sexy and sweet  ideas for  adding  a  little bit of original
interactivity  into  your  blog. The  ideas  on  this article
can be shaped to suit your blog.

I'll have to practice this more often myself, but my blogs are factual based, full of information that can actually help others if they so decide to read and use the information I've published. People tend to flock to my blogs regardless of any fancy get-up I may have showing. It's just not what I care to spend too much time on, but for those of you who are somewhat more "artistic" you go...

Mix up your media
Add a mix of different media. Don’t just make it all writing. You don’t have to sex up your
writing if you include various mixes of media. Many people will tell you to break your writing
into short paragraphs with punchy headlines--this is a technique for the unimaginative (unless
they are being paid with the stipulation of writing short paragraphs with headers. Mix up your
blog with a variety of media and your reading will be wetting their under shorts with interactive

Mixed media: sounds
When a person scrolls over a quote on your text, why not have the text speak to them. Why
not have the quote spoken by the person who said it. You don’t even have to make it as
sophisticated as a mouse-pointer rollover, you can put a little “hear” symbol next to a quote to
hear someone say it. It is very good if something sounds unbelievable. For example there are
hundreds of quotes you can use from George Bush Jr, such as him interrupting himself to ask
himself to allow himself to finish.

Mixed media: sound effects
Why not have a sound effect come start up when a person rolls their mouse pointer over a
picture. You could go the less high tech route and write, “Click the pic to hear…” You could use
it to belittle someone else’s opinion, for example, you could write, “Click the pic to hear his
counter argument,” and then when the person clicks the picture (of a person/persons face) a
sound effect could start up, saying, “moo”.

Mixed media: videos
You could back up your blog assertions with video sound bites. For example you could write,
“Ronald Reagan died so that he could”…. And then insert a video that is edited so that is just
has Reagan saying, “Touch the face of god.” See how that works, and you can do it in 101
ways. It is a way of inserting cut scenes into your blog, a little like how Seth McFarlane adds cut
scenes into his TV shows.

Optional endings
Halfway through your blog you could stop the blog and give the audience three boxes. Each
box is a link to an alternate ending, which a person has to pick. Sounds difficult to integrate into
your blog? Not at all, for example if you are telling a story you could stop with the question “So
what did I do next?” You give them three link options. If they pick the right one then the story
continues on. If they pick the wrong option then you can write something such as, “oh if only I
HAD done that. What I did was…”

Link your blog to social media
Use buttons if you like, but try adding a Facebook comment section for a better effect. You can
stimulate a little bit of chatter on both ends and see if you can get people to converse about
your blog on the social media sites and on your blog.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

3 Step Prospecting for Highly Productive Link Building Queries

Using a simple three-step process can deliver phenomenal results for link prospectors during the link building opportunity discovery process. Here's how it works.
The link prospector:
  1. Searches and qualifies for the opportunity type (guest post, links page, comment, etc.). 
  2. Identifies and records a unique footprint from each qualified page. 
  3. Searches for all of the footprints and records the opportunities.
Step 1: Opportunity Type Prospecting
Prospectors DelightTake keywords that define the market or audience you're looking for, along with words or phrases that will help you pinpoint a particular type of opportunity in your search engine of choice.
For example, if you're placing guest posts relating to women's health, try searching Google for ["womens health" "guest post"]. Note: It can be useful to brainstorm - and record - queries in terms of roots and stems, in which the roots direct you toward a topic area, audience, or area of concern and the stems focus on a specific type of opportunity.
Oftentimes, simply querying for opportunities is enough to find all the prospects you require for a given campaign. Indeed, in this first step I recommend recording all the pages or sites (from the top 20 results or so...) that represent definite opportunities. It's from these definite opportunities that you can begin to source your footprints.
Step 2: Unique Footprint Discovery
Here's a wonderful description of link building footprints:
"A great footprint, is one that returns the largest amount of results that are EXACTLY what you?re looking for in the shortest period of time, without having to filter results afterwards." The author of this description uses highly-precise footprints to uncover commenting opportunities for, erm, "large-scale, automated community engagement."
Michael Springman, in searching for guest posting opportunities, describes the moment of unique footprint discovery here:
"...the other thing that I noticed was that the author byline at the end of each guest post was exactly the same." He further notes that "the longer I work on link-building, the more I realize the importance of recognizing patterns and trends in my research [footprints... -G] in order to find opportunities that scale."
Identifying and discovering these unique footprints requires careful observation and a bit of reasoned guessing around what specific chunks of language might exist on similar opportunities. The footprint worked out by our friendly and anonymous comment bombing expert is: [(your root KW) "name" AND "*mail" AND "Leave a *" AND "Comment" AND "* Comment"].
Further, if you're looking for comment opportunities on pages with low-no barrier to posting you could search for something like [(your root KW) "I really enjoyed this post. You explain this topic very well."] Mr. Springman found that searching for ["Jane Doe is a content contributor for"] helped uncover more than 600 guest placement opportunities with (probably) lax editorial standards.
For example, the term "preparedness" is used frequently on disaster recovery resource pages. Adding a key term to the intitle and inurl of your queries can help to laser target your searches. Specific company, brand name, or even article/PDF titles can be used in much the same way to pinpoint potential resource pages.
Step 3: Footprint Prospecting
Once you've identified, classified and recorded your footprints for a given campaign, it's time to search and scrape the queries (by-hand and for free with SEO for Firefox or through automation with the brand new paid advanced prospecting feature on BuzzStream), qualify them based on metrics or even the domain occurrences in the SERPs, and then put them into your acquisition phase!