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SOCIAL MARKETER: OUTSIDE-OF-THE-BOX SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING & BUZZ ENGAGEMENT-ALISTS
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What is Video SEO?
At the same speed that internet technology is evolving, Search Engine Optimization Experts (SEOs) are learning new ways in which businesses like yours can achieve that much-coveted “top spot” in Google’s search results. Optimizing video is one of those ways.
There are two ways to attempt to get your business’ videos into those top spots:
→ Upload your video to YouTube. YouTube is a Google product, so you can be sure that Google will find your video content online. (You’re not guaranteed that top spot, but it’s a good start.
→ Video SEO. As per Wayne, “Video SEO is a set of techniques designed to make sure that: a) Google finds your video content, b) Google successfully indexes your video content, and c) Google will display your video content when specific keywords are entered as search terms.
Create a video. Your video can be a number of different things, including actual video footage (a commercial or a recorded web cast) or something simpler — a slideshow, stopmotion animation, a PowerPoint Presentation. Whatever your video is, make sure it gives viewers something of value and has a clear call to action. The better the video is and the more fun/valuable the content, the more likely people are to want to share it.Put the video on your company’s website and upload a copy of it to YouTube. Note: Google and YouTube will find, accept, and play videos of a variety of file types.Give your video a proper Title and Title Tags. Refer back to Stir’s “SEO 101: A beginners guide…” for information on titles, tags, and headings. SEO rules for your website and online content apply to Video SEO too. Make sure your video’s title includes your SEO keywords and is descriptive enough to tell people (and Google) what they’re going to see, what the video is about. Further, make the title of your video match the title of the webpage on which it appears.
Submit your video to Google using a video sitemap. Google’s set of Webmaster Tools provides good instructions on how to do this — to “give Google information about video content on your site”. Submit both the page and the video itself.Promote your video - on your social media channels, on your blog, through word of mouth, in a press release, using Google Adwords, through bookmarking and tagging sites, and through RSS feeds . Collecting “video views” is to YouTube what “number of likes” is to Facebook. Encourage people to watch it, rank it, and share it.Some of the language used by SEOs when it comes to optimizing video content for the web can be confusing, and optimizing your first video might seem challenging, stick with it. Soon, it will be second nature, and your company will be able to make use of great creative ideas to improve your search engine ranking.
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In the simplest terms, Social SEO is “using social media — as part of an SEO campaign — mindfully, that is: putting what you know about SEO to work in Social Media with an eye towards driving traffic/visitors to your website or other online content…”Further, now that Google has launched “Search Plus Your World” — a change to the way the search engine performs that promises to make internet search more personalized than ever, Social Media is now a crucial part of SEO:“Google Search has always been about finding the best results for you. Sometimes that means results from the public web, but sometimes it means your personal content or things shared with you by people you care about. These wonderful people and this rich personal content is currently missing from your search experience.Search is still limited to a universe of webpages created publicly, mostly by people you’ve never met. Today, we’re changing that by bringing your world, rich with people and information, into search” (Google Blog).“Since Google is the most influential search engine and they are clearly integrating and favouring results coming from people’s Google+ circles, this becomes the most important social outlet to focus on from a SEO-Social perspective. No more ignoring it” (www.agent-seo.com).There are a variety of ways to optimize Social Media as part of your company’s SEO campaign, including:
> Creating a custom Facebook Page your business, and posting there regularly
> Maintaining a Twitter Feed for your business, and tweeting to your followers
> Adding Social Sharing to your business’ online marketing material
Stir, for example, works with new SEO and Social Media clients to create a Strategic Internet / Social Media Marketing Plan at the beginning of each project. This plan includes defining the audience, clarifying goals and objectives, outlining a plan (tactics), and measuring success and redefining goals.More from Mashable: “From a marketing standpoint, you can look at the benefits of SEO and social media two different ways. First, implementing a social media marketing program without optimizing content is leaving money on the table. Useful social content (blog, video, images, audio) that cannot be discovered via search is a lost opportunity to reach an audience that is looking.On the flip side, implementing SEO programs without leveraging the content distribution and linking benefits of social web participation makes link building for SEO an uphill battle. The nature of the social web encourages participation: sharing, voting, commenting and linking. Popular social content gets exposure, traffic and can result in a substantial number of relevant inbound links.However you look at it, SEO and social media work well together as long as there is a framework for doing so. One way to build SEO and social media programs efficiently is to follow a social media roadmap:
> Start with a comprehensive Road Map (Strategic Internet / Social Media Marketing Plan)
> Consider audience, goals, tactics, analytics (how you’re going to measure success)
> Remember the rules for online content - post interesting, timely, relevant, and actionable content
> On your social networking sites, build, engage, and follow-up
> Encourage people to share your content
> Make sharing easy by providing clear calls-to-action
> Optimizing your sites for social media sharing (consider Sharebar)
> Continue traditional SEO tactics
> Support all efforts with Local SEO and Video SEO
At the beginning of 2012, Google launched “Search Plus Your World” — a change to the way the search engine performs that promises to make internet search more personalized than ever.
“Google Search has always been about finding the best results for you. Sometimes that means results from the public web, but sometimes it means your personal content or things shared with you by people you care about. These wonderful people and this rich personal content is currently missing from your search experience. Search is still limited to a universe of webpages created publicly, mostly by people you’ve never met. Today, we’re changing that by bringing your world, rich with people and information, into search” (Google Blog).
This development follows the launch last year of Google+ — Google’s own social network that turns the whole search engine into one giant social network, and makes connecting online more like connecting in the real world. Now, your personal Google+ platform will be integrated with Google Search.
That means that when you perform a search, not only will Google search the world wide web for results, it’ll search your Google+ world — drawing on content from inside your Google+ social network for incredibly personalized results. Exciting? Sure. But it changes Search Engine Optimization (SEO)quite a bit.
Up until recently, Social Media was an important part of any good Internet Marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) campaign. Now, with the launch of Search Plus Your World, it’s an absolute essential.
“Since Google is the most influential search engine and they are clearly integrating and favouring results coming from people’s Google+ circles, this becomes the most important social outlet to focus on from a SEO-Social perspective. No more ignoring it” (www.agent-seo.com).
In that sentiment, all of Stir’s comprehensive and customizable SEO packages include Social Media Marketing, Management, and Engagement — that’s including (but not limited to) Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and (of course!) Google+. So, Search Plus Your World has changed how your SEO agency will have to think about and incorporate Social Media. What else? Keyword/keyphrase usage (both on- and off-page) and link-building (among other aspects of SEO) will have to be approached quite differently. In reality, you need an expert now more than ever.
Further, during these early days, some people have expressed concern about security and privacy now that personal content is going to show up in search results. Google assures us that we needn’t worry:
“Unprecedented security, transparency and control — When it comes to security and privacy, we set a high bar for Search plus Your World. Since some of the information you’ll now find in search results, including Google+ posts and private photos, is already secured by SSL encryption on Google+, we have decided that the results page should also have the same level of security and privacy protection. That’s part of why we were the first major search engine to turn on search via SSL by default for signed-in users last year. This means when you’re signed in to Google, your search results—including your private content—are protected by the same high standards of encryption as your messages in Gmail” (Google Blog).
These developments might seem scary for businesses just trying to get a feel for social media and search engine optimization. But they shouldn’t. The internet is always changing, and — once we all get our head’s around this new search style — the results will be exciting.
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At the beginning of the year, Google changed the face of “internet search”, and made search engine optimization (SEO) just a bit more ponderous. How? They launched Search Plus your World, which makes searching the internet more personalized than ever: your personal Google+ platform will now be integrated with Google Search.
For SEOs, that means that while Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, and now Google+) used to be complements to a good SEO campaign, they’re now essential components.
Google+, launched last year, is Google’s own social network, one that claims to “turn the whole search engine into one giant social network”, and makes connecting online more like connecting in the real world.
“At its core, Google+ is a social network” (B. Parr, 2011, Mashable.com), and its “stream” feature is a lot like Facebook’s News Feed feature: it allows users to share status updates, news and views, photos, videos, and links. But that’s where the similarities sort of stop and Google+ starts to look quite different from its counterparts.
Here’s what Google said: “Google+ makes connecting on the web more like connecting in the real world. Share your thoughts, links and photos with the right circles. Use easy, spontaneous video chat to strike up conversations with as many as nine people at once. Get everyone on the same page with fast, simple group chat. We’re very excited about the new approach to sharing we’ve created through Google+, but this is really just the beginning.”
Google+ is a “project” that will be rolled-out/revealed in stages, but here’s what we’ve been introduced to so far: Circles (which allow you to group your connections and communicate with them as specific targeted groups); Huddle (which is a group chat feature); Sparks (which allow for “accurate and personalized content discovery”), Hangouts, Games, Search, and more! If Google+’s goal was to “topple” Facebook, it might have a shot: “[Google} certainly has a lot to work with, including Picasa, Gmail and Google Maps and information and functions from all of these will be integrated into the Google+ experience” (B. Parr).
But only time will tell. In the meantime, as a business owner looking to leverage the power of social media to build brand awareness and brand loyalty, network, benefit from powerful word-of-mouth advertising, increase sales, and garner support, is Google+ something you should consider devoting time, staff, and resources to?
Should business owners join Google+?
Hot on the heels of the Google+ launch, Google announced the release of Google+ Pages (like Facebook’s Pages feature): “So far Google+ has focused on connecting people with other people. But we want to make sure you can build relationships with all the things you care about—from local businesses to global brands—so today we’re rolling out Google+ Pages worldwide” (Google Blog).
To get your feet wet (before creating your own business page), consider signing up for an individual/personal account and learn the ins-and-outs of what’s poised to become the next big thing in social networking.
Do you participate in social media marketing as a way to grow your business and increase sales? If so, do you have a social media marketing strategy? Have you ever considered creating a social media marketing architecture? Do you know what “social media marketing architecture” means? If not, you’re not alone.
Many businesses (even big ones who are actively marketing themselves through social media marketing channels) don’t. Which is a problem: All the time, energy, and money in the world spent on social media marketing won’t produce valuable results if it’s done in the absence of a solid plan and clear strategy (architecture).
A good social media marketing strategy (architecture) involves first deciding what your business’ goal is — drive traffic to your corporate site? increase sales? gather new leads? lead conversion? more or better press? The next step is to decide who your audience is (your ideal customers/clients) and to figure out where they are online (what channels) and how best to reach them.With those things in mind (what you want, who you want it from, how you’re going to reach them, and how you’re going to motivate them to do what you want), dedicate some resources (time, staff, and budget; determined as part of your strategy creation) to those channels.
As you move forward, ensure that you stick to your plan (strategy) and have monitoring tools in place to that you can measure the efficacy of each effort (on each channel) and make changes to your architecture as needed. There are countless channels online today. Deciding which ones you’re going to work in (access) can be overwhelming. And depending on how they’re used, combined, and leveraged can be the difference between quick and measureable success or wasted time and money. But this needn’t be daunting; you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. In fact, you can (and should) start small and simple: Choose the channel where most of the population (and, as such, probably a big cross-section of your audience) is already active!
And whether or not you think Facebook is necessarily the right fit for your company or brand isn’t really the point. If that’s where your audience is, that’s where you need to be — interacting with them on their level and in the place most comfortable and convenient for them. (This can be a great testing ground too. From here, you can learn where else your audience is online.)
So, if you agree (you should) and decide that Facebook is one of the channels you’ll explore, here are a few key things to consider:
Quality of conversations (and, ultimately, conversations) over content. That’s not to say you don’t have to post things that are relevant, timely, and of value to your audience, but getting them to interact with you in a meaningful way is definitely the most important factor.
Customer service is still paramount. You should treat your friends, fans, and followers as you would a real-live/real-time customer (in your store, for example). Customer service is as important here as anywhere else. In fact, perhaps it’s even more important, thanks to the speed at which news and views are shared online (read: like wildfire). Sentiment about your business can change in the blink of an eye. So following up with customers’ questions and concerns quickly is key.
Listen. Let friends, fan, and followers (your audience/customers) drive the conversation. Post/promote things you’re confident they’re interested in reading/receiving. Customers (like everyone) want to feel heard.
Keep your corporate/brand identity in mind. Remember that even if you don’t advertise or optimize your Facebook page, it’s searchable. People will find it. So while it’s totally appropriate to have a far less formal presence on Facebook than on your corporate website, and real-time interactions/conversations can be a bit harder to manage, make sure that your Facebook activity is in line with your corporate image/mandate, and that if people find your Facebook page before they find your corporate website (in a search for information about your business or your industry), they won’t be mislead, misinformed, or turned off.
Twitter and YouTube are some of the other most popular social networking sites today — though not nearly as popular as Facebook (Some sites indicate that as many as 50% of Americans, for example, are on Facebook, while as few as 13% are on Twitter (and 1% are on location-based sites like Foursquare and Gowalla).) Most importantly, whatever channel (site) you choose to pursue (there are literally hundreds and hundreds to consider), choose carefully. Choose to be active on sites where you know your audience is, and on sites that will encourage interaction and, ultimately, drive them to your corporate website (or your store or your service as the case may be).
And make sure that you have the strategy/architecture/plan in place (the time, staff, and budget) to do it properly (read: frequently) — to respond to activity (questions, concerns, and conversations) quickly, and that you have something meaningful to say and something valuable to impart. And remember: social networking through channels like these is about building your customer base (making friends, fans, and followers) and building brand loyalty (good-will). If you do it with the right attitude, the right plan, and the right goal, the result will be valuable word-of-mouth advertising that will increase sales, and customer loyalty that will keep sales growing.
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Last month Stir Communications Group CEO Brent Purves provided insights on Social Media Marketing best practices to the Financial Post for a Canadian business case study called “Focused Messaging: Social media helps us stand out in a noisy new market with many competitors” (Denise Deveau, Financial Post, Mar. 5, 2012).
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Excerpt: “When considering a social media strategy to build buzz around a new business, it’s easy to go wrong if you don’t follow some best practices. Hear are some basic things to consider when targeting a niche market:
Stay engaged with customers. “Anyone who downloads our product or is even remotely interested gets one-to-one support,” says Andi Wilson of MyVoice. “Follow up with anyone who talks to you, and remain active on your feeds. Spend every day searching out people, groups, keywords and hash tags that could bring people to your community.”
Make good use of search terms. For MyVoice, that meant understanding the vernacular of the speech language pathology community among other words (e.g. #SIpeeps - a term for speech language pathologists or #AAC - augmentative and alternative communication).
Use multiple forms of social media. Link videos, photos and tutorials to your site. Add this type of content to Facebook and Twitter to create a richer experience. Don’t forget to tweet new posts.
Be aware. The more you follow people and access their posts, the more posts will appear in your home feed. Make the most of your connections with big users.
Keep it going and current. “Don’t start unless you have a plan in place or you might bite off more than you can chew,” says Brent Purves of Stir Media. Post items daily, then listen and engage. “Wait for opportunities to join conversations rather than just pushing information out,” he advises.
[And] use analytics to track conversations, time spent in conversations, pathways, etc. Don’t discount negative feedback Use those comments as opportunities to directly answer questions or concerns.”
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From the Online Marketing Solutions Blog, Stir Communications Group. Stir is a Vancouver BC-based full service internet marketing and web solutions agency. We provide marketing and communications strategy and consulting specializing in internet marketing, social media and business web solutions. Parent company of Twitter Marketing Agency, 11Marketing, and Stir Movies.