David Leonhardt’s SEO and Social Media Marketing

Tips for better SEO (search engine optimization) and website marketing …

THE HAPPY GUY MARKETING

 

Ghost Town Link Building

Mar 28, 2012 - filed under deep links, linking 7 Comments
 

When the search engines follow links to your website, do they find a ghost town from a movie set? You know what those are like, right?

A movie set ghost town is all facade. There are windows with sills, nicely painted or stained wood fronts, doors, front steps or at least a threshold. But if you actually open the door, it is empty inside. When you pass through the doorway, you find nothing . Not furniture. No interior wall, nor even side or back walls. No people. Only support beams to hold up the facade.

A lot of websites are like that. You look at their link profile, and – Wow! – does it ever look impressive. Hundreds of links from dozens of domains, maybe even thousands of links from hundreds of domains.

But wait, something looks out of place. Something doesn’t look natural. Something looks like… a facade. All the links point to the home page. All the links point to the website’s facade. Just like the cameras that always show us carefully just the fronts of the buildings, the links all show us carefully just the front page of the website. Like there is nothing else on the site worth linking to.

Like a movie set ghost town.

 

 

Deep Linking Makes It Real

When you build links to a variety of pages, you are showing the search engines that your site has depth. That it has substance. That it is real, not just a facade. And if you want the search engines to take your web address seriously, it helps to show that there is really something there.

Some tips on deep linking

Make sure you have content on your website. Content is not a home page or a sales page. Content is useful information. For instance…

How-to articles
Case studies
Interesting photos
Top 10 lists
Recommendations

But how does this content lead to inbound deep links to your website?

  • Let bloggers know about your content. Some will find it interesting and link to it.
  • Share on places like Twitter, MySpace, FaceBook, Pinterest, Digg, Tumblr, etc. (learn how to use these sites, build a network, and follow the official rules AND the unwritten guidelines)
  • Write articles about the same topic for other websites, and link back.
  • Create related videos for video sharing sites like Youtube, and link back to the original content.
  • Write related guest posts on other blogs, linking back to the original content.
  • Let the media (local, trade, etc.) know about the content, in case it will interest them.
  • Prepare news releases related to the content and distribute to press release websites.
  • Comment on related blogs, using the content pages as the “website URL” field.

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Creative Link-building Email Spam

Mar 21, 2012 - filed under linking, SEO scams 7 Comments
 

I get my share of emails requesting links.  I do consider those that look realistic and worthwhile, but that is very few.

But none compare with an email that was sent to Tom over at Canadian Finance Blog. *

Hello Tom and greetings from New York and Mrs. Fowler’s 4th grade class!

I hope it’s ok that I’m contacting you directly! My class is currently working on special unit on Money and Finance and as part of an assignment, the kids had to go out and find an educational website/article(s) on a related topic of their choice, along with a list of websites to share them with. My job of emailing their lists is quite the task as you can imagine…

canadianfinanceblog.com was on one of the students’ lists (Amy) and her suggestion for you can be seen below:

“All About Money”
http://www.mycoupons.com/store/all-about-money/

Her suggestion is to add this resource to your links page
(http://canadianfinanceblog.com/friday-links-84/) so that others may benefit from it and learn something new. Some sort of prize or extra credit will be given to those students with the most implemented suggestions to reward them for their hard work!

Thank you for considering playing a role in our project, and please let us know if you post the link :)

Have a great day!

Mrs. Nancy Fowler (and Amy Byrk)
Harrison Wing A – Rm 322
“If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it, I know I can achieve it.” -Jesse Jackson

OK, Mrs.  Fowler.  So your class project is to spam bloggers on behalf of MyCoupons.com?  Yeah, right.

This gets the award for most creative link-building. Creative is good; dirty, rotten, sticking, liar is less good.  I wonder whether there is anybody out there gullible enough to be fooled by this.

* I have disabled the spammer’s link in her letter.  Otherwise, I have left it untouched


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How to Reach New Markets with Facebook

Mar 05, 2012 - filed under FaceBook, marketing, social media 2 Comments
 

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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How long does SEO take to get results?

Feb 07, 2012 - filed under rankings, SEO 8 Comments
 

From the SEO mailbag…

QUESTION: “I’m looking for SEO, how long does SEO take effect and get results?”

MY ANSWER:

Your question is a lot like how deep is a hole? How high is up? SEO is like a sport, and you are competing for various positions with others. Results could be a top 10 ranking for one search term. It could be a #1 ranking for three search terms. It could mean hundreds of things for any given site.

Even if you determine exactly what you mean by results, so much depends on exactly what the search terms are, how much money, time, effort and cleverness you put into the campaign and exactly what the search terms are, how much money, time, effort and cleverness each of your competitors put into the campaign.

Even if you can define all these things, the answer still would be a combination of “it depends” and “I don’t know”.

For certain, don’t expect to see any significant results before six months in a tourism niche. Your competition are already way ahead of you, and they are probably not just sitting on their duffs waiting for you to catch up.

(Related post: SEO FAQ)

YOUR ANSWER?

Would you have answered differently? Would you have answered the same? What are your thoughts. Please comment below. And please share on Twitter and FaceBook so we can get more perspectives.


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Reputation Management: How Suze Orman Jeopardized Hers

Jan 19, 2012 - filed under marketing, reputation, reputation management, Twitter 17 Comments
 

This is the story of how NOT to manage your reputation online, following Suze Orman’s mess last week.

If you don’t know who Suze Orman is, she is (was?) one of the most respected personal finance gurus around.

And if you missed the “mess”, it started out innocently enough. Suze Orman released an “Approved” pre-paid debit card. It was a big publicity moment for her, and should have resulted in accolades and sunshine.

But something went terribly wrong.

Without going too deep into financial details, a pre-paid debit card can be a very useful tool for certain situations, and this card compares favourably to similar card, according to many analysts. But many personal finance bloggers were “shocked” and “surprised” that Suze Orman would be recommending a card like this at all, pointing out numerous less-costly alternatives. (If you wish to read more on the details from a financial perspective, there is a good round-up of related posts at Credit Cards Canada’s overview of the issue, but here are three of my favourites:

At Planting Money Seeds
At Free From Broke
At Hi That’s My Bike

And so the PR war begins.

And here the lesson begins.

Because Suze Orman struck back. Hard. And used some harsh language. She took on her challengers and called them names. The personal finance blogosphere is well-connected. They all read each others’ blogs and comment on them and follow each other on Twitter. If you check out any of the links I posted above, you will see what I mean.

And so, Twitter got real messy. These images are among those shared by Briana at 20 And Engaged.

You know she blew it. I am not saying that she no longer has any respect, but she sure lost a lot of it last week among a very important audience. What lessons can we learn from this?

DON’T GET PERSONAL.

What really set things off was when she called one well-respected blogger an “Idiot”. The rest of the personal finance bloggers circled wagons, especially because they had the same concerns about this whole Suze Orman Approved Card thing as the “Idiot” did.

To their credit, most of the bloggers kept it above the belt, and spent the rest of the week giving their analysis of the card itself and of pre-paid debit cards in general. In other words, they stuck to the issue, which is what Suze should have done. Did she really have a good product or was she just fleecing her starry-eyed followers?

STICK TO SUBSTANCE.

None of the bloggers (to the best of my knowledge) accused Suze of malice, and yet the whole affair left one feeling like she was trying to cash in on her celebrity status, misusing the trust her followers had placed in her and picking their pockets. All because of how she reacted, by throwing back insults rather than responding to the concerns and correcting misperceptions.

Instead of getting out her side of the story, she went off message (yes, this is sooooo like a political campaign screw-up).

RESPECT

OK, so let’s suppose you are really angry at somebody? Do you punch them in the face? Do you tell them to “Got to Hell!”. Do you call them an idiot? Of course not. No matter how angry you might be at the moment, you don’t want to burn bridges for things you will want to do in the future.

Social media is social. And it is amplified. It would be bad enough if Suze Orman had called a blogger an idiot in private. But she did it in public, in front of all her Twitter followers and, more importantly, in front of dozens – maybe even hundreds – of personal finance bloggers.

This showed at best pathetic judgment and at worst a mean and nasty streak.

Interestingly, a number of personal finance bloggers I know made comments to the effect of “I hope that was just some PR advisors that wrote those tweets, and not her.” I have my doubts. The first thing a PR person would advise her would be to stick to the issues, don’t get personal and don’t burn bridges. She did apologize later in the week, which sounds to me like she finally did get some PR advice.

If was her PR advisor, I would have tweeted back to the skeptics that they are missing the key point, and I would make that point. I would contact the blogger off-Twitter and request permission to provide a guest post – not to rebut his argument, but to explain why the card is indeed a good deal and why it is a step forward and look at all the good that can come out of it. He worst that can happen is a “No”…which would be far better than the huge loss of esteem she suffered last week. And the best would have been another platform to get her message out and at least to some degree neutralize the criticism that had been made.

By way of a wrap up, I came away with the impression that Suze Orman really does want to do something big with credit scores (which might be good), but could not resist the chance to make some nice cash from her followers. The combination of feeling righteous because she believes she is doing something positive and defensiveness due to guilt of having stepped over a line would explain her reactions.

But you and I will never know the truth behind all of this. We will only know what impression we are left with. Which is why online reputation management is so critical.


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Why You Should Be Blog Carnival-Crazy

Jan 16, 2012 - filed under blogging, carnival, linking, networking, traffic 8 Comments
 

If you have never heard of a blog carnival or a blog round-up, this is not to be missed. As a blogger, you should seriously consider hosting a blog carnival – and you should absolutely be participating in blog carnivals every week.

First, the terminology.

  • Blog round-up. A summary of interesting blog posts from the previous week (or however long the blogger decides).
  • Blog carnival. A summary of interesting blog posts from the previous week (or however long the blogger decides).

Ah…yeah. So what is the difference? Originally a “carnival” traveled, hosted by a different blog each week. A few still do, but most are simply round-ups with a festive name.

Why your blog should host a carnival:

Traffic. When you post a dozen links to other people’s posts, guess what happens… they tweet about the post and sometimes link to it and generally send people your way.

Links. As I said above…

Networking. List a dozen blog posts and you get brownie points from a dozen happy bloggers.

Why you should submit your blog to a carnival:

Traffic. When someone posts a link to your post on their carnival, chances are people will follow the link and discover your blog.

Links. As I said above…

Networking. The blogger will appreciate that you contributed to his blog.

Blog Carnival tools:

There are a few ways that you can find posts to include in your carnival. There are two broker websites, which I will review below, and there are a few simple tactics to find posts on your own.

1. Tweet a request for contributions.
2. Ask your mastermind group on FaceBook or Skype or wherever (I have seen this done effectively several times).
3. Post a notice on niche forums.
4. Track the blogs you like via RSS and choose the posts you like most (several people do this).
5. Do a blog comments carnival. I take the more substantial comments that I leave on other people’s blogs, and I blog them into a carnival.
6. Post a notice on your own blog – that might be enough to get a flood of submissions.

BlogCarnival.com: This website has been around for a while, and lists hundreds or blog carnivals.

What I like about the site…

It is nicely automated. When you put in the URL of a blog post, much of the submission form is auto-filled.

Plenty of blogs in all sorts of niches, and since your posts will mostly be relevant to one niche all the time, and to most niches on occasion, this works well.

What I don’t like about the site….

Most of the carnivals listed no longer exist. At least there is a notice that the carnival does not exist, but still it does clog things up. I always sort the available blogs by “most recent” carnival, and don’t bother with ones that have not been kept up to date.

Several blogger I know who have used the site have complained that they don’t get the submissions people send. I know some go through, because I have had success, but I have no idea what submission success rate is.

Each carnival opens in the same window, so to submit to several, I need to manually open up several windows at a time.

BlogCarnivalHQ.com. In response to the submission problems at log Carnival, this site was set up by Tom Drake, a leading financial blogger (he also runs Fwisp, a growing social bookmarking site for finance bloggers).

What I like about the site…

Quick clicks to each blog, uncluttered by hundreds of no-longer active carnivals.

Great for finance articles.

Solid programming and a personal commitment by Tom Drake to keep it functioning properly.

What I don’t like about the site…

The site is still new, so other categories are pretty sparsely populated. (This is your chance to get your blog in on the ground floor.)

Each carnival opens in the same window, so to submit to several, I need to manually open up several windows at a time.

If you don’t want to run your own carnival, but you do want a post included in a carnival, there are three ways to find carnivals to submit to. One way is to search Google or Bing for carnivals or round-ups related to your niche. The other two ways are to search the two blog carnival websites I reviewed above.


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Business Blog Commenting Carnival #2

Jan 09, 2012 - filed under blog commenting, carnival, linking, marketing 1 Comment
 

Welcome to our second “Business Blog Commenting Carnival”, an irregular feature where I share with you some of the comments I left on great posts from other blogs.

I answered the question Who’s the Real Boss in Your Business?

I say it is the customers. “The Customer is Always Right.” If the customer needs something quickly, I work overtime. If customers change their taste or preferences, my business better change to meet their demands.

When you are an employee, you have only one customer. You call him “the boss” or “the employer”, but the fact is that you are selling him some combination of your time, your effort and your expertise.

When you own the business, you have many bosses or employers. You call them “the customers” or “the clients”.

At 5 Techniques You Can Use to Take Your Internet Marketing Business to the Next Level in 2012 Danielle McGraw suggests to “Take it offline”. My thoughts on this?…

Indeed, most online folks really don’t think about taking things offline. But imagine the power of leaving sticky notes all over in public places: “Free download – make money online”. Or imagine handing strangers in the mall a business card that says: “A penny for your thoughts” with a penny taped to it, and a subheading: “Comment on my blog at http…”

Roberta Budvietas wrote that Civility Is important to Business Success. I agreed…

Civility is just another word for respect, or at least for demonstrating respect. If you don’t demonstrate respect, why would anybody do business with you?

At The Mystery of SEO, I found myself speaking in quite a counter intuitive fashion…

Anthony, on the whole I agree with your approach. However, I will take issue with the web designer who rejects any client not interested in an SEO analysis. The vast majority of websites will never rank well for any search phrase worth speaking of. There are simply too many more websites than their are available search phrases, and too many websites that are already very strong in most of those search markets. And as much as it might seem contrarian for an SEO specialist to be saying this, there are so many moire awesome ways to find a website than through search engine rankings. Radio ads. Print ads. Sponsoring YouTube or offline video, pay-per-click ads , guest blogging…and so many more. Many B2B websites have a very small niche clientele that can be best reached through trade shows and trade publications. Thinking the world revolves around SEO is the myopic miscalculation fostered usually by SEO specialists; how unfortunate that a web designer has also been infected.

Ming Jong Tey wrote about a link wheel strategy that works. I suggested an upgrade to that strategy…

Yes, the typical link wheel has fallen out of favour with Google. But the newer version is a lot of work. Creating several unique articles just to get a single link (Yes, you can pay $5 or $10 to have some regurgitated baby food pounded into something that looks like words, but do you really think Google is stupider than the folks who write that crap?) So here is an alternative:

Create a good article on a Web 2.0 site. Submit it to a couple appropriate social bookmarking sites for the niche. Comment on a couple good blog posts in the niche, using the article URL as your “website”.

There you go. You have created great content, engaged with bloggers and given real link juice to your hub.

This is not a blog, but rather a forum thread that asked: “I just started working for a local law firm and Im new to SEO. Im helping out with the link building campaign. I wanted to get some advice on a good strategy for building white hat back links for a local law firm?”

I disagree that anything you do to build links violates Google’s TOS. Links represent to Google “votes” for your content. In other words, if you have content worth linking to, you should get links, because links are the natural extension of everything you do, online and offline.

1. Ask clients if they can place a little acknowledgement on their website, linking back to your website. “Thanks to LAW FIRM NAME for helping us get our paperwork in order and setting up our business. (Links are not just about Google – they are first and foremost about referral business).

2. You want you site to have great, informative content, not just sales pages (I know I don’t buy from people tryin g to push a sale down my throat). It could be tips on how to avoid whiplash or how to determine what is false advertising or anything else that relates to the areas of law you practice. Then tell the world. Should it out on Twitter and FaceBook, on StumbleUpon and Chime.in, on Tumblr and Squidoo. The more people who discover your great content, the more people will share it and in some cases those shares will bring you links and in others “social signals” that the search engines value. But best of all, again, they will bring you referral traffic.


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2011 Social Media Fail of the Year

Dec 08, 2011 - filed under blogging, bookmarking, social media 21 Comments
 

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

Nov 28, 2011 - filed under blogging, email, Internet, social media 4 Comments
 

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

Nov 21, 2011 - filed under bookmarking, Digg, reputation, social media 8 Comments
 

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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