Key Advice Blog

Archive for May 2010

Danny Brown’s ‘How to measure 5 popular social media channels’ article at Ragan.com has some of the best ideas and links on this topic. He talks about taking it to the next level – beyond simply brand awareness. I like his terminology ‘success guides’ for what you want to do and how much you want to invest in doing it.

Brown  recommends blogger outreach programs as one key social marketing tool. If you haven’t done this before, his link to Monica O’Brien’s step-by-step guide is the place to start. She knows about long-range planning.

Twitter is relatively easy to measure as you can look at retweets, hashtag use, vanity URL, new and campaign generated followers. But there are others.

Facebook is similar with likes, fans, sharing, tagging as the backbone. Facebook Insights, explained on YouTube by scubamarketing, is worth it for specific Facebook campaigns.

YouTube also offers a number of built-in measurement tools – and it’s always fun to watch those numbers grow!

One of the more interesting tips was for mobile marketing, and of course features the geotag site FourSquare.

Whether you are looking to get a start in social media ROI, or want some motivation and help at rejuvenating your current activities, this is a resourceful article.

Thanks Danny Brown.

Danny Brown’s Article

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Blogging may seem to some to be passé. But, it is still one of the best ways to get results and Google and it gives you interactivity many websites don’t offer. If you don’t have a blog, or a blog page integrated into your main site, think about these advantages. It works in any organisation.

Business Blogging

The Social Media Examiner‘s recent e-newsletter called for businesses to consider that blogging can be the fastest way to improve Google rankings.  Author Jim Ladico pointed out the power of keyword rich content, incoming links, and incorporating a blog into your main website.

Academic Blogging

But, blogging isn’t just for business, academics are looking at how blogging can make them outstanding in their field. Microbiology Bytes http://www.microbiologybytes.com/AJC/whyblog.html just published an excellent piece called simply ‘Why Blog?’. One of the key reasons quoted is it forces the writer to do research. The Ed Techie blogger, specialising in Virtual Learning Environments, promotes blogging’s ability to increase engagement with technology and processes.

Charity Blogging

In these days of government cutbacks, the biggest charity challenge is fundraising and getting noticed. To see this in action, visit the Change.org blog. It embodies the power of blogging – particularly easy navigation, great interactivity, and immediate action (start a petition feature).

Blogging is like the cream of IT, it has floated to the top, and stays there. If you are unsure of how to get started or have a blog that needs a fresh look or content, bring in an expert to get you started, or back on right track. If you use it wisely, you’ll get the sweet taste of success!

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E-marketing is something you are probably doing already. It involves using a variety of e-media to let people know about your website or blog. But, rather than doing e-marketing randomly, why not create a plan and be in control?

Start with the ABC’s – assess your site goals, build databases of people to promote to, communicate your news. Consider all the different tools you can use to marketing your website, services and products.

Enewsletter – great for branding, providing easy links, keeping clients up-to-date, helps you promote to targeted audience.

E newsrelease – create a multi-media, social-media release with links and visuals to make it stand out from the crowd.

Social media – Twitter, Facebook and Delicious are excellent ways to help you actively communicate with clients, promote yourself, and get great search results.

Email signatures – This is one of the most useful, most basic – and most forgotten – e-marketing tools! Put all your key links in your signature for all emails, including replies.

Offline – Don’t forget print promotions. Are your website links on your business card, letterhead, invoices, posters, signage? Every little bit counts!

For a great article on the Top 10 eMarketing Tips see eBusiness Connection’s list.

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SEO is a love-hate thing. It reminds me of doing those tedious jobs – the dreaded ‘to-do’ list. You need to first decide between basic SEO, Social Media optimisation (SMO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) – as Paul Goodwin, Marketing, Kendal College, outlines so succinctly. Yes, there’s some work to do. But, it is such a great feeling to do it, checking off each item, and watching your hard work translate into site visitors and greater SEO results. Where do you start?

Keywords

Search engine site spiders want to build a web of information and are hungry for keywords. The keywords you choose in your site descriptions will be the link between searches and site visitations. Google Analytics will show you what search terms your site visitors are using to find you. To refine your keyword selection for SEO, go to Google Insights to find out how many people are using which words in their searches. This data will help you select the keywords that will work best for your site in your title, meta description and meta keywords tags on your web site and pages.

Tools

Sign your site up to Google Webmaster Tools. You need a Google account, and will need to paste some code into your page: both to verify the site is yours and create the link to Google. The next step is creating a Site Map. Search for a site that will generate one automatically, like XML Sitemaps, and paste code into your site. Now you are plugged into a key search engine, and are feeding the spider some appetising links to help build your visitor numbers.

Results

Most blog and website provides offer an analytics or stats reporting facility. Google Analytics will work for any registered site. It doesn’t matter which one, or combination, you use – but it is important to track developments, trends and know what information your visitors find most useful. The days of bragging about how many visitors you have are gone: qualitative data like which pages they visit, and how long they stay, are more important. Get into a routine of doing a monthly check and compare with previous month and previous year to see how you are doing, and more importantly what you can do to improve.

If you want a more detailed instruction, visit Zemalf’s Antti Kokkonen Blog tutorials on everything from Keyword Research, to writing SEO friendly blog posts, to his recipe for getting your Blog Indexed By Google in Less Than 6 Hours. With these guides, you have no excuse to postpone this bit of website housekeeping any longer. And, if you have already done it, perhaps it’s time to give it another go.

So, put some good music on, get your resources ready, and dive in. With a few keystrokes your sight can float to the top of search engine lists and stay there.

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Open data was the focal point of yesterday’s Digital Editors Network (DEN) meeting at North West Vision and Media in Manchester. Some open data mavericks are lobbying  for this to become the rule rather than the exception. With David Cameron and Nick Clegg leading a more open style of collaborative government, the time to push for more open data is here.

Francois Nel, DEN co-convener and director of UCLan’s Journalism Leaders Programme, opened the discussion challenging all to re-think what data means to online communications – particularly for the news industry – and our culture.

Julian Tate, one of the organisers of FutureEverything conference (May 12 -15) in Manchester, is lobbying for the city to become the UK’s first OpenData city. He used Vancouver, Canada’s open city initiative as a benchmark. Take a look at data.gov and data.gov.uk to get a glimpse of where this may be  heading in the UK.

Paul Bradshaw, onlinejournalismblog and convener of the HelpMeInvestigate project, gave examples of how data management revealed key issues for such stories as the MPs’ expenses fiasco. He said data is the place where journalists and publishers meet with citizens and IT. Think of it as freedom of information without having to fill in a form. Journalism students are exploring this concept, and will bring their new talents to the workplace.  Is corporate media ready?

The Guardian’s information architect Martin Belam and New York’s Propublica reporter Olga Pierce and Jeff Larson highlighted how news gathers working closely with data manipulators can create new interpretations of news and information that are more powerful, more insightful and more inclusive than one-dimensional news gathering. Although, like our current leaders, they may seem like strange bedfellows, such cooperation is thinking outside the box. And, never has there been  a time – economically, socially, politically – when some fresh ideas were desperately needed.

Sweden’s University of Gothenburg Journalism, Media and Communication Ph.D candidate Oscar Westland used a mixed martial arts metaphor to compare the traditional approaches with the new media world. Looking at how print and online news reporting are being driven to change by new and mobile technology, Oscar pointed out the importance of redefining our methods. It appears the answers to the current media problems may not lie in familiar places.

“We need to plan for trial and error,” he said. “This is moving fast.”

Nick Turner DEN co-convener and head of Digital Media for CN Group closed the meeting leading a discussion on where this can go next. DEN will look at what role they can play in taking this to the next level. The next DEN meeting will take place in the autumn.

Mobile information, open data and interactive, geo-based apps may seem an arm’s length from our news and information creation centres, but if our blog and news readers are embracing them, surely we also need to embrace this change with open arms – and minds.

Building a new website from scratch, re-developing an existing one, or integrating new online platforms can be one of the most daunting tasks – and one of the most costly – for many organisations. But, that’s only if they don’t apply the 3 Ts of web project management: team work, targets and transparency.

Team Work

Few organisational projects affect the number of employees and stakeholders as a change to your web presence. So team work is critical. You need to establish a team of key players and get them to agree on shared goals. You need a team leader who knows technology, but also knows project management and has excellent communications skills.

The key members of the team must include senior management, ITC, marketing, customer services, and finance representatives. It is important that all members are promoting the development across the organisation and getting ideas from their staff on what could be incorporated into your new site.

The team may not always agree on how things should be done on a micro-level, but they must agree on the key targets of the project.

Targets

Set clear, realistic and agreed upon targets. Include budget limitations, as this can be the main factor that undermines the project. Communicate to all key players and make it clear you won’t accept overspends. Set tight but realistic timelines, andallow for delays (any project can have them).  Make sure resources (human, financial, time) match the goals. Set at least three key dates for evaluation of targets against project development. Web development is a fluid process, stick to your goals and don’t be distracted by new developments in technology. You will be going through the same process in a couple of year’s time.

Transparency

It is easy to find stories about web project disasters. Running behind schedule, over budget and missing key targets are common complaints. A strong project plan, with buy in from all key parties, will be your best insurance against delays and disasters. Put in place a plan for problem solving – you’d be naive to think there won’t be any. Involve a neutral negotiator if you need to. Keeping the team together and the project on target are the cornerstones of success – but transparency on all levels is the cross beam which will give the project the strenght it needs to succeed.

Of all the projects an organisation can go through, this is one where a consultant, with web development experience, may be a wise investment. It’s not a skill that is a given in employees. And, it is important to have that mix of technical, teamwork and troubleshooting expertise on your side.

Go in with a strong project foundation, build your new online presence, and once you celebrate your successful launch, get ready to look at it again – soon.

Tech Republic – Tips for successful web project management

Econsultancy –Web Project Management Training

We are well into another year of social media activity. When reviewing or drafting your marketing strategy, start by clearly definining what you want to measure for your social media return on investment. Sales? Increased interactivity? Decreased questions from clients? Improved image? There’s no right or wrong answer, it is just important that you define it for your organisation.

Econsultancy recently asked a number of market leaders what ROI on social media meant to them. The answers ranged from financial growth to increased positive feedback. They all agreed it is important to integrate it and focus it on your particular goals.

Top Web Hosts talks about the ROI ‘Reality Check’. It’s all about starting at the beginning of the planning process. The stronger your definition of return, the more helpful your results will be. They cover planning, tools and provide some very good links to related articles.

Social Media Today’s post ‘There is No ROI from Social Media!’ corrects itself saying ‘The answer comes from asking the right questions’. They turn it around to ‘IOR’ – ‘intent on returning’ value to your clients. And, show how the two are connected. The comments on this blog are as enlightening as the post.

The number of businesses actively using social media – key word being ‘actively’ – and showing success would grow at a much faster rate if they set clear ROI, measured regularly and reported in a clear way. There is no doubt social media can bring positives to any organisation – but like all other aspects of marketing – it needs to be clearly defined from the beginning. And, there’s no time like spring (see Spring Cleaning Your Website post) to get a clean start on this!


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