Is Google’s SERP to be completely trusted? The importance of your social network vs your SEO efforts!

Recently I was asked by my director to buy some fresh databases for a project we wanted to run for one of our training programmes. The target group was small to medium enterprises, SMEs in the United Kingdom. I had been disappointed in the past with a couple of data mining companies I worked with, so I decided to make a fresh start and do it myself.

I’ve been into SEO for some time now and after reading Google’s latest quality rating guidelines I decided to put my faith in the king of search engines (despite the huge fiasco with the Go daddy anchor text spam link building technique which resulted in them being optimised on a number of keywords bringing Google’s quality techniques into question!) The keywords I decided to use were “buy SME uk database.” Simple and straightforward. What I expected to see popping up on my screen was the top ten best web sites that can offer me a database of UK SMEs available for purchase.

To read the whole story please follow http://www.atladasmedia.co.uk/blog/is-googles-serp-to-be-completely-trusted

 

Are you still not convinced that people take buying decisions on Twitter?

One of the questions that I always face in training seminars, most of the time by small business owners, is the doubt that social media actually affects buying decisions and that social media networks – especially Twitter – are not ideal market places, rather a platform where marketers spam other marketers with content and offers.
The purpose of my blog today is not to educate people how to use Twitter in order to generate leads and find potential customers (I will leave that part for my social media training seminar that will take place end of February in London) but rather to show you two important things. One that people DO take purchase decisions based on feedback from other social media users and secondly that brands that do not focus on social media might lose potential customers.

 

Let me show you an example:

As I was browsing my search streams on MarketMeSuite I stumbled across the following tweet by a user who is moving house and is looking for the best Internet and phone line providers. Here is the tweet:

 

Based on my personal experience (and as you will see from this example I wasn’t the only one) I have used two different Internet service providers the last 4 years with BT being horrible and suffering a lot of random disconnections during the day, so I shared my point of view with Rebecca. I have followed a similar example with Joomlart CMS those who follow my tweets know this already.

 

What amazes me is the willingness of people to share their experiences with other people when it comes to buying decisions. By searching the stream I found references from other users to Sky broadband, BT, O2 etc by people who do not follow Rebecca or vice versa but maybe were participating at that time in a discussion about internet providers, or have a search stream monitoring specific keywords (the way I found Rebecca’s tweet).

Now the one million dollar question is this: Does BT, Sky Broadband and O2 monitor these discussions? I mean, if I was able to find those tweets surely they should be able to as well and from what I see O2 is a winner and my opinion about O2 corresponds with lots of other users.

How about a tweet from BT Internet saying this:

Hello, I am sorry that you had a negative experience using our service. What was the main issue? We might be able to help!

And if we go back to O2 who seems to be the preferred choice amongst users, how about this:

Thank you :-) We try our very hardest to keep our customers happy! FYI here is our “Moving Home” 
page which might be useful: http://ow.ly/8H9cd

Surprisingly they do have a moving home page so that suits the buyer’s decision perfectly (see link above).

I normally write long blogs but I think that this pretty much sums up what I’ve been encouraging people to do with social media. People are out there looking for products, to take decisions, to ask for a second opinion. Are you listening to them?

Why social media is a number’s game

Many posts from those in the know on Twitter have underlined social media usage as not being primarily about how many followers/Likes/+1s businesses get – and I definitely endorse that to a degree. After all, it’s pointless asking people who have no interest in your services to ‘Like’ your page, or to create fake Twitter accounts to up the follower numbers – which add absolutely nothing of value to your feed and your business.

However, generally in life I believe business (and pleasure!) is largely a numbers game to an extent. If I look back at successes I’ve had both at work and play, they’ve usually come about over time, thanks to perseverance and also how much contact I’ve had and made with relevant sources.

Note the last highlighted phrase. ‘Relevant’ is the key word here.

Social media as a marketing tool is no different. If you have 10,000 irrelevant followers (meant in the nicest possible way) obviously it’s a futile game. However, if you have 1,000 relevant followers, the outlook’s very different.
When I look at social media users I most admire, they are the ones providing quality content but also regularly. They are the ones responding and engaging with followers. They create an aura around themselves through positioning themselves as a leader in their field. This ‘buzz’ is only created over time and with time comes larger amounts of online engagement and followers. This could be through blogging, Twitter, Facebook and any other networking sites if used wisely.

So, it really is a numbers game!

But how can you up the odds in your favour? It may seem straightforward, but are you really doing this?

A few tips:

  • Try to set a minimum number of tweets/blog posts that you do per day/week. It doesn’t matter if it’s hard to stick to initially, just start creating the habit and getting into a good pattern.
  • Make sure that you are creating conversations in the right areas with the right people. This is just about common sense. Target a significant amount of relevant networks and forums but target carefully. This is a numbers plus quality game!
  • Offline networking face-to-face is in many ways more useful than online. How many times have you been to a networking event, made good connections, then added everyone on Linkedin the next day? It’s often a natural process. That transition from offline to online is key and the more you can combine the two, the better it’ll work for you. And, crucially, the more networking events you attend equals more Linkedin connections and equals more potential customers/referrals. It can be hard to build the same rapport initially online, it’s better to meet upfront first.
  • Let’s face it, if you have 1,000 followers and just 200 of those are timewasters…that’s still another 800 people getting your message and passing it on! As long as the majority of your followers or contacts are relevant, that’s fine. And the more followers and contacts you have the more leads you could achieve indirectly and directly. All this through helping others and adding value to your services.
  • Youtube is a BRILLIANT way to market your business (for various complex SEO reasons that I will go into in my next blog) and the more you post…the more you’re likely to get publicity, particularly if again, the videos are channelled towards the relevant crowd!
By akronsound

11 things you have learned from Atladas Media Blog in 2011

First and foremost Happy New Year everyone! Hope 2012 brings you everything you wish for on both a personal and professional level. As we get back to the daily grind after our Christmas break we thought we’d take a retrospective look at 11 topics we’ve covered during our 2011 blogs…So here it goes:

Do you use Facebook Ads? If you do, think outside the box!

On a recent social media training course I was running I met a digital photographer who was interested in using Facebook to generate leads and eventually potential customers. Her being a rookie to the social media world, she wasn’t aware of the differences between Facebook and Google ads so the practises she followed did not return anything on her investment, as she mainly behaved as if Facebook was a typical SEO keyword advertisement platform!

In my last blog How to get your Facebook page the thumbs up I was trying to explain that there are no big secrets to succeeding with Facebook ads and that the answer is really simple. If you want to use Facebook you need to do it the consumers’ way and think outside the box!

You can find the full article here: http://www.atladasmedia.co.uk/blog/122-facebook-ads

Hope you enjoy the read and don’t forget to leave your comments or tweet us directly at @akronsound or @atladasmedia should you wish to chat with us about this blog or any of our services.

Measuring social media successfully – a few tricks and tips

This week’s blog is some tricks and tips in measuring your social media efforts successfully.

Like any other marketing strategy, social media methods should be thoroughly tested to see what works best. However, as social media is a nascent industry, one thing that needs to be established by you and/or your team is how you define social media measurement.

You can find the full article here: http://www.atladasmedia.co.uk/blog/121-measuring-social-media-successfully

Hope you enjoy the read and don’t forget to leave your comments or tweet us directly at @akronsound or @atladasmedia should you wish to chat with us about social media marketing services or social media training.

How businesses can best use social media in 2012

This week’s blog “How businesses can best use social media in 2012” is about what can be expected in 2012, focusing on those who are already using social media networks as part of their CRM or marketing strategy. A good sum up of:

  • Focus on cultivating a ‘social business culture’ – whatever the size of your business
  • Location-based messaging
  • Accountability and ethics
  • Monitoring and Analytics

You can find it here: http://www.atladasmedia.co.uk/blog/120-how-businesses-can-best-use-social-media-in-2012

Hope you enjoy the read and don’t forget to leave your comments or tweet us directly at @akronsound or @atladasmedia should you wish to chat with us about your social media marketing strategy or social media training.

 

By akronsound

Building relationships on Twitter is the same as building relationships in the ‘real world.’

Building relationships on Twitter is the same as building relationships in the ‘real world.’ I’m writing this blog for the benefit of business owners or individuals who have Twitter accounts but still aren’t too sure about how it can help them build their credibility.

It still astounds me that many people I speak to about Twitter think that after tweeting once suddenly overnight they should be inundated with demands for their product/service and sales should soar.

Do these same people believe that if they were to make one sales call, or deliver one leaflet a la ‘traditional’ marketing methods they would get a deluge of phone calls from customers begging to purchase their latest product? I suspect not.

“But wait,” they may say. “Twitter is all about reaching out too many with just one tweet. That one sales call/leaflet/email is not. It just targets one customer.”

True, very true.

But I liken Twitter to your first day at the office. No one really knows you, no one really cares what you have to say, you’re just the newbie. Bit by bit you build your credibility and you get listened to in the Monday morning meetings. You get invited out for drinks at the local pub for Sarah’s birthday (although be careful with this – giving away your thoughts about your co-workers after a few beers is to be avoided.) Point is, developing strong relationships always take time.

Hence when you eagerly post details of your product or service on Twitter and wait for a response, unless you’ve spent time cultivating the right kind of followers, it’s unlikely anyone’s going to really bother to respond.

So, Twitter as a marketing tool is not that different to any other way of marketing or building up a client base. It is just an EXTRA METHOD that could potentially give you access to a WIDER audience than just the one around your immediate contacts and clients.

Just think of Twitter as one big happy virtual networking event.

So, how to make an impact? Just follow the same rules you follow whilst building ‘real’ relationships in the ‘real’ world.Regularly tweet/interact with other tweeters

Consistency is key. If I had a pound for every Twitter account set up which had minimal tweeting action going on I’d be a multimillionaire. Just like people, there are millions of accounts out there. If you’re not telling anyone about your business and its benefits in real life, you wouldn’t expect to get customers, so why would you on Twitter? Aim to tweet about five times a day and to interact with people or brands you want to get to know.

Patience is the key

The most important thing is not to give up in the early days. Once you learn the true value of Twitter you will realise it’s not just a load of people writing about ‘Washing their hair’ (yes, Twitter virgins often complain that they don’t want to read about pointless trivia such as this) but, if you’re following the right accounts you will see how they interact and it’s a great idea to learn from the experts. Which brings me on to the next point…

Target the right people

There’s no point following Britney Spears if you run an IT consultancy. Be serious, target those you really feel you could benefit from and who also follow other accounts that could potentially benefit your business. If you get one of your posts ‘retweeted’ by one of your followers, it could reach an audience of hundreds of thousands of people. Let your followers be your viral marketers but remember to ADD value to their Twitter feeds – nothing is more annoying than constantly seeing someone posting pointless information that clogs up your feed!

Be respectful

As many have already noted, Twitter etiquette is the same as the one you follow daily with other humans. Don’t say anything to anyone you wouldn’t say to their face, thank them when they retweet you and generally don’t be abusive. Online personalities should be an extension of the best bits of your own personality.

Don’t be afraid to mix and match

Some Twitter users advocate staying on topic and never tweeting about anything else. Of course it’s best to be very aware of your identity, why you’re tweeting and to work on building valuable content. However, it’s always good to be sociable, that’s what Twitter’s there for! So why not tweet occasionally about what you’re up to at the weekend, wish everyone a Happy New Year/Christmas/Thanksgiving. It’s about being friendly as well as professional!

Don’t be overwhelmed by the time aspect

Some small business owners really fear the amount of time Twitter takes up. It’s true that it can be addictive, however, it shouldn’t distract you from deadlines. Give yourself a ‘tweet quota’ and if striving to finish a project cut off social networking for a few hours while you focus purely on the important stuff. If you just think of it as something that fits in with the ebb and flow of your day, it’ll seem less scary…..

By akronsound

Don’t be boring, stop the audience from snoring! How to distinguish a great presentation from an average one.

Have you ever been to a presentation and tried to stop yourself falling asleep? Have you counted down the minutes until lunchtime/bathroom breaks/going home? I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that I certainly have! Training often conjures up images of dull meeting rooms with boring Powerpoints and unenthusiastic presenters, who speak at you rather than interacting with their audience with energy and vitality.

And more than often this is the case. It certainly takes an extraordinary individual to have you walking away from a training session feeling inspired, excited and ready to make life changes.

I’ll never forget one talk I went to from a major bank’s chief economist. As I helped myself to the canapés and poured myself a large glass of wine I prepared myself for an uneventful afternoon.

However, as soon as the speaker got on his platform I couldn’t take my eyes off him! He sprung to life, bounding around, using simple, day-to-day examples to explain major economic theories.

His voice was gruff and loud, he was extraordinarily unconventional. However, I walked away with more knowledge of economic principles than I learnt whilst studying 20th century economic history for three years when I was an undergraduate in London!

Why is it some people just have that special something, that charisma?

Creating this all important vibe is extremely important when it comes to conveying  the power of social media. This is mainly because using social media networks for marketing only works if the person managing these networks REALLY gets the idea and is EXCITED about it! This is because social media is exactly what it says on the tin, ie “social.” There is no point in understanding how it functions without understanding the ultimate purpose. So, back to the original question -  how do great speakers and trainers inspire their audiences?

Here are a few indicators:

THEIR VOICE CHANGES PITCH
When delivering a presentation it’s key that speakers don’t just speak monotonously at their audience.  Change of pace, tone and pitch is vital. Boring speakers remind everyone of  their drabbest teacher at school who was usually very out of control of his/her pupils. This is because they couldn’t command attention or respect.  And many adults don’t necessarily have that much longer an attention span than teenagers – let’s face it!

THEY MOVE AROUND          
Moving around the speaking area (obviously not too manically) is also important, as it conveys excitement and flow. It subconsciously indicates to the audience that the speaker is enthusiastic about what he/she is talking about and also that there is more interesting content to come. Standing in the same spot indicates a lack of momentum which gets the audience yawning.

THEY MAKE THEIR POINTS SHORT AND SWEET
Inspiring speakers don’t go over the same point again and again. They bring new things all the time to the audience. They add new ideas , use new graphics and imaginative ways to explain these points. If the audience has questions, that’s great as they often encourage participation from the audience which brings us on to our next point…

…THEY ARE INTERACTIVE

Great trainers are keen to speak to their audience, to get feedback. They want to know how the audience feels, what their concerns are. They will ask their audience to explain their problems, their experiences in whatever field they are focusing on. They will want to encourage their audience to ask questions, to get their money’s worth and walk away feeling satisfied.

THEY COME PREPARED
One clever way of getting the audience feeling as if they are part of the presentation rather than being lectured to by an uninspiring schoolmaster, is to research some of their businesses and find examples in this area. For example, a social media presentation we did recently had strong feedback partly because we found several examples of the audience’s competitors using social media networks and showed how they were doing it. Admittedly it was a small group, but it helped them see how social media could benefit their businesses.

THAT JE NE SAIS QUOI…
Ever heard someone say about someone: “He/she just had something…that…I can’t put my finger on it…a certain ‘Je ne sais quoi.’” Or perhaps you yourself have met one of these individuals. A warmth, charisma, leadership ability which makes someone stand out in the crowd is not necessarily easy to cultivate overnight, but motivators and trainers who are worth keeping will have it in droves!

Why Google Plus Business Edition won’t have an impact on your social media performance!

I wrote a blog a few days ago and my prediction was that the only way for Google to make businesses come to Google+ Business, would be to make that page relevant for search engines. I would like to add a couple of other points to this – as I believe originality is key when it comes to launching new social media tools. It has been almost two weeks since Google+ announced the launch of their business pages and there are already hundreds if not thousands of articles posted on the Internet, including how-to-guides, lists of the benefits of having a Google+ page, how it will dominate the social world and of course the SEO benefits that such a tool can provide to the business world.

Here is some feedback from those who read my last blog:

For many business owners and small businesses, Google results are the only way to be found by customers/prospects, to make new leads and make big money………. But the most important thing I think will make a difference, is that the Plus (different from the ‘Like’), will be connected to the search results in Google”.

A second user asked me this:

Would you still use Facebook if most of your friends are on Google+? (which is exactly what has happened with Myspace and Orkut when Facebook launched).”

Browse through various discussions in small business forums and on LinkedIn and you can witness overexcitement about Google+ and a hurry-up-and-make-a profile mentality all over the Internet. Most will say that we cannot be negative and write off this brand new social network, especially when it is part of the big Google machine, but I beg to differ.

Google’s market share is strong, but is Google+ even better than Facebook?

Fondalo, founder and CEO of Bundlepost  published one of the most solid opinions I have read about why Google+ will not prevail over Facebook and he also discussed market share. I agree completely with his analysis – the perceived “best” does not always conquer the marketplace (Blue Ray versus DVD is an example as Blue Ray provides much better viewing experiences than DVDs and still never made it), but what I want to add is that in Google+’s case it is questionable as to whether it is “better” than Facebook. Google+ should have never been launched in the first place – not before it was completed anyway if they wanted to stand a chance competing with Facebook.

When you launch a product in the market you can see peoples’ reactions and improve it. You can evaluate its technical performance and improve it with patch releases and updates, hear additional user comments, run discussions through forum and blogs and make better versions etc. Google has done it before and worked brilliantly (see for example Gmail which improves day by day and now is maybe the best email service in the world.)

Google+ is not a product

The difference with Google+ is that it is not a product; it is a “place” where people socialise. And if the initial experience is bad or incomplete people will lose interest. Imagine you go to a club and leave the place with a bad experience – you would not go back too easily no matter how many cheap tickets you are offered or how many discounts they lay on the table. You would just stick to the clubs you like or carry on exploring new ones – the world is a huge market. Google relied too much on the fact that it is “Google” when it launched Google+, and majorly failed because people did not find it good enough or interesting.

Even the Executive Chairman and former CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt, only posted his first Google+ profile, when Steve Jobs died around three months after Google+ went live – not exactly great publicity for your product!

Ok but what about SEO?

Ok let us take it for granted that “Google results are the only way to be found by customers/prospects” and being signed up to Google+ will help you to be found more easily and get you higher rankings overall.

But found by whom exactly? If prospects are those millions on facebook who do not want to move over to Google+, what is the point in joining a social network where you do not socialise at all, just enhance your SEO campaign? And since when has joining a social network been about SEO? Facebook, Twitter and all other popular social media platforms already help you to be found easily. You think your clients have five different social network accounts and if they do have them will they follow the same company five times? Well, no they will not. There is no point in doing that. If a campaign works with Google+, it will work on any social network. The question is which social network right now are you prospects using? That should be your focal point.

Hang on a minute! Social networks DO serve different target audiences right?

Of course they do! For example, there is a big difference between Facebook and Linkedin target audiences, but I do not think that Google+ is trying to target a different audience from Facebook, rather get in the social game and snap up some of the market share. They did the same with Google Buzz to get market share from Twitter. They stopped the product a few weeks ago because their market share in comparison to Twitter was non-existent, in other words they failed. There are million of examples of Google products not making it. Remember Google Books? Failed…now they are building Google TV. I imagine it will fail for the same reason Google Books failed and I would not invest much hope in Google Music either, not in its current state at least.

Social Networking

I disagree with the statement that Google results are the only way to be found when it comes to small businesses. I believe that networking (and most importantly location-based networking) is the most important source of business for these people. And social media marketing is the best networking tactic you can practise on the internet right now, more powerful than Google or anything else. There are plenty of popular social media networking tools that help you directly connect with your target audience and their circles (friends or personal networks), but most importantly you will be able to identify the “language” used, keywords and terminology used for your product or services by your ideal target audience, topics that concern them in your industry sector, trends and so much more intelligence that with proper use will propel you up the rankings. All of this is invaluable information, will keep you in the pole position and help you start building personal relationships with your audience and design a very accurate marketing strategy by directly connecting with them as well as providing content that will add value to your brand and products. And I believe that if you do your job well and start a buzz around your name on Facebook groups and status updates, not only will people who are interested in your products  find you, but you will also be able to reach those who do not care about your products but see your name liked or referred to on  a friend’s wall. And that is the power of social media marketing!

Conclusion

To conclude (I am very passionate about this subject – apologies if my long answer makes you feel tired) businesses should be where their prospects are. So the proper question is where are these people? Where do your customers hang out? It does not matter where YOU will be for the sake of your SEO, rather where THEY will be to network and connect. I highly doubt Google+  will give you any sort of advantage against a competitor who is socially engaged with your audience in depth.  If Google wants people to leave Facebook and go to Google+ they will need a lot more than what they are currently offering. Google+ do nothing new or innovative in comparison to Facebook (at the moment) so I can not see how millions will leave Facebook for Google+ and convince their 150 friends (average friend number per page on facebook) to follow them there so they can do exactly what they are already doing on Facebook. In order to win in the social media world you need something innovative, not another copy cat.

If you enjoyed the read and found this article useful please +1 it and share it via the social media buttons below. You will find these posts also at the official Atladas Media web site specialising in social media marketing services  @: http://www.atladasmedia.co.uk at the Blog Section.  Site still under construction so bear with me :-)