The End Has Come

This will be my last required post for my Digital Marketing class. I am glad that I was given the chance to create this blog and try my hand at writing. It was interesting to see how many of my friends were actually interested in reading about what I had to say. I was happy to see that I did gain some attention in the blog world and gained many followers that were not people who I knew.

So what did I learn?

The main take away I got from this class and experience is how important digital marketing is. It wasn’t like I wasn’t already aware of this but I didn’t know to what extent its importance held. Digital marketing has its moment when it is in your face and obvious, like paid search and banner ads.

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You know it exists and you see that it exists. Most of these type of digital marketing can be annoying and people want it to go away. What I didn’t realize was the amount of marketing that is sneaky about being marketing.  For example, lets talk about content marketing.

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Most of the time there is content marketing people don’t even realize that is advertisement. They are just fun, engaging items that bring the user to your site and you don’t even realize what they are doing.

Digital Marketing and just marketing in general is all about being the puppet master. We use different strategies like, inbound marketing, social media, database marketing,etc… to persuade users to come to our site and buy our products.  This has become a second nature to the users and they are so unaware how much everything has to do with marketing.

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The skill that marketers need to have is knowing how to relate and draw in all the different people. Personalization is a key factor  in drawing in all different types of users. Supplying different types of content on your blog or on your site allows for people to find something to their liking with your company.  This is why it is extremely important for marketers to not only be creative but to also have technical skills. By having technical skills marketers will be able to help the users even more and they will be faster about it. Research will go quicker and decisions can be made by the marketers with confidence, instead of having to trust what the IT guy is saying. Going through code academy was a great experience in this class and I am happy that I’ve made the decision to learn more and more about coding.

I could go on and on about what I learned in this class but I suggest that you read my past posts to hear more about what I have to say about digital marketing.

At the beginning of this post I mentioned that it was interesting to see how many people of my friends would read my blog and  how many new followers I was able to obtain. Well for the last day of my blog I did a bit of an experiment. I’ve been using Klout for a while now  and I was interested in how many people were influenced by me to a point that they would do what I asked.  For two days I asked people to help me out and read my blog. I never expected the results I would get but I got over 728 views in one day.

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Throughout the quarter I had been pretty consistent with my blog. I gained more and more followers but would  only get roughly 20 views per post.  I would regularly post on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. I would just tell people they should read the blog but there was no real incentive for them to do what I asked. The fact that in one day I was able to get 728 views, granted only roughly 60 visitors, shows that I do influence a large group of people as long as there is something in it for them. In this case it was helping out a classmate and I promised I would stop giving them a hard time about reading my blog.

This could be used in digital marketing also. Brands want their customers to want to help them out, for example in co-creation. The dream is to ask your customers to do something, doesn’t matter what it is, and they will do it without a second thought. Granted me asking them to read my blog was very simple and easy but just  think if I kept asking small favors from my followers and escalating the level of difficulty each time. If the user gets something out of the favor, whether it be physical or psychological, they will more likely want to help. I’m excited to keep writing this blog and see what I can make out of this.

For the end of this blog I would like to say that I learned a lot and I defiantly got a lot out of this class.

I became HootSuite Certified: untitled

I became Google Analytics Certified:GAIQ

I also wrote 14,775 words with an overall view of 1,315.

Thank you for continuously reading and walking with me through this process.

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Google+ and Twitter Chats Oh My!

There are two very important items on the agenda for my blog today: Google+ and Twitter chats. I will first begin discussing Google+.

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The above meme depicts the feelings of most people I know. I was invited into Google+ in my senior year of high school. No one my age was on the social network and so I never took the time to learn more about it. It wasn’t until the end of my junior year in college that I  re-looked at my Google +. There were more friends of mine on the site but I still saw nothing new. Maybe it is the fear of joining a new network or maybe it is the fact that no one in my social circle is participating in Google+ but I still am not convinced it has much of a future.

From what I can tell and what others  have mentioned is that Google+ has mimicked Facebook, to some extent. They both allow for you to update status’ and the ability to like other people’s posts. You can upload photos and links to other sites. Google+ does have the feature of circles, which allows you to group your friends by your interests but Facebook also gives this ability. You can create groups, pages, and have people with similar interests join on Facebook. The one feature that I feel Google+ has the upper hand in is their Hangout feature.  It is like Skype, where you can video chat with others, but more people can be involved in the Hangout. Also you can share documents and work on them while you are chatting. This is especially handy during meetings. Facebook just happens to have this feature as well but I think Google+ wins this one because you can’t share documents on Facebook.  On top of all of this you can also video chat on your phone through the free Google Hangout app. This is so great when you are in the car or on the go, but have to be in a meeting.

Many would say that a benefit of Google+ is it that you can easily share content across all Google products. Yes, it is great that all these tools are managed in one place but sometimes there is too much of a good thing. I love that I can log into my Google account and have everything at my fingertips but I don’t see how Google+ has benefited it. I would say the main reason I still keep my Google+ is that Google runs everything.  You want to be loved by Google and at school all I ever hear is you want to be searchable.

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Google has created their own SEO ranking signal, Google Authorship.  The better and more content that you post the higher you will get in the ranks.   Though I am not a fan of Google+ and am unconvinced by the articles that spout the benefits of it, I will not be getting rid of it any time soon.  I want to be searchable and I want Google to love me and if that means posting and attempting to interact in a copy cat of a social network than so be it.

Now moving on to the next topic of this post: Twitter chats. Today I had the experience of being involved in a Twitter chat. Before I started I was very confused. First, I had no idea what a Twitter chat was and second I had no idea how to get involved.  My digital marketing professor was very kind to give us the link to a list of scheduled chats: http://tweetreports.com/twitter-chat-schedule/. Here you can find all different types of chats that are  going on throughout the week on all sorts of topics. I thought this was incredibly cool because there were so many topics that I was interested in. I found this chat called #BizForum. This was supposed to be a weekly chat with business professionals about trending marketing topics.  To enter a chat you just have to add the hashtag to your comment and you can see all of the  other people commenting. Sadly when I entered this chat it was dead. There was only one other person in the chat room, who just happened to be another digital marketing student from Vermont.

Though I didn’t get the chance to really take part and experience a Twitter chat I am not going to stop trying. I think these chats are great experience and great networking. You get the chance to speak with business professionals without that awkward face-to-face situation. Also while in the chats you can look up the people you are speaking to and get to know more about them, and vice versa.  These are great for businesses as well because they can talk to their customers and build authority at the same time.  You also get to stay informed about what the customers are saying about your company and your brand. This is beneficial because people feel more comfortable saying their feelings behind the computer screen and they feel like you are really hearing them and really care.  This is just another great and fun way to grow your brand, authority, and popularity.

More ways Google+ is mimicking Facebook: http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/technology/2012/04/google-redesign-further-mimics-facebook/

Want to learn how to get involved with Twitter chats and the benefits they have for your company? Click below!

How to Participate in a Tweet Chat

5 Ways Twitter Chats Can Help Your Business

Tools And Etiquette For Using Social Media Effectively

Social media is not just for  tweeting your thought of the day or updating your status about the “amazing” lunch you just had, which  you just had to take a photo of. It can  be used to further enhance your business and get your customers more involved in your company than you ever thought possible.

I have never been a “social media guru” and have usually attempted to stay off of the social media “bandwagon” because I never appreciated the value that it can bring to ones image. I was very wrong with this mindset because there are so many different things that can be done with the different platforms of social media and  every business can stand out in a crowd, if used correctly.

The different types of social media that  is out there can be a bit scary to comprehend when you first jump into the online world, but they all follow a similar etiquette when it comes to promoting your brand and gaining leads. Like I have been saying in my last few blogs, it is all about content.

Your content needs to be informative but humanized. Don’t worry about always selling your brand and your product. Give the customers something fun and interesting to read. There are many different tools out there that will help track what your customers are talking about and what they found particularly interesting that your company has shared with them.

Google analytics(http://www.google.com/analytics/) is a great tool that can be very handy when it comes to tracking your blog or your Google+. It is a free analytics tool that will help provide insight into your user’s behavior, the traffic that your page receives, and the behavior on your website. This tool will help you by providing useful data that will help you get to know how you can better serve  your customers.

Pinterest, I feel, is very unacknowledged for its promotional benefits and generation of leads. All a business has to do is pin a picture and link their website to the picture. If you pin it to the right board and promote it to the right audience than you generate many leads. One thing to keep in mind, when it comes to your audience, is the gender that the site is most likely to be used by. For example,  women are five times more likely to use Pinterest than men are, while men are supposedly  more likely to use Google+. By knowing this you can customize your sites to bring in the right type of audience. Pinterest has many tools that you can use to get the fullest advantage out of your boards; Curalate (http://www.curalate.com/) helps measure your pin and board engagement. It helps find advocates and generate traffic. This is a great tool to use because it can  find out what types of pins are becoming popular and what are not.  This tool can also be used for Instagram. Currently in beta testing for Pinterest is promoted pins. These pins work like any other pin,  but have a little icon in the right hand corner. This icon is clicked on by the user and they are given more information about the pin and the company that it came from. What I feel is great about this type of promotion is that it is not pushed into the customers face and the people clicking on it genuinely want to learn more about the product and business that it came from.

This leads me into the next etiquette rule that you should always follow on any social media site: Don’t be pushy. Update continuously but know when to promote and how much to promote. If you tweet all of your information at the exact same time then you are going to flood your customers feed. They are going to eventually get bored and then ignore what you are trying to say.

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There are many tools out there that will help you with the scheduling of your posts. For example, Buffer is a scheduler for LinkedIn. This tool lets you schedule your posts, while also giving you a basic click/reach analytics for all of your pages.  HootSuite ( https://hootsuite.com/) is also a great tool for scheduling your posts. This allows you to post to many different websites at the same time. You can choose to schedule your posts or have them decide when would be the prime time to post a status. Scheduling is extremely important  because you don’t want to post something on your page when no one is paying attention. A fellow blogger, Belle Cooper, and team member of Buffer wrote  a blog about the best time to tweet, post, email, and blog. http://blog.bufferapp.com/best-time-to-tweet-post-to-facebook-send-emails-publish-blogposts

In this blog she stated some interesting facts like, the engagement rate for Facebook is 18% higher on Thursdays and Fridays and Twitter engagements for brands are 17% higher on weekends.  As you can see there is a bit of a trend here. More people are engaged near the end of the week, but that isn’t the case for blogs.  Mondays are the highest traffic days for an average blog. Not only should you focus on the day that you are posting but also on the time.  You want to post when there is the most users are one the site but at the same time you don’t want to be lost in the feed. Belle provides more information about the best times to post in the link I posted in the paragraph above.

One last very important rule of etiquette that you should always follow is: stay engaged. Don’t forget about the users and don’t ignore them either. If you allow for your users to comment on your pages then make sure you answer them back. I would answer back in 24 hours, if possible. You want to keep building and maintaining that relationship with the customer and make sure they know that you care about them and what they have to offer your company. If you leave a comment ignored that can result in the loss of a customer, but also make sure that when you do comment back you do it appropriately.

A bad example of responding to customer comments would be the very famous Applebee’s  incident.  Long story short a picture of a customer’s bill was posted on Reddit, making fun of the “10% tip for God” that was left instead of for the waitress. This picture went viral and Applebee’s responded by firing the waitress responsible, for violating the customer’s privacy. People were very angry and felt that Applebee’s was being hypocritical because they post positive feedback from customers on their page.  Negative opinions flooded Facebook and Twitter.  It didn’t get better from there because an Applebee’s employee decided at 2am to respond to the comments. Not only did they respond at that time but they made it a comment and not a Facebook status. They then being tagging people in their comments and ended up arguing with the customers.

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Applebee’s lost a lot of customers because of this incident and hopefully the employee who did this was fired. If they had responded at an appropriate time with an appropriate message and not have fought with the customers then they may have been able to salvage their image. This just goes to show that you need to make sure you are engaging with your customers in a well-mannered way and at an appropriate time. If you would like to read more about this incident and see some of the customer responses follow this link: http://rlstollar.wordpress.com/2013/02/02/applebees-overnight-social-media-meltdown-a-photo-essay/

There are of course more social media etiquette rules that you should follow but I highlighted the ones I felt were the most important to know. I would like to give a shout out to the people at MOZ. They just put out this very lovely beginners guide to social media, which is filled with techniques and tools you can use to further enhance your social media presence and your business.

http://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-social-media

Search Engine Optimization For Dummies

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Search engines are a vital part of our lives. We spend every day searching for answers and information to help increase our knowledge but how many of us actually know how it works? Today I am going to teach you the basics of how search engines work.

Search engines have two major functions:

  1. Crawling and Indexing
  2. Providing the answers

What is crawling and indexing you may ask? Well there are little automatic robots called “crawlers” or as some people call “spiders.” You input your keywords to the search engine and these little things will crawl ALL OVER the world-wide web, following links from page to page. Below is a video that shows what these “spiders” would like and do if they were real.

So once these “spiders” find the pages, the code is deciphered and stored into massive hard drives. There are data centers all over the world that hold all of the information, making it possible for users to gain answers in a fraction of a second.

Next the search engine must answer your inquiry. The articles and links that you are given are not pure randomness. The pages that are presented to you have been assigned a score, with the highest ranking ones being the first ones for the user to see. There are very complicated algorithms that are used to establish the rankings, that I will not be getting into,  but relevance and popularity play a large role.

Now you must be thinking “Well how can I use Search Engine Optimization to my advantage?”

If you combine SEO with Search Engine Marketing  (SEM) you will increase the amount of traffic and exposure to your site by leaps and bounds. SEM, as stated in Wikipedia, means:

“The process of gaining traffic by purchasing ads on search engines. It is also called paid search and sometimes referred to as CPC (cost-per-click) or PPC (pay-per-click) marketing, because most search ads are sold on a CPC / PPC basis.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Search_engine_marketing

Both SEM and SEO have the same bottom line and goal: To give users information they are looking for. Though SEO is free that does not mean it is better than SEM. They should be used together because no matter you want the customer coming to your website and it shouldn’t matter how.

In my last blog I talked about how inbound marketing is all about the user and how relevant content will improve your traffic. By using SEO and SEM together you are going to gain customer attention. If your website is user-friendly and uses  keywords that are most likely to be searched, then “spiders” will be able to easily find the link to your page when searched for. Whether it is through an “organic” search or through paid links the user will still be seeing your information and coming to your site, thus  improving your traffic. By using social media tactics, like Facebook and Twitter, your links are going to become more popular and  you will become more searchable. I don’t believe you can have a successful website if you do not participate in both SEM and SEO. 

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If you would like to learn more details about Search Engine Optimization please follow this link: http://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-seo.

Below is a link to my blog about inbound marketing, in case you missed it.

(https://tayfranks.wordpress.com/2014/01/08/inboundmarketing/)

#InboundMarketing

Man the team at HubSpot sure do have some great dance moves!  They also just told you all you need to know about what inbound marketing is vs. outbound marketing. Now some of you must be thinking to yourselves “what are the benefits to inbound marketing?”

Inbound marketing focuses on US! The humans!

Marketers want to give us a tailored experience that you just can’t get through television and print ads.  To inbound marketers the customer, their experience, and their feelings towards the brand are the center of the universe.   Inbound marketing has created a two-way communication street that allows for us to tell them what we want and they give it to us. No longer are we looking at the same webpage that everyone else sees but we are looking at a site that knows us and understands us.

For example HubSpot has created the Content Optimization System.

COS HubSpot

Clearly it rocks.  As stated in the YouTube Video  INBOUND 2013 Keynote  the “COS turns your website into your best sales rep.” This website is tailored to different people in the same way and it does this by actually serving relevant content.  For example the first time you go on to a COS website your going to get view A, which is the same for anyone looking the first time. Then the second time you go on the website, lets say as a lead, you are going to get view B. This view is tailored to you and what you have done in the past on the site. Next you become a customer and you are going to get view C, which is going to see you as  a valued customer and try to heighten your experience with complementary items to what you just bought. Of course these views can be different for all types of websites but this is just an example as to how a COS website would work. 

 What makes this even more amazing is the fact that it doesn’t even matter what device you are looking at. The website is going to fit on your phone, your tablet, your PC and still be just as amazing. No more awkward scrolling and sites that are not compatible to your mobile device! tumblr_static_yay

Another great benefit of inbound marketing is how cheap it is! Think about it. Inbound marketing can be used through free social media platforms like: Facebook, Reddit, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Etc… By using resources, like HootSuite, your company can post to many of these social media platforms at one time. These platforms are going to draw in more traffic from all different audiences from all different places. Not only are you spending less and less money but you are gaining more and more traffic to your site. As you can see below inbound marketing continually increases the traffic to the website, some by more than 100%!

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Talking about social media, HubSpot has also created a new application called Social Inbox. This is going to help advance your inbound marketing skills. Social Inbox allows for you to watch for leads. Whenever ANY of your leads are mentioned  you will be informed ASAP. Now that is fast! All you have to do is say who you want to listen to, what you want to listen for, and how you would like to be informed. Not only is this great for your company but this is great for the customer and the leads because if they have questions or concerns this website will allow for someone to help you as soon as possible.

One last resource that HubSpot has created to help greater your marketing inbound experience is Signals. Signals allows for you to be updated whenever a lead has done something that you are watching, like changing their LinkedIn or clicking on a link that you put into an email to them. This is also built-in Gmail and in Outlook.

I think that inbound marketing is the future of the marketing world but be aware it takes constant work and you must always  update relevant content that will keep the interest of your consumers.  I wouldn’t throw away outbound marketing, especially the online aspect of it.

Once again I would like to thank you for taking the time to read my blog. Please comment with any suggestions on how I can improve.

P.S. Below is a link to the INBOUND 2013 Keynote video. If you have not taken the time to get to know HubSpot, please do because they rock.

INBOUND 2013 Keynote: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-InuKlf1bYc