Showing posts with label Site News. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Site News. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

What Google Search Plus Your World Means to Authors

If you missed the news, Google changed the world of search yesterday, and Twitter went into panic mode. Facebook has been silent, probably because of their rumored upcoming IPO. But you can bet they aren't happy. In short, the change casts a major shadow of doubt on the continued relevance of either platform now that Google+ is getting serious.

So while others call Google+ another failed Google experiment, lacks the breadth of either "competing network" or otherwise try and cling to what they think social media is all about; I suggest another tactic for the digital author.

Get your ass on to Google+. Now.

No, I'm not suggesting you abandon Twitter or Facebook. I still use both services. Granted, I use them a lot less, but I still use them. You will, too. Hopefully, you'll use G+ differently.

But first, you have to use it. So if you've been reluctant to join the past, that time is over. Get there. Now. Learn the differences. Start establishing your presence. And for the love of all you hold dear, don't try and emulate Twitter and Facebook on Google+. It's something different. Treat it as such, OK?

If you don't know how to start, I wrote up a simple piece for ePublish Unum last week. Go there. Now.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Digital Publishing for Authors Workshop was a hit!

On Saturday, Jeff Moriarty and I talked for 8 hours. No, you're not surprised. But this time, it wasn't just to see which one of us got tired first.

That day marked the first of many workshops, classes and educational experience for a brand new company we started, ePublish Unum. The intent? To educate independent authors about the world of digital publishing. And by all accounts -- half the post-class surveys are in -- it was a smashing success. If you were one of our attendees, much thanks for coming out. We really enjoyed presenting to you.

I'm not going to wax poetically on the event here. I'm going to let Ruth and Dan do that, as they both have great posts on what the class meant to them. And no, we didn't ask them to say nice things about us, either!

If you missed it, fear not. We have many more planned. Yes, more full-day workshops like this one. Even some multi-day conferences. And a slew of smaller, much more highly targeted opportunities as well. And that's just the in-person stuff! We're scheming on a virtual options for those of you who don't live in the greater Phoenix area. Stay tuned for more.

Finally, a huge THANK YOU goes out to my lovely wife, Sheila Dee, and Jeff's lovely wife, Dannie Moriarty. Not only are they tireless (oh, but I can only be they get tired) supporters of the two of us, but they also quite literally built the workbook we used during the class. And it got rave reviews! Thank you, ladies. We could not have done this with out you.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Find out how much Google knows about you...

... and then prepared to be disappointed, for it's not all that Earth-shattering.

Yes, Google tracks your behavior as you navigate the web. And so do thousands (maybe only hundreds) of other online entities. And if you're shocked by that, you're either not paying attention or new. If the latter, welcome to my site. If the former, welcome to paying attention.

Google, and lots of other sites, track you by something known as a cookie. It's not tasty, and diabetics shouldn't worry. A cookie is a nothing more than an identifying tag that gets associate with your browser. When you browse to different websites, websites read and set cookies all the time. Cookies do not pass personally identifiable information. Anyone who tells you differently is incorrect1.

Yet this still weirds people out. They worry that some straw man, let's call him Big Brother, is collating all these cookie entries, web history and other data to actually figure out who you really are, for some unnamed yet nefarious gain. And to that I say: balderdash.

Some time ago, Google got sick of everyone freaking out what they did and didn't know about you. So now instead of sweating that Google is telling a host of advertisers about your predilection of visiting some er... well, unsavory sites you may have stumbled across but quickly left when you realized what it was honestly it was only that one time I'm a good boy I swear... now you can just check to see what sorts of interests Google thinks you're into.

My list is shown in this post. If that's all they have about me, you probably have nothing to worry about. I'm online all the time. I visit lots of sites I probably wouldn't want my grandmother surfing to anytime real soon. Yet those don't show up. And the categories that do seem a pretty close approximation to my interests.

Personally and professionally, I think that highly targeted ads do make for a better online experience. Notice I didn't say that ads make for a better online experience. They are a fact of life and won't go away. So if I have to look at the damned things2, they might as well be as targeted to me as they can get.

So the bottom line: don't be scared. And don't jump to conclusions. At least that's my $0.02. If you have a differing opinion, that's what the comments are for. But please, no crazy conspiracy theorists. If that's your thing, go bug my friend Phil. He digs that sort of stuff. :)

1 - Yes, it is possible. I'm also willing to concede that it may have happened in the past. But there are enough privacy watchdogs fighting the good fight that I sleep soundly at night.

2 - Yes, I realize there are plenty of ad blocking programs or tweaks available to me. They aren't worth my time. They may be worth yours.

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Monday, March 8, 2010

State of the Internet video

It's no secret I'm a fan of numbers. Facts and figure are just... cool. Especially when they are presented in a way that makes them interesting to everyone.

A recent "State of the Internet" video showcases some of these numbers. The word staggering comes to mind.

JESS3 / The State of The Internet from JESS3 on Vimeo.

Still think this whole social media thing is just a fad? I've got news for you: this is the internet today. Get used to it.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Is Social Media Bookmarking for Etailers BS?

Image by holisticmonkey via Flickr
I've just spent 8 hours of my life -- wasted, some may say -- investigating the efficacy of social bookmarking for large etailers. Social bookmarking sites -- Digg, reddit, StumbleUpon and literally hundreds of others -- have a variety of uses. I'll even grant you that they may have some value in increasing traffic and helping search rankings. But here's the punchline: the amount of bullshit artists touting bullshit advice on how to use social media bookmarking is of astronomical proportions.

Yes, I know. Bad advice on the internet. Go figure.


So is social media bookmarking worthless?

No, not at all. Millions of people use sites like those listed above to not only save interesting sites and web content, but also to discover and share new and interesting content. It's the social part of the name that's important. And often forgotten about in a rush to gain the oh-so-powerful backlink.

So let's start there: Social media bookmarking is a complete and utter waste of time without compelling content.

If you're an etailer selling the same stuff available at any number of other online -- or offline -- retailers, even if you're selling it for a lower price than anyone else, understand this: the fact that you sell something does not constitute compelling content. To be blunt, we don't care.

Ok, smartass. So is social media bookmarking worthless for online retailers?

Maybe not. But it does require a strategy to develop the content worthy of sharing. Compelling content. Remarkable content. And if you're not willing to do that, then you might as well stop reading. You won't like the rest of this.

Here are a few tips on building compelling content as an etailer that may be worthy of sharing:

  • Interesting packages - Just because you don't make something doesn't mean you can't pair that -- or triad that -- up with something else to make it interesting. Smoking deals are always relevant. And it's often times better to discount a group of items with a mix of profit points than to slash everything by 25%. Create pages that feature deals that your customers want and your competitors can't touch. And for the love of peat (I like scotch), hire a copywriter to convey the awesomeness of the deal without sounding like a used car salesman!

  • Copy from Groupon - This rapidly growing site features city-specific, super-discounted deals that only kick in when a certain number of people sign up. To get the deal, interested parties share the deal with their network, and it's not uncommon to see Groupon deals all over the various social media bookmarking sites. Offer up the same idea, but base it on the number of times your site's offer page is Dugg, for example. Or even easier: put a coupon code on the offer page and add in "share this" type links loudly to encourage sharing.

  • Data mine and publish quirky behaviors - We've all seen the funny "those who bought this also bought..." suggestions Amazon often makes. Chances are, you have some real gems in your database, too. Or maybe you see a spike in orders of one type of product during the year that seems a little odd. Mine your data looking for patterns people might find interesting or funny, then build content around those patterns. If it's compelling, share it!

  • Go ahead and list your "special" pages - You should submit more than just your home page. Just make sure the pages are good entry points and have good content. No one wants to see your "here's all the brands we sell" page. But someone may want to see the special storefront you made for Doodiddly Diodes. Be smart about using this, and always ask yourself if the new page you've created is worthy -- in the social bookmark users' eyes -- of being included on those sites. If the answer is "I'm not sure", then it isn't. Move along.

That'll get you started. Once you've figured that out and created the content, you've got the lion's share of the work done.

But what about that "share this" button I've placed on every page of my website?

It's probably a waste of time. Even worse: it may be impacting your conversion rate. Ouch! You won't know until you test, but anything not directed to get someone to buy on a purchase page is diverting attention. A better approach might be to send that "share this" button along to the customer a few days after the sale with a "if you loved it, share it!" message.

Your turn now. Did I go too far?

I'm certain that a fair number of "seo experts" will jump in with stories of how they've managed to boost rankings, build boatloads of traffic and generally refute my initial arguments. If that's you, can I ask one question? Please provide specific examples related to the business of etailers. I'm trying to be specific with my lambasting. I hope you will be, too.

Now for that worthless "share this button". No, wait. I'm not an etailer. Different rules apply, see? ;)

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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Worthwhile vs worth-less marketing tactics

Emarketer is talking about what works and what doesn't work for marketers using Facebook & Twitter. The article is based on a survey of marketers, and we all know how much I loathe survey data. This one is no exception.

Let's look at these so-called "tactics" listed and find out if they truly are successful. Success implies meeting or exceeding a goal that somehow benefits the company. Do these all? Nope. And I'll tell you why. Let's look at the reported tactics on Facebook first.

Worth-less Facebook marketing tactics
  • Created a survey of fans
    Think of your Facebook fans as your most loyal customers. Will someone who hates or is lukewarm about your brand going to become your fan? Then consider those who'll take the time to fill out your survey even more fanatical. Whatever you are asking, it has suddenly become "tell us how much you love us". What are you, six? There's almost zero value in that information.

  • Friending recent customers with corporate Facebook profile.
    That's against Facebook's terms of service. People can be come friends of other people. Companies and entities can't become friends of a person. Granted, many companies break these terms of service all the time. But until the ToS are modified, this tactic has to be considered inappropriate behavior.

  • Creating a Facebook application around a brand
    Creation without usage is worthless. Usage without purpose is even more worthless. There are great opportunities to leverage apps, but only if they drive some business goal. "Getting people to use my app" is rarely a valid goal.

  • Driving traffic to corporate materials with status updates
    If your corporate materials are boring, who cares? And is are they really worth leaving the Facebook ecosystem to see? Stop trying to get everyone to click through to your site. Start re-purposing -- re-crafting as necessary -- those materials so they are consumable in situ. Engagement doesn't mean "steal them away".

Worthwhile Facebook marketing tactics
  • Used Facebook user data to profile your customers demos or interests
    Smart, but limited as pointed out in the survey comment. And only useful if the data you mine helps to inform your real tactics to drive a business goal.

  • Buy targeted CPC ads on Facebook
    I've gone from cold to lukewarm on this one. Facebook offers some amazingly deep targeting info. Yet the goal of all the campaigns I've seen has been to either get a click or get a fan. That's missing the point, and campaigns with those success metrics will -- and do -- fail.

Before you get too caught up on the two I think are worthwhile, remember the caveats. Now, how do the reported success stories on Twitter fare?

Worth-less Twitter marketing tactics
  • Create in-person event using only Twitter invites
    I fail to see how a false sense of elitism helps your business. There may be short-term gains here, but companies who expand to other tools -- and even beyond the social sphere -- will do better. Anything else smacks of a gimmick.

  • Driving traffic by linking to marketing web pages
    Most marketing web pages suck. You're smart enough to be on Twitter. Be smart enough to realize that we don't want your same worthless drivel when we hit your website. See the next item for ideas on how to stop making terrible marketing web pages.

  • Provocative text to drive link clicks
    On the surface, this is a good idea. The 140-character restriction of Twitter causes marketers to carefully chose their words, dropping much of the superfluous bullshit. I've lumped it here because you should be doing this everywhere! Stop being boring. Hire a fantastic copywriter. Or empower your people to be witty and creative. Burn all your whitepapers! Then re-write them in a style that doesn't make people's eyes bleed, turn them landscape and start spreading them around.

  • Invite Twitter users by positive brand tweets to do...?
    Granted, I don't know what they were suggesting in the survey, as the info was truncated in the eMarketer slide. But be careful trying to thank everyone who tweets a positive experience. You should strive to provide a positive experience for every customer and hope that they all share that. Instead, showcase the fantastic reviews and shares. And do more than just follow the people that made them on Twitter, OK? That's valuable stuff you should be sharing through many different channels.

  • Increased Twitter followers by traditional media mention
    This isn't a tactic. It's a positive side effect. And one that is becoming assumed. If you get mentioned in the media, some of those readers will turn to Twitter (and Facebook and other digital media sites) for info. So be there. But I'm skeptical of the need to try and get traditional media to reference your Twitter account.

Worthwhile Twitter marketing tactics
  • Monitor Twitter for PR problems
    This remains one of the top reasons companies should use Twitter as an incredibly smart tactic. it's not always easy to do, and knowing what to do after is even more difficult. If you're not doing it; start.

  • Contacting Twitter users tweeting negatively about the brand
    And contact them publicly, right back on Twitter. It shows you care and that you are paying attention. I'm assuming you're contacting them to try and put things right. Remember, sometimes you can't. Acknowledge that when it happens and move on

  • Timing tweets to maximize views
    Twitter -- and other social sites -- shouldn't be an afterthought. Don't just dump all the updates you want when you finally get around to it. Figure out when your audience is likely to be ready to receive your message and send it then. There are tweet scheduling tools to help with this.

  • Driving sales by linking to promotional web pages
    I almost put this in the worthless pile. But good deals transcend crappy marketing-speak, so it stays in the good pile. A healthy percentage of people on Twitter follow brands precisely so they can be alerted to deals, offers and promotions. Don't only tweet about these, but they can certainly help your bottom line -- if worthwhile and done correctly.

It's good to share what is working and what isn't working. This is brand new stuff for most of us, and guides are good to have. But without knowing the measurement of that success, you're still spinning your wheels.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Simpler Way?

Sometimes you have a good idea. Then the your goals change. And that first good idea isn't important.

Or is it?

Maybe the kernel of the idea was good. Like... the name?

And here we are. More in a moment.