Monday, December 19, 2011

Best Practices for Strong, Stable Linkbuilding with Social Media

The old adage "It's not what you know, it's who you know," is more important than ever in today's business world. And, one of the major measurements Social Ranking sites use now is an objective measurement of the value of your network. This is a questionable measurement since, our networks are always valuable to us, but on the principle that links in from major industry players weigh more heavily than links from friends and family, there some value to the concept.

So, what can a small- or medium size business do to build a strong network? Let's start with Social Media Linkbuilding. Many, if not most, of the "Best Practices" guides online on linkbuilding advocate tactics that are questionable, if not outright ignored now by measuring tools. Just as poor website construction can damage your overall SEO, poor linkbuilding tactics can severely damage your Social Media credibility. Here are five simple tactics that will increase your credibility and your network value.

Converse, Don't Monologue
Like people, companies are self-absorbed. They enter Social Media spaces focused on what it can do for them. They pop up on Facebook, Twitter or whatever platform with the corporate equivalent of "Hey guys, I'm here!" and expect people to care. But, just as no one really likes the guy who comes into the room at the party and says that, no one really cares that your business is on GetGlue...until you become interesting.

Forget the press release that you now have a Twitter account. Take time every day to find people talking about your business and just talk with them. Have a chat about the sandwich, those tickets they bought - were the seats good?, news in that field...and after you're become someone to listen to, THEN tell them about the sale coming up.

Talking with people sends a clear signal that you are not just in this for you - you really get the Social part of Social Media.

Be Generous
Sharing ideas, praise, credit will make you the kind of person whose network people want to be part of. Who is retweeting you, sharing your Facebook posts? Thank them, make them feel special, make it a special thing to be recognized by you. You'll find that the more generous you are, the more generous your network will be to you. It takes so little time or effort to recognize and thank someone, there's really no good reason to not do it at least semi-regularly. Slow news week? That's a perfect time to highlight some great network contributors! Saw a great article? Tell the person - publicly. Yes a nice long email explaining what you liked about it is great, but a short "This was an excellent article" on your Social Media platform helps spread the word. This gives the author a chance to respond back and possibly a new connection for both of you.

Don't Hijack, Give Credit Where Credit is Due
When you quote someone, you're expected to source the quote. On Social Media, source your links and wisdom, too. No one likes the guy who never has his one wants to be part of the network of the guy who never says where he saw the link first. Use via to let people know that they've been sourced. This link will come back to them...and there's a good chance that you'll get a link back from them.

People who hijack links without sourcing the original, or who run them through their own jump pages make for lousy network additions. Avoid people who hijack links and hope they avoid you.

Variety is the Spice of Linking
You're good at linking to people in your industry. You know your peers and vendors and maybe even some of your customers. But no company is an island. There are industries peripheral to yours...and many service industries that you can benefit from like research, design, finance...don't be afraid to link out of your vertical. In fact, be afraid to not link out of your vertical! The further out you link and connect, the further out your message will be heard and seen.

Be Bold
Once you've started conversations with people in other industries, there comes a moment when you can just talk with anyone. Don't worry that the person is a President of a powerful company - if they are speaking with you as an equal, just talk back to them as an equal. Social Media is a great equalizer. Be bold in who you address and confident in how you converse with them.  The bolder you are, the more confident you'll grow, and the stronger your network will become.

Use solid linkbuilding tactics to build a solid network to raise your credibility and value.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Matching the Pace of Social Media Change - 3 Simple To-Dos

Twitter's just launched business pages and a new mobile look. Facebook relaunched a few months ago, with some much needed privacy features. Every day a new "social" platform pops up with promises of connecting you to your audience, your network and the great wealth out there just waiting to be had.

And here you are, juggling every single aspect of your business from acquisitions and logistics to customer service and marketing. How on earth can you keep up with the pace?

Here are three daily to-dos to keep you walking side by side with the fast pace of Social Media:


Take 5 minutes every day to read the headlines in your industry...and another 5 to read about recent changes in Social Media.

Twitter's video takes 1 minute 49 seconds to watch. Watch it. That still leaves you with over 3 minutes to scan the headlines from your top business sources.


Obviously, not every new system or platform that comes across your desk is going to be right for you. Twice a week - or three times, if you're having a slow week, sign up for a trial. Use the platform, check the scores, see if that system has any value to you. Shelly Kramer points out, in her article about the new Twitter business pages that many Twitter users never go to Twitter's page at all. Perhaps building a business page there is not that high priority for you.

Don't worry that some blogger said it was the best new platform of the year - they may have a vested interest, or they may simply have different needs than you do. Know whether you're looking for a tool to give you the 10,000 mile perspective or leads to opinion leaders in your town before you make time to sign up for a trial. Consider the time it'll take to develop a profile. Can you do it quickly, or will it mean weeks of meetings with your "web guy"? Each new platform that pops up, take a moment to decide what time you're willing to invest.

Try out the service for a week. At the end of that week, if you can't think of a single reason to use it again, delete your account, then move on. Don't worry if the Social Media news is full of that system, it's not for you.

If you love that system, let people know. Share your insight with you peers. Become an advocate for a system that works for you.


When you've found that system that really resonates, tell the company. Offer to beta-test new features. Let the company know you're out there advocating.

Integrate that platform into your day, so it's just another five minutes while you have your morning coffee. Check the dashboard, integrate the information into your day. Decide what works for you, and discard the rest.

You don't start running 20 miles a day - don't try to keep up with every single change in Social Media. When you take a few moments every day to Research - Trial - Integrate, the fast pace of Social Media won't be intimidating. You won't be "keeping up," you'll be walking side-by-side with the tools you need.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Sticking Your Landing on Facebook

Your Landing Page on Facebook is a person's first impression of your business. Is it well-dressed, personable, does it, in fact make a good impression?

I ran into some discussion on LinkedIn about the nature of the Landing Page on Facebook. A person wanted to have people enter their group on a tab that was not the Wall tab. The replies were universally against it. Why? Because a Facebook Wall provides instant insight into the true nature of the company. When a potential Fan comes to your Facebook Page they will instantly see several important things:

Are You Posting Fresh Content?

This is immediately apparent, even to someone who knows nothing at all about "Social Media."

Is the content on your Wall linking to news, perspectives and commentary of interest to your audience, or are you recycling company announcements and using rhetorical questions to stimulate conversation?

When the Wall is full of press releases, it's an indication to a visitor that communication is all about you. Asking better questions than "what can I do to help you?" will stimulate real conversation and gain genuine engagement from your Fans.

Are You Getting Responses?

Because of the visual nature of Facebook, a visitor does not have to actually look at the content of your Wall to see if a conversation is happening.

It's instantly apparent that this link has 13 likes and 6 responses. And that a conversation has occurred. Even without knowing a single thing about the topic, anyone visiting this page can see that there has been a response by the community and, even more importantly...

Are Your Responsive to your Fans?

Equally as instantly obvious to anyone visiting your Wall, is whether you are responding to the people who are writing to you.

When you look at most company Facebook pages, you see a neverending stream of company propaganda, Likes, and perhaps, even, a comment by a fan...but rarely a response by the company to those responses. On very large company sights, those responses are disappeared, leaving nothing but the propaganda.

When your Fans comment, are they seeing a response from you?

Famously, when a company I'm interested in joined Facebook some years ago, they asked their followers what they wanted to see. I replied that I wanted to see them respond to us when we commented on their posts.

"Like this?" the company replied to my comment.

"Yes," I posted, "but with content."

They have since been very responsive to the posts on the Wall.

Social Media is never about you, it's always about the members of your community and network.

Your Wall is the best Landing Page you'll ever have. It indicates communication skills, responsiveness, and how much you value your community. Stick your Landing, and you'll get top scores from your community.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Social Media is the Vehicle, not the Destination

In the welter of tools to help you focus your Social Media strategy and tactics, to measure the results, and to increase your audience, there is an unfortunate tendency to act like Social Media is a single thing.

"Which is best for my company, Facebook or Twitter?" is a question I see all too often on professional networking platforms, as if there could be a single answer that covers all needs.

We don't presume there are only one or two models of car that fits all needs. Social Media is the vehicle - the means by which you communicate with your audience, engage them and reward them when they go to bat for you. Picking the right vehicle to communicate with your audience is critical to effective use of Social Media.

You might be targeting casual users of Social Media, people who share birthday greetings and jokes and life events and photos. Facebook, Groupon and Email Marketing is the way to go to reach out to these people. It's not that these users object to learning technology, but they don't want it presented *as* technology. Your Social Media tactics need to focus on saving these people time and money.  It's not about ad aesthetics, design or's about rewards and convenience.

Perhaps your audience is on the go. They are tethered to their phone and their phone is tethered to their computer. These people want speed, simplicity and convenience. Twitter, mobile marketing, a proprietary app that gets them in touch with you quickly, is perfect for this crowd. This Social Media strategy needs to be about compelling, targeted content, plain and simple.

If your audience is hands on, with their fingers in a lot of Social Media platforms, you need to be ultra-responsive. These people will know if you don't understand Social Media, and have 15 layers of decision-making before a simple "yes" can be tweeted. These people also bring with them a large audience of their own on multiple platforms. Obfuscating or delaying will end up in one way - with egg on your face. If you get a comment on Twitter from someone with 15,000 followers, think twice before you blow them off.

If your audience is minimalist, they have one or two platforms they rely on and no more. They live off their phone, but don't necessarily like mobile marketing. Build in privacy controls so that you're not facing negative feedback when your cool new ad sends itself to their phones.

Luxury users are rarely cutting edge and want big rewards for their involvement. High-end shopping means high-end privacy and one-on-one personal connection. These people are not communicating with you on Facebook.

Just as there's a vehicle for every personality, there's a vehicle for every message. The medium *does* matter, but in the end, the message had better be what your audience wants to hear. Get the right Social Media vehicle to drive that message home.

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