Larry Brauner3 Key Social Media and Web Marketing Strategies for 2011 discussed the decline of open networking on Facebook, the revival of Ning networks and the continued relevance of websites and SEO in building your web presence.

Here are several more social media marketing ideas for the new year that can be especially helpful for small business marketers and entrepreneurs.

Bigger Long-Term SEO Objectives

GoogleOne of the most serious social media and web marketing mistakes I’ve ever made was choosing Online Social Networking as the name of this blog.

I considered naming my blog Social Networking Sites but decided not to, because social networking sites seemed too competitive a keyword phrase for the newbie that I was. Online social networking is searched for 12K times monthly compared to 250K for social networking sites. 12K per month seemed like more than enough traffic to me at that time.

Online social networking was a “reasonable” keyword term. Since it was much less popular than the often searched-for term social networking sites, I hoped to rank for it relatively quickly. However, in the long run, I believe that social networking sites would’ve brought me both greater and more profitable traffic.

My blog probably wouldn’t have yet hit the #1 spot in the search engines for the search term social networking sites as it has already for online social networking, but it would’ve ranked much higher for social networking sites than the present #32 and might have still placed close to the top for online social networking.

I should have considered long term potential and selected more ambitious keywords, just as I have for Gevril, for whom I’ve chosen tough keyword phrases, such as luxury watches and mens watches.

In month one, Gevril Group received 150 search visits. I’ll let you know what happens in month two.

Ning Network Groups

Ning Social NetworksNing groups function like Facebook groups with a few welcome exceptions:

  • Your potential emailing list is unlimited. You can broadcast to Ning group members even after their count exceeds 5,000.
  • The content of your Ning group can be indexed by Google and other search engines, and the greater your group membership, the greater your authority with the search engines will tend to be.
  • Group activity is displayed in your Ning network’s activity feed and transmitted to Ning group members who elect to follow you.

I’m ready and able to assist any group owner on my new Small Business Network who’s dedicated to building a large and influential Ning group, and the group need not necessarily be business-oriented.

Connecting One-to-One

SkypeYour personal network will be strong and prosper if you focus on networking one-to-one. Speak on the phone or over Skype even one time to each person, and you’ll surely build solid online relationships.

If you’re growing a Facebook page, a Ning group or a Twitter account, individually adding one-to-one connections can amount to a large number over time — and perhaps these connections will even help you make many more.

Hope you’ll find these social media and web marketing strategies useful.

Wishing you a successful year. :-)

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Mastering social media one bite at a time the past few years was an effective strategy for me, as the needs of my small number of clients were modest enough.

That’s changing, as I’ve been engaged as social media and web strategist by the Gevril Group in Valley Cottage, NY, luxury watch distributor, a forward-thinking business with ambitious marketing goals.

A one-bite-at-a-time social media marketing approach for Gevril would be way too laid-back and totally unrealistic.

Gevril’s Social Media and Web Marketing Plan

Gevril Group Luxury WatchesI’ve crafted for Gevril a multi-faceted web marketing plan that matches the company’s far-reaching objectives.

All parts of my plan are to be managed and executed concurrently:

  • Community and List Building - Developing a community and building a subscriber base are impacted by nearly all social media and web marketing functions.
  • Content Creation - The story of each Gevril Group brand needs to be told, and articles, newsletters and press releases need to be written, as well.
  • Web Sites - Ivo Jackson and I are designing GevrilGroup.com. The Gevril Group website will be the hub of the Gevril web presence and a key resource for contact list building.
  • Blogging - Blogs will be used to post fresh content, such as news and product information. We’ve launched several Gevril Group blogs: Watch Brands and Luxury Watches and Men’s Watches.
  • Search Engine Optimization - SEO and social media complement each other very nicely. About 50% of my blog’s traffic comes from searches. Whenever new content is created, SEO needs to be applied. The free Google Keyword Tool is my favorite SEO resource.
  • Email Marketing - We’ll email press releases, and news about products and events to our email marketing lists.
  • Facebook - I’ve set up a facebook.com/GevrilGroup on Facebook, a social networking site I’m quite comfortable with. I hope to build an active community of watch enthusiasts around Gevril’s Facebook page.
  • Twitter - I’ve set up @GevrilGroup on Twitter and will use Tweet Adder to manage the Gevril account and build a targeted following.
  • LinkedIn - While still working on a strategy for LinkedIn, I’ve already joined many relevant LinkedIn groups. I will next create a Gevril company page.
  • Social Bookmarking Sites - I’ve lately received a lot of quality blog traffic from Business Exchange, so I created a Business Exchange topic for the watch industry. I’ll also use Digg, StumbleUpon and other social bookmarking sites.
  • Niche Social Networks - Social networking sites and forums catering to watches or luxury will help Gevril connect with watch enthusiasts.
  • Group Buying - I’ve ruled out Groupon and similar sites as potential marketing channels, but very much like GroupGain, a new website with a new group buying concept that has yet to launch.

Gevril Men's 5101 Rose Gold Avenue of Americas Automatic Date WatchThe ultimate goal of Gevril’s marketing initiatives is to increase sales by enlisting vendors and by creating more consumer demand.

Therefore, every aspect of Gevril’s social media and web marketing plan must contribute directly or indirectly to an increase in Gevril’s sales.

Please visit and follow the Gevril Group on Facebook and Twitter. I hope to see you there. ;-)

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Larry BraunerSeven years ago in November 2003, I began my online networking exploration on Ryze, a new social web site which was, along with LinkedIn, one of the first social networking and business networking sites.

It wasn’t until 2006, after I’d already joined a number of additional social networking websites, that I learned that these sites were the precursors of a much larger social media phenomenon. I also learned about the importance of blogs, explained by Darren Rouse in his video which I embedded in Not Ready for Social Media Marketing.

Third BlogiversaryI launched this blog, Online Social Networking, in November 2007, and yes, I am celebrating my third blogiversary. :-D

In Social Media One Bite at a Time and 7 Tips for Winning the Social Media Marathon, I discuss the social media mindset and some of the social media strategies I’ve found very helpful.

Building My Social Media and Web Presence

Here is a list of my 10 top strategies for building my social media and web presence:

  1. Partnership - Building relationships though blogging, online social networking and social bookmarking sites.
  2. Content - Writing and publishing well thought-out and occasionally useful articles on my two blogs.
  3. Search Engine Optimization - Ongoing keyword research and SEO. 50% of all my web site traffic comes directly from search engines.
  4. Diversification - Creating a presence on diverse social media sites and cultivating diverse web site traffic sources.
  5. Innovation - Experimenting with many ideas, some work out and others flop, while resisting any urges to follow the crowd.
  6. Boldness - Haven’t been afraid to test the limits of social websites and social media strategies. Twitter removed @larrybrauner from their search results, Sphinn terminated my account, and Facebook sends me sweet little love messages when I become more ambitious than they like. All I can say is, “C’est la vie.” Meekness isn’t a good quality in a marketer.
  7. Planning - Always researching and frequently reevaluating and refining my web marketing and branding plan. Flexibility must accompany social media and web marketing planning.
  8. Attitude - Persevering, staying upbeat and focusing, even when I didn’t feel like it, such as when my Dad passed away last year, or when my search engine traffic dipped during this past summer.
  9. Tools - Taking advantage of a variety of social media, SEO and web analytics tools.
  10. Widgets - Integrating social media with my blogs through using website widgets.

Thank you for partnering with me and helping me all these years with my social media and web marketing efforts. :-D

Share Your Social Media Strategies

What are your most successful strategies for building your social media and web presence?

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Larry BraunerI have already written List Building Using Ning Social Networks and List Building Using Twitter. I will want to revisit Ning and Twitter in the future. However, in this article I discuss the use of Facebook for building your list.

As explained in List Building Paradigm Shift, list building in today’s social media world is the process of acquiring and nurturing a rich and heterogeneous following across diverse platforms which include Rolodex, autoresponders, social networking sites and RSS feeds.

On Facebook, friends, page fans and NetworkedBlogs followers, all belong to your list, and all receive communications from you in one form or another.

If Facebook would enable you to have an unlimited number of friends, you could probably get along without fans and NetworkedBlogs followers. However, Facebook models itself after the real world and therefore limits you to 5,000 friends, presumably the exact size of CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s personal Rolodex.

Facebook does enable you to have any number of fans and followers. List building  on Facebook consists of acquiring and nurturing friends, fans and NetworkedBlogs followers belonging to your target audience.

Acquiring Friends

I covered a technique for targeting and connecting with friends on Facebook in Targeting and Connecting on the Top Business Networking Sites.

You find members of groups, fans of Facebook pages, and blog followers on NetworkedBlogs, all of which you consider relevant to your target audience, and you invite those members people — in a congenial manner, of course — to connect with you.

The more friends you have, the more your content is displayed to their visitors helping you get even more friends and followers.

Acquiring Fans

These are a few of the many ways to acquire fans for your Facebook page:

  • Place a Fan Box widget on your website or blog, so that your visitors can become fans with one click.
  • Post a message on your website or blog requesting that your visitors become fans.
  • Ask your Facebook friends to become fans. There is a “Suggest to Friends” link on your Facebook page.
  • Place advertisements, but take care to adhere to the Facebook guidelines for advertising fan pages.
  • Post outstanding content on your Facebook page that will spread virally on Facebook and attract new fans.

Acquiring NetworkedBlogs Followers

NetworkedBlogs is a Facebook application to promote your blog and acquire Facebook followers and blog subscribers.

Here are some ways in which I acquire NetworkedBlogs followers for my Online Social Networking blog:

  • I have a NetworkedBlogs widget on my blog’s sidebar.
  • I ask people on my blog, Facebook and other social networking sites to follow me.
  • I try to write useful articles so that friends of my Facebook friends and followers will start following me.

A Special Request

Please subscribe to my blog and follow it on NetworkedBlogs. I’ll do my best to write useful articles that you’ll enjoy, and to reply to your comments promptly and helpfully. :-)

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Larry BraunerConnecting with your target audience on Twitter is difficult, and with all the bots and spammers joining the site, it’s getting to be more and more difficult to find real people each day.

Let me share a targeting example with you.

Suppose that you want to locate wine enthusiasts. You happen to find my Twitter profile through Twitter Grader or a similar program, because I have identified myself as a wine lover in my bio.

You decide to follow all the people who follow me reasoning correctly that many of them are also wine lovers. If you’re lucky, a few hundred of them are real wine enthusiasts, and they will follow you back as soon as you follow them.

All this sounds good, but there’s one tiny little problem.

If you follow all the 30,000 people who follow me, you’ll have to follow –  and subsequently unfollow — the more that 29,000 people who follow me but know as little about fine wine as a politician tends to know about ethical conduct.

There has to be a more efficient approach. Don’t you think?

Searching Twitter Profiles

There are quite a few Twitter tools that search through profiles and tweets. I like TweepSearch, since it searches profile bios but at the same does its best to sort the results by the time since the most recent tweet, making it easier to locate active Twitter users.

When you log in through Twitter, TweepSearch shows you whom you’re already following and enables you to follow, unfollow or block people within the search results.

You can limit your search to followers of a particular Twitter member or search through everybody. In other words, you could search the profiles of my followers to find the wine lovers among them, or you could search the whole Twitter database for wine lovers.

You’ll have to play with TweepSearch and other Twitter resources and search tools until you find the ones that best suit your needs.

Automated Twitter Tools

There are a variety of Twitter tools that help you identify your target market and do all the following and unfollowing for you. Since I am following and unfollowing many people and managing several Twitter accounts for clients, I decided to experiment with one of these tools, a cute program called TweetAdder.

TweetAdder searches through profiles or tweets for keywords and can search by U.S. postal code too. It creates, saves and manages a list of target users for you to follow at a reasonable pace which you specify. The program isn’t free, but they do provide a limited version for free, so that you can see how it works before you buy it.

I like that TweetAdder works in the background while I perform other tasks, and that the vendor doesn’t make all sorts of hypey claims. They encourage proper use of the TweetAdder tool.

Twitter Style Networking

I must at least mention the natural approach to adding followers and making connections — slowly and methodically through careful examination of bios and retweeted updates. This is how I was taught, by purists no doubt, when I first started using Twitter.

I consider this approach much too slow to use for social marketing, and you don’t really want to spend all your time on Twitter.

Or do you? ;-)

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Larry Brauner

If you were looking for information about the Milky Way or perhaps something more entertaining like The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, I expect you’re a little disappointed.

This is an article about blogging.

In 2008,  Top 10 Blogging Success Factors and Top Reasons Why I Blog were well received.

The Blogger's GalaxyToday I want to acquaint you with top destinations in the blogging universe — not stars, comets or planets — not beaches or ski resorts — rather, objectives that every serious blogger ought to have — or consider adopting.

The purpose of blogging is to communicate with your readership, but let’s break it down into smaller actionable objectives.

Create Content

Every blog must have content that communicates something to readers. There are an ever increasing number of media in which to communicate besides plain text, such as:

  • Pictures or even slide shows
  • Audio — podcasts, music, etc.
  • Video
  • Charts or PowerPoint presentations
  • Polls, guest books or other engaging widgets
  • Talk radio shows, e.g. BlogTalkRadio, or conference calls, e.g. TalkShoe
  • Blog or website reviews

Choose the media that work best for your personality and subject matter.

When creating your content, be sure to ask these four questions:

  1. Is my content worth reading, viewing or listening to?
    If not, why bother posting it? When you think of good ideas, try and write them down.
  2. Is my content readable or understandable?
    I see too many blogs with bad formatting, spelling, syntax and grammar.
  3. Is my content worth linking to?
    Not every post will gather link love, but it’s something to keep in mind. If the content is good, relevant, well presented and easy to share, there’s a chance that readers will share it.
  4. Is my content search engine friendly?
    It should be, since search engines love blogs. It would be a shame not to take advantage of that.

Generate Traffic

These are my principal sources of blog traffic:

  • Asking friends and followers on social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn and Ning to come read my articles — I was able to generate some traffic right away when I first got started
  • Other blogs and social media sites linking to my blog — takes time, but link building brings visitors and improves standing with the search engines
  • Search engines such as Google, Yahoo! and Bing send traffic if content is search engine friendly — and they seem to like blog posts with comments a lot
  • RSS and e-mail subscribers responding to notifications — over time I acquired a loyal readership

Read my past articles, and watch out for Facebook for Bloggers coming soon to a blog near you.

Build a Following

It takes time and substantial effort to acquire a loyal readership. Good relevant content, targeted traffic and an easy way to subscribe will over time yield results. All three factors are essential.

I discourage you from using the register feature of your blog. Registered users are not as good as subscribers. They’re hard to manage and to reach by e-mail.

I use a combination of Feedburner and Aweber to add subscribers, since Feedburner adds Aweber e-mail subscribers into its total count of readers.

My blog is the hub of my social media strategy:

  1. I build a following on social networking sites.
  2. I drive traffic to my blog.
  3. My blog builds relationships and strengthens my credibility.
  4. Readers revisit my blog.
  5. Readers comment on my blog and engage me through online social networking at social networking sites and other means.

Engage Your Readers

You engage your readers by encouraging them to communicate and share their ideas and questions:

  • to comment on your blog posts
  • to connect with you through social networking sites
  • to e-mail you
  • even to phone you!

When your readers communicate with you, you know you’re on the right track.

That’s it for now — the basic outline — but one final note:

If you’re a fan of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, you’ll need to bring your towel and watch out for Vogons, especially Vogons who spam blogs. They’re the worst kind.

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Larry Brauner

I’m not asking who owns social media content, although that’s an interesting question.

I am asking who’s responsible for your social media strategy and policy? Who determines your overall social media agenda?

If you’re on your own, and you’re promoting yourself, your ideas or your business, you presumably own your social media. The buck stops with you.

However, if you don’t don’t have a plan, perhaps your social media owns you. Your social media can own you whether you’re a one person show, or whether you’re a large enterprise employing many people.

Ownership is more than simply calling the shots. It’s setting objectives, formulating strategies, devising plans and implementing them. Neglect taking responsibility for these activities, and the likely outcome will be total chaos.

If you’re on your own, you now know that you must develop a sound plan, but what if you’re a large organization? Who will own social media in your organization? Who else will participate in social media?

Here are some possibilities:

  • Marketing is a likely choice for social media ownership, since marketing typically owns traditional media and is the department most likely to turn social media into a money making proposition. In addition, social media is a good branding tool, and marketing ought to understand and own the branding process.
  • Public Relations is another possibility, since PR regularly uses media to communicate with shareholders and the general public. In a business that does little marketing through media, such as one that sells only to government agencies, PR might be a good choice to guide social media strategy and policy.
  • Human Resources can use social media to communicate with employees and must help enforce internal social media policy.
  • Information Technology can use social media to collaborate and manage work flow. Moreover, social media use can expose the company network to additional risks.  IT maintains network security and protects both the company and individual computer users from hackers, viruses and malware.
  • Knowledge Management, and Engineering can use social media to compile knowledge, collaborate and manage work flow.
  • Legal must help Marketing, PR and HR determine what they can and cannot say on websites and in other communications.

I’ve discussed the basic issues surrounding social media ownership. However, I’ve purposely ignored such factors as inexperience, skepticism, company politics, red tape, inertia, denial and whatever else may get in the way of implementing a successful social media plan.

An article that covered these issues in any detail would be too long and much too depressing for both of us, but please do read Top 10 Social Marketing Challenges.

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