Social Media: Three Questions You Must Ask

Let’s start with the obvious. It’s not when and where to post? These are important questions, truly, but they are ancillary to what is most important. If you don’t first answer these three questions, then all of your perfect posts, at all the perfect times, will land on blind eyes and deaf ears. The success of your strategy comes down these things; your company’s most important social media considerations: Who are your customers? Where are they hanging out?, and What do they need right now?

Who is your customer?

The golden funnel in business leads to one happy ending: a customer [Read: Money.] Finding that customer is the nut marketing has sought to crack since Neanderthals sold stones to Homo-Sapiens. [Pretty sure I just made that up.]

This should be easy, right? After all, you know your customer. He comes in all the time. You just need legions of him. But then sometimes his wife comes in. And there’s that other guy who’s so different. Alright, so maybe your customer could be many different people. Maybe it will be easier to figure out who he or she is by determining where they hang out.

Where are your customers hanging out?

Let’s build our answer on the following presumption. Fans of reading aren’t all coffee drinkers, but people who enjoy coffee often apt to read. Not 100% of the time, but I stand a pretty good chance of finding a few book-lovers at the local Starbucks.

FollowersAlong this logic-line, carpenters hang out at the mill, actors spend their time in theatres, and lawyers chase ambulances. What is the proverbial ambulance your customers will chase? With Social Media, we’re not looking for a physical location. Where are they online? Who are they already following?

We will find your customers following existing trade magazines, business partners, or even behind enemy lines. From there we can start trying to get their attention with hashtags, posts they would dig, and in some cases we can just follow them. If they dig your thang, then they’ll follow back, usually at a rate of 10-40%.

Getting them to dig your thang is not likely going to be with product shots. We need those, but more importantly, we need to figure out what they really need. It’s not enough to tell people you have cars for sale. If you’ve branded correctly, as in Mike’s Used Cars, they already know.

People want to know how buying a car on your lot will be the experience they’re looking for. And the answer isn’t telling them that you’re the best in town, or that you sell the most. In Social Media, that’s the fastest way to tell your potential customer to unfollow, and block you. It’s not how you get them to your party.

That’s how you should think about your social media channels, as little social gatherings. What are you serving for hors devours? Bad appetizers can quickly destroy a party. 

Let’s pull the bus over

What do they need right now?

So what are the best companies doing for their followers? Here are a few examples from Loud Door’s August 2014 Study of the most powerful brands in social media:

  • Costco (1.2 million fans): Deals on items consumers need.
  • Ziploc (1.5 million fans): Holiday recipes like cakes encrusted with peppermint sticks crushed in Ziploc bags? Crafts and holiday decorations stored in . . . you guessed it . . . Ziploc containers.
  • St. Jude Children’s Hospital (1.7 million fans): Photos of children getting better.
  • Medela (247,000 fans): Baby photos and information to support breastfeeding.
  • Tide (over 4 million Facebook fans): Featuring the Scott twins, also known as the Property Brothers. Focused on clothes that can get really dirty like military, janitorial, construction and firefighting uniforms.
  • Reese’s Candy Company (12 million fans): Interesting desserts incorporating Reese’s products. Peanut information.

Notice a pattern? It’s beautiful like peanut butter and chocolate. There is a meeting point of providing followers what they need, without giving away the store, and always leading them back to your product.If it’s really something they need, then you won’t have to sell them.

When the followers of St Jude’s talk to someone in the real world who needs a doctor, they say “The people at St Jude’s really seem to care.” When the followers of Medela talk to expecting mothers, they ask if they follow Medela? Why? Because they are the first thing that comes to mind. Your followers will go out and sell your brand for you.

So what is it? What do they need right now, and how can you give it to them? How do you find out? Maybe you know. This comes down to understanding where your product falls, in the needs, or the desire category.

Let’s not split too many hairs on what exactly is a need versus what is considered a desire. For arguments sake, if it’s a need, as is the case with Costco’s products, then maybe all they need is to know what you have on sale. If it’s a desire, like Reese’s, then maybe all they need is an excuse to indulge.

Every product is going to offer a slightly different opportunity to close this gap. Doing this well is the artistry of social media. Mastery of that starts and ends with how well you answer the three questions.

Still stuck? We would be happy to look over your social media channels for free, and tell you what you could do to improve your strategy. We’re here when you need us. 

2015 Social Media Kill List

I’m having a hard time accepting that the first quarter of 2015 is over. It seems like I was just putting up Christmas lights. My inability to accept this fact is due to the following blog, which I found. It’s mine. I drafted it, originally, to go out as my January 1st call to arms. Now three months have passed and I am only partially on plan, probably because I never posted the blog. This, therefore, is my public admission, and best stab at getting on track. Hey, I never claimed to be perfect.

I’ve reworked it to be my plan for the rest of 2015 so it’s still relevant. For better or worse the concepts were as valid then as they are today.

———- 

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I am a social media manager. 

I won’t call myself: maven, guru, ninja, or any of the other abused epithets. My job is already cool. It doesn’t need a title to make it cooler. I get paid to surf social media, read blogs, make comments, write articles, and post pictures.

BlockbusterMoncton

It’s like the grown-up version of working at Blockbusters. [Kids: People used rent something called VHS… never mind.] 

My job might be fun, but one thing’s for certain. It ain’t easy. As with all jobs, there’s an aspect of the work which stinks. Measuring success is easiest when talking dollars, or leads, or even click-through-rates. Getting the results I care about is also a challenge.

Clients like metrics… especially if they’re tied to people, and their wallets. I speak from authority when I report: nobody cares about increasing engagement scores.

It’s as much work to sell clients on the value of engagement scores as it is increasing those very scores.

“Those of us who run in social media circles know that we are the redheaded stepchildren of internet marketing.” Tweet This

Those of us who run in social media circles know that we are the redheaded stepchildren of internet marketing. We stand on the shoulders of platforms, sandwiched between paid advertising, and SEO.

We are the plug and play network wizards who front like we work on Madison Avenue circa ’72.

And yet, our work counts. It’s needed. Otherwise it wouldn’t exist. If CEOs and company owners had the leisure time to surf Pinterest and post Instagram photos, then they likely wouldn’t be CEOs and owners. To all of my social media people out there: you matter. Solidarity. But, I believe we can be better. I can definitely be better.  

Man-listening-to-Gramophone-2014101653

Here’s my loose plan for the rest of 2015:

  1. I will listen better.
  2. I will get my clients more engaged.
  3. And I will be a community leader.

The importance of listening isn’t such an easy concept to grasp, and so difficult to execute.   

It seems even the most talented of us get a little caught up in all our importance. We know communication is about two things, and someday we’ll get good at the listening part, promise. For now there’s just so much cool stuff we want to share with the world. 

So for the rest of 2015 I am taking a cue from Toyota, and doing a better job of active listening. It’s not enough to observe conversations, and it’s really not cool to constantly twist them into pitches, but it is cool to offer intelligent contributions. It’s even cooler to share the things others are sharing. 

My clients will not take a back seat on their social media profiles. 

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When I started this I wanted to be the full service social media provider. “Don’t worry… we’ll take care of everything.” Why not? We can manage all the unfun work. We can run the campaigns, time the posts, find the content, and measure the results. But, followers need to hear from the CEO, even if it’s at the hands of the CEO’s assistant, who’s taking dictation.

Richard Branson is my personal hero. By 2016 my clients will be so sick of Branson, and Virgin, they’ll be signing up for the Mars mission. If you want to see an example of a CEO who gets social media, follow this man. Do everything he does.

It’s true. Clients don’t have time to listen, or post fifty-thousand times a day, but they can step in from time-to-time, reshare super cool company posts, and throw in their two cents. They can make time to be the flesh and blood leaders of their organizations. They have to if they want to play the hottest game in marketing. I am committed to dragging them kicking and screaming if I have to.

594px-5.3.10RichardBransonByDavidShankboneBeing involved in community is as relevant in the virtual world as it is in the real world. 

Community involvement, as I’m figuring out, goes beyond joining social media groups on LinkedIn and Google+. I also have to engage with posts in these arenas, daily, hourly, and every moment of the day. I’ve found almost immediate value with starting my own communities, or groups related to my clients businesses.

Yes, I know… they’re like chatrooms 2.0, but they are the places where conversations are all migrating. I’m the sort of guy who doesn’t waste time; I head straight to the kitchen at any house party. Everybody will be there sooner or later and I want to be near the fridge. I will do the same with social media groups.

Alright. That’s my plan for the rest of 2015. I would love to hear from you if you think I’m way off base. The only way any of us social media students has learned is through trial, (much) error, and the advice of others… even they are really SEO nerds.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Have a great second quarter!

-Damon Mitchell, Social Media Warlock for DEP

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Disavow for the SEO Mind

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Your job as an SEO mind is to use common sense, and knowledge to interpret Google’s message without over reacting out of fear. You know when you are doing things that are good for your brand and what makes business sense in a partnership don’t you? In our blog on the Penguin Update we discusses many of the mistakes that can get you out of favor with Google. Some of them are mistakes that you have made, and some of them are out of your control, this is life, this is online marketing. Learn from your mistakes and learn how to protect yourself while dealing with them. The best part of it is, Google is willing to help with the Disavow tool. However, don’t take advantage of Google’s kindness. This isn’t a get out of jail for free card, and the tool should be handled with extreme care and used as a last resort. Here are the steps you need to take in order to use it properly.

  • Evaluation
    • The first step for any new client is to review their external backlinks. A quick scan should be pretty telling. We typically pull links from three sources.  Ahrefs, OSE, and WMT, and look for these obvious problem areas:
  • Over-optimized anchor text
    • Hint: Listing twelve keywords in a blog and linking back to your home page is not a good thing. 
  • Domain Name
    • Hint: Sites that have the words, SEO, FREE, LINK, POKER, Directory, will lead you on a path to nowhere and fast.
  • Relevancy
    • Hint: If you have to ask yourself, is this site relevant? It is more than likely not.
  • Additional Hints
    • Remove all links that are questionable, despite no follow or follow tag.
    • Remove all questionable broken links
    • Use Citation flow of .7 or above and a DA of 50 or above as your judgment of any additional questionable links.
    • If you are seeing any of these sites in your quick scan. It is time to get up close and personal. At DEP we believe strongly in the machete approach when reviewing the links. We trim with precise aggression.   

For the entire disavow process, we use Remoovem. It scan’s several sources for you automatically, and allows you one free upload of an excel file for any additional links you want to evaluate. In addition, it makes the overall disavow process much simpler due to the fact that it provides contacts to the sites you want to disavow, template messages, and tracks numbers of outreach emails automatically. When your outreach is complete, it will also create the disavow list needed for submission. In all honesty,we couldn’t imagine doing a Disavow without it. 

Contacting Sites

Google recommends contacting sites a min. of 3 times. They want to make you work for fixing your mistakes.  We send these over a 10 day period, with 2 days between each email. Here are some rules to live by

  • Emails should be professional, friendly, and contain all necessary information for the webmaster to easily identify the link you want removed.  The easier you make the task on them, the more likely they are to accommodate.  Each email you send of the three, should get progressively more urgent, but never threatening.  
  • Emails should be sent from a client’s server for continuity.
  • Make sure you remove websites from your outreach list as they respond or remove the requested link. 
  • If someone request you pay for link removal, kindly tell them that you will just proceed to the use of the disavow tool.

File Creation

If you are not going to use software like Remoovem you need to follow the following steps to provide the correct disavow file for submission:

  • The Disavow File should start with a statement of your removal requests with a “#” for each statement. 
    • #We have manually contacted each of the these sites 3 times between 0ctober 10th 2014 – October 20th, 2014, but were un able to have them removed by their webmasters.  We have records of all our requests.
  • It should be a text file (txt), and encoded in UTF-8.
  • Each line should only contain one domain
    • Format for submission is “domain: xyzabc.com”
    • www., or http:// is not required
  •  When you choose to update your file with additional requests, bear in mind that this will replace your old request.  It will remain visible in the tool regardless if the file has been accepted or not.

File Submission

When you’re ready to submit your disavow the process is simple.

  • Log in to your Google account
  • Go to the Disavow Tool
  • Select your site
  • Click “Disavow Links”
  • Choose the file you created
  • Click “Submit”

Penguin 3.0 Finally Drops…What to look for?

pengiun

The little bird that can’t fly finally drops for the white hat SEO community to reap 12 months of hard work cleaning up negligent work of other HACK SEO companies.

After 12 long months of waiting for the next Penguin update, it finally arrived on October 20th. A full list of Penguin updates can be found here

Here are dates of all Penguin releases:

  • Penguin 1.0 on April 24, 2012 (impacting ~3.1% of queries)
  • Penguin 1.1 on May 26, 2012 (impacting less than 0.1%)
  • Penguin 1.2 on October 5, 2012 (impacting ~0.3% of queries)
  • Penguin 2.0 on May 22, 2013 (impacting 2.3% of queries)
  • Penguin 2.1 on Oct. 4, 2013 (impacting around 1% of queries)
  • Penguin 3.0 on October 17, 2014 (impacting around 1% of queries)

**Source : Search Engine Land

If you’ve been affected by this penalty, you are likely in one of two camps:

1. A business that previously employed a SEO firm who used ill advised practices of building backlinks through any number of ways: link wheels, blog networks, heavy usage of keyword rich anchors, mass directory submissions, etc.

2. A business that has been hacked or attacked by a negative SEO campaigns. 

At Downtown eCommerce we’ve been helping clients in both camps. Over the last 18 months we’ve brought on 3 different clients in camp one that were hammered by Pengiun 2.0 and 2.1 as result of a previous SEO firms efforts. 

Recently, we brought on another client who’s rankings, and thus traffic, were decimated by their WordPress site getting hacked. How exactly did we identify the issue? Combing through their back link profile we found a laundry list of backlinks that had absolutely no correlation to their business. A complete list is below: 

# of Domains

Anchor Text

77

wholesale nfl jerseys

71

louis vuitton handbags

67

ugg boots on sale

67

wholesale jerseys

65

ugg boots sale

62

louis vuitton wallets

61

louis vuitton outlet

60

cheap ugg boots

58

cheap jerseys

It’s safe to say our client wasn’t in the multi facet business of selling NFL jerseys, Uggs boots, and Louie Vuitton bags. 

For the better part of last year our team spent endless hours cleaning up the backlink profiles for these clients. A detailed explanation of that process, and our results, will be the next blog post from our resident link building manager Corey

In the interim, if you feel you’ve been hit by this recent update. We’d recommend you do the following:

1. Check your keyword rankings and look for the following:

>>Have a large number of keywords dropped off page 1 of Google?

>>Are those same keywords still ranking in Bing but not in Google?

2. Check your organic search traffic in Google Analytics and do the following comparisons:

>>Month over month comparison…is there a major dip in traffic for October vs. September

>>YTD year over year comparison…is there a major dip in traffic for October 2014 vs. October 2013

3. Check out your backlink profile in Ahrefs or Open Site Explorer and look for the following:

>>Look for unusual anchor text in your top links. I.E. The glaring example above should help illustrate what we’re talking about.

>>Look at the types of referring domains linking to your site. Are there a large amount of domains linking to your site that are completely irrelevant to your business?

If you can answer yes to a few of these items, it’s likely you have a big problem. We can help, please give us a call or drop us an email for a free consultation. 

 

What Facebook’s Atlas Means for Whatsapp and Instagram

Apparently nobody likes cookies. Well, there’s this one guy…

Users generally don’t like the idea of what cookies are, operating systems don’t seem to like managing all that code, and advertisers find the overall cookie return to be… unsatisfying. Some users wouldn’t mind the all the tracking if it added up to a better user experience. As in, “could we stop seeing ads three months after doing initial research on a product, or service, long after we’ve stopped shopping?” This guy even offered to hand over the keys to his house of data in exchange for a better user experience: A Challenge To Facebook: Here’s All My Data, Now Give Me Ads I Like.

Facebook may just have an answer for him. [Cue the trumpets.]

Introducing… People Based Marketing.

Atlas is, or was, Microsoft’s advertising platform, which was sold to Facebook for $6.3-billion in 2007. Originally Atlas served principally as an alternative to Google‘s DART tracking system. The platform has been retooled from the ground up, and given the Facebook treatment. Unlike the current title holder, Google Adwords, Atlas builds on the old style of using cookies to track users, and couples it with Facebook’s database. This massive and intimate source of data makes cross platform advertising possible for the first time ever since most users are logged into Facebook on multiple devices.

So, when you go from your laptop, to your phone, or to your tablet, ads generated through Atlas will know. Using this information, Atlas will be able to create a more seamless user experience, and ultimately drive better advertising to users. Advertisers won’t mind the specificity of advertising and user tracking either.

It’s so good in fact, as long as you are logged into Facebook, Atlas will even work within apps that don’t require a Facebook login.

The concern expected to come up is further violation of user’s privacy, but Facebook no way intends to hand over the keys to the mansion. The users names and data will be all coded so that user’s information on Facebook will continue to stay in the hands of Facebook. This way Facebook stays in the driver’s seat. 

Facebook asserts that their goal with Atlas is simply to create better data for advertisers. By creating a service that crosses platforms, they will be able to more accurately track user’s behavior and purchasing behavior, which they can then hand over to advertisers to analyze.

The future for Instagram and Whatsapp

The question on most people’s minds is “what does Atlas mean for Facebook’s other ventures?” With 1-billion sunk into Instagram, and roughly 19 22-billion in Whatsapp, what to become of these platforms? Instagram signed on as one of the first agents for Atlas, so we anticipate the same for Whatsapp, especially considering the price Facebook paid for it.

Atlas is, afterall, as much about dominating mobile as it is about crossing platforms. Integration is only important if people stay in the world of desktops, and in case you haven’t noticed, the world is moving away from wires. In fact, January 2014 was the first time internet users exceeded desktop usage with mobile. It stands to reason the new world order of advertizing is going to have to live in that world. So maybe this isn’t the end of cookies, but it sure is looking grim for the future of cookies. Sorry cookie fans.

In the long run it’s likely others will do something similar, with data from say, I dunno, Google+ or something like that. Anyone’s guess. For now, it seems, Facebook’s Atlas is out in front. It also looks like we won’t be seeing the absolute end of cookies just yet, but perhaps users should be careful what they wish for. Removing one only opens the gates for a new one to take it’s place. Maybe someone should copy write the name “donuts” before Facebook does.

Fix These 5 Social Media Blunders

The landscape of social media is not going to get any thinner. Ello, anybody? No, SEO and PPC are not going away. They are being folded into the layers of Social Media. You still have to be good at creating SEO campaigns, and if your copy doesn’t solicit clicks in the Googlesphere, it won’t in Social Media either.  But the time for ignoring social media as kid’s play is well over. If you don’t get it, someone faster than you is going to take your opportunities, and your clients.

 

Here’s what’s all wrong with your current social media profile.

 Your business isn’t represented in every corner.

So you think Facebook is just for teenage flirting and Instagram is some kind of cracker? Look beyond B2B platforms like LinkedIn to create grassroots brand awareness. Facebook towers above its peers, and Instagram is the fastest growing platform of the bunch. If you aren’t there, your competitors are.

You don’t personally have a page.

Channels like Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn require someone to administrate business pages, but you can weasel around that if you have someone else manage your pages. Don’t overlook that leadership comes from the front, and people will want to see your presence on their favorite channel as well. Represent yourself. Represent your brand. Get involved.

Your pages are branded differently in each channel.

From Facebook to LinkedIn, the pages that are set up with your brand should present the same profile pictures and backgrounds. Many people, upon finding your brand, will want to follow you on more than one channel. Don’t confuse them by presenting different brand looks.

You’re not posting enough content.

Once a week? Once a day? What’s acceptable? It’s different for different channels. Generally the speed of the feed will dictate your posting schedule. Twitter is the fastest, so anywhere from 5-7posts per day is good. LinkedIn is the most conservative; so once per day should be enough. Facebook and Google+ can handle about 2-3 per day.

You’re trying to sell when you post.

There will come a time to sell. It’s not today. Not on social media. With social media think “almost never.” The goal is to create a vehicle to your website or brick and mortar. You will do this by being the number one voice for information in your field. Posts can be fun, and posts can be informative, but they don’t even kind of sell. 

Of course there’s a lot more that may need a attention with your social media profiles but these five are the easiest opportunities to address right now. You’ve probably already figured out you can do a lot to drive your business through these channels. Just make sure before you start buying up promoted posts that you’ve at least covered the basics listed here.

Downtown Ecommerce Partners is a full service SEO, PPC, and social media team of marketers. If you have questions on how to drive leads, build your brand, or just increase engagement please let us help. We can also create unique content or copy for your website if you need. We want to be your marketing partners for e-commerce. Please contact us today. 

Have you ever wondered how Quality Score (QS) is determined?

Have you ever wondered how Quality Score (QS) is determined? Did you know there are nine variables that Google reviews when they calculate your QS?
Check out DEP’s newest infographic on everything you need to know. We illustrate how QS is determined, how it affects your account, and even include tips on how to improve your score.

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<a href="http://downtownecommerce.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Quality-Score-Infographic.jpg"><img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-540" title="Quality Score Infographic" src="http://downtownecommerce.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Quality-Score-Infographic.jpg" alt="Quality Score Infographic" width="600" height="1965" /></a><br /><br />Infographic by <a href="http://www.downtownecommerce.com">Downtown Ecommerce Partners</a>

Paid Search Ad Copy Testing Infographic

Following our last infographic on the basics of Google Adwords we have created our top techniques on building the optimal messaging for your ad copy. This infographic will explain 5 steps of testing ad copy to discover the perfect ad copy variationfor your account.

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<a href="http://downtownecommerce.com/blog/search-engine-marketing/paid-search-ad-copy-testing-infographic/attachment/ad-copy-testing-infographic/" rel="attachment wp-att-522"><img class="size-full wp-image-522" title="Ad Copy Testing infographic" src="http://downtownecommerce.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Ad-Copy-Testing-infographic.png" alt="" width="600" height="2745" /></a><br /><br /> Infographic by <a href="http://www.downtownecommerce.com">Downtown Ecommerce Partners</a>

Google Adwords Infographic

In the last couple of weeks, a number of our clients have asked important questions about how Google structures a paid search account within their paid search platform, Adwords, as well as requested more information on acronyms that are commonly used when talking about an Adwords account. This infographic is our answer to these questions.  Please feel free to share this information by copying the code at the bottom of the image and pasting it on your site.

adwords-info

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DEP Has Got Your Back! Is Your Workspace Ergonomic?

Work related injuries are often times due to the physical stress from sitting in the same position for long periods of time. This can leave you with strain on your muscles, joints and your spine. This damage can lead to long-term health problems. If your 9-5 requires long sessions grinding it out at your desk, it’s important to know that these injuries can be prevented.

We have worked closely with Dr. Brisson, spine specialist NYC on the ‘Stop the Back Pain’ campaign. Dr. Brisson has comprehensive experience treating a wide range of spinal disorders. He has been acknowledged as the best spine surgeon in New York City and has performed countless scoliosis treatments across the globe. Are you ready to create a comfortable environment at your desk while giving your workplace a makeover? The visual guide below details the importance of ergonomics in the workplace and preventative measures. DEP has got your back.

 

If you would like us to help you design an infographic for your business, please get in touch.