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.

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.

Is Facebook fan page advertising useless?

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.)

This week, a controversial Gallup poll declared that social media was all but useless, and that nobody was influenced by social media ads and it was all a bunch of hooey.

I was immediately suspicious that results from the Gallup survey were skewed by the print and TV media. Mainstream media are late to the social game and totally threatened by the amazing reach of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and You Tube — now reaching millions and even hundreds of millions–numbers that vastly exceed print media.

They’re also probably very threatened by Facebook advertising, which is much cheaper than print/broadcast, and reaches that oh so desirable Millennial demographic that doesn’t read or watch TV anymore.

Since I live in Facebook stats all day long, I know the truth — one post can reach more people than an article in the New York Times. Sure, Rupert Murdoch and Ted Turner are no doubt losing sleep over that.

Facebook ads, and Yelp, also, can be targeted with laser-like focus on extremely niche local demographics — something print media can’t do quite as well because print is either niche and national or broad and local . Print media and TV are rarely niche and local.

Internet radio still does a lousy job of targeting its ads to any meaningful niche. Local radio still thrives because it’s both targeted and local.

I’ve been doing PR (press relations) since the days when we used fax machines and FedEx — before the Internet existed. Back then, print media was king. Getting an article that reached 100,000 readers in a national print magazine was a big deal. I think some people are still attached to the “prestige” of Print but do not realize that they can actually reach bigger numbers with social media, with far more control over their message.

Print is still very valuable — but now more because it drives traffic to your website and gives you SEO rank in Google.

In the good old days, it was an even bigger deal to end up in a big newspaper like the New York Times and reach 1 million readers. If you got on TV you might (woo hoo) reach an aggregate of 2 million people through multiple TV news stories and a video news release after spending $250,000 on a press conference and a product launch.

Times have changed. Now you can reach just as many people in a few minutes with a single Facebook post or self syndicated blog post — or half a billion with a You Tube video.

PR IS DEAD — LONG LIVE SOCIAL MEDIA?

I’ve been saying “PR is dead,  long live Social PR” for a few years now. I was a little ahead of the curve. I was also sitting around listening to the phone not ring from PR clients, and watching stories not appear in publications that were disappearing, so I was ahead of the curve and got into social media.

Now it’s clear that shift has happened.

Social media is not optional anymore. If you’re not leveraging social media to amplify your message, it’s as if you don’t exist.

Social media is now the front line of most successful marketing programs. Social media is where you distribute your message first — and later it’s picked up by the news media.

(The exception is if you are a publicly-traded company. If so, then SEC regulations require that you announce news on the newswire first, and your key media are pre-briefed under a non disclosure agreement.)

Traditional PR is still very important, but it serves a different role now–in tandem with social media. After your story appears in the news media, they use their larger networks to “syndicate” your message to their networks. You then in turn amplify the message further by syndicating their content on your networks.

Articles and reviews in mainstream media also provide credibility and great content for your website and social media to leverage, and they will boost your search rank (SEO) in Google forever.

WITH SOCIAL MEDIA, YOU MAKE YOUR OWN NEWS

Social media is the “information hub” of your marketing wheel — and your personal social networks at the “hub” that links to other social networks and communities worldwide. The press and publications are some of those networks–but no longer the primary one.

In the old days, you sent press releases to actual members of the press for distribution. Newswires were only available to the press.

Nowadays, you are the press and you syndicate your news over social media, in addition to the press. A press release on the wire now reaches everyone on the planet at once.

Here’s an example of the reach a press release typically gets now on the Internet. As days go by, this number increases, infinitely, and many of these impressions remain on the web forever.  A press release mentioning a company traded on NYSE or NASDAQ would get much more impressions — this was what I got for a small business — 32,000 in two days. This doesn’t include the amplification from self syndicating this story on the client’s social networks. It would be difficult for a small business to get out the word that fast with traditional media.

Example of the traffic generate in two days from a well written, key word tagged press release.
Example of the traffic generate in two days from a well written, key word tagged press release for a small business.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SOCIAL MEDIA CONNECTS COMMUNITIES GLOBALLY

Here’s another example of that from the Unify.org campaign that illustrates how the Unify Facebook fan page links to other Fan pages and organizations, creating huge amplification for each post. (A single Unify post is often shared more than 5,000 times, reaching literally millions of people worldwide with no advertising.) Even with Facebook’s new restrictions, by utilizing this kind of networking, you can spread your message very rapidly and globally.

Illustration of overlapping social media communities. This strategy helped build Unify.org into one of the largest communities on Facebook. I helped write the strategic plan for Unify and was part of the core group of social media experts behind Unify.
Illustration of overlapping social media communities. This strategy helped build Unify.org into one of the largest communities on Facebook. I helped write the strategic plan for Unify and was part of the core group of social media experts behind Unify.

This strategy helped build Unify.org into one of the largest communities on Facebook. I helped write the initial strategic social media plan for Unify and was part of the core group of social media experts that helped ramp the page up. This is now one of the most viral social media communities on the planet.

As you can see in the screen shot above, it’s very possible to reach 1 million people with a single post if it’s shared, tagged and amplified with well targeted paid Facebook “boosting.” 


 

15 free tips to boost your “organic” SEO and get more traffic for your website in the new year.

SEO? It's all about storytelling. Today people discover you through your stories. Make yours worth sharing.
Can anyone find your old static website?
Use the right words so people can find your blog in Google.Advertising, as the saying goes, is the awareness you pay for.

Advertising is the awareness you pay for. And PR is the awareness you pray for.

Today, “PR” includes social media and “content marketing” — and that means “the visual stuff with words on it.”  But to make people aware of your content, they need to be able to find it in Google. And this is why “organic” reach or Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is so important.

Great traffic means a lower Alexa rank. The lower your Alexa score, the more people are visiting your site, and the more “relevance” it has in the search engines like Google. (Alexa.com is the site that ranks other websites according to their popularity.) My Alexa rank continues to soar, and has surged from the top 12 million sites in the world, to the top 4 million.  (I started the blog about two years ago.)

This is pretty amazing considering the fact that I am not specifically trying to drive traffic to this site, which is primarily a personal blog to promote my consulting practice.

My traffic is 100% “organic” reach — that means I get these visitors without paying for for advertising, Google Ad Words, Facebook ads, banners or link exchanges.

Here’s what I do to boost my SEO — and how you can use these techniques to boost traffic on your own site.

1. Content, content, content.

That is, just write interesting stuff. Write well. Be opinionated. Be a little controversial. Controversial, emotional, engaging content will get read and spread.

2. Teach and inform. Don’t just talk about yourself.

Create “how to” articles that teach others how to do what you do. Share information and don’t just promote yourself all the time. In fact, don’t promote yourself, ever, except in your bio and “about” section. Tell, don’t sell.

3. Use WordPress.

Build your website on WordPress — not a static website. If you already invested in a static website, add a WordPress blog tab to your site.  Why? Because WordPress is very well optimized for search engines.  WordPress also automatically syndicates your stories to other WordPress sites, and it also makes it very easy to tag your stories, videos and photos with juicy keywords.

4. Use lots of words on WordPress.

I know the current fad is towards “visual” websites and not a lot of words — but the fact is, Google and other search engines search for words, so use lots of them, and use the right ones.

Also make sure to write captions and search-worthy tags for every photo you use, so these photos can be found in search engines.

5. Think like a search engine.

What phrases do people search for? What questions do they ask that apply to your field or product? Answer those questions with your content.

7. Syndicate to all of your social media pages.

You can set this up in WordPress to syndicate your posts automatically when they are published so your posts go to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. Services like Networked Blogs also help amplify your reach. A new service, Thunderclap can dramatically amp up posts for cause-related content and non profits.

8. Feed your social media pages into your site.

Syndicate the content into your page — and out of it. The more it flows, the more traffic you might get.  There are free widgets that make this simple to add a fan page, Instagram or Pinterest

feed to your blog.

9. Add easy to find “share this” buttons to make it simple for others to share your content.

Sounds obvious, but you would not believe how many businesses bury these icons on the bottom of their website. Bring them to the top and make them big, easy to see and find if people are reading on a small screen mobile device.

10. Comment on other people’s blogs, especially major news sites.

Once a week or so, while reading the news, make relevant comments as an authority in your field on other blogs and news sites — particularly if they are comments on topical news of the day. This brings curious people to your page and builds links to your site.  Share these stories with #hashtags that refer to the Trending Topics and news of the day.

11. Discipline yourself to post at least once a week.

The more you write, the more you post, the more you share — the higher your Google rank and relevance and the more traffic you get.

12. Send out press releases

Press releases are the most amazing traffic generator, period. Ever. You can use free press release sites if you can’t afford a professional news wire, but I recommend paying for PR Web which is highly SEO optimized.

13. Get mentioned in “real” media. (That is, do PR.)

One fantastic article in a major newspaper like the New York Times can permanently shift your business to a new level, boost page rank — and generate traffic to your website forever.  Yes you will need to hire a professional PR agency (like me) to get this kind of coverage. Be patient as it can take many months, and be prepared to pay through the nose. It’s worth it.

Or try this yourself — some people naturally have a gift for PR and can do it themselves.

14. Use Pinterest to generate permanent links back to your site.

Publish your WordPress photos from your WordPress articles as Pinterest posts — and then go back in and “tag” the posts with keyword-rich phrases and URLs so the pins show up in Google. Tremendous traffic builder.

15. Make your website worth coming back to.

I know this sounds obvious, but why are you wasting your time driving traffic to a website unless it’s going to close the deal and make the sale once people arrive? Make sure you have a way to sign up subscribers to your newsletter, capture visitors’ emails and lead them to follow your Social Media pages so you can bring them back again and again.

SEO? It's all about storytelling. Today people discover you through your stories. Make yours worth sharing.
SEO? It’s all about storytelling. Today people discover you through your stories. Make yours worth sharing.

What makes you influential on social media? (It’s not what you think.)

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What makes you influential on social media?

Just as in mainstream journalism, great content is key. Great headlines grab the reader. Posting frequently and regularly and being the first to break the news is key.

And just as magazines have long known, pass along readership is key to great circulation.

But the main thing that sets social media influencers apart (and sets social media apart from traditional “journalism”) is that they are followed by people who they themselves have strong networks.

An influencer might reach only 1000 people — but those 1000 people also reach 1000 highly connected and active people and so on and so on…which means within seconds, they can reach millions. Which is how revolutions like the Occupy movement and #Egypt managed to spread like viral wildfire.  And why your boring: “I just announced a new product” or “Please like my business” plea is often ignored.

As Haydn Shaughnessy wrote yesterday in Forbes:

“What behaviors make the key difference for people who want to elevate their status online?”  He breaks it down to:

  • Being active in a sufficient number of channels
  • Creating and maintaining a high quality network
  • Frequency of participation
But there’s more.

Social Media is interactive. To have real influence you need to be “social” — and that’s where 99.7% of businesses go wrong.

Social media not a press release or an advertisement — it’s an interactive conversation.  If your content is so engaging and interesting that followers feel compelled to repeat it–you will be retweeted and shared, and quickly reach tens of thousands or even millions of people.

Don’t ignore social media. It won’t go away.

8732_164696916792_628241792_3196283_6332174_s.jpgQ: “What’s the worst thing you can do with social media?”

A: “Ignore it.”

And that’s what most corporations (and small businesses) did in 2009 and 2010. They ignored social media, or they barely paid lip service to it. Business tried to co-opt social media and failed miserably. Businesses tried to ignore social media and it didn’t go away. It turned around and bit them in the…well you know.

They made many of the same “penny wise, pound foolish” mistakes with Social Media that businesses make with PR.

If you ignore the media, they won’t go away. Well, if you ignore the people (the social media) they won’t go away either. Better to act than react.

1. Outsource your social media monitoring and blogging to India. (Watch the TV show “Outsourced” for some hilarious examples of why the culture of India might not relate to your purely American brand they’ve never used before.)

2. Equating something new with “young” and take a misguided trendy approach to social media hiring. (“He has a shaggy haircut like Chad Hurley and cool eyeglass frames! That must mean he knows something about social media and our target Gen Y audience!”)  While sometimes you can luck out and get a very sharp intern who will do your social media for free (for a while) why would you trust your most visible communications to someone who doesn’t even sit at a desk inside your company?

3. Assuming that the audience for Social Media is Gen Y. (The average age of a Facebook user is Gen X, 38, with half the users firmly in the Baby Boom Generation.)

4. Pay a fortune for boring, self serving fake “user generated” videos that never went “viral” on You Tube. (The Hollywood film “2012” with it’s fake user news coverage on You Tube was particularly transparent.)

5. Build a visually tricked out Fan page that nobody ever “likes” and then spam Twitter with advertisements, contests and coupons.

6. Tweet or post as an impersonal logo or “the brand”, instead of an engaging personality. (Do I really want to be a Fan of Victoria’s Secret Corp.? No. But I might want to be friends with a Victoria’s Secret Super Model.) Do I want to be a Twitter friend with a fertilizer company? No. But I might want to get Tweets from a funky, clever cartoon cow who talks about composting and gives me organic gardening tips. Do you really want to be friends with GE? But you might want to learn more or ask questions about about a specific GE product you own.

7. Tweet or post positive comments as a fake employee or fake customer.  This can be a good tactic if you hire someone outside the company to do the posting.  A little positive news can help turn a negative tide around. Just don’t post from a computer that can be traced to an email address or ID inside your company!

8. Lump Social Media in with SEO/SEM and online marketing. Search Engine Optimization, (SEO) is about generating hits to your website in Google. SEO has absolutely nothing to do with managing your company’s brand reputation or responding to media inquiries when a problem suddenly goes viral. This is why so much early Social Media seemed as intrusive and spammy as a direct mail campaign. And why so many social campaigns were ignored until they erupted into viral PR disasters.

7 lazy ways to shamelessly promote your blog and social media posts to get more traffic

Put your social media on autopilot - reach thousands of influencers, worldwide while you're still asleep or drinking your first cup of coffee.

 

1. Use “Share This” widgets to shamelessly self promote.

Whether you’re using WordPress or any other blogging or web development tool, you can use the “Share This” widget on your website to quickly promote your posts .  Just install the widget on your site and right after you file your post share it shamelessly! Take an hour and share your story with every possible site out there–especially Digg and StumbleUpon. The more you share, the more links you are generating back to your site — and the more traffic you’ll get.

2. Use the “Publicize This” feature in Wordpress.

Yesterday WordPress announced some improvements to make their Publicize This feature more friendly.  Follow the instructions and watch your traffic soar.

3. Time your posts strategically.

In the world of old school journalism and PR, we have learned to strategically project which times and days will generate the most pick up for a news announcement. Tuesday at 8 am EST is when I’ve found press releases get the most pickup.

Why? Because on Monday at 8 am, everyone’s still groggy and drinking coffee (or they’re rolling in late to the office, or sitting in meetings.)

Tuesday is when business gets rolling. And it’s the day when publications traditionally have their story meetings.

Wednesday is the day the weeklies traditionally file their stories.

Thursday is still ok, but your story might get forgotten by the following Monday when reporters are writing again.

To bury bad news, you use reverse psychology. To bury bad news, announce on Friday afternoon, or right before a holiday weekend when everyone’s jetting out of town early. (This is the day for announcing the departure of a CEO or dismal profits that you don’t want to influence the market with.)

Well, I’ve discovered the same theory works with blogging, Tweeting and Facebook:

Tuesday at 9 am EST is the perfect time for a Tweet or post you want to get noticed because:

- It’s 9 am on the East Coast and everyone’s drinking coffee and checking their email, Twitter and Facebook.

- It’s 12 noon on the West Coast and everyone’s checking their social media profiles while on lunch break.

- It’s 6 pm in London, and everyone’s finished their work day and are checking their PCs.

There are lots of tools that help you write your Twitter posts in advance and time them. WordPress also let’s you schedule a post in advance so it blasts out just at the right time.  Marketing consultant Gary McCaffree has this great chart that helps you predict the “sweet spot” for a Tweet — he says the best time is between 9 am and 3 pm.

4. Have everything connected so your WordPress updates your Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, automatically.

This is so easy and so potent. (And you can even rig it so that it’s on autopilot while you’re still asleep — tricking your clients and colleagues into thinking you are a hard working early riser!)

- Set up the Wordbook plug in to post your WordPress to your Facebook wall.

- Now set up the WordPress to Twitter plug in so that your WordPress post automatically goes out to your Twitter subscribers.

- And use the Twitter to Linked in widget to set things up so your Tweet automatically updates your LinkedIn status.

Wow! You just got out the word to thousands of professional connections while you were still asleep!

5. Use a press release to dramatically boost your story’s pick up.

There are hundreds of free press release sites that will help you blast out your story to the planet, or you can use a professional press release wire service for a fee.  You can time your news in advance to go out at a strategic time, and you can load up your press release with key words that will make it stand out in the search engines. Plus, if you use a paid newswire, your news will automatically go out into Yahoo News and Google News where it’s picked up like an AP or Reuter’s newswire story.

With one well written article or news release, I have consistently generated from 50,000 to 100,000 links back to a client’s website. (That’s not a typo.)  And your traffic will only increase as spiders and bots pick up your news, reprint it on RSS feeds and blogs throughout the web, and yes, generate more links back to your blog which in turn permanently increase traffic and search rank.

But the key word here is “well written.” You can’t get this kind of pick up for self serving fluff — your content has to be genuinely newsworthy, interesting, engaging, funny, controversial, keyword-rich or relevant. If you’re not a wordsmith, hire a professional.  Ultimately it’s a juicy headline and great content that gets noticed, reprinted, passed along virally and linked to.

6. Time your email newsletter to go out at the same time.

Start a news virus! Put your blog post in your email newsletter and time it to go out simultaneously to your customers, internal company employees, investors, partners, influencers and your press/blogger list.  With everyone hearing about your news announcement at the same time, it has more psychic impact and feels more important.  Also it’s courteous to give the news to your most valued contacts just as it goes out to the blogosphere.

7. Spin it and send it out again.

Tweet your story several times in one day or week by simply spinning your Tweet slightly and changing the headline to focus on a different aspect of the story. For example, my headline here is: “7 lazy ways to shamelessly promote your blog posts.” My next headline could be: “7 lazy ways to get more traffic on your website,” and then “7 shamelessly lazy ways to get more Twitter traffic,” and then, “Get more web traffic while you’re still asleep,” and so on… and yes, you can even set them up in advance so they go out on autopilot.

Well, (gloat, gloat) just wanted to let you know that this post went out to thousands of friends and influencers, all over the planet, boosted my search rank and increased my credibility while I was lounging around doing my morning yoga and drinking my first cup of coffee.

That’s why I love social media!