Facebook Timeline Strategy

Whether you love or hate Facebook’s new Timeline it’s here to stay! If your a brand, think of this as a way to chronologically feature key activities, accomplishments and/or events you want your fan base to review.

1) As you start to optimize this content remember you have the ability to select Update Info in your upper right and also select View As at the top right hand side of the age when you have selected your Profile page.

  • The Update Info should be completed and as detailed as possible - this enables you to drive better engagement with your fan base and improve brand awareness.
  • The View As feature simply enables you to make changes and then view the page as a Fan might, enabling you to make sure your changes are effective.

2) You have the ability to upload a high quality image as your Cover Photo - this is the first image any visitor to this page sees and it should be an image that will drive engagement with the visitor. You can upload up to  851 by 351 pixel wide image based on Facebook’s Timeline dimensions.

Don’t think of this as a static image that should be carefully selected early on and then leave it up for a long period of time. You should rotate this image at least once or twice during a 30-60 day period to drive brand engagement.

Faceook does not want this image to be an ad about your company or services and  have strict rules against your uploading an image that has price, purchasing information and/or any calls to action. This image’s sole function in Facebook’s TOS is to convey branding in a compelling way with the visitor.

3) Think of  the Timeline Profile page as a cascading digital waterfall of images, friend activity, events, “Likes” Milestones and Shares. Speaking of “Shares” - these function as a way to engage with and provide a digital high five to your community. Use them accordingly.

Remember all of these Shares will be reflected in your Timeline Strategy. So, be selective about what you Share as your building up a historical flow of information that you visitors can see. Think of this as content curation and continuity - be mindful of what your doing with these branded elements. They should also drive “likes” within your community of Fans - this is engagement in its purest form.

4) Pinned Posts are a new Feature for Facebook - these give you the ability to feature something you’ve done at the very top of your page and they will stay resident at the top of your page for up to seven days.

You also have the ability to edit these (just the position of the image) after you’ve Pinned them. We recommend changing these at least 2-3 times a week. Studies have shown rotating these images drives more Fan and User engagement.

Use pinned posts as a component of your overall content strategy across the social web. If your brand is featuring images via Pinterest, Twitter or your Blog then amplify your message so your community sees the same images across all of your social profiles. And, again, to emphasize - change these frequently and try to use compelling images that will drive engagement, visibility and sharing via your community.

You also have an opportunity to Highlight specific posts - meaning, this expands your image size so it takes up two columns, giving you the ability to make an image stand out in your Timeline.

5) Apps add real sizzle to your Timeline Profile and should be integrated with your brand in a meaningful way. You have a growing list of 3K to choose from and this list is expanding every day. As an example, the market leader in social engagement apps across all popular Social Platforms including Facebook is Wildfire - have a broad range of apps that extend the functionality and engagements on popular social platforms.

There has been and continues to be some controversy about whether or not using third party apps to post content on Facebook has the same impact as doing via Facebook. The jury is still out on this - we’ve seen studies that indicate there is no discernible difference and that Facebook will not differentiate in terms of ranking the content via their Edge Rank algorithm. But, we will circle back to an app like Edge Rank Checker on a subsequent blog post.

6) Finally Milestones are another tool to make key events in your company’s history stand out. Just click the Sharing tool at the top of your Page’s Timeline and add a Headline, Location, Date and Details of your Milestone.  The images are displayed in 834 by 430 and the earliest date you can add a Milestone is January 1, 1000.

Executive Summary for Busy Marketers:

1) Successful Facebook Timeline optimization is really Content Development and Curation.

2) Image quality is critical - rinse and repeat weekly or more frequently.

3) Complete your Profile, Add Apps to drive engagement and brand analysis.

4) Use Milestones to underscore key events or accomplishments in your company’s history.

What’s in the future for Facebook Timeline Strategy? We expect Facebook will continue to look for opportunities to drive revenue via integrated advertising and/or other enhancements, features and capabilities that may be offered solely to businesses and brands.

Why Google No Longer Loves Your Brand

Google has gone through another major update and it’s been garnering plenty of media comments, for good reason. Once again web sites, brands and companies are experienced a digital Tsunami that only Google can provide.  And, “provide” may not be the term many are using in their analysis, feedback and observations. Significant amounts of traffic are now going being lost by brands big and small.

Google Panda Update Dissection

The “Google Panda Update” as the Wall St. Journal reported online and via the print pub (yes, Rupert does have real reporters working for him) pointed out, this update has had a significant impact on search rankings driven by Google penalizing sites that have been buying links and/or using back link development processes that are now deemed as being irrelevant and worse, signaling the site quality is bad.

The blogsphere lit up by “holier than thou” marketers that (soap box in hand) that jumped on the bandwagon, raising hue and cry about how buying links via social bookmarking and Web 2.0 sites was foolish, unethical and tantamount to bad strategic marketing. We won’t point fingers! But, we disagree.

Fortunes have been built on bookmarking, Web 2.0 and content platforms like Squidoo, Tumble and Posterous. Marketers and brands have been leveraging these sites for years for content syndication and back links development.  Up till now this has been accepted marketing tactic for big and small brands and you can search on Fiverr, Elance and Freelancer today and find thousands of businesses deploying this strategy.

We aren’t advocating funky backlinking tactics. Nor can we say we haven’t done the same for ourselves and clients the last fifteen plus years - we have, as have thousands of SEO and marketing agencies. But, clearly Google has spoken and chickens have come home to roost for many.

What’s bad (funky!) backlinking you should avoid:

1) Sites with no Page Rank whatsoever - meaning they aren’t quality sites and probably never will be and clearly, Google doesn’t “Like” (sorry for using the term Mark) these kind of sites.

2) Any site with lots of OBLs (Outbound Links) on every page. That’s a clear sign they were funky long before Google decided to negate any potential impact they might have.

3) Any site that has not approval of comments or content submissions - meaning, the barriers to entry are non-existent and anybody can post content or comments.

4) Sites with bad content that clearly has no pride of authorship in the content. And, if no outbound links, that’s another bad signal.

5) A deceptive site with Page Rank of 6-7 that may look stellar to any digital marketer on the surface: but, if the site has any two of the above issues that can be discernible with the naked eye than avoid it like a tongue in cheek Jason Gay Review of all things cultural.

What Your Backlinkg Strategy Should Be Moving Forward

The biggest and emerging trend appearing on the backlinking horizon is (drumroll …..)social signals. Take your pick, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest - Google likes them all and leverage accordingly by establishing a presence and sharing content.

Develop high quality content (images, infographics, videos, etc.) that pique and drive social sharing and or brand amplification via others.Emphasis here should be on “high quality content” - an endless stream of your activities via Instagram on Facebook doesn’t qualify.

Comments still work extremely well for backlinking, brand awareness and visibility in targeted communities that are connected with and engaging with the on page content. You not only generate backlinks but you get your brand in front of a very targeted audience, driving incremental opportunities over a period of time.

Embrace blogging and do it the right way. If you are on WordPress (you should be!) you should be intelligently linking most of your posts back into your own site. Over time these will count as backlinks and also help to drive your site visitors deeper into your site.

Take every chance you can to build (link to interior pages not just the home page/vary your links) backlinks via any profiles you have across the web. Quora, LinkedIn, Plancast, Facebook, YouTube and many other sites (second tier) enable you to upload multiple links. And anchor text them when/where you can; meaning, embed a link in keywords that are consistent with your traffic and content strategy. Marketers take not, sites like Quora are starting to embed their platform with other providers/platforms like Facebook - giving you powerful content syndication capabilities.

It seems many brands hire high powered PR Agencies who do a great job on the press release wording and editorial reach. But, many don’t understand basic SEO principals or if they do, don’t leverage the PR properly for backlinks.

PR is one of the best ways to drive high quality backlinks to your site across hundreds or thousands of sites - the backlinks are typically high quality, can/should be setup with anchor text embedded in the URLs and you can integrate 1-3 backlinks into your PR via most paid providers. We like Press Release Monkey (ignoring the name) - they are low cost/high value and easy to work with.

If you need a tip on the image……just comment away and we will try to help you cross the cultural divide…..

Eight Things to do for Successful Social Media Marketing

Effective social media marketing has no magic formula! It blends disparate processes, technology and individuals together in a virtual world with no hard-wired environments or restrictions, ignoring  the time and space continuum!

Great Social Media Marketing has these elements:

1) An  understanding of disparate platforms and technology. Web 2.0 changed everything (sidebar: this link goes to Tim O’Reilley’s seminal blog in 2005 that defined Web 2.0) - to be successful in social media marketing, your brand needs to embrace many/many platforms, syndicate your content (text, images, video, audio, podcasts, blog posts, etc.) across all platforms.

2) Focus on task accomplishments - it’s critical to have specific social media marketing goals in mind; i.e. defined number of social goals (Followers, Likes, Mentions, References, Connections, ReTweets - engagement!) that are defined for a specific amount of time. The front end social media marketing processes involve taking specific actions across the social web that will engender some engagement, which should be task oriented and quantified.

3) Seize that social moment when presented - we are all insanely busy (the downside of being always on and connected across the social web) but when a form of interaction or connectivity occurs (this can also be a subset of CRM issues) take it and move from social interaction to real world (phone, email, Skype video conf call, etc.)

4) Focus on improving your knowledge - social media marketing is moving at a frightening pace. It’s a dynamic Eco-system with lighting fast changes in platform, processes and social interaction. It’s good to be mindful of the breakneck pace and slow down and take the time improve your knowledge base.

5) Be tenacious and realize your throwing digital paint on a wall and real social traction isn’t going to occur overnight unless your another celebrity on Twitter or Facebook. It takes time to build a meaningful social media marketing strategy and old fashioned grit.

Your going to get sick of seeing bios from attractive men/women on Twitter with thousands of Followers and no Tweets. Recognize many of these types of accounts are just empty social profiles and you need to wade through the social dreck, while keeping your eye on the prize.

6) Use a social filter at times - meaning, there is a lot of just awful junk  (dreck) going out on the social web. Do we all need to see another picture of a stupid pet trick, sunshine across a barren field (these are not Ansel Adams quality photos!) and/or another tacky political slogan meant for the social web.

We blame smartphone use and access for much of this crappy content - maybe “smartphones” may not be the right term. Regardless, you will need to wade through a lot of stuff on the social web that should never be shared.

7) Social relationships take time just like real world relationships. The positive is the social web has no boundaries and can be leveraged instantly; the down side is many assume once a connection is made it will move to a “real relationship” (ignoring Match.com and other dating sites) quickly - it will not in many cases. Social types want to see how authentic you are over a period of time. Taking a measure of your “pay it forward” personal or professional branding and the overall value of your social communications.

8) An awareness that there is a lot of disingenuous fools gold on the social web. We don’t want to sound too cynical. But, there are no barriers to social media marketing. Meaning there are endless reams and webinars about “instant success” on the social web. PT Barnum would have loved this medium. Just think, he did what he did with just newspaper advertising - Twitter and Facebook would have given him a market reach that would have made William Randolph Hearst jealous!

Go forth and multiply social readers. Comment away below - we’d love to hear your take on successful social media marketing!

How to Build an Inconic Brand like the Hunger Games

The global mega hit of the year will certainly be The Hunger Games - the iconic, epic cult movie based on the superbly written trilogy by Suzanne Collins.  The movie is generating buzz  that most PR agencies would sell their souls for - you can’t turn on a device of any type (iPad, Smartphone, “stone age tablet”) without seeing an image of the star, Jennifer Lawrence staring back at you.

The imagery is everywhere and the brand is ever-present and looks like it will have a significant afterlife that will burn bright across the social web and news media for weeks, months and years to come - and with two more books to be turned into cinematic ROI, expect to hear more.

Marketers take note - build your brand like the Hunger Games with these five key marketing strategies.

1) Content strategy is the most critical element to building any type of online brand - whether its text, imagery, video, audio or a combination of all, the most critical element to building an iconic brand is great content. Everything else flows from the content.

The movie, “Hunger Games” is based on a well written best seller by the same name by Suzanne Collins - the core content is gripping, passionate and targeted for a younger demographic (although morphed to broad appeal now) that wants dynamic content that resonates with and fires up their passion. Mirror this strategy for your brand - great content resonates, builds brand awareness, drives conversions, interaction and engagement.

2) Build a great team - the Hunger Games features the emerging star, Jennifer Lawrence who made a name for herself  in “Winter Bones,” coupled with a stellar supporting cast including Stanley Tucci, Wes Bentley, Elizabeth Banks, Josh Hutcherson and Woody Harrelson.

You can’t go to any venture capital conference or dive into Dave McClure’s (the go to “Angel Investor”  second to none)  Twitter stream without hearing the mantra, “invest in the team” - position your brand and build your business accordingly. Hire great people and don’t be stingy with the equity - we digress; but, a smaller piece of a big pie for all is much better than a large share of nothing. Great people want to be rewarded, appreciated and feel like they own a piece of the brand.

3) Like Ted Turner used to stay, “get up early work hard and advertise your ass off” - embrace this strategy as much as you can. Build a digital eco system around your brand. If you Google the Hunger Games you’ll find an ever growing list of over 1.6 billion pages/sites/brands competing for the keyword, “The Hunger Games.”

Let’s face it, the average company or brand isn’t going to be this successful. But, if you dig into these links you will find a mixture of URLs comprising movie listings, PR, videos, articles, social media signals (Twitter hash tags, Facebook Likes, etc.) Comprising a blended branding campaign that comprises traditional PR, advertising, heavy doses of social media marketing, solicitation of brand amplification across the social web, YouTube videos and more.  Ted had it right in the now “ancient days” when an iPad was just a dream in Steve Job’s mind…….

4) Integrate PR in your advertising mix - PR still works. It’s targeted (keyword and demographic) and it amplifies your brand in ways that no other medium, other than social media can come close to. This can be a do it yourself strategy that necessitates your writing PR that resonates with your audience and/or hiring a consultant, or better yet, a PR agency, as they have “reach” contacts and expertise that is hard to match with a DIY strategy. But, whether your approach is do it in-house or via an agency, make PR a core part of your marketing strategy.

5) Leverage social media marketing - “The Hunger Games” Facebook account has (trending up) 3.3 million “likes” on their account and over 500 million “talking about this” rankings as we throw up this blog post. This is stellar social media marketing and overshadows many Oscar marketing campaigns.

If you look at the HashTag trends for “#hungergames” on HashTag.org the marketing ROI is staggering - this hashtag is overshadowing just about any other hashtag across the social web and underscores the significant consumer buzz this movie (branding campaign) has built. This is such a popular hashtag other brands are hijacking the hashtag by incorporating it in Tweets that have nothing to do with the movie - underscoring brand awareness for the movie and related popularity.

Key takeaways for effective social media marketing - leverage social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest) with a content syndication strategy that amplifies your core messaging across the social web. Build conversation and engagement by pushing out and sharing your content with a feed stream that builds your story over time (rinse and repeat) - for better or worse, a successful social media marketing campaign necessitates repetition and amplification. Social consumers are at times a bit hard to reach and driven to distraction!

Search Engine Marketing Results

Search engine marketing results drive significant traffic and many brands live or die based on search traffic, although most don’t really understand what’s always driving the traffic. The typical mantra for the SEO manager in charge is typically,  do more with less; or, what’s going to give us better search engine marketing results and what is this going to cost? Then, let’s rock!

You may be much better off not wasting a lot of time on search engine marketing results and get much more marketing ROI with a stellar content strategy, coupled with basic on and off page SEO optimization. Why? It’s a shifting landscape out their in search engine land and Google’s algorithm, not to mention second tier search engines  is always in flux.

Who really understands robots, search algorithms, on page vs. off page SEO - the arcane complex terminology of search marketing is like a mirage in the desert - looks great from a distance but when you get there your frequently left with nothing.

Our recommended Search Engine Marketing Strategy in five easy steps:

1) Do basic keyword research using Google Analytics (which should already be set up on your site) and come up with 50-75 Keywords to use for your content strategy for 90-120 days. Then, build content around these with 3-5% keyword saturation per page, blog post or piece of content. Don’t go crazy with keywords - Google and others will figure out what your content is about. But, do the baseline work.

2) Do some “off page” link development via Press Release marketing, integrating your content URLs with your social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest if you have an image strategy) - each time a page or blog post is updated it needs to be syndicated via your social media accounts.  Do some baseline link development work with social bookmarking, PR syndication (as above), comment tagging on targeted web sites, build a Squidoo or Hub Page with good content that reinforces your brand messaging, with links back to your site.

3) Make sure you content is being syndicated - if you are using WordPress (you should be!) then utilize the build in pingomatic services that WordPress includes (we have a custom list), make sure your content is automatically posted to as many third party (social and others) web sites. It’s a brutally competitive landscape for traffic - the old days of building a web site and hoping you get traffic are long gone. Drive competitive advantage and search engine marketing results via aggressive content syndication on the best platform, WordPress.

4) Forget about SEO and build your newsletter list - make sure you have a call to action on your web site for Newsletter signups and update this once a month. The defacto industry standard is Aweber, although there are a ton of WordPress plugins that will give you a broader brand reach by just shooting out an update of your blog to subscribers.

5) Publish a blog on a WordPress Platform - publish as frequently as possible, with a minimum of 2-3 times per week. Each post should have some keyword optimization and be broadly syndicated across the social web and make sure you have a Feedburner account set up and pingomatic services as above.

If you follow these five basic steps you’ll generate search engine marketing results. If you want a deeper dive into search marketing we highly recommend signing up for Aaron Wall’s SEO Book (subscription service) - it’s high value and low cost.  Aaron and his team know more about search engine marketing  than many “high visibility” search marketers feature in conferences.