Bloom Spokane Homepage

Lessons I’ve Learned From Six Years of Blogging

When I created Bloom Spokane—a grassroots nonprofit organization that empowers pregnant and postpartum women with information, resources, and support—it was 2009 and blogs had starting popping up everywhere. Most blogs at the time were personal endeavors, but I could see they were quickly becoming valuable tools for sharing information online. It wouldn’t be long before businesses and nonprofits jumped on board.

Back then, I didn’t know the first thing about blogging, but that didn’t stop me from diving in. It has been a process of trial and error, learning from mistakes, and being pleasantly surprised at some of our successes along the way. I am lucky to have found a team of co-leaders and volunteers for Bloom Spokane who are passionate about our mission and eagerly embraced blogging. Along with analytics analysis and guidance from my husband, Ed Reese, we have figured out a few things over the years that have contributed to our success.

“Blogging is Harrrrrd!”

When Ed speaks at search conferences with his friends from LocalU, he often uses Bloom Spokane’s website analytics to show how our blogging has progressed over time. As he likes to say, “Blogging is harrrrrd!”

Bogging is Hard!

Consistently publishing original, relevant, and desired content is demanding work. It is often fun, but it is still work. We have seen our greatest gains in traffic and conversions during the phases when we’ve had a strategic plan, a publishing schedule, and a solid blogging team in place.

Have a Plan

I didn’t have a plan when I started blogging, but in less than a year I’d learned enough to begin putting one together.

  • Goals: Why are you blogging? Most bloggers have 1 of 3 aims: generating revenue, building a following, or hobby writing. Ours was building a following.
  • Audience: Who is your target audience? What problems are you solving for them?
  • Topics: What will you post about?
  • Schedule: How often will you post?
  • Call to Action: What action do you want readers to take? Make it desirable and easy for them to take those actions on your blog.
  • Competition: Who is your competition? What are their strengths and weaknesses? What niche can you fill that isn’t being touched, or done well, by anyone else?
  • Success Metrics: Define the outcomes that will be used to measure success.

Have a Blogging Team

Business blogging is usually too much to take on by yourself, unless you plan to make it your full-time job (which I didn’t!). Additionally, the diverse talents of a dedicated team can take your blog to the next level.

  • Blog Manager: The person who will oversee all aspects of the blog, keep the team accountable, and ensure that you’re meeting your goals.
  • Copy editor: The person who will review every post before publishing to ensure standards of grammar, voice, clarity, and consistency are met.
  • Writers: The team of people who will regularly create content for the blog. Having a variety of people allows for different points of view and areas of expertise to be explored on the blog.
  • Guest Writers: Reach out beyond your own team to other industry experts. Ask them to contribute an article and let them know how they will benefit from appearing on your blog.

Write About Controversial Issues… Like Circumcision

Looking at our analytics data, we can see that a few of Bloom’s most popular posts are on the topic of infant circumcision. Whether or not to circumcise a newborn son is a question lots of new parents struggle with and they’re using the internet to gather information and form opinions on the subject. Our 10 most popular blog posts of all-time are listed below (nearly half are controversial in nature). Do you know your best performing blog posts?

Bloom Spokane Blog Most Popular Posts

The most viewed posts on the Bloom Blog.

In Don’t Run From That Controversial Blog Post, blogger Julie Neidlinger says, “Controversial is not the same as confrontational. Blog posts that are controversial are not unnecessarily argumentative or insulting. Instead, they talk about topics that need to be discussed, but without attacking people. They challenge accepted conclusions and ideas, the reader’s strongly held opinions, or confront something people are generally not willing to talk about.”

Done well, posts about controversial topics benefit readers by allowing them to explore new ideas and challenge status quo thinking. And, of course, these posts benefit your blog by attracting large numbers of visitors and increasing your brand awareness.

Build Relationships to Promote Your Blog

Social Media is a great platform for pushing content out into the world. Particularly with a new blog, you will find it helpful to have seasoned industry allies promoting your posts. They have the followers and can help get more traffic to your content.

Bloom’s post, Birth Advice From Labor & Delivery Nurses, went viral in February 2011 when big names in the birth world started posting about the article on Facebook. Most notably, Jill Arnold of The Unnecessarean, with over 27,000 followers, brought national attention to our blog when this article was given an enthusiastic mention on her Facebook page.

Unnecessarian-Facebook

How did The Unnecessarean even know about little ol’ Bloom Spokane? We’d been sharing Jill’s amazing work on Social Media and giving the site link love for a couple of years. I had also been actively commenting on her Facebook page and blog, so my name was likely familiar to her. When we knew we had a great article on our hands, we sent it to her and asked if she would consider sharing it on her page. She did!

Don’t Publish Content You Don’t Own or Have Permission to Use

Despite our best efforts to use only content and images we create or have the rights to use, one of our posts published in 2012 contained a stock image we had neglected to purchase a license for. Whoops!

CopyrightImage

Just last week, we received an email from the company that owns the image letting us know about the violation and demanding a $119 settlement. We paid the fine and are using this mistake as a reminder to remain vigilant about copyright infringement. Hopefully, you too can learn from us and not make this mistake on your own blog.

Always Be Learning

As with anything in life you want to do well, you will benefit from ongoing education and improvement of your skills. Blogging is no different.

  • Become a regular reader of other blogs, especially those in your industry.
  • Ask other writers to review your work and offer construstive criticism.
  • Sign up for classes that will help you become a better creative thinker, writer, photographer, search engine optimizer, or designer. There are so many online resources for improving your skills, like Skillshare and Udemy.

Use the Right Tools

In addition to finding the right blogging platform for your needs (we love WordPress), there are a few other tools that we’ve found useful.

  • Google Analytics is a free tool that provides data and insights about user behavior and traffic on your blog. This is a must if you’re measuring the progress of your blogging efforts to meet business ojectives.
  • Google Alerts is another free tool that keeps you informed of web activity concerning keywords that you select. This is super helpful in managing your online reputation and staying involved in conversations that concern you, your blog, and even your competitors.
  • Askimet is a service that analyzes the comments on your blog, determining which of those are spam, and saving you the headache of having to deal with them. It is free for non-commercial and personal blogs. Commercial site fees start at $5/month.
  • Linkstant notifies you via email every time someone links to your blog. Knowing about these links allows you to keep track of them and participate in the conversation on other sites/blogs, thus potentially driving more traffic to yours.

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MozCon Recap and Test Driving a Starship

MozCon 2014The past week, I had the joy of spending the week in Seattle to experience not only my first MozCon, but my first marketing conference. Having spent the majority of my workforce life in hospitality, most conferences were sponsored by food and beverage vendors and were dedicated to eating and drinking the latest and greatest while wandering booths pretending that you hadn’t already tried the meatballs, similar to Costco’s sample day.

Moz went above and beyond anything I could have expected.

There are so many things to mention about the conference, but I’ll recap the top five that really stood out to me.

5. Mike King – API Killah. 
This guy blew the crowd away entirely. If you were following the Twitter feed for #mozcon you would have witnessed a plethora of “I’m officially freaked out.”, “Mike King just blew my mind”, and “WTF?” tweets. He kicked things off by describing a user’s unique fingerprint they leave on each website which was interesting in itself. He then threw us down the rabbit hole of linking APIs to take that fingerprint to find out EXACTLY who each user was, their demographic, their location, their habits, etc. It was insane. Unfortunately, he didn’t also blow us away with his rap skills this year, but I’m told they’re pretty epic. You can download his slide deck from the conference here and follow him on Twitter under the handle @iPullRank.

Mike Ramsey Shuffleboard4. Mike Ramsey – Small Town Man, Doing Big Things
I had the awesome opportunity to meet Mike Ramsey before his presentation and watch him and Ed Reese clean the shuffleboard house at the Unbounce MozCrawl afterparty. The following day he gave his local search presentation and was nothing short of incredible. He creatively and seamlessly incorporated his hometown of Burley, Idaho into every aspect of his slide deck and polished it with gorgeous photography, strategic humor and even pictures of his kids (who may kick you in the face). His firm, Nifty Marketing, focuses on “making local search sexy” and they do a damn good job. Check out his slide deck here and follow the genuinely nice guy on Twitter at @MikeRamsey. He also loves Weezer. Just saying.

Tesla S3. Test Driving A Starship
I have the pleasure of living a short drive (read: long, but worth it) away from Seattle, but it is usually the best idea to cram as many things into the trip as possible. We decided to take a quick break from the conference to walk over to a little car company named Tesla to take one out for a spin. We fully warned our co-pilot that we weren’t planning on buying one for a while and she reassured us that no one is, because you simply can’t; they’re booked out on production for the next year and a half. That being said, we hopped in, played with every option on the 17″ display and took off into the streets of Seattle. With 100% of the torque going straight to the wheels, my face hurt afterwards from smiling too much.
Note: I did not get paid for this shameless plug.

MozCon At The Garage2. MozCon’s Partner Hub
Moz did a great job in picking several partners for the event who hung out outside and gave demos and information on their products. I had the opportunity to meet a lot of fun people and learn more about some of the partners that we use, or are definitely using in the future. Never once did I feel pressured to purchase anything, they simply wanted to share what they were up to and get to know their potential clients. Had great conversations and a fantastic time hanging out with Paul from Buzzstream, Oli and the Unbounce team, and Taylor from Optimizely! Look forward to seeing all of them at future events!

1. Content
I’m not sure the best way to really title this concept that was generated throughout the conference but it is a breath of fresh air. Sure, we can’t game Google search like we used to be able to, but they’re forcing to provide something the internet truly needs: Good Content. We can hate on Google and their 1000s of employed PhDs who tweak and twist their algorithm without anyone knowing the better, skewing our client’s search rankings we’ve pushed so hard to produce. We can get mad every time they name an update after an animal we will soon despise when we see at the zoo, but they’re pushing us to make a better internet. Nearly every presentation held an underlying tone that we can be as technical as we want, but in the end, just make your site better, publish something people will share, write articles readers will love and want to come back to read again. Stop worrying about the little wins and focus on the big picture. The saying I have been throwing around the office lately can sum up the greatest idea from MozCon, “Do the thing”. Time after time, we get caught in the weeds focusing on unimportant projects, or financials, or who knows what, the problem is that we ignore the main idea. #DoTheThing

0. MOZ
So I am probably breaking some sort of countdown rule by going all the way to zero, but I owe the biggest shout out to Moz for putting on a seamless conference. The production value was outstanding with incredible and entertaining videos, great music, food, shirts, and even stuffed Roger dolls. We’ll be back next year, Moz. See you all then.

Social Media Measurement, Thoughts & Ideas


Over 200 people will fill the Jepson Auditorium at Gonzaga tonight to discuss how social media has changed the face of business. It should be a great discussion as social media has evolved to a point where it does positively impact many businesses. But how? What are the businesses trying to achieve? I hear a lot of comments like these:

“I just gotta get on Facebook! I feel like I’m behind the curve.”

“I need a Twitter strategy,… Now!”

But that’s not true. You don’t HAVE to be on Facebook or Twitter. The answer is,… it depends. Yeah, it might be a good idea for your business. It might be a super-duper awesome idea. But where is your audience? What are your goals?  My Local University amigo Matt McGee always has the same answer when asked about social media platforms.

Be on the social media platforms where your customers are. 

Yep, good advice. For example, Chris Reilly and I performed a social media audit for a client a few years back to measure the effectiveness of their internal social media efforts. Guess what? 93% of their audience was blocked at the firewall. Their particular industry is pretty conservative and the big bosses don’t want their people on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, etc. Blocked at the firewall. Dang. But guess what? They were on old-school technical forums and still go to industry events. Lesson learned: go where your customers are.

But there’s a question even more important than where to go.

Why?

I don’t hear a lot of talk about “the why” so I thought this would be a good opportunity to throw out a few reasons for businesses to put forth a social media effort and how to measure effectiveness.

1) Mitigate Risk

Social media is real-time customer service rocket fuel! Have a potential PR issue? Have a mad customer ready to rant online to the hungry, drooling masses about how much you suck? Social media has an amazing ability to cut that off at the pass. Because guess what,… even with the best of intentions things go wrong from time to time. But now businesses are able to stop PR disasters before they even start. This prevents bad reviews, bad news reports and ultimately helps protect their reputation.

This comes down to delivering awesome real-time customer service.

Where once a bad customer experience would be re-told to ten people it now has potential to reach tens of thousands (or even more if it goes truly viral). Preventing this from happening (in my opinion) is the most important aspect of social media for many mid-size to large companies. As Mike Blumenthal often says, “Once you had to treat the customer right. Now, you have to treat them right-er.”

How do you measure treating your customers right-er? Reviews.

I’ve worked with Paul Warner at Northern Quest for the past year. As part of of his responsibilities Paul has been responding to issues that have come up from time to time via Facebook and Twitter. In addition, he has responded to every online review of the hotel they could find with another member of the Northern Quest team. Here’s a look at that impact on Trip Advisor alone:

1.4          Star Rating of average “bad tone” reviews prior to 2012 (65 reviews)
2.6          Star rating of average “bad tone” review for the past 12 months (63 reviews)86% Improvement

4.27          Overall Star Rating for reviews prior to 2012
4.43          Overall Star Rating for reviews in the past 12 months

3.75% Improvement (While this is a smaller percentage 4.43 is almost 4.5 stars. I’ll bet this makes an impact.)

Like I mentioned earlier, things happen from time to time. By addressing them head-on a business can own the issue, whatever it is. It also keeps that review based more on facts and less on emotion. Here’s an example of a response to a hotel guest that wrote in their review that their room was too hot:

After reading your review, we checked into the temperature controls in our rooms. Each room is set to 68 degrees upon a guest’s arrival, but the temperature can be adjusted from 35 to 95 degrees. After a guest checks out of the room, the temperature is set back to 68 degrees.

Now this doesn’t fix the issue for this particular guest. But it shows other that they actually read their online reviews and respond accordingly. Here’s an example of how Paul and the Northern Quest team handled a power outage and unplanned fire alarms:

“We had a bit of anger stemming from a power outage incident on the floor and hotel as well as some unplanned fire alarms. We dealt with them via Facebook and Twitter (in addition to staff on the floor). We had to deal with complaints about tickets not getting cashed out, not being able to check in, having to leave machines, not able to get tickets etc. We were able to respond and share information in real time with them as to how we were resolving issues and to whom to talk regarding concerns on the floor/hotel. We addressed all issues within an hour of the incident(s) and had most people thanking us for info and response.”

Obviously a lot is in-play when it comes to what causes a good hotel review and/or preventing a bad review. Northern Quest has improved top to bottom in terms of providing exceptional customer service. Not all of this can be attributed to addressing reviews and preventing bad reviews via social media. Still, it has a definite impact.

2) Extend Brand 

All companies have a vibe in addition to services and products they want to sell. Generating a larger following of people that are aware of, and are interested in your brand is good for business. And by brand I mean everything about your business and the individuals who are publicly a part of it. At Local University our brand is based on our expert knowledge of SEO, Local Search, and how we can help businesses learn more about online marketing strategies and tactics to succeed. We want to be known as content experts. We also want to be known as nice, generous, approachable people. Blogging is a big way for us to extend our brand by creating valuable content. One of the ways we track that is by a dashboard called “Blog Intent.”

As you can see, we know how many visitors read our blog posts, where they come from, what they read, and if they have interest in us putting on a seminar in their city. Nice! That’s a handy little dashboard.

3) Create Dialog

Genuine two-way communication is possible now like never before. In the 90’s most sales people would say “If I could just get them on the phone I’d have a good chance of selling our products/services.” We now have a much better opportunity for that first conversation. But notice I didn’t list the goal as “selling.” Yes, people have sold things via social media, but (in my opinion) often at the expense of chasing others away with their chatter and over-selling. Yet, social media does provide an great first interaction with a prospective customer to learn about what you have to offer. And this can be measured with “assisted conversions” and other techniques. Awesome! Because it takes a team to sell well. You wouldn’t want five point guards or five power forwards. But put them together and you have pure magic. Or Jazz :)

It’s great that everyone is getting together to talk about the state of social media in Spokane. I hope this helps plant a few seeds of thought around the why and a few ideas how to measure your campaign. For those interested in leaning more about how to measure via analytics we’ll be teaching a Google Analytics class on April 18th from 11:30am to 1pm at the Nector Tasting Room for $39. Fill out our contact form and say you saw about it at  the Social Media Event at Gonzaga and the cost is $29.

Why Get Listed University Works for Business Owners

The Get Listed Faculty at O'Doherty's the night before the 1st Get Listed University event.

Get Listed University has presented to nearly 2,000 business owners and marketing professionals since our innagural event in Spokane in February of 2010. It’s been amazing to be part of such an A-List team. It’s a priveledge (and absolute blast) to get to spend time with these wonderful people five or six times a year at these events. But what’s been even more incredible is talking with business owners over the years and being in a position to help. I’ve been thinking about Get Listed University a lot recently and wanted to put together a quick summary of why I think Get Listed University is so valued by business owners.

1) No Pitches. Ever.
I go to a lot of conferences. Nothing makes mad like traveling to a conference, paying the price of admission, and then getting pitched by a presenter. At Get Listed there are no “back of the room” sales, no pitching of our services in any way, and no uttering the cardinal sin of the conference upsell world,… “We’ll be covering that at the follow-up conference for just X dollars. Register today!” Nope. That just ain’t our style.

2) We Don’t Hold Back Any Content.
Not only do we not hold back content, we continue to find ways to provide even more content for business owners to use to their advantage. For example, this year we have created a more formal structure for our site clinics to really maximize it so you’ll have more time to ask any of our experts 1-on-1 questions about YOUR website.

3) We Provide Actionable Information & Real Case Studies
This information is not collegiate theory. You will literally be able to take these insights and apply them immediatelly to your business the following day. We use examples highlighting how real businesses use these strategies to improve their business. In fact, David is unveiling a new presentation in Spokane called “Prioritizing Your S*!t” that provides a roadmap of actions that will guide you along your way to online greatness.

4) The Faculty are Amazing!
I’m not kidding when I say how fortunate I feel to be part of this team. At times I feel like snuck in the back of the pickup when they left for town – and now they’re stuck with me :) These folks are the best in the business! We are so fortunate to have them back in Spokane again.

5) We Know & Respect Business.
We know running a business is hard. I believe all us have either owned a business in the past or are current business owners. We know it’s tough to committ a day to learn about online marketing and we work very hard to make every second count. We keep finding new ways to improve the events for our attendees. For example, for the Spokane event this year we added social media and paid search as well as expanded our site clinics.

Bonus) We Do Our Best to Make it a Dang Good Time!
We know your brains will be full by the end of the day. But we balance your efforts with a good dose of humor, enough food and snacks to keep you fueled up, personalized Q&A, and an awesome networking happy hour to close the event out right! It’s also important to note that our speakers don’t take themselves too seriously and are approachable the entire day with any questions you have for them.

What t-shirt will Mike Blumenthal be wearing this year? Oh, the suspense!

We look forward to seeing you at Get Listed this year! If you have any questions about the event please feel free to call the Sixth Man Marketing office at 509-624-5580 or going directly to the Get Listed University website.

Get Listed University – Spokane Agenda Video Preview

Get Listed University – April 27th, 2012

Location: Northern Quest Resort & Casino
Time: Friday, April 27th from 8am to 5pm
Cost: $199 (Save $50 by entering “SIXTHMAN” as your discount code at checkout.)
Agenda: Complete Get Listed Spokane Agenda
Capacity: The event is limited to 100 people and will likely sell-out. Register now!
Registration: Call (509) 624-5580 with any questions about registration or register on the Get Listed Website today!

We’re really looking to this year’s Get Listed Event. I’m excited knowing that I’ll get to hang out with the Get Listed Crew again soon. And so can you! These are some really amazing people, folks.

Awesome Analytics, Local Search, SEO, Social Media, & Converstion Rate Optimization Info

A big thank you to The Spokane Club and everyone that attended my presentation earlier this week at their Networking Breakfast! I really appreciated your questions, engagement, and enthusiasm. As I mentioned during our session, I want to provide additional resources for you to continue your education in the ways of analytics, SEO, local search, social media, and conversion rate testing. We covered a lot of topics in a short period of time and as a follow-up I wanted to create an awesome resource library for you. Now it’s time for you to choose your own Internet marketing adventure and learn from the best and brightest in the industry.

ANALYTICS, ANALYTICS, ANALYTICS
analytics-culture1conversions

As I’m sure you recall from my presentation, I hammered home the importance of understanding analytics. I’m not talking about “reporting” or “monthly reports” for your boss. I’m talkin’ about kick-butt, actionable analytics that teach, provide valuable insight, and inspire action. What’s workin,’ baby? What does the data tell us today? This higher level of attention to your data is not optional… if you want your business to succeed. You must “know thy data.” Here’s how:

Occam’s Razor – Awesome analyics blog from Avinash Kaushik
Web Analytics an Hour a Day – Great introduction to actionable analytics (also from Avinash)
Google Analytics Blog – Resource for understanding Google Analytics (beginner & advanced)
Google Analytics Videos – Educational videos that show how to use Google Analytics
Conversion University – A curriculum of analytics video tutorals
Analytics 2.0 [The Art of Online Accountability & Science of Customer Centricity] (Thanks Avinash!)

MAKE SURE YOUR WEB SITE CONVERTS TRAFFIC

I think it’s great when companies embrace new technologies and ways of thinking. Social media has taken the Internet marketing world by storm and generated all kinds of buzz (much of it well deserved) this year. However, I’m always wary of what I call the “Shiny Penny Syndrome.” It’s a condition where companies throw resources at the latest and greatest marketing techniques without testing and tracking what the shiny penny actually does. I’ve also seen companies completely stop doing what works (like email marketing) just because it doesn’t have that new marketing smell.

Don’t Make Me Think – Great read (really fast, too) about web site usability
Conversion Rate Experts – UK company focused solely on conversion rate optimization
108 Ways to Improve Conversion Rates (from Conversion Rate Experts)
Google Web Site Optimizer Blog (The Official Optimizer Blog)
Always Be Testing – Great book for learning A/B & Multivariate testing
Marketing Experiments – I love these guys. Their webcasts rock!

LOCAL SEARCH = LOW HANGING FRUIT

spokane-restaurants

As an Internet marketer I’m always looking for the low-hanging fruit–”the best bang-for-the-buck in the shortest period of time. And for most small and medium businesses that’s Local Search. Like I mentioned before, this doesn’t mean you stop doing everything else and go local only. It means that it’s time for a dedicated local search strategy to compliment your existing marketing efforts. Learn more from these experts:

David Mihm – Portland, OR Local Search expert & designer
2009 Local Search Ranking Factors – I’m proud to be a contributor to this research project :)
Mary Bowling – Denver, CO Local Search expert
Understanding Google Maps & Local Search – For those that want details, details, details.
Small Business SEM – Local Search + SMB Advice = Awesome!
Miriam Ellis – San Francisco, CA Local Search expert & designer
Chris Silver Smith – Cartographer & Local Search expert. Again, for folks that want the technical details.

ORGANIC SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION (SEO)

There is a lot of information out there about SEO. In fact, there is so much information that it’s tough to know where you should even begin. These folks provide the best information and their content is always up to date.

SEOmoz – Free and premium levels of membership – Both are great!
SEO Book – Again, free and premium levels of membership – Great as well
Search Engine Journal – Free SEO content from a variety of SEO experts – including me starting next month
Search Engine Land – Center of the universe for all things search – Look through the categories
Vanessa Fox – She has an uncanny ability to explain complex details in very simple terms
Rand Fishkin’s HostingCon Preso – Awesome SEO explanation (and motivation for my art project)

BUT WHAT ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA?

Don’t worry, I didn’t forget about social media. Remember, this socia media stuff is new for everybody so the importance of testing and learning from data is paramount. I think this bit of reading will provide good insight for you.

Outspoken Media – More than social media, but they cover it very well. Many good social media posts here.
Copyblogger – Read Copyblogger now! Writing is so freakin’ important. This is one of my favorite blogs!
7 Harsh Realities of Social Media Marketing – Great new post from Copyblogger
Trackur – Cool way to track social media mentions & reputation
Samepoint – See all mentions of your name or company online. A very cool social media monitoring tool.
5 Facebook Case Studies – Yes, 5 real case studies about marketing with FB.
Twitter, Tacos, & Trucks – The Story of Kogi Bar-B-Que

LIKE I SAID,… WHAT MATTERS IS HOW IT HELPS YOUR BUSINESS
Here’s an example from the presentation. I know it’s hard to believe,… but I didn’t even go to art school!
sales-funnel1

WANT MORE INFORMATION? HAVE QUESTIONS? COMMENTS? JUST LET ME KNOW.

Please feel from to leave a comment below, send an email, or contact me at my office (509-456-4350).

Spokane Club November 11th Event Preview

How to Navigate the Waters of Online Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, and Social Media to Generate New Business.”

I’ll be speaking at the Spokane Club on November 11th at 7am for their Breakfast Networking Series. Spokane Mayor Mary Verner gave a great presentation this week about the city budget and future plans. Next week I’m going to do my part to increase Spokane’s tax base by teaching local business owners how to use online marketing to increase revenue.  I realize there has been a lot of buzz recently around social media, SEO, and online marketing in general, so I wanted to create a short video to preview a bit of the content I’ll be covering during my presentation. For those of you that have seen me present before, you know that I don’t hold back when it comes to content. If you want to understand how to use online marketing to generate business for your company I’ll help provide the roadmap, tools, and resources to succeed. I look forward to seeing you there!

Spokane Club Nov 11th Networking Breakfast Preview – Ed Reese from Ed Reese on Vimeo.

To learn more about the event, please feel free to call Debra at the Spokane Club (509-838-8511).

SEO & Social Media Tips, Tools, & Resources

Yesterday I posted a re-cap of steps small business owners can take to engage in social media. It was half re-cap and half articles/tips I’ve found useful. While I’ve heard positive feedback, I feel that it didn’t quite live up to my promise of free tools & tips for business owners, so I wanted to also provide a 100% pure tools & tips post that will provide the ammo small business owners need to get started.

SEO Tools, Tips, & Articles

The Beginner’s Guide to SEO (SEOmoz) OK, I’ll be the first to admit that this is not a quick-and-easy guide to SEO. However, it is the most thorough, detailed, and effective introduction to search engine optimization that I’ve seen. If you’ve got the time to read it and are motivated to learn SEO, this is a great place to start.

The Ten Commandments of Online Marketing for Small Business (David Mihm) This is a fabulous ten step process small businesses can follow to achieve success online. It covers the basics, yet includes all the necessary details you’ll need to know to get started. As David is an SEO like myself, it’s focused on search, but has quite a bit of information on real world strategies, tips, and marketing insight. It’s a must read!

Small Business SEM (Matt McGee) Matt continually provides great content for small businesses. His focus (though technical at times) always caters to small businesses and their needs. He provides great overviews of Internet Marketing as it pertains to business owners. I’d also like to call out his May round-up of the best search & online marketing posts. It’s a great collection of very useful posts in one place.

SEOmoz Blog This blog might be a bit deeper than most folks might want to go into the waters of SEO, but I’ve always been a fan of reaching beyond ones comfort zone. For those that want to go into the deep end of search, consider SEOmoz the tan, smiling, chisled lifeguard there to make sure you stay safe and get out of the ocean alive. They also have a paid section, but there is HUGE value in the free stuff they offer. Their most valuable blog posts (in my opinion) are their White Board Friday Videos. Definitely check them out!

SEOmoz Free SEO Tools If you can’t tell already, I’m a HUGE fan of SEOmoz. They have a great selection of free and paid tools. For small business owners, there are plenty of free tools to get you started.

SEO Book (Aaron Wall) Aaron has a great blog, collection of videos & tools, as well as insight to the industry. He has a paid level as well as eBooks you can purchase. But like SEOmoz, he has plenty of valuable free information and is a great resource. Like SEOmoz, his blog is a daily read of mine.

Claim Your Local Listing (Mike Blumenthal) It’s absolutely imperative for small businesses to claim their local listing. In this post, Mike explains what a local listing is and how to claim it. He also talks about how this prevents someone else from hijacking your local listing. I have seen this happen in Spokane on several occasions, so don’t think this is just a big city thing.

2009 Local Search Ranking Factors (David Mihm) David has quickly established himself as a leader in the local search arena. His yearly ranking factors study has been the local search reference of choice for the past two years. I was honored to have been asked to be one of the 27 SEO’s worldwide to participate in this years study. Much like the SEOmoz Guide, consider this the deep end of the pool. However, it contains some incredibly detailed local search information for those so inclined to dive right in.

Social Media Tips & Articles

Harness the Power of Twitter for Local Marketing (Chris Silver Smith) This article provides a great roadmap (and more importantly, examples) on how to use Twitter to engage with your prospective customers on a local basis.

Leveraging Social Media for Local SEO (Steve Espinosa) Steve provides a great guide and chart to incorporate your social media sites (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) for greater reach and local SEO power.

13 Things I’ve learned about Blogging (Darren Rowse’s 500th Post) This is a great supplimental guide to our discussion yesterday. Darren goes over many of the things we discussed and provides more details and insight from his experience and rapid rise in the blogosphere.

ROI and Social Media: Focus on Impressions! (Marketing Sherpa) This quick read reinforces the talk yesterday of the difficulty of correlating ROI to social media efforts while calling out the value of doing so.

How to Manage Your Socia Media Profiles (Social Media Rockstar) This quick guide is a reinforcement of Bethany’s advice from yesterday and will help make your online social life much easier to manage.

11 Ways to Lose Friends & Followers Online (Social Media Rockstar) I really like this post. It points out failings that we have all seen online. I have unfolled many people making these mistakes. It’s a must read!

27 Twitter Applications Your Small Business Can Use Today (Small Business CEO) A great list of useful Twitter tools. Again, Bethany mentioned several of these yesterday, but this list is quite helpful. They don’t include a few I like (Tweetdeck, Twitpic, etc.) but it’s still a good list.

Well, I think that is plenty to get you started. Please let me know if there are other tools, tips, or articles you’ve found useful. Happy to include those as well. Cheers!

Spokane CVB Social Media Event – Resources & Info

It’s always insightful to speak to a new group of people at an industry event.  I’ve found that It’s sometimes easy to get entrenched within my own four walls and lose touch with the information that people really need to help their businesses succeed.  During the Q&A session someone asked the question that was on everyones minds:

“Can you provide a simple guide to help business owners in Spokane understand how to use social media?  You know,… no industry jargon, no tech-speak, just simple how-to-get-started information that business owners can quickly digest and implement?”

When I said YES the entire rooms gave a collective “sigh.”  So, without further ado, here it is:

7 Steps to Getting Started, Finding your Voice, and Generating Business with Social Media.

1)  Find your flavor(s) and get started.

Without re-capping everything from today’s presentations, I’d like to sum it up by merely saying use what works best for you.  In my case it’s primarily Twitter & Linkedin.  But, I have also found great value in Biznik and LaunchPad.  In fact, I’m about to dive into the deep end of the LaunchPad pool.  As a Spokane Social Networking Site, it’s a no-brainer to join LaunchPad.  Your choice just depends on your personal taste and industry.  For example, musicians, actors, and celebrities still have great success using MySpace, but it personally annoys me beyond belief.  I use Facebook to communicate with family & friends and try to keep business out of it, but know several people using Facebook with a good amount of business success.  Again, it’s all about finding the right platform(s) for your own personal taste.

2) Pimp your profile

Create a unique and customized profile.  Fill out relevant details and provide supportive links.  Much has been written on this topic.  Here are few guides: How to Pimp Your Twitter Profile, Linkedin Profile Tips, Facebook Profile Guide.

3) Set a consistent and realistic posting schedule

A lot of people get really excited about the latest/greatest social networking site and post like crazy for a month or so and then quit.  Others find it intimidating and never get started in the first place.  I’d recommend finding sites that you’re comfortable with and genuinly believe you’ll use.  Then set a posting schedule.  Just make sure it’s a realistic one based on your workload and desire to contribute content.  Here are a few great reads: Lessons Learned from 3 Years of Blogging, Scheduling Social Media Efforts.

4) Take it off-line

I’ve found this to be the most effective.  It’s much like dating on Match.com… You haven’t really had your first date until you’ve met in person.  Sure, there are many benefits from being on Twitter and other social media sites without meeting someone in person (exposure, increased relevant connections, etc.).  I’ve just found that the in-person meetings are what have created (by far) the most work and overall impact to my business.  These are connections that started online but developed into friendships and professional ties in my industry.  The Real Power of Twitter does a great job of summarizing these benefits.

5) Contribute and Connect

If you contribute great content in a consistent manner over time you will generate a following.  It really is that simple.  There are a handful of people that post content that I absolutely look forward to reading.  Be one of those people.

6) Understand Analytics

Don’t feel bad if your social media web sites aren’t producing great results online.  They tend to not perform as well in the ROI category compared to direct traffic and search.  The best post I’ve seen regarding social media and ROI is from Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz.  It goes into great detail regarding how social media ROI compares with other avenues.  I recommend reading the entire article as well as the numerous comments. Install an analytics platform (like Google Analytics), watch the Google Analytic Training Videos, and if you really get into it, read Avinash Kaushik’s blog Occam’s Razor.  It’s amazing!

7) How to use social media to make money and/or increase business

I think social media is very similar to Public Relations in that both have a pretty difficult time claiming a direct correlation between their efforts and revenue.  However, from a business reach and exposure standpoint, the impact is HUGE!  When performed effectively, it puts your business in front of the right audience of potential clients, develops trust, and helps foster relationships.  And when it comes right down to it, people still buy from people.  Though we have all this new technology and ways to connect online, it still comes down to relationships, trust, and offering a great product or service.

I hope this has been a helpful guide/follow-up to today’s Social Media Panel.  Please let me know if you have any questions.  I’m happy to provide additional details.  A big thanks to Visit Spokane for inviting me to be part of the panel.  Definitely follow them on Twitter @visitspokane to see an example of a great social media effort.

ESPN Pulls Link to UConn/Syracuse Game

Media companies are funny.

They want the traffic from social media sources, and offer up embedded links to their videos and content in hopes that it creates a viral following. That is, until they get something that is insanely popular.

Then, they throw a temper tantrum and yell, “Mine, mine, mine!”

That’s what ESPN just pulled with their own video recap of the UConn vs Syracuse 6 OT game in the Big East Tournament. I watched the video this morning, and noticed they provided an embedded link in the video and posted it to my web site (giving full credit to ESPN as well as an additional link to the full story).

Now the video is pulled due to the popularity of the clip. Sure, you can still get it at ESPN, but they radically changed their sharing policy once they realized it was a good clip.

Lame, lame, lame!

Not that ESPN cares about what I think about their sharing policy, but it’s just not a good practice. If they genuinely want to engage in social media and have people participate in the conversation they need to keep a consistent policy and go with it.

My 2 cents.

Rant over.