What is SEO?
Boring, Factual Answer: SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. The purpose of optimizing your site for search engines is to drive traffic to your site organically. That’s it.
More Interesting Answer: What was the last thing you searched for? Did it take to you a website you’d never visited before?
Chances are you used Google, which performed over 5 billion searches today alone. (In contrast, Bing didn’t even crack 1 billion.) And while I don’t know the chances of finding a website you’ve never visited before, I know that Google’s my #1 referral to new websites. It’s rare that a friend or business card, or even a social media link, directs me to a new website. And when it does happen, it’s still outnumbered by the Google referral machine.
When you implement the technical and strategic components of SEO into your marketing efforts, it will take time for your work to pay off. When it does, though, you have potentially 5 billion daily Google searches (and hundreds of millions from other engines) in which to be seen.
Drive traffic. Generate leads. Make sales. Much of it without any additional effort from you. That’s the value of a great SEO strategy.
What is Social Media Marketing?
Boring Factual Answer: Social media marketing is driving traffic via social media websites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.
More Interesting Answer: Social media marketing is your opportunity to connect with your audience, foster great relationships, and build brand visibility and loyalty. Social media demands both creativity and authenticity, which takes great strategic planning and execution. It’s fun! And one of the best investments you’ll make in your business.
But. Before you get too excited about social media, make sure your SEO work is top-notch.
In this day and age, if you don’t have a website, do you even exist? You may as well not because no one is going to be able to find you.
For this reason, you must have a solid SEO strategy in place before you do anything else. You want people to be able to find you (it’s necessary to your business’ growth) and it’s the most low-effort way to go about getting traffic (and leads and sales). Invest in a good strategy. It will pay off.
Then invest in good social media marketing.
(By the way, you don’t have to wait to invest in either of these. So much can be done before spending your first penny! Social media takes a considerable investment of time (the platforms reward frequent engagement) but you don’t have to do paid marketing up front. You can invest good money in SEO and also implement a good social media strategy for free. But when it comes to money prioritization, start with SEO.)
Don’t take my word for it! Kissmetrics and Digital Current both have good pieces to help you make this decision.
The new year is here (hooray!) and these are the five trends we’re most excited about:
1. High Quality Content
There is a lot of noise on the internet and way too much mediocre content. But as platforms up their games (with things like stories, filters, and user-generated content campaigns, just to name a few), content improves, too. Boring ads and gimmicks just can’t compete.
We’re excited to see more great writing, videos and campaigns that add value to the user experience instead of just selling to followers.
Video is a part of content, but it gets its own section here because we expect video to be a big player this year.
We’ve already seen video come to dominate Facebook newsfeeds, and it’s growing on other platforms like Twitter and Instagram, too. Videos are going to have to be better than ever to outperform the competition.
The downside is that we’ll also see more video ads. I’ve mentioned before that I’ve seen YouTube ads that are so good that I didn’t even skip them to get to the video. But, 2017 brought with it those awful Facebook video ads that cut in at weird times and are designed to be unskippable. I am sorry to say that I think this year will only bring more.
I find chatbots a little annoying because they don’t go away and I don’t find them helpful.
But, then I remember that it was only a few years ago that voice recognition software became useful. Remember when voice recognition on phones made you want to chuck your phone through a window? I don’t remember the last time the computer couldn’t get me where I wanted to go.
I think we’re seeing the evolution of chatbots and if they save me from customer service emails and wait times on the phone, I’m all for it. (PS Here’s a cool if only tangentially-relevant story about bots and humans.)
4. Augmented reality
I am loving the direction of AR. Sephora Virtual Artist and Ikea Place are two of my favorites from this list but we’re still in the very early stages of the technology. I loved this Forbes list of 11 creative uses for AR in marketing. Admittedly I get a little freaked out knowing my face is stored in some marketing department’s database, but just so long as no one steals my eyes, right?
There is no form of media I love more than a well-produced podcast, so I was excited to see this list of branded podcasts, only one of which I’d ever heard. eBay’s podcast Open for Business was a 13-episode run produced by Gimlet and it was so good!
According to Journalism.org, fewer than half of Americans have ever listened to a podcast, and fewer still listen to them regularly. But, listenership is on the rise.
I hope 2018 brings more great branded podcasts. Even if you already have a strong audience base, branching into podcasts is going to reach an entirely different audience. If you’re thinking of getting into the podcast game, now’s the time. Really all you need is some dedication and a good microphone.
In December, just before the FCC’s vote, I explained why net neutrality is important to small business owners. On December 14, the vote to scrap net neutrality regulations passed, and with 2018 upon us, it’s a good time to ask how this decision will affect business owners and what you can do about it.
The short answer is: nothing is going to happen immediately. The rules were just passed and and change is going to take time. Plus, the cable companies are under close scrutiny right now. They’re unlikely to take any action until the heat is off a little bit.
Lawsuits will be filed this year, though, and states are making decisions about how to protect neutrality. No doubt that will all lead to suits and countersuits, and no one can say how it will all shake out.
Your work is to stay on your representatives. Keep calling them, keep telling your friends and networks to call them because for most, their incentive is your vote.
3 Things You Can Do
- Call Your Representative. You can find out here who your representatives are, whether they support or oppose neutrality (or are undecided), and how to contact them. You can also always send mail, but I advocate making at least one phone call. Here’s why.
- Email the FCC leadership. The names and emails of the five, two of whom are net neutrality supporters, are in this Lifehacker piece, which includes other suggestions of things to do as well.
- Donate to the legal battle. This is America, where disputes get resolved through lengthy and expensive legal battles. Support the legal defenders with a donation.
- These are three things you can do in the next 10 or 15 minutes to defend net neutrality, but this is an ongoing issue with much remaining to be seen.
If you want to learn more, I recommend these balanced informative pieces published by TechCrunch and Forbes on the regulations and what’s next.
How the hell do you choose the right social media platform?
Facebook has 2 billion users and offers the best ROI. LinkedIn just crossed half a billion users. YouTube viewers watch a billion hours of clips per day (!). Twitter has only (“only”) 330 million users (there are 330 million people in the United States) but half a billion tweets per day (which comes out to over 7,000 every second!). How do you possibly get your message to your audience?
Dang. That is actually a really good question! It wasn’t until I started writing this out that I realized how ludicrously incomprehensible this all is. Let’s get some perspective:
Right now, our planet has about 7.6 billion people living on it. Roughly half use the internet (official count in 2015 was 3.2 billion). And about one-tenth of those live in the United States. Which isn’t to say that all 320 million Americans use the internet–actually only about 284 million Americans do. There are 7 continents, approximately 193 countries, and most of the world’s population is on the Asian continent.
And, if you’re like me, none of this means a thing because I have no grasp of the abstract. So, thank you, Tim Urban, for creating this incredible visual so that people like me can begin to think about grasping the concept of one billion.
I was going to get on here and tell you some good strategy tips, but if you’re reading this from Austin, TX, your corner of the internet is like sand on the beach, man. One grain of sand on a very large, sandy beach filled with sand dunes.
Which turns out to be great news, after all!
The entire world of 7+ billion people is connected by, like, 10 websites.
And you’re going to be just fine.
Here’s your job:
- Know your market.
- Work with its influencers.
- Be better than your competition.
That’s it! That’s your job.
Take your tiny miniscule corner of the internet and communicate with your audience. I suggest doing it directly through the influencers because they’re really good at their jobs and working with them frees you up to run your business, but whatever. The point is for you to learn your customer’s well enough that you know who their influencers are and where they hang out. If you can figure out those two things, you’re well on your way to dominating the competition.
And through it all, get on LinkedIn. It’s still a small enough network that you can really establish yourself there. Get to know people in your industry. Comment on their thoughts and posts. Share some of your own. It’s the most direct way for you to build your business and your (personal) brand.
It’s a big world out there. It’s crowded and noisy, but your business is not to worry about what other people are doing. It isn’t about the platform. It’s how well that platform enables you to connect with your audience. You choose the right platform for your business by going where your audience is and engaging with them. Don’t look to impress everyone or get the biggest following. Ultimately the only currency that matters is connection. Connect with your audience and you’re golden.
Early in 2017, the world’s largest professional network LinkedIn broke 500 million users. That’s no small amount, and yet, in a world of over 7 billion people, where Facebook has 2 billion users, 500 million is kind of–dare I say–small?
That’s the great advantage of LinkedIn right now. It’s enormous, but it doesn’t feel enormous. It offers tremendous opportunity but it doesn’t feel overwhelming.
Or does it?
Last month we told you why you need to be all over LinkedIn.But for most people who use Linkedin, a picture and some basics about their job is all they ever do. We know that it can be nerve-wracking to put yourself out there on LinkedIn. Staying within your profile is safe. And anyway, what do you have to say that’s going to help anyone?
We get it.
So today we’re going to give you 4 strategies that you can start using today to build your network, raise your profile, and grow your brand.
1. Write Posts
The great thing about writing a LinkedIn post is that the best ones are just quick thoughts. You don’t have to worry that you’re not a writer. Here are some ideas to get you started:
-Observations. If you don’t already, start paying attention to what you pay attention to. We all make observations and notes to self about what we see going on around us that could be improved. Start sharing yours.
-Ideas. Share ideas of thought leaders in your industry with some of your commentary. Share your own ideas for the future of the industry, how you would like to make it better, how it could be improved or how it might change or how a certain technology or platform could impact it, or is impacting it. You have a million ideas, I’m sure. Share one now and then.
-Help other people. You’ve worked your way up the ladder, you’ve started a business, you’ve spent years doing something that you’re really good at (or not). What can you say to help someone starting out? What about someone mid-career? What about a challenge you overcame or a lesson you learned that might help another person?
-Articles. Sharing interesting pieces is a great way to leverage LinkedIn. Just don’t let this be your only strategy. You want to share your own original work, too.
2. Build Relationships
LinkedIn has 500 million people on it. Go get to know a few of them. Help them with their work. Accept help with yours. You can do this by:
-Commenting on posts.
-Saying Congratulations and Happy Birthday when LinkedIn prompts you to.
–Using groups, or creating a group and inviting others to it.
-Creating partnerships: This Entrepreneur article suggests using groups to find businesses related to your work that can help you serve clients. Real estate agents, for example, would partner with insurance agents and mortgage brokers.
Don’t feel like you have to write a post everyday. The strategy of consistency is that you interact with other people on at least a weekly basis. Use LinkedIn for more than your professional updates. The more you interact with other people and their work, the more you get to know people and understand their needs. Then, it’s easier for you to make content that’s valuable, and that’s how you’ll create a network of people that you can both help and be helped by.
4. Don’t Be a Me-Monster
This might be the most important thing about leveraging LinkedIn: it isn’t all about you. So much advice is about being an authority, being a thought leader, creating content. Think instead about building relationships. You don’t win over people by talking only about yourself. Add value to other people’s lives.