Blog Archives

Facebook Vanity URL: Claim Your Name

Ready to get rid of your prision number for your Facebook fan page?

Here are the criteria:

  • You have to own the facebook fan page (or be admin of the facebook fan page!)
  • You have to have atleast 25 fans or likes.
  • You can only set your vanity URL once!  SO make sure it is SEO and people friendly!

Now…check out this Facebook Vanity URL:  Claim Your Name video!

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Video Voice: Facebook Badges for Websites and Blogs

Many people ask about how to get a facebook badge on their blog or website.

Facebook Badges for Websites and Blogs will walk you through the process of getting the code you need for your website or blog.

If you have any questions about how to maximize your social media efforts, please email us at questions (at) magicmarketingusa (dot) com.

Customer Service Stabbed Marketing in the Office with a Knife

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Do you have a clue what is killing your marketing efforts?  Whether you are a small business or large corporation, it is likely at least one of these customer service issues is planning the death of your marketing dollars!

Recently, I had occasion to travel across several states on business and pleasure.  Traveling provides a unique opportunity to view the world of customer service from the good, the bad, and the ugly.  While noting that the holiday season brings out the worse in both customers and customer service, it was particularly apparent that most companies do not take enough time to think through the rationale of integrating customer service into the marketing department instead, as is traditional in most case, into the sales department.
 
As an even bigger offense, if for some unfathomable reason, customer service is a department unto themselves because the divide between performance and evaluation increases at alarming rates.  Without doubt, more marketing dollars are needlessly wasted each year on ineffective customer service than any other marketing endeavor.  Clearly, the most preventable cases the murder of marketing dollars is easily fixed by addressing these five customer service issues:

Man-Handling:  Many times, service representatives react with overzealous pressure on customers.  Upon asking to be left alone (clearly) to browse for shoes, I was continually followed and addressed by a sales person.  When I requested, pointedly, that the sales lady go away, she did only to be replaced by another salesperson from the same charm school.  As a result, my shopping experience was ruined and I left the store.

Cow-Towing:  For some service reps, good customer service is equated to bowing and scraping before the buyers.  The buyer feels horrible that the company or the service individual is fawning over them like an entourage following the diva of the week around the store.  With a strange mixture of discomfort and annoyance, the customer exits the store as quickly as possible.

Passive-Aggressive:  Interestingly enough, in the past few weeks, I have encountered this behavior in several professional settings. When asking for a call number in the library, the Librarian literally snatched the paper from my hand to go get the book from me with a curt, “that is my job!”  As I stood in shock staring at her back, it seemed an odd sense of customer service that resounded of policy filtration.  In another case, I was seriously asked, “What do you want?”  Looking around a large, brand name bookstore, I humorously ordered, “a double cheeseburger with fries and a chocolate shake.”  In both instances, marketing dollars are wasted as customer service is isolated from the rest of the company structure.  NOTE TO CUSTOMER SERVICE WORLD:  The customer does not care if YOU are having a bad day, so that excuse does not fly for me.

Know-Nothing:  In contrast, customer service employees that know nothing about the product or services offered by a company are the worst waste of marketing money.  When customers fill the store seeking details about services or directions to products, a customer service representative should at least have general knowledge.  If the product or service base is so large that no one could have a strong working knowledge, the product specialist should be assigned to aid the customer.  I watched as a bookstore employee advised a beginning PhotoShop7 (yes, I know….groan from the audience….PhotoShop7!) to buy the PhotoShopCS3 Bible because it was about the same thing.  Needless to say, I stepped in to advise her to look online for a copy for a Dummies or 24-Hour book appropriate to her version of Photoshop.  “What’s the difference?” she asked me politely.  “About $75, years of needed Photoshop experience, and the frustration of trying to follow a book that does not represent your software,” I replied with encouragement.

Techno-Interruptus:  Shopping for a new cell phone urged me to add one more criminal act of marketing murder to the sphere of customer service.  Although I do admit that technology is a wonderful thing for business, it might well be the worst thing ever created for customer service.  Encountering service reps texting or talking about a party on their cell gives the worst impression of a company and completely sends me toward the door.  If that customer service rep adds a deep resounding huff of “you are bother me” to the mix, then I might ban the store from coast to coast from my shopping experience.

In most cases, customer service initiatives can enrich the return on investment for every marketing dollar spent by a company.  Marketing expenditures can lead to increased sales and heightened positive brand awareness with the help of informed customer service force as part of the marketing team.

SEO: Seeking Exposures and Opportunities for Websites

Perhaps the most misunderstood value of social media is in its SEO functions.  While there are tons of social media tools and sharing services on the web, the real tie-in between social media and SEO (search engine optimization) escapes many social media converts.  As important as it is to interact with social media in ways that interest your niche market audience, it is vital to consider SEO issues at every step to get the most from your investment of time and money.

The goal of SEO is bringing valid traffic to your website or blog through search engine listings.  If that gives you a “well…DUH” moment, realize that there are validating factors in that goal.  For example, traffic needs to be niche enough to convert into viable leads or sales.  So, let’s examine the topic of SEO just for a moment.  There are a few primary tools of SEO including:

  • SEO:  Anyone who follows my blog and articles knows that strong organic SEO is the basis of any effort.  By optimizing a website with good copy and valid keyword density in all the important places of a website, solid white hat search engine optimization is like a sturdy foundation to build a house.  Organic SEO, although not a fast process, will save you time and money in the long run.
  • Internet marketing:  This category is often thought of as the most confusing form of SEO because it is paid advertising AND includes Google AdWords.  It is a rarity, in all honesty, that Google makes anything easy.  AdWords is not an exception.  With the opportunity to expend large sums of money in a short amount of time without any viable return on investment, AdWords is not for the faint of heart without sound leadership.  As I’ve said elsewhere, one of my favorite guides for navigating the rough waters of Google AdWords is AdWords University.  With a clear methodology and concise terminology, it is easy to follow and create successful AdWords campaigns. 
  • Linking:   Linking is the easiest SEO concept to increase website placement.   In short, every website and blog listed in Google has a page ranking that ranges anywhere from 1 to 10.  Most websites and blogs are listed very low in PageRank.  After all, think about it…there are millions of website and blogs listed in Google.  With several factors from the age of the site to content to SEO, the majority of the sites are not ranked well.  By linking with highly ranked sites with common interests (this is vital!), websites and blogs can increase viable traffic through exposure and pull up search engine ranking through each spider crawl.
  • Social Media:  Whether tweeting on Twitter or friending on Facebook, social media is the must participate place for businesses seeking credible traffic and branding recognition.  Many would say that social media does not help SEO.  In truth, social media can provide tons of inbound, niche market traffic to a website or blog.  Strong traffic leads to higher page ranking and more exposure.  Remember our goal for SEO of gaining traffic and increasing conversions?  This is the way! 
  • Analytics: Analytics is the least understood and possibly the most important tool in the online marketing toolbox. Here’s why. Let’s say you are completely focused on SEO, social media, you have a high-ROI AdWords campaign churning AND you are putting out lots of content on the web pointing to your product or service (for some of you niche bloggers out there, let’s say it’s your pure experienced opinion on your topic). How can you understand your traffic and predict what will create more traffic, how to focus that traffic more on people you want in your ideal captive audience, and generally create a more profitable website and business from what you do online? Google Analytics is a very low-cost, yet scalable solution that allows most businesses to get their feet wet and grow intelligently with the guidance of sound Analytics Concepts.

Admittedly, these are not all of the factors or considerations connected with good SEO practices; however, these are undisputably the touchstones for creating a formidable search engine optimized website or blog.  While most of these techniques are used by professional SEO experts, like Mark Brimm at 123interface.com, a clear understanding of both the methodology and the meaning of measurement will certainly make hiring a qualified expert or embarking on the task yourself much easier a pill to swallow.

AdWords University: Order Out of AdWords Chaos

For many business owners, the very words “internet marketing” invokes enough fears to keep them from initiating any type of online advertising.  What scares most people away from driving traffic to their website using Google AdWords is twofold. 

First, it seems really difficult to understand the process of creating good AdWords campaigns.  With steps and moving parts that require decisions about keywords, many business owners find it confusing to navigate the mine field of Google AdWords without the assistance of a seasoned SEM veteran. 

The second issue is the very real concern about losing money with a poorly planned AdWords campaign.  Needing guidance in understanding the best choices and measurements for a Google AdWords campaign, most people dip a toe into the deep waters of AdWords only to find the price tag is too high for poor conversion.

In reality, these are very valid considerations for internet marketing tools like Google AdWords.  That is why AdWords University is one AdWords guide that is stellar in its sheer ease of understanding and topic depth.  In plain English that makes the reader feel empowered with comprehension instead of burdened with technical talk, AdWords University brings Google AdWords to the masses with explanations defining the concepts of internet marketing, exploring methodologies for finding the best keywords, and  creating a successful AdWords campaign.

Even further, AdWords University takes the additional steps of covering advanced techniques to manage AdWords campaigns to optimize the effectiveness of combined discussions on generating multiple AdWords campaigns for A/B testing purposes.

The value of AdWords University lies in the clear presentation of proven methods in creating an AdWords campaigns that manifest revenue producing traffic.

5 (FREE) Time Saving Social Media Tools

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“Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.”—Chinese Proverb

So many times, people embark on social media marketing with the idealist understanding that it is as easy as tweeting a thought in 140 characters or posting a few words to followers every few days.  In reality, social media marketing involves more hand holding than direct marketing.  Why, then, are literally millions of businesses joining the social media movement every year?  Because, quite literally, companies can reach out to potential clients with less cost (provided they understand the time vs. money formula of social marketing) and gain market share through brand exposure.

Besides the afore mentioned misunderstanding about the true investment in time for a successful social media campaign without remembering that time is money, people often feel overwhelmed by the sheer complexity of managing multiple social media streams scattered all over the webosphere!

As a social media marketer, these are a few there tools I use to make m y life much easier! 

•Seemic (http://seesmic.com):  This is one of my favorites.  If you have a Facebook and Twitter account, the split screen view of Seemic makes it easy to follow what is happening in each account.  With the ability to add any pages you manage on Facebook and directly post / report information in one screen, my favorite thing about Seemic is that I can post to Facebook and Twitter at the same time!  Of course, that means that you have to limit the Facebook post to 140 characters, but what a time savings it is to have one place to call home for your Facebook and Twitter accounts.  If, like me, you have several accounts for each (Magic Marketing USA and Networking in High Heels), then the ability to import all of those accounts into one places brings order into chaos.

•TweetDeck (http://www.tweetdeck.com):  If you are truly wrapped up in the tentacles of social media, then TweetDeck is the application for you!  With the same multiple accounts split screen view, TweetDeck brings the management of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and mySpace within easy grasp.  The main difference between Seemic and Tweetdeck is user preference.  If you are limited in your interactions to Facebook and Twitter, the Seemic is amazing at delivering both of those to your virtual doorstep.  If you want to include outside accounts like LinkedIn and mySpace, then Tweetdeck gives you all of that in one simple place.

•Social Oomph (http://www.socialoomph.com):  All I can say is OMG!  When I first tried Social Oomph (which was TweetLater to those of the old school of last year!), I thought I had died and gone to Twitter management heaven!  Although this application is only for Twitter, Social Oomph gives you the advantage of customizing a message to send to everyone who follows you, lets you decide how to accept followers, and…ready for this?  Social Oomph lets you schedule tweets!  While I definitely DO NOT suggest that anyone spam their Twitter list, there are many times when I want to share what I am doing with others without stopping several times during the day to put it in 140 characters.  When I am traveling, this is the perfect way to let people know where I will be or send out reminder tweets about upcoming events.  Remember, NOTHING replaces actual interaction with the people in your social media sphere.

•SMS (your cellphone!):  It is safe to say that almost every social media application these days has a way for you to update your profile or status via your cell phone or smart phone.  While it can definitely make life easier when you can just text in 140 characters or do a quick update to your FBP (Facebook profile), it is addicting too because it connects you every single minute that you carry your phone.  Mostly, this has been responsible for the incidents of texting updates during church or in the bathroom.  If you are going to take this route, then please be conscious of the people around you before your spouse reaches over and drops your phone in your water glass at dinner (I swear…I saw this happen!).  And, realize that NOT EVERYTHING needs to be shared.

•Automatic Updates:  There are positives and negatives to completing the circle of social media.  If you enable automatic updates in your social media accounts, then you should be aware that mean EVERYTHING you tweet, blog, and post hits every possible avenue immediately.  In creating 360 degree coverage of all of your materials, promotions, and ads, this is the quickest way to make sure all bases are covered.  BUT…and this is a biggie…be sure that you really want everything to feed directly into your accounts especially if some accounts are for business use and some are for personal use.

Quick point in fact:  Before I go on, I want to make sure that it is clear to every breathing person on the web that Facebook has business accounts and, if you are using Facebook for business, this is the type of account you should be using!  There are many reasons, but transparency and market segmentation are two of the biggest reasons.  My next article, Facebook for Business: Fan or Friends, will explain this in depth, but using a personal level Facebook account for business not only violates Facebook TOC, but it also isolates you from the privacy protection and promotion of your business.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled program, automatic updates can be set up for bring blog posts into your LinkedIn account, share LinkedIn updates on Twitter, and add a tweet your Facebook entries and blogs.  The one exception is, in a business account, Facebook does not update to Twitter.  As of now, Facebook only updates Twitter if you have a personal account.  Solution?  See above for one of the great FREE applications that allow you handle all of these tasks in one place!

Although there are tons of other applications and time saving tips for social media management, any these will get you started.  As they are all free, I suggest that you try each one on for size to see what works best for you.  The most important part is to save time and produce quality information to connect with followers, friends, and fans.   Even though most of these applications might sound difficult, they are each easy to install with a wizard that walks you through it.  Since it is easy and FREE, what else could be better?

With the time you gain, check out our new group, Networking in High Heels, at www.networkinginhighheels.com.

Four Worst Email Marketing Errors

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At least once a week, someone writes to ask me why their email list is dwindling in readership and subscription rates are dropping.  Almost without exception, the answer can be narrowed down into one of four mistakes.  Although it seems to be in fashion to let the instant connection of social media bleed over into email marketing efforts, this mentality poses the problem of overexposure and violation of spamming laws. 

In both instances, avoiding these email marketing blunders can help reach customers and avoid losing potential sales:

1.  Customer Centric Information:  The most common unfounded belief is that customers are waiting to receive an email about what YOU are doing.  So many times, business owners focus their newsletters and emails around promotions and marketing of events.  In truth, giving readers information to help them solve a problem or answer a question makes you an expert in the mind of your customer.

2.  Permission is Precious:  The worst offense any business owner can make when using their email list is forgetting that email is not the same as social media, even if that is how you gained permission to use someone email for contact.   If you want to keep your email marketing list strong, then ask yourself these important questions before you hit the send button—

  • Does it serve a purpose for my customer or is it just marketing for my business?
  • If I had to call my customer on the phone instead of send an email, would this message be adequate reason?
  • Would I be annoyed, as a customer or business owner, to receive the same email in my inbox? 
  • Would I stop to read it and start to anticipate the next email?

If the answer to any of these questions is a resounding NO, then take a few minutes to consider how to correct the problem before sending the email.  By remembering that every person on your email list can remove their name by simply clicking a button or report you to your email provider for spamming, the goal of providing quality email marketing messages mixed with strong informational content will keep your readers both interested and involved.

3.  Time is of the Essence:  Many business owners’ loose subscribers merely due to the amount of email they send to their list.  Sending email two or more times a week can lead to overexposure and be a huge reason that email recipient lists drop in numbers.  Instead of sending several emails a week, it is better to schedule your emails on the same day of the week and set a time for delivery.  For example, print out a calendar and mark all important marketing events.  Then, back up several weeks and plan to send email blasts on consecutive Tuesdays very early in the morning.   By sending on the same day every week or month, you teach your customers to anticipate your email connection instead of resent it.

Note:  Studies show that email promotions sent out early Tuesday morning achieve better results because Tuesday is a breather day in the work / activity schedule for most people and early morning puts your emails at the top of the inbox.

4.  Your Partner, Your Problem:  Partnerships have become very common place between small businesses.  Although cross promotion can be very valuable in reaching out to new potential clients, it is vital that the “special offers” be more valuable to an email list than to the business owner.   By sharing partners with your email list, you endorse the services or goods of your partner to people who trust you.  If you send them an offer that is not specific to their needs or solves a problem they encounter, then they will click the unsubscribe button.

Although many business owners slip into the mentality that the loss of subscribers is acceptable because they are not interested enough to purchase, this is a waste of marketing dollars and can cost the restriction, or possible loss, of an email marketing database.

Plus, without argument, eliminating these four errors from your email marketing will help you achieve your real goal in engaging in email marketing:  increased customer loyalty and higher sales conversions.

Facebook 101: How to Find Friends

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The main reason most people join Facebook is to find long lost friends and connect with family.  In many ways, Facebook is the online meeting and tracking place for friends and family.  For best results with finding friends and family with Facebook, joining specific network will allow you to see the people others who identify themselves as part of that network.

Find your friends, co-workers, and family members on Facebook by:

  1. Log into your Facebook account and go to the Settings tab in the blue bar at the top right.  Go to the Account
  2. Settings in the drop down menu.
  3. On the right side of the screen, there is a text box to type the social media network you want to access. 

Specific social media networks can include:

  • Schools  / Universities (such as Clemson University or XYZ high school)
  • Work / Companies (such as IBM or Twitter)
  • Cities (such as Baton Rouge Louisiana)
  • Associations / Organizations (such as Marine Corps or Direct Marketing Association)
  • Keywords / Interests (such as “women in business” or marketing)
  • Professions (such as marketing managers or coaching)

Fill out the rest of the required information .  When you press the “Join Network” button, you will receive an email requiring you to verify your email address.

NOTE:  You will have to provide an email address to access the network and confirm your identity.

To gain additional opportunities to connect with friends, family, and co-workers, use the search box at the top right of the screen to type in keywords from the social media networking list above.  This will give you a list of group pages and fan pages to connect with people of similar interests.

Now that you know how to find your friends and family on Facebook, get out there and start connecting!

YouTube101: How to Upload Video

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With the invention of YouTube, a whole new world opened up for people wanting to share video for personal and commercial uses.  YouTube video has become a rage in everything from sharing funny stories, funky music, and video of a family vacation.  Many companies use YouTube to market their products and services by showing customers video.  Making average amateur video into overnight sensations, YouTube has revolutionized the way the world receives video.  Indeed, if a picture is worth a thousand words, then YouTube video is priceless! 

The popularity of YouTube rests not only in the wide distribution of on-demand videos of every variety.  The ease at which you can upload and share through Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace bring millions of videos into the web every week.

If you are ready to start uploading your video to YouTube, then follow these simple steps to start your video career:

  • Sign up for a YouTube account.  You will have to have a valid email address because you must validate your account before activation.
  • Once your YouTube account is activated, sign in.
  • Click on the yellow “upload video” button the right.
  • Click on the silver “upload video” button and browse to the video on your computer.  When you click OK,
  • YouTube will start uploading your video; however, you are not done!
  • When the video upload is complete, start filling out the title and description portions of the form.  If this is a marketing or advertising video, be sure to use important keywords for SEO benefits.
  • Afterward, pick a category from the drop down menu that represents the subject matter of your video.
  • Pick one of the two privacy options.  If you want people to be able to find it in a YouTube search, then click on the “share with world” radio button.  If you want the video to only be viewable by certain people, then pick the “private” option.
  • Click on the “Save Changes” button and wait until you get a successful confirmation.

If you want to put your video on a blog, website, or email to share with others, then simply click on the “Embed and Sharing Options” link at the top right of the video box.  This will allow you to get a link to embed your YouTube URL.

Last, YouTube also allows you to use their “Auto Share Options” to connect to Facebook, Twitter, or Google Reader to tell the world about your new video!

Now that you know how to Upload a Video to YouTube, get out there and share your world with the world!

Social Media: The Sexual Predator

As a marketer and web designer specializing in social media marketing, I have one rule that is never broken. No personal pictures of children. I would rather lose a client because I know that the web is a scary place filled with anonymity and people with no value for children. While parents protect their children from those hiding in the shadows of secrecy in real life, many parents unwittingly expose their children to thousands of sexual predators and molesters who are simply a click away.

If there is one message that I would love to give every parent who engages in social media or marketing for their business it would be: the web is not your friend!

Here are six NEVER DO things for social media and websites to protect your children:

1.  Never use pictures of your children as your profile picture. So many parents use pictures of their children instead of themselves as profile or avatar images. While I appreciate the need for parents to retain obscurity, think about the exposure of your children and their image to mass populations of people.

2.  Never put pictures of your children on your website or blog. Perhaps the most accessible way to gain pictures, a website or blog surrenders pictures with just a right click and SAVE AS. Posing a double threat, many website and blogs are directly traceable to a location by phone number or direct address.  Might as well place a google map on your child with a large YOU ARE HERE arrow.

3.  Never share pictures over social media.  Having seen people post a link to vacation pictures or family fun on Twitter or Facebook, the warning light bulb burns white hot upon the realization that thousands of unknown people exist in each account. Even in the strictest of social media sites that require you to validate your “friends,” people can sneak in to your connections. Further, when connections comment on your photos, your photos show up in the highlights of their connections! In certain social media, your pictures can be shared and re-tweeted to a whole new group of people without your knowledge.

4.  Never send pictures over email. If you send pictures of your children to company email addresses, then they go through a server administrated by people. As email can easily be viewed, saved, downloaded, and forwarded, grabbing these pictures of your children is not difficult. Most servers automatically scan downloads and attachments for viruses and generate reports to administrators.

5.  Never forget that someone does not have to touch your child to exploit them. When placing the pictures of your children in any online electronic format, never forget that you are exposing them to exploitation by one simple right click. In the thousands of people on the internet and in social media profiles, consider the chances that one of them is either a pedophile or sexual predator. The chances are very good!

6.  Never let innocence block your view of the truth. So many parents see their children with innocence rather than the potential for exploitation. Innocent pictures of children in the bath tub or playing in the backyard sprinkler are graphic to a sick mind. Although it might be painful to think in that manner, there are many consequences more painful than protecting your child by seeing the truth.

People often protect their financial information more stringently than their children because they feel safe in tucking their children into bed at night.

Not quite…in reality, it takes less than 10 seconds to right click on a picture and upload it to a new webpage. In those 10 seconds, a charming picture of a 7 year old girl in her new bathing suit splashing around in a pool can hit a child pornography website and be up for sale to thousands of pedophiles for a few dollars.

Sickening? Yes.

Are you ready for worse? Social media pages and websites often have exact locations connected to the parents’ profile. Even more directly, many social media profiles have websites that list as a location and phone number on the website or in a domain search. In less time than it takes to post that innocent picture to share with family and friends, a child molester can find the exact address of your child. When posting pictures of children, many parents post their names and ages with the picture.

Is there anything more persuasive for a child than a person who knows their parents name as well as their own? It is quite an advantage for sexual predator.

After watching a recent episode of Raising the Bar, it was very clear that my own experiences with parents reflects the comfortable naiveté of reality in how often people forget that the web is not their friend because we have grown up with the web as a part of our lives. I suggest this episode to every single person responsible for the well-being of children who uses the social media or the web as part of their connection with family, marketing for a business, or expansion of a social network.

Raising the Bar http://www.tnt.tv/dramavision/?oid=49111&eref=sharethisUrl.  

Remember: The web is not your friend!