Larry Brauner
Once upon a time, a business would put up a website with its contact information, and that was the beginning and end of its web presence.

Those days are long gone. Savvy marketers today are very aware that a multidimensional approach is essential if one hopes to build a strong and responsive web presence.

Social Media and Search Engine Optimization

Social media and SEO are two of the most important aspects of building a presence on the web.

I’m reminded of a conversation I had several months ago with Christopher Boyer, creator of the Hospital Online Marketing Education site on the Ning network.

Google.comChris mentioned that he tells his Healthgrades clients that search engines are where research starts on the Internet, and that a researcher’s attention is captured by the websites and social media content displayed on the very first page of search engine results. He asks hospital marketers to think of Google.com as their home page and to focus on dominating search engine results for their respective niches.

Social Media and Relationships

Darren Rouse of Problogger.net fame shows in his video, How I Use Social Media to Promote My Blogs, the way he incorporates a large number of social media sites in his web promotion strategy.

Notice that Darren not only uses social media to drive traffic to his blogs; he uses it to build valuable relationships with people. Relationships and Internet buzz play key roles in today’s web marketing.

A Web Presence is Much More than Just a Website

The web presence paradigm has evolved. Search engine optimization, social media, relationships and reputation all contribute to the impact that we and our brands have on the web.

Your valuable comment below (and your subscription to this blog) will help us to build our relationship. ;-)

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Larry Brauner
I’ve already written about different types of SPAM, the reasons people SPAM, and alternatives for SPAM free marketing.

In this article I look at four kinds of social media SPAM, or anti-social media marketing as I sometimes call it.

I also share several ideas for coping with social media SPAM. Although we cannot stop SPAM, we can try to mitigate its effects.

  1. SPAM Messages - These are the unsolicited commercial messages sent to your Facebook inbox, appearing in your Twitter replies, or plaguing you on other social networking sites. You should block the scoundrels, and report them too if they appear to be really awful.
  2. Comment SPAM - These are ads or links on your profile pages, blogs, forums or guest books. Beware of innocent looking blog comments such as “Great post. Keep up the good work.” The commenter is only looking for the link back to his site which most blogs (including mine) do provide. Require approval of all comments and use a SPAM filter (such as Akismet for Wordpress blogs) to help you with the job.
  3. Social Bookmarking SPAM - This is when someone bookmarks only his or her own content on bookmarking sites (such as StumbleUpon or Sphinn) which prohibit this. Be careful not to do this yourself.
  4. SPAM Blogs - These are blogs that aggregate search results (for profitable keywords) using feeds from services such as Google Alerts, and then publish these search results. They exist in order to spam search engines and other blogs and boost their own sites’ search results. If you have a blog, you’ll receive comment SPAM from them indicating that they’ve linked to you. They hope to get a juicy link back from you. If your SPAM filter fails to kill off their comments, be ruthless and do it yourself.

Creating SPAM blogs is often called autoblogging by the spammers.

In a November 2006 article, What is Autoblogging and How Does It Work?, Gobala Krishnan stated:

No matter how good you get at autoblogging, you’re never going to produce high quality sites that attract a loyal fan base using autoblogging methods. Nothing beats content that is original and written by a human being.

Couldn’t have said it better myself. ;-)

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Larry Brauner
Connecting on social networking sites with family and friends requires little forethought or planning. The most popular social networks are easy enough to figure out, even without instruction manuals.

Most of us would agree that social networking sites are easy to use for casual networking.

On the other hand, reaching out to your target audience on social networking sites requires both planning and an appreciation of the fine points of each site. Social networking sites are not easy to use when it comes to marketing.

Facebook in particular is one social networking site that even experienced marketers struggle with, especially using profiles, pages, groups and apps in an appropriate and effective manner.

She Purged All of Her Friends on Facebook

Recently, I was contacted by a Facebook connection who happens to be some kind of celebrity. She was migrating her thousands of friends from her profile to her fan page, so that she could remove them from her profile.

At first glance, this is the Facebook equivalent of unfollowing all your friends on Twitter. However, you realize that it’s even more extreme once you think about it.

Removing her friends on Facebook, she gave up her access to their profile information and status updates. Either she was desperate for privacy :-P or hadn’t adequately considered the consequences or didn’t care much about connecting with the fans who were following her.

Separating Business from Personal on Facebook

Yesterday, a marketing friend informed me that he was trying to separate “business from personal” on Facebook. He had set up a fan page and asked me to send people there rather than to his profile.

He also informed me that he was “trying to get to 100 members, so I could get a vanity URL” and asked if I had any suggestions.

This same friend is working on attracting his target audience to his Ning social networking site which may partially justify his separating business from personal on Facebook. Nevertheless, connecting as Facebook friends offers so many excellent networking opportunities that one can’t fully justify passing it up.

Furthermore, his difficulty reaching 100 fans for his page is a sign to me that perhaps he’d be better off starting by building a base of Facebook friends from which he could later draw members for his page.

In Conclusion

A feature on one of the social networking sites may attract you, such as the ability to have an unlimited number of fan page members on Facebook, but it’s critical to carefully weigh the pros and cons of each strategy and tactic.

With Facebook groups for example, you can only have 5,000 members, but you can send group messages directly to the inboxes of all those members. That capability may be more useful to you that having unlimited members.

A modest investment of time speaking with an online social networking or social  marketing expert could dramatically increase the value of the subsequent time you spend marketing on social networking sites. ;-)

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Larry Brauner
Last week, Twitter released a beta version of Twitter Lists, “a great way to organize the people you follow and discover new and interesting accounts.”

“Beta” implies that there are still some rough edges, and tweaks are to be expected. It also implies that you might not yet have access to Twitter Lists.

Undoubtedly this article still has some rough edges as well and revisions are to be expected. ;-)

So what are Twitter Lists all about?

Twitter ListsFacebook has lists that let you organize your friends. Twitter Lists enable you to do much more than that. This brand new Twitter tool adds an entirely new and exciting dimension to Twitter.

Twitter Lists presents new targeting opportunities, and may also create new online social networking possibilities. We’ll know more once the feature is fully tested and rolled out.

Twitter Lists Observations

Here are five ways in which Twitter Lists and Facebook lists are similar:

  1. You categorize people and assign them to one or more lists. A person may belong to many lists or to none. The choice is totally yours.
  2. You create and name your lists, and you can edit its name even after the list has been established.
  3. You manage your lists and can add and remove people whenever you wish.
  4. Facebook lists and any Twitter list which you make private are known only to you, the list creator.
  5. You can view status updates and posts that are limited to the people you assigned to a particular list, making it easier to follow categories of people such as family or business contacts.

Here are five ways in which Twitter Lists and Facebook lists differ:

  1. All Facebook lists are private. However, on Twitter you can also create public lists to share with other members.
  2. People can easily tell to which public Twitter lists they’ve been assigned and who assigned them by clicking on the “listed” link on any of their account pages. Here’s my listed link (assuming that you can access it).
  3. On Facebook you can add only friends (or invited friends) to your lists. On Twitter you can add anybody as long as that person hasn’t protected his or her updates. Consider Twitter Lists to be a new method for following people.
  4. You can use Facebook lists to limit access to parts of your profile. This doesn’t apply to Twitter lists. Your brief Twitter profile is public and is visible to everybody, even to people who do not belong to Twitter.
  5. Not only can you view updates limited to the people you assigned to a particular Twitter list, you can do the same with anybody else’s Twitter list which you follow. Once you follow somebody’s list, you can access the updates for that list (as well as any of your own lists) using the lists menu on your Twitter sidebar. By the way, it’s okay to be nosy, so don’t feel guilty about it!

Twitter Lists Tips

Here are nine Twitter tips for maximizing your use of Twitter Lists:

  1. Look around to see how people are using Twitter Lists and in which lists they’ve been listed. You’ll get a good sense of how Twitter Lists work and a bunch of ideas for lists you can create yourself.
  2. Experiment. While you run the risk of driving other people crazy, you are free to make as many changes to your Twitter lists as you wish.
  3. You can add yourself to your own lists which useful for when people follow your lists.
  4. Instead of following somebody else’s Twitter list, often it will make more sense to select people from that list and assign them to your own list. That gives you some control and flexibility. However, keep in mind that when people are added to that person’s list in the future, your list will not update automatically.
  5. Be careful when assigning people to public Twitter lists. Don’t offend them (unless of course you’re an antisocial type of person). They might retaliate by assigning you to a list of jerks or dorks or even worse. At present, Twitter lists can’t be altered by the people listed. Twitter will have to take action if (when?) behavior problems surface.
  6. On the other hand, use your Twitter lists to communicate thoughts about people in a constructive way. Assign them to a public Twitter list of cool peeps or to a list of experts in a niche. Do this even (or especially) to people who don’t follow you!
  7. Do anything you want with private Twitter lists just as you would with Facebook lists. If you want a Twitter list of nerds or spammers, keep it private or face likely retaliation. You probably don’t want to make your “little black book” public either.
  8. You can start off by making a Twitter list private and later switch it to public and vice versa.
  9. Have fun, but set limits, as Twitter Lists can be addictive. Don’t let Twitter Lists become an obsession (unless you happen to be looking for a new obsession).

I’m @larrybrauner on Twitter. Assign me to any funky Twitter lists, and you’ll live to regret it. :-P

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Larry Brauner
I read an excellent article this afternoon in the Wall Street Journal by Jessica E. Vascellaro about the declining role of e-mail in our day-to-day communication, as services like Twitter, Facebook and lots of other social networking sites continue to grow in popularity.

According to Ms. Vascellaro, we obviously still use email. However, email was better suited to the way we used the Internet in the past, when we’d go online intermittently to read our messages.

“Now we are always connected, whether we are sitting at a desk or on a mobile phone. The always-on connection, in turn, has created a host of new ways to communicate that are much faster than email, and more fun.”

E-mail MarketingIf more of our attention is being directed toward social media and away from email, is there a future for email marketing?

The success of email marketing depends on our ability to efficiently reach our target markets via their email inboxes. As people increasingly turn to social media, and internet service providers apply more aggressive spam filtering, email marketing becomes less viable.

Just last night, a friend messaged me on Facebook saying that she was “shifting over from an e-newsletter to blogging,” and that she was looking for a little advice.

Email marketers want to know how to react to the trend toward social media and social marketing.

Advice for Email Marketers

Here are seven tips for coping with the decline in email communication:

  1. Act Now - Don’t sit on the sidelines like your old media friends. There are still plenty of newspaper publishers scratching their heads wondering what they’re going to do about their failing businesses.
  2. Diversify - Adopt a variety of new social marketing channels, but do not discontinue your email marketing campaigns. Build on your past successes.
  3. Stay Cool - Don’t overreact. Email communication isn’t going away any time soon. Gradually make adjustments and find the allocation of resources that delivers you the best ROI.
  4. Learn Social Media - There are many social marketing resources and a fairly steep social media learning curve. Either make social media training a priority for yourself and stick with it or find someone to whom you can delegate or outsource all or part of it.
  5. Learn SEO - Learn search engine optimization as well, or again, delegate or outsource it.
  6. Keep Testing - Just as you’d test different lists or advertising copy, test different social media venues and content to determine what works for you, and what doesn’t. Be flexible.
  7. Get Help - Even if you do decide to educate yourself, look to social media and web marketing experts for help along the way. Their guidance will save you much time and money in the long run.

I still use my email autoresponder to communicate with many of my blog subscribers. However, email accounts for only 2% of my total blog traffic. Google, Entrecard and Twitter combined account for about 80%, and all other sources add to the remaining 18%.

I will have more to say on email marketing and on list building in future articles. I suggest meanwhile that you read List Building Paradigm Shift which I wrote at the beginning of the year.

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Larry BraunerIn Social Marketing Leverage, I stated that the Internet gives us the ability to transfer information with relative ease and enables a great variety of online tools to provide us with a virtual type of leverage.

In this article, I discuss another physical phenomenon, that of momentum, as it applies to the non-physical social marketing process.

MomentumMomentum is the impetus of an object or a process, its tendency to remain in motion. If you’ve ever skated or cross-country skied, you’ve enjoyed momentum or gliding. :-)

When riding in a car or bus that stopped short, you were thwarted by momentum as the vehicle stopped, but you kept going. :-(

Most of the time, we don’t want to lose momentum. We’ve worked up some speed, or we’re highly productive — and we want it to continue.

Losing Physical Momentum

In the physical world, these factors can cause us to lose our momentum:

  • Collision - Its outcome is generally hard to predict and is often catastrophic.
  • Friction  - Air, water and even our own brakes slow us down or stop us completely.
  • Turning - To avoid collision, negotiate speed bumps or alter our final destination, we must brake partially or completely to change our direction.

Losing Social Media Momentum

In our non-physical social marketing work, the same factors contribute to our loss of momentum and productivity:

  • Collision - Hitting the proverbial brick wall. A major plan is flawed, we accidentally delete all of our Twitter followers, or our Facebook account is phished. My advice in Social Marketing Leverage to “develop good contingency plans for when Murphy’s Law does strike” applies here and to all aspects of our lives.
  • Friction - Indecision, multitasking, working at home while the kids are seeking attention, working at the office while a co-worker in the next cubicle is blabbing, slow social networking sites, associates who don’t keep their word, etc. These all tend to slow us down.
  • Turning - This is huge. Abandoning a blog, changing our branding strategy midstream and other false starts lead to directional changes that slow us down and cost both time and money.

Social Marketing Prescription

What is my prescription for preserving social marketing momentum?

Planning, focus and consistency.

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