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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Larry BraunerA lever gives us the ability or leverage to move heavy objects with relative ease. Metaphorically speaking, the same is true of any tool that can empower us to perform a function more effectively.

The Internet gives us the ability to transfer information with relative ease, and it is also enables a great variety of online tools to provide us with virtual leverage.

Web-Based Tools

Here are six web-based tools that we’ve come to rely upon to save us time or money or to help us be more effective:

  1. Internet-based mail - e-mail, autoresponders and PDF Files
  2. Live communication - VOIP phone, chat and webinars
  3. Digital media - websites, blogs and micro-blogging sites such as Twitter
  4. Social networking sites - Facebook, Ning, LinkedIn, etc.
  5. Content sharing sites - YouTube, Flickr, StumbleUpon, Digg, Delicious, etc.
  6. Search engines - Google, Bing, etc.

I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve had some experience with each of them, and this is a very partial list.

What Can Go Wrong

I probably don’t have to tell you that things don’t always go right. Here are the three obstacles that can most easily sidetrack you:

  1. Using the wrong tool - Download a large file using dial-up Internet, and by the time it finishes downloading, you’ll forget why to wanted it in the first place. Use a shabby autoresponder, and most of your e-mails will end up in recipients’ spam folders.
  2. Using the tool wrong - Social media tools and search engines have steep learning curves, and learning how to use them properly is typically a big undertaking. Misunderstand or misuse social media or SEO techniques, and your work can be set back by months.
  3. The tool breaks - Your Internet connection goes down for a week, your Facebook gets phished, or your blog gets corrupted. You’ll be pulling out your hair, unless of course you’re fortunate enough to be bald.

Many marketers contact me for help because they’ve been using the wrong tool or using the tool wrong.

An Ounce of Prevention

So — choose the right tools, learn to use your tools properly, and develop good contingency plans for when Murphy’s Law does strike — because it most certainly will, and at the worst possible moment.

What do you think?

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Larry BraunerSocial media marketing requires a markedly different mindset than traditional print, broadcast and direct mail marketing — or even PPC or e-zine marketing that use online media.

Marketing Paradigm Shift

Social marketing is not so much about lead development and customer acquisition as it is about brand development, relationship and community building.

Of course social marketers want to generate sales. That’s a given. However, the social marketing medium requires a new and more social approach to the whole marketing process.

Social Media Marketing Flow

Social marketing has its own characteristic flow. Strangers gradually become followers, friends and fans looking to engage with you.

They become increasingly receptive to your ideas and messages. Many eventually sell themselves on your products and services without your intervention. Others may require a little gentle persuasion.

Social media marketing is the art and science of using social media sites to create and nurture social marketing flow.

At the Core of Social Marketing

Social media sites offer the enabling technologies and infrastructure that define the social media marketing platform, but social marketing is centered around people, not around websites.

Furthermore, in social marketing it’s not companies but real people who communicate with people.

Personality, thought leadership, sensitivity, protocol and well-written content are social factors that foster relationship with your market and community participation. Think of social media marketing as charisma marketing.

A community in social media can be built around a blog, a group you start on a social site, or an independent online social network that you create.

The key is to use your personality and your content to give people in your target market compelling reasons to follow you online and to subscribe to your blogs or join your social networking sites.

Then you can speak to your new friends as a group as if they were sitting in your living room and leaning forward to make sure they catch your every word. You won’t need to use old media to yell.

Are you leaning forward?

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Larry BraunerThroughout history social networking has been practiced at religious institutions, business associations, conventions, membership clubs and yes, pubs.

The ancient Babylonian Talmud describes the Great Synagogue of Alexandria which was destroyed during the reign of the Roman Emperor Trajan roughly 1900 years ago. This synagogue was one of the most magnificent edifices ever built.

When a poor person entered, he would recognize masters of his trade, and he would turn to them. That is how he would support himself and his family.

The Babylonian Talmud itself appears to be an early example of social media. It was compiled with source material, interpretations and arguments from notable scholars living in different places and in different periods of time.

I wouldn’t be surprised to discover plenty of additional examples from other religions and cultures.

Coming back to the present, all of us are familiar with social networking at parties, the work place or business mixers. Aren’t we?

How about public bulletin boards? They’re a common form of social media. People tack up or tape notices on them.

Letters to the editor turn pages of newspapers and magazines into social media.

What is new is Web 2.0, social networking sites and other social media sites. The advent of online social networking and online social media has revolutionized social networking, social marketing and publishing.

Online social networking and social media are global. They’re instantaneous. The “paper” and “postage” are essentially free. The “playing field” is level.

Now that’s real freedom of speech.

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Larry BraunerI revisit the 80/20 Rule (about which I wrote last September) because of something that I alluded to in my interview with Stacey Chadwell.

Web 2.0 is a virtual candy store, and our eyes, so to speak, are bigger than our stomachs.

Every day new social media sites crop up. We’d love to try them all, yet we can only hope to master and stay on top of a very small fraction of the myriad sites that are already available to us.

The 80/20 Rule to Our Rescue

The 80/20 Rule applied to social media sites would state that 80% of all results can be achieved with 20% of all sites.

However, the 80 to 20 ratio is no more than a concept or a rule of thumb. The actual ratio is quite often greater than 80 to 20. With respect to social media sites  the ratio could be as high as 99 to 1.

The 80/20 Rule applied to social media sites might be called a 99/1 Rule. We can accomplish almost everything we might want to accomplish with only 1% of all the social sites in operation — and almost everything is really enough!

I regularly use only a modest number of social media sites:

  1. Online Social Networking (my blog)
  2. Twitter
  3. Facebook
  4. LinkedIn
  5. Ning family of social networking sites (especially Small Business Network)
  6. Entrecard
  7. Business Exchange
  8. StumbleUpon
  9. Digg
  10. Delicious

You’d hardly call me an expert on social media sites, but the few sites I do use, complement each other in my social media marketing model, and I use them effectively.

Could I use more sites?

Of course I could. However, the point is that I don’t need to use more sites, at least not right now.

Other Aspects of the 80/20 Rule

The 80/20 Rule also applies to you as a person, to the people who follow you and to how you approach learning.

Rather than re-hash what I’ve written in the past, I refer you to my previous article, The 80/20 Rule, which elaborates on these issues in some detail.

In Conclusion

My advice to you is to:

  • determine what you’d like to accomplish
  • devise a plan that uses a modest number of resources
  • learn to use those resources reasonably well
  • and apply yourself with great determination and enthusiasm

People will look to you as a leader and a source of inspiration.

I’m @larrybrauner on Twitter. I look forward to your tweets.

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In List Building Using Twitter, I discussed the importance of list building and the ease of building a list on Twitter.

In this article I focus on building your Twitter community — people who relate to your niche and who share some of your interests — people with whom you can network and who also extend your list in a more targeted way than previously outlined.

Is Twitter Past Its Prime?

Twitter will not last forever. However, I’m hoping that Twitter will have a strong future. Many new applications are currently being developed and launched “on top of” Twitter using the Twitter API.

If Twitter was on its way out, it’s highly unlikely that such substantial resources would be invested to build upon the Twitter platform. If my theory is right, then what we’ve seen so far is only the tip of the Twitter iceberg.

Building Your Twitter Community

Twitter has a tool for searching tweets. It can help find people in your niche or who share you interests. You can also use Twollow which bases its searches on the contents of tweets.

I prefer searches based on profile, because they’re more robust. Twitter Grader Search searches profiles. It also identifies the best people to connect with, ones who are active and successful using Twitter. I plug in search terms and back comes a list of Twitter users along with their Twitter Grader ratings and their complete profile information.

Another resource to look at is Twitter Groups. This new tool brings people together based both on common interests and geographic location and is worth exploring.

I’ve already built a following using the procedure I outlined in List Building Using Twitter, and my profile highlights interests relevant to my niche, so the people I follow tend to follow me back.

Keep your eyes open for news about other useful tools. Using the tools available to you, you can build a community of friends just as you would at social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace or any of the Ning social networks.

Networking with Your Twitter Community

Every social networking site has features that permit members to communicate with each other, and in this respect Twitter is no different. Here are your basic options on Twitter:

  • Updates are best used to reach all your followers who are monitoring Twitter at that moment — consistent with a list building strategy rather than an online social networking strategy. However, you can view any Twitter member’s past posts by visiting their page, as long as they don’t have their updates protected. If they are protected, you will need to request permission in order to browse their updates.
  • Replies are updates that begin with @username, public messages addressed to a particular member. Members don’t need to be following you to receive a reply, but if they’re not following you, they can safely choose to ignore you without appearing rude. If you’re having a long conversation which others might find annoying, avoid using replies — use direct messages instead. Annoy people, and they will stop following you. Use replies specifically when you want everybody or a group of people included in your discussion.
  • Direct messages referred to as DMs are private, and they’re the closest you can get to e-mail communication using Twitter. Use direct messages when it’s inappropriate to reach the community-at-large. Direct messages are very rarely ignored, and they’re essential to cultivating one-on-one relationships using Twitter.

Here are a few more things to keep in mind as you begin to network on Twitter:

  • You don’t need a large number of followers to network on Twitter. You only need one follower to start.
  • You aren’t the only networker with an agenda. To be very successful help your networking partners advance their agendas while you advance your own. If you want people to be interested in you, be interested in them. See the site map for a listing of articles I’ve written about online social networking and other topics.
  • You should never ever spam. If you’re thinking of using Twitter (or any other social networking site) to spam (or to advertise) rather than to network with other members, please check out How Do You Like Your SPAM? and Social Networking vs. Advertising.

I’d love for you to follow me.

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My social media experiences have dramatically altered my thinking about list building.

This article may cause you too to rethink everything you’ve been taught and believe about list building.

My Articles on List Building

I have discussed building a list and its importance in several blog posts, which I list here for your convenience:

List Building Before Social Media

I remember the Rolodex, “a rotating file device used to store business contact information” according to Wikipedia. I still have one in a carton somewhere at home.

I long ago replaced my Rolodex with a spreadsheet, but contact information I collect online I store in an autoresponder, a widely used e-mail marketing tool.

Most online marketers today would tend to visualize list building as a well-written lead capture page linked by a web form to an autoresponder. While this type of list building is still extremely important, especially in conjunction with online or offline advertising, it is nevertheless List Building 1.0.

Concept of Follower

In order to broaden our view of list building we introduce the concept of follower, a term frequently used in the social media world.

A follower is a person (or organization) who subscribes to (or in some other way receives) messages, sometimes called updates, from the person (or organization) whom they follow.

Examples of Followers

The concept of follower applies to List Building 1.0. A subscriber to my autoresponder is certainly one of my followers.

However, a friend at a social network (to whom I can send messages whenever I wish) is just as much a follower as my autoresponder subscriber. What’s interesting in this case is that I’m also that person’s follower. We’re mutually following each other.

A subscriber to my blog’s RSS feed (who receives an update whenever I post an article) is also a follower. What’s of interest here is that my follower is totally anonymous.

I have no way to identify this follower unless that person (or organization) chooses to step forward. For all I know I might even be following my follower without realizing that he or she is following me too. We could be mutually following each other without ever knowing it.

Suppose I own a radio or television station, or I host a talk show, my listeners or viewers are followers who keep track of me and receive my messages without subscribing in any way.

List Building 2.0

When list building is viewed as the process of acquiring and nurturing followers, you can easily understand how in List Building Using Twitter I could claim that “list building possibilities are endless”.

They really are, and the many reaching out methods you devise can be mixed, matched and synergized to develop a rich and heterogeneous following. Welcome to the world of social marketing and List Building 2.0!

Would you care to follow me?

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This is my final blog post for 2008. I have enjoyed our interaction this past year.

Thank you. I learned a lot.

I look forward to more give and take in 2009.

Thinking Outside the Box

In 10 Not Simple Success Strategies for 2009 I stated, “What worked in the past may no longer work in the present economy. You may have to make some tough personal or business choices going forward.”

Thinking Outside the BoxTo succeed in 2009 we need to be flexible and to think outside the box. According to Wikipedia, thinking outside the box is “to think differently, unconventionally, from a new perspective. This phrase often refers to novel, creative and smart thinking“.

I hope to help you think outside the box and navigate through some of the challenges and choices that lie ahead.

If you don’t yet subscribe to this blog, I ask you to subscribe now. Let’s stay “on the same page” as I continue to publish thought-provoking and hopefully outside-the-box articles on a broad range of topics.

Networking Outside the Box

If you are not yet a member of Critical Thinking Outside the Box, my no-spam online social network, please join now. This social networking site is a place where you and I can share ideas and network with each other.

Set up your profile there and add me as a friend. That way you can contact me whenever you wish.

By starting discussions and participating in existing discussions on the forum, you’ll brand yourself as a leader. If you’d like to become a featured leader on the site and have me promote you there, send me a message and we’ll discuss the details.

Marketing Outside the Box

Online social networking and social media marketing are still very much in their infancy. We’ll see plenty of growth and change in 2009 and beyond. To market outside the box you’ll need to keep abreast of online and social marketing changes, and you’ll need to keep learning new skills.

Affiliate University Marketing TrainingOne excellent training and support program that I highly recommend to learn and implement new marketing ideas is Affiliate University.

Founder Bill Hibbler is a successful Internet marketer and an excellent instructor. Bill along with Dr. Joe Vitale is co-author of Meet and Grow Rich: How to Easily Create and Operate Your Own “Mastermind” Group for Health, Wealth, and More.

The Affiliate University training program has ten modules, and more will be added in the future.

Additionally, I’m starting a marketing clinic to complement the Affiliate University curriculum and help you through the rough spots as you put what you learn to use.

Achieving Outside the Box

Setting and following through on goals require ongoing support from peers. Mastermind groups provide that support and have long been known to increase focus and speed movement towards achieving objectives.

Affiliate University will start you on the path to forming a mastermind group. After teaching you the basic concepts and mechanics of mastermind groups, their forum will help you connect with prospective members for your group. I will help too.

If you believe that you can benefit from one-on-one mentoring, I offer special consulting rates for my “inner circle”. See the bio and endorsements on my about page for information about my qualifications.

As usual, feel free to comment on this blog post or ask questions… And let’s have a great year!

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Yet Another Ning Site?

In Ning Social Networking Sites Update I wrote about recent changes on Ning social sites and how to cope with them. One suggestion I made was that you could “start your own Ning social network“.

I knew that sooner or later I would build my own Ning social networking site. After all, the ability for anybody to create their own social networking sites is the most noteworthy feature of Ning.

I had already laid the groundwork to launch my own social network. I had many contacts who were involved in social networking whom I could invite to join. I had also received much encouragement from other site owners.

So on Wednesday, October 29, I set up my new site, and as of this writing there are 86 members from 11 countries.

Critical Thinking Outside the Box

My new Ning social network, Critical Thinking Outside the Box, “Larry Brauner’s Business and Social Network for Thinking People”, is intended as a companion site to my Online Social Networking blog.

It’s a networking site where you and I can brand ourselves. The site is of course strongly branded to me. The best way to brand yourself there is for you to start and participate in discussions on the forum.

If you participate and also bring a bunch of new members, I’ll feature you on the site.

You’re Officially Invited

Please join on Critical Thinking Outside the Box, add me as a friend, and leave a comment on my profile mentioning that you came through my blog.

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Defining Google Bounce Rate

Web metrics help bloggers and other website owners to analyze and track their site visitors. One of the most popular web metrics is bounce rate.

Google bounce rate is the percentage of visitors viewing only a single page before leaving your site or closing their browser window.

Bounce is thought to be bad and to indicate low interest on the part of your visitors.

According to Google, “a high bounce rate generally indicates that site entrance pages aren’t relevant to your visitors.”

Using Bounce Rate

Bounce rate can measure a site’s relevance, the desire of your visitors to place an order or to obtain additional information.

If you buy Pay Per Click advertising, your bounce rate may be one of the factors that determines the position of your ad relative to other ads.

Bloggers Baffled

Common wisdom dictates that bounce rate should be no more than 40 to 60 percent. Most blogs miss this range.

70 to 85 percent is typical, and bloggers are baffled.

Experts would probably agree that either the blog or the traffic was too unfocused. You will probably not be surprised to learn that I do not concur with the experts.

Blogs Are Different

Blog posts aren’t merely landing pages. Each and every one is a main attraction.

The following examples demonstrate that bounce rate cannot effectively measure your blog’s relevance to visitors.

Consider first your blog’s most loyal subscribers. They come and read your every post.

Let’s suppose that:

  • 10% leave a comment
  • A different 10% click through to a related post

This appears quite healthy to me, yet your bounce rate is 80%.

Now consider your blog’s best search engine visitors. They land on your post and read it with interest.

Let’s suppose that:

  • 5% leave a comment
  • A different 5% subscribe
  • A completely different 10% visit a related post

This seems quite good to me, yet your bounce rate is again 80%.

Visiting a single page, i.e. your post, reading it and moving on is reasonable behavior for a blog visitor. How can we expect the bounce rate to be much lower?

Bounce rate is clearly not as useful a metric for blogs as it is for landing pages.

Gauging Blog Readership

If we cannot adequately assess our readership using bounce rate, what are alternative metrics?

We might instead look at our trend in:

  • Quantity of good comments
  • Size of our subscriber base
  • Amount of direct traffic
  • Number of quality backlinks
  • Google PageRank
  • Yes, even our bounce rate (smile)

Incidentally, the Google Analytics metric “Avg. Time on Site” is equally problematic, since it doesn’t factor into the average visitors who view only a single page.

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