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Social Media Friend or Foe? Archives - Page 2 of 2 - Search Engine Marketing & Optimization
A blog for truly small businesses

Social Media Friend or Foe?

Don’t build someone else’s online business

I had a great conversation with a new client today. She called to ask me some things about Facebook and then we got into the broader conversation about search engine optimization, social media and building a sustainable online business.

We talked about having her Facebook “like” button on her website vs. just a button that links to her Facebook page. I helped her to see that your goal should not be to drive people to Facebook from your website but to drive people to your website from Facebook! When you drive people to your Facebook page you are building Facebook’s business not yours. Basically, when you tell people to be your friend on Facebook you are saying “Hey sign up at Facebook so my competitor with a lot more money than me can buy advertising on my Fan page and get you to do business with them instead of me.”

I have said it before and I’ll say it again, Facebook is not there for your benefit, they are a business that needs to make money. What better way to make a buck than selling ads on your Facebook page to your competitor?

Spend the energy you would spend “posting on Facebook” posting on your own website! Instead of having your Facebook posts and Twitter tweets feeding to your website, have your website posts feed to your Facebook and Twitter pages – don’t drive people away from your website to your Facebook page, use your Facebook page to drive them to your website silly!

To leverage “social media” you need to think of your website like the “social hub” of your business. In the old days people would have events in their stores such as open houses or signing events. Do this on your website now! The greatest part is people don’t have to drive there to take part. With today’s technology it is possible to host a “virtual” event and make it just as much fun as those you used to throw at the office.

If you have a blog, post community building questions and ideas. Invite your visitors to see you as a human being – just like you would on Facebook – help them “get to know each other” by communicating on your blog. Use your website to get into your website visitors’ heads by using polls and offering a way for them to ask you questions.

If you don’t have a blog, talk to your webmaster about how you can get one or how you can have some other way to put your own voice on your website.

My Mom gets more compliments on her website than some of my larger customers – but I assure you it’s not because I designed it! I have much prettier websites in my portfolio. But Mom has made her website “personal”. She has a picture of herself and her sewing room at the top. She posts her thoughts, shares progress on her projects and has a place for frequently asked questions that she answers in a timely fashion.

This personalization combined with easy navigation is what her customers email her saying “I love your website” about.

What would make you stay on a website longer and come back to it more often?

Remember the hell of uninstalling AOL? Well, Facebook is trying to get you in the same boat

If you haven’t heard, Facebook has announced a new application that website owners can install on their websites that will “personalize” their site visitors experience by using the information you’ve made public on your facebook profile. This means all of the posts that your friends post and your photo gallery and everything else you share. Facebook’s is not offering this as a “free” tool out of the goodness of their hearts – the goal is to “own” your information and share it with people that are willing to pay for it – think about this – you will turn on the TV and go to your favorite show and see ads that say “Hi Harmony, we have selected to advertise these items to you because other 51 year old women have purchased them”. Oh, by the way, since you’re a woman and 51 you probably will see ads for things like Menopause vitamins, bladder control, anit-aging cream etc etc etc – is this the world you really want to live in? The worst part of this is that Facebook has made your info available by default – they didn’t ask you if you wanted to share this information – instead, you have to realize that they are giving it away freely and go into your facebook settings and “uncheck” the box that says “Yeah, tell the world about me”.

This guy has done a very nice matrix to help us understand the latest announcements by Facebook:

I don’t know about you but this is over the edge for me I strongly recommend you read this and take action immediately:

FACEBOOK is at it again…violating your personal information: As of today, there is a new privacy setting called “Instant Personalization” that shares data with non-facebook websites and it is automatically set to “Allow.” Go to Account > Privacy Settings > Applications and Websites and uncheck “Allow”. Please copy & repost.

Truth be told, if I weren’t in the business of assisting people to be found on the web I would cancel my account on Facebook altogether and use the newly available “social suicide” tool to remove all of my data permanently. Unfortunately, I live in a world of followers, which means that I have to help my clients navigate the waters and if their customers are using facebook they have to participate in facebook – for now. Ultimately I hope that Google will quit supporting Facebook by no longer sending their bots out to search their posts -this would immediately eliminate the “power” facebook has gained – in fact, if Google does not take this action they will help Facebook kill Google. Google is not perfect but they have built a successful business by trying to be ethical and allow us to maintain our privacy while providing tools to find the information WE CHOOSE. Sure, they sell ads and make a ton of money doing it but you ONLY see those ads when you are looking for something that they relate to. I don’t like the idea that I might come to your website looking for a saddle blanket and have an ad for Adult Diapers thrown in my face!

Steps to Search Engine Dominance – you really can do it yourself

As always, although I love making money doing what I love, I want to always hold true to my core values. I started this business with the goal of empowering other small businesses by helping them navigate the (sometimes overwhelming) information highway and find their place on the World Wide Web. Yes, I sell the services to do this for you – but I try very hard not to offer a service without reminding you that you can do what I do for yourself if you are willing to.  So I generally don’t announce a new product or service without first putting together a “how to do this for yourself list”. So, here is my answer to the latest trend in search engine marketing (we have branded this Search Engine Dominance):

  1. Make sure your site is up to par. Know your customer, know how they will look for you if they don’t know you exist and create content, page titles, alt tags and image alt tags that help them find you.
  2. Make sure your website is up to par! Driving traffic to a website that can’t stand on it’s own in the search engines is not a smart move – because when the search engines figure out that everyone is using “social media” to build up “inbound links” to their site (and many Search Engine Marketing companies are charging customers big bucks to leverage this current trend) – you will find yourself back down in the bottom of the “ranking barrel”.
  3. Set up a good blog. Post good, usable information on the blog consistently (at least twice a week). Use your key words and link back to your site when appropriate. (Hint – if you make “click here” a link then the search engines will think that you consider “click here” key words!). Also link to other sites that might be of interest to your customers (but not direct competitors).
  4. Set up a Facebook Fan Page – make sure you check the settings and allow ANYONE to view the page (the default is age 13+ – if you don’t change this your site is not viewable to the public – therefore, only people logged in will “find” it in a web search. Include your Logo / Branding using the limited tools they offer. Fill out the info about your company/self. Set it up to get a “feed” off of your blog – this way you don’t have to post in both places – just post on your blog and the info will reach your “fans”. Add a “follow us on Facebook” link to your website.
  5. Set up a Twitter page for your business. Link your Facebook posts to it – this will auto feed your blog posts into your Twitter page.
  6. Set up a LinkedIn Profile – again, fill in all the blanks and brand it as much as you can with our logo etc.
  7. Set yourself up to receive Google Analytics reports
  8. Take “ownership” of and update your Google, Yahoo, Yelp, SuperPages and any other “free directory” listings
  9. Create a link on your website to your Google local “reviews” page so people can post great reviews about you.
  10. Create a link you your Google Map on your site.
  11. Send a notification to all of your “friends” to become a Fan of these pages…
  12. Add links to all of your “social media pages” to your website
  13. Make up post cards directing people to “post a review” about how awesome you are and providing a link to your Google Local write a review page and hand them out/include them in orders to existing customers.
  14. Did I say post on your blog at least twice a week?
  15. Make sure you also add/update content on your website at least 2 times a month – once a week is even better!

Too tired or too busy actually running your business to do all of this – no problem, we can do it for you :-). Learn how Coburn Enterprises helps customers win the Search Engine Dominance challenge!.

Social Media for Search Engine Marketing – Huh?

Social Media refers to sites where visitors can interact with each other in one way or another. Also referred to Web 2.0 (a term I still haven’t seen fully embraced), Social Media is not a new product, in fact it’s been around longer than I’ve been on the web (and that has been since dinosaurs roamed the lands and AOL was the be all and end all of “you’ve got mail” connections.

I actually gained the foundation of the knowledge that has allowed me to make a business out of my love for technology from a guy that my Mom met in an “online forum”! She posted a question about something and this guy had a great answer – so she emailed him and thanked him. They started “chatting” via EMail and he introduced her to ICQ – this was pre-Instant Messaging from AOL.

So, social media is definetely not “new”. What is “new” is the attention it is getting from the search engines and the hype it is getting from the media – all of this is driving traffic to sites like FaceBook, LinkedIn, Twitter and, oh, let’s not forget MySpace (although oddly enough I haven’t heard MySpace be mentioned in the media outside of cyber bullying in almost a year!).

What you may not know is “social media” also refers to things like Blogs, Forums and other online communities. When you are getting “hyped” about the importance of Facebook and other social marketing sites, keep in mind, Facebook wants you to be hyped because they want to sell ads to people that want to know everything about you (which you provide when you set up your profile). Facebook is not your “friend” it is a business designed to bring traffic in so that they can provide statistics to potential advertisers that say “Hey, I want to sell to 50 year old women – can you help?”.

Do I still think you need a Fan Page – absolutely – but don’t think that a FaceBook Fan page is going to give you long term success. View it as only one tool in your tool box. Especially keep in mind that if you are making money off of that fan page and Facebook isn’t getting their share of it – the program will change.

When I “sell” a client on an SEM (Search Engine Marketing) program I do the things listed in my post Steps to Search Engine Dominance – but you can do these things for yourself!

Social Media to market your website – Hype or Value?

One of my clients called today because his “boss” just got back from a Search Engine Marketing seminar and this prompted a lot of questions – of course – I LOVE these phone calls because part of my goal with my business is to empower each client (all small business owners, most like me struggling to make a living doing something they love). We did a quick review of his website and I gave him some instant homework that, if he does it will make an immediate impact on his “search rankings” – basically I walked him through the points I list on my Search Engine Dominance article on my website.

But what prompted me to write this post was his question – “are there any books you can recommend to help me understand this?”. My answer was, yes there are thousands. Then I followed up with an email stating the following:

As you read the books and articles or even websites you will find on this subject, keep in mind that 9 out of 10 sites that are telling you how important Search Engine Marketing and Social Media have become are really “selling” their services. I guess in a way I am too but I have a different take on the whole thing – my perspective is that the only thing a site owner can be 100% sure of is that the search ranking criteria WILL CHANGE – so the “quick fix”  that works today may not work in 6 months or a year  – therefore, the most important thing any website owner can do is make sure their site says what it does and does what it says.

Today it’s “social media” – the concept of using online communities to hype your website,  filling your profile and fan pages with “key word links” and tons of borderline useless content and links back to your website. But bottom the reality if you tell the search engines your site is about Purple Widgets and you put enough key words in your page titles etc to come up number one for Purple Widgets but then Purple Widget shoppers get to your site and find out  you really offer only Green Widgets – you’re going to lose in the long run.

Moral to the story – do the right thing, provide the information that people that you want to be your customers are looking for, edit that content to include the phrases, page titles and key word links (to pages within your site as well as quality complimentary sites)  that they will search for and you will have success.

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