Larry BraunerIt’s fairly obvious that I’m not updating this blog very often. I used to write a major article every week, and now I barely write an article a month. I miss it and look forward to getting back to it. However, on the bright side, I’m busier than ever with social media — for others — and therefore have little time right now for personal blogging.

My main occupation is as head of social media and marketing for a high-end watch distributor 20 minutes drive from my home. On December 4, 2010, Ivo Jackson and I launched a “temporary” website for the company which by now is in desperate need of a major redesign and overhaul. To date our website has received 142,000 visits including 20K visits in this it’s sixteenth month, and 269,000 pageviews including 40K pageviews this month.

This effort has required an enormous amount of my time (I’m earnestly looking for a social media assistant to work locally with me in Rockland County, NY on this project) and the time of others including my principal freelance watch writer, John Sealander.

I’m also part-time social media head for American Friends of Retorno on a project that will help returning American soldiers recover from PTSD and drug addiction. Our website is nearly complete. I’ll be asking for your help once it’s fully set up.

While I do my work, I’m online all day, and Facebook or Small Business Network are probably the best places to find me. (I also accept all requests to connect on LinkedIn where I have in excess of 6,000 direct connections.)

I truly love networking and although very busy, I’m still very accessible. :-)

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Larry BraunerYour social media and web strategy necessarily starts from your website, the one place on the the web that you own and control.

Social networking sites, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, are very useful and will likely figure in your online plans. However, the possibility that any given networking site will become unpopular, change its rules, cancel your membership, or even shut down entirely, renders such a website unsuitable as a hub and foundation for your web presence.

GevrilYour website doesn’t need to be intricate, although it can be. I tend to prefer simple websites. The Gevril Group website, for example, which I developed in concert with Ivo Jackson and John Sealander, uses the WordPress content management system, a very basic 3-column theme, an opt-in form and a Facebook widget.

Launched this past December, the Gevril Group website now receives in excess of 8,500 visits per month.

Purple UmpkinOur latest creation, the new Purple Umpkin children’s book website, is even simpler in design and implementation. You can compare it to the original Purple Umpkin website. In my opinion, the new version is easier to use, and it looks and feels more like a venue for a children’s book. What do you think?

Work on a Children’s Books umbrella website is underway employing equally simple design principles.

Every web presence needs a website that attracts and speaks to its visitors. Online, your website is your brand. That website must be secure, and the content on that website must be nothing less than superb.

Your thoughts are welcome.

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Larry BraunerThe four-day International Watch Fair on Facebook, which begins Tuesday,  is a free Facebook page event that’s open to the watch industry, the media and the public. Several hundred will attend this unique event at which luxury, fashion and sporty watchmakers will display a wide variety of timepiece collections. You’re welcome to join me there.

The objective of this Facebook watch fair is to increase Gevril Group page membership and member engagement. Importantly, however, the fair is just one of many web-based strategies and techniques I’m using to build the company’s brand. My strategies include search engine optimization, social bookmarking, business networking and email campaigns, as well. It’s the synthesis and synergy of all these strategies that create an ever-growing buzz around the brand.

Since launching the Gevril Group website this past December, the company’s online presence has grown considerably. During the nine-month period since the launch, there were 53,128 visitors to the site and a healthy number of inquiries from consumers, job applicants, the trade and the media. At the same time, I’ve drawn conclusions I shall share with you.

Overall monthly visits grew from 2,221 in December to 8,572 in August as illustrated below:

Gevril Group Website Visits Months 1-9 - All Traffic
Gevril Group<br /> Website Visits Months 1-9 - All Traffic
Click to Enlarge


Initially, there was substantial traffic from social media, particularly StumbleUpon. However, during the nine month period, social media traffic failed to increase:

Gevril Group Months 1-9 - Social Media vs. Non-Social Media Traffic
Gevril Group Months 1-9 - Social Media vs. Non-Social Media Traffic
Click to Enlarge


Facebook traffic grew from 113 to 338 monthly, but while a remarkably useful networking tool, Facebook hasn’t yet become an important traffic source for Gevril Group:

Gevril Group Months 1-9 - Facebook vs. Search StumbleUpon Traffic
Gevril Group Months 1-9 - Facebook vs. Search StumbleUpon Traffic
Click to Enlarge


Unlike social media traffic, SEO traffic grew exponentially from 119 to 4,979 monthly and now accounts for 58% of all monthly visits:

Gevril Group Months 1-9 - Search vs. Non-Search Traffic
Gevril Group Months 1-9 - Search vs. Non-Search Traffic
Click to Enlarge


Search traffic for Gevril Group related keywords grew from 51 to 343 monthly as the company became better known. However, search traffic for other keywords grew much faster from 68 to 4,636 thanks to the ongoing addition of rich content to the website:

Gevril Group Months 1-9 - Gevril Group vs. Non-Gevril Group Search Traffic
Gevril Group Months 1-9 - Gevril Group vs. Non-Gevril Group Search Traffic
Click to Enlarge


Since the inception of the Gevril Group website, 19,591 visits were from SEO; 16,894 from social media; 8,548 from browser bookmarks, links in emails, typed in URLs and untraceable social media; 8,095 from referrals from other non-social websites:

Gevril Group Months 1-9 - Traffic Types
Gevril Group Months 1-9 - Traffic Types
Click to Enlarge


These data are consistent with something I’ve known for a long time. The greatest source of website traffic is search engines, and if a site’s pages are optimized for relevant keywords, search visitors will find those pages’ content relevant. Social media helps to build and solidify relationships, but SEO will attract more traffic in the long run.

Hope you’ll join me at the International Watch Fair on Facebook this week. :)

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Larry BraunerI love to experiment with SEO and social media strategies for small businesses. I’m ready to admit that many of my experiments are flops, but there’s no need to discuss those right now. ;-)

One of my successes, however, is with Facebook page events. These aren’t merely events created by Facebook pages, as you might think. Rather, they’re virtual events that take place entirely on the walls and in the discussion areas of Facebook pages. The objective of Facebook page events is to increase page membership and engagement.

My First Facebook Page Event

FacebookMy first such event, the 4+ Day Blog and Website Promotion Event and Social Media Party, took place January 2010 on my Facebook page in celebration of my 58th birthday. This Facebook event went viral and attracted well over 300 participants. As a result, I added many new fans and generated a momentum for my Facebook page that has continued even until today.

I have since organized other networking events on Facebook pages, including Books I’m Reading on the Purple Umpkin page and What I’m Grateful For on my Facebook page, that were modestly successful.

International Watch Fair on Facebook

POLICE Most Arresting Exhibit at BaselworldYou may recall that I wrote in My Social Media Mission Abroad about attending Baselworld 2011 in Switzerland earlier in the year. The Baselworld Watch and Jewelry Fair was the most marvelous business experience I have ever had, and I dare say for most other people in the trade, as well.

My Baselworld experience is the inspiration for my latest Facebook page event, the 4-Day International Watch Fair, taking place next week on the Gevril Group page. 76 people have already RSVP-ed “I’m Attending” as of this writing, and I wouldn’t be at all  surprised if attendance at this first of its kind event reached several hundred Facebook members.

You can create Facebook page events too but to achieve favorable results, I recommend that you or your client build a solid web presence — on and off Facebook — before giving this approach a try. Your web presence will help to fuel your Facebook page event.

Please subscribe and like my Facebook page.

Comments are welcome. :-)

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Larry BraunerI would love to spend my entire workday blogging, social bookmarking and business networking. However, long ago I discovered that combining these activities with other outreach is both more efficient and more far reaching than relying on social media alone to build a web presence.

Not only social media but search engine optimization, press releases, email marketing — and even advertising — all figure in my web strategy.

Salvatore Ferragamo WatchesOur company represents luxury watch brand Ferragamo Timepieces in the US and Caribbean markets. Industry leader Paul Ziff was appointed US and Caribbean Ferragamo President, and I was responsible as Social Media Director for spreading the word about the appointment and about Ferragamo.

I had about a week to implement a plan and capitalize on the news before it became stale and irrelevant. Our company was ready to host numerous sales meetings in Las Vegas, and I needed to create adequate buzz before the start of the meetings.

The effort consisted of writing and publishing web content related to Paul Ziff and Ferragamo, distributing press releases about Paul’s appointment, and emailing the news to a very large list. We were able to impact several thousand people, thanks to excellent resources and superb teamwork:

  • Marketing expert, blogger and watch enthusiast, John Sealander, did a marvelous job writing all the web content. I merely added a few links and images.
  • Paul Ziff wrote the press release, which was effectively distributed by eRealeases — via PR Newswire — and through their own channels. Our story was picked up by several hundred news websites.
  • Our huge quantity of email messages were delivered and tracked by Green Wave Email Marketing, under the direction of software guru, David Alexander, my good friend of more than 40 years. I use Aweber to manage my blog subscribers, but I prefer Green Wave for my email marketing because David’s service provides greater flexibility and more personalized attention. In my opinion, Green Wave is more geared to mainstream business than Aweber.
  • I leveraged search and social strategies and techniques to drive additional traffic to John’s content on our company website and blogs.

Please subscribe to my blog and share ways in which you’re going beyond social media. :-)

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Larry BraunerI’m writing from Baselworld 2011, the giant international watch and jewelry expo that takes place yearly in Basel, Switzerland. The watch show, with its grand and intricate exhibits, is very exciting.

I’m wondering how many people, like myself, are in Basel for social media or are even aware of the social web beyond Facebook or their favorite blog – probably no more than fraction of the 80K attendees.

Baselworld 2011

Baselworld 2011I came to  Basel to interview as many of the Baselworld 2011 exhibitors as I could, but I chose instead a more focused and practical mission: to visit the many watch brands our company represents and to discuss social media collaboration with them.

I’ve been asking each of our watch brands to supply me regularly with content for our company blogs that feature and promote them.

In other words, rather than source all content by myself, I’m building partnerships with our watch brands to share the effort. If even half follow through and send me the desired text, photos and videos, I’ll have ample content for our blogs and  web presence.

That’s the game plan. Your thoughts?

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Larry BraunerI wrote back in November that I was launching a website and building a web presence for a small business that makes luxury watches and that also handles distribution for other upscale watch brands.

Generating website traffic is a key aspect of any online initiative, and I devised a four-part plan for attracting website visitors:

  1. Company Contact Lists - Mailing to existing lists of company business contacts.
  2. SEO - Posting search optimized web content six or more times per week on the company blogs.
  3. Social Media Sites - Reaching out on Facebook, Twitter, Small Business Network, StumbleUpon, Delicious, Amplify, Business Exchange, Posterous, etc.
  4. Community Building - Using website widgets and TweetAdder to grow a following on Facebook and Twitter, as well as an RSS and email subscriber base.

After 13 weeks of effort, I’m pretty satisfied with the growth of website traffic. However, I am very subjective, so I welcome your feedback.

Weekly Website Traffic from All Sources

Website traffic started to explode around week 9 or 10, and reached 1,741 website visits in the 13th week.

Weekly Website Traffic from All Sources
Weekly Website Traffic from All Sources
Click to View Enlarged Chart

Weekly Website Traffic from StumbleUpon

Website traffic from StumbleUpon has been fairly flat all along, averaging around 400 visits per week. I don’t know how to quantify the benefit from StumbleUpon traffic, but I’m hoping that such traffic, weak as it is, still contributes something to added awareness of the company’s watches and their brands.

Weekly Website Traffic from Stumble Upon
Weekly Website Traffic from Stumble Upon
Click to View Enlarged Chart

Weekly Website Traffic from Search Engines

Targeted website traffic from search engines is, according to my thinking, the most important form of web traffic. The effect of search engine optimized content can be both far reaching and long lasting.

Weekly website traffic from search engines to the company domain has been growing all along, but it really took off in the 9th week and exceeded 500 visits in week 13.

Weekly Search Traffic from Search Engines
Weekly Search Traffic from Search Engines
Click to View Enlarged Chart

Weekly Website Traffic from Other Sources

Website traffic from other sources including direct traffic and email traffic was substantial.

On the other hand, with the exception of StumbleUpon, none of the social media sites are yet providing large numbers of visitors, although several are providing high quality inbound links that help off-page search engine optimization.

Weekly Website Traffic from Other Sources
Weekly Website Traffic from Other Sources
Click to View Enlarged Chart

Additional Website Traffic Strategies and Techniques

Phase two, which begins tomorrow, will feature additional website traffic strategies and techniques that will accelerate website traffic growth and increase website stickiness. I look forward to presenting the results of this phase three months from now.

Please subscribe to my blog, “like” my Facebook page, and leave me a comment or feedback. :-)

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