Blogs – Not Just for Nerds Anymore

To Blog or Not To Blog

Just in case you have spent much of the last few years under a rock blogging has gone main stream. Blogging once belonged to political fanatics or nerds. In the age of twitter (the world’s most famous micro-blogging site) where micro thoughts allow everyone to be famous for fifteen minutes everyone blogs….even me. The key question is does blogging help the average business owner’s bottom line. According to Hubspot, the answer is YES!

In a recent survey Hubspot asked companies what marketing efforts resulted in an increase in new business leads. The highest value was attributed to good old fashioned Search Engine Optimization (something eLocal Listing knows a thing or two about) which gets the credit in 75% of the cases.

Surprisingly, just behind SEO is blogging at 69% and somewhat lower is social media at 47%. Shockingly according to Hubspot, paid search advertising trails almost at the back of the pack with just 16%.

Why is blogging so effective?
Blogging gets credit for driving search engine visibility, which in turns drives new clients.

Blogging drives repeat traffic where your message is interesting people come back for more.

If you drive a visitor to your site through your blog, they may stay on your site and perhaps then become a lead. A blog may even go viral, which is perhaps the best possible result. All this activity tends to lend authority to your site which in turn drives more business.

Blogging is at the heart of our new platform MyLocally. On MyLocally local businesses can blog about their businesses, clients can post reviews and all that blog content contributes to search engine visibility. It’s interesting to note that although, SEO, blogs and social media get credit for driving new business, ultimately all of this effort pays of high search visibility.

Blogging, not just for nerds anymore!

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Facebook Freak Out!

The speakers at last Wednesday’s f8 conference were barraged with complaints about Facebook’s new features.  Facebook’s answer: “people will get used to it.” Interesting response, but I guess when you have 750 million users you can dictate how the market SHOULD respond to your initiatives!  I wonder if while at Harvard Zuckerberg learned about the fall of the Roman Empire or the old adage, “Before pride comes a fall… “

Regardless, they are Facebook and it appears that the changes are here to stay.  I do have to admit that MyLocally is including some of these features in our new online directory, so hopefully Zuckerberg is right that people will get used to features like tickers and activity news feeds.

While I doubt that Facebook sees MySpace as a threat to domineer the world of Social Media, it does look at its rise and fall as a lesson they should choose not to follow.  According to a Facebook executive, as a company they realize that in order to survive and thrive they must change and adapt.  I recall just last week, when a musician friend of mine, Adam Bubert, wrote a post on Facebook about his MySpace page, some bewildered 20 year old asked ½ tongue in cheek what MySpace was!  I guess Justin Timberlake isn’t “bringing MySpace back” quite yet.

While many of these changes were in the works before the introduction of Google +, its meteoric rise (and slide) certainly gave notice to Facebook that they weren’t the only game in town.  That being said, according to eMarketer, Facebook has $3.8 billion in worldwide advertising this year and a predicted $5.8 billion in 2012 – so they are doing something right.

I wrote this blog last week on my way to the Lake Tahoe Marathon and never posted it, so a week has passed since “Black Wednesday” when many of us Facebookers woke up to find our beloved home pages altered.  Since that time I can tell you that I have gotten used to the changes, and the ticker on the side has some interesting features that I like, such as scrolling down and seeing someone’s post appear with images and the thread!  But I did find it a bit disturbing that Andrew Shotland of LocalSEOGuide.com was listening to some band I have never heard of and NOT returning my calls…can you say “Facebook stalking” Andrew?

 

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Facebook and SMBs

Tim Judd sent a post from DMS 2011 with some interesting updates about Facebook.  His comments come on the heels of major (and somewhat annoying) changes to Facebook and the f8 conference in San Francisco.  f8 is Facebook’s conference for developers and innovators.

The news from DMS was surprising, confusing, and promising.  Facebook reported that although Facebook has over 750 million users and that over 48% of all SMBs are “doing” Facebook; most create a page, update business hours and little else.

SMBs are still confused about how to use Facebook (and social media in general) as a marketing tool.  Facebook provided some great tips for SMBs to reach out to their fans through targeted ads, promotions, events, and deals.  It reinforced what many of us already know;  it is difficult to use Facebook to drive calls.

During the session, Facebook revealed that the cost of advertising on Facebook had decreased and that inventory had increased.  This was promising news, as it would allow SMBs with a more affordable and targeted advertising option.  Then, surprisingly, they announced that it had a total of three people working on Small Business Strategies.   I am still scratching my head over this one!  I guess Facebook felt it was important enough to attend DMS, but not to read the first paragraph of their home page;

“Globally there are an estimated 50 million SMBs, spending tens of billions of dollars on media and advertising. BIA/Kelsey’s new U.S. SMB Spending Forecast (2010-2015) indicates that SMBs will allocate 70 percent of their marketing budgets to digital/online media, performance-based commerce and customer retention business solutions by 2015.”

There is no real news here as SMBs and lead generation providers like eLocal Listing continue to try to find a way to drive calls to SMBs.

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Deals – The Way of the Do Do Bird

OK, I am probably predicting the death of Daily Deals a bit too prematurely, but Tim Judd, CEO of eLocal Listing is sending me updates from the SMBs and Deals: The Next Wave session being held at the Directional Media Strategies Conference in Denver and informs me that perhaps I am not the only one that is annoyed with the constant barrage of deals.

Groupon has become controversial with thousands of users complaints, plus it is a crowded space with over 600 different deal sites.

Deals have spread beyond just spas and salons, it has twice as many email subscribers in Chicago than both the Chicago newspapers.

Building a social buying community which focuses on vertical communities is key to deals’ success!  Creating virtual communities where “word of mouth” becomes a part of a successful business’ marketing strategy helps drive deals and trusts!

Tim, you must be pretty excited in these sessions, since this is exactly the direction of MyLocally.com.  In reading Tim’s summaries, I can see that Deals are still a “Do Do”, but unless Daily Deal sites don’t adapt and become part of the newly socially engaged Search world – Deals may be a “don’t don’t”.

Great info Tim, keep the posts coming!

 

 

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Google wants “YOU!”

Do you think that Google wants “YOU!” to sign up for Google +?

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that according to industry experts, Google + posts have decreased by 41% since its invitation only launch earlier this year.  According to industry experts,  the average number of public Google+ posts per day has decreased from 0.68 between July 19th and August 20th to 0.40 between August 19th and September 14th.

Does this decline in public posts mean that Google+ is losing its momentum? Is it the new kid on the block phenomenon? Or could the labor day weekend and a general drop in searches the first week of September (for everything except back to school searches -as indicated in research using Google’s Insights tool) be the cause of the drop?

Time will tell, but in the meantime maybe now Facebook can stop trying so hard …

 

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Social Media; the new Paul Revere

One if by Facebook, two if by Twitter and three if by YouTube!

To paraphrase Longfellow’s historically inaccurate poem outlining Paul Revere’s warning that the “Red Coats” were coming, so did Social Media warn New York that a revolution of sorts was about to take place on Wall Street.

Appropriately dubbed “Operation Icarus” after the boy who flew too close to the sun despite his father’s warning, the movement sent a clear message to bankers and other CEOs that their hubris has caused the American public pain, and that they won’t stand idly by.

While the crowds were not as large as Anonymous (an activist magazine) had hoped, it was a rallying cry for the public to get involved.  Now I have to admit that while (like John Hancock and Samuel Adams) Anonymous is a bit of a trouble maker, it reinforces the power that Social Media has in uniting people against politicians and companies who do not take their role as stewards for the common man seriously.

If only Longfellow were still around …“Listen my children and you shall hear about a thing called Social Media …….

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Social Media Events That Shook Our World

Like Apple, MicroSoft, and Google changed the way that we all live, so hasn’t the world of Social Media.  People all over the world tweet, chat, facebook, video or share photos in ways that would not have been imaginable ten years ago.   Social Media has had a profound impact on social, political, economical, and legal issues from Orlando, Florida (Casey Anthony) to natural disasters (Hurricane Irene, Japan’s earthquake and tsunami) to social and political unrest (Egypt, Lybia, and more!). So when Social Media Week announced their choices for top ten Social Media Events I thought I had the list down and well, a few of their choices surprised me.

1)                The number one spot went to the uprisings in the Middle East.  Social Media not only transformed and galvenized the citizens of these countries, but kept the rest of the world informed and put leaders on alert that there was a new type of revolution against tyranical governments and that is the Social Media Revolution. 

2)                The impact of Social Media on the events of the Japanes earthquake and tsunami was no surprise.  Not only did it provide a window to the aftermath of an 8.9 magnitude earthquake and the subsequent tsunami,  Tweets, videos, blogs and facebook group pages connected families with their loved ones.

3)                Number three shocked me.  I had actually forgotten about this event, but Social Media Week voted Julian Assange’s Wikileaks scandal as their third choice.  While I have more than mixed emotions about the use of Social Media to potentially impact and put our troops at risk, I must admit that with out social media the age old debate over freedoms versus freedom of speech reached a new level and a new audience.

4)                OK, number four should be no surpise to any one.  The world watched and tweeted about the train wreck called Charlie Sheen.  I resist using his catch phrase, but must admire his ability to capture the nation’s obsession with reality, tragedy, and celebrity.  Charlie was able to amass  one million twitter followers faster than any other “celebrity” before him.  Now Demi Moore should take note that you can rise and fall just as fast with Social Media and stop tweeting naked pictures of herself, thank  you!

5)                I am embarrassed to even write this one, but number five is the man with the most unfortunate name and one who shouuld have remembered the lessons of the school yard with kids teasing him about having a name like Anthony Weiner.  Honestly how could he think it was a good idea to tweet a picture of his, well … need I say more.

6)                OK, I have to admit that I have absolutely no idea what this event is actually about, but Rebecca Black’s viral YouTube hit and subsequent backlash defines the new entertainment business model.  After watching the YouTube video, I learned a few things about the power of Social Media to catapult someone to stardum, but Rebecca I knew that Saturday comes after Friday, but thanks!

7)                Number seven is one that my friends and  I witnessed first hand with our tiara wearing, champagne sipping royal wedding slumber party.  My much younger friends spent as much time on their iPhones reading and posting tweets as they did eating the hand made scones my husband made to honor the event!  In the days leading up to the event 70% of all social media mentions focused on the Royal Wedding.

8)                I have been busy launching MyLocally.com, so I have to admit I was a bit behind on the news when my friend Steve facebooked about the riots in the UK. Note only did Social Media play an important part in informing the world, politicians blamed the violence on text messages, mobile devices, and instant messaging.  So much so that they considered blocking access to social networking sites. 

9)                Hurrican Irene came in at number nine, with tweets on par with those about the tragedy in Japan.

10)             Number ten isn’t a tweet or a post, but instead the recent offers, buy outs and ipos in the Social Media space; LivingSocial, Pandora, DealMaps, Groupon, Linkedin and more.

These top ten events only emphasize the importance of Social Media on today’s society.  

The impact that Social Media has had on businesses is as large and I promise to write my next article on harnessing the power of Social Media for businesses.

Until then – I think I will tweet the world (OK, my measly 50 followers) that I am saying good night!

 

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It’s Google’s world; we just live in it!

As I began to do research on Google’s gobbling up of Zagat, I found a quote from Paul Saffo, Managing Director of Discern Analytics, that I just couldn’t resist “borrowing”.

In its continued effort to capture more of the online local marketplace, Google announced the acquisition of Zagat for an estimated 200 million dollars.

For those of you who may not know, Zagat was the Yelp of yesteryear whose reviews could make or break a business.  Formed three decades ago by Tim and Nina Zagat with the notion that “normal” people could review a restaurant or hotel, it revolutionized the way consumers made choices.  It doesn’t seem that long ago when travelers would never think of venturing on vacation or to a restaurant without their little burgundy book and its short and witty reviews.

This acquisition of Zagat is another sign that Google wants to (control the world), I mean to crack the local business market and to keep competitors like Facebook from gobbling up a share of the estimated $140 billion that small businesses spend on local advertising each year.  Google wants to become the go-to guide for consumers researching local businesses.

 It also reinforces Google’s emphasis on unique, relevant content; reviews; and consumer participation as part of a good user experience.  Marissa Mayer, in charge of Google’s local strategy, comments that “Zagat is something where the Google spirit, format and process of reviews come together, I just love the user-generated content nature of it.”

What this will mean to those of us who focus on Local SEO is still unknown.  My hunch is that those SEO companies that focus on good, unique content and on providing a good user experience for both small businesses and consumers will probably fare ok with this new acquisition and the on-going strategy changes at Google.

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A Groupon Coupon for College – Creative Marketing

Social Media and online coupon deals are quickly becoming part of the fabric of our daily lives, and businesses of all sizes are beginning to embrace them as part of their overall business and advertising strategies.

Each day I scour the Internet looking for the latest deal, directory, or gimmick to see how companies are effectively using social media, contests, Twitter, Facebook, or coupons to grow their businesses, and I marvel at the ingenuity of some marketing companies and entrepreneurs. In my search today, I came across an article in the Chicago Sun-Times about colleges and universities using both Twitter and Groupon as part of an on-going advertising campaign.

In one article I read, a university was offering a scholarship to the applicant who could convince the school through Twitter why they would make the best candidate for their program.  Hmmm, I recall having to write more than 140 characters to the admittance board of my graduate program.  As college tuitions continue to rise and horror stories about the debt incurred from financial aid are being broadcast on television, I guess it makes sense … Had I been given the chance to go to school for free, I would have sung like a canary!

In another article, I read that National Louis University is offering a Groupon coupon for 60% off of a course entitled: Introduction to Teaching.  While Groupon has offered coupons for exercise and art classes in the past, this is the first time that they have offered a coupon for higher education.  This deal marks the trends that businesses are taking in order to thrive in an increasingly competitive environment.  The university’s president Nivine Megahed points out that in order to reach students, the university needs to “speak to them in a way they are used to speaking.”

It is a fact of life that more and more people are “speaking” through social media, blogs, reviews, and daily deal sites.  For those business owners who want to stay competitive, they must embrace this new world and speak the “language”, or -like the buggy whip, yellow pages, and perhaps the U.S. Post Office- face a dismal economic future.

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MyLocally on track with Local Search and Social Media Trends

As the launch of MyLocally.com fast approaches, we see affirmation that our strategy combining Local Search and Social Media into one product is in line with current Search trends every day and we grow increasingly more excited for its launch.

BIA/Kelsey recently launched their Social Local Media (SLM) advisory service, focused on the “growing significance of social platforms” and has appointed Andrew Shotland of LocalSEOGuide.com to act as their associate program director.  Mr. Shotland is a respected social and local SEO expert, and consults for eLocal Listing with our new product offerings such as MyLocally.com. BIA/Kelsey’s SLM advisory service will focus on monetization models for social networks (something SMBs have been struggling with for years), metrics that measure social transactions, social commerce, and Facebook’s continued evolution as an effective online marketing tool.

Another sign that MyLocally is on track with current Search and Social Media trends, especially with our focus on its community Market Place pages, is the introduction of BuddyPress; Social Networking in a box. This new free and open source web product allows communities to build an integrated solution in which participants are connected through blogs, updates, messaging, and more. Exactly the direction that MyLocally.com is taking.

MyLocally.com is a new online community that allows its participants, both businesses and consumers, to actively participate in deals, reviews, blog posts, and Q&A.  The more they participate, the higher you appear on the Market Place Page or the better deals you will receive!

Our current launch date is September 25, 2011; until then, keep coming back for more updates.

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