David Leonhardt’s SEO and Social Media Marketing

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Archive for the ‘social media’ Category

Who uses Google Plus?

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

So much talk online about the growing popularity of Google Plus, even while all your real-world friends are still on Facebook.  Let’s look at exactly who is using Google Plus.

There is a lot of background chatter online about Google Plus, and whether 2014 is the year that it replaces Facebook as the social network of choice.  I have seen a few smirky cartoons and signs about people leaving Facebook for Google Plus.

Why join Google Plus?

I have even written about how Facebook gave Google an orgasm not long ago.

Notwithstanding the chatter, I do not predict that Google Plus will eclipse Facebook this year.  The statistics still show that Facebook is way ahead of Google Plus, and that even if Google Plus accelerates its growth, Facebook should still dominate by the end of 2014.

Facebook still dominates social media usage.

Of course, both sites have been found guilty of cooking user stats:

“Google+ may have 540m monthly active users, but this year they disclosed that this takes into account anyone who clicks on a +1 button that may be embedded on an external page (such as this one). Likewise, Facebook also takes into account anyone who clicks on a like or share button on any external site, meaning that you don’t have to use Facebook directly to be considered one of its monthly active users.”

Never mind the stats.  If you go out onto the street and talk to “real people” – I mean people who don’t use the words “social media” in everyday conversation and who might not even know what the term means -  they are almost all on Facebook. They are there because that’s where extended family and friends (people they know in the real world) all are.  They won’t switch social networks easily because no other social network has what Facebook has – their real-world family and friends.

Many of these people have also heard of Twitter, thanks to mainstream media coverage in the news and promotion through shows like American idol.

Few of these people have even heard of Google Plus.

Until these people are given a very compelling reason to leave, Facebook will retain the upper hand.

Who’s on Google Plus now?

But a lot of people are using Google Plus anyway, and maybe you should be boosting your Google Plus mojo to reach those people.  Just who are those people?

 


 

 

Disaffected Facebook users.

There are many reasons people are leaving Facebook.  Some studies say that Facebook makes us feel bad about ourselves. Others suggest that Facebook’s privacy and ethics policies are driving them away. I know of people who are upset with the ads and sponsored posts that are invading their streams, although I have yet to hear any “real people” (offline friends and family) comment about this. Will Google Plus be any better on any of these points? Only time will tell.

 

And down she goes.

Smirky cartoon that has been doing the rounds on Google Plus

 

But who are these disaffected Facebook users?  They seem to cut across all ages, although they tend to be more men than women.  Which ones are moving to Google Plus? That is even harder to tell, since so many disaffected Facebook users might not be “leaving” one platform for another, but simply spending more time on Google Plus and less time (or no time at all) on Facebook.

But many of them fit into the groups below.

Artists and photographers.

This is almost a no brainer.  If you have images you want to share online, Facebook just doesn’t cut it. Facebook gives you very little control over images, clipping them automatically.  See what Facebook did to my New Year’s message:

Facebook hacked up my pic

Sharing pics on Twitter is not ideal, partly because of the 140 character limit to describe the image, and partly because the pic doesn’t show up unless you open the tweet.  Here is my New Year’s tweet:

How Twitter shows and image

Here is how most people saw it:

How most people see a tweet with an image.

Google Plus works just perfectly for sharing images, whether you are a photographer, and artist or just someone who like sharing lolcats.  And you can easily describe the picture in as much detail as you wish.  See the difference it made with my New Year’s message:

How an image appears on Google Plus

It is worth noting that for really large images, Google Plus gives extra width, so they sometimes span across two columns.  That makes for some superb online vistas.

Marketers.

This has suddenly become a no-brainer.  Small businesses and online marketers were recently told by Facebook that they are unwelcome.  Not officially, of course, but if you read my recent post on Facebook’s antics, it is clear that they have made the Facebook climate inhospitable for supporting small business life forms.

I am seeing more and more of these people – people just like you, perhaps? – heading over to Google plus. So it’s a great place to network with like-minded marketers, develop relationships, partnerships and collaboration.  But is it a good place to sell to them?  Time will tell.

Europeans.

As Google Plus grows so quickly, I suspect the data is changing quickly.  Nevertheless, you can expect Google Plus users to come from similar places as those on Facebook and Twitter.  My own experience, however, shows that Google Plus is skewed more toward Europeans.

If I remove the local bias in Facebook (so many fellow Canadian offline friends, former friends and family), both Facebook and Twitter tend to be USA-centric, followed by India, after which would be UK and Canada (at least for English speakers).

I do not find myself interacting with a lot of people from Italy, Spain, France, Greece, etc. on Twitter and Facebook.  But on Google Plus, I do.  Perhaps it is just that the avid sharing photographers tend to be Mediterranean, or it might just be an accident of a couple circles I was included in early on.  But I find much less participation from India, and Asia in general, on Google Plus that I find on Twitter and Facebook.

I also find the content split to be interesting.  Very few Europeans seem to be sharing links to blog posts, whereas that seems to be what I see the majority of Americans and Indians sharing.

Google Plus cartoon

Perhaps you have a different experience on Google Plus, in which case please share it in the comments below.  My own observations might be too narrow-based on which to draw any useful conclusions.

Have I missed any important segments?  Are there other large, identifiable groups blazing trails on Google Plus?  Please let me know (and your fellow readers, as well) in the comments below.

 


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How to become a Google Plus rock star with Circle Shares

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

Circle sharing is taking over Google Plus like wildfire because people can quickly expand their network. Let me show you exactly what steps to take.

Two weeks Ago, I was in the circles of 600 or so people on Google Plus. This morning, I am in over 3000 people’s circles. Welcome to the magic of “Circle Sharing”. If you want to grow your Google Plus following, I will show you exactly what to do, exactly what steps to take.

How to do cirle sharing in Google Plus

But first, let me explain why circle sharing is so powerful and warn you about why there might be a risk.

READ ALSO: Why Google Plus might be more valuable than Facebook.
READ ALSO: Who uses Google Plus these days.

Circle sharing is powerful because everybody who saves the circle follows everybody in the circle. So if you are in the WowAnotherCircle circle, everybody who saves the WowAnotherCircle circle becomes a follower of yours. In order to get into a circle share, you need to be a circle sharer.

So it’s like everybody shaking hands and agreeing to follow each other.  You have a lot of people building huge followings, all sharing their followers with each other…well, it’s one big happy circle family.

How people react to circle shares on Google Plus

So is there a risk? Well, yes actually. People are following each other in order to get followers.  Not because they have something specific to offer or because they know them or because their posts are somehow relevant.  If this was link-building for SEO purposes, Google would ban everybody doing it. But instead, it is follower building. Why doesn’t Google ban the users who do this on its own network?

I think I know why.

All this circle sharing is increasing engagement on Google Plus and increasing loyalty to the site. Circle sharing is helping Google Plus catch up to Facebook as the top social networking website.

 

But what if someday that battle is over? What if someday Google Plus is the top social network, just like Google is the top search engine?  What happens when Google no longer cares about pulling ahead of Facebook and starts to care about quality?

Google has shown that it is not above penalizing websites for perfectly normal activities they did years ago, but which now are considered spammy. Could the same thing happen to circle sharers? Maybe. My advice to hedge your bets is to actually engage with your followers, with all of them. Whatever you do, don’t just post marketing messages, for example. Nobody likes the guy who wanders around the room handing out business cards while everybody else is talking about the weather, sports and the mating habits of the Southern Prickly Porcupine.

Post really cool stuff. Post personal stuff. Be real.

Be interesting.

For now, I’m having fun, and I really don’t expect Google to cut people off from building connections on their site as long as no users find it intrusive.

For now.

Words of wisdom from a champion Circle Sharer

Michael Q. ToddBefore I provide the formula that increased my network by 500 percent in just two weeks (yes, I am giddy about it), I would like to share with you some words of wisdom from Michael Q Todd who happens to have the single biggest Circle Share of all time, Megaball.

He began the circle share to connect like-minded people, something you might consider doing even if you don’t want to get into the huge, huge networking numbers: “I did my first circle share to better connect Empire Avenue members about 2 and a half years ago…”

Then he got addicted, eventually realizing that, as with anything else, success is about perseverance:

Justin Matthew got me into circle sharing with his snowball circle shares about 1 year ago. I dabbled in them but then appreciated that success would come from being regular and consistent and branding my circle share. I learned this from Scott Buehler and Daniel Stock.”

Who gets included in the really big circle shares?  Those people who share the circle shares and their sponsors’ other content (no surprise there, right?):

“As far as ‘criteria’ the pages and profiles included will probably have given +1 and publicly shared the #Megaball for the past 2 weeks in a row and will have made an effort to promote it outside G+. I can see this on their post when they share. If they have had no reaction to it it probably means that they have not made such an effort. I also take into account people who make ripples with their shared posts of my other content during the week. I am looking for influencers who like connecting people basically.”

Here is how you can start circle sharing.

Get invited into an already phenomenal circle.

Here are a few already going on.

Start by following their instructions, but also make sure to follow these 4 critcal steps (if they are not already in the circle founder’s instructions).  That really is how I began to be included in several of the bigger circle shares. It shows their sponsors that you are happy to help out. “In order to get into a circle share, you need to be a circle sharer.’

    1. +1 the post
    2. Comment on the post
    3. Include the circle among your circles (add friends that are worth sharing)
    4. “Share this circle” publicly (make sure to “Include yourself in shared circle.”) Here is how to add the circle to your own, and then share it:

How to Save a Circle on Google Plus

How to save a circle on Google Plus

How to share a circle on Google Plus

Include yourself in shared circle on Google Plus

 

Please add me in the circle you share. My Google profile is https://plus.google.com/u/0/112928640804164819202/

Start your own circle share.

Create a circle specifically for sharing. Include the people you engage with the most (and please add me, too!). Or the most interesting people you follow. You can put up to 500 people, but even 50 is fine to start with. Then share the circle publicly, asking your friends and readers to share the circle.  Once again, here are the instructions you can put in the post for your friends to follow.  You can also point them to this post for instructions.

  1. +1 the post
  2. Comment on the post
  3. Include the circle among your circles (add friends that are worth sharing)
  4. “Share this circle” publicly (make sure to “Include yourself in shared circle.”)

Share the circle once, and maybe again the following week, updated with new folks who comment their way in.  You might find yourself updating it each week.  That is how some of the big circle shares got started, and their original sponsors are in over 50,000 people’s circles .

I would like to do a BlogPostCircle share based on the people who read this post.  Yes, that’s you. If you want in, leave your Google Plus URL for me in the comments below, and I’ll put it together in January once I get past the time challenges of the Christmas season.  make sure to put me into your circles, too.

Just for fun, I happened to be visiting my Google Plus profile page just when this lucky number appeared, so I thought I would leave you with a capture of that moment:

David Leonhardt in 2,222 circles on Google Plus

 


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Facebook just gave Google an orgasm!

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

This is a shocker, indeed. I don’t mean that I used the big “O” word in the title. I mean how the script is unfolding.

Facebook is trying to eat away at Google’s search hegemony. Meanwhile, Google has been laser-focused on toppling Facebook’s social network dominance.

It’s just like a classic movie showdown!

But every now and then two rivals meet at a climactic point in the script, engage in hand-to-hand combat, and…get distracted. They smell each others’ hair. They touch each others’ skin. They look into each others’ eyes.

But rarely do we see one of the rivals give the other an orgasm. Perhaps Hollywood is more family-friendly than social media after all.

In case you have been hiding under a rock this past week, Facebook “announced”:

“We’re getting to a place where because more people are sharing more things, the best way to get your stuff seen if you’re a business is to pay for it.”

This has not sat well with the many, many online small businesses who are among the most voracious users of social media. Here are a few samplings I have read this week of reactions to this news:

To sum it up, if a person “likes” your page on Facebook and wants to receive your updates that way, tough luck.  For them, and for you.  Chances are they will very rarely see those updates.

As a user, I actually like that.  Just because I “like” something, doesn’t mean I want updates.  In fact, I might like something because a friend recommends it or because there is a contest or some other incentive, and the last thing I want is to have all that commercial stuff blocking updates from friends, inspiring mini-posters and those crucial lol-cats.

But from a marketer’s perspective, after investing huge amounts of time and money building up a “likes” arsenal, it totally sucks.  100 percent.  Let this serve as yet another warning – I laid it out in Who Owns Your Twitter Account? and in 2011 Social Media Fail of the Year – you don’t own the work you invest in someone else’s website.

Google “Likes” Facebook

So Facebook is neutering your “likes”.

And Google really likes that.

Google has tried many times to supplant Facebook. Remember Orkut? Remember iGoogle? Remember Google Buzz? Remember Google Circles? Oh, wait…that ended up becoming Google Plus.

Well, it looks like Google’s long history of trial and error is finally over, and the question most of the way through 2013 has been whether Google Plus could do to Facebook what Facebook did to MySpace. (Don’t get me wring – MySpace is still big, especially in certain niches. But it is “big” only if it isn’t in the same room as Facebook.)

A year ago, Google Plus already had some impressive stats, having passed Twitter in total number of “active” users, but still with only half the number of Facebook.

Social media users

Dreamgrow published the following graph showing the trends up to March of 2013, and as you can see, Google still had not broken out of the pack as far as actual usage by US users is concerned.

Social networking usage

According to Jeff Bullas, Google Plus is closing in on Facebook, at least as far as the number of users and active users is concerned, but still had quite a way to go before catching up as of March.

I wish I could find some more recent stats, but I can’t. However, over the past six months, I have seen traffic from Google Plus increase, not just to my sites but to others’, as well. And the engagement going on now has hit fever pitch with all the circle sharing going on (Yes, drop me a line if you want to include me in a circle share; I would love to join the party.).

So, to cut through the blah-blah-blah, Google Plus is storming the palace gates and what does Facebook do? Facebook opens the gates. If small businesses move from Facebook to Google Plus for their marketing, and at the same time bring their personal social networking over, it could just be enough to create a neck-in-neck race.

In the world of social media spectator sports, 2014 promises to be a year full of oohs and ahs.  And one big social media “O”.

 


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A social media monitoring success story

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

Smart brands are monitoring social media to track their reputation and following up with action. This is the story of one such smart brand.

So here I am, working remotely once again from my favourite office away from home – the Ottawa Public Library. I wrote about this set-up on my lifestyle blog, not from a marketing perspective, but focusing instead on the flexibility that working remotely allows me to have with family life.

I mentioned the service I use to access my desktop computer, back at my home office, remotely from the library: LogMeIn.com. I did not really do a review of the service, as I have nothing to compare it to. And I was very frank about the advantages of the service as well as the weaknesses. But all in all, it was a positive experience, and I reported it as such.

And I tweeted it. Here is the tweet (It’s a good one; don’t be shy to retweet it.):

 


 

And that’s where the branding fun began. Interestingly, I did not tweet #LogMeIn or @LogMeIn. But the folks at LogMeIn were obviously paying attention, because they messaged me via Twitter for my address. A few days later, a courier arrived with a care package from LogmeIn. Look at all the promotional items they sent me in appreciation for having blogged about their service.

We can always use new water bottles around here. And pens, of course. And I know my daughters will love the little iPod speaker port when I release it to them, as well as the ear plugs. Nice sticker, too, although perhaps less useful. The playing cards will be a hit when one of our current decks burns out, and we need another deck for Dame de Pique or Sequence. And who doesn’t need more pens? (The hats were already on the mantle.)

Tweet this: “Look what brand really ‘gets’ social media.”

Why was it smart to send these promotional items to me? Well, for starters, I am a user of their services and it will build loyalty. Yes, I do feel more positive about LogMeIn because of the gesture.

Perhaps they thought I would be likely to share a pic of these items on Instagram or on Pinterest, and as a blogger who is at least somewhat connected, that would be good promotion for them. (Answer: yes to Pinterest, no to Instagram).

Perhaps they are trying to build brand ambassadors.

They might hope this will inspire me to upgrade to “pro”.

Perhaps they figured I might write about them again, and it never hurts to show your appreciation. After all, in any networking situation the two most important words are “Thank you” – even more important that “How can I help you?” If that was the case, they were right, because here I am writing about them.

Read Also: Case Study on how NOT to do reputation management

Of course, as a social media strategist myself, I am more keenly aware than many people of how a brand is using social media. But I suspect that most bloggers would also sit up and take notice.

Are you monitoring your brand on social media? Are you taking advantage of positive opportunities as much as trying to fix negative situations? Any time your brand is mentioned, you should know about it and take action. And that action should be…

  • Turn a disgruntled customer into an advocate.
  • Consolidate an advocate
  • Provide more fuel for advocates to use

I have no idea how consistent LogMeIn’s social media monitoring and follow-up are; I can base my opinions only on how they followed up with me. And for that, they get an A+ in social media marketing.

 


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REVIEW: Comparing Social-sharing Co-op Services

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

I have been using three popular social sharing co-op services for a while now.  These help spread your content across social networks like Twitter and FaceBook.

The three services are quite similar in some ways and different in other ways.  If you are like me, you will want to use all three.  But if you are too busy for that, this review will help you decide which to use.

The three websites we are reviewing are…

How these social sharing co-ops are similar

I call these three websites “co-op” because of the fundamental basis on which they all function: you share other member links, you earn credits…which are spent when somebody shares your links and earns your credits back.  The more you share of others, the more others will share of yours.  And the corollary…the more you want your links shared, the more you need to share of others.

The other major theme in common between these websites is that you are in charge.  You get to choose what to share on your social media account.  Nobody tells you what to share.  Nobody pressures you into sharing anything in particular.  No selections are automated. You decide what is appropriate and of interest for your followers.

When it comes to social media accounts, what the three services have in common is Twitter.  All three of them are built on the basis that people share each others’ content via Twitter.  But that is where the similarity ends.

How these social sharing co-ops differ

Easy Retweet lets you tweet and sign up new Twitter followers.

Viral Content Buzz and Just Retweet also let you share by FaceBook – but with a difference.  Viral Buzz lets you “share” on FaceBook, in your timeline.  Just Retweet lets you “like” on FaceBook.

Viral Buzz also lets you share on Pinterest – the only service that does.

Just Retweet lets you upvote on Google Plus – the only service that does.

The three services offer different levels of “quality”.  I use the word judiciously, since you might not necessarily want “quality”.  I will explain later.  First, let’s look at what each service officially says about quality, and then I will tell you what really happens at each service.

Here is what Easy Retweet says about “Tweet Contents”:

Any tweets containing pornography (in any form), illegal materials, unauthorised materials, materials in violation of any law will be removed as soon as noticed.

Here is what Just Retweet says in its “Terms and Conditions”:

JustRetweet reserves the right to remove any content posting (text, images, audio, video) for any reason, without notice at any time. Specifically, any posted content that: (1) is pornographic or offensive in nature (including nudity, violence, sexual acts, or sexually provocative images.); (2) infringes upon copyrights as specified by the content creator; (3) is illegal or violates any laws; (4) harasses (also known as “CyberBullying”) any person or any group of people. Such content posts will immediately be deleted and the IP address of the user reported to authorities, if necessary. Violating these terms will result in the irrevocable termination of your ability to use the JustRetweet service.

But on the Just Retweetrules” page, in red text that really stands out…

Here is what Viral Content Buzz Quality Guidelines have to say:

What will NOT be approved to be shared here:

  • Weak-in-content articles (that have no unique style or visual appeal);
  • Ad-stuffed and / or made-for-links articles.
  • Articles directly promoting affiliate products (such as affiliate product review posts)
  • Any sales page directly promoting a product or service
  • Content that is overly promotional in nature
  • Press releases
  • A home page of a business website or blog
  • Anything that the VCB staff in their discretion deems to not be “quality”

What will be highly appreciated here:

  • Unique and original articles that catch an eye and engage;
  • Trending and popular topics with your personal perspective (apps, tools, DIY, infographics, etc).
  • Articles or content that is either extremely useful, interesting or entertaining.

Viral content is defined as “becoming very popular by circulating quickly from person to person, especially through the Internet“, so before adding a project, please give it a thought: “can it go viral”?

Our platform is NOT designed to help everyone get free social media votes. It’s aimed at generating buzz around GREAT content.

You can probably tell just by the length of the rules how serious each service is about ensuring quality and blocking spamminess.  In fact, here is what I have found:

Easy Retweet is full of spammy share requests.  Many things there I would not retweet because they are ads for things like BlogEngage or Fiverr gigs or ecommerce pages.  But there is also some good stuff, and I usually can find plenty to share.

Just Retweet is mostly real content, but there are some sales pages and other business pages that get snuck in.

Viral Content Buzz has been spam-free so far, true to their very detailed quality guidelines…except for Pinterest shares.  As you may know, Pinterest is an image-sharing platform.  But many Pinterest-sharing requests on Viral Content Buzz are for really, really poor images that are totally unworthy of sharing.  Obviously, many people just don’t “get it”. Maybe there needs to be some pop-up “image quality reminder” or something.

To spam or not to spam?

At first blush, it is pretty obvious where people would want to go: to the high-quality, no-spam service.  Especially bloggers who generally share very high quality content to begin with. And there are some benefits, like not having to wade through do as much triage.

But you probably will still want to do some triage.  Not every blog post or Infographic posted is one you will want to retweet to your followers.

And what happens if you want to promote a sales page.  Sure, it’s spammy – but it’s the sales pages that pay the bills.  They need to be promoted, too.  So there is also value in participating in a service where spammy pages aren’t considered spam.  And that’s the point of Easy Retweet – to cater to the Warrior Forum crowd.

On a final note, what is missing is StumbleUpon.  None of the services offer StumbleUpon sharing or thumbs up as an option.  Yet.

 
 

 


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How Far Can You Trust the Internet?

Monday, October 29th, 2012

If something is critical, make sure you own the real estate. This is a good principle to keep in mind when building a reputation, a business or whatever is important to you on the Internet.

Yes, there are popular platforms, such as YouTube and FaceBook, where you might want to be active. But these sites do not belong to you.  You never know when they might shut down (stranger things have happened), change their focus, fall from grace, or decide that you are a spammer or even some minor infraction in the terms of service that you were not even aware of (with no recourse for you to protest).

I was reminded of the importance of owning your own space, when Larry Ludwig had his Bogleheads account terminated.  Basically, after 250 posts, 20 of which he referenced articles he had written that were relevant to the discussion, his account was terminated.  From model community member to pariah in zero easy steps.  All that work – or most of it – down the drain.

Readers with a bit of memory will recall how my account at BlogEngage was terminated, when I was the third top member listed there and had just a few weeks earlier been praised by the owner for  how I conducted myself.  From model community member to pariah in zero easy steps.   I am still guessing that he noticed my free account (grandfathered as an early member) was generating much more success than were the spammer accounts he was selling automated submissions to.  So on a whim, I lost all the work I had put into my account and the site as a whole.

In between these two minor catastrophic events, a new social site called Thruzt came along and was steamrolling ahead to success in its second or third month.  I tried to login to my Thruzt account, when all of a sudden – “Poof!”  Unless you have just wished for a loaded buffet table, “Poof!” is not a sound effect most webmasters like to hear.  Thruzt was hosted on the Cloud (or is it “in” the Cloud?).  And the Cloud lost it.  The entire site.  Yes, from social site of the hour to blank page of the hour in zero easy steps.

These are each individual cases, and they are not specifically instructive to any of our individual activities.  But they do provide a combined perspective of the importance of owning space that cannot be summarily deleted.

  • Your own domain, not a freebie blog hosting or website service.
  • Cloud, OK, but backups, backups, backups.
  • Your own hosting service.
  • Offline backups of all information.
  • Offsite backups.
  • Own your own social site or forum if you want to be certain that nobody will give you the boot.  Nobody can boot me from Zoomit Canada, for instance.

And now for the latest news, I tried to login to my Diigo account last week, but it was gone – but not for reasons similar to those above. In fact, the whole site was gone, but not because the site was terminated (as was the case with Mixx, Propeller and so many other social sharing sites).  I just learned that Diigo’s domain was stolen. That is much like owning a car or cottage, vulnerable to thieves.  But it does give us reason to ponder how much trust we should place in the Internet.

You be the judge of what measures you need to take, but whatever measures, take control.  You cannot control everything, and if you want to reach large audiences, you need to be all over other people’s property.  But make sure that what really counts is on your own real estate – or at least a copy.

Have a story of your own? Feel free to share it in the comments below.

* Featured in the Working At Home Blog Carnival.

 

 


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How to Reach New Markets with Facebook

Monday, March 5th, 2012

Creating lasting connections was the idea behind the creation of Facebook. The network allows people to document friendships and keep any sorts of “promotions” lined up in one place, so it is no question why businesses started hopping onto the Facebook bandwagon. It’s a great place to reach new markets whether you’re a well-established business or just starting out.

Unfortunately, there are still businesses today that don’t take advantage of the benefits Facebook has to offer. Many businesses feel they are doing just fine with their current marketing strategies, and some claim that there are simply too many social networks to possibly keep up with them all. If you fall into one of these two categories or have your own reasons why you’re ignoring Facebook, it’s time to consider how you can reach new online markets with this social network.

Top 3 Ways to Discover New Online Markets with Facebook

The biggest myth about Facebook is the idea that it is simply another way to reach your already existing audience. However, Facebook works great if you’re looking to expand your audience and discover others who might be interested in your business—and you might be surprised with who you discover.

  1. Microtargeting – Many businesses immediately consider having a Facebook business page, but there are actually huge benefits that lie within the ads you see on Facebook. Facebook offers microtargeted ad campaigns where most target a small audience with customized messages. However, Facebook is now encouraging businesses to expand their audience base by testing different microtargeting standards. You can start with a large audience and then use Facebook ad analytics to see who is clicking on your ads. Although these initial ads will be someone broad, they will give you a brand new audience. Once you know who is clicking on the ads in your first test, you can start creating customized messages.
  1. Facebook Insight – If you have a Facebook brand page (aka a Facebook page for your business), you will have access to Facebook Insight. Facebook Insight is a way to gather information about your followers. You can learn where they are from, their age, what other companies they follow, etc. You might be surprised to find that most of your followers on Facebook are kids between the ages of 13 to 18. This will help you realize that you should change your promotions and advertisements to things that would appeal to this age group; an age group you may not have expected.
  1. Facebook Junkies – Many businesses are starting to offer promotions via their Facebook pages, and users are starting to catch onto this and pay attention. Facebook is a medium where approximately 845 million people feel comfortable (or at least take notice), so it makes sense that more and more people are turning to Facebook to learn about new businesses and find some great deals. Many people don’t even bother looking online anymore because they know they can look on Facebook. They are already using Facebook to chat with their friends, so when your company pops up on their feed their bound to give it a look. This is an entirely new audience that would have likely never found you had you not been an active member of the Facebook community.

How to Get Started with a Facebook Page for Your Brand

Whether you’re just starting a business or trying something new with your well-established business, Facebook brand pages are extremely easy to setup and use. Simply visit Create a Facebook Page and then enter in all the information required (city, description, type of company, etc.). Once you have your page setup, it will ask you if you have a Facebook account. If you do not, you have to click “I do not have a Facebook account” and then enter in your email address. This is a way to make sure that the right person has access to the account, so use an email address you know you will have forever.

You can also connect your blog to your Facebook page so that every time you upload a new blog post, it will update onto your Facebook page. You can do this through Twitterfeed. Once you’re set to go, you will have the option of writing status updates or connecting with customers and clients. The site will take you through all the steps and features of Facebook, so it’s easy to get started.

 

Amanda DiSilvestro is a writer on topics ranging from social media to VoIP phone service. She writes for an online resource that gives advice on topics including government small business loans to small businesses and entrepreneurs for the leading business directory, Business.com.

 

 


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2011 Social Media Fail of the Year

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

Most posts that bestow a title like this focus on the biggest company that made the most visible boo-boo, like FaceBook or Twitter or Digg or StumbleUpon. But this post focuses instead on the social media site that put the biggest stick of dynamite under its own mission and went…

Because this is a long post, let me tell you what you will read here. You will read a rant, and you will read some advice that you can use in your social media strategy – what you can learn from the 2011 Social Media Fail of the Year. And if you don’t heed the advice, the rant might just become your own in 2012.

Without further ado, the winner of the the 2011 Social Media Fail of the Year award is… BlogEngage. The founder, owner and nanny of this social bookmarking website has frequently made clear that his goal for the site is to build community. Let’s see how well he has done that – and what it means to you and your blog.

My Story (and rant!)

Until two days ago, I was the #3 “top user” of BlogEngage.

Why did I leave BlogEnage so suddenly?

Because my account disappeared. At first, I thought it was a terrible programming error. I had seen this before. So I quickly sent a Skype message to Brian Belfitt, the aforementioned founder, owner and nanny.

No response.

I tried direct messaging him on Twitter.

No response.

Then I noticed something strange on Skype. Brian’s avatar was no longer showing on his profile. And his location was now reading: “This person has not shared their details with you.”

I tried direct messaging him on Twitter again.

No response.

Have you any idea how much work, how much community-building it takes to be the #3 user at a site like that over a period of a year?

  • How many submissions? Not just of my own posts, but of other blogs I had no “interest” in?
  • How many votes? Not just of my “friends” but of other intriguing stories?
  • How many comments?
  • How much reaching out and interacting to promote what I had submitted?
  • How many new members I had recruited for the website?

Do I still think it is worthwhile for you to invest all this time and effort in social bookmarking websites? Read on, as I have some solid, well-grounded advice for you on this point. But first, some background.

It was dawning on me that my account, and two others I noticed (at least one of which showed up in the “top users” widget of the site), had been purposefully deleted by Brian. Why? The most recent time we had communicated, he had told me that I was conducting myself as a model member of his community. I was totally puzzled.

The next morning, I discovered a blog post on the site: http://www.blogengage.com/blogger/take-your-time-and-make-your-votes-count/ . Yes, he had purposely removed a number of accounts in what appears to be a fit of frustration at how the community was conducting itself in a way different than his intention of how they should interact.

I waited for most of the day for some answer from Brian to messages I had sent now through three separate channels. Those who have been around social bookmarking for a while don’t expect explanations. For instance…

  • The most open secret on the Internet is how Reddit will disable your account for no reason, while making it still appear to you that your account is active. There is even a name for them: “Zombie accounts”.
  • Digg used to be famous for banning accounts for good reason and for no reason until about a year ago when Digg V4 was launched, and now the second-most open secret on the Internet is how Digg won’t even ban people anymore for setting up duplicate accounts.
  • And Newsvine says they will respond to you. They don’t.

But a small gated community (Yes, I’ll explain that later)? Where you are on a first-name basis with the sole proprietor? Who is your follower on Twitter? Who you Skype with? Who you email with? Would he really just delete his Top User #3 from his site with no warning? No explanation? In the words of Shania Twain, “You must be joking, right?”

Finally, not getting a response from Brian directly, I posted a comment on his blog. And in the five minutes between posting my comment and when it was removed, I grabbed this screenshot:

Yes, the message is slightly provocative, although I assure you it was VERY restrained. In fairness to me, imagine how I felt at having a year’s worth of work just wiped out by an erratic webmaster. And in fairness to Brian for removing my comment, if you had just done something this “special”, you would not appreciate having it pointed out to you on your own blog.

Three Reasons for Earning the 2011 Social Media Fail of the Year Award

Is deleting my account, and several others, what earns BlogEngage the 2011 Social Media Fail of the Year on its own? No. It is just the fourth of four blunders that self-sabotaged the site’s social mission.

FAIL #1. The first was the famous RSS submission service (I believe this was actually in 2010, but it needs to be included as part of the pattern). I must say, this is a really cool tool and I had favourably reviewed it. Basically, subscribers have their blog posts automatically submitted to BlogEngage as they are published. They get an extra vote out of the deal, as well as removing the drudgery of submission. For people who have several daily blogs, this is very worthwhile.

Unfortunately, many people using this subscription are pure spammers, who use the service for hit and run bookmarking. They let the automated system handle the submissions and they don’t build the community.

  • They don’t come back to vote for others’ submissions.
  • They don’t comment on others’ submissions.
  • They don’t ask others for support – votes, comments, etc.

These are all three vital aspects of a “community” on a social bookmarking website.

Not all RSS subscribers are hit-and-run spammers. But most of the spammers you see today on BlogEnage appear to be RSS subscribers. They pay for the privilege to spam the site.

FAIL #2. The second was when Brian started charging for memberships. Don’t get me wrong, the site belongs to Brian and he has the right to do whenever he wants with it. And if he can find a way to make a living running it, God bless him. I also run a social bookmarking website for Canadians. I would love to make a living doing just that, so I can 100% understand his motivation.

However, Digg is free. Reddit is free. StumbleUpon is free. They are all free sites that bring huge value to users and lots of traffic to submitted pages. And because they are free, they attract more users to view the submitted pages. By creating a gated community, BlogEngage reduced the value of belonging to that community. When recently discussing Blogengage in a few of my mastermind groups, one person summarized:

This is just Hilarious! I am not a “member” of BE….never submitted or voting for anything as I really don’t see much value from BE (no traffic, low PR, no direct Home Page link) but just need to point out the hypocrisy of this “community” as most users are afraid their accounts would get banned.

FAIL #3. The third was when Brian decided to charge $200 for a special promotion package that included automatic publishing to the home page – by-passing the community entirely. No need to attract votes. No need to attract comments. No need to actually participate in the community. Pass Go, pay $200. Again, if Brian can get enough people to pony up and he can quit his day job, more power to him. It is his site. But again, this is not about building community; it is about by-passing community.

FAIL #4. Booting out some of your top users, for…for…for what? I can only surmise from the words and tone of his blog post that we were not building community in the fashion that the owner wanted us to. There was no mention of any terms-of-service violations. On most social bookmarking websites, they remove your account for submitting and promoting your own websites. On BlogEngage, I was one of the few who regularly submitted posts that I did not have an “interest” in, as well as those that I did.

By removing several quality members, BlogEngage has left the site a little poorer. As one of the others who was also deleted mentioned to me, referring to a letter he had received from BlogEngage not long ago: ”

The funny thing is that he said that our submissions were poor quality… most of our subs were way beyond the regular stuff over BE like ‘win $50 blogging contests’. Or post #465 on why CommentLuv is so great. Or win BE RSS subscription. “Affordable Web Hosting: Hostgator – Go ‘Gators!”

So once again, BlogEngage seems to be bypassing community to impose its own vision of exactly how people should interact with each other. Social media, or social engineering?

And by arbitrarily deleting accounts, BlogEnage makes it less worthwhile for members to waste time in building the community. As one person in another of my mastermind groups puts is, “True. Why should I just keep plugging away so that he can kill my account a few months down the road?” (I am still puzzled, though, with how we traveled with lightening speed from assertions that I was a model community member to deleting my account.)

Advice for Social Bookmarking Users

At this point, you might expect me to say “Don’t waste your time with social bookmarking, especially not BlogEngage.” Well, no on both counts.

I had written a very popular post on Who owns your Twitter account, the tweeter or his/her company? Spoiler alert: the answer is Twitter.

Lesson One from my rant above is that when you invest in a social bookmarking or social sharing website, you are investing in somebody else’s website. Don’t forget that.

What advice would I give current BlogEngage members?

1. Keep submitting your content. Yes, it could still get deleted at any time, but that happens all the time on the Internet. Your press release on a press release website can be refused. If the site is sold or shut down, your release is gone with it. Your comments on any blog disappear when the blogger sells the domain or shuts down. All my submissions at Mixx and Propeller disappeared when those sites shut down. These are still great ways to share content, build links, network and generally promote your website. Do it anyway. It is unlikely that Brian will delete every active user’s account.

2. Don’t invest in the community. Yes, Brian says that is what he wants you to do, but when your account can so arbitrarily be deleted, it is just not worth wasting your time. Invest in your own submissions, that’s it.

What advice would I give non BlogEngage members?

Don’t join. Digg is free. My Zoomit is free. Fwisp is free. HealthBuzzing is free. BizSugar is free. Blokube is free. NewsMeBack is free. Tipd is free. BlogInteract is free. Cloudytags is free. All of them are great social bookmarking sites. If everyone charged, it would be different, but why on earth would you pay for less value and more risk?

What general advice about social bookmarking?

Social bookmarking is still absolutely A.W.E.S.O.M.E. – a great way to spread your content around the web, to be active and visible, to build quality links directly and through other bloggers and website owners and social media lovers that see your content. If your content sucks, social bookmarking is not all that useful. But if you have great content on your website, go for it!

Call me a hopeless romantic, but I have already shaken off this minor setback. Most people are both good and stable, and most social bookmarking venues, micro-blogging sites and blogs are amazing places to interact with others on the Internet. Good for traffic. Good for SEO. Good for networking. Good for building a reputation. Good. Good. Good.

And most will never vie for the coveted Social Media Fail of the Year award.

 


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Business Blog Commenting Carnival #1

Monday, November 28th, 2011

Welcome to our first ever “Business Blog Commenting Carnival.” I spend a fair amount of time visiting blogs to learn, discuss, support and network.  With all the comments I leave, surely there are some that I should be sharing with my own readers.  And I thought also that you might be interested in some of the same blog posts that inspired me to elucidate, extrapolate or simply irritate.  And that is the idea between what I hope will become a regular feature on this blog.

 

 

Over at Do You Shine? Consider A Business Model Shift , I just had to agree that change is a mind trap…

This is so sadly true, not just with whole business models but even with small adjustments. How many times have I known that I should make a change…but change is disruptive. It takes time to even just set up a new process for doing something. There is a HUGE psychological barrier to making changes.

And at at 5 Ways to Make Your Site Fly, one of the 5 tips to make your blog faster was about resizing images. I added this…

I have also found an easy way to resize images is just to view them on my desktop, then reduce the size of the picture viewing window, then I just use the snipping tool to save the image in a new size.

I had to jump in at Want to start a business – How to come up with a new Business idea

I think a more basic question is why you want to start a business in the first place. Normally the reason to start a business IS because you have a passion about something. Or you see a problem that needs fixing. Or you are frustrated in your job because the boss just doesn’t get it.

If you have to search for an idea, there is a good chance your business will fail. The core motivation is missing.

On Social Media and Email – a Winning Combination

Indeed, there is no guarantee that your list will respond as you wish. First, the content must be really good, not something cobbled together on the cheap or a sales pitch with no curiosity of “Wow!” factor. And then, as you say, you have to be oh-so clear about what you want them to do, because people can be stupid – yes, even really smart people can also be stupid – and busy and distracted.

And while we are on the topic of the power of social media (I know this is not so much business related), I commented at 7 Links, 5 Writers

“One of the most amazing things about the Internet, and one I am most thankful for, is the way it brings together people of different ages, nationalities, backgrounds, and experiences, and enables them to become friends before it ever occurs to them that, under other circumstances, their paths likely never would have crossed. ”

I have often thought about this. It is one of the reasons I am so happy to associate with people on the Internet, even though I am a bit of a hermit. Many people I am best buddies with on the Internet, I might not even get along with in real life – who knows?  This virtual world is amazing.

 


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Social Media Coups and Bombs

Monday, November 21st, 2011

I participated on a panel in a blog post by Geoff Cudd on 8 Sneaky Social Media Tricks: Are They Worth Your Time? The views intrigued me, so I decided to do a follow-up and ask the same people (and a few more) the following two questions:

1. What is the most amazing social media coup you ever did, or have ever seen done?
2. What is the dumbest social media fail you have ever done, or have ever seen done?

Some of them responded, but not everybody has had either a major disaster or a smash success with social media. Like so many other things, social media is a great communications tool that yields results over time based on hundreds and thousands of interactions, one at a time and incrementally over time. But there were a few coups to report and there were a few lessons to be learned, so here are what they shared with us.

 

 

FROM Geoff Cudd of Don’t Do It Yourself

COUP: I’ve never been a big Twitter fan and had always seen it as the equivalent of walking around a park with a megaphone telling random strangers about how wonderful you are. But a year ago, I changed my opinion when I stumbled upon a new business partner by exchanging tweets. In under 140 characters we managed to identify that we had complimentary services and setup a time to discuss partnering. We hit it off and developed a very beneficial partnership.

Lesson: Don’t ignore innocuous tweets. They could result in long term partners!

BOMB: In one of my ventures I actually had a product development team working for an entire year creating a toolbar application that would allow you to share web-based sticky notes through social media (similar to Evernote). The concept was great, but we spent all our energy focusing on the product and not the social media relationships that would be required to give it that initial boost of traffic to spread adoption. Before you know it, we had very few users and we ran out of time and capital. We had to give up and turn our efforts towards other guaranteed-revenue related activities.

Lesson: For a social media product, you’ve got to plan out your marketing strategy early in the product lifecycle and get user input as soon as possible. I won’t share any numbers, but I’m willing to guess that I have the title for one of the more expensive mistakes on this panel!

FROM Andy Boyd of Money Release

COUP: One of the best I’ve done so far was an infographic for an ink cartridges company. As you can imagine, ink cartridges is a bland product that very few people, if anyone is actively interested in. This meant that I had to do something out of the ordinary in order to have a hope of getting some traction. So I came up with the idea of printing out the internet, and how much ink and paper it would take to do so. I am an avid documentary geek, with a particular interest in programs like Discovery’s Extreme Engineering where they often use animated graphics to visualise the scale of a project, e.g. this building is equivalent to the height of 10 Statue of Liberty’s, or there’s enough cable in this aircraft to wrap around the world twice. In the end we came up with a really cool looking infographic packed full of factoids about printing the internet.

Shortly after it launched, it went viral. Really viral. Thousands of people tweeted it. It was picked up by lots of the top blogs and hundreds of smaller publishers. Hundreds of thousands of people viewed that infographic. And to the best of my knowledge, it’s still getting links today.

BOMB: I haven’t had a campaign backfire, but like any social marketer I’ve had my fair share of flops. That’s the thing with marketing content – you never really know if it will work. Back at the time when getting promoted on Digg actually mattered, I used to spend a lot of time on there promoting my work. When Digg was at it’s prime, it was probably one of the most exciting times to be a social marketer. You could launch a linkbait, watch it hit the front page, hope your servers will stay up and just wait for the links to roll in. The problem was that you could push something for 24 hours, only for it to be buried at the very last minute just when you thought it was going to be promoted. When that happened, and it happens a lot when you’re promoting content on a commercial website, it s probably the single most demoralising thing about being a social marketer.

FROM Emory Rowland of Clickfire

COUP: What comes to my mind is an accidental coup that my friend, the owner of a conservative political blog and myself, the webmaster discovered back in 2008 that helped me truly grasp the nature and power of social media. Someone had discovered an interesting blog post that my friend had made (more about this later) and submitted it to StumbleUpon. Of course, I wouldn’t have noticed it but for the sudden influx of visitors the site began receiving in the tens of thousands that continued for about 2 months. Here are some specifics:

  • StumbleUpon sent around 42,000 visits and listing 46 user reviews.
  • For the year, StumbleUpon ended up sending three times the traffic that Google sent (the site ranked for the head term, “liberals”).
  • My friend received offers to appear on a Sirius XM Radio show and a Pajamas Media TV show.

From that day forward, I took StumbleUpon seriously to say the least. But, the funny part is that this social media marketing victory pretty much violated every SEO rule in the book.

  • The post was not submitted or promoted by anyone affiliated with the site. It spread naturally.
  • There was no onsite or offsite SEO strategy or measures taken other than the default SEO-friendliness of WordPress.
  • The post title contained a blatant misspelled word.
  • The post was only 180 words in length.
  • The post constituted duplicate content. It turned out to be a meme appearing on many other sites.

BOMB: Let me make it clear that I did not actually do this, but seriously thought about dressing up as Matt Cutts for Halloween.

FROM Hesham Zebida of Famous Bloggers

COUP: My best Social Media coup started with organizing blog contests, entries in the contests usually receive high tweet rates as participants compete with each others to collect more points during the promotion period to win the blog contest, which means a huge exposure for my blog.

BOMB: My big fail and the most silly idea I ever had was when I decided to start an underground twitter exchange network, it’s the worst idea ever.

FROM Tom Drake of Canadian Finance Blog

COUP: My biggest social media coup was working my way up to top domain on Tip’d. I had been blogging for about a year before I really got into using Tip’d. So I had quite a few old posts that I would submit on the weekend and hustle on twitter to get votes, often just needing 4-5 votes to get published to the front page. Being the top domain might be more than just bragging rights, since many users now give me votes without as much begging involved.

BOMB: My biggest social media fail was trying to use Reddit for the first time and getting labeled as a spammer almost immediately. I thought I was submitting my posts, but I’d click on “text” thinking I was leaving a description, but apparently this took out my links and made it look like some very random statements being made by a bot.

FROM Miranda Marquit of Planting Money Seeds

BOMB: We had a custom infographic made for Moolanomy. It hit the front page on Digg, back when Digg was cool, and it exploded elsewhere. It ended up with tons of comments, and thousands of views. It was back when infographics were just becoming the big thing, and it really emphasized the importance of being a little ahead of the curve. Plus, it was a somewhat controversial topic (buying vs. renting), and the infographic left out a few things. Actually, it might have been the fact that the graphic left out some things that generated so much buzz and conversation. It was valuable insight that sometimes you can get a lot of a traffic when people see something “wrong.”

FROM Tom Shivers of Capture Commerce

COUP: Papa John’s conducted Papa’s Specialty Pizza Challenge the summer of 2010 and the findings were very interesting. Consumers were asked to create and submit recipes for interesting new pizzas.

A panel of qualified judges selected ten semi-finalists based on overall appeal, taste, creativity of the name, and interest of the story. The judges then selected three finalists from the semi-finalists. The top three pizzas were put on the regular menu and finalists had one month to hustle up sales of their pizza creations, each was given $1000 to promote their pizza. The top selling pizza won a cut of the sales up to a maximum of $10,000 plus $480 of Papa John’s pizza each year for 50 years.

Interestingly, the pizza that got the most Facebook “likes” did not win. “Papa John’s Cheesy Chicken Cordon Bleu for Gulf Coast Animals” by Barbara Hyman, started out ahead of the other two pizza contestants and never relinquished that position during the entire month, selling about 108,000 pizzas, or 45% of the contestant pizzas sold.

Papa John’s VP of digital marketing said Hyman’s pizza had two powerful hooks: the Cordon Bleu name was familiar and easy to remember, and her cause was framed as a way to help animals harmed by the BP oil spill, a timely and emotional pull.

Hyman made alliances with other businesses who helped her promote the pizza and pledged to match her charity donation if she won. She said, “People didn’t seem to care about the money I could win, but their interest peaked when I talked about helping wild life covered with oil.”

Six lessons from Papa John’s about crowdsourcing product creation:

  • Challenge customers to win a product creation contest by providing motivating incentives
  • Utilize objective criteria and judges to select the finalists
  • Give finalists marketing tools and resources to promote their product creation
  • Gauge success by product sales and not by any other kind of criteria, like voting
  • Promotions that involve donations to charity or a good cause can easily win out over promotions that focus on the contest itself
  • Contests promoted with social media creates audience engagement for the business

Read more: Crowdsourcing + R&D = Winning Product Design

BOMB: A couple years ago I decided to utilize mommy bloggers to promote a line of rocking horses. I interviewed several and decided on one because she had a big promotion coming up for Mother’s Day weekend and my rocking horse would be the grand prize of all the giveaways going on. Basically contestants could get more entries by tweeting, liking, linking to the website and sharing the contest with friends. At the end the winner of the rocking horse would be chosen by random number.

I sent one rocking horse to the mommy blogger so she could review it; another rocking horse would be sent to the winner of the contest.

Hundreds of people entered the contest and it was interesting to watch the tweets and likes fly, but at the end of the day the site didn’t get many links or as much publicity as I had hoped.

  • Although I did get some nice things out of the promotion, I also learned some lessons:
  • Mommy blogger contestants are in it for the free prizes and that’s about it.
  • Be careful if your product is a much higher value than most of the items that are being promoted on the mommy blogger’s site.
  • Contests won by random do not tend to engage contestants with the brand during or after the contest is over.
  • The mommy blogger did link to the site but it was a bit excessive, meaning it was sorta obvious I had asked for links (Google probably ignored most of them).

FROM David Leonhardt (that’s me) of SEO writer

I know you are curious to know what my biggest coups and bombs were. The reality is that my coups have mostly been in the realm of sustained success, one small step at a time, getting my content and client content to “pop” on social bookmarking websites week after week after week after week. Likewise, my bombs have been incremental, getting banned at Reddit (presumably for submitting some posts that were self-promotional), at the former Propeller (for who knows why?), at the former Shoutwire (for who knows why?), at the Newsvine (possibly for trying to join too many groups at once?) and at Digg (for who knows why?).

But if I was to name one coup and one bomb, it would be the same: creating Zoomit Canada. It was a coup because running one’s own social bookmarking website brings so many social media advantages, making you a bit of a leader and opening plenty of networking doors. It was a bomb because I never did manage to attract anywhere near the kind of attention to make it what it was meant to be (but there is still time for that, hopefully).

I hope you have learned some valuable tips from the coups and bombs we have shared here today. Please feel free to share your own in the comments section below.

 


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