Archives for April 2009

Are You In On the Conversation?

A long time ago, (1991) in a far off place, (here, then) the internet was played out on BBS boards and travel agency offices in a DOS world. They really didn’t know much about each other, but there they were, none the less; seeds of today’s internet. On one hand, the airlines were delivering their product to consumers through the travel agents. On the other hand, a community of like minded citizens was forming for every kind of interest with anybody who could get their TRS80 hooked up to a telephone line.

Somebody came up with the bright idea to create WWW and soon thereafter http. As the phenomenon gathered momentum, the folks from the BBS world bemoaned the encroaching commercial onslaught on their beloved communication tool and, well, travel agents… are hard to come by now and treated as a nuisance by the airlines today.

I don’t need to tell you what went on between then and now, because you’ve hopefully been here for this part of the story! So, lets fast forward through trillions of dollars of online commerce and a googol worth of forum posts to find yourself at the doorstep of the end of the first full decade of the internet. Whew!

For those purists that thought that communication and collaboration would take a back seat to finding a size 6 pair of red shoes…how wrong you were! Today we can join a community of red shoe wearers and the size 6 group will tell you which ones will work out best for you. We didn’t let the wheels of commerce get in our way of collaborating! Instead, as humans, we found a way to micro niche the heck out of every facet of life.

So, I ask you this. If you are a business in today’s’ hyper-informed world, are you in on the conversation? You might think you are. But it can’t hurt to get a check up! Here is what it takes:

Web Site – Seems simple enough. But do you have a site that fits the needs of your customer? Is your information and pricing easy to find. Is it easy to get my questions answered? It better be because I’m in a hurry and those that make it “plain as day” win.

SEO – Have you had your site optimized so that it can be found on the search engines? Do you allocate some effort each month to grow that asset? Some have and some haven’t – and – some haven’t done it right. If all sites were optimized, I wouldn’t be writing this because I’d be out of a job. We could also throw a subset of PPC and media buys in here. These tactics are all designed to attract people to your offer.

After you have these two basics down you are ready to get into the meat of today’s marketing. I call it “the conversation”.

Blog – Step one is blogging. This is good for so many reasons that have to do with the two basics above. But more importantly, it enters you into the conversation going on out there (or is that here?). You become a voice about what interests you. In time, you may even become recognized as an “expert” which can be worth some hefty bonus points.

Social Media – One of the latest acronyms to know, hands down, is SMM. Social Media Marketing is the art of conversing and collaborating with an agenda. After all, everyone has an agenda. So, why not use yours to grow your business? Beware, though; when you start conversing dynamically in the social world it’s very easy to shoot ones foot. Social Media Marketing is also the fine art of listening. It is not about shouting that you have the best red shoes. That is for other people to decide. Your job is to provide information, instruction and a level of intelligent compassion when you start walking around the streets of Facebook, Twitter, Technorati and the gazillion of other large and small places where business can interact smartly with their customers and potential customers.

Many people will not engage in the conversation for fear of doing something stupid or looking bad. Still others will put it aside for lack of time. If you join either of these camps you lose the opportunity to be “in” on the conversation going on around you. The conversation is like a fresh garden in need of cultivation every morning. So get out there and “make it a great day!”

Free Custom Twitter Channel Creation

Howdy and Happy Easter!

I have received a crush of questions regarding Twitter this week. Here is the straight tweet, and an Easter offer.

First The Offer – Let us create your Twitter Channel for Free!

Q:Why do I need a Twitter Channel?
A:
Branding – Register you Brand before someone else does.

Q: When do I need to Twitter?
A: You don’t, but we can help guide you if you choose to start tweeting.

Q: What is Twitter again?
A: It’s instant messaging on steroids. You send & receive text messages via the web to groups that you choose, or choose you!

Q: How do I get going with Twitter?
A: Call or Email us and we will take care of it for you – No Charge!

Q: Who are you going to charge for this?
A: Nobody – We are picking up the slack for the Easter Bunny.

Whats included in this Easter Basket:

This offer applies to past and present clients of RightNow Communications. We will register your Twitter account, create a custom background with your logo, add your photo, and populate your profile details.

Q: Really?
A: Yea, really – don’t you believe in the Easter Bunny?

Contact Us Via Email – tweet@rightnowinc.com
(this email address expires on May 1)

Battle of the Colorado Ski Resorts

Ever wonder which ski resort in Colorado is the most searched for on the Internet? We thought we would take a peek at what Google had to say. We put Vail, Aspen, Breckenridge, Steamboat and Winter Park to the test!

And the Winter Is!

This would obviously include summer and winter. Search volume is declining slightly over the last 3 years. Are people searching elsewhere?

Beware of Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing

Don’t you just wish a placard with the title of this story could have been erected at the office doors of AIG, Lehman Bros and Merrill Lynch? It would make it so much easier to navigate life if the wolves would let us know they are wolves upfront. But then of course they wouldn’t be wolves would they? Plus there would be no such thing as a classic scam!

On the internet we see wolves constantly. It’s an open marketplace for all that is good and bad in the world. We encourage our clients to let us be their “filter” on all the offers that come their way via the web. Many of our clients do just that. Before they make a new buying decision they tell the seller they just want to run it by their internet marketing department before they make a final decision. Then they send us the information they have about the offer being presented to them and we go to work. Many of the offers turn out to be bona fide and potentially worthwhile. But much more than half are not worth it and some are outright scams.

Some of these scams appear to be very clean. I mean who would have thought that the venerable AIG had turned their business into a casino letting only a few other “players” know? Just last week, a client sent us an offer they had received. It prompted me to write this missive because it was the second time in a short while that the same offer had crossed my desk. In fact it is so slick I missed it the first time. No harm, no foul. It was too expensive for the first one to consider.

Heres the scenario: A highly articulate and friendly person makes it through the gatekeeper to a marketing staff of a company via the telephone. They introduce themselves and show the client (a travel related company) around their web site (a travel directory). It is very professionally designed and offers a vast array of products just like theirs and includes quite a few of their direct competitors. From all outward appearances it seems like a good potential source of business and the credibility seems high. The client becomes hesitant though when the telemarketer requires a huge fee with a guarantee of potential business that’s laced in jargon that confuses them. The first research I do is to find out how this seller is going to bring them the guaranteed business because even the high price they command would be worth it if the business they guarantee showed up. I search for products (destinations) found on their site. The seller needs to be very visible in the search results to be able to drive traffic for the advertiser. I strike out when looking for the the destination the client is located in which gets me scratching my head as they dont show in the pay-per-click either. But it is late in the day and maybe the sellers budget for PPC has run out for the day. So, I search for other destinations they are touting on their home page. East of the Mississippi the seller can be found readily for popular terms in a high natural position on the first page of search results. But out West, they are invisible. I also find that back East, the volume of “advertisers” is quite large and the page count for content on those destinations is massive compared to out West.

Bingo! This wolf has figured a way to get people to pay them (a large amount of comparative advertising $) and have those same advertisers build out the sellers content about the destination. Now, if you were a small business not found anywhere near the first page of Google for the important terms that bring you business this might be a worthwhile opportunity. But our clients enjoy the rankings that this seller would like to have for the client’s destination, because, well, they are our clients and that is what we do for them! These clients could potentially unwittingly unseat themselves from a good ranking by paying another company to let them advertise. Pretty darn tricky. With only ten positions for results on the first page, this is highly coveted territory and very hard to break into for just about any type of popular search. If your business enjoys a first page result it has now become necessary to actively protect that. Because once lost, an individual business has a nearly impossible time climbing back up. We are here to help you protect your online presence.

FaceBook and SEO – Create Your Public Page

I have received a number of emails from clients asking the most effective way to leverage Facebook for Search. The answer …. Facebook has almost zero impact on the organic search engine optimization process, or websites search rankings.

Almost all of the content in FB is located behind a password protected log-in, preventing the search engines from ever finding and indexing it. The one exception is the public page you are allowed to develop.

The primary reason for creating a public profile is Branding. If someone searches for your brand or product name, you want the search results to be rich with positive content. The only way to accomplish this for most businesses is to create the information yourself. An easier way is to have your Social Media Marketing team do the work for you. Call us, and we can fill those shoes for you!

Here are the steps to creating a public page on Facebook if you are the DIY type:

Log-In to your FB account, and from the Home Page locate the Advertising link; Hint, look in the footer of the page. From the Advertising page click on “Pages” located on the top of the page. Now click the big green button that says “Create Page” and follow the instructions from there.

FaceBook and SEO – Create Your Public Page

Short-Cut Method – go directly to http://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php and log-in to your account.

Items to Consider when you Create a Public Page on FaceBoook:

Content – Original (not copy and paste) text that sums up your business or mission.

Visual – Upload your logo, photos, and video via the FB interface.

Links – Make sure to add a link back to your sites – this is the one item that will help your SEO in a minor way.

Applications – There are dozens of FB applications that you can insert into your Page to make it more interesting and generate community traffic. Click on the “pencil” icon located just to the right of the Application menu. You can integrate your photos from Flickr, videos from YouTube, and Tweets from Twitter.

WAIT, You Must Publish – Your page may be done, but its not public yet. You must publish it. To publish your Facebook page click on the Advertising link again, now click on Pages, and select Manage your Existing Pages, (under the green Create Page button.) Now select the page you want to publish, and click “Edit Page.” Now in the Settings drop down menu change the Published Status to “Public.” Note, this is not the same “Settings” you will find at the top of your home page which makes changing your settings a difficult and frustrating adventure – Enjoy!

If there is an easier way to do this, let me know. I find the FB navigation to be clumsy, and very non-intuitive. Maybe its because I am over 40?

Web2Expo Video: Tim O’Reilly on Web 2.0

Tim O’Reilly, “O’Reilly Radar” Speaks at the Web2Expo in San Francisco on the future of the web.

Watch More Video From Web2Expo