Author Archive

Boxing Day – Top 10 Things to Give Up for 2014

For the past century, “Boxing Day” or the day following Christmas, has been recognized as a holiday throughout much of the English speaking world outside of the USA. It has taken on a variety of meanings and traditions throughout the passage of these many years. Several hundred years ago, the English aristocracy would use boxes to distribute gifts to servants on the day following Christmas. The Anglican Church also had a tradition of keeping a box for the collection of goods to distribute to the poor – which took place the day following Christmas. Recently, though, some have taken to the tradition of ‘boxing’ up less used items for distribution to those less fortunate. It is perhaps a more noble sounding way of cleaning out one’s closet.

Cleaning out the closet to make room for newly acquired stuff makes good sense for those of us that are square-footage challenged. In the end though, it only makes sense to move on things that we no longer find use for. So in taking stock of 2013 and setting objectives for 2014, it may be worth ‘cleaning the closet’ of old and unproductive practices. To this end, we offer these top 10  things to clean out of the marketing management closet this Boxing Day.

No Freak-Outs when Rankings Drop a Point or Two.  The Google in particular resets its algorithms and reorganizes its incredibly huge data sets so frequently, that it makes no sense to rework the entire marketing and online ranking strategy based on a couple days trends.

Don’t Mistake Quality Content for Content Volume. In the end, producing quality content is the only real ranking strategy that pays off in the long term. Posting content to satisfy some idea of content volume is actually counter-productive.

Don’t be too Rigid in Posting Content. Sometimes, creating great content that will attract readers and keep them returning is a really difficult process. When the ideas don’t come, don’t reduce quality to achieve content volume

Get Help Producing Content. In fact, a fresh eye to creating content can really help. Many content creators look at their value proposition from the perspective of the provider. It is really useful to have someone compose the value proposition in the content from the standpoint of the consumer. Authors can get too close to their own content, so it

The Same Content Creators Frequently Re-Produce the Same Content. Get help from non-normal contributors! Colleagues and others in the organization may have some great perspectives. With a little coaching, they might be able to improve the overall quality and volume of content distributed. The most underutilized person in many companies is the one that answers the phone. He or she observes the entire organization, product-service strengths and may have a unique way of interacting that can be a hit with content consumers.

Don’t Depend Only on Facebook and Twitter!  Google+ won’t be a complete ‘ghost-town’ forever! As the Google offers rewards for using its social platform – including improved search engine placements, generating a large following now can put you way ahead of the time when others figure out that they need to be engaged on G+. Pintrest and other platforms offer tremendous opportunities as well.

No More  “Set it and Forget it!” – Pushing your latest post on social media before you leave for the office and then forgetting about it until the following morning won’t earn many new online followers. Follow up interaction throughout the day will earn new followers and build your circle of useful contacts.

Don’t Restrict Social Interaction! Leaving your online and social interaction to one or two people is wasted effort. People are going to interact anyway. Why not allow them to handle some of the company communication load? Of course this carries risk. Workers that are well-treated and enjoy their work make the best spokespersons, so management has a real responsibility to ensure that workers always speak well of their employers.

Release that Inner Comedian! Not everyone is funny, but laughter is contagious.  It also attracts readers and makes others comfortable with you.

Make 2014 the Year of Innovation. One never knows which outreach method will be the most effective for each message, customer, product or ….. there may not be a magic formula for every company, so a “wholistic” approach may be the best strategy. In the end, experiment, track results and keep trying new communication and marketing strategies.

The only consistent thing about marketing strategies is that they are always changing. It helps to be open to new ideas and to possess the courage to try new things.

All the Best in 2014!

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Social Media and Marketing Lessons From 10 Top Holiday Films

What a busy year it has been. Time at last for a bit of a break. Finding some relaxation in the year-end business ‘wind-down’ usually leads to some good family time, couch time and with any luck, a couple of good naps.  Year-end is also a good chance to depressurize and de-couple from the marketing world  – if only for a little while. But, even while watching the holiday shows and movies, it is all too easy to drift  back into the marketing world.

While cozying up with the fam around the fireplace and with that holiday classic “Christmas Vacation” on the wide screen, it suddenly dawned that holiday films have a great deal of advice and guidance for those of us in the social media and marketing world. Maybe it was the eggnog, but by thinking through some of the Christmas and holiday favorites, some deep philosophical musings and lessons can be pulled from the themes of the top Christmas and holiday programming.

social media lessons from Clark Griswold

Christmas Vacation “Drum Roll, Please.”
Sometimes, your best efforts produce unparalleled disaster.  If it does, own up to it and keep trying. You might burn down the house, but you’ll never hit the grand slam if you never step into the batter’s box. In the end, you’ve got to set your sights high if you are ever going to achieve great results. (Sorry for the metaphor-slew.)

Scrooged – “The b____h hit me with a toaster!”
Watch your social media content and be mindful of the reputation you are creating over the long term. The Ghost of Posts Past are never too far away and seem to come back from the dead to smack you with a kitchen appliance when you least expect it. Posts live forever.

Elf – “I know him!”
Endearing message delivery can attract attention – even if the message is unremarkable.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Always be positive. If “you’re a mean one,” there is always someone around who will remember and will be a pain forever. Be positive at all times and you’ll have a lot less work to do.

Merry Christmas Charlie Brown – “You need involvement”
We all need to be involved in our communities for support and inspiration. Without involvement, it is terribly difficult to grow and prosper. Rely on your friends and relationships in the social world. Even if you screw up entirely, continued effort and honesty will prevail.

Miracle on 54th Street – “Every time a bell rings,” a post goes viral.
Never underestimate your value. Everyone has a unique contribution but might need the courage to put thoughts and ideas out into the world. Take a shot…someone somewhere will appreciate it – even if they rarely mention it. And occasionally, you’ll hit a message that really resonates. Just keep trying.

Hallmark Channel  – No quote here!  Too much material!
These guys have been running Christmas films since Halloween. Steady effort, consistent content and outreach builds a solid reputation. Need something positive?  Just dial up the Hallmark network.

Christmas Marathons – “It wouldn’t be Christmas without  the James Bond Marathon.”
Weird associations can work. Even though 007 has little to do with the holiday season, creating a tradition associated with a certain time of year can build recognition and establish expectations for future years.

Home Alone – “Kevin!”
You’ll always forget things – even important things through the year. Stand in there when things get tough. Even if it feels that you are all alone, take on problems one at a time and eventually, support will arrive.

The Holiday – “Anything can happen.”
Before embarking on a new social media strategy that others have used successfully, make sure it works for you. Individuality is an asset. Trading places with another can mean acquiring her/his problems along with it. Still, it never hurts to explore new opportunities.


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Ron Burgundy ‘s 10 Marketing Tips for 2014

Ron Burgundy’s Dodge Durango SUV promotion, as well as character appearances on ESPN and a North Dakota news station have proven wildly successful. Combining marketing messages for sponsored product lines as well as the upcoming film release of Anchorman 2 has been a unique and well-received effort. As reported in Advertising Age  “Dodge brand boss Tim Kuniskis said: ‘We’ve seen almost an 80 percent increase in Web traffic alone since the (Ron Burgundy Dodge) campaign launched.'”

Anchorman Ron Burgundy – even though fictional – provides several marketing insights and lessons for 2014. For those planning promotional outreach, advertising or marketing campaigns in the coming year, these  10 marketing insights inspired by the recent success of the fictional anchorperson, might just provide that cutting edge message creation your organization needs.

Ron Burgundy Inspired Marketing Tips

Closing 2013 with such a fresh and successful communication strategy is a big win for Dodge, GM  and the other product sponsors that took a chance using the Ron Burgundy character. For others, the lessons we can carry forward into 2014 include the following 10 Marketing Strategy Tips:

10.  Release Your Inner Comedian
Okay… so not everyone is naturally funny. Still, attempts to lighten the emotional loads of others by providing some comic relief deserves respect. The ability to poke fun – particularly at one’s self – can be endearing and in subtle ways, build respect for the messenger. Reaching out via social channels using modest humor can be highly effective in building readership and inspiring return visitors.

9.  Introduce Humor – People Need It!
There is a lot of information in the news – most of it is bleak. Humor can help put some of this in perspective or at least point out some of life’s little absurdities. One has to be a bit careful using humor though, particularly around areas where people are highly sensitive; like politics, or religion, or.. pretty much everything … just do your best not to offend. And if you do, own up to it quickly and move on.

8.  Seek Laughter – It is Disarming
Seriously.. people that can make you laugh are easier to relate to. And those that are easily related to, find it easier to build relationships with others.  As relationship building is key to any marketing or communication effort, getting a laugh out of the audience can open the door to more serious interaction.

7.  Funny = Viral = Profitable
How do you reach more people with your message? Just make the message worth sharing! A meaningful message that has some entertainment value is much more likely to be re-shared over other’s networks. Developing content that fits other peoples social networks is the key to making content viral. And of course good viral content has the potential to attract large numbers of viewers and prospective customers.

6.  Event Association Works!
Associating the Anchorman 2 release with products and events (including actual newscasts) builds exposure and visibility for all participants. The news station in North Dakota that had the courage to put Ron Burgundy on in full character on a newscast succeeded in building a great deal of exposure. It also helped humanize its on-air personalities and make them easier to relate to.

5.  Promote Brand Association
Everyone can recognize a movie star – even a fictional one. Celebrity spokespersons are frequently used to promote specific brands by using their well known traits and characteristics. As Sam Elliot’s famous deep voice adds credibility to claims of truck ‘toughness,’  brand associations are particularly useful for generating visibility for lesser known product lines.  Associating humor with a brand is also highly effective. Just ask the Dodge SUV manager that agreed to do the Ron Burgundy ad.

4.  Expand the Brand
Supporting a good message using multi channel distribution is a great way to leverage exposure and increase visibility. More people may have watched Ron Burgundy deliver the news via YouTube recording than probably saw the event live. Leveraging social media to inspire conversation and build exposure about the brand expands its overall visibility and reach.

3.  Attention is the Objective
Don’t let dignity get in the way of a great message. Too often, image conscious marketers nix really great ideas because they don’t want to devalue their brand. Or, the risk of something going wrong convinces managers that the risk is not worth taking.

Even marketing and social media disasters can be made into assets though. Remember the Burger King Twitter campaign in February, 2013? The company released its Twitter campaign only to have it hijacked and replaced with promotions for rival McDonalds, accompanied by claims of drug abuse by employees. By the time BK regained control of the situation, their Twitter account had actually gained tens of thousands of followers.  Although the marketing and social media staff got a black eye on this one, Burger King may get the last laugh with its increased network reach.

2.  Exposure Doesn’t Have to be Great to Work
How is talking to a horse about SUV horsepower effective? Ron Burgundy illustrated the efficiency and high-horsepower of the Dodge SUV line by trying to discuss it with an actual horse.  The horse was simply an illustration and point of comparison. A real celebrity spokesperson probably couldn’t have made  the point having a conversation with a horse, but the Burgundy character pulled it off.  Many marketers get weighed down by quality requirements that strangles truly creative message creation.  Great messaging doesn’t have to be overly dignified or highly technical to work.

1.  Outside-the-Box Thinking Wins  in the Long Term
The ‘stick with things that work’ strategy can lead your messaging down a stale rabbit hole. Finding new message strategies that work is an ongoing, creative effort that has to be nurtured and undertaken with a fair degree of courage. Promotional events also need a fairly wide creative berth to compete for the attention of today’s overworked and over-communicated population.

Outside the box thinking for creative message development can pay great dividends. Some organizations separate the messaging from the risk analysis in order to generate the freshest possible ideas. When a new creative scheme is handed off to the risk assessment team, risk managers create contingency plans to handle any potential problems rather than try to throw a wrench back into the original idea.  Occasionally, sounder minds have to over-rule truly wild campaign or message ideas, but generating original, fresh and unique messaging is a process that should be nurtured, then vetted. Execution of these two tasks together dulls the creative processes , so they may be best performed separately.

Making the marketing message more enjoyable to consume makes the entire effort more successful. Creating great content that others want to share and talk about is a difficult undertaking, but it can be richly rewarding.  One may have to try multiple schemes and pilots to hit on something that works well, but in the end, creating a stronger company means taking reasonable risks at developing and deploying creative message strategies.

In the words of the Ron Burgundy himself…. “Don’t act like you’re not impressed.”


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Google is Everywhere! Search Engines Know Your Preferences

Massive Database Allows the Search Engine Giant to Customize Information Distribution

One of our colleagues noticed over the weekend that her Google News Feed contained information that appeared to be very specific to her interests. She wondered if she had configured her news feed on Google News to prioritize information from a specific publisher or about particular topics. A little research turned up that she wasn’t connected to the publisher in question through any immediately evident network association. Trying to reverse-engineer the display algorithm quickly appeared to be a fruitless effort.  In the end though, some past association , contact or activity connected the two of them so that when she called up her Google News feed, this bit of content was prominently displayed.

Google news feeds


The Google Remembers!

Internet activity is becoming less and less anonymous as more data collection allows increasingly intelligent -or at least relevant – information display on Google News. Enabled by incredibly detailed data collection and storage, search engines like Google can now store off individual activity – particularly when a user is logged onto their Google account. Search, social activity and other interactions are not only visible, they are recorded and stored.

Marketing Implications:

What does this mean for those that market products and services? The clear implication is that social activity matters a great deal. Whether on Google News or on search engines, an organization’s ability to reach large numbers of other active information consumers and content producers is important. This requires an active effort not only in creating interesting content, but in promoting it, discussing it, reaching out to others about their content, and in general, becoming an active part of the information flow. As Google “sees all” the greater one’s level of engagement, the greater the chance that some connection will bring reader and content consumer together – even at unexpected times.

Level of Engagement

Elevating social engagement levels can be costly. (We have some ideas for you on creating Low Cost SEO Solutions and Social Media Management if you would like to read more.) Monitoring social activity – particularly social activity relative to a company’s brand presence – can be time consuming. Commenting and outreach are tasks that cannot be automated, so it requires a live human being with some level of industry expertise to manage the engagement. This is a unique role within most organizations. Some resources might be found in the sales and marketing departments, but organizations that have successful engagement programs utilize the entire company to generate unique perspectives and above all, unique and meaningful content.

Social Engagement and SEO

This discussion points out the interaction between social activity and search results. As Google News provides content that appears relevant to the reader’s interest, search algorithms also make use of this data to determine what content is more valuable or relevant to a reader’s search request. In past studies, we have determined that elevated Google+ engagement improves search page result placements – sometimes dramatically. So it follows that better social engagement ultimately improves search engine placement results.

Social Activity More Important than Ever

For those engaged in the internet marketing arena, this is old news. But…. social activity is now more important than ever. Building social channels, creating and promoting content over those channels and engaging with others in one’s industry or market niche improves internet visibility. It is through this improved visibility that new potential customers, contacts and clients can be reached.

Introducing an Old Brand to a New Generation of Buyers

Old Company Reaches Younger Generation of Enthusiasts

Lionel Trains, manufacturers of the famous model railroads that chug around Christmas trees each holiday season, rolled out a social media campaign this season designed to introduce model trains to a new generation of buyers. The general idea for the train campaign was to associate its products with a popular children’s story – Polar Express. The film version of the Polar Express was released 10 years ago this season, providing just the right opportunity to connect a favorite story with a product line.

Lionel reported that a train set giveaway contest, featuring its Polar Express themed line of model trains, and outreach through its Facebook network, email campaign and other social channels generated significant numbers of new ‘likes’ as well as drove over 25,000 new visitors to its website. In an age of high-tech gifts, a model train set may not be at the top of every child’s wish list. But by using contemporary communication, and by reaching out to fans of the Polar Express story to increase visibility, the company enjoyed a nice increase in visibility.

Small Business Implications:

Merging marketing messages with well known themes or stories can work very well in building visibility. Online social networks provide unique forums to tell readers about upcoming events, invite them to read content and provide information about contests and other areas of interest.  Lionel leveraged the followers it had on its Facebook profile to reach out to new readers, who then responded by ‘Liking’ the Lionel page.  This added to the company’s visibility and reach into younger age groups.

Building relationships and expanding the reach of the social network can help in all manner of branding and sales initiatives. Building company social networks is essentially constructing your own communication channel that can be turned to any use you develop.Investing in social media development, search engine optimization (SEO) and in developing good quality and valuable content gets your message out into the wide world.

Our consultants can help build and manage social networks as well as develop the content to promote on them so that your business organization can grow. Contact us today for more information on helping to construct and manage your social media channels or about our low cost SEO solutions!

Google + Improves Search Engine Rankings – Key Metrics and Milestones

To what degree does Google+ help with search engine rankings? MOZ released a recent study reporting that Google+ “pluses” or activity on an organization’s Google+ account were one of the top single “influencers” of better search engine placement. “Pluses” in the Google+ environment function as endorsements similar to likes on other social networks.

Of course the more ‘pluses’ one receives, the more popular the content. Google relies on these pluses to measure how others view the value of the content or information.

After working Google+ hard for over a year now, we have come to observe a couple statistics relative to Google+ engagement. Like the MOZ study, Google+ does positively influence search engine placement. Observing a few sites where the only real outreach was through Google+ determined that improved search engine rankings were likely due to the additional ‘pluses’ for G+ content. After looking at a couple other situations though, we can report some other interesting outcomes

Original Content vs. Reposting

Using Google+ to promote new website content appears to be hugely important in not only generating attention and attracting new readers, but in improving placement for key search terms. Sites that continually promote their original content tend to perform better in the search than sites that receive ‘plusses’ for recycling or reposting others’ content.

Creating and distributing unique blog content – even short pieces that others find valuable and contribute their ‘pluses’ to endorse the content. Interestingly, the most positive ranking improvements involved a website with an attached Google+ page that had a steady mix of re-posted as well as original content. On average, it appears that linking to four to five original pieces of content per week – along with several re-posted articles, seemed to produce the best improvement in search engine rankings.


How many pluses does it take to improve rankings?  There appear to be several answers to this question. Were the pluses largely earned for original content? Or were they exclusively received for content re-posted from elsewhere. These are questions unique to the algorithm, but it makes logical sense that pluses received for original content are more highly valued. In the end, there appear to be several milestones for which Google will reward the core website with better search placement.

These milestones seem to be at the 1,000 and 3,000 plus levels.  Websites with attached Google+ sites that achieve the 1,000 plus level can usually notice improvements in their rankings. However, particularly at the 3,000 level for sites with higher levels of original content, site placement can improve quite dramatically. One site we’ve worked with achieved the #1 ranking for several highly competitive local search terms after hitting the 3k level. Prior to hitting the 3,000 plus level, the site ranked #1 for between six and 10 key phrases depending on the day. Reaching that 3,000 plus plateau yielded a great number of additional #1 placements.

What it Takes to Win at Google+

Excelling at Google+ management so that you can improve your search engine rankings is a long term effort. Interacting with others to build the network takes time and a commitment to be engaged. Investment in continually producing and promoting good and valuable content is another ‘must’ to be successful.

While there are circle strategies that can help grow one’s community, the core success factor remains good quality content. Creating valuable content and promoting on Google+ as part of a long term strategy can produce solid results.


Facebook, Relationships and the Hummingbird Algorithm

Last week, we found an interesting bit of research that determined it possible to project a couple’s chances at building a successful romance by looking at the Facebook friend profiles of the two involved in the relationship. The studyby Lars Backstrom of Facebook and Jon Kleinberg of Cornell University   concluded that  the more diverse the two sets of friend groups was from one another, the better the chance of the relationship lasting beyond a two-month period.

This conclusion runs against the commonly held misunderstanding that the more friends two people have in common, the better their chances at romantic “success.” A two-month time frame might not qualify as a successful long term relationship, but it is very significant that the relationship among friend groups may be a signal about the couple’s chances of going into the next change of seasons with the same romantic interest.

The roots of this study are also significant. The practitioners used billions of records and huge sets of data to reach their conclusions. It is in looking at how these conclusions were arrived at that provides some insight into search engine algorithms – particularly in the latest “Hummingbird” update.

Facebook Relationship Study - Plot Graph

Facebook Profiles Comparing Two Relationship Partners


The recent Google algorithm update, commonly referred to as “Hummingbird” arrived with little fanfare outside of SEO circles late last summer. Although the immediate impact of the change was minor – impacting a fairly low percentage of existing queries, the future impact could be much more significant.

Good Quality Results

The one thing all search engines compete for is of course, users. The only real competitive point then is which search engine has the best quality results for each query. Google dominates search owing to its ability to understand and deliver the most relevant results for each user search. The more relevant the results, the more likely the user is to utilize that search engine for subsequent search activity.

How do Search Engines Tell if they Got it Right?

This is where it gets interesting. The search engines understand which links and results they present to each search request. They can also monitor user behavior once the reader leaves the search engine results page and opens a page referred by the search engine.  If the reader opens a referred page and then hits the return button to try a different result, the search engines capture this bit of behavior and make the judgment that their referral may not have been what the reader actually wanted. If on the other hand the reader stays on the page, consumes the content and perhaps clicks deeper into the site for more information, the search engines judge this to be a successful referral as validated by the reader.

Like the Facebook and relationship study, these analysis tools require understanding huge volumes of user history and data. However, the ability to analyze large data sets is much more possible than ever before, using powerful data sorting systems and technologies.

Hummingbird’s Purpose

In order to continue providing the highest quality search results, Google launched Hummingbird to provide better and more relevant results to questions and queries that users are now submitting. Google has seen growth in the types of search requests that use longer, more conversational questions. Understanding what the user really wants is key to delivering great results. Distinguishing between what the user asks for and what the user wants is a tricky game, but Google has determined that it is one worth winning.

Longer, more conversational queries are not necessarily the only types of results that the search engine giant is trying to handle better. Readers using search terms like “animal rescue information” might also find results valuable that include “dog rescue” or “cat rescue information.” Returning the dog and cat oriented rescue websites might actually be more relevant than a result for a company specializing in getting squirrels out of chimneys.  A user asking for animal rescue results may be looking for cat or dog rescue sites.

Using history and readership statistics to determine that a “cat” is actually an “animal” when used in the context of “animal rescue” seems to be a main thrust of the Hummingbird update.  Understanding the actual meaning of the user query is key to delivering the best quality results.

In light of the revelations about Facebook and successful romantic relationships, it is possible to gather huge amounts of information and build models that can reasonably predict value or behavior and to understand much more about what search engine users really want.

Christmas and Holiday Marketing Strategies

Quick Tips, Timing and Communication Strategies for Holiday Businesses

Holiday sales account for a great percentage of annual revenue for many small businesses. For some, such as those that sell ugly Christmas sweaters – silly clothing that caters to a peculiar need, holiday sales make up nearly all annual sales. This type of business focuses on the curious trend that provides social reward for appearing at holiday gatherings or during the holiday season in tacky or silly sweaters.  Some even have parties and events to reward the ugliest or tackiest Christmas sweater.  For these types of businesses, pushing sales into a couple months of the year creates unique timing challenges. Any mis-steps can severely impact revenue for the entire year.

So what are some of the unique marketing challenges faced by holiday businesses?  Many of these surround communication strategies and timing and tend to fall into a couple major areas including:

  • Communication Composition
  • SEO and Internet Strategies
  • Social Media Outreach

Communication Composition:

Understanding consumer stress during the holiday shopping season is important to creating memorable messaging. The most obvious but underused cure for this is inserting a bit of humor into the message. Using humor doesn’t require a great effort, but may involve simply re-sharing good content from other sources and then applying one’s own message to create either a social media update or discussion via a blog post. Blog posts, social media interaction and quick page inclusions that lighten the holiday mood can create memorable messaging as well as sharable content.

SEO and Internet Strategies:

Generating website traffic can help an organization increase sales – sometimes dramatically. The challenge to holiday businesses is that link building and social outreach that impacts search engine placement is a long term effort. So coming up with creative strategies to achieve good placement by the time the holiday shopping season rolls around can present some real challenges. Unfortunately, just going dormant over the non-holiday season will only get the website banished to relative obscurity on the search results. Search engine placement strategies have to pre-date the holiday shopping season significantly so that when h0liday shopping traffic does appear, the organization will be in a position to capture it.

Building search engine strength during the holiday rush is very difficult. Cracking the top tier is made even more difficult by the fact that top sites on the results pages become more entrenched as the holiday search traffic ramps up. Additional visitors to a site creates a stronger search engine ranking. The search engines observe that the traffic going to these sites is increasing, and are likely to conclude that those sites are appropriately placed in their rankings. For the challenger site, getting an opportunity to prove that they have a better product and a more functional website just won’t happen if they can’t crack the top tier before the annual increase in holiday traffic appears.

Of course the organization can engage in other types of marketing strategies if they are not well placed on the search engine rankings.  SEM, paid search and social media marketing can help the challenger business generate the traffic its needs to generate revenues.

Social Media Outreach:

One of the ways to overcome poor search engine placement during the holiday traffic season is to reach out via social media. Innovative and humorous messaging can drive visitors to the website and create that traffic buzz needed to improve poor ranking placement. Regular posting of good, valuable and hopefully compelling or humorous material can get content reshared. In this fashion, the organization can use the personal social networks managed by others to help distribute its messaging.

Timing is particularly important in this type of outreach. Just like SEO strategies, a social media outreach strategy should be an ongoing effort throughout the year. Building one’s social networks via Facebook, Twitter and Google+ can attract the traffic needed to prove to the search engines that the company’s website content is worthy of top placement.

An Ongoing Effort:

In the end, Holiday or Christmas marketing is a year-round effort. Building the communication networks necessary to distribute marketing information and content has to be an ongoing effort. After all, competitors are probably doing this as well, so in order to capture traffic when the holiday season rolls around, the networks have to be in place by which messaging may be distributed.  Arranging a good messaging strategy for use during the holiday traffic season can be made much more effective through ongoing message channel development through SEO and social media engagement.



Social Media Helps Colorado Residents and Businesses Recover From Flooding

Listening to reports of the recent floods in Northern Colorado, I heard a notice about a location well known as one of the premier Colorado summer camps. The radio broadcast noted that all roads out of the Estes Park, CO area had been closed, one closure at the Cheley Camp turnoff. Knowing a bit about where this location is, the magnitude of the flood emergency began to sink in.  These were real people and real businesses facing an immediate emergency, the long term impacts of which could last for months.

For those familiar with the Estes Park, CO area, there are only a few roads in and out. One will be covered in snow soon and impassable. The town relies on tourism for its economic survival, and now that the flood waters are receding, the magnitude of the economic disaster is also becoming evident. A town that needs people to visit and spend dollars relies on those people to be able to actually get to the area. It may be that most roads into the area will be under repair and impassable for the next several months, shutting off the needed flow of visitors.

What does this all have to do with social media? Organizations that have established social media networks are well positioned to keep in touch with their communities, followers, friends and customers. Many are already utilizing these networks to let their followers know how they are and what the status is of the businesses and communities they care about. Nothing can replace commercial activity, but a dedicated community of followers can always be motivated to help the recovery.

Investing time in developing robust social networks can pay off – sometimes in very unexpected ways. Social media “text-to-donate” sites (mostly reputable) have been established to provide financial relief to residents of the stricken areas. Some of these relief sites are inspired or sponsored by area businesses themselves utilizing their own social networks.  Other sites rely on concerned citizens to contribute their own social networks to reaching those interested in helping with the recovery. Although some may say that a cynical business interest is present when organizations create these sites, in many instances such as these, the local organizations are really just trying to lend a hand.  Below is a link to a business that put together a fund raising outreach program.

Oskar Blues Restaurants set up a fund raising account for its northern Colorado network.

Give Forward provides the platform for local businesses and other organizations to use their social connections to raise funds for worthy causes.

The Give Forward system allows people with established networks to leverage those contacts in times of need.

What makes this all work is an established and robust social network on Facebook, Google+ and other active networks. Waiting until great need arises is too late!






Google+ Used in Apparent Black Hat SEO Scam

Colorado Attorney General now Involved

Competition is tough! All manner of businesses are forced to compete with one another for the attention and good placement on the internet search engines. When prominent placement is achieved, revenue frequently follows.  The intensity of local competition though has caused some businesses to take chances with so called “Black Hat” schemes to get them this good search engine placement. At the core of this scheme seems to be a campaign for online reviews. Online reviews are validations for the goods and services that a company provides. The more positive reviews, the better the placement for the company on the search engines when users seek information about a particular product or service.

Getting positive reviews for one’s business can be difficult though. Not only does the consumer have to be satisfied with the service or product, he/she has to write a review on the right social media platform.  Enter Google+…    Google+ and Google local provide a powerful platform where positive reviews impact the way a local result is displayed. Get good reviews here and your search engine results should improve.

A Denver roofing company was recently featured in a local CBS news station story about how Google+ pages were apparently set up under the names of customers for the purpose of providing positive reviews. Positive reviews for the company did appear under the names of these customers. Interestingly though, the customers that supposedly provided the reviews may have never actually created the accounts or written the reviews. The customers were apparently all satisfied with the work performed, but the Google+ pages that bore their names didn’t seem to belong to at least some of them.

Investigating who created these accounts in the names of customers is an ongoing process extending up to the Colorado Attorney General’s office. Whether this tactic constitutes a form of identity theft or false advertising is a central question.  According to the Colorado Attorney General, the practice may also be a violation of the Colorado Consumer Protection Act.  In the end, whoever created these accounts may wind up in much more trouble than they wanted. In any case, this type of “Black-Hat” SEO or internet marketing tactic will surely place the business and the marketer in a very negative light.

Vince Lombardi – famed Green Bay Packers Head Football Coach – was once reported to state that “winning isn’t everything – it is the only thing.” Winning in the SEO and internet marketing area does have some common sense rules and those that stretch the guidelines are likely to get themselves into trouble and significantly damage  their and their client’s reputation. Stay tuned to this story!

Here is the link to the local news story. Take a moment and watch the video as well.