Archive for the ‘online marketing’ Category

How to not suck at Twitter

Friday, February 1st, 2013

In the world of Social Media and community management there are some people who just “get Twitter” and some people who don’t.  So this is a fun, yet serious post that I feel is long overdue to help people who are just doing Twitter so wrong, do it a little better – after all Rome wasn’t built in a day, or in less than 140 characters.

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So you have heard about this thing called Twitter, and you have opened yourself up an account and chosen a handle (which is what your name is called on Twitter), what do you do from here onwards? Well let me help you out.

  1. Start following people with the same interest as you:  You can find these people by searching keywords that interest you, in order to find other people who are talking about the same stuff as you, for example ‘running’, ‘fishing ‘, and ‘poetry’.
  2. Get interacting:  The most valuable thing I was ever told was “Interaction is Key” and it really is. How is anyone with a lot of followers supposed to know you are there and that you share their interests if you don’t try to talk to them? So get interacting
  3. Don’t over use #Hashtags: Your tweet has to get across what you are trying to say in under 140 characters. There is nothing more annoying than reading a tweet that goes along the lines of, “Wow, what a great run #Running #Fitness #WorkingOut #RunningTips #RunForFun”. Your tweet gets lost in the hash tag noise.  Tweet it like you would say it, and if you do need to add a hash tag, I would personally stick to 2 maximum.
  4. Don’t join #TeamFollowBack or beg for followers: Team Follow Back is to Twitter what Oil is to Water.  Granted you can put oil and water together but sooner or later they are going to separate and the result isn’t pretty. The same applies to #TeamFollowBack. Your Twitter experience will be diluted because they are following you and you are following them only because you are a number.  Rather have fewer followers who share the same interests as you and really enjoy the people in your community than having millions of people you don’t talk to but feel obligated to follow.
  5. Don’t be an arrogant idiot:  Ok we get it. You have a lot of followers. People may even call you “an influencer”, well guess what? The people who made you an influencer are still following you and can stop doing that at any time.  Respond to tweets, follow the ones trying to interact with you or interact back with them.  Be human. Calling yourself a Twitter celebrity is kind of like the homeless guy at the traffic light. Everyone knows you are there and can see you but only the ones who smile back will give you their spare change or a moment of your time

Good chat kids. Now go forth and tweet, but be ‘Twitter Friendly”

User optimisation vs. search engine optimisation

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

For most of us, the topic of search engine optimisation, is an old one. All you have to do is just Google the term, and the long list of SERP’s that follow will all kind of say the same thing. Most with a slight varying nuance in the ‘how’ to approach it. But all of that is rapidly changing. While up until recently, it was all about keyword density, increasing the number of pages on a site, or getting as many backlinks as possible. That’s all quickly coming to an end.

Google SERP’s

Why the change?

Much is being researched and written about the many algorithmic changes that Google is making, and rather than slowing down, these changes are actually on the increase. We saw as many as 12 changes in 2012, compared to just 11 in 2011. And if that’s not enough, the latest Google Panda update #24, the first for 2013 was released on January the 24th, 2013.

So, why the change? It is widely documented that this is Google’s continued attempt to ‘clean up the town’ so to speak. For all too long, SEO companies, practicing in both the white and dark arts, have been ‘influencing’ the results found on Google’s SERP’s. And in retaliation, Google continually intervenes to keep the search results as pure and uncontrived as possible. Most of which can be dated as far back as 2003, when they first began to ignore the keyword tags on websites

So where is this going?

The real question is, where will this end? I personally can’t see it coming to an end. For Google to remain competitive, and continue to attract users to its search engine, it is imperative that it continues to clean up the results its users find while searching. What’s more, Google now looks beyond search. Much more emphasis is now being placed upon the users engagement factor. Things such as bounce rate, load speeds, and goal completions, can both positively or negatively impact on where your site ranks, more so then how you got them there in the first place.

Whilst pre Panda and Penguin updates focused on driving the click, these days the emphasis is more about post-click activity. The bottom line really, is if the user wins, we all win.  So much more effort needs to be placed on what happens after the click.

The conclusion

While this is rapidly becoming the new reality, it is still important to consider both sides when approaching your SEO rollout. While the new focus is around optimising the browsing experience for the user, increasing overall engagement, and retaining the user for a longer period of time, the old practices still apply to some extent. To put it simply, while it is becoming increasingly more important to keep your user engaged once he or she has found your site, you still need to get them there in the first place.

Graph Search: Providing greater access to your Facebook network

Monday, January 21st, 2013

There have been rumors flying around for a while now that Mark Zuckerberg and his very own “team awesome” have been working on a Facebook “search engine”. Well, it is here and its name is Graph Search: certainly an interesting utilisation of the social media platform.

Available, at the moment, only to English (US) audiences, this social search engine was not developed to index the web. Instead, Facebook is indexing their map which is growing by close on 1Million new profiles daily. Data such as images, videos and connections are used in searches to provide an accurate result. This offers Facebook users the chance to dive deeper into their network.

How do I use Graph Search?

The search may be done in the search bar at the top of your Facebook window. Facebook users will be able to search for anything from photos to people and even interests. For example: if you are interested in forming a running group in your area, you would search, “People interested in jogging in Rivonia”. Graph Search will then pull all related profiles from within your profile that match your search request. The search result will provide results in order of “friends” closest to you, right down to mutual friends and connections.
Having been built up as a “database of people’s lives” Facebook allows lives to cross and the world to become more open. Graph Search has been designed to provide users the tools they need to make the most of their close and extended network.

Why is it useful?

Facebook predicts that this search platform will become a useful tool. From recruiting right through to forming niche groups, doing market research and even dating, Graph Search has allowed us access to valuable information, at our fingertips.

What was once an online platform to interact with friends and family, Facebook is now an empire that in many ways has become an integrated part of both our personal and business lives.
When to expect Graph Search…

Facebook has announced that they will slowly roll Graph Search out and as it becomes a more commonly used tool, they will certainly expand on its functionalities.
Once again we are left with the question, “What is next, Facebook?”.

Digital Relationship Building: away with link building

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

Every digital marketer is aware of how vital inbound links are to any site’s search results performance. But what is link building and what does it entail? Do you have to go all out and ask site owners in your niche for links to your site? Most misinformed inbound marketers seem to be doing that and they have every right to go that route because it is not easy to get quality inbound links to your site.

Before thinking about link building and sending bulk emails (which are perceived as spammy by many people) to every site that you think is related to yours for link exchange, you have to think about a very important method that will benefit you and your site or business in the long term – “digital relationship building”. Building relationships with industry leaders is not an easy task as it requires a lot of time and knowledge about your market, but if it is done properly it can be the best link building method of all.

So the main question is, how do you build relationships in your niche if you are an unknown? Below are some of the proven ways to accomplish that.

Follow Industry thought leaders on social media

This one is the most preferred methods of interacting with the thought leaders in your industry and making sure that you interact strategically until you get noticed. Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest are the best social sites to accomplish this and you have to produce engaging content regularly to be able to be perceived as worthy of being mentioned or having your content shared.

Guest Blogging

This part has to follow the one above because for you to be able to guest post on authority blogs you have to build your social profile and prove yourself on social media first. If you get mentioned and your content is shared by thought leaders, then it’s a matter of time before you start blogging for authority blogs and rolling online with the people you admire in your niche.

These are just some of the proven methods of building digital relationships with the sole purpose of link building. If you have any methods you have used and worked on, do not hesitate to leave a comment below.

Digital Marketing Institute Launches in South Africa

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

The Digital Marketing Institute (DMI) officially launched in South Africa yesterday. The opening address was made by Mr. Ian Dodson, the CEO, in which he promised to ’build the digital economy one person at a time’

Present at the launch which was held at the Balalaika Hotel in Sandton, was a delegation of the Irish Trade Commission, and a number of South Africa’s top Digital Agencies. Also present was Blue Magnet, the 1st of 5 accredited training institutions that the Digital Marketing Institute has partnered with to roll out its wide variety of course material to the local market. With its flagship course being the Professional Diploma in Digital Marketing, they offer theoretical training with practical outcomes.

The DMI promises to introduce a number of standards over the next few months. These are set around the standards in the industry and training of Digital Marketing, through the planned advisory council.

Globally, the DMI spends considerable time working with its partners around the globe to maintain these standards, formalise, and rollout education.

The DMI promises that through its dedication to educating professionals in the field of Digital Marketing, career growth and competitiveness in a global jobs market will increase.

“The Digital Marketing Institute spends considerable time working with our various partners at the Advisory Council.  This ensures that the syllabuses for our various courses are exactly what is required in order for you to further develop your career.  We get input from organisations such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Universities and other Educational Institutions as well as some of the world’s leading Advertising and Marketing Agencies” says Ian Dodson.

With online marketing being the core focus for businesses across the globe, DMI hopes to improve the current standard of quality within South Africa and worldwide. The focus on education and training means that we will be able to develop the digital industry in South Africa and through that, reach and target foreign investors.

CEO, Ian Dodson introducing the Digital Marketing Institute

How does Google+ affect SEO?

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

When Google launched Google+ everyone rolled their eyes at Google’s attempt to try and dominate not only search but Social Networks too.  At the time however there was talk of what Google+ would mean for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and how would it affect search results and website visibility in the long run.

Many SEO’s know that a link from a Social Media site has value when it comes to ranking, more so of late with Google adding social results to Search Engine result Pages (SERP’S).  There are many things to consider when we talk about how pages are ranked but Social Media and SEO should definitely be working together to affect page ranks.  Social Media is related to search results as Social Networking sites and the activity on them shows what content is favoured by people, it also drives queries and it is those very queries that influence ranking.  For that reason alone it has become increasingly important for companies to have a presence on social networks.

As we know a large part SEO is all about links, the better the links the better your content will rank in SERP’s.   Links from Social sites like Google+, Twitter and Facebook will help you get to the top of Google quicker as they carry authority.   Placing social sharing icons such as “+1’s” and “Likes” on content is important as social sharing affects SEO in that sharing carries weight when it comes to the Google Algorithm.  Sharing is important because it encourages interaction and the more interaction there is the more traffic the content will receive. This hopefully will result in an increase in direct relevant links.

Any inbound links to your website count as a vote, the same applies to social shares. The more people who like and share your content the more likely it is that Google will return it to the SERP’s.  Makes sense doesn’t it?

Google+ should not be ignored by companies just because it is not as popular as Facebook and Twitter.  Google Plus carries weight because Google owns it, obviously, which makes it very easy for them to track and measure social signals unlike on Twitter and Facebook.   Google has given their +1 a big advantage, if you are not adding +1’s to your content you will me missing out on a very precious ranking factor.  Google Plus certainly does affect your rankings. You need to be utilising it as part of your SEO in order to rank better.

 

Verify Your Pinterest Account

Monday, November 5th, 2012

On the 25th of October 2012 Pinterest announced the launch of a new feature that allows users to verify their accounts, and the good news is that it’s really easy to do too.

How to verify your Pinterest account

  1. Visit “Settings”
  2. Click on the “Verify Website”

You will then be directed to the following page: (This is what I saw while verifying Talooma)

If 1 and 2 in the above picture are too tricky for you to do, get hold of  your company computer go-to guy to assist you.

Currently Pinterest only supports top-level domains but they are working on supporting more options in the future.

When your website is verified ,  people will see a checkmark next to your registered domain (e.g. next to www.talooma.com) in search results.

Pinterest has always been open to asking for help from the community and even have a “Top Ideas and Featured Requests” option on their support site, where users can provide suggestions and improvements they would like to see on the site. This is a feature that neither Facebook nor Twitter can say they have – Pinterest has asked fellow pinners for any suggestions for different way to verify accounts.  This definitely means that the process will become more user friendly in the future. It’s great to see a social network making use of crowd sourcing to improve their service and their offering for the long run.  Nice one, Pinterest!

Social Media for Businesses

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

What is Social Media?

The term Social Media is being thrown around a lot lately and it is sometimes tricky to actually define what it exactly is.  To keep it simple, Social Media is people having conversations online and generating content through interacting with one another and with brands.

There are many ways that users of Social Media can interact with one another ranging from easy, such as commenting on blogs, allowing voting on articles, liking a status update and replying to a tweet to the more complex Social Media platforms such as recommending movies on Flixster.

Many companies are sceptical about using Social Media but the reality of the situation is companies need to embrace Social Media.  Customers are adapting and using Social Media to look for information about products and services in the form of recommendations and first hand feedback from other uses instead of using traditional media

How can Social Media help your business?

Gone are the days when having a website was considered good enough as an online presence.  As a generation we thrive on instant gratification, which is why Social Media is so important to stay ahead of the game.

There is good news though especially for smaller companies trying to compete in the market; Social Media is relatively cost effective and allows large and small companies to compete on a level playing field.

Social Media also allows a company to find out what consumers think of your product or service, which at times can be a scary, but when issues are dealt with efficiently and effectively, can help improve the way companies are viewed by consumers. This also assists in increasing brand equity.  Interacting with your customers, finding out about their wants and needs as well as how you can cater to them, is critical to Social Media. More so, it allows companies to improve their service and better satisfy customer needs.  Interaction is key to Social Media and companies can make use of it on different platforms to improve their business and its offerings to better satisfy needs.

What Social Media Sites should you consider and why?

There are new Social Media sites popping up every day, and although having a presence on every single one would be ideal it’s just not realistic in terms of management.  Companies should have their company profile on the major Social networking sites namely Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Wikipedia.

Social Media sites especially Facebook allow you to position your advertising efforts directly at your target market to attract customers, and they allow you to do this at a significantly cheaper price than traditional media.

With Facebook recently reaching 1 Billion users, and a 106% increase in users following brands that they like, the question that companies need to ask themselves is, can they afford to not be a part of the Social Media pie?

Microsoft starts the countdown to the end of Windows XP

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

If you are still using Microsoft’s Windows XP operating system perhaps it’s time to let go because Microsoft has announced that it will no longer continue supporting the beloved programme by 2014. The announcement was made by the company in a post on Monday on the Windows Team Blog reminding it’s users of the two-year countdown until it will terminate all support for Windows XP. In fact the countdown actually began on Saturday, April 7.

What does this mean for those using Windows XP?

The announcement is not going to be a trainsmash for the 144 million users of Windows XP. “If you still have some PC’s running Windows XP and Office 2003 in your organisation, now would be a good time to start migrating them to Windows 7 and Office 2010”, Microsoft said in a statement on their blog.

Marketing director of the US software titan, Stella Chernyak says the end-of-life means Microsoft will kill off all security updates, non-security hot-fixes and technical support after the due date, April 7th 2014 to be exact.

Microsoft has always supported a policy of a minimum of 10 years support and has given Windows XP extra time despite the release of Vista, Windows 7 and soon, Windows 8.

Is Apple and iPhone playing around with the idea of using glass?

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Apple, known for its cutting edge and innovative styling has taken its design to the next level with its next iPhone. What comes to mind when you hear of a phone made entirely from glass? Is it even possible? What’s it going to look like? Insane right!? Well, that’s exactly what the future iPhone might be made of. In fact, Apple has already applied for a patent for this design.

The see through iPhone could potentially be fashioned from two pieces of glass bonded together, or from a single hollow glass tube.

Advantages of a glass iPhone

The advantage of an all-glass iPhone would be the fact that it’s hermetically sealed and therefore water resistant, more so than being treated with Liquipel, the water repellent coating which has been rumoured for the iPhone 5. Glass is radio transparent so hopefully that would mean improved reception.

Naturally, an all-glass iPhone would look sleek and sexy. There’s no underestimating the extra zing it would give to an already much-admired gadget.

Disadvantages of a glass iPhone

The major worry would be how tough a glass iPhone would be, but Apple is certainly talking tough enough in the patent application. The company notes: “Some of the reasons for using glass over other materials are that glass is strong, stiff, and radio transparent.”

Many critics argue that even if potential breakage and strength isn’t an issue, there’s also the danger of scratches to contend with. Another point is if the device is hermetically sealed and waterproof, what about the port openings?

The question is: is your glass half full or half empty? Whatever it is Apple still has plenty of research and work to do to pull this one off. We have all limbs crossed as we wait in anticipation.