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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.

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.