Tips on Video: B2B Facebook, Social ROI & Repurposing Social Content

November 30, 2010 by  
Filed under B2B, Online Marketing, Social Media, Social Media ROI

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While traveling recently in New Zealand and a short stay in Sydney, Australia I shot a few videos offering social media marketing tips. Check them out below and you can also view many other tips videos and interviews we’ve done with search and social media marketing experts on the  TopRank Online Marketing YouTube Channel.

Tips on Social Media ROI from Sydney Australia near the famous Opera House & Sydney Harbour Bridge. Sorry about the wind, it messed with the audio a bit. I need to get a Zi8 and a microphone!

Common B2B Facebook Myths from Rangitoto Island, off Auckland, New Zealand. (From an old Army bunker near the mouth of a 600 year old volcano actually)

Tips on Repurposing Social Content from Queenstown, New Zeland on the shore of Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables Mountain range.

Obviously I have a ways to go before making these kinds of videos really good.  Simply creating an outline script and adding a microphone and tripod would probably make a big difference vs. using a Lumix and making it up as I go.

Despite the non-existent production value, I am curious if readers of Online Marketing Blog are interested in this kind of thing.  I don’t plan on posting them all here, but will likely draw attention to one per trip and post the rest to our YouTube channel.  Is this format of any interest to you?  What do you think of video previews for a longer blog post?

Thanks for watching and reading.


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Tips on Video: B2B Facebook, Social ROI & Repurposing Social Content | http://www.toprankblog.com

Which Flavor of Social Commerce Is Right For You?

November 29, 2010 by  
Filed under Online Marketing, Social Media, Social Media ROI

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Social Commerce Flavors

Photo credit: timtak via Flickr

Social Commerce is a very hot topic right now with numerous blog posts, articles and even a few events focused on ecommerce and social media.

Adding ecommerce functionality to social sites is something that I’ve wondered about for quite a while:

“What I’d like to see more of is the availability of basic ecommerce functions as plug ‘n play options with major blog software packages. Blogs are good for business, big and small and I think there’s a lot of opportunity for business and value for consumers with ecommerce blogs.” Dec 28, 2005.

Too bad I wasn’t more of an advocate for social commerce since, but then again, consumers haven’t really responded well to shopping implementations with social media sites until recently, if at all.

Overt marketing messages have not traditionally been very welcome within social channels but as more brands become involved, consumers are expecting more than being able to comment, rate and share.

When considering the question of ecommerce and social media, I think there are two fundamental approaches to consider:

Adding social media features to existing ecommerce websites.

Levis Facebook Like

Examples of this are abundant now, especially with the addition of Facebook Like buttons on shopping sites and the ubiquitous social news, bookmarking and Tweet this buttons. See a great pair of jeans on Levis.com? There’s a Facebook Like button there to share it with friends, to get opinions or just let them know what you found. The Digital IQ Index Specialty Retail report (download pdf) from earlier this year found: “Retailers who currently host the “like“ button on their site demonstrated 80 percent higher average three-month traffic growth.”

Effect of Social Features on Traffic for Retail WebsitesOther social features that have long been in place with ecommerce and shopping sites include ratings and reviews which are well entrenched in certain industries like travel & hospitality. Adding links to social sites a company is active on is a pretty common feature for services like Google Places.

Plus servies like Groupon adds an entirely different angle to social and commerce.

Adding social features to existing commerce platforms and situations is the low hanging fruit of social commerce at the moment and studies like this one from Eventbrite show a clear revenue benefit. I suspect its something consumers are starting to expect.

When I was in a somewhat remote place last week on the South island of New Zealand, I noticed the standard “Visit us online at companysite.com” was often replaced with: “Visit us online at (followed by Facebook and Twitter icons). I’m sure you’ve seen such signage in storefront windows in your town as well. Social connections are becoming part of expected exchanges between consumers and the brands they buy from. The opportunity for brands is, how relevant and useful (and easy) can they make these exchanges as part of the customer relationship?

Adding sharing, interaction, rating/review or even something like group buying to a web property that is already perceived as a destination for ecommerce transactions is an easier thing to do than adding ecommerce to a social media site and it’s likely perceived as more appropriate. It’s a way of showing that the brand isn’t just about selling product/services, but that its open to connecting and useful engagement too. Companies are increasingly rewiring more than their web sites for such social commerce.

Incorporating ecommerce functionality within social media websites.

Target Facebook Club Wedd Fan PageEarly adopters for adding ecommerce and transaction capabilities within social media sites include Brooks Brothers and 1800Flowers with storefronts and Walmart with a deals app on Facebook. Another major retailer, Target, put searchable product inventory on Facebook as part of their Club Wedd registery offering, but the actual transactions take place on the Target.com website.

It’s still early days for finding the right way to add ecommerce functionality within a communication environment that is intended to be social, not transactional. Of the early adopters that added online stores to Facebook or their blogs, I do wonder how profitable those initiatives are at this point.

My cautious optimism about social ecommerce doesn’t mean I don’t think it’s an area that will take hold. I do, as long as merchants can make the buying experience part of the social experience. I suspect that’s going to be different by industry and community.

What do you think?

Are social networks and media sites ready and appropriate for transactional ecommerce functionality? How seriously should brands take the opportunity for order capture within social media sites?

From a consumer perspective, have you ever ordered something within Facebook or another social media site? If you’ve checked in out and didn’t why not? If you did, what made you comfortable and would you do it again?

In fact, let’s take a formal poll on which “flavor” of social commerce our readers are implementing most:

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post’s poll.


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Which Flavor of Social Commerce Is Right For You? | http://www.toprankblog.com

Developing Personas for Better Social Media Marketing

November 26, 2010 by  
Filed under Online Marketing, Social Media, social media marketing

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personasDemystifying better social media marketing often starts with doing a better job of connecting with customers. But how can you connect with customers if you don’t know who they are?

Do you know who your customers are? Do you know what they search for and talk about on social networks? What influences them to buy or to recommend things to others?

While I’m pretty sure an entire book or two could be written about the details behind the art and science of developing personas and profiles, here are a few quick tips you can implement right now to get started.

I first heard of personas from Shar VanBoskirk of Forrester at a MIMA Summit in 2005. She discussed methodology for persona development and it seemed a very smart way to better segment and personalize marketing communications to be more relevant and effective. At the time, there weren’t a lot of resources for small businesses to implement.

To start, here are some considerations:

  • What are your customers content preferences?
  • How do they discover, consume & share content?
  • What are they looking for on search engines and discussing on the social web?

The answers to questions like these can help marketers make important decisions about content marketing strategy, social media channels of focus and measurement via social monitoring and web analytics.

Developing a profile involves collecting data, aggregating and analyzing it into profiles and maintaining the personas based on ongoing measurement and analysis.

Starting point: Getting data to develop personas. Here are a few ideas on where to get the information from which you can aggregate profiles representing customer segments you’re trying to engage:

  • Survey existing customers aka “Ask them”
  • Web analytics & conversion data
  • Social media listening tools
  • Demographic info from Quantcast, Compete
  • Keyword info SEMRush, Google
  • Engagement info from PostRank
  • Aggregate social network information from Flowtown, Rapleaf (assuming you have an email list)

The data you collect can be compiled and analyzed to reveal common characteristics for persona development. Then that persona can guide everything from the kind of content planned on landing pages, blogs and social media. It can also guide engagement via social channels.

I’ll follow this post up with another giving a few examples of how persona’s can be put into action.

If you’ve tested or implemented personas with social media marketing, please share your experiences. What worked? What didn’t? What questions do you have?


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What Does Real Social Media Success Look Like?

social media roiAs I’ve been able to travel and meet marketers all over the U.S. and in other countries, I am always interested in learning how companies are viewing the value of their social media efforts.

Marketing investments should be predicated by more than chasing the competition, satisfying someone’s ego or acting solely on a gut feeling. A good handle on goals, resources and target audience help determine strategy and tactics as well as how outcomes are measured. This is the case with even the most fundamental of marketing programs. With that kind of basic framework, implementing and measuring value from social media shouldn’t be that different.

Because so much actual marketing is tactical, many companies see social media simply as another of those tactics and evaluate one-off promotional efforts for ROI without considering the bigger picture. It’s very much a situation of not seeing the forest for the trees.

Imagine this scenario:

A competitor’s YouTube video is getting significant play amongst the Twitterati, on industry blogs and even a few mentions by traditional media. The CEO sees this, asks the VP of Marketing where things are at with social media and the VP tasks the Marketing Director with creating a “viral” video.  The Marketing Manager engages an outside “social media expert” at an advertising agency to create a video that will show how edgy, clever and innovative the company is.

A YouTube channel is created, the video is uploaded and ads are purchased to drive traffic.  A SEO consultant is hired to help the video “go hot” and submits, votes, rates, reviews etc with their network to boost social sharing of the video with the hopes that there are enough social signals for the video to hit the home page of Digg, Delicious along with getting ample play on StumbleUpon, Reddit and maybe even a few prominent blogs.

The video gets shared, Tweeted, voted on and submitted, much to the satisfaction of the Marketing chain of command. The stats are reported to the CEO:  Video creation cost: $15k. Video advertising cost: $5k. SEO promotion: $5k. A total of $25k is spent on creation and promotion of the video.

The return?  12,000 views on YouTube, 100 comments (mostly positive), 320 Tweets/ReTweets, 40 Likes on Facebook, 115 saves on Delicious, 35 comments on the blog post that embedded the video plus 6,750 unique visitors. Also, mentions on 4 industry blogs, 105 inbound links to the blog post from other websites/blogs and mentions by 3 industry publications.

Was it a success?

Many large companies wouldn’t blink at a 25k investment for an online video that returned the stats above. Plus the video will continue to see visibility since it can be discovered by search indefinitely (as long as its online).

Instead of the simple math of calculating cost per views, comments, Tweets, Likes, links, visits, mentions etc, I think there are some important questions to consider:

  • What was the business goal for the video?
  • Did the video reach influencers of customers?
  • Did the video reach customers?
  • Did the video influence behaviors that could result in business outcomes?
  • How does the video fit within other social media communications?
  • Will there be more than just one video?

On one level, the video will be reported and accepted as a success because of gross reach. In fact, it is definitely a success in that way. On another level, it’s debatable whether the video connected the brand with customers – either directly or indirectly. How much impact can one business video have?

Rather than thinking whether the video promotion was a success or not, one might first consider what goal the company is trying to achieve (besides having a video more popular than the competition).

This is the type of scenario that often typifies companies evaluating the value of their social media efforts.  Some go so far as trying to measure direct lead generation as a result of a video promotion like the one above. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it seems that social media marketing efforts would be far more effective when goals, customer needs and a plan for making a meaningful connection are intentional vs. leaving it to chance.  There seems to be a lot of causation statements being made by social media marketing folks when at best, they’re talking about correlation.

Social media marketing has a lot of measurement issues to solve and at the same time, there’s an opportunity for marketers to take a step back and put their social media tactics in perspective and try to see where they fit in the whole.

Sometimes it seems a little too inconvenient for marketers (and their agencies or consultants) to do more than spike social proof numbers to create warm fuzzies in the C-Suite vs. actually influencing measurable business goals.   Maybe its the real-time nature of the social web and the expectation of quick results that creates the rush.

There’s always a place for testing, but I’d be curious to know how often companies and consultants are executing social media tactics as pure tests without audience insight or specific goals. Some companies can probably make due with a “make it up as you go” perspective, but who has the time to see if that works vs following a methodology?


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© Online Marketing Blog, 2010. |
What Does Real Social Media Success Look Like? | http://www.toprankblog.com

Marketing Content During the Customer Life Cycle

content marketing life cycleWe’ve established the value of content marketing here through many different posts. Most of the focus has been on creating value from content at the top of the funnel in a buying cycle. That’s where a lot of marketing dollars are focused and it’s an area of focus for the consulting offered by many online marketing agencies.

Content is the source of why search engines exist and therefore, essential for any discussion of SEO. Content is also the means through which brands engage customers on the social web through helpful information, resources, advertorial and even entertainment.

Another perspective to consider is that when brands and individuals share information on social networks and media sharing sites the outcome is content. There are many ways to be more effective with social content creation, sharing and engagement that marketers are not taking advantage of.

From an overall marketing and customer engagement perspective, all content is not created equal. Any kind of content isn’t appropriate in any kind of situation despite what recent content advocates would have you believe.  Since much of the focus of online marketing is on customer acquisition, many SEO efforts emphasize transaction or lead generation outcomes. That’s what they’re held accountable for. Unfortunately, search to purchase or social to purchase are not the only ways people interact with information online. Research before purchase as well as education and support afterwards are also important.

Being in the “brand as publisher” business is better than not creating any content at all, but it’s a much more effective thing to be purposeful in content creation & marketing according to the full customer experience. Seeing content engagement opportunities holistically can provide a company more ways to initiate, maintain and enhance customer relationships.

For example, in the context of online marketing, there are many different touch points during the customer relationship. Using the Buying Cycle model of: Awareness, Consideration, Purchase, Service and Loyalty, marketers can best plan what kind of content may be most appropriate to engage customers according to their needs.

For a holistic editorial plan, here are a few types of content and methods of communication to consider:

Awareness:

  • Public Relations
  • Advertising
  • Word of Mouth
  • Social Media

Consideration:

  • Search Marketing
  • Advertising
  • Social Media
  • Webinars
  • Product/Service Reviews
  • Blogs
  • Direct Response

Purchase:

  • Website
  • Social Commerce

Service:

  • Social Media (ASB Virtual Branch is a great example)
  • Social CRM
  • Online Messaging (LivePerson)
  • Email
  • Search – After the sale queries on FAQ, Knowledge-base content

Loyalty:

  • Email Newsletter
  • Webinars
  • Blog
  • Social Network, Forum – community

In the development of a content marketing strategy, there are numerous opportunities to be more relevant and effective. Planning content that’s meaningful to the customers you’re trying to engage according to where they are in the buying cycle and overall customer relationship provides for more efficiency in content creation as well as the repurposing of content.

Holistic content marketing and editorial planning also helps make better use of tactics that transcend the relationship timeline like SEO and Social Media.  It’s especially the case with holistic SEO that content producers can extend their reach and visibility to customers that are looking – not just to buy, but to engage with brands in other ways.

By considering the content needs across the customer lifecycle, not just acquisition or conversion, companies can become significantly more effective and efficient in their ability to connect relevant messages and stories with customers that are interested. The result: shorter sales cycles, better customer relationships and more word of mouth.

How is your company leveraging content throughout the customer relationship? Are you coordinating a content marketing strategy that integrates SEO and social media? Does it make sense that the business of content strategy and promotion of content extends beyond marketing?


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© Online Marketing Blog, 2010. |
Marketing Content During the Customer Life Cycle | http://www.toprankblog.com

5 Ways to Win More Business with Google Places

November 22, 2010 by  
Filed under mobile marketing, mobile seo, Online Marketing, SEO Tips

Local listings & Google Places

With the rise of smart phone use in the US, (Google Android and iPhone are currently reporting roughly 500,000 activations a day ) it’s more important than ever to have your Google places listing up to speed because when people use voice search on  Android phones, the first results they see are from Google local.

Let’s start with a few facts. Did you know that;

  • 73% of all online activity is related to local content (Google)
  • 82% of local searchers follow up with a phone call or show up on your doorstep (TMP/comScore)
  • 66% of Americans use local search to find local businesses (comScore)

Another reason to take Google Places seriously is the recent changes and enhancements that were rolled out.  Now you will notice the map with local businesses appears above the ads on the right side.  Also worth noting is that the local listings are appearing above all organic search results and have taken up more space, pushing the organic listings further down the page.

With the recent Google launch of Hotpot, Google is entering the local recommendation space.   Hotpot combines Google Places, the places you like and the places your friends like making it even easier for people to make decisions about which local businesses to patronize.

Not surprisingly, marketing on Google Places has gotten very competitive. It used to be you could simply fill out your business listing on Google and see it in the 7 pack a few weeks later.  These days, if your listing doesn’t have a 100% score, you can forget about being listed in the first 7 local businesses that Google displays for local results.  That said, here are 5 things you can do to get more business from local search:

1.       Make sure your Google listing has a 100% score – There are more than 20 different fields you in your Google Places listing and surprisingly most businesses don’t bother to fill them all in.  At the end of the day, the difference between showing up on the first page of Google Places or not can boil down to not having a video as part of your listing.

2.       Include product or service keywords in your listing description – I would also list one or two of the cities or suburbs where your target market lives.  As with any content on the internet, be sure not to over use your keywords.  Your description should be written for people with an eye for SEO.

3.       Encourage your clients to write a review on your Google places listing – Think about it, if you and 10 local competitors all have 100% scores on your listing, which is fast becoming the case, what will Google use to rank order these businesses? The one component of the profile that is open ended is the review section so in many cases, the business with the most reviews can win the day.

4.       Make sure you are listed in your local phone book – I know this sounds counter intuitive but the fact is Google looks to established sources of data to both build their database and check for local business information.  If you’re not listed here, it may affect your ability to rank on the first page.

5.       Get listed in the other top local directories like:

  • Yelp
  • Bing
  • Yahoo
  • Best of the Web
  • Hotfrog, and
  • Foursquare

You can go to www.getlisted.org to get a score on how effectively your business is taking advantage of the free listings at the major search engines.

Local listings & SEO have always been important for small business online marketing, but now they’re essential.  If you follow the advice above, your business listing will have a better chance of getting on the first page of the search results and in many cases, may even appear above the organic search results.


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© Online Marketing Blog, 2010. |
5 Ways to Win More Business with Google Places | http://www.toprankblog.com

The Value of Storytelling & Persuasion in Content Marketing

November 19, 2010 by  
Filed under Content Marketing, Online Marketing

While taking a short flight from Auckland to Queenstown, NZ I was thinking about the role of content as a tool of persuasion. Let me know what you think:

In every marketplace, when something new like technology comes along that requires a change in behavior, there’s a fairly predictable range of responses. Based on original research represented by Everett Rogers Technology Adoption Lifecycle that means: Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority and Laggards.

Everett Rogers Technology Adoption Lifecycle

Image Credit: Wikipedia

I think there are some interesting implications for content and storytelling when it comes to influence on adoption of technology.

Let’s say you have an objective of persuading a group of potential customers to adopt a certain technology for marketing.  One of the first steps is to profile those potential customers in terms of demographics and behaviors. A few key questions to be answered:

  • What do they currently believe to be true?
  • What are their objections to doing what you’ll be persuading them to do?
  • What are their primary influences?
  • What motivates their behaviors?
  • What outcomes are most attractive to them?
  • What would limit implementation, use and acceptance of your persuasion objective?

Profiling the target audience in this way can then be transformed into campaign efforts to persuade. One aspect of such a campaign would emphasize storytelling.

Highlighting and promoting stories that represent examples of persona archetypes making the transition from previous behaviors to the desired outcomes seems to me, a opportune method for persuasion with content. Those stories that are tailored specifically for the personas for each major segment of the target audience can provide the information and context needed to make fundamental changes in perception.

The narrative for each storyline would empathize with the current situation and provide reasonable and practical steps for overcoming objections and reasonable steps for making changes.   Motivations for change can vary by persona, so its important to identify a content marketing strategy and structure that allows for such customizations.

The success stories of transition have to be real of course and also not appear so different that outcomes are not attainable.

I suspect the format for content in such a situation can run the gamut of text, digital, video, audio, images, events, email and so on. And you know me, if there’s content published digitally and online, it can be optimized for search and social.

Some possible phases of engagement with these stories and content for the purpose of our persuasion project:

  • Content discovery – Word of mouth, advertising, search, social media, email
  • Content engagement – Consumption and interaction: comments, questions
  • Content comprehension – Internalizing what it means, visualizing the change in the context of their own situation. Seeing the possibilities.
  • Content sharing – Word of mouth on/offline, social sharing, re-publishing, referrals
  • Content internalization – Implementation of change in the individual behavior and organization
  • Content enhancement – Building upon the original proposition and customizing, making it better, mashing it up

As stories are told, it makes sense to seek early success stories and creating a process for engaging with prospects, conversion, implementation and promoting successes. Such success stories can be small, tactical examples or more strategic and comprehensive.  They can become the spokespeople for future growth, engagement and conversion.

Well, I’ve landed and have to say, writing on this new 11″ Macbook Air is a real pleasure.  But I don’t want that or my impending adventure vacation to get in the way of an interesting discussion about content and storytelling as a platform for persuasion.  Your comments are most welcome.

The applications for social psychology in online marketing are abundant and I don’t write about such things here, since the purpose of this blog is to be tactical and practical. But its inevitable that as the rate of innovation with search and social media increases, reaching the Late Majority and Laggards becomes more of a challenge.  I’m always looking for ideas and creative solutions for such communications.


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© Online Marketing Blog, 2010. |
The Value of Storytelling & Persuasion in Content Marketing | http://www.toprankblog.com

Is Your Online Business Effectively Leveraging The Unprecedented Growth Of Facebook?

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It’s an absolute staple to draw targeted traffic for anyone involved with a network marketing business, multi level marketing training, affiliate marketing programs, Internet marketing training or any business opportunity where you’re seeking to earn money [...]

Facebook Pages for B2B Social Media Marketing

November 17, 2010 by  
Filed under B2B, Facebook, Online Marketing, Social Media

b2b facebookYesterday in Auckland, NZ I gave an all day workshop to 150 marketing and communications professionals on Social Media Content Marketing & Strategy at Social Media Junction.  I’m used to giving workshops to 20-30 people so it was an interesting and enjoyable experience with such a large group. (Thanks to Bullet PR staff who are amazing).

One of the questions that came up was whether B2B companies are successfully using Facebook Fan pages.  I shared a few of our client Fan pages like Marketo & McKesson Medical Imaging (forgetting to mention our own completely) but wanted to share a few more examples here.

While it’s true that the most popular Facebook Fan Pages are for consumer products and brands like Coca Cola (18.2m Fans), Starbucks (17.5m Fans) and Oreo (14.1m Fans), there are many B2B companies successfully using Facebook to engage with prospects, customers and employees. Here are a few good examples:

B2B Software: Symantec

B2B Facebook Fan Page Symantec

Symantec has a modest number of fans but does make effective use of a landing page that incorporates video, poll, cross posts from Twitter and news all in the welcome tab. The Wall has a fair amount of engagement as well.  I think what they’re doing with Facebook is what many B2B companies could reasonably do. Especially if they’re active in other social media channels. They Symantec Facebook page makes a good case for the investment in a custom FBML landing page.

B2B Technology: Cisco

B2B Facebook Fan Page Cisco

Cisco doesn’t use a landing page for people that aren’t fans yet, but is certainly leveraging Facebook as a promotional vehicle to engage with customers as you can see from the SuperFan Spotlight promotion.  Engagement on the wall is pretty good and they’ve certainly attracted a bit of attention with 116,429 Fans.  Cisco is smartly cross linking to their other social channels including their social media hub, blogs, Twitter and newsroom. Watch Cisco’s overall social media efforts and you’ll find some great ideas for your own B2B online marketing efforts.

B2B Marketing Agency: TopRank’s Online Marketing

b2b facebook fan page

My personal bias aside, for an online marketing agency, I’d have to say that TopRank’s Facebook page (which is technically a page for the blog) is a pretty good example of a B2B Fan page for an agency.  One year ago, we had 54 Fans and today we’re at 5,335. That’s almost 1000% growth without any contests, advertising, apps or promotions outside of adding the FB social plugin to the sidebar of this blog. We’ll be doing a lot more in 2011 with promotions and the FB page though.

The Facebook Fan page serves as a spoke in our Hub and Spoke Social Media & SEO publishing model. Content is shared manually from the web at large and from our blog to Fans on Facebook. The purpose of the page is to provide a place on Facebook where our audience spends time consuming business information.

While B2B isn’t what Facebook is known for, judging by the rate of interest, there’s certainly an appetite for using Facebook as a source of business related news, information and interaction. Our connections with people on Facebook are an extension of our connections on the blog. Together and in conjunction with other online and offline content marketing, they serve to generate awareness, interest, credibility and thought leadership for the TopRank Online Marketing brand. We could be doing A LOT MORE and we will.

Obviously, there are many, many other great B2B Facebook Fan pages out there. Which are your favorites?  Please submit links and why in the comments. We’d love to curate a list of  the best B2B Fan Pages for you.

For more ideas on how your B2B company can use Facebook, check out this post from Social Media B2B.


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© Online Marketing Blog, 2010. |
Facebook Pages for B2B Social Media Marketing | http://www.toprankblog.com

The Apple Announcement You’ll Never Forget?

The fact that the company has replaced the front page of its website with the teaser leads many we’ve talked to in “blog-nation” to speculate that the news will be big, many noting that “for them to post a huge ‘Guess what we’re doing!’ on the front page is a big [...]

10 Steps to Better Content Marketing & SEO

November 16, 2010 by  
Filed under Content Marketing, search engine optimization, SEO

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content marketing optimizationHow would you rate your content marketing efforts? How well are you incorporating SEO and Social Media? If you’re not sure or need to improve, read on.

We’re big fans of content marketing as you probably know and there’s a presentation on Content Marketing Optimization that I’ve been doing at search conferences lately (SES SF, SES CHI, Pubcon and soon SES London) that has evolved each time I give it. See the bottom of this post for an embedded copy of the latest version from Pubcon.

While there are an increasing number of definitions of what content marketing is, I tend to prefer:

Content Marketing: Aligning customer and brand objectives through content.

While the primary platforms for our application of this definition are online and more specifically, through search, social, online PR, email and certain kinds of advertising, I think a timelessly relevant definition needs to be general.

Content Connects - Consumer buying experiences increasingly involve interactions with content. Sales cycles are longer as consumers perform searches, read reviews, ask social network contacts for suggestions and eventually buy. Content in that scenario is created by marketers, fans & social contacts as well as by consumers as they ask public questions and even share purchasing decisions or reviews of products they’ve purchased.

For example: Imagine a consumer searching Google for “light bulbs” and finding an article, “5 Ways to Save Money with Light Bulbs” written by XYZ light bulbs. The consumer moves on the reviews written by other consumers and moves on to purchase. After the purchase, she shares on Facebook and/or Twitter that she’s found a great place to buy bulk, energy efficient light bulbs.  It’s easy to see how content connects the consumer with the merchant as well as other customers in this scenario.

The importance of the role of content in marketing and PR cannot be over-estimated. Marketing and Public Relations organizations whether consultant or internal, will need to not only become better content creators, but content curators, optimizers and promoters in the months and year ahead.

In order to be more effective at Content Marketing that incorporates SEO and Social Media, here are 10 steps:

  • Goals - You can’t score if you don’t have a goal. Numerous business problems can be solved in part, through content marketing (besides increasing sales).  This includes everything from recruiting to public relations to customer service.
  • Buyer Personas - What characterizes the customers you’re trying to reach? Who are you trying to engage? Empathize with customer needs and think about how to meet them while meeting your own as the brand.
  • Keywords - What search and social media keywords best represent demand for your products and services?
  • Content & Assets – Inventory the content and digital assets you currently have available for keyword optimization and social promotion. Map keywords to content so there’s accountability for keyword performance of content in search.
  • Editorial Plan – Your brand is now a publisher and that means an editorial calendar for content creation, optimization, promotion and measurement. If you understand how newsrooms work, you have an advantage here.
  • Operationalize SEO - Whoever is responsible or capable of content creation for the brand should have keyword glossaries available as well as SEO training on how to use them. SEO should be part of the content creation and publishing process.
  • Develop Off-Site Content - You’ve likely seen the hub and spoke publishing model we promote. Create content off of your web site to extend your reach and engage customers where they are.
  • Socialize - Connect with others and grow the social networks that will extend your reach and ability to engage.
  • Promote - Make it part of the editorial plan and content marketing process to promote content on the social networks and off site content destinations that you’ve created.
  • Measure & Refine - Identify the key performance indicators that represent progress in engagement and reach. Track what’s working and what’s not, testing and making iterative improvements.

There are many dimensions beyond these tips, especially when it comes to content curation and the planning of repurposing content.

If you’re a B2B Marketer, how have you implemented content marketing in your online marketing mix?  What challenges have you encountered trying to implement SEO and Social Media?


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© Online Marketing Blog, 2010. |
10 Steps to Better Content Marketing & SEO | http://www.toprankblog.com

From PR to SEO to PR Again

November 16, 2010 by  
Filed under Online Marketing

[Note from Lee: Adam has been a tremendous resource and part of the TopRank Online Marketing team.  His PR and social media background brought a very complimentary perspective to the SEO, Content and Social Media work we've been doing for the past 10 years.  We wish him the best of fortune with his return to the PR world and will look forward to seeing him achieve his future goals. ]

Online Marketing Blog readers — I have some bittersweet news to share with you today.  After 1.5 years of working at one of the most renowned online marketing agencies globally, consulting for premier B2B companies, I’ve made the difficult decision to move on.

Lee asked me to write a post and after having contributed more than 50 posts here I’ll share a brief note with you, the TopRank Online Marketing community, on my experience with the company, reasons for departure and where I’m headed next.

My experience working with TopRank

My experience working with the team at TopRank Marketing under the direction of CEO Lee Odden and President Susan Misukanis has been an incredible growth opportunity. While I came to the agency well-versed in social and PR, my SEO knowledge was limited to personal projects and experimentation.

As an agency with more than a decade serving in some cases as the entire marketing arm for major B2B tech companies TopRank has an effective, constantly evolving online marketing process focused primarily on search engine optimization. Getting to learn that process soup to nuts and help shape future direction has been an invaluable experience and an education any marketer would be lucky to have.

And it’s not just SEO – the TopRank team combines search, social, analytics and content strategy far ahead of the industry curve. The team at TopRank is different than most agencies in that they are extremely accountable not just to KPIs but to true outcome metrics for clients. This level of accountability (and of course results) is one of the reasons legacy clients have been with the agency for, in many cases, over 3 years.

Working at TopRank has also afforded me the opportunity to write for the Online Marketing Blog community and share my thinking on the industry with more than 100K visitors per month and ~50K subscribers. Further, while I receive speaking opportunities organically through my own blogging, working at TopRank has provided opportunity to speak consistently throughout the year at industry-leading conferences such as Search Engine Strategies and PubCon.

Where I’m headed

While Minneapolis is an growing city with many exciting companies, ultimately I’ve been swayed by the weather, vibe, and tech scene of the west coast. San Francisco will be my new home – after visiting there several times this year it felt like the perfect fit for me and I couldn’t ignore that any longer.

Further, I started my career with a PR agency focused on social media and PR and am interested in returning to my roots. Being immersed in a data-driven environment has given me a fresh and unique perspective on PR I’m excited to apply. While TopRank does provide some PR consulting and direction to clients, their focus is definitely on the marketing side of things. And although there is a convergence between marketing and PR I’ve decided that the types of projects I want to work on, at this time, are those focused primarily at the intersection of public relations and social media.

I’ll of course still stop by here in the comments section, Tweet links and ultimately be a supporter of TopRank. If you want to stay connected with me and hear about where I’m headed next, feel free to subscribe to my personal blog (which frequently has – and will continue to extend upon thinking at Online Marketing Blog).

Thanks for reading, and I’ll miss both the team at TopRank and contributing to this community greatly.


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© Online Marketing Blog, 2010. |
From PR to SEO to PR Again | http://www.toprankblog.com

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