Archive for March, 2010

The mighty giant has fallen.  Well at least fallen to #2 for this week.

HitwiseFacebookGoogleMarch2010According to Hitwise, Facebook managed received more visits than Google during the week of March 7th through March 13th, making it the most visited website in the U.S. for the week.

While this in no way sounds an alarm about the Google search dominance, it does reinforce the idea that social media, like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are important elements of an online marketing program.  With Facebook and YouTube as the numbers 2 and 4 overall sites on the web (according to Alexa.com), can you afford to ignore that  kind of traffic.

Another thought-provoking stat – The average visitor to Google spends about 9 minutes a day on the site.  The average visitor to Facebook spends almost 40 minutes a day and the average YouTube browsers spends over 22 minutes a day.  This is like having a billboard on the freeway with traffic whizzing by at 70 miles per hours or having the same billboard on a busy street during rush hour where a driver is creeping along and has time to look around and actually read the billboard.

Google is for hunters on a mission.  Bag the site your searching for and move on.  Social media sites are more like home – prop your feet up and relax.

If you aren’t using social media or are totally confused by it, take heart.  There are painless ways to ease into it without taking the head first plunge into the abyss.

Gary Wagnon and 800biz.com specialize in website design, hosting, search engine optimization and social media marketing for small and medium businesses.

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One of the biggest road blocks facing small businesses when addressing social media is the question of return on investment. With so little time devote to what’s crying out to be done, adding something else or something new like social media can feel like a real burden. Sometimes the only way to rationalize and prioritize something new is to understand the benefits in relation to everything else your doing and take a new view based on that understanding.

So much of what’s written on social media amounts to lists of things you should do, get on twitter, blog, create a Facebook fan page, and not enough on why you might consider doing it. While all those tactics may indeed be wise, I would like suggest a number of ways to use those actions to do a better or more efficient job doing things you’re already (or should be) doing.

Start to think in terms of doing more with less effort, not simply doing more. If I can let small business owners get a glimpse of social media through this lens, they might just decide to go a little deeper. Here are five ways to look at it.

1) Follow up with prospects

I love using social media tools as a way to follow-up with prospects you might meet out there in the real world. So you go to a Chamber event and meet someone that has asked you to follow-up. Traditionally, you might send an email a week later or call them up and leave a voice mail. What if instead you found them on LinkedIn, asked to be connected and then shared an information rich article that contained tips about the very thing you chatted about at the Chamber mixer. Then you offered to show them how to create a custom RSS feed to get tons of information about their industry and their competitors. Do you think that next meeting might get started a little quicker towards your objectives? I sure do.

2) Stay top of mind with customers

Once someone becomes a customer it’s easy to ignore them, assuming they will call next time they need something or, worse yet, assuming they understand the full depth and breadth of your offerings and will chime in when they have other needs. Staying in front of your customers and continuing to educate and upsell them is a key ingredient to building marketing momentum and few businesses do it well.

This is an area where a host of social media tools can excel. A blog is a great place to put out a steady stream of useful information and success stories. Encouraging your customers to subscribe and comment can lead to further engagement. Recording video stories from customers and uploading them to YouTube to embed on your site can create great marketing content and remind your customer why they do business with you. Facebook Fan pages can be used as a way to implement a client community and offer education and networking opportunities online.

3) Keep up on your industry

Keeping up with what’s happening in any industry is a task that is essential these days. With unparalleled access to information many clients can learn as much or more about the products and solutions offered by a company as those charged with suggesting those products and solutions. You better keep up or you risk becoming irrelevant. Of course I could extend this to keeping up with what your customers, competitors, and key industry journalists are doing as well.

Here again, new monitoring services and tools steeped in social media and real time reporting make this an easier task. Subscribing to blogs written by industry leaders, competitors and journalists and viewing new content by way of a tool such as Google Reader allows you to scan the day’s content in one place. Setting up Google Alerts and custom Twitter Searches (see more about how to do this) or checking out paid monitoring services such as Radian6 or Trackur allows you to receive daily email reports on the important mentions of industry terms and people so you are up to the minute in the know. (Of course, once you do this you can teach your customers how to do it and make yourself even more valuable to them – no matter what you sell.)

4) Provide a better customer experience

It’s probably impossible to provide too much customer service, too much of a great experience, but you can go nuts trying.

Using the new breed of online tools you can plug some of the gaps you might have in providing customer service and, combined with your offline touches, create an experience that no competitor can match.

While some might not lump this tool into social media, I certainly think any tool that allows you to collaborate with and serve your customers qualifies. Using an online project management tool such as Central Desktop allows you to create an entire customer education, orientation, and handbook kind of training experience one time and then roll it out to each new customer in a high tech client portal kind of way. This approach can easily set you apart from anyone else in your industry and provide the kind of experience that gets customers talking.

5) Network with potential partners

Building a strong network of strategic marketing partners is probably the best defense against any kind of economic downturn. One of the surest ways to attract potential partners is to build relationships through networking. Of course you know that, but you might not be viewing this kind of networking as a social media function.

If you identify a potential strategic partner, find out if they have a blog and start reading and commenting. Few things will get you noticed faster than smart, genuine blog comments. Once you establish this relationship it might make sense to offer a guest blog post. If your use a CRM tool (and you should) you’ve probably noticed that most are moving to add social media information to contact records, add your potential partners social media information and you will learn what’s important to them pretty quickly.

If you know how to set up a blog already, offer to create a blog of network partners so each of you can write about your area of expertise and create some great local SEO for the group.

So, you see, you don’t have to bite into the entire social media pie all at once. Find a tool, a technique, a tactic that makes your life easier today and provides more value for partners, prospects and customers and you’ll be on the path to getting some real ROI on your social media investment.

What social media tactics have you discovered that allow you to do more of something you’re already doing?

Article by John Jantsch on 03/16/2010 – Reprinted from Duct Tape Marketing

Gary Wagnon and 800biz.com specialize in website design, hosting, search engine optimization and social media marketing for small and medium businesses.

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11
Mar

Brainstorming and Workflow Made Easy

   Posted by: Gary Wagnon    in web design

Aren’t you impressed by those work flow charts with all the bubbles so nice and orderly?  Well, prepare to be the “impressor”.  A new tool I just found called Bubbl.us does just that.

My clients often get bogged down in the layout of their website.  Visually being able to see how their site will layout is a huge time saver.  By creating a flow chart of the pages in the site and how they interconnect, Bubbl.us makes the transition from concept to reality much smoother.

Maybe you want to create a work flow chart for a new project your planning.  Start with the main theme and build sub categorie until you have everything in place.  Create an account and you can save your work, then go back and add to it as needed.

bubblus_New_Sheettb

Put your ideas on paper

If you are just brainstorming an idea, use Bubbl.us to organize the ideas into a visual presentation.  No more chicken scratching on a napkin or the back of your old electric bill.

Once your done, export your masterplan as a jpg image that you can either embed in an html document or insert in your Word or Powerpoint document.

Feel like a Fortune 500 CEO with your very own organization chart.  In fact, give yourself a raise.  You’ve earned it.

Gary Wagnon and 800biz.com specialize in online marketing, website design, search engine optimization (SEO) and social media marketing for small and medium size businesses.

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6
Mar

When You Want An “F” In Writing

   Posted by: Gary Wagnon    in web design

fOur goal in school was to avoid getting an F, right?  We failed when we got an F.  But when creating the content for your website, you want to make an F.  Not because you want to fail, but because you want your site to succeed.

When creating your content, it’s important to know how people view your page.  Do you know anyone that leisurely reads a web page?  With the shear volume of competition on the web, browsers will scan a page to see if that site has what they are looking for.   If you want your site to be in the running for their consideration, you need to make sure they see the major points of your site.

Here’s where the “F” comes in.  Researcher and writer Jakob Nielsen, Ph.D. conducted a study of how people read on the web.  In his groundbreaking eyetracking study, he found that the reading behavior was pretty consistent.  The dominant reading pattern looks like a large letter “F”.

  • Users first read horizontally across the top of the page, which forms the top bar of the F.
  • Next users move down the page a bit and read across a shorter area, making the lower bar of the F.
  • Finally readers scan the content’s left side in a vertical movement, completing the F.

Move outside of your website owner’s chair and look at your site with an objective eye.   What jumps out on your page?  Is your content capturing your browsers attention or are they hopping off your site to your competitor?

Gary Wagnon and 800biz has been providing website design, search engine optimization and social media marketing for small to medium sized businesses since 1999.

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