Larry BraunerI obsess over my website search engine ranking and check my keyword search engine rankings more often than once a week. After all, who doesn’t want to achieve higher search engine rankings and get more web site traffic?

However, top search engine ranking isn’t everything. There is much more to search engine optimization than merely increasing a website’s search engine ranking.

Get More Web Site TrafficYour website can have a top Google search engine ranking yet not receive its fair share of traffic or receive insufficiently targeted traffic, which is also bad.

As I pointed out in a comment on 5 Steps to Make Wordpress an SEO Beast, an excellent article on the StylyzedWeb blog, you can be at the top of the search engines, but if too few people click through to your website or the wrong people click through, you can’t say that your site is search engine optimized.

A page’s title and description in its header often determine exactly how that page will appear in the search engine results and how likely searchers will be to click through to it. Header tags need to be optimized not only with search engines in mind but with people in mind too.

Search engine marketers are keenly aware of this issue, and search engine optimizers need to be equally aware.

Furthermore, if ample targeted visitors do come to your website, but your site is ineffective because of its content or design, then all your efforts to attract search engine traffic or any other traffic have been for naught.

Optimizing your website’s keywords to obtain a top search engine ranking is important, but the appeal of both your search engine listing and your actual website to your target audience are at least as important and should not be neglected.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated as usual. :-)

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Larry Brauner
Since Twitter Lists Beta Observations and Tips one month ago, Twitter completed the roll out of Twitter Lists to all its users.

Twitter members have been occupied with building and following lists, while the pundits have been occupied with observing and dissecting them (the lists of course, not the members). :-P

Twitter ListsThe reaction in the blogosphere has been somewhat mixed. 9 Reasons Why You Should Be In Love with Twitter Lists (RotorBlog) was very upbeat. Twitter Lists Are Not About Discovery (Regular Geek) was more skeptical.

A new social media site, Listorious, has surfaced to helps us discover Twitter lists for categories which are important to us. How splendid this is! I’ll explain why.

Realizing the Potential of Web 2.0

Twitter comes along and lets anybody who’s connected to the Net (even a bot) create a user account and add text messages (tweets) to the Twitter message stream. Simultaneously, Twitter lets users subscribe to messages in the Twitter stream.

Twitter is a good example of Web 2.0, i.e. people creating and sharing web content.

Twitter becomes popular. Millions of messages from millions of people start flowing downstream. The social media community asks, “How will all these messages be organized?”

Twitter responds, permitting users to create and share lists of Twitter users. These Twitter lists are another form of Web 2.0 content. The community wonders, “How will all these lists be organized?”

Listorious appears, and using the Twitter API,  provides a platform for users to create and share Twitter meta lists (lists of Twitter lists). These meta lists are yet more Web 2.0 content.

Suddenly, we’re realizing the potential of Web 2.0, the social web, on a large scale. We’re creating, sharing and organizing our own web of information.

How I Use Twitter Lists

I use Twitter Lists both to organize people I find on Twitter and to discover new people.

I have 20 Twitter lists of my own, some private, to which I assign people, and I explore Twitter and Listorious to find new lists of Twitter people.

For example, I like lists of public relations people and companies, because in many ways, my skills are a strong match for PR firms. I let Twitter lists help me locate and connect with organizations and people working in the PR and communications industry.

When I find a list I like, I follow it. I certainly don’t want to lose track of it. I assign many people in the list to my own lists too.

I also follow most of the people. I hope that they’ll check out my blog and decide to follow me back. Perhaps they’ll even subscribe while they’re here.

In Conclusion

The way Twitter Lists have greatly extended the functionality of Twitter is cool. So is the way that Twitter Lists fit nicely into Web 2.0 social media paradigm. Critics can say what they wish about Twitter lists but cannot diminish their usefulness to me (and to my readers).

Okay. We’ve reached the point in the post where you usually comment. ;-)

What do you like or dislike about Twitter Lists? How would you improve them if you were Twitter?  What are some of your favorite Twitter lists?

Follow @larrybrauner on Twitter. :-)

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Larry Brauner
Last week, Twitter released a beta version of Twitter Lists, “a great way to organize the people you follow and discover new and interesting accounts.”

“Beta” implies that there are still some rough edges, and tweaks are to be expected. It also implies that you might not yet have access to Twitter Lists.

Undoubtedly this article still has some rough edges as well and revisions are to be expected. ;-)

So what are Twitter Lists all about?

Twitter ListsFacebook has lists that let you organize your friends. Twitter Lists enable you to do much more than that. This brand new Twitter tool adds an entirely new and exciting dimension to Twitter.

Twitter Lists presents new targeting opportunities, and may also create new online social networking possibilities. We’ll know more once the feature is fully tested and rolled out.

Twitter Lists Observations

Here are five ways in which Twitter Lists and Facebook lists are similar:

  1. You categorize people and assign them to one or more lists. A person may belong to many lists or to none. The choice is totally yours.
  2. You create and name your lists, and you can edit its name even after the list has been established.
  3. You manage your lists and can add and remove people whenever you wish.
  4. Facebook lists and any Twitter list which you make private are known only to you, the list creator.
  5. You can view status updates and posts that are limited to the people you assigned to a particular list, making it easier to follow categories of people such as family or business contacts.

Here are five ways in which Twitter Lists and Facebook lists differ:

  1. All Facebook lists are private. However, on Twitter you can also create public lists to share with other members.
  2. People can easily tell to which public Twitter lists they’ve been assigned and who assigned them by clicking on the “listed” link on any of their account pages. Here’s my listed link (assuming that you can access it).
  3. On Facebook you can add only friends (or invited friends) to your lists. On Twitter you can add anybody as long as that person hasn’t protected his or her updates. Consider Twitter Lists to be a new method for following people.
  4. You can use Facebook lists to limit access to parts of your profile. This doesn’t apply to Twitter lists. Your brief Twitter profile is public and is visible to everybody, even to people who do not belong to Twitter.
  5. Not only can you view updates limited to the people you assigned to a particular Twitter list, you can do the same with anybody else’s Twitter list which you follow. Once you follow somebody’s list, you can access the updates for that list (as well as any of your own lists) using the lists menu on your Twitter sidebar. By the way, it’s okay to be nosy, so don’t feel guilty about it!

Twitter Lists Tips

Here are nine Twitter tips for maximizing your use of Twitter Lists:

  1. Look around to see how people are using Twitter Lists and in which lists they’ve been listed. You’ll get a good sense of how Twitter Lists work and a bunch of ideas for lists you can create yourself.
  2. Experiment. While you run the risk of driving other people crazy, you are free to make as many changes to your Twitter lists as you wish.
  3. You can add yourself to your own lists which useful for when people follow your lists.
  4. Instead of following somebody else’s Twitter list, often it will make more sense to select people from that list and assign them to your own list. That gives you some control and flexibility. However, keep in mind that when people are added to that person’s list in the future, your list will not update automatically.
  5. Be careful when assigning people to public Twitter lists. Don’t offend them (unless of course you’re an antisocial type of person). They might retaliate by assigning you to a list of jerks or dorks or even worse. At present, Twitter lists can’t be altered by the people listed. Twitter will have to take action if (when?) behavior problems surface.
  6. On the other hand, use your Twitter lists to communicate thoughts about people in a constructive way. Assign them to a public Twitter list of cool peeps or to a list of experts in a niche. Do this even (or especially) to people who don’t follow you!
  7. Do anything you want with private Twitter lists just as you would with Facebook lists. If you want a Twitter list of nerds or spammers, keep it private or face likely retaliation. You probably don’t want to make your “little black book” public either.
  8. You can start off by making a Twitter list private and later switch it to public and vice versa.
  9. Have fun, but set limits, as Twitter Lists can be addictive. Don’t let Twitter Lists become an obsession (unless you happen to be looking for a new obsession).

I’m @larrybrauner on Twitter. Assign me to any funky Twitter lists, and you’ll live to regret it. :-P

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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 BraunerI am about to discuss targeting and connecting as they apply to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Ning networks, the most popular social networking sites for business networking.

I could have broken the material into four separate blog posts, but decided instead to deliver it to you as four articles wrapped up into one long one.

For simplicity, I am assuming that your target market uses each of the sites. Since that may not be true in your case, feel free to adapt these business networking techniques to all other social networking sites as needed.

Facebook

Targeting and connecting on Facebook are pretty straightforward with one caveat. You are limited to 5,000 connections on Facebook, so you can’t afford to cast too wide a net. Be fussy about whom you connect with and remove from your friends anybody who spams you.

To identify people in your target market, search for groups and Facebook networked blogs that would likely interest them. Join the groups and follow the blogs yourself. Then browse the members of those groups and followers of those blogs to find potential connections.

I believe that blog followers as a whole are more active on Facebook than mere group members. However, consider selecting only members with some minimum number of friends such as 100 to weed out people who don’t really engage with the site.

If you’re not sure which groups and blogs to select, try connecting with others in your niche. You’ll be able to see which groups they lead or belong to and which blogs they publish or follow. You can also examine their Facebook walls to find additional potential connections.

Connecting isn’t difficult. When you invite another member, include a short note such as, “You and I are both members of the Social Networking Haters group.”

Please, promise me that you won’t write anything nerdy like, “I’m looking to connect with like minded people.” Don’t use a line like that with anybody anywhere ever. I mean it.

Twitter

The Twitter learning curve is steep. If you’re not well versed with Twitter, try the advice and resources in my Twitter articles. I’m going to assume that you pretty much know what you’re doing.

Since Twitter is bloated with spammers’ phony profiles, targeting on Twitter is difficult and getting more difficult all the time. It’s going to be a messy job, so be prepared. Don’t say that I didn’t warn you.

Do not connect with anybody who has:

  • no profile information or inappropriate profile information
  • no picture, avatar or business logo
  • a lopsided relationship between following and followers
  • almost no tweets or spammy looking tweets

Do follow back anybody else who follows you. Unfollow anybody who spams you.

To identify Twitter members in your target market, start your search by using Find People to look for other people in your niche. Avoid the biggies, since they are magnets for spam, and a large percentage of their followers are spammers.

Look for the ones who have a few hundred to a few thousand followers.

Follow them and follow their followers — unless of course a particular follower looks suspicious based on the criteria I just listed above. A portion of their followers will hopefully belong to your target market.

Unfollow the people who don’t follow back after a few days and repeat the process.

Consider using a tool to manage your account.

LinkedIn

On LinkedIn, targeting is fairly straightforward, but connecting can be a challenge.

If you’re a job hunter or a headhunter in the recruiting industry, you should probably connect with as many people as you can. Since the limit is reportedly 30,000, you can afford to cast a very wide net.

In any case you should accept all invitations. Remove any connection who who spams you:

  1. Click on “Connections” which is on the left side bar.
  2. Click on “Remove Connections” which is currently near the upper right corner
  3. Then follow the instructions.

The main difficulty with LinkedIn is that if you invite someone who then indicates that they don’t know you, you get a strike against you. If this happens often, LinkedIn restricts your inviting privileges.

People who are open to invitations and implicitly agree not to indicate that they don’t know you are call LinkedIn Open Networkers, abbreviated LION.

There are at least two groups for LinkedIn Open Networkers:

You can join and browse these groups to find people to link to. They of course have an option to accept you or to archive you, i.e. ignore you. Usually they accept.

If you are not a job hunter or headhunter, you’re probably better off targeting than trying to connect to thousands of people. That’s your judgment call.

You can do both, just as I do. But I admit that I started as a job hunter years ago and built a large base at that time. If I were starting today, I think I would stick to targeting.

To make the best connections, join the groups that people in your target market would join, and participate in the groups’ discussions. You’ll naturally make connections and get some traffic to your blog or website along the way.

Ning Network

Targeting on Ning is a little tricky. Cast a wide net on Ning, since I’m not aware of any upper limit on the number of Ning friends.

Here are the challenges that you face when adding Ning friends:

  • You can only have 100 outstanding friend requests. You’ll have to dis-invite people who don’t respond. Do this from the “Friends” tab of your Ning dashboard at Ning.com.
  • Most of the people you invite won’t respond. Either they don’t know how or they’ve already abandoned the site.

You improve your results by posting a friendly, non-spammy and non-nerdy comment to their profile at the time you invite them.

You also improve your results by inviting people who have recently joined the site, the ones at the beginning of the member list, or people who are obviously engaging with the site.

Find people in your target market by joining Ning networks and groups that are likely to attract these people. Invite a hundred people, and wait a day. Some will accept, so you can invite more.

When you get stuck, trim your invite list starting from the end. While this can be a slow process, it has worked for me and for others.

Be careful not to spam your friends. Don’t invite them directly to join new Ning sites.

The best way to communicate with your Ning friends is to write informative blog posts on a Ning site about something that would interest people in your target audience. Then use the share feature on Ning to let them know about your post.

Read Introduction to Using Ning Sites and other Ning articles.

Now It’s Your Turn

I don’t have a monopoly on online business networking techniques. Why not share some of your own targeting and connecting ideas?

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Larry BraunerMarketing is often as important to people as it is to businesses.

People seeking jobs, marriage partners or buyers for their personal property all need to target and reach out to their respective markets.

Social Media is Very Accessible

Old media such as TV, radio, print, mail — and even online advertising — tend to be very costly and are used most effectively by big corporations and by savvy direct marketers.

However, the new media such as blogging, video, online social networking and social bookmarking cost little or nothing to use and are as accessible to people and small businesses as they are to big corporations and direct marketers.

Ineffective Use of Social Media

The low out-of-pocket cost of the new media entices people and businesses to waste time and energy by using social media marketing more haphazardly and less rigorously than they would use more expensive old media marketing channels.

Many marketers further compound the problem by bringing to social media old media advertising and prospecting paradigms rather than a new media attracting, socializing and educating paradigms.

Marketers need to learn how to focus their social media efforts by applying rigorous standards and analytics to new media marketing campaigns.

Reaching the Right Audience

One way to focus your social media effort is through targeting. Simply put, targeting means reaching the right people, the people who can benefit from you, your product or your service.

Market segmentation is a form of targeting research that studies the characteristics and desires of different population segments. I assume for now that you know — at least approximately — whom you wish to target, and that you want to be able to tackle the how part of the problem.

Competitive Intelligence

Professional marketers, especially direct marketers, study what their competition is — and is not — doing in great detail. They may also try to understand why the competition is doing what it does, and if a campaign is used over and over, they’ll will assume that the campaign is profitable.

Watch your competitors and you’ll learn how they position themselves, what they write about, what keywords they optimize, where they bookmark their content, what tags they use, and much more.

Competitive intelligence applies equally to old and new media marketing.

Top Targeting Strategies

Here are my favorite targeting strategies:

  • Develop good content that is context sensitive, communicates who you are, what you do and how you might be different — all without reading like a sales letter.
  • Do keyword research, so that while you write for people, you can also help the search engines, as much of your traffic will come from search engines, especially form Google.
  • Fish where the fish are. Choose social networking sites that you believe attract the people you are looking to attract. If you find your competitors there, that can be a good thing. It indicates that your target audience is also there. Hopefully your content positions you in a way that you’ll stand out from the competition or address a need that they do not.
  • Cast a wide net. Don’t prejudge too much. Err on the side of targeting too inclusively rather than too exclusively. Participate on a variety of sites and expose as many people as possible to both you and your message. If you know me, you know that I pursue this strategy on Twitter, LinkedIn and Ning social networks.
  • Let people decide for themselves how relevant your content is and whether or not you might be able to help them. That’s an key element of both attraction and social marketing.
  • Don’t spread yourself too thin. Read The 80/20 Rule and Social Media. Cast a wide net but not too wide.
  • Get personal. Even if you’re a business, people will want to relate to you as a person. In social media you are an integral part of your brand.
  • Experiment and be ready to adapt and make changes as you go. Marketers know that they’re not likely to get it right the first time, so consider everything you do to be a work in progress.
  • Establish an ongoing social media presence. Be persistent. Timing is extremely important. Even if somebody is the right person, the time might be wrong for him or her. You will make a sale if you’re there when the time is right.
  • Use old media to supplement and complement your new media. Just because you use social media, you need not abandon any old media marketing that’s working for you.
  • Seek help if you don’t have all the expertise or writing skills you need to succeed. That help might include advice, project management or outsourcing.

This list is not intended to be complete. However, it should give you plenty of food for thought.

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