22 steps to double your website traffic and lead generation.

22 steps to double your website traffic and lead generation.
22 steps to double your website traffic and lead generation.
22 steps to double your website traffic and lead generation. It’s not brain surgery. And it brings more business and clients.

Today I discovered my website traffic has quadrupled since December 2014 — and soared to the top 1.5 million US websites according to Alexa. (The prior rank was in the top 3 million).

The number of leads coming in per day are overwhelming me now — and are from business in the US as well as China, Russia, Israel and France.  My Klout rating is now 69 — in the top 1% of all bloggers who write about social media.

How did this happen?

You know the saying: “The shoemaker’s children go barefoot?” I actually started using the Internet marketing techniques I get paid to do for clients to promote my own business.

STRATEGY FIRST:

First — I looked at my competition and analyzed the content marketing and websites of the top 50 Internet consultants listed on the “Forbes 50″ list and tried to figure out what was working and not working for them, then copied it. (More about this in a future blog post.)

TACTICS:

Website:

1. Redesigned my website with a state of the art mobile-first responsive template.

2. Chose a unique color palette for my personal brand. (Plum/Peach/Black.)

3. Changed my photo to a recent, digital photo with currently stylish clothing (a gray/black dress) and got rid of the old, black and white photo that was obviously taken pre-digital with a film camera.

4. Added client lists and work samples to my website.

5. Rewrote the first page as a “Pain Letter” writing directly to my potential client and stating how I can solve their problem. (No visibility on the Internet.)

6. Added logos of the clients I’ve worked with in the past on the right hand side of the page.

7. Added a “Contact Me” with a form to send an email.

8. Used a scheduling app so clients can schedule a 15 minute trial consultation.

Social media

1. Ramped up social media posts to 10-20/day on Twitter by using Buffer to time the posts 24/hrs. day. (It now takes only 1 hr/day to do my own social media.)

2. Got mentioned in a few articles as a social media expert. (Adds credibility.)

3. Started regular posting on Google +  – the Google search engine likes Google + and these posts boost your rank

4. Created several new pages in listings and directories that built links back to my website

5. Put my URL on press releases on PR Web. This is huge. It drives tons of traffic back to your page.

6. Rewrote the first page of my website so it is loaded with key words clients are searching for. (Social media and PR consultant in Silicon Valley and San Francisco.)

7. Blogged 1 x/ week

8. Set up content syndication from my blog to Twitter, G+, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

9. Blogged on LinkedIn Pulse — creating more than 2,500 followers for my Pulse blog.

10. Built pages on About.me, Eolio and other sites that point back to my URL.

11. Tweeting about the “trending topics of the day” using #hashtags.

12. Changed my photo to one that looks directly at the reader instead of off to the right.

13. Choose a new color palette for my “personal brand” that no other consultant has. (Deep plum/peach/black.)

Can I do this for your business? Yes. And if I can’t do it for myself, why would you hire me?

It’s not PR anymore — it’s Social PR. Your PR program and Social Media must be intertwined.

Social media is just a natural evolution of the tools we started doing PR with in the beginning of the computer revolution — email and databases.

Now instead of keeping your list in email and a database your contacts are in Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

This should be brain dead obvious, but I still see clients separating PR from social media (and often attaching a much higher dollar value to press coverage or PR than an effective social networking strategy.)

Social media should be integrated with your PR strategy.

You should be including the press in your social communities on Facebook, Twitter, G+ and LinkedIn — and they should be learning your brand’s story, bit by bit, day by day, one post at a time.

These days, most of the press contact I do is directly via Facebook instant messages or Twitter direct messages — not email. I can’t even imagine separating PR from social media.

Sure you announce the “big news” with an advance press release or a big event — but you’re now telling your story in real time to an audience that includes the press and customers.

Facebook and LinkedIn are just your new Rollodex.

This is how you find customers, build loyalty and keep them.

This is also how you find influencers and the press, build fanatical loyalty and keep them on your side.

Social media is now the front line of your brand.

1. Your network is your net worth.

2. Business is now all about customer relationships.

3. Branding is now all about storytelling.

4. Marketing is now all about building communities. The first step to launch any business now is to first build your community. Then you tell your story to the super connected connectors who lead other communities.


PR is still important — but in the social media era you must intertwine it with your social media program for success

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

Social PR blends traditional mainstream print/TV/radio news media Press Relations with Social Media content marketing — to reach influencers.

It 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.)  I also pitch editors via Facebook or Twitter.

I build relationships with press and influencers. Some of them 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.

Over time, we create authentic, engaged communities who will be advocates of your brand. Who tell your story. Who spread the word for you. I believe in telling a story so compelling that the press call you.  The best press coverage always happens this way — pull not push.

Social media and PR are all about connections.

If you have just 1000 friends, and they each have 1000 friends, you can reach 1 million people with your network.

Think about it — you can reach 1 million people with a single post now.

That is the most amazing marketing bargain in history.

You can reach 1,000,000 people within a few minutes with great post on Facebook -- if it gets shared and syndicated. Only a few newspapers can reach that many readers (such as the New York Times or LA Times.)
You can reach 1,000,000 people within a few minutes with great post on Facebook — if it gets shared and syndicated. Only a few newspapers can reach that many readers (such as the New York Times or LA Times.).

You influence other influencers who reach other influencers. who spread the word. This exponentially amplifies your message.

There is no other way to do this — and all of the leading social media experts leverage their personal relationships on behalf of clients, just as publicists have for decades.


Reach early adopters

The way you get a paradigm shifting or disruptive technology launched is by first convincing the early adopters.

THE THREE PRIMARY EARLY ADOPTER COMMUNITIES:

  • Technology early adopters
  • LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability)
  • Transformational consumers

These are the three groups of people most likely to adopt and try a new idea or trend — and then spread the word about it.

You need to reach pundits, journalists, bloggers, reviewers, investors, analysts and influencers who spread the word to early adopters. The “I am the first on my block” trendsetters, hipsters, techies who dare to try new ideas.

Influence the influencers.
The secret to a successful product launch? Influence the influencers, beta testers, reference customers and early adopters. Like these folks willing to camp out for the new iPhone.

Via this selectively curated group of exceptionally networked people. (Malcolm Gladwell in “The Tipping Point” calls them “mavens” and “connectors”) I can reach millions in a few minutes.

Connect other connectors.

To “go viral” you need to reach other connectors who are connected with other communities outside your own.

Social networking is just like face to face networking. The whole point is to have a network that reaches other networks.

You are most effective when you network outside your network into new circles:

cropped-unify-community-influence-chart.jpg
How social media works: You are connecting different social networks and communities in order to generate huge influence. Generally each of these communities has influencers. The point is to identify the influencers and influence them so they spread the word to their networks for you

You can either pay for this with Facebook advertising — or do it manually by having relationships outside your network. I believe that doing a combination of both is most effective.

This is the #1 reason why your event, workshop or concert fails — and how to fix it.

I’ve probably promoted at least 100 events, conferences, concerts and festivals with social media by now, and over time, I’ve learned what works and what fails. Too many events lose heaps of money and fail, and it breaks my heart to see event producers make the same mistakes that lead over and over again to failure.

Most of these events make exactly the same mistake.

They treat their event like an annual product — instead of seeing it as a year round community.

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When you shift from “marketing” to your “customer” to “community building” and from “branding” to “belonging” you will see an exponential increase in loyalty.

Perhaps the two most successful examples of this is Burning Man — the annual temporary community in the desert, and the TED Conference.

Both TED and Burning Man began as annual events and splintered off into smaller, regional events all over the world that happen year round.

Both TED and Burning Man are events that grew up with the advent of email, the web and later, social media, and have built a presence that is equally strong in the virtual world and the “real world.”

Both TED and Burning Man have become desirable identities that symbolize a certain kind of “belonging” into a community that has meaning and status for its members.

Wisdom 2.0 Summit, which I had the opportunity to work with recently as a marketing consultant, is also cultivating and nurturing a year round brand that has created an almost fanatically loyal following that has now expanded into a global brand.

Musicians who have also very successfully built “families” instead of “brands” include the Grateful Dead and spin off bands like String Cheese Incident, who have cultivated fanatically devoted, year round tribal communities of their fans.  Most community symphonies, art museums and ballets also understand this and cultivate year round communities by selling season tickets and by offering special member-only events.

If you want a successful turn out for your retreat, workshop, conference, concert, festival or event you can NOT wait until the last two months to do your promotion, blast them with email and ads and expect everyone to drop everything in their life and rush out to come to your event.

You are building a community, a family, and you need to pay attention to and nurture your tribe all year long.

If you are a musician, speaker, producer, workshop leader, etc. you must build a virtual social media community and a real- world live event community 365 days/year and not just one month before your event.

  • You are not “selling tickets” — you are building a community!
  • You are not getting “fans to your fan page” — you are building a community!
  • You are not “adding names to your email list” — you are building a community!
  • You are not “advertising to total strangers” — you must build a community of people you know!

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes:

On any given day there are thousands of workshops, conferences and festivals competing for that holy grail customer–someone who has free time and $1500 lying around in spare change so they can just hop on a plane and indulge in a luxury yoga conference, writer’s conference, retreat, workshop or drive 500 miles to a festival.

Maybe .001% of the humans on this planet have unlimited free time, no job, no kids, no pets, no commitments and a fat trust fund to blow on your indulgent fantasy get away, elite conference or yoga retreat.

The rest of us — the 99.99 percent — have to plan all year for these events in advance. We save up, drive the kids to Grandma’s house, beg our employers to give us time off, find a petsitter or a dog sitter and someone to water our garden and we use our frequent flyer miles or shop around for the best possible airfare well in advance.

If we’re lucky, we can go to one or two of these events — and we’re selective.

Get real. Stop chasing after the same mythological fantasy customer who is rich, self actualized and has no commitments and unlimited free time.

How about building a community so real people with real lives will feel like the belong to a tribe — and absolutely must be at the tribe’s annual gathering, which they anticipate all year?

Build a community and your tribe will save up and plan all year to reconnect with their tribe at your event.

How to build a community:

Community = communicate + unity.  You must build an authentic community by engaging your tribe in a meaningful conversation. This means listening and dialogue — not just one way marketing at them.

Marketing is the conversation between people and brands!

Relationships are all we have. With the world around us, with other people, with ourselves. People are coming to your event for one reason — to meet and connect to a community. To belong to a community. To make friends, network and build relationships.

The community = your event.

The fan page = your event.

The email list = your event.

Stop marketing and start community building.

You must work at this 365 days/year — all year long. As you build your community, slowly, organically and gradually over time, you will not have to work so hard every year to “sell tickets.”

So who is in your community?

  • Fans and attendees
  • Performers, DJs, presenters, bands, workshop leaders.
  • The venue and the local community around the venue (including government agencies, city council, law enforcement, fire, neighbors, merchants, and others impacted by your event)
  • Consultants, employees, volunteers
  • Press and local media
  • Sponsors and vendors.

Try transforming your social media into a virtual version of your event. Engage your tribe in online teleseminars, video tutorials, photo albums, music.  Give them a taste, day by day, of what’s coming up.

Invite them to small day longs and social events before and after your big event — to keep the tribe activated and connected.

The more you think of your customers as a COMMUNITY and the less you think of them as REVENUE the more successful you will be.

Invest in building your community. This community will serve you for years to come.

Please, please, please… keep your social media names, logins and passwords simple!

"Give me the password to the email where you send the link to reset my password when I forget it, because I can’t remember that either."
“Give me the password to the email where you send the link to reset my password when I forget it, because I can’t remember that either.”

Did you know that business loses $38 biliion per year because employees can’t remember their passwords?  The average employee types passwords 4,000 times per year. For a social media pro with multiple clients, this must be tens of thousands of times per year.

And if there is a #1 thing that slows down social marketing and wastes time and money these days it’s having 10 different cryptic passwords and 8 different obtuse email addresses for all your social media accounts!  Especially when you have 6 social media pages and 10 people who need to be admins.

I’ve been doing social media for 7 years professionally and only once was a client’s Fan page hacked.

But 98% can’t remember their passwords!

Your poor marketing employees and social media folks have to log in and log out all day long using these obtuse passwords with multiple characters and symbols. So I recommend that you keep your passwords simple — even if that’s not the “secure” IT-sanctioned way. People need to continually use these passwords all day long. It’s adding an extra layer of confusion and complexity if they are complex.

According to eWeek, a survey of consumer users in 2014 revealed that companies lose more than $420 of productivity annually per employee due to workers merely wasting time with passwords.
For a company with 500 employees, the loss is equivalent to nearly $210,000 per year in productivity.

Your business social media content is 100% public and you want it to be as public as possible — so why are you worried about it staying private?

Who is going to hack into your Twitter account? Everything you do in Twitter is completely transparent and public anyway.

In the rare chance you get hacked, you will be able to change your password a lot faster if someone on your team can #$%^&*( remember it!

Keep it simple. Please.

99% of the CEOs and solopreneurs I work with also cannot find their log in emails and passwords and this can slow things down for days or weeks. I have one client who kept me waiting 4 weeks for the passwords while the meter was running!

One client never got started on her social media campaign and gave up because she couldn’t find her login and passwords.

Another could not remember where her website domain was created so we never got around to actually transferring a website I built over to her URL.

I have seen businesses scrap all their SEO and valuable fan base because they can’t remember their #$%^ log in and passwords!

The worst thing that happens is when the former social media manager gets fired and refuses to hand the login and passwords over and nobody knows them because only one person had access to this information.  This can literally bring your business to its knees for a few days.  And this happens a whole lot more than hacking.

If you are just starting out, this might not seem important, but someday in the future, when you get as big as you dream of growing, it will be.

And you won’t grow as fast as you want to if you can’t remember your logins and passwords.


TIPS FOR ORGANIZING YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS 

  • Create a shared Google Document or spreadsheet for storing the accounts, emails and passwords.
  • Invite all the members of the team in who will need access to these accounts.
  • Then create one company email address specifically for all of your social media pages. (Not the email of an employee who might leave).
  • I recommend one password for all your social accounts.
  • Change all of the passwords on a regular basis, as employees, agencies or consultants turn over.
  • Name every social media page the exact same name (preferably the actual name of your company, film, book or product) and reserve the URL for it. (Example: http://www.facebook.com/mycompany.)
  • Before you even name your business, book, film, band or product, check Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, WordPress, Domain.com and Instagram and make sure your name is actually available on all of these pages. It can be embarrassing if it’s not.
  • Don’t use a Yahoo or Gmail as your one email address — it needs to be http://www.yourcompany.com because some social media tools will only let you use a business email to establish your account.
  • When an employee leaves, or you stop using an agency, please remember to change the passwords and remove the admins. (I am still an admin on about 23 pages for projects I no longer work for, including clients who died and companies that no longer exist but still leave their Fan page up.)

What’s in a name? Everything! 10 reasons why naming strategy is crucial for your brand.

DownloadedFileI was talking to a client the other day who wanted more visibility. They had a hideously long URL for their company website.

I rolled my eyes. I immediately knew they were doomed to failure unless they changed their name.

I asked: “Is there any way you can find a shorter url?”

My prospective client hemmed and hawed about how attached he was to his ridiculously long company name.

There’s a reason why Google and Yahoo succeeded — and a host of other earlier search engine contenders like NorthernLights and AltaVista bombed.

There’s a reason why YouTube won the video wars and early contenders like, “uh, um, uh, whats their name, I forgot” failed.

Because YouTube is a freakin’ awesome brand. It says what it does. It has attitude. It’s memorable. You can spell it. It rhymes with things. It’s unique. It works in other languages and other cultures.

When I named my business, I spent an entire rainy day on Go Daddy typing things in at random until I found “Visibility Shift.”

Even though it’s not short, it’s memorable, it says exactly what it is.

And it’s relevant to my consulting practice, which is about shifting your visibility to a new level. I was absolutely floored when I discovered such a great website name was even available — and for $7.99.

Here are 10 reasons you want to take time to find a truly memorable stand out URL:
  1. It’s easier to type a short, memorable name – a long or unmemorable or hard to spell url just discourages people
  2. It’s memorable – (One word is best. Two words are ok. Three is just too much. Say it out loud. Can you pronounce it?)
  3. Searchability (SEO) – A name that isn’t unique is going to bring up millions of search results in Google. You want a unique URL so you are the first and only hit in Google, without having to pay $$$$ to Google for adwords.
  4. International localization – remember the web is global and your name has to translate easily into other languages — so it’s better if it’s not a word in any language.  Run your name past some friends who speak other languages and some translation software and make sure it doesn’t translate into something embarrassing. (The Chevy Nova flopped in Mexico because “No Va” means “Won’t Run.”) Say it out loud again. Does it sound like something obscene in Chinese?
  5. Put less words on your site, more pictures. Especially remember that the web is international and words need to be translated.  So the fewer words, the more universal your message is.  Learn from the success of big brands like Apple and Google who take a less is more approach.
  6. It doesn’t have to be a .com — You can be successful with a .us, .tv, etc. For example, Delicio.us. And that’s even shorter.
  7. Groupon is successful in large part because their name rocks. “Group + coupon.” Brilliant. Memorable. Unique. Short. Tells you what it is.
  8. Get your name first before you spend time and money branding it. Changing your name later is very costly and it means you are undoing all the work you did on public relations, marketing and social media outreach.  (Did you know that AirBnB was originally called “Airbed and Breakfast”? Seriously! The airbed rental idea flopped so they shortened it.)
  9. VCs look at your brand and name as a big reason to invest. A great logo, web design, business card, brand and name are almost as important as the product or technology behind the brand.
  10. Think about web branding when you name your products — and your kids, too. I’m grateful that my mother, very ahead of her time, gave me a name that is so unique that I go to the top of Google. Check that name out in Facebook, Twitter and Google and make sure it’s available. (The reverse applies if you want to protect your privacy — then John Doe is the way to go.) Consider adding a unique middle name to your name that describes what you do so you stand out. (ie: David “Avocado” Wolfe is a speaker in the health food field.)
This advice applies to any personal or corporate brand — a musician, band, artist, writer, book title or film. Choose your name carefully and snap up the URL as soon as you can, even if you end up sitting on it for years before you get your project started.
For more information about naming, visit Name Wire a blog about naming.

Pinterest is the marketing bargain of the century — free.

Pinterest is not just for recipe clipping anymore -- I predict it will dominate social media in a few years.  Are you using Pinterest yet?

This month, something incredible and unexpected happened. My traffic on the social media site, Pinterest, suddenly surged to 5,616 visits per DAY. (43,000 per month.)

At this rate, more than 2 million people could visit my Pinterest page this year.

Compare this to Twitter, where I obsessively tweet 20 times a day to get maybe a few retweets or this blog, which takes all year to reach 20,000 readers.

How did this happen?

What’s really strange is, I didn’t plan on becoming a Pinterest rock star. Pinterest is just a hobby, something I do for fun. But my Pinterest page has taken on a life of its own — pollinating pins throughout the Internet.

The Pinterest statistics (available because I created a Business account) tell me that most of my viewers are women, West Coast American, Canadian and Aussies, and that they, no surprise, are interested in exactly the same things that I adore — bohemian fashion, DIY found object crafts, rustic gardens, sacred interiors, the outdoors, flea market finds, vintage trailers, hammocks in the trees, outdoor music festivals, healthy food.

It’s a look and aesthetic that is distinctly me — and somehow citizens of Pinterest have decided I’m some sort of low rent Boho Martha and they like my style.

And clients tell me: “Meh….Pinterest is a waste of time for our brand.”

Not!

Just look at the statistics and growth on my page:

Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 10.38.20 PM
If my website got traffic like this, I’d be in the top 1% of websites in the USA. Pins get shared — and as they travel, your traffic grows.

Pinterest does something that no other (free) marketing tool has ever done. It sends your “pin” like a little document, all over the planet — like a seed blowing in the wind. And everywhere it goes, this pin points back to your website. Where you are driving traffic to your webpage. Forever.

  • Pinterest users’ average purchase value is 126% more than Facebook users.
  • 47% of US online shoppers made a purchase based on recommendations from Pinterest, beating FaceBook & Twitter.
  • Pinterest is the 2nd largest driver of social media traffic after Facebook. 

Pinterest is the marketing and search engine traffic-driving (SEO) bargain of the century. And yet so few brands (except the really big consumer food brands) are taking it seriously yet.  Again, look at the traffic statistics for just one month:

Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 10.39.31 PM
That’s 43,000 views this month. Why? And how do I make money from this? Pinterest’s stats reveal some clues: the brands that my followers like, the products they buy.

I have only 1700 followers on Pinterest, but those pinners can reach 2,000,000 people/year.

But wait this is what is truly amazing, and what most people do not “get” about Pinterest yet — those people don’t even need to be on Pinterest. My pins could land on Twitter, in a blog, Facebook, Instagram, another website, an email — who knows.  Pins, unlike Facebook, G+, Twitter or LinkedIn posts, are incredibly viral.

Pinterest is even more viral than other forms of social media posting because they are not tied to Pinterest — each and every one of those “seeds” it sends out, in the form of a pin, will link back to your website — forever — no matter how often it is repinned or where it lands.  While you can technically do this by sharing or embedding a Tweet or a YouTube video, it is just much more sharable and easier to do with Pinterest.

ARE YOU GETTING THIS YET? This is like, you can reach as many people with a Pinterest page than the entire circulation of the Los Angeles Times. More people than a Superbowl ad on TV.

For free.

And you still think Pinterest is “just for housewives in the Midwest posting recipes?”

Contact Giselle Bisson if you’re interested in learning how you can leverage Pinterest to help your start up start up, build your personal brand or drive more traffic to your website.

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

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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.

Remembering Windows 1.0 — 29 years ago today.

young_gates
 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 — long live social PR

pr is dead 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.