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 BraunerIt isn’t too late for entrepreneurs to become early adopters of social media. Use of the social web is still trying to find its way into mainstream business culture.

I first learned about Web 2.0 from Time Magazine’s historic December 2006 cover story, Time’s Person of the Year: You. Then, after much preparation, I launched Online Social Networking in November 2007.

Social Media One Bite at a TimeLooking back and recounting my earlier discovery, I wrote in a March 2009 article, Social Media One Bite at a Time, that “I saw that while I could no longer be one of the earliest adopters of social media, it wasn’t at all too late to position myself at the forefront of an enormous trend.”

I now realize that I was one of the earliest social media adopters, especially within business circles. Entrepreneurs have been very slow to embrace the new media.

Consider two stories both appearing this week in established publications. Entrepreneurs Question Value of Social Media appeared in the Wall Street Journal, and Is Social Media Worth Your Time? appeared in Inc.

These articles are indications that skepticism and misunderstanding remain pervasive, particularly among small business owners. The key concerns seem to be ROI and the time burden imposed by social media.

I’m not going to confront those issues in this blog post. Instead, I’m helping you see an opportunity. If you’re already sold on the long-term potential of branding yourself and your business using social media, you can get a good head start on most of your competition.

If you’re not already sold, read the two books I mentioned in Are You Building Your Personal Brand and Future Around Your Passion?Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuk and Six Pixels of Separation by Mitch Joel. Before you finish both books, I predict you’ll be a firm believer.

If you’re on your way, or if something is holding you back, in either case, I’d love to hear about it.

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Larry BraunerI’ll share one of my idiosyncrasies with you, but promise you won’t laugh: Most people go to the library to find books — not me. When I accompany my kids to the library, I take my own books with me to read while waiting for them to finish.

Think that’s peculiar? I can assure you that there’s a totally rational explanation: It’s rare to find the trendy business books I like to read at a library. I’m much more likely to find them at a bookstore.

Still, my kids like to tease me about this seemingly odd behavior.

Looking for Trendy Business Books at the LibraryImagine my surprise when on a recent library visit, I found both Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuk and Six Pixels of Separation by Mitch Joel in the new arrivals section. Finding these books was a fluke, but nevertheless, I do plan to check back in that section in the future. ;-)

I read and thoroughly enjoyed Crush It!. The words of @garyvee helped to reinforce and refine my personal approach to business and social media branding. (I’m still in the middle of Six Pixels of Separation and liking it so far.)

Business developers are starting to approach me to explore joint ventures. They tell me how successful they are and then talk to me about changing my path, building a giant email list and making videos.

Gary, on the other hand, talks about building your personal brand through social media by being authentic and “delivering your content by video, podcast, or blog.” Being authentic guarantees to “differentiate you from everybody else, including those who share your niche or business model.”

Gary’s whole book resonated with me. However, his emphasis on building a personal brand around one’s passion got me to stop and reflect for several days about my own passion.

I realized that while I love social media, the web, and data crunching, I have a greater passion for helping people solve difficult problems. Throughout my career, I’ve been happiest when solving business problems has been at the core of my work.

Gary Vaynerchuk writes that loving your family, working super hard and living your passion are the keys to success. What’s your passion, and are you building your personal brand and future around that passion?

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Larry Brauner

Yesterday I was asked how it is that I’ve learned so much so quickly about social media marketing and search engine optimization.

My response was simple.

I learn from reading many books, e-books and blogs, and from speaking frequently with friends and mentors. Having mentors has greatly shortened my learning curve.

I do admit that I am a much more focused learner than the average person. I was able to finish high school math at 15 and by 19 I was one of the top chess players in New York.

As an adult I’ve gone on to acquire skills and expertise in many areas including business analysis, social media marketing, search engine marketing, and online social networking at social networking sites, the original motivation for this site.

One of my greatest teachers and mentors was Eric Marder, founder of Eric Marder Associates and my employer for 23 years. One fundamental thing he taught me about business was that I should always seek the truth.

At 56, I still place a very high priority on continuing education, personal development and masterminding with my mentors and peers. You can ask any of the friends with whom I consult most often, David Alexander, Ivo Jackson, and Tom Long.

Other friends and mentors whom I wish to acknowledge:

My Private ClassroomDiane Hochman of My Private Classroom, like myself, offers free tele-seminars and webinars. To receive announcements and invitations to these classes, join my e-mail list at my free social media training site.

I used to recommend the training Bill Arnold offers through Network Success Builders, but came to realize, as I wrote in Orovo and Network Success Builders, that Network Success Builder’s training was mediocre and that Bill Arnold lacked personal and business integrity.

Make a commitment to read at least one business or marketing book each month. Choose mentors to guide you and then set aside time each week to learn something from them.

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Larry Brauner

Seth Godin’s Web 2.0 Traffic Watch List

My interest in social media has evolved substantially over the past year.

My love for social networking sites is not something new, but my appreciation for blogging and social bookmarking sites certainly are.

As I mentioned in my recent post, Social Networking Site Catalog, “I launched this blog to share my passion for online social networking and my experiences at social networking sites. I never intended to assemble a catalog. There are already too many good ones out there.”

One of the world’s top marketers and author of marketing books, Seth Godin, provides a catalog of 952 top social media sites, Seth Godin’s Web 2.0 Traffic Watch List. It can help you know what’s hot and what’s not.

Here are the top ten from Seth’s list as I write this:

  1. youtube.com
  2. myspace.com
  3. orkut.com
  4. en.wikipedia.org
  5. ebay.com
  6. facebook.com
  7. fotolog.com
  8. flickr.com
  9. friendster.com
  10. photobucket.com

Put content in the right places, and you will attract other users and search engines like a magnet. If you’re into marketing, that’s exactly what you want.

How do you use social media?

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