Social Media

Go Confidently into the New Year with these 5 Marketing To-Dos

Every January I see posts on posts about future marketing trends: How will SEO change in the new year? What social media platforms do you need to be on to succeed? What crazy thing will Google do to make us finally want to throw in the towel!? It’s overwhelming and bound to change by February. I thought it would be more helpful to make a checklist of five things you can do now to start your 2015 marketing efforts off with confidence.

Deep Dive Into Your Data

At the end of each year, you typically have a historic spreadsheet of the most important metrics to prove your site gets traffic. But it’s also nice to take a closer look at the random stats you don’t generally focus on. For example, you might consistently report on organic search visits, bounce rate and new vs. returning visitors. Why not dive deeper into things like average time on site, pages per visit, referring domains, browsers used, devices used, etc. You might look at these periodically throughout the year when the questions arise, but it’s a great time to really take a closer look. Also, think about your filter settings and how your dashboards are set up. Are there opportunities to use enhanced features in your software, or if you use Google Analytics, have you ignored things like campaign tracking that you could integrate into your 2015 plans?

Give Your GWT Some TLC

You should be fixing broken links as you come across them, but if you have a laundry list of 404s in your Google Webmaster Tools (GWT), now is a good time to reevaluate them. Maybe you need to talk to your website developers about your site architecture, or you have missing 301 redirects to fix. Spend some time in your GWT looking at crawl reports and server errors, and make sure your sitemap is up to date, robots.txt is working as expected, and your 404 page and HTML sitemap are current.

New Years Marketing Tips


Read it Again

Pull a list of the top 20 pages of your website. Now, go page by page and review all the content. Check for spelling errors, outdated facts, broken links, and optimization opportunities. Make sure the page titles show up in search and the meta descriptions are rendering. Check the images and text in all browsers and on mobile devices and tablets, and check for any missing alt tags. These are your top pages; make sure they continue to be in 2015.

Make Some New Friends

There are tons of SEO, social, and monitoring tools out there; there’s also a lot of expertise. Do some heavy research and talk to other marketers about what tools they rely on most and what they’d recommend trying out in the new year. It’s hard to move away from a tool you are comfortable using; but there might be something out there that could change the game for you entirely if you just knew about it! Open your eyes and see the possibilities. You might not find anything, but it doesn’t hurt to shop around. Some game-changing tools we’ve discovered this year (and they are not necessarily new to the world, just to us): Moz, Screaming Frog, Canva, and Buffer App. Influencers we rely on: @MarketingProfs/@AnnHandley, @SocialSavvyGeek, and @RandFish.

 Clean Up Your Social Act

Don’t wait for spring cleaning; now’s a great time to clear out old followers, find new followers, and sign up for any new social sites that are relevant and growing. On Twitter, if you haven’t already, set up some Lists to organize your connections. Update your LinkedIn profile with your resume and check for any new recommendation opportunities. In conjunction, deactivate old accounts and most importantly, make sure you update your passwords and check privacy settings. If you’re not sure what social channels to be on, read our recent post on the subject.

Happy New Year!

– Rach


Hashtags: What are they and when do you use them?

HashtagsIf you’re new to Twitter, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with hashtags. So, what is a hashtag? According to Twitter, “The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages.”

I’ve found that there are three main ways they are used:

  • Useful categorization
  • Twitter chats
  • Ironic or humorous commentary

If you want your hashtags to actually do something, you should use them strategically and sparingly. Do some research on your topics to see if there are commonly used hashtags and to avoid un-savory hashtags that may have different meanings than you might expect. Say you wrote a blog article on Twitter tips and you are about to post a link to it on Twitter. Good hashtags to use would be #Twitter and #socialmedia. It’s not a bad idea to wrap your hashtags into your tweet text to save on characters, so perhaps it’s something like, “10 Awesome #Twitter tips: LINK #socialmedia.”

Hashtags are also a great way to start a Twitter Chat. If you’ve ever participated in a webinar or online conference, you know that there is often an associated hashtag with the event. It’s a fun way to keep track of what people are saying so you can also reply, comment, and retweet. Do a couple tweet chats and you’ll notice your following grow, especially if you engage with other participants.

It may not be exactly a “Twitter Chat,” but I do love, love, LOVE participating in @midnight’s Hashtag Wars. If you aren’t familiar, you should look into it. It’s a pretty fun game. Warning: it can get all kinds of wrong!

Finally — let’s talk about the third main use for hashtags — ironic or humorous commentary. This is when someone posts something and includes a ridiculous hashtag for a funny commentary, not necessarily to gain visibility. It’s not a method I would recommend if you are trying to promote your posts, although if it’s funny enough, it might start to catch on! Example: That’s right, I spent 2 hours watching The Real Housewives of NY. #sorrynotsorryactuallyiamalittlebitsorry.

For an overview of using hashtags on Instagram, check out this article from One Gram at A Time: The Ins and Outs of Instagram.

Okay — that’s about all I can muster up on hashtags right now. Does anyone have anything to add? I’d love to chat about this and other social media marketing stuffs. Why don’t we use the hashtag, #justhashitout!



Social Media Success Summit 2014 – Week 3

I’ve done my best to boil down the tips and tricks from last week’s sessions — I hope you find them helpful. As always, you’re going to want to listen to the recordings for yourself to get the most out of what Social Media Examiner’s Social Media Success Summit has to offer.

Day 1 – Blogging with sessions by Stan Smith, Leslie Samuel, and Mana Ionescu

3 Takeaways from Week 3 of the Social Media Success SummitSince Rachel and I started this blog a few months ago, I’ve been eager to learn as much as I can about the art of blogging. In these sessions I found that there was an overwhelming amount of helpful information, so I’m giving you the highlights. If you’re a blogger you are definitely going to want to check out the recordings!

  • Offer solutions to problems with your blog articles
  • Write posts as part of a series to keep people coming back
  • Get testimonials from your customers and promote them through your blog
  • The blog subscription CTA should be front and center
  • If you advertise on your blog, place the ads within content
  • Use your blog to build your email list
  • Ask your readers what they want via a short survey
  • Always have others edit your work
  • Keep it simple and clean (less is more) → STOP once you’ve made your point
  • Mention at least one influencer per post

Day 2 – Pinterest Marketing with sessions by Cynthia Sanchez, Michael Bepko, and Donna Moritz

I’m not heavily into Pinterest. Personally, I use it to search out knitting/crocheting ideas for crafts I make for my daughter. Professionally, I use it to build SEO for a B2B software company. I went in to these sessions thinking that I wouldn’t get much out of them due to my limited use, but I was wrong. I learned a surprising amount of tips and tricks.

  • Pinterest is turning into a search tool
    • Optimize your pins with keywords in the names and descriptions
  • Pinterest now has messages; you can contact people, ask them questions, engage, etc.
  • Pinterest has analytics: — I had no idea this was a thing!
  • Visual content is extremely important
    • Try creating a series of original images (10-20 in a batch) — they can be quotes, motivational, tips, etc. — use a tool like Buffer to schedule them out.

Day 3 – Podcasting with sessions by Cliff Ravenscraft, John Lee Dumas, Michael Stelzner, Pat Flynn, and Lewis Howes

I’m going to be honest here. I don’t think I’m cut out for podcasts. I was tempted to skip these sessions, but then I thought it’s best to hear it all out, especially since I paid for it! Much of it didn’t resonate with me because I don’t see podcasting in my near future. That said, these guys definitely know their stuff; and if you are even toying with the idea of podcasting, you really need to take advantage of the recordings.

  • Why podcast?
    • Because there is no screen time, you have a captive audience
    • People can listen while working out, commuting in the car, travelling, etc.
  • Grow your audience
    • Leverage directories
    • Participate in Webinars and demonstrate thought leadership
    • Leverage “New and Noteworthy” in iTunes
    • Do interviews!
      • Broaden your audience, make connections, etc.

Day 4 – Video Marketing with sessions by Caleb Wojcik, Ronnie Bincer, and Gideon Shalwick

I have a brief background in video production from college and my previous job. At my current job we’re lucky enough to have a staff videographer. I was still interested in hearing about videos from a social media standpoint since I have very little experience in it. It’s really amazing what people can produce for free with their smartphones that back-in-the-day would take a crew and a ton of equipment!

  • Try doing an “unboxing” — a video review of what receiving and using a brand new product looks like. It’s basically what people are interested in before they buy something anyway.
  • Create a repeatable video process (always do the same thing to save time and resources)
  • Use your video scripts later on as transcripts, blog posts, etc.
  • Create shorter videos that branch off of your longer ones
  • Try Camtasia for editing
  • Take advantage of Google Hangouts on Air which has no limit on how many people can watch (and it’s free live-streaming video)
  • Experiment with advertising on YouTube

Hope you guys enjoyed last week’s sessions as much as I did! Be sure to check out my other recaps of past SMSS14 sessions so you don’t miss a thing.

Social Media Success Summit 2014 – Day 3

As much as I’m enjoying these sessions, I’m sure glad we’re through with week one. I’m definitely going to need the weekend to let all of this amazing content marinate into my brain before week two starts up! Now let’s skip the chit-chat, and get down to business.

How to Take Control of Your Social Body Language to Maximize Your Social Brand, Bryan Kramer

3 Takeaways from Day 3 of SMSS14Bryan started his presentation with the stat that 93% of communication is based on nonverbal body language. So when you’re communicating on social media, that’s A LOT of posts you need to write in order to get people to know who you are. His main point is to be human (#H2H), and in his words, “fakers suck” because “authenticity is the most important factor to gaining credibility in social.” This is proving itself more and more true as I wade through the world of social media. Just be yourself and the rest will fall into place. And being funny doesn’t hurt either.

How to Streamline Your Social Media Activities with Proven Tools, Ian Cleary

The first thing Ian asked us was, “Do you dream of being on top of it all?” I think my eyes filled with tears as I shouted, “You bet your sweet @$$ I do!” at my laptop. Ian recommended loads of tools to help yourself get organized. Tools to auto-release your content, help you find content options to share, find websites to link to your site, and so much more. I have to say, I was shocked at the amount of tools he provided in 35 minutes. I felt overwhelmed and far from “on top of it all.” The thought of new tools, new passwords, more things to log in to totally freaked me out. But as with most things, trying new stuff is scary, and same goes for this. When social media is your career, you can’t settle into a rut or you will be as obsolete as Friendster. When you’re presented with a list of tools like Ian gave us, I recommend you pick one or two that address your pain points and give them a try. That’s the advice I’m giving myself and anyone else who came out of this session feeling as I did.

How to Find Out Where Your Ideal Audience Is Using Social Media, Neal Schaffer

Neal started his presentation by talking a little bit about social strategy and how important it is to understand your customer. By knowing what they are interested in, how old they are, and where they are located, you can target them on social platforms. He narrowed down the playing field by limiting the search to four of the twelve most visited websites in the U.S.: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest. Something new I learned is that you can sign up for the advertising function on these platforms and utilize it to locate your demographics. Did you know that when you sign up for advertising on Facebook and Twitter that you get access to a snippet of code that you can paste into your  website’s tag manager and find who on Facebook and Twitter are visiting your site? Facebook and Twitter also have the ability to upload an email list and they will match the emails up with accounts on their platforms. Stuff that sounds both cool and creepy, but let’s face it, the internet can be creepy.

If you didn’t get a chance to listen to these sessions, I highly recommend you do so before next week. Thanks goodness for the recordings. I have a heck of a meeting schedule next week, so I’ll probably be listening to most sessions on demand. Daily recaps will probably turn into weekly recaps!

This post comes paired with polenta with sausage and mushroom sauce. #noms.

Social Media Success Summit 2014 – Day 2

Day 2 of the Social Media Success Summit is in the books. I have to say, for such brief sessions, they sure pack them with information! Here’s a run-down of what I was able to absorb.

Unlocking Your Perfect Social Media Strategy, Mark Schaefer

3 Takeaways from SMSS14 - Day 2Long story short — you need a social media strategy. And unlike traditional marketing strategies, social media strategies are alive and need to be adjusted as technologies and trends change. Mark went on to offer a 6-question methodology for creating your strategy. It’s all those important questions you need to ask yourself, for example: what do you have to offer that no one else does? Once you have that answered, you have something to work off of and you’re on your way to formulating a solid strategy! I will be setting time aside soon to go through all of the questions and create a strategy of my own. I can see myself putting it off as just keeping up with the day-to-day work can be challenging enough, but in the end it will definitely be worth it!

How to Build Powerful Relationships on Facebook and Beyond, Mari Smith

Mari’s focus was on Facebook, which for me is not a platform I use very often, but her session was very interesting. I was surprised to hear that only about 6% of your Facebook fans ever see your content. So if you’re not getting user interaction, such as likes and shares, on your posts there is even less of a chance of someone seeing the content. She offered many tips for increasing reach: post outside of business hours, mix up the frequency, and even try posting less — gasp!

How to Grow Your Blog’s Traffic and Revenue, Syed Balkhi

I’m going to be honest, my brain is still spinning from Syed’s session, and I mean that in a good way! He offered a ton of tips for optimizing blogs through online tools and WordPress plugins. What I found particularly insightful was his suggestion to re-use old content. He offered many ways this can be done:

  • Tweet old posts to maximize your potential reach and get new followers
  • Change content format on your blog — bring old articles to the front with “Tip of the Week” or “Popular Posts” sections
  • Turn your posts into a “round-up” to get more leverage from the content
  • Build an eBook from your posts and offer it as incentive to sign up for your email list

There was oh-so-much more, but you’ll just have to go track down the recordings to get the rest! And don’t forget to check out my summary of the Social Media Success Summit – Day 1 when you have a chance.

This post comes paired with octopus shaped hot dogs, cucumber salad, and homemade applesauce. Give me a break, I have a small child to entertain!

Social Media Success Summit 2014 – Day 1

I’m super excited to be attending the Social Media Examiner’s Social Media Success Summit. It’s been many years since I’ve attended a user conference and been on the receiving end of the learning. This conference is different than any I’ve attended before. Why? Because it is 100% online, which is cool because it made it much more cost effective (cheap, I’ll just say cheap), and as a bonus, I don’t have to spend time away from my adorable toddler. The downside is that it’s 100% online, which means in my situation a significant amount of time sequestered from distractions at work (and the inbox is piling up!). Day one went well, but I already see many scheduling conflicts in the not-so-distant future, so good thing they record them for later viewing. Although, I have to say it’s fun to Twitter chat and see ideas pop up in real time. Does anyone agree there should be a hashtag for those of us talking about it in off hours (perhaps #SMSS14afterdark?) If the reference is lost on you, I have no words.

Let’s get down to the meat of it. What did I learn today?

Social Media Success Summit Day 1The first keynote was “Drip Feed Marketing,” by Mike Stelzner. It’s about regularly delivering free content to an audience who will find value in it. The key message I took away from this was to ask your audience what content they want. Why guess when you can set up a quick poll and ask? Also, my favorite quote was in reference to creating content: “Relevance trumps pizzazz every time.” I take this to mean that content is still king!

The second keynote was “How to Use Visual Content to Drive Massive Social Media Engagement,” by Kim Garst. She stressed the importance of being visual; apparently you only have about six seconds to impress visitors to your website. They will judge your company based on how snazzy your website is. I can’t say I disagree; I recently selected a new dog groomer based on its website. Kim also provided many tools and tips on creating sharable content; she gave a big ‘ol bump to Canva. You may remember them from my previous post about free webinars. But I digress …

Finally, Andy Crestodina finished it up with “How Examining Two Numbers in Your Analytics Will Make You a Better Blogger.”  He had some very cool things to show us on finding your star content in analytics  and how to improve it. He shared a formula for giving an SEO boost to old content by indicating relevance by using keywords:

  • in the beginning of the title tag
  • once in the H1
  • four to six times in the body
  • within links to the page from other pages on your site (link from your old stuff to your new stuff)

While doing this is totally on the up-and-up with Google and other search engines, I found this statement to be a good reminder, “Don’t compromise your content so much that you can’t recognize it. That’s spam.”

There ya go — the Social Media Success Summit Day 1 in a nutshell, a small digestible nutshell. So far, this conference is packed with a ton of great content; you should see the amount of notes I took today!

I will be posting more articles about my learnings from the event, but let’s be honest, I probably won’t get to writing one every day of the conference. But I’ll do my best to share the tips I discover with you!

This post comes paired with sopes. Delicious sopes from Palapa in Santa Barbara, CA.