Social Media and the Masses

28 07 2009

Facebook.  Twitter.  MySpace.  Today is the “golden age,” the renaissance, the awakening, of social media sites.  From Facebook to Twitter, not only is the user population exploding, but businesses of all sizes from the “David” (small) to the “Goliath” (large) are seizing the opportunity to reel in the masses and promote themselves.

One of the largest social media sites on the scene, Facebook, currently has over 250 million active users, with 120 million of them logging on at least once per day.  These numbers are gargantuan compared to the early 2000’s, or the “dark ages” when I myself joined the elite Facebook clique.  A select few of my former high school buddies had the special privilege to be part of this newfound type of social media.  Since then the small town group has expanded into an extremely large community where now thousands of my tiny Texas high school comrades are members. It is only coincidental that the fast growing demographic of new Facebook users is the over 35 crowd.  And that is just one example on how the dark ages of social media experienced an awakening of sorts and transformed itself from one little weed in your lawn, to your lawn being all weeds.

Looking back 1 to 2 years, I didn’t even know what a “tweet” was.  Fast forward to today and Twitter is the new rage of social media, and businesses from small to large, are spreading their wings on Twitter by storm.  Why you might ask?  752% is why.  That is the amount of growth that Twitter has experienced in the last year.  Twitter allows a business to not only communicate effectively with its customer base through tweets, but also allows sales, specials, and promotions to be advertised.  Think of it as the free version of non-traditional advertising.  Particularly the struggling airlines (lower your fares!) and local businesses have established their little places of happiness on Twitter, targeting leisure travelers and the local foodie crowd.

Communicating with your constituency is an advantage that conglomerates on Twitter have.  Particularly, both United Airlines and Alaska Airlines frequently advertise fare specials and communicate with their fliers through Twitter.  United has “TWARES,” fares available only to their 18,000 loyal followers, most recently advertising a cheap fare between the Gateway City and the lovely Windy City.  Alaska Airlines most recently advertised a fare sale between Portland and Southern Alaska, which I wish was still going on, as the heat is unbearable in Portland this week.  Keep your reputation and feelings towards your business above the clouds by communicating directly with your customer base, which in this day and economy is more important than just selling products.

Local businesses in Portland have carved their space onto Twitter as well.  Burgerville, a restaurant chain in Washington and Oregon, that has the best onion rings ever, recently used Twitter to promote its new mobile cart the “Nomad.”  The location of the “Nomad” was publicized via Twitter to the masses, generating large interest in the Burgerville brand.  Fortunately the “Nomad” parked itself only a few blocks away from our local Formic offices here in Portland.  We all enjoyed fries, burgers, and Oregon raspberry lemonade, which are not usually readily available for our lunchtime cravings.

What’s the moral of the story?   The answer is that any business, from a small mom and pop shop to a multi-billion dollar worldwide corporation, can benefit from the use of social media sites.  Use it to reach out to your local consumer base to advertise specials for free without selling your soul to traditional forms of print and television advertising.  Make yourself known! Crush your competitors (not literally) and take the upper hand in these tough economic times by reaching out to your constituents!

If you’re interested in cost effective online marketing and overtaking your competitors by setting up a social media campaign, our team has a plan for you.

Facebook. Twitter. MySpace. Today is the “golden age,” the renaissance, the awakening, of social media sites. From Facebook to Twitter, not only is the user population exploding, but businesses of all sizes from the “David” (small) to the “Goliath” (large) are seizing the opportunity to reel in the masses and promote themselves.

One of the largest social media sites on the scene, Facebook, currently has over 250 million active users, with 120 million of them logging on at least once per day. These numbers are gargantuan compared to the early 2000’s, or the “dark ages” when I myself joined the elite Facebook clique. A select few of my former high school buddies had the special privilege to be part of this newfound type of social media. Since then the small town group has expanded into a extremely large community where now thousands of my tiny Texas high school comrades are members. It is only coincidental that the fast growing demographic of new Facebook users is the over 35 crowd. And that is just one example on how the dark ages of social media experienced an awakening of sorts and transformed itself from one little weed in your lawn, to your lawn being all weeds.

Looking back 1 to 2 years, and I didn’t even know what a “tweet” was. Fast forward to today and Twitter is the new rage of social media, and businesses from small to large, are spreading their wings on Twitter by storm. Why you might ask? 752% is why. That is the amount of growth that Twitter has experienced in the last year. Twitter allows a business to not only communicate effectively with its customer base through tweets, but also allows sales, specials and promotions to be advertised. Think of it as the free version of non-traditional advertising. Particularly the struggling airlines (lower your fares!) and local businesses have established their little places of happiness on Twitter, targeting leisure travelers and the local foodie crowd.

Communicating with your constituency is an advantage that conglomerates on Twitter have. You’re your reputation and feelings above the clouds by communicating directly with your customer base, which in this day and economy is more important than just selling products. Particularly, both United Airlines and Alaska Airlines frequently advertise fare specials and communicate with their fliers through Twitter. United has “TWARES,” fares available only to their 18,000 loyal followers, most recently advertising a cheap fare between the Gateway City and the lovely Windy City. Alaska Airlines most recently advertised a fare sale between Portland and Southern Alaska, which I wish was still going on, as the heat is unbearable in Portland this week.

Local businesses in Portland have carved their space onto Twitter as well. Burgerville, a restaurant chain in Washington and Oregon, that has the best onion rings ever, recently used Twitter to promote its new mobile cart the “Nomad.” The location of the “Nomad” was publicized via Twitter to the masses not generating large interest in the Burgerville brand. Fortunately the “Nomad” parked itself only a few blocks away from our local Formic offices here in Portland. We all enjoyed fries, burgers, and Oregon raspberry lemonade, which are not usually readily available for our lunchtime cravings.

What’s the moral of the story? The answer is that any business, from a small mom and pop shop to a multi-billion dollar worldwide corporation can benefit from the use of social media sites. Use it to reach out to your local consumer base to advertise specials for free without selling your soul to traditional forms of print and television advertising. Make yourself known! Crush your competitors (not literally) and take the upper hand in these tough economic times by reaching out to your constituents!

If you’re interested in cost effective online marketing and overtaking your competitors by setting up a social media campaign, our team has a plan for you.

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Sports and Search Engine Marketing

24 07 2009

Let’s face the facts, I LOVE sports.  I’ve been playfully teased in the past about my obsession for sports and certain sports teams.  You are probably wondering, “How does this relate to Search Engine Marketing?”  In fact, thank you for asking.  Both Bing and Yahoo have created sports shortcuts for search queries.  Bing was the lead-off hitter, creating an “Instant Answers” feature that has been increasingly expanded.  Type in the name of a team or player and you will get Instant Answers on all of their current stats.  Yahoo countered by quickly rolling out “search shortcuts for sports”.  Let’s take a closer look at these two search engines and their affinity for sports.

Bing Instant Answers

The Portland Trail Blazers are playing in game 5 of the playoffs and you do not have access to your television.  Don’t stress, Bing.com has your back!  You can get an instant update about what is going on in the game via Bing.com.  Perhaps you are not away from your television, but you are curious how the Cavs versus Magic NBA playoffs game is going and the stats for a particular player.  Simply type in that player’s name into Bing.com and get Instant Answers stats.  Let’s say that Lebron James recorded a triple double, and you found that out by typing in his last name into Bing.com – amazing!  This is a great feature for sports junkies, including myself, who want to check the box score of a game or see a particular player’s stats on the fly.

Yahoo Search Shortcuts for Sports

It can be hectic at times to follow your favorite sports team(s); therefore Yahoo quickly launched a tool similar to Bing’s that is a “new sports team shortcut.”  When a user searches for a favorite major league or college sports team or player on Yahoo Search, a short cut appears with real, live data that includes the live score, the previous game’s score and the date and time of the next game.  A user will also find quick links to the team or player’s page, as well as stats, photos and schedules.  The sports team shortcut covers the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, NCAAF and NCAAB.

With all of this sports talk, I’d like to end this discussion with a list of my top 10 favorite sports websites (in no particular order).





Off-shoring Search Engine Marketing

21 07 2009

One of our prospects plans on hiring a firm in India for link development services, where they only pay $15 per hour. In this recession, they could find local talent on Craig’s List for nearly the same price without the additional complexity. New college grads knock on Formic’s door continually, and they’d gladly work for $15 per hour. Do the developers overseas know the right social media sites to post on? Our local Gen-Y workers surly know where to go, more so than someone in Bangalore.

Our sister company Anvil found an American competitor who plagiarized their SEO white paper, word for word. When contacted about the fraud, they blamed inexpensive overseas contractors who built their website for pennies on the dollar.  Trust me, saving a couple thousand in content development is not worth having angry entrepreneurs exploring copyright infringement lawsuits.

My favorite off-shoring story is Visual Compass, a significant Seattle-based software company that imploded in 2002.  Most of the development was off-shored to India where programmers wrote Cold Fusion code. Half way through the project, my friend Jason and a crew of Seattle programmers were hired to fix signifcant user interface mistakes and buggy code.  The software release was significantly delayed, helping doom the company. Jason and his crew could have delivered on time without the extra outsourcing expense, offering Visual Compass a chance of survival in the post dot-com world. At minimum, the inventors could have saved money when the doors were closed.





Landing Pages are for Winners

16 07 2009

Ever wonder why your perfectly targeted and optimized PPC campaigns which are generating good Impressions and stellar click through rates (CTR) are NOT converting?  Chances are your company needs to investigate where your ads are taking your visitors.  Let’s talk about landing pages!

Landing pages are likely one of the most important components to creating a successful PPC campaign.  Without the use of targeted landing pages within your campaigns, you are doing your visitors a disservice and quite possibly losing a conversion, sale/purchase, form submission, etc.  When a user clicks on your ad, clearly:

  1. Your ad was highly relevant to their search query.
  2. Your ad copy and headline were enticing and resonated well with their online needs/intentions.

Success!  This user has now clicked on your ad.  However, if you are dumping all of your visitors onto your home page or some other general and irrelevant page – this can be confusing, frustrating and downright inconvenient for the user.  In short, you don’t want there to be a disconnect between the ad that a visitor has clicked on, and the page that the ad takes them to.  Online user attention spans are very short, because everyone wants to find what they are looking for instantaneously.  If you make what your ad was advertising hard to find, visitors will most likely bounce from your page immediately.

The purpose of targeted landing pages is to eliminate these problems, by making it easy for a user to complete a conversion.  Depending on what your conversion goals are (sale, download, form submission, page view, etc.) landing pages and conversion funnels will vary; however, the same basic principles will apply:

  1. Make sure your landing page has a Call to Action!
  2. Make your call to action button or link is as big and bold as possible.  We all like big, bright, shiny things – and this will help with kicking off the conversion process.
  3. Keep it Simple.  The fewer items, pictures, videos or unnecessary text on the page that could distract your visitor from converting, the better.
  4. Limit navigation.  Make it hard for users to leave your page – trap them if you have to. 🙂  However, ensure that users can navigate to your home page (a logo linking to the homepage works well here) or basic top/side navigation that matches your website.  For example, they may want to do some more product research on your site before they buy.
  5. Keep all copy above the page fold and add in relevant PPC keywords.  This not only helps with your AdWords quality score, but it improves relevancy for your visitor.
  6. Brand your landing page to your website.  This helps makes your page recognizable and builds user confidence in your company, so that the landing page is not just seen an advertising/sales ploy.

We hope this helps shine some light on the importance of landing pages and why they are essential to every PPC campaign.  Happy PPC’ing!

Ever wonder why your perfectly targeted and optimized PPC campaigns which are generating strong Impressions and stellar click through rates (CTR) are NOT converting? Chances are your company needs to investigate where your ads are taking your visitors. Let’s talk about landing pages!

Landing pages are likely one of the most important components to creating a successful PPC campaign. Without the use of targeted landing pages within your campaigns, you are doing your visitors a disservice and quite possibly losing a conversion, sale/purchase, form submission, etc. When a user clicks on your ad, clearly:

a. Your ad was highly relevant to their search query.

b. Your ad copy and headline were enticing and resonated well with their online needs/intentions.

Success! This user has now clicked on your ad. However, if you are dumping all of your visitors onto your home page or some other general and irrelevant page – this can be confusing, frustrating and downright inconvenient for the user. In short, you don’t want there to be a disconnect between the ad that a visitor has clicked on, and the page that the ad takes them to. Online user attention spans are very short, because everyone wants to find what they are looking for instantaneously. If you make it hard to find what your ad was advertising, visitors will most likely bounce from your page immediately.

The purpose of targeted landing pages is to eliminate these problems, by making it easy for a user to complete a conversion. Depending on what your conversion goals are (sale, download, form submission, page view, etc.) landing pages and conversion funnels will vary; however, the same basic principles will apply:

a. Make sure your landing page has a Call to Action!

b. Make your call to action button or link is as big and bold as possible. We all like big, bright, shiny things – and this will help with kicking off the conversion process.

c. Keep it Simple. The fewer items, pictures, videos or unnecessary text on the page that could distract your visitor from converting, the better.

d. Limit navigation. Make it hard for users to leave your page – trap them if you have to J However, ensure that users can navigate to your home page (a logo linking to the homepage works well here) or basic top/side navigation that matches your website – for example, they may want to do some more product research on your site before they buy.

e. Keep all copy above the page fold and add in relevant PPC keywords. This not only helps with your AdWords quality score, but it improves relevancy for your visitor.

f. Brand your landing page to your website. This helps makes your page recognizable and builds user confidence in your company, so that the landing page is not just seen an advertising/sales ploy.

We hope this helps shine some light on the importance of landing pages and why they are essential to every PPC campaign. Happy PPC’ing!








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