Larry BraunerAnother social media university, social media academy, guru or training program surfaces online nearly every day. Do we need these social media training programs? Are they worth our time and expense?

I’m old enough to remember the data processing boom of the seventies. There were more computer schools back then than social media gurus or social networking sites today.

Computers in those days weren’t as easy to use as they are today, and people were needed in companies that used them to program and operate them. Computer schools collected large sums to train people for potentially lucrative computer programming careers, but in the end, students were very lucky if they even got lower paying computer operator jobs.

Students weren’t aware that businesses much preferred college graduates with relevant degrees to fill programming positions over graduates of year- long programs. Computer schools were able to rake in large profits because they didn’t fully disclose the reality of the job market.

The same was true years later with medical billing. Schools and home study programs nurtured false expectations. The probability of finding assignments after completing a medical billing course was dismally low.

Making an Intelligent Choice

To determine whether a social media training program is worthwhile for you, answer the following questions as thoughtfully and honestly as you can.

  1. What are your needs and expectations? Stop and reflect. What are you looking for? To change careers? Broaden your marketing skills? Build your brand? Have fun? Earn extra money? Getting clear about what it is you’re looking for is a sensible place to start.
  2. Can you partially or fully meet your needs by completing the course? In other words, does the course match your needs?
  3. Do the benefits of the course justify your investment of time and money? Unless your goal is to turn social media into a hobby that pays off emotionally, not financially, your course needs to help you develop money making skills that justify the cost. Please be wary of courses or systems that promise quick or easy results.
  4. How qualified are you to pursue the path you wish to take? Do you have the prerequisites to complete the course and follow through on your plans?
  5. Are you motivated enough? I’ve stated before that the  social media learning curve is steep, and results aren’t quickly obtained. You need the mindset of a marathoner to succeed. Look at your track record. If you can persevere over a long period of time and follow through, you might succeed. Otherwise, resist committing to a long-term social marketing plan.
  6. How qualified and reliable are the instructors? Do they walk the talk? Have they demonstrated the ability to do what you yourself would like to do? Can they provide references?
  7. Can you afford to lose your investment? If the course costs more than you can afford to lose, discuss your options with friends and advisers before making a decision. Listen carefully to their recommendations.

You should be able to apply the same or similar criteria to evaluate affiliate marketing, network marketing, search engine marketing or SEO courses.

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Larry Brauner

I’m taking a couple of days off from work, and I’m leaving you with the following thought:

A website is not necessarily an Internet presence.

Some websites are no more than online business cards. They display the owner’s contact information along with some eye catching graphics, but provide little or no information about the business or organization.

I admit that such a site is not very common, but they do exist.

Here’s one that actually belongs to a web designer who is selling “Engine Optimized Web Solutions”:

http://marriedtotheweb.com

Pretty amazing isn’t it?

Seeing is believing!

If there is information, but it’s contained in a flash presentation, then from a search engine’s point of view the site is devoid of content. Search engines are unable to decipher flash or pictures.

When pictures are part of a website, it’s important to tell the search engine what the picture is by using an “alt” description atrribute in the HTML “img” tag. Then the picture adds search value to the site. Also, if for some reason the picture doesn’t load, the description will appear instead.

If there is a lot of good information on the site, but there’s no way to capture a visitor’s contact details, or there isn’t an effective search engine optimization strategy, then the website is merely an Internet-based brochure.

Mosts websites are online brochures and no more. They lack an effective lead capture mechanism, or they lack an effective keyword strategy, or all too often they lack both.

Blogs are naturally full of rich content. Add to the mix a choice of subscription methods for lead capture and good keyword research, and you have the makings of a blog marketing strategy.

In my Blog Marketing and SEO Training series, I hope to provide you with lots of creative input as you develop your online presence.

Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to my RSS feed or by e-mail. Also, visit my About, Services, Media Buzz and Connect pages to learn about me and my social media and web marketing services.

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Larry Brauner

Or is it?

Your plate is very full. Don’t get me wrong. I understand. I really do.

You wonder how you could possibly fit blogging into your hectic schedule. You also wonder whether you have the wherewithal to adequately research and write articles week after week, something that you believe good bloggers ought to do.

Before addressing these issues, let’s take a step back and discuss a scenario that you’re familiar with if you engage in business networking at your local small business association, chamber of commerce or business networking group.

Business Networking Model

At a business networking meeting, you meet several people you feel you’d like to get to know.

Business Networking MeetingYou exchange business cards, and being a sharp networker, you resolve to get in touch with these new contacts as quickly as possible once you return to your office. You know very well that if you want to get something going, you’ll have to be the one to take the first step.

Unfortunately most people simply won’t follow up. They’ll hope that you’ll be sufficiently impressed with them and their business card, brochure or website to pick up the phone and call them to get the ball rolling.

You’re not as impressed as they would like, but you do understand business networking and human nature, so you take the initiative and give them a ring.

Your phone converation goes well. You ask enough questions to build rapport and to identify at least one business problem they have for which you should be able to provide a solution.

You sense that it’s too early in the relationship to try and sell them your idea. Instead you’ll maintain contact with them to build mutual trust and respect in accordance with the First Law of building relationships: Nobody cares what you say until they know that you care.

At this point what do the textbooks tell you to do?

They say that you should call periodically and look for newspaper and magazine clippings to send — along with a personal note of course.

Suppose that you have a hundred good contacts, and suppose also that you want to mail and speak to each one about every two months. That’s about eleven calls and the same number of news clippings per week or about two of each per day.

Even if you’re a sociable person, that’s going to be a hard schedule to stick with over a long period of time. You would have to be a master networker to make such a scheme work for you.

Blog Marketing to the Rescue

Fortunately blog marketing comes to your aid.

You invite your contacts to visit your blog, and ask permission to register them as a subscriber.

If they accept, you’ll be able to keep them in the loop with a reasonable amount of effort. Even if you write only one blog post per week, they’ll still hear from you every week. They have the option to comment on your articles and start a conversation within your blog’s community.

They can get to know you really well, and this will help as much or more than sending them clippings every couple of months. They may even give you cues to let you know when they’re ready to do business. You’ll be able to pick up the phone and tell them your idea, and they’ll be favorably pre-disposed to accept it.

All this is wonderful, but there’s even more.

Put Your SEO Training to Work

Many people will find you through the search engines if you’ve done good keyword research, and if you’ve paid enough attention to ongoing search engine optimization.

Make it easy for your visitors to subscribe, and those who like you will.

The search engines will be working on your behalf even when you’re sleeping or on vacation. They work 365/7 and never complain.

Save Time and Effort

If you are very busy, or you’re not sure how to research and write articles, you can rely on the tried and true clipping method. However, you’ll clip online articles instead of newspapaper or magazine stories.

You’ll frame these online articles for your readers in your post, just as you would have done using a short personal note accompanying newspaper clip. You’ll also provide a link to the site where they can read the entire story.

This approach saves you time and effort, and you can still write original content for your blog as frequently as you wish.

In Conclusion

Add to this rationale the Top Reasons Why I Blog, an earlier post, and your decision “to blog, or not to blog” will most likely be affirmative.

Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to my RSS feed or by e-mail. Also, visit my About, Services, Media Buzz and Connect pages to learn about me and my social media and web marketing services.

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Larry Brauner

Surging Ahead in the Search Engines

Extensive keyword research and long-term persistence are starting to pay off in a very big way.

Last month, in Blogging and Search Engine Marketing, I patted myself on the back for my SEO progress during my first six months publishing this blog.

Blog Marketing and SEO TrainingI didn’t at all expect that in May I would receive more visitors from search engines than in all previous months since my introduction to the world of blogs.

These visits were above and beyond the 2,000+ visits that I received from my subscriber lists and from online social networking at Entrecard, MyBlogLog and social networking sites.

Furthermore, slightly more than 30% of those search engine visitors stayed on my site long enough to read something.

Of the 787 search engine visits to my blog in May, 239 “stuck”.

Why so much growth in one month?

My keyword research helped me choose search terms that were ambitious yet realistic. And my persistence helped me to establish PageRank and credibility with Google and the other search engines.

I continue to add lots of content to my blog and bookmark all my content on major social media sites.

Do you think I might top 1,000 visitors from SEO in June?

SEO Training

The good news is that what I’m doing here with search engine optimization is duplicable, and I hope to empower you through our Blog Marketing and SEO Training series to develop a massive web presence and achieve great success in your particular niche.

Whether you’re starting a small business, growing an established business, or building a network marketing business, I can’t think of a better way to increase website traffic.

Are you ready to receive thousands of search engine visitors to your site?

Don’t miss any posts. Register, it’s easy, or subscribe to my RSS feed! You can also subscribe by e-mail using the form at the top of the home page sidebar.

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Larry BraunerOur blog marketing and search engine optimization series is under way.

In this ongoing series we are looking at blogs and blogging in connection with several online marketing channels:

Quite obviously blogs are not laid out sequentially like a book. Even if you write in sequence, your material will be presented to the blog’s reader in reverse sequence. Therefore, I created this post to organize my blogging articles into a handy table of contents.

This is a good place to mention that I’m not writing a textbook or an all-encompassing reference on blogging and blog marketing. Rather, I’m raising issues that could be critical to your success and sharing my thoughts and opinions about them.

There are many books and blogs that deal extensively with the details of blogging, business networking and search engine marketing. I love reading such books, and as we progress, I’ll tell you about many of them.

Disclaimer

I am not giving you business direction or assuming any measure of responsibility for your business decisions. While I believe that my ideas are sound, it is you nevertheless who will determine your path and assume full responsibility for your business results.

Blog Marketing Articles

Top Reasons Why I Blog
Top 10 Blogging Success Factors
Don’t Make This Mistake
Narrowing Blog Focus
Blogging and Search Engine Marketing
Blogs and Blogging for Fun and Profit
Blog Marketing
Before You Begin Blogging
Creating a Home for Your Blog
Web Hosting for Your Blog
To Blog, or not to Blog, that is the Question
My Personal Branding Strategy

Search Engine Optimization Articles

Keyword Research Paying Off Big
Website or Online Presence?
Google Reverses Recent PageRank Update

Blog Monetization

Blogs and Blogging for Fun and Profit

This page will be updated frequently. To return here again, bookmark the page in your browser or on your desktop —  or look for the Blog Marketing SEO Training link on the blog’s sidebar.

Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to my RSS feed or by e-mail. Visit my About, Services, Media Buzz and Connect pages to learn about Building Your Audience and Brand on the Web. See also my Disclosure Policy regarding affiliations and compensation.

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