Finding a Niche for Your Social Media Marketing

What niche social networking sites might be useful for my goals?

Question 6 from 10 Essential Questions for Your Social Media Marketing Campaign brings some interesting insights that you might not have contemplated. Everyone knows about the big sites:

But what about the little sites (or even not so little sites) that might be tailored to your needs?

Authors, for example, should take another look at Amazon and see how they can use their author account to generate more buzz around their book right on THE site for book selling.

Other sites that you might find useful (not as big as the ones above but still pretty well known) include:

Each of these sites has its own orientation and purpose. For example, flixter.com is designed so you can share your movie review with friends. Depending on your business and what you are trying to accomplish, this could be a great way to connect with customers or vendors and share information.

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Finding the Best Social Media Sites

What media (or sites) are best suited to my goal?

Once you have determined what your goals are, it is time to determine which social networking sites will best help you meet those goals. There are literally hundreds of social networking sites available to you. Outside of three or four though, they all are designed to serve specific niches. The major sites that are available are:

Facebook: Until recently we recommended Facebook primarily as a Business to Consumer web site for Social Media Marketing purposes. No longer. You can create your own “Page” for your business and invite your connections to become “Fans”. When they become a fan, it appears on their profile which can get others to join and so on. Once established, you have the ability to interact with your fans, through posts to the page, events, importing your blog feed, and starting discussions.

Facebook can also be very good if your business targets consumers. One colleague who runs a travel company simply posted on his account about an upcoming overseas trip and got several new customers. The power of searching and matching makes Facebook powerful indeed. The matching comes in when Facebook suggests people you might know or other things you might like. As a business, you can target that matching by the kinds of content you write about. You can also try the Facebook Ads to target consumers.

LinkedIn: This site is definitely a business to business web site. If your goal is hiring people, LinkedIn could be a very good resource. It can also be a great way to connect with people in your industry or market so if your goal is to stay abreast of trends and innovations in your market, LinkedIn could be a good fit. We have found LinkedIn to be a very good way to stay on top of trends but also to connect with potential clients and with power partners. If extending your network beyond your physical reach is a goal, then this would be a good way to attack it. Basically, LinkedIn is an ideal social media site if your target is other businesses. It might also be within your goal if you need ot interact with others in your market segment.

Twitter: Twitter is still just a baby but is growing quickly. As such it is difficult to have long term goals for what you want to accomplish via this site. Having said that, we recommend it for both B2B and B2C purposes. If your goal is to get more exposure and learn of the latest trends it can be very helpful. If even 1/10 of the folks who claim they’re making millions on Twitter are close to the truth, it can fit into a goal of increasing sales to consumers as well as reaching out to businesses and consultants that need your goods or services.

What other sites should you consider? Do a search for social networking websites and you’ll find plenty of places to start but some other large ones include Plaxo, MySpace, Meetup and Ning. Another class of social media is social bookmarking. Sites to consider for bookmarking are StumbleUpon, Digg, Reddit, Delicious and Technorati.

You can just jump in to Social Media Marketing but if you first determine your goals and then determine which sites will help you reach those goals, you will be more successful.

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Instant On Operating System

What an interesting week this has been. I helped a wonderful couple from my church transition from their old computer to a newer XP computer. It was interesting when they first called because I asked them what operating system was installed. “Thelma” as I’ll call her, replied that she wasn’t sure.  I asked her to click on the start button but she couldn’t find that either. When I arrived, I turned on the computer and it was on almost instantly. Have you got it figure out yet? This was a 486 computer running DOS and Windows 3.11.

The thing that stunned me was how quickly it was ready to go. Even my faster computers will take 45 seconds or longer to boot up. This one was ready in less than 10. But of course it was Windows 3.11 so there wasn’t alot that could be done on it – although I did notice that it had an AOL icon so theoretically they could have gone online.

Why write about this now? Well our friends at Google are trying to take us back to the days of instant on with their new Google Chrome-OS.  They have had Google Chrome – the browser – out for awhile and it works pretty well (though I still prefer Firefox). Their next step is to have an entire operating system that boots quickly and basically just connects to the web from which you can access everything you need. Afterall, with Google Docs and all the other Google apps, what else do you need?

I have to admit it would be nice to have an instant on system that meets 21st Centry expectations of performance and usability because it was nifty to see how quicky that old computer fired up.

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Fresh Content for Your Web Site

Having good fresh content for your site is vital for keeping people coming back to your site and to make your site relevant. Google gets this pretty well. So know they have Google Web Elements.  Essentially web elements lets you take different content from Google and display it on your site.

Since Google excels at search, I decided to see how difficult it would be to integrate Web Elements into a page at Educyber.com. Our Social Media Marketing Page hasn’t been updated in more than a month so at the Web Elements home page I clicked on News. Choose the size I wanted typed in Social Media in the Create one field, copied the code, pasted it into www.educyber.com/web/educyber-social-media-marketing.php, uploaded it and “Ta Dah” I was done. (Go ahead and check it out – scroll to the bottom of the page)

Now I don’t really like this kind of integration because if anyone clicks the link that Google displays, they go away from my site and off to someone else’s. That can’t be good for business, can it?

But there are some useful features that can work for your site. For example, you can embed a Google Calendar onto your site. So, say for example you hold regular events, meetings or seminars. You can create a Google Calendar, make it public and then pull your calendar onto whichever page(s) on your site you want.

Or if you have a powerpoint presentation that would be beneficial to share with your web visitors, choose Presentations, upload your presentation (or link to someone else’s), then copy the code and paste into your web page – Presto! You have a web presentation.

All in all, Web Elements is a useful application – one of those “Why didn’t I think of this?” kind of tools that can help you engage your web visitors.

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3 Internet Marketing Research Tips

Frequently we have startup businesses ask us to design their web site. After we ask them a series of carefully designed questions about their target market and goals, they often ask us to hold off while they do some more market research. But market research is expensive and time consuming, right?
Wrong. Here are three simple Internet Market Research Tips that you can use to learn more about your target market and what the competition is up to:

  1. Search in Google for your top two to five key phrases and look at the top five sites in each phrase. Look at the colors, the links, the images and the content. Compare this to your colors, links images and content. Often you will find something you should add or tweak as a result. Repeat this step with live.com and yahoo.com.
  2. Find backlinks to your top three competitors (in Google, type in link:<domainname.com> and press enter). You can see who is linking to your competitor’s sites and possibly determine why. This will help you determine whether you should pursue similar links. If you have an existing site, use the Google Webmaster Tools at www.google.com/webmasters/tools to get more complete results.
  3. Getting a high rank in the search engines is only one piece of the puzzle. Next you want to look at the text that goes with a high ranking. For example, a search for best web design finds the site bestwebgallery.com at or near the top. The text beneath the link says “Best Web Gallery is a showcase gallery that features all the best design Flash and CSS websites on the web”. This text isn’t visible on the page but it is in the Description MetaTag. So the text that you put in your meta-tag will help searchers determine whether they will click on your link or not. Check out your competition’s wording and make sure that description tag is GOOD.

If you want to get to grow your business, take time to research what the competition is up to. It doesn’t cost anything more than some of your time. And if you take the time, you can uncover nuggets of information that will help you grow and prosper.

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Leverage Your Web Site

Tough times got you worried? Is the recession sending you into a depression? I’ve been asked quite a bit lately about how what EduCyber does can help a company through tough times.

This is undoubtedly one of the unique times when smart business owners will position their web site to capture market share and solidify their position so that when the recovery takes off, they’re in a position to benefit. So what can you do? First take a good hard look at  your web site. What is working? Do you have a strong call to action on each page? Have you updated it lately? Does it look fresh?

Take some time to go through your site yourself. If you’ve had your site for a year or more, there will undoubtedly be pages that you haven’t looked at in awhile. Make sure that any old data is removed and that you have current information about your products and services.

Then you are ready to start. Search rules. Get your site ranked for your key words now and keep them there. Doing that will pay benefits far into the future. If you carefully define the key words that you wish target, you might find that it is not as difficult as you might believe to get ranked.

Visit Google’s webmaster tools to learn how to do it yourself or contact EduCyber if you’d like assistance to start your new year at the top of the search engines. In fact you can come to our seminar on December 11th to learn how to “Start your (search) engines”.

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Beginner’s Guide to SEO

I’ve been surprised lately about the widely different ideas that customers bring to the table about what SEO is. Search Engine Optimization is, in a nutshell getting your site optimized for the search engines.

One of the first things I ask clients is where they’ve used the key words they think they’re targeting on their site. And I’m often met with a long blank stare. Oh, yeah. If you want to be ranked for a key word or key phrase, you have to use that key phrase on your site. Upon reflection it is obvious but not quite so obvious that you need to actually use the key phrases in the content of your site.

Once you’ve made sure you’ve included key phrases in the content, you can also make sure that you’ve included alt text for each image on your site. Yes, each and every image should have alt text and the alt text is a ripe opportunity to use your key phrases.

Another easy step is to use the key phrases in the title tag of the site. I explained this in a previous post on Title Tags for Web Sites but it is often overlooked. Don’t use tags like Welcome or About Us. Instead use titles that help both visitors and search engines understand what your site is about.

???? ??? ????Hyperlink key phrases to other pages. One of the things that search engines really like is to see what text is used to hyperlink to other pages. Instead of linking Click Here to the page with more content, use More information on how to sell books on Amazon (if you help people sell books on Amazon) or Handle your dental needs in one visit (if you are a Dental office offering Oral Sedation Dentistry).

SEO isn’t as difficult as some might make it seem but it does take time and it does take staying abreast of the latest trends and techniques. If you’re not sure how to proceed, call EduCyber at 303-268-2245 for assistance.

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Search Engines and URLs

Search engines from Google to Accona (yes, there’s a search engine called Accona) to Yahoo like to look at the URLs on your site. So you should pay attention to what is happening with your URLs. But let’s start at the beginning. What is a URL (sometimes pronounced U – R – L and sometimes pronounced like the name Earl)?

www.educyber.com/edunotes-blog/index.php is a URL. It is what appears at the top of your web browser when you are on a web site. www.educyber.com/edunotes-blog is another URL from our site. One thing to note is that for most sites, either index.htm or index.php will be a default page that shows up if you don’t type a file name. So www.educyber.com/edunotes-blog/ is the same as www.educyber.com/edunotes-blog/index.php.

So now that we know what a URL is, let’s take a look at how it can help you. As mentioned above, index.htm or index.php will be a default page that you need to have. After that you can name a page anything you want. You do NOT want to name a page index2.php or indexb.php. That tells you nothing at all about the content of your page.

Telling the search engines and your web site visitors about the content of the page helps them to understand what they will find on the page. This information is much more useful to the search engines than to visitors but then you’re more likely to get visitors if the search engines understand you.

Now let’s take another look at the EduCyber site for an example of what I’m talking about. Our navigation bar has a link that says Web Site Design. If you click that link, you go to this page: www.educyber.com/web/design.php. Notice that you’re in a folder called WEB and on a page called DESIGN.PHP. Those two pieces of information help search engines understand that is what the page is called.

As a final example, take a look at the URL in your browser as you read this blog. The last part of it reads /search-engines-and-urls/ which is also the title of this post. That helps to tell  the search engines what this blog post is all about.

The moral of the story is to use meaningful file names and paths when you create web pages and web sites.

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Searching in a Cloud

Came across a fascinating web site that I want to share with you. I have several friends who are very visual people. They love to diagram things. Several of them love to use a visual mind mapping tool that puts words all over the place – helping them to group key ideas and just see things in a more visual manner.

If that sounds like you, you need to check out Quintura. This site / application creates visual “mind map” searches. They use some pretty sophisticated algorithms to create the connections and visual creations. For example, we recently hosted the Information Product Roadtrip at EduCyber. If I do a search for information products at Quintura, I get the two words in the middle surrounded by a couple of dozen related words. Put the mouse over products and the words most closely related to it come forward and the others fade away.

If the linear fashion of most search engines just doesn’t cut it for you, try Quintura. Even if you love the way your favorite search engine works, you’ll want to give Quintura a try just to see if you get any additional insight.

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Title Tags for Web Pages

One of the things that many people overlook when creating their web site is coming up with good title tags.

First let me make sure we are on the same page. A title tag is the title of the page that appears at the very top of the browser window. For example, if you visit www.microsoft.com, you’ll probably see “Microsoft Corporation – Mozilla Firefox” or “Microsoft Corporation – Internet Explorer”, depending on your choice of web browser.

Now for Microsoft, that might be all you need. But for us little guys, we need to let the world know what it is that we do. Visit EduCyber.com and you’ll see the title “Denver Web Site Design, Internet Marketing, Web Hosting, Denver Search Engine Optimization.” Note that the name of the company doesn’t appear in the title. Instead we have let people know what it is that we do here at EduCyber.com.

Also, if you click on a link, such as the link to this blog, you’ll see that the blog page has a different title. The title here is “Search Engine Tips, Internet Marketing and Web Design: EduCyber blog”. Yes we have used the company name but notice that it doesn’t come first. Also note that every page on your web site should have a different title.

It appears, from a brief visit around the web site that a lot of companies want their site to be ranked high for “Welcome!”. You can often find Welcome in the title of web pages as well as having it be the first word of text on the main page of the web site. Do a search at Google for Welcome and see what I’m talking about.

What should you do? Write a list (10 – 50) of key phrases that you should be ranked for. Choose the two or three most important ones for the title of the main page. Look at the various pages of your site and craft a different title for each from your key phrases. Then do a search. Are you listed? If not wait a week and try again. This isn’t the end all to Search Engine Optimization but it can be one factor to help you get listed.

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