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.

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Comments are welcome. :-)

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Larry BraunerLast week, in Whether Hackers from Anonymous Bring Down Facebook on November 5 as Threatened or Not, I suggested that you find ways to reduce your risk of loss should Facebook go away.

I asked you, “How can you protect your interests by diverting or diversifying your networking and marketing efforts starting right now?”

Some readers recommended that we back up our data, but I pointed out that we can not back up our relationships like pictures or profiles.

Sal made a couple of very good points:
Facebook

  1. “I think there is no real way to mitigate completely against the damage that losing Facebook would mean, any more than you could mitigate against losing Google.”
  2.  ”On the Internet, you always have to see it coming and mitigate against it by having as many, diverse, independent sources of prospective customers as possible.”

While I agree completely with Sal’s remarks, I ask, how can we at least partially mitigate against the damage? What practical measures we can take?

Just as an example, we might start groups on LinkedIn and invite fellow Facebook group members to join these groups. Unfortunately, LinkedIn groups don’t have the same functionality as Facebook groups, and not all of our fellow Facebook group members will join us on LinkedIn, but this is nevertheless a practical partial solution.

We might instead choose a Ning social network or a Ning group within a particular Ning social network, etc. You get the idea.

Now it’s your turn again. What are your ideas? I would like to hear them, and I’ll share mine.

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Larry BraunerLast Tuesday, Ellis Hamburger relayed what seemed to be a highly credible threat to permanently bring down Facebook on November 5, hardly an auspicious date, in Hacker Group Anonymous Vows To Destroy Facebook On November 5.

The following day, Ellis posted an update that  slightly mitigated that threat in Hacker Group Anonymous’ Leadership Disowns “Operation Facebook,” Only “Some Anons” Are Involved. He reported that the threat was issued only by a minority of the hackers within the Anonymous group and not by the group as a whole.

Ellis cautioned, however, that “nothing changes the fact that there are some talented hackers part of Anonymous that want to take down Facebook, even if the organization’s leadership does not condone it.”

Crafting Your Facebook “Plan B”

FacebookWhether hackers will actually succeed in destroying Facebook on November 5 as threatened or not, this is probably a good time to ponder the following three questions:

  1. How critical is the role that Facebook plays in your business or personal life? After all, the existence and viability of Facebook is far beyond your control or mine.
  2. What would you lose if Facebook were to close down permanently without or even with prior notice? Consider the ways in which you use Facebook, the many contacts you’ve made and all the social capital you’ve accumulated.
  3. How can you protect your interests by diverting or diversifying your networking and marketing efforts starting right now? This question, while the most important, is also the most difficult to answer, since Facebook offers numerous and unique benefits; the popularity of Facebook is much more than accidental.

What do you think? Comments are welcome.

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    Larry BraunerI stated in How to Benefit from the New Facebook Groups that “you don’t need to lead a group in order to benefit from it.” In other words, there is value in joining other people’s Facebook groups. That value can be enormous, as I’ll explain.

    Facebook Group Members Become Followers

    FacebookEvery new Facebook group has members who follow that group and all of its conversations by means of the Facebook notification system. Not every member will monitor or engage in discussions, but some will. Therefore, each time you become a member of one of the new Facebook groups, you acquire potential new followers.

    For each subject that interests you, join as many relevant new Facebook groups as you can find using the Facebook search function. Once you’ve joined the group and can browse its discussions, if you find that they’re in a language you don’t understand, or that the group is overrun by spammers, leave the group.

    Examine the list of new Facebook groups to which I belong. You’ll find that they fall into a many categories, and that most categories contain more than one group. I suggest that you follow a similar approach, and if you wish to join some of the same groups as I, don’t hesitate.

    Here are three very important points:

    1. Don’t use the new Facebook groups merely to push out your own content, since that’s spam. Group members will see through your approach and ignore you. Not only that, the group moderator might even reprimand you or expel you from the group.
    2. Share content with each Facebook group that’s relevant to that group. Group members will appreciate you, enjoy your participation and become genuine followers.
    3. Don’t just post. “Like” other people’s posts too and comment on them when appropriate.

    As I browse the web, I keep my eyes open for content worth sharing. I then share it in a variety of places including the relevant  new Facebook groups to which I belong. When the time comes to share my own content, I follow the exact same procedure, but because I’ve played fair, my posts aren’t viewed at all as spam. Consequently, I receive lots of traffic from Facebook and other social websites.

    Go now and acquire some Facebook followers. The relationships you build in the new Facebook groups can easily grow into meaningful social or business friendships.

    Before you go, however, please do subscribe and leave a comment. ;-)

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    Larry BraunerA Facebook friend recently asked about accepting friend requests on social networking sites, and I promised to discuss the matter. There is no single correct approach. However, by contrasting Facebook and LinkedIn, I hope to present and clarify a few of the issues.

    Accepting Friends on Facebook

    FacebookFacebook is a social website intended primarily for social networking. Regarding accepting friends on Facebook, whether using Facebook for business networking or social networking, the best approach is clearly to be selective,  because of both privacy concerns and the 5,000 Facebook friend limit.

    Should you unwittingly accept a con artist as a friend on Facebook, you’ll give that person greater access to your personal information and the personal information of your friends. If somebody who invites you to become a friend appears suspicious, reject the offer and indicate to Facebook that you don’t know the person.

    You also need to be selective, because Facebook friends are limited. I myself accept all requests that are plausible, but I continually unfriend people for one of the following reasons:

    • They spam me or annoy me.
    • Facebook tells me that it’s their birthday, and when I visit their profile pages, I have no idea who they are. In other words, I can’t remember them ever having any interaction with me.

    In this manner, I fine tune my friend list, so that when I do reach 5,000 Facebook friends, most of those connections will have real social networking or business networking value to me.

    Accepting Friends on LinkedIn

    LinkedInLinkedIn is a social website intended exclusively for business networking. Regarding accepting friends on LinkedIn, there are two contrastingly different approaches that have gained acceptance within the LinkedIn community. You are free to choose either approach, but, once you do, you need to follow your chosen approach consistently.

    1. Closed Networking Approach - You connect on LinkedIn only with people you know or whom your respected contacts introduce to you. LinkedIn recommends and approves of this approach, as it allows you to build a trusted business network.
    2. Open Networking Approach - You connect on LinkedIn with as many people as possible, since your objective is maximize your reach and visibility on the business networking site. You may occasionally need to remove people who abuse the connection with you. This is the approach I myself have adopted, and you may feel free to invite me. My LinkedIn email is in my LinkedIn profile.

    Comments and questions are welcome. Please subscribe and “like” my Facebook page.

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    Larry BraunerIn New Facebook Groups for Better or Worse, I shared my reservations about the new Facebook groups and their potential to annoy Facebook users.

    However, after ample testing and observation, I’m no longer worried about negative effects and have come to view the new Facebook groups as a viable business networking and content syndication tool.

    The  on-site and email notifications generated by the new Facebook groups can become irritating, but it’s from these in-your-face notifications that the new groups derive their power. They tend to stimulate member activity. On the other hand, the notifications from the old groups had come to be viewed as total spam and were no longer the least bit effective.

    Customize Your New Facebook Group Notifications

    FacebookThe customizable settings of the new Facebook groups help regulate the volume of notifications, add once you learn how to manage them, the new Facebook groups become beneficial and enjoyable.

    New Facebook groups provide four notification settings that you can adjust:

    1. Notify me when - “A member posts or comments” or “a member posts” are good settings for your favorite Facebook groups or groups you moderate. For other groups, you should choose “a friend posts” or “only posts I am subscribed to.” (I myself prefer the latter option, “only posts I am subscribed to.”)
    2. Also send an email to - Unless you’re off Facebook a lot, you probably should uncheck this box.
    3. Show this group in home navigation - This setting isn’t as critical as the others, since it doesn’t affect notifications. I myself set my favorite Facebook groups to “Always” and the rest of the groups to “Never.”  
    4. Send me group chat messages - Unless you enjoy group chatting or you moderate that group, you should uncheck this box.

    You Need Not Start Your Own Facebook Groups

    Starting your own Facebook groups affords you some control but less than you might think. True, you make up the group rules, and while you can remove any member you wish, nobody can remove you. Nevertheless, abuse your group by spamming or otherwise, and your members will ignore your group or quit entirely.

    For this reason, control of your Facebook group is illusory. Groups can be led but not controlled, and you don’t need to own or moderate a group in order to lead it. Furthermore, you don’t need to lead a group in order to benefit from it and enjoy it.

    Why Start New Facebook Groups of Your Own

    Here are a few valid reasons for starting your own Facebook groups:

    • Necessity - You’re unable to find any new Facebook groups that fit your particular niche.
    • Collaboration - You want to collaborate on a project with your Facebook friends or associates.
    • Segmentation - Your Facebook friends share diverse interests with you. Segmenting your friends using groups will let you explore special interests together.
    • Promotion - New Facebook groups can be used judiciously to supplement Facebook fan pages.

    When you start a new Facebook group, keep the best interests of your membership in mind. Reciprocity makes the networking world go around. Be prepared to give, not just to get.

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    Comments are welcome — of course. :-)

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    Larry BraunerYou’re creating content for your blog or website. You can create content haphazardly, or you can laser focus your web content to advance your site in the search engines.

    A website consists of one or more web pages. Search engines index web pages individually.

    For each keyword phrase that you care about, create a web page on your site dedicated to that keyword phrase alone.

    Your Keywords Don’t All Need to be Popular

    For example, your company name is probably a low volume search term, but it’s meaningful to you, all the same. It’s you who decides which keyword phrases deserve focus and assign each of those phrases its own page, either a static page or a blog post.

    Real Time Web AnalyticsIf your website has been online for a while and you notice from your web analytics that certain pages are already receiving substantial traffic for certain keyword phrases, then those pages are evidently already focused on their associated keywords.

    Throughout your site, link occurrences of your keyword phrases to their associated web pages, thereby helping those pages gain authority and climb the ranks of the search engines. When generating external links into your site, make a keyword phrase your anchor text and link to that keyword’s special page.

    Edit Previously Published Blog Posts

    Don’t hesitate to edit your previously published blog posts. If they’re your pivotal keyword pages, try hard to enhance them. However, review all your pages and update their links in order to sharpen your site’s keyword focus.

    Stick with it, since search engine optimization takes time. However, with consistent effort, you’ll dominate the search engines one keyword phrase at a time.

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    Larry BraunerIn establishing social media and business networking connections, quality matters more than quantity, but only to a limited extent.

    Admittedly, 100 quality business connections are superior to 400 random ones. I cannot dispute that. However, it’s rarely the either-or proposition that quantity vs. quality suggests.

    For example, you connect with 500 people whom you carefully select, and you hope that all will be great connections. You later discover that 100 are fine connections and that the remaining 400 are questionable ones. Of your 100 fine connections, 20 really shine, but only four of them become clients or employees.

    Quantity a Prerequisite for Quality

    The 80/20 RuleThat’s how networking and prospecting work. Consider it a process of elimination or an outcome of the 80/20 Rule.

    Beware of those who discount quantity in their quest for quality business contacts. In practice, they end up with neither one, since quantity is a prerequisite for quality.

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    Larry BraunerYou are using your Facebook personal profile for business despite 7 Issues to Consider About Doing Business on Facebook and despite advice dispensed in ONE Facebook Business Page, No More, No Fewer.

    Alternatively, you’re preparing to convert your Facebook personal profile using the new Facebook personal profile to Facebook business page migration tool.

    FacebookIn either case, you’d benefit from acquiring additional Facebook friends who share an interest in your business niche. Here are 10 tips that will help you add Facebook business friends:

    1. Choosing Facebook Friends Wisely - Don’t invite random people. It’s a waste of time and a waste of your 5,000 Facebook friend quota.
    2. Staying out of Trouble - Don’t send invitations in rapid succession or invite people whose privacy settings are very restrictive. If there’s no message button, not much information or wall posts showing, or if Facebook questions whether you really know the person, move on.
    3. Introducing Yourself - Include a short message, such as “Hi. I’m a ballooning enthusiast and author of the book, “Avoiding Deflation.”
    4. People You Know in Real Life - Ask your business colleagues if they’re on Facebook or search for them.
    5. LinkedIn Connections - Do the same with LinkedIn networking connections who share an interest in your business niche.
    6. Twitter Profiles - Search Twitter accounts for interesting people. Then check whether they’re on Facebook. Start your conversations in 140 characters and then transfer them to Facebook.
    7. Facebook Research - Facebook groups, pages,your Home page, etc., are all places to find lots of potential friends.
    8. Friend Suggestions - Here’s the best part of all: If you add friends carefully,  Facebook will reward you by recommending favorable choices for friends.
    9. Engage Your Facebook Friends - Engage your Facebook friends in conversations, and you’ll get to know those of their friends who join in.
    10. Don’t Be Afraid to Unfriend - If for any reason you’re questioning why someone is your Facebook friend, the Unfriend link on his or her profile is waiting impatiently for you to click on it. (If you do that to me, however, I won’t ever forgive you.)

    I recently added many devoted watch enthusiasts and industry insiders to my roster of Facebook business friends using these ideas.

    Don’t hesitate leave a comment — and if you’re new to my blog, I invite you to subscribe and like my Facebook page.

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