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Fire your SEO guy. Here’s 9 reasons why social search is the new SEO.

Self publishing content on your own blog is the way to send content about your business out to your social media pages. This generates exponentially more chances that you will be discovered by customers or search engines.

Self publishing content from your blog or press releases to your social media pages is the new “SEO.” This generates exponentially more chances that you will be discovered by customers or search engines.  This is in most cases cheaper, faster and more direct than trying to generate “earned media” (press coverage.)

SEO is dead.

Yeah, that’s what I said.

Long live social search.

Old style SEO (search engine optimization) is about tricks, hacks and keywords. Your overpriced SEO geek may even convince you to pay him big bucks to put a big, ugly chunk of “geek speak” text written for the Search Engine (not human beings) on the first page of your website “for SEO purposes.”

Instead, the big opportunity to be discovered is by creating the most appealing, juicy, word-filled content possible and syndicating that yourself throughout the Internet via social media. Hire a professional writer and a social media pro and create compelling content if you want to drive traffic. (Not an SEO guru.)

Fire your SEO guy, and reallocate those resources to producing and syndicating more content that will drive free organic traffic to your website. (Now if your SEO person does most of the things below already, you should keep them. But I have a hunch they are still mostly doing the old-school tricks, metatags and hacks method.)

Here are 9 ways social search is the new SEO:

1. Answer the question in your headline. I know this is brain dead obvious, but you need to think like a search engine when you write every post, tweet and headline. What are people searching for? Ask the question in your headline. Answer the question in your content. (How can I get better organic SEO tips? How can I get more organic website traffic? How can I drive organic traffic to my site?) There. Done. Did it.  Now send these headlines out into cyberspace from your social pages.

2. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is totally unnecessary if you build your website on a blogging platform like WordPress that incorporates keywords, tags and lots of “social sharing” features. This is the dirty little secret that the whole SEO industry kind of dances around.

3. SEO, or paid advertising, is doing absolutely nothing to build your visibility on social networks. SEO is no longer relevant once you start doing Social Media because your profile on Twitter and your tweets automatically get the same search rank as Twitter! That’s right — you can drive more traffic to your website with a Tweet than you’ll get from an article in the New York TimesSee this example when I Google myself — note that the New York Times article that quotes me is buried deep in the string. The first 10 results are all social media pages. (Social media has even better Google rank than my own website.)

4. SEO on your website is nowhere near as effective as a key-word filled, search-engine friendly press release that drives traffic to your website. Press releases go straight into Google News and Yahoo News, can easily be picked up by 50,000 blogs and feeds, and you can also distribute them on your social networks. It’s like having thousands of messengers in cyberspace sending people over to your website.

5. The best kept secret that that SEO guy doesn’t want you to know is that you’re probably paying him to drive traffic to your dead, static, dated website instead of starting from scratch with a social media optimized blog. I know it’s scary and expensive to leave your 1990s static website behind and get with it. After all, it’s your baby. You have tens of thousands of dollars and hours invested in it.  But your 90s website is not only invisible — it’s dated, like an old kitchen that screams “Avocado and Harvest Gold,” like shoulder pads on a suit, like a wide necktie.  A 2014 WordPress site looks like this one — it can adjust to desktop screens, tablets and smartphones.  The other thing about using a blog as the center of your content wheel is that WordPress has great content syndication features that will automatically syndicate every post to all of your social media pages.

6. All that SEO you overpaid for will disappear when you remove your old site and update to a 2015 responsive template. However, links to Twitter, news coverage, blogs, press coverage and Press Releases will last forever in Google. As long as you don’t change your URL, those pieces of content drive traffic to your website as long as those networks stay on the Internet.

Every post or "pin" you send on social media should have a link that leads back to your website, or to merchandise you are selling. This will drive traffic in the search engines too as social media pages have high authority in Google.

Every post or “pin” you send on social media should have a link that leads back to your website, or to merchandise you are selling. This will drive traffic in the search engines too as social media pages have high authority in Google.

7. SEO is about words. More words = more chances you will be found by Google.  By putting those words out on press releases, articles, blogs, Tweets, Pins and multiple social media pages (not just one place, your website) you’re exponentially increasing the chances that Google will find you. Even more if that stuff gets shared.

8. Google likes relevant, timely, fresh content. Nothing is more timely than social media posts like Tweets and G+ updates, or  your own blog posts. Stale website content from your 1999 website is not very interesting to Google. (Or your customers.)

9. Google likes (surprise!) Google products such as G+ and YouTube. Nothing impresses Google’s search bots like using one of Google’s products. This is the only reason to have at least a token channel on YouTube and a G+ page where you post at least 1 time per day. Note that most of the top 10 hits when you Google me are G+ posts.

Social media is now the center of your marketing in 2015, especially if you are trying to drive organic (unpaid) traffic to your website.

Social media is now the center of your marketing in 2015, especially if you are trying to drive organic (unpaid) traffic to your website.

SUMMARY:

Today, to drive organic traffic to your website (without paying for links or ads) you need:

- An updated site that contains a blog, preferably a WordPress template

– An excellent writer (hire a journalist, not some cheap person on Fiverr who can’t write in English) to produce regular, juicy, keyword-rich, interesting and topical posts. (Bonus points if they capitalize on the trending topics of the day.)

- A social media consultant (to get more posts out there into the social sites and distribute your blog content to drive traffic back to your website.)

- A PR consultant – to send out more press releases that drive traffic to your site, and get you press coverage which will drive up your search ranks and generate the permanent, high-quality links back to your site that Alexa and Google love.

With the rise of Social Sharing we’ve entered a new era of digital media: personalized discovery. The balance of power is shifting: Many web managers and publishers are seeing more audience coming from Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram, Google+ and Twitter, Reddit and other social sharing sites than from Google search.

Social signals are the new page rank — become a “trending topic of the day,” or comment on the trends of the day, and you will see your traffic soar.

People will discover you and find you through your content, your networks and your conversations.

By creating your own "news" in press releases and social media posts, you are boosting your website traffic and page rank. You still want to get "real news" too -- articles in credible blogs, newspapers, magazines, radio and TV coverage.

By creating your own “news” in press releases and social media posts, you are boosting your website traffic and page rank. You still want to get “real news” too — articles in credible blogs, newspapers, magazines, radio and TV coverage.

young_gates

Remembering Windows 1.0 — 29 years ago today.

 young_gates
In November of 1985, I was an editor in my first job at a tech magazine and my boss said: “Hey let’s walk over to this press conference. Maybe they’ll have free drinks. Something called ‘Windows’.”

It wasn’t even on my beat. I wrote mostly about gaming. But the press conference was just around the corner, at the Hyatt Hotel, no big deal.

It was a small ballroom, one guy at a podium, maybe 35 people there. No big flashy presentations or flashdancers or searchlights or anything. (None of the flashy presentation stuff was invented yet and Silicon Valley CEOs had not reached anything near rock star status.)

The young CEO, this guy named Bill Gates, with a mop of hair, and big goggle glasses, held up a box and kind of mumbled. He wouldn’t become unfathomably wealthy and famous until 1986 when Microsoft had their IPO. But today it was just another product introduction.

We clapped, ate shrimp and everyone left the room to go back to their office and file a story.

(You couldn’t file electronically back then — computers were stuck on your desk.) It would be months before my story would get typeset, laid out, flown on galleys to our printer in Chicago, and get distributed to our subscriber’s 100,000 newsstands around the world.

I wasn’t planning to be there that day. I didn’t know I was witnessing history. Windows 1.0 was not dazzling — but I kind of knew it would be important someday — the first graphical interface for business PCs. Before that it was all just green or amber characters on a black screen, or you had a Macintosh, which nobody at that time took seriously for business.

Windows was launched on November 20, 1985. On a floppy disk. You had to get another floppy disk mailed to you in order to fix the bugs.

When I remember how clunky, frustrating and hard to use PCs were in the early days. When I hold a smart phone in my hand now, with full color, high resolution video, that communicates anywhere on earth in seconds — it truly is a miracle.

What an honor for my friends and I to be the generation who helped build all of that.

You would not be reading this post right now without the creativity and guts of thousands of people who worked long and hard to build what became the Internet, email, networking, the PC, social media, blogging — no one person can take credit for it. It was a whole generation taking risks, arguing, debating, working long hours and sleeping under the desk.

The new generation in Silicon Valley is racing madly to create “apps” that basically just cannibalize something that is already useful. (Do we really need to “disrupt” everything?) I wonder if they have have any idea your technology skills needed to be in 1985 to do even something as simple as keep your computer from crashing long enough to write a letter.

We’ve come a long long way.

And now, I just hit that blue button that says “publish” and this will go out to thousands of people all over the world. Amazing.

pr is dead social pr

PR is dead — long live social PR

pr is dead social prPR is dead.

Did you hear me? The career I’ve been in for 18 years — dead. Over. Toast. Done.

It’s evolved into something much more powerful and effective. Social PR.

I think that PR and social media are not separate anymore — and are in fact the same thing.

I’ve seen social media evolve over the past 30 years, from CompuServe to the WeLL to AOL to Craigslist to Ryze, then Friendster, MySpace, Tribe.net, blogging, and today, Twitter and Facebook.

Facebook is just another chat room. It’s all just a big virtual cocktail party.

But what has changed — dramatically — is how we influence other influencers today. And who those other influencers are.  They’re not just press anymore.

You cannot separate “PR” and “Social Media.” They must be on the same page. The strategy must be interwoven.

Your social media, PR, marketing, web and advertising teams need to talk to each other.

Your marketing strategy must be a social marketing strategy.

Your PR strategy must be a Social PR strategy. You must evolve from the 1990s idea that “announcing to the media” is any different than “talking to your customer”.

You’re communicating directly to the public.

Your brand isn’t just B2B, or B2C. It’s person to person. Human to human.

It’s not a one way broadcast anymore. It’s a multichannel conversation.

Today you talk to everyone at once.

Your customer is there. Your investors are there. The press are there. All in the same room.

You must take social media seriously as the front line of your brand, pay attention to it, and stop posting lame, idiotic, poorly written, typo-riddled, boring dreck.

Social media is the front line of your brand!

Social media is marketing + branding + advertising + PR + analyst relations + investor relations + customer service rolled into one.

Why is Facebook worth billions — and newsracks are empty?

Today, a single Facebook post can easily reach 1 million people. That’s more than the circulation of most daily newspapers.

A Facebook ad can reach more customers for $5 than any other form of marketing ever devised in the history of mankind.

But you’re blowing thousands of dollars on ad agencies, PR agencies and print ads?

And you’re outsourcing social media to the cheapest possible, lowest level employee you can find?

Get rid of that 1990s idea that a newspaper article is more influential than a Tweet, a post or even your own blog.

You used to have to own a TV network to have influence. Today, a kid in their bedroom could have more viewers on YouTube than Oprah.

A musician or DJ who happens to have 100,000 fans or friends could be much more influential than a columnist or a journalist. (Many magazines don’t even reach 100,000 subscribers.)

Have you taken the train to work lately?

Do you see anyone reading a print publication? I don’t.  This is what the train looks like on a typical morning in San Francisco.  And these guys in t-shirts are your target audience.

Do you see them reading the banners on the bus? Billboards? Newspapers? Do they look like businessmen in stock photos?

And they’re probably not reading your website on that little screen unless it’s mobile-enabled.

Morning commute in San Francisco on the MUNI train, 2014. Do you see anyone reading a newspaper? Most of these people are probably reading Twitter and Facebook.

Morning commute in San Francisco on the MUNI train, 2014. Do you see anyone reading a newspaper? Most of these highly influential business people are reading Twitter and Facebook on their smartphone or tablet.

You need to start taking Social Media seriously as the front line of your communications strategy.

It’s not an afterthought to be delegated to Interns, your receptionist, or “maybe I’ll get to it later”.

Social media is the front line of your brand.

Social media is where you get to tell your own story. Where you generate your own news. Where you build relationships with the media. And where you let your customers know about your press coverage.

But just social media isn’t enough. Because newspapers and magazines are still important. That’s because most readers discover the news on Social Media, and because reporters and publications have influential followings on social media.

Newspapers and magazines are still very influential -- they have high page rank and authority in Google, so getting mentioned in them does wonders for page rank and SEO. They drive traffic to your website — forever.

Social PR blends traditional mainstream print/TV/radio news media Press Relations with “content marketing”. (That’s a fancy word for: “photos with words on them.”

To do viral content marketing effectively, your messages must be created specifically to reach influencers who spread the word further. And you must include those influencers in your community.

This also means, simply, that your “friends” on your social network also happen to be reporters, freelance writers, columnists and editors and they “discover” the story ideas you share on their news feed. (This is kind of like sending out a press release only much faster.)

These days, instead of relying mainly on email pitching and press releases to announce news, I use Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to build relationships with press and influencers.

Try following and befriending every member of the media or influencer crucial for your product. You’ll be surprised how many follow you back.  And they’ll follow what you say — so make it great content, moderated by a professional who is talented in storytelling, community building, customer support, relationship building and conflict resolution. (Hint: they’re probably not even close to entry level.)

They spread the word for you to their networks, which include their Fan pages, Twitter and the blogs and publications they write for.

Some of these influencers are traditional print or TV press.

Others are simply well connected on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram — but have influence equivalent to or greater than that of traditional media.

Try discovering who among your followers and friends champions your brand and spreads the word most frequently. Reward them. Thank them. Give them free tickets and favors.

Over time, you create authentic, engaged communities who will be advocates of your brand. Who tell your story. Who spread the word for you.

Do Social PR. Because, social media is the new PR.

How will your message communicate on a teeny tiny screen?

It’s time to Zen your brand: The new Apple iWatch shrinks your social media content strategy.

How will your message communicate on a teeny tiny screen?

How will your message, logo, photo and brand communicate on an ever-shrinking, teeny tiny screen?

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.”

E.F. Schumacher, “Small is Beautiful.”
A responsive website template can shrink and expand, yet the fonts remain legible.

A responsive website template can shrink and expand, yet the fonts remain legible. Don’t force the user to carry a magnifying glass to see your message!

When I was in art school, my teacher, Mr. Nick used to constantly say: “Simple says more.”  That stuck with me my whole life, and it’s my marketing mantra.

I’m constantly reminding my clients to simplify their message and branding and think small.

Now with the new Apple Watch and other smartwatches, social media marketers will need to shrink their messages ever simpler, bolder and smaller. We’re entering the world of the Dick Tracy two-way communicator and our messages will become both tinier — but they will also more aural, sensory and ubiquitous.

The time is now to prepare for wrist-top always-on marketing and Zen your brand so it’s wearable and portable.

1. Your website needs to adjust for multiple screen sizes. (Get rid of that old template and move over right away to a scalable, responsive template that can shrink and expand while keeping the fonts legible and readable.)

2. Scroll vs click. One long scroll is much easier to navigate on a small screen than a site that demands lots of clicks.

3. Can you touch me, can you read me? When the icons shrink down, your customer still needs to be able to touch them. Can they even see the words?

4. From poster to postage stamp. Your event poster needs to be readable on a smartphone–and you need both print and online versions. Get rid of all the small type and create bold, simple graphics.

5. Can your logo shrinky dink? Your logo must pop and stand out when it’s shrunk down to a tiny icon. Redesign and simplify right away.

6. Are you an icon? Your portrait photo should still be recognizable when it’s a 1 x 1 centimeter icon. (Think iconic — a consistent photo, consistent hair color and style and a consistent and memorable personal brand.)

7. Abolish serif fonts! Your content should have large, sans serif, bold type that’s easy to read when you shrink it to a cellphone screen.

8. Write in soundbites. Your Facebook posts should be Twitter sized — or even smaller.

9. Don’t annoy people with beeps and music. With notification messaging instantly available on a user’s wrist, they will see them far more often. Marketers need to be cautious about annoying the user with beeps and blips or especially websites with annoying music.

But what do we do when it all shrinks down to the postage stamp-sized screen of a smart watch in 2015? Now is the time to prepare for the ever shrinking, ever mobile world that your message will be seen in. No longer on a desk in a business setting — but possibly anytime, anywhere.

Holacracy and Facebook — are we creating a global brain?

Giselle Bisson:

Holacracy and Facebook — are we creating a global brain?

Originally posted on Giselle Bisson - Visibility Shift:

A map of the Internet

For three weeks this summer, I was totally off the grid and more or less out of touch while immersed in a permaculture workshop near Mt. Shasta. Permaculture, which literally means “permanent agriculture”, is a systems design theory that can be applied to sustainable agriculture, architecture and community design.

While it started 40 years ago in Australia, permaculture is just now starting to hit a “tipping point” and emerge into mainstream media consciouness. (As it did recently when an actress Ellen Page talked about her permaculture workshop on the Ellen De Generes show.)

Our workshop, produced by Living Mandala, focused on teaching the fundamentals of permaculture in the context of training future leaders of intergenerational ecovillages and intentional communities, so we learned about new systems of organizational management.

As we sat in a beautiful outdoor classroom in the forest, organizational management coach and “evolutionary strategist” Shiloh…

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Jumping into video editing with Animoto

Getting my toes wet in video editing with Animoto and YouTube

Getting my toes wet in video editing with Animoto and YouTube — it was time consuming, but the results were worth it.  Photo above: Tony Bisson, http://www.bissonphotography.com

I took the plunge into video shooting and editing with Animoto and a Canon DSLR camera. Here’s my experience and how you can get professional caliber video for your business on a shoestring.

Video is de rigeur for social media these days. You need video to convert those customers you send to your website with Facebook. You also need it to tell a story that can’t be told in still photos.

For my longtime client RiverGuidess Adventures, a pioneer in the “transformational river rafting” retreat, we’d been struggling for years to convey the magic of these events and falling short.  These retreats combine dance, yoga, healthy food and rafting in a very upscale and comfortable fantasy estate that is more golf course than wilderness.

Video is the best way to convey the magic of this property, the lavish catered meals and the very special vibe of the heart-opening transformation that happens on these retreats. They appeal to the lucrative and mostly untapped older Baby Boomer market and families with kids — an age group often ignored by events of this nature that tend to market only to younger Millennials.

The trips fit into a new category called: "Summer camp for grownups," or "Transformational micro festivals." It's an ever-competitive market with so many competing dance, yoga and festival retreats vying for people who can afford a $500 weekend.

The trips fit into a new category called: “Summer camp for grownups,” or “Transformational micro festivals.” It’s an ever-competitive market with so many competing dance, yoga and festival retreats vying for people who can afford a $500 weekend.

The retreats are pricey – $580 for a long weekend. To convey this value, and help transform the image from “hippie” to upscale, we have been sending pro photographers to each trip.

But every time, something was missing. Each photographer had a different artistic and personal vision of the experience that was not always compatible with our marketing goal — to attract the affluent “transformational” consumer and shift our appeal to a slightly younger demographic.

After struggling to direct outsiders to give me the results I wanted — I finally caved in and learned how to shoot and edit video myself.

I used a Canon DSLR  camera ($299 on sale at BestBuy) and a high speed 64 GB card ($200) to shoot  the video. Then I blended it with photos shot by four different professional wedding and event photographers plus a few images I shot on Instagram with an iPad.

I edited the photos in iPhoto and then imported the video clips and photos into a video editing app called Animoto.

This process took me more than 48 continuous hours — and resulted in 4 minutes and 30 seconds of video. This is about the average for how long it takes to edit video — generally one day per minute of finished video — so keep this in mind if you’re getting your feet wet. It’s time consuming!

The Canon DSLR is known as the camera of choice for Indie film photographers in Hollywood, but I found it clunky and hard to use. It also did not shoot well in low light (unless you add an optional lens.)

The quality of the resulting footage was sometimes very good, though (if I can just learn to hold it still and remove the lens cap!) I still found a DLSR awkward and heavy to hold and will be looking into smaller, lighter cameras in the future.

Animoto is an app that lets you host your images in “the cloud” — this solves one of the critical difficulties with video editing, storing all those huge clips. It also makes it very easy to share the process with the client or a team as the project evolves, and it includes some fantastic ready-made templates. It’s really not more difficult than making a Powerpoint and in some ways easier.  The other beauty of Animoto is that it can time your clips to the beat of the music– generating very professional and engaging results.

We added the royalty free songs from Animoto’s library of 10,000 songs. I did a keyword search for “summer” to find the uplifting song that conveys our “summercamp for grownups” theme.

Taking the plunge on the rope swing. (The woman in this photo is over 50 years old. The client wants to create an experience for older Boomers who want more comfort. We call it “glamping.”)

Taking the plunge into video

Animoto for Business costs $39 per month. (www.animoto.com)

Here’s how the video looks when hosted by Animoto – sharper than You Tube:

IN 2014, SOCIAL MEDIA IS THE MEDIA

Ignore social media at your own peril -- it's not going away.

Ignore social media at your own peril — it’s not going away.

SOCIAL MEDIA IS THE MEDIA

A marketing pro I ran into at my local cafe the other day looked over my shoulder as I was updating a Facebook Fan page and said:

“Most of social media is pure bullsh*t for my clients.”

And he’s right…for his old school, 65+, out of touch clients who don’t even have smart phones, still read a print newspaper and are still carrying a DayTimer — social media is a waste of time. (However, as of this writing, the 70+ age group is catching up and is now the fastest-growing demographic on Facebook.)

For a few, select businesses, like lawyers, (unless they deal with high profile cases that generate publicity), or people with government or corporate jobs (unless they are company spokespersons), or arms dealers, or private detectives or schoolteachers who want to protect their personal privacy, or anyone with a security clearance, or anyone doing something illegal, it’s better to keep a very low Internet profile.

But for most businesses operating transparently, social media can bring you an unprecedented new level of visibility. And for CEOs, filmmakers, artists, musicians, performers, workshop leaders or anyone who produces events — it’s mission critical.

Remember, if you ignore Social Media it won’t go away. And the conversation will still be happening without you.