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May 12, 2012

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Integration, Integration, Integration

November 25, 2011

No, I am not going back to my A-level maths here. I am talking about integration in terms of digital marketing. My issue is that a lot of the times social media, SEO and online advertising seems to be kept very separate. And I dont think this is beneficial.

We need a holistic approach where the topic is decided first and then the different digital marketing implements within a Digital marketers toolbox are assessed, and then the best combination are used to promote the topic or event. Otherwise, we end up in a situation where tools are used just for the sake of it.

Whereas, with integration, an SEO campaign can be put together, at the same time as relevant blog posts are produced (which in turn enhance the SEO), while a complementary google Adwords campaign is run, and a special offer on Twitter and Facebook is run at the same time for good measure. A simplistic example here, but hopefully you get my point.

This brings me onto my second point. Even worse than looking at all the tools within the digital marketing toolbox in isolation, is a superficial holistic approach. As this way, there is no added value at all, and no single tool delivers enough.

For example, I have noticed more and more really successful SEO companies now offer social media as an add-on. But that is the problem, it is just that, an add-on. ‘We will get you onto the first page of Google, and oh yeah, if you pay for our social media stuff we can give you a Twitter and Facebook page too’.

Now, I would not go so far as to say some companies don’t need a Twitter and Facebook page, but I will point out that different companies social media needs vary dramtically. Social media needs to be a part of an overall Digital marketing strategy, where the value of each part is then weighed against the required aim. And this should also be an evolving process as the business develops.

So, really, it is like the saying goes ‘If you are going to do someting, may as well do it properly’

Eats, Shoots and Leaves

April 20, 2011

Now, you may have heard this grammatical conundrum before, but if not you probably don’t have a clue what I am talking about (maybe Google, Bing or Yahoo it?!). But the point is, that this description is ultimately about a panda, the black and white variety’s, eating habits.

But I am not talking about this version of cuddly panda. Instead, I am talking about the Google Panda Update – which is the latest changes to the Google algorithm, and was rolled out globally a week or so ago.

Now, as usual, Google said that this change would have little impact on organisations as long as people are following the ‘SEO rules’, while there have still been plenty of scare stories, but what is the real situation? Well, in my opinion, I agree with Google. I have not really seen any major changes downward in keyword ranking, and in some cases I have seen some really positive increases.

So how do you do well with Google Panda. It is the same old things:
• Keep your content fresh, and regularly updated, but avoid duplicate content. Aim for at least 100 words of content per page
• Integrating your site with social media like social bookmarks etc is still very important
• Including video wherever possible (but without slowing down the download speed of your site too much is still important)

But do let us know your own experience of Google Panda, or ask any questions, and we will be happy to try and help you out.

Location, Location, Location

February 18, 2011

No, I have not metamorposed into Tony Blair and his immortal words ‘Education, Education, Education….’ I also haven’t developed a sudden interest in TV programmes about the value of homes by the beach with a sea view.

But I have used the repeated word ‘location’ to emphasise the importance of what I am about to say. See I am pretty sure that the next big thing in social media is going to be location based social media. And here is my evidence why…

Sites like 4Square, although maybe not too popular yet are definitely getting hyped up big time in the social media world and at any social media event you attend.

Also, think about Facebook’s sudden prelidiction for people being able to ‘Check in’ their location and the community pages, listing businesses, restaurants etc (although this does seem to conflict massively with the company pages, a problem I am trying to address for some clients at the moment).

And what about Twitter, and the location based tweeting? I cant say it is something that I have used much, but it does seem to be gaining popularity.

So I suppose the next question is –  why is location based social media the way things are going? Well I think it is all to do with the other ‘big thing’ in social media – mobile. You see these things go pretty well together – a mobile allows us to keep in touch with people on the go, no matter where we are, so why not align location with this to get the best social media value?

Which leads me onto a 3rd question – Do I think this location based social media is a good thing? And my answer here is that I think there are both pros and cons.

The cons are obviously centered around a Big Brother scenario. Do we really want the entire social media world to know where we are, all of the time?

However, the main purpose, I feel, that this location based social media will be used for in the future is Advertising. Just as Facebook advertising is tailored to such specific demographics, so location based advertising will pinpoint this even further. Maybe walking past a shop and being shown the clothes that might suit you inside, or being given a list of restaurants within 5 mins walking distance, just in time for dinner! Now if you ask me, that could be quite positive and useful, and the information will be limited depending on how much we feed to the advertisers in the first place.

Hmm, but so what do you think? Is Location, Location, Location the ‘next big thing’ and if so, is that a good or bad thing?

Social Media for business users

February 1, 2011

One of the big questions I am often asked about social media, particularly on Facebook, is “But it is more for individual use isn’t it, rather than companies”. And I always disagree, companies can get so much value out of social media. However, I would agree, that there does need to be some distinction between an individual or a user profile, because otherwise things can just get confusing.

Take Twitter, I often get comments saying ‘Well we ONLY want to talk about our business on Twitter’ and I do have to point out that is not a way to build up followers and generate interactions. Talk about your business, and related issues, by all means, but remember that people have to WANT to follow you, therefore, some more general chatty informal comments should be interspersed with the business dialogue. Having said that, I do still think that there should be a difference in business users on Twitter. For example, it shouldn’t be quite so personal, we don’t know what to know everything you did the night before, and what you had for your breakfast, but your thought on the latest Oscar nominations or a new TV programme (one solitary tweet) might be a nice break. I think the easiest way to make a distinction is to imagine that on a business account, you might not be the only person writing the tweets, think of it that way and your tweet balance should work out well. So by that I mean probably minimal use of the word ‘I’ or anything that directly relates back to your personally. But a few general informal comments are just fine.

And what about Facebook. Well first of all, my pet hate, dont set up a business as a profile – it needs to be a separate page! But other than that, the same things apply – some informal chatty status updates will always go down well, but don’t make them too personal and the majority of your updates should still be directly related to your industry.
So what am I saying really? Well, unusually, I am sitting on the fence a bit. I am suggesting that business accounts compared to personal accounts will have a lot of similarities, but there will be some differences too. There needs to be a balance between the informal and business based tweets, with far more focus (80 to 90%) on business related tweets. But dont worry, cos those business tweets can still be really interesting – relating them to the topics/human interest that will really engage your followers.

 But that is just what I think. What about you? Do you agree, or not??

SEO A holistic approach

January 24, 2011

Hi. Firstly, a massive apology that I have taken so long to write a new post, but I have been very busy setting up all sorts of exciting things  – which I will let you know about in due course.

But today, I wanted to talk to yout about SEO, search engine optimisation, and I why I think the name, and purpose, just doesnt work in the world of online existence anymore.

I recently read an interesting post here, that talked all about SEO, particularly that scary black hat SEO (the bad stuff) and generated a lot of comments in return. And so I thought I would share some of my th0ughts about it with you here.

The main point I think he is trying to make, and one which I completely agree with is that SEO doesnt have any magic one-size-fits-all wonder cures. Every day, you could read a new way to ‘get around Google’ and ‘beat the search engines. But firstly, they are more often than not incorrect, and secondly, isnt that missing the point? You cant just read one forum comment on an SEO site, and assume it is true.

It makes more sense to work with the search engines, and increase the more stable search engine factors on the page, and beyond. Why? It makes the page more user friendly as well as increasing the search engine rankings. That way, we can ensure long term success of your sites, and that users will keep coming back.

And this brings me on a little futher. SEO is not just a technical discipline. It needs to be addressed as part of an overall online marketing programme in partnership with social media and website usability, for example.

It is not just about getting websites to the top of the search engines rankings but making sure that the visits become conversions, and the site is useful for users once the find the page,  and that needs more than just SEO.

We need to consider social media, online advertising, online articles and SEO all together. It is definitely time for a more holistic approach…..In fact, I would go so far as to say the term SEO doesnt really apply any more. We need to take this further, and after increasing search engine rankings, ensure that people visiting the site actually convert to customers. The site needs to deliver what the user wants – just like we would expect a shop in the High Street, or a doctor’s surgery, or gym, to deliver what the user whats. Except now we are talking about online retailing, or a medical of fitness advice page.

The time is now to use the word ‘Online Conversion Optimisation’, OCO, instead. What do you think??

The Twitter Race

November 8, 2010

It is all about the numbers, or is it? A lot of people have been talking lately about the number of followers that they have on Twitter. In fact, over the last few months, things seem to have gone a bit crazy and everyone is in a Twitter race to see how many followers they can get.

However, I have to agree with a number of blog that I have read – number of followers is one of the LEAST important metrics that you can use. This is because the value of Twitter is having RELEVANT followers, not just followers. Let me explain why I think this

1. A large proportion of ‘profiles’ on Twitter are actually spam or spam bots. Getting large number of followers that are spammers is not going to benefit anyone. In fact, I often block spam followers

2. A large number of people will just follow you if you follow them, in some kind of unspoken reciprocal agreement. But if they are actually not at all interested in what you have to say, there is going to be very little interaction, and the added value from these types of followers will be very small. You have to expect that some people who will follow you, you wont follow back and vice versa.

3. If you actually build up genuine followers, and that may mean you only have 200 followers rather than 2000 for example, then you will be having really good interactions with these people. If they are genuine, and relevant, then they will be retweeting and interacting with their own followers, and if each of them have 200 followers, you see how quickly the message can get out. And a lot more effectively than 2000 spam/irrelevant followers.

Just to be clear, I am not saying that number of followers should not be ignored completely  – it has its place. All I am saying is that the relevance of your followers is more important. And I am not saying that I have got it completely right yet either  – we are all still learning.

So what do you think? Do you agree with me or completely disagree. Let me know below.

By the way, I know all the latest blogs, have all been about FB and Twitter, and there is a lot more to a company’s existence than just that, but it is just I have so much to say about them! But I promise other topics will be covered soon!