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Why should I care about Google+?

Posted by: in General on Thursday, March 28, 2013

We've been getting lots of questions lately about Google+. Questions like: "do I need to be on Google+?" and "What are your thoughts on Google+?"

It's understandable that you might be fatigued with the thought of joining yet another social network and then keeping up with it. Sounds dreadful, right?

Maybe. While no one should feel obligated to join this network or that network, there is value in being informed so you can make a good decision about how to spend your time in marketing.

What is Google+?

Let's start with the basics. Google+ is a social network from Google. Plain and simple. Ok, there's more to it than that but if you're looking for a very basic explanation, that will do. You can post status updates, photos, links, comments, and videos – just like that other popular social network out there.

So, if you're looking for another social network to keep up with... here you go! No? Well, let's dig deeper.

How Google+ affects your business visibility

If you genuinely like Google+ and you find it fun to hang out on, then go for it. You're all set. However, if you like most marketing pros and business leaders, you're probably more interested in how it can help your business.

There is one main reason to care about this network from a business standpoint, and it's spelled SEO. Your search engine rankings can play a big part in your visibility as an organization, especially in the B2B market. Many organizations spend thousands of dollars per month and lots of time in order to try to push their rankings higher in Google's search results for targeted keywords.

Social signals have played a part in search rankings for a while now, but the game is changing (again) to favor individual authors more heavily in the mix of signals. AuthorRank is Google's way of taking some weight away from PageRank (based on the organization's overall score) and onto actual people – which actually makes a lot of sense.

People want to work with people that they know, like, and trust. This has been true since the dawn of time. This is why I love AuthorRank. It gets back to basics and creates a world where companies can't simply throw lots of money and time at SEO and achieve great (and sometimes undeserved) rankings. Instead, we are entering a world where individual people have to contribute value. The philosophy then becomes an adaptation: people want to work with and learn from people they know, like, and trust.

What does this mean for you? It means no more hiding behind your logo and corporate brand. Smart organizations are learning how to nurture the online profiles of their sales people, their marketing team, and their executives. These individuals must learn to produce content and value and be a trusted resource in the virtual world.

And since Google owns Google+, is there any doubt which network it will favor most?

This quote from Eric Schmidt sums it up nicely:

"Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results. The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance."

An eye toward collaboration

Google+ also has a strong focus on business collaboration. The Hangout feature is shaking up the world of collaboration by making group video conferencing free, easy, and fun. Hangouts can be accessed from virtually (no pun intended) any device, such as computer, tablet, or smart phone. The quality is surprisingly good and this tool is helping small groups, committees, and boards save time and money by meeting virtually.

Google+ Communities are also allowing organizations to create private spaces for collaboration internally or with customers/members. We're running a community right now for Inbound Marketing Academy, which allows our participants to share ideas and start ad-hoc video hangouts to collaborate.

Is Google+ right for you?

Bottom line: there is no one size fits all recommendation when it comes to marketing. We have many clients who are very successful completely ignoring a particular social network while others get 25% of their business from it. It depends on your goals, your business, and your target market.

Whatever you decide, it's important to understand how Google is positioning this social network. I would ask the following questions:

  1. Is search engine visibility important to my business?
  2. Am I in a business in which personal relationships are valued?
  3. Am I willing to build a team of highly visible people?

If you feel positive about all of these points, I would recommend carving out some time to include Google+ in your strategy. If you do, circle me and hit me up for a hangout sometime. I'd love to chat.

Image credit: AHMAD FAIZAL YAHYA / Shutterstock.com

Best practices for a killer mobile website [Slide Deck]

Posted by: in General on Tuesday, March 26, 2013

I recently had the pleasure of speaking at CJ McClanahan's RLS program, as well as the Revenue North Conference. The topic? Mobile website best practices.

By now, it should be clear that mobile is a significant part if your marketing stragy. According to a study by Google and Nielsen on mobile web, 55% of purchase-related conversions happen within one hour of a mobile search.

It should be apparent that if you are not making it easy for your website visitors to navigate your website on a smart phone, you are likely losing customers.

We covered a lot of great points during the presentation and I appreciate all who attended. Below is the slide deck for reference. Enjoy!

 

If you like, you can also download a PDF of this presention on mobile websites. Feel free to share it with your team.

What is inbound marketing? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted by: in General on Thursday, March 7, 2013

While we try not to use too much industry jargon, we are sometimes guilty of using unfamiliar terminology at SpinWeb when talking with clients. When decscribing what we do, we explain that we deliver corporate web solutions and inbound marketing.

Another way of saying it is that we create and maintain industry-leading corporate websites, deliver a robust Content Management System, and help our clients maintain content. Then, we help turn their sales teams into super-heros by generating leads using SEO, social media, content strategies, email, and marketing intelligence.

We sometimes get the question: "What is inbound marketing?"

We explain that inbound marketing is the practice of earning attention (rather than buying it), and then creating a system to turn that attention into sales. However, sometimes a picture is worth 1,000 words so we've put together a detailed infogrographic that explains the inbound marketing process. Enjoy!

Inbound Marketing Infographic

What do The Harlem Shake, viral videos, and memes have to do with your content marketing?

Posted by: in General on Tuesday, March 5, 2013

This is a guest post by Rocky Walls, CEO of 12 Stars Media, an Indianapolis video production company  that  provides full service production, strategy and outsourced video editing services  through their Candidio service line to companies around the world.

Memes, gifs, and viral videos seem to come and go on an weekly basis these days. The last trend to hit YouTube was the The Harlem Shake meme. In the last month you've undoubtedly been unable to log onto your computer or check your social media feeds without seeing at least one person linking or embedding a Harlem Shake video. In some cases, you may have even participated in one of the attempted viral videos.

However, after all the hullabaloo dies down we were left with these ultimate questions during last week's episode of Video Pep Talk (watch the full episode at the bottom of this post): what is the point of a Harlem Shake video and can it really help us in the content marketing world?

Use of viral videos

Viral videos are almost unanimously one thing: entertaining. But while they may grab your attention, do they really make good content marketing material for your audience? Will a viral video really help promote who you are or what you do as a company?

Videos, like other forms of content marketing, should answer questions or solve problems for your customers. Unless you have unlimited resources and especially if your company is trying to identify the the only video you plan to produce this month or year, the viral video route probably ends in disappoint for you.

Originality is key - or is it?

When you take a look at the advertising world overall, there are copycats and trends that make it seem like you should be following suit. In the case of the Harlem Shake craze, many ad agencies and other companies jumped on the bandwagon and started creating their own versions. But these videos rarely, if at all, go viral. Instead, it’s the original video that makes the most waves. For instance, the Dollar Shave Club video showed off personality in a whole new way last year. The California based company made a video that explains who they are in a fun and new way. The problem? Companies started copying the style used in the original video, and it just didn’t work the same.

So, instead of trying to follow suit and create the next viral video, think about how you can create original content to share. BUT, here's the real kicker - originality isn't really the secret sauce, value is. That's right, I said it. These days people don't care nearly as much about how original and entertaining you are as they do how much value you actually bring to them. Dollar Shave Club had originality, but even more importantly it showed value to its audience.

End results

The ultimate purpose of any video should not be to go viral, but rather, it should be your call-to-action. What is it that you want your viewers to do after the video? The Dollar Shave Club video lucked out by going viral and getting so many orders that they were back ordered by a few months. Instead of creating a video with the intentions of going viral, create content that is useful and moves your viewers to click a link, contact you, or purchase your services or products.

You shouldn’t be wasting resources like time, money, and energy to make a video that hundreds or even millions of people watch but don’t do anything after. Make videos that are original and solve problems. In other words, you should be creating valuable content that engages with a viewer and encourages them to do something after watching the video. Watch the full episode of Video Pep Talk below and sign up to stay notified about our weekly Video Pep Talks on Google+ Hangouts On Air every Wednesday for more thoughts on digital video marketing and communications.

Why Microsoft's "Scroogled" campaign is misleading

Posted by: in General on Thursday, February 28, 2013

You may have recently seen the new ad campaign from Microsoft that promotes its new Outlook.com email service. Outlook.com appears to be the next evolution of Hotmail and is designed to compete with Google's popular Gmail service.

Outlook.com actually looks pretty good and appears to be a well-designed system. However, rather than promoting the positive aspects of Outlook.com, Microsoft is instead running a misleading campaign that attacks Google. The campaign is called "Scroogled" and is a rather weak attempt to create a fake bogeyman out of Google's advertising policy.

The commercials feature a somewhat unlikable couple having pie with cheesy music playing in the background. The clueless husband complains that ads "just started showing up" in his email after which his wife explains that Google "goes through every single word of your Gmail" and uses that information to sell ads. He then exclaims "so I get Scroogled!"

The "Watch How You Get Scroogled by Gmail" video is particularly saucy. Look! Google goes through all your personal email between husband and wife about relationships, money, etc. –– how scary!

The commercial and the campaign overall is quite cheesy and not terribly believable but that's not really the issue. What bothers me is the misleading way that Microsoft is presenting the facts.

So why is this campaign misleading?

The campaign claims that Google "goes through your email "and violates your privacy" in order to sell ads. This conjures up images of hordes of spies at Google that personally read your email and inject nefarious ads in your browser window while cackling maniacally (probably while wearing monocles).

In reality, Google explains very clearly that no human ever reads your email. The entire system is automated. Gmail simply uses algorithms to automatically display ads that might be relevant to the viewer based on the content of the email. If this still sounds creepy, then just being on the Internet is creepy because it happens to everyone just about every day.

Ever notice how you might be planning a trip to Hawaii and then all of the sudden you start to see more ads about travel to Hawaii? Or maybe you start to get more emails from travel sites with special offers on vacation packages. This is all automated. Your browsing history and activity online leaves a trail of data that advertisers can use to target messages more specifically to your needs. It's been happening for a long time now and it's done by software.

Microsoft would be making a reasonable point by saying that Outlook.com doesn't show ads and this would have some value to a lot of people. However, don't be fooled into thinking that Google is "invading your privacy" in any way.

If you truly don't want ads in your email, then by all means check out Outlook.com. However, if you are living in fear of the "spies" at Google then you can relax. Microsoft is using hyperbole and misleading advertising to try to fool you.