Larry BraunerI envisioned when launching my social media consulting practice spending my time creating and executing traffic generating and branding strategies using a wide range of social media sites. I did not envision spending my time optimizing clients’ websites and blogs.

Your Website or Blog

What I found, however, was that clients’ websites had not been designed to appeal to visitors and convert them into subscribers or customers, nor were they set up to attract search engine traffic.

This problem concerned me very much. As I’ve written numerous times, the core of a social media marketing campaign is always your website or blog. Consequently, I decided to offer a full range of services to help clients make more effective use of the web.

Social Media and Web Marketing in Action

Welkin Capital GroupI was asked very recently to market the website of Welkin Capital Group, a high-end real estate finance company. When I accepted the assignment, I knew that my work would encompass more than social media and search engine optimization. It would include a total website makeover, as well.

The transformation of Welkin’s website has been dramatic. The best way to appreciate the changes we made is to compare the new website to the old website. We still plan to add a newsletter and a blog but already, the new site has a better look and feel, more room to maneuver, additional content and a social component.

While working on the Welkin site’s new design, we began optimizing the site’s content for search engines — and for human visitors too:

  • During the first six weeks, March 7, 2010 to April 17, Welkin received 51 unique search engine visits from 25 search terms.
  • During the next six weeks, April 18 to May 29, the company received 152 unique search visits from 63 terms.

We’re still working on the website’s content. Writing and tweaking content is an ongoing aspect of web marketing.

If you’re interested in real estate, you can follow Welkin on Facebook and Twitter.

Conclusion

Your main takeaway from this article:

Web marketing begins with your website or blog, the core of your web presence, and without which your social media marketing plan isn’t complete and cannot succeed.

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Larry BraunerIn Facebook Fumble Draws Broad Rebuke, I stated that the possibility of further Facebook backlash didn’t concern me very much, and that you shouldn’t let Facebook’s speed bump become your speed bump.

I compared the woes of Facebook to those of Microsoft and recommended that you move forward with your Facebook plans.

My approach drew criticism from an online friend I respect, so I reached out to members of my Facebook page to hear their thoughts. The responses I received strengthened my belief that the reaction to Facebook’s misstep would dissipate.

FacebookMany articles were very critical of Facebook’s apparent lack of concern for user privacy and the social networking behemoth’s sharp departure from its previous policies.

One such article was Why Facebook Can’t Be Trusted: Let’s Recognize the Dangers Before Praising It as Web’s Default Marketing Platform posted by Craig Daitch on Ad Age’s Digital Next.

At the same time, Christopher Heine posted No Major Privacy Backlash From Facebook’s 425M Base on ClickZ, a rather moderate reaction to the Facebook episode.

However, a bold article, Ignore The Screams–Facebook’s Aggressive Approach Is Why It Will Soon Become The Most Popular Site In The World by Henry Blodget of Business Insider, confronted the negative press head on and resonated with me like nothing else I read.

Facebook’s aggressiveness on the privacy front is a big reason for the site’s success. The company will survive the latest PR flap, just as it has survived all the other PR flaps. And unless the latest blow-up scares it into changing its ways (let’s hope not), Facebook will continuing growing like a weed until it is by far the most popular web site in the world (and note what “most popular” means: It means that, despite the howling of a tiny minority, more people choose to spend more time on Facebook than any other site in the world).

From a business perspective, in other words, Facebook’s approach to innovation is smart. It’s not always popular, but it works. And if Facebook wants to maintain its competitive edge, it will do what it has to do to smooth over the latest blow-up, and then go forth with the same approach and attitude it has had all along.

Digest the articles referenced above. Then decide for yourself: Facebook backlash — fact, fiction or inconsequential?

Please subscribe and leave a comment. Don’t hesitate to disagree with me. My kids usually do. :-P

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Larry BraunerWho wouldn’t want the kind of web presence that drives hundreds or thousands of targeted visitors to his or her web site or blog and converts them into customers or followers?

I’ve created that type web presence for myself. However, most businesses that try to build such a web presence fall short of achieving that objective. How about yours?

This a long article that covers a lot of ground. My hope is that this article and those articles and resources it links to will enable you to take a fresh look at your social media and web marketing program.

Over the past few years I’ve identified dozens of factors that contribute to lack of web marketing success, and in this article I discuss 25 of the most important ones:

  1. Failing to Plan - Strategy must precede tactics. Taking action is easy, but will that action help you achieve your objectives? Do you know precisely what those objectives are? It’s imperative that you define your objectives and devise marketing strategies to help you reach them effectively.
  2. A Flawed Plan - Including thinking too big or too small, e.g., with your keywords, quantity of social networking sites you employ or frequency of your blog posting. Be ambitious but realistic. Your time is limited. Make a plan that’s simple but not simplistic. Shama Hyder Kabani’s The Zen of Social Media Marketing provides an excellent overview of the planning process.
  3. Ignoring Your Competition - Developing your plan in a vacuum without any competitive intelligence prevents you from learning from your competitors and identifying optimal marketing strategies and tactics.
  4. Having Unrealistic Expectations - View social media and web marketing as a marathon, not a sprint. It takes a substantial amount of time to build credibility with your potential customers and with search engines too.
  5. Not Focusing on Your Niche - The more focused your message, the more it will influence your target audience. Trying to be everything to everybody will make your website look like a patch quilt. I’m sure you’ve been to websites that look like menus at diners or aerial views of battle zones. You hit the back arrow and breathe a sigh of relief. Successful offline marketers know that a highly targeted ad gets the best results, even with those people who aren’t targeted by the ad.
  6. Following the Pack - Don’t do anything solely because it’s trendy. Check new options at your disposal for consistency with your plan and expected return on time invested. You’ll need to rely mostly on intuition, but the more extensive your knowledge, the more reliable your intuition will be.
  7. Not Optimizing Your Web Site - What good is a website that looks great yet is dysfunctional? It doesn’t attract any traffic. Search engines are confused by it. Or it attracts traffic, but that traffic doesn’t convert. The lack of web site results is so wide spread that business owners tend to be very skeptical about the web’s marketing potential. See 10 Easy Way to Improve Your Blog or Website and 10 More Easy Ways to Improve Your Website.
  8. Optimizing for Search Engines Only - Some marketers optimize their web sites for search engines but fail to optimize for humans. The result: traffic that doesn’t convert. Optimizing “user experience” is more important than search engine optimization. SEO is only one of numerous ways to attract visitors to your site. On the other hand, all methods drive traffic to your website, and if that site is weak, your work is in vain.
  9. Your Logo or Flash Dominates Your Website  - A constant battle! A client said he wants his website to have an upscale image similar to that of the fluffy Tiffany site. Will that work for him? He’s trying to build his brand online. The Tiffany brand was powerful before the web even existed. All they really need is a pretty site with product illustrations and a shopping card to help you spend your extra funds on beautiful high-end jewelry. However, let’s be real. If you’re not a Tiffany or an Apple, nobody cares as much about your logo or flash as you do. They want content to digest. They want to know what you can do for them and whether or not they can trust you.
  10. Too Little or Lame Content - They say that content is king. I believe that is true. People are searching online for content. To succeed, feed people great content, such as text, video, pictures, podcasts, etc., and you’ll  gain positive recognition for your brand.
  11. Trying to Spam the Search Engines - Search engines are smarter than you might think. Game them, and you’ll come to regret it. But, feed them lots of solid content, and over time they’ll send your web site thousands and thousands of targeted visitors.
  12. Leaving Everything to Your Web Developers - Web developers are neither experienced marketers nor skilled copywriters. Check out Web Developers Don’t Know Social Media.
  13. Making Bad Money Decisions - How about the following example? You spent tens of thousands to engage top notch social media and web consultants, but you don’t want to spend a couple of thousand on the new website design they recommend. Why not? Because that would imply that the money you spent on the original design was wasted. Am I missing something here? Tell me.
  14. Not Hosting Your Website or Blog Yourself - Your website or blog is the core of your web presence. Should Blogger or Wordpress.com determine its disposition? Invest in a web hosting account — it’s not pricey. Learn how to use the Wordpress.org content management system to create and maintain your website or blog.
  15. Not Building Yourself an Online Community - If you have doubts about social media or the power of your own community, Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuk will make you a believer. Gary has built a community of wine lovers around his Wine Library TV brand, and his social media efforts have greatly added to the bottom line of his business, the Wine Library.
  16. Not Engaging Your Community - To cultivate and nurture your community of customers and fans is a golden opportunity to connect with the people who matter to your brand.
  17. Not Being Authentic - We live in an age of trust and transparency. Being who you’re not will set you apart from your competitors in a counterproductive way.
  18. Not Integrating Online Marketing with Offline - Relying only on Internet marketing when you can achieve results offline as well, including driving visitors from offline to your website. Marketing offline is not dead.
  19. Never Meeting People Face-to-Face - Nothing builds trust like an in-person meeting. If you’re in the New York area, let’s have coffee or do lunch.
  20. Not Diversifying - Don’t put All Your Social Media Eggs in One Basket — nor all your other eggs.
  21. Not Using an Autoresponder to Build an Email List - Most potential customers need to get to know your brand better before they buy. Keep in touch with them by letting them add themselves to your autoresponder newsletter or blog subscription list — even if you use RSS.
  22. Not Touching Base Frequently with Your Email List - If you don’t stay on people’s minds, they’ll forget you. Then when you do email them, they’ll flag your message as spam. That in turn will hurt your ability to get your email through the filters of the Internet service providers.
  23. Relying on Trial and Error - Keep reading. Keep learning. Trial and error is a luxury you may not be able to afford.
  24. Never Seeking Help - A little help can save you from much trial and error and many hours of spinning your wheels but remaining where you are.
  25. Taking Your Web Marketing Too Seriously - Lighten up. Make friends. Have fun.

Here are social media and web marketing resources you might find useful:

Wishing you success with your web marketing. :-)

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Larry Brauner“You’ve got to hand it to Facebook. They certainly know how to do security — not,” wrote Steve O’Hear in Video: Major Facebook security hole lets you view your friends’ live chats on TechCrunch Europe last week.

Security flaws that exposed private chats and other private information to so-called “friends” have enraged many Facebook members and critics.

FacebookIn Facebook needs to face the music, InfoWorld links this misstep and previous Facebook transgressions to the social networking giant’s plans to control the web.

More Facebook backlash is likely, but this possibility really doesn’t concern me very much.

My Key Facebook Concern

I am very concerned whether or not this incident will deter you from using Facebook for your social media marketing and digital public relations.

While many will use the Facebook blunder to justify their hesitation to market on Facebook, don’t you join their ranks. Don’t you let Facebook’s speed bump become your speed bump.

A Little Company Called Microsoft

How often has Microsoft released software that contained bugs and security glitches? Although their aggressive marketing has been held in check by anti-trust suits and fierce competition from Google and Apple, Microsoft continues to make billions and still dominates the PC niche despite a long history of computer software problems.

Please Ignore the Naysayers

My advice to you:

  • ignore all naysayers, there will always be plenty of them
  • get your Facebook page going and growing as quickly as possible
  • attract lots of targeted followers to your Facebook page
  • start your Facebook conversation and share your content
  • build your brand on Facebook and all over the social web

Come join my Facebook conversation too! ;-)

Have any comments? The floor is yours. :-)

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Larry BraunerYesterday, May 4, 2010, was a very sad day for social media and Web 2.0. We all suffered a tremendous loss.  Yesterday was the day that Ning died.

No, Ning, the company, did not die; Ning, the company, is still very much alive, and many Ning social networking sites are alive as well, looking forward to upcoming Ning changes this July.

However, yesterday, Ning, the concept, was laid to rest.

A preliminary autopsy all but ruled out foul play. It suggested instead that perhaps too much user abuse and too little user engagement aggravated the Ning concept and hastened its sad demise.

Ning Social Networking SitesThe Ning concept was beautiful and elegant, a network of social networks.

Not only were contributions of social network end users Web 2.0 content, the individual social networks themselves were Web 2.0 content within the Ning meta social network.

The Ning concept leaves behind thousands of Ning social network creators seeking new homes. Many homes are ready to take them in but cannot accommodate them to the extent that Ning and the late Ning concept had accommodated them in the past.

Nevertheless, bereaved Ning social network creators who loved the Ning concept maintain hope for the future.

Ning concept, 2007-2010, rest in peace. :-(

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Larry BraunerA commodity is any product or service for which there is demand, but for which there is no perceived qualitative difference between that which you offer and that which your competitors offer.

Its market price is determined solely by supply and demand.

With commodities, e.g., electronics or metals, consumers are as likely to buy from your competitors as they are to buy from you and will choose randomly among the lowest priced offerings available to them.

What is Commoditization?

Commoditization or commodifying is the transformation of a product or service into a commodity by external influences such as a commodities exchange or the growing virtual marketplace on the Internet.

Haven’t you yourself ever compared offerings for a product on the web and purchased the one with the lowest price? You used to shop for this product at a neighborhood merchant, but now you tend to shop around for it online.

Commoditization prevents a product or service from standing out and places  downward pressure on its price.

Commoditization in Real Estate

While real estate itself is far from being a commodity, the agents who sell real estate, especially residential real estate, are losing their competitive differentiation in the market.

I attended REMarTech in New York City this past week. The conference was marvelously organized and presented by Ryan Slack and Green Pearl Events. If you’re in real estate, you ought to join the Green Pearl social network on Ning.

Real Estate MarketingI met lots of interesting people at REMarTech and learned some important facts about real estate sales and marketing, as well.

I learned that real estate brokers and agents are no longer the main sources of information about real estate properties and property listings. Buyers readily obtain detailed property information and listings using online services like Zillow, Trulia and StreetEasy, each represented at the REMarTech event.

As a result, the real estate broker listing a particular property is more likely now than in the past to end up splitting the commission for the sale of that property with a competitor.

How Social Media Helps Real Estate Agents

A recurring theme at REMarTech was that blogging, social networking sites, and mobile apps help real estate agents convey to potential buyers and sellers the agent’s depth of knowledge and active involvement in the neighborhood he or she represents.

A number of real estate agents use foursquare to check in and take a stand in their respective neighborhoods.

One speaker reported being the mayor of all the buildings he represents. If you wanted to sell your apartment, wouldn’t you think that perhaps the mayor of your building would be the best person to sell it?

REMarTech Takeaways

I can report to you that leaders of major real estate companies, such as Fred Peters of Warburg Realty, Diane Ramirez of Halstead Property and Jacky Teplitzky of Prudential Douglas Elliman, have already adopted social media within their organizations.

A typical real estate broker or agent has limited social media know-how but wants to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to succeed.

Fortunately, Green Pearl Events, organizer of REMarTech, is eager to help early adopters to adapt — and so is, of course, yours truly. ;-)

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