Be Human; Be You

One of the most powerful social marketing strategies is to be an actual person on your social networks. I teach this at all my social marketing seminars: You are participating on social networks not on follow me so I can sell you something networks. The people most likely ever to help you with your mission are, in fact, people. If you aren’t also a person, chances are your social network will rarely, if ever, help you.

Web Social Marketing Garbage

With a little experience, you’ll be able to identify higher- and lower-quality social network presences. Consider, for example, various types of Twitter streams:

Twitter News Feed

Social network service or sin? A news feed can’t hide its nature. It’s typically a steady stream of tweets each of which includes a hypertext link. If you’re interested in the niche the news feed serves, then you might find value in the feed. A news feed’s owner may simply wish to share a passion and believes posting links to articles is a nice service. It’s also possible a feed’s owner provides some useful article links and other purely commercial links. Clicking some of the links generates income for the feed’s owner… and that’s the only reason the feed exists. It isn’t social.

Twitter Retweeter

Have you seen one of these Tweet streams? Each tweet is a retweet of someone else’s tweet. It’s nice to have your tweets propagate farther because other users retweet them. However, a retweeter demonstrates no independent thought or involvement; in fact, a programmer wouldn’t have to be clever to write software that automatically retweets tweets containing specific words or phrases. If a twitter stream contains only retweets, how do you know you’re not just following a robot? A robot isn’t social.

Twitter Aphorism Engine

Were you really so taken by that quotation that you had to tweet it? Really? It was that amazing? If someone’s Twitter stream contains one aphorism in 100 tweets, get over it. But if you find two, three, or more aphorisms in 20 tweets, assume the tweeter is short on original thought and probably won’t engage you much in conversation.

Twitter Niche Authority

You can recognize a Twitter niche authority by its stream of declaratives about a particular subject. “Buy rubber tires; they’re more effective than plastic.” “Use a turpentine-based cleaner to remove oil stains from burlap.”Never store turpentine-soaked burlap in a closed container.” None of the tweets in such a stream engages readers. Niche authorities aren’t social.

As you build a social network on Twitter or Facebook, seek people who share your interests and sensibilities. Find people who converse as you converse with your friends. Avoid these other Twitter types or, if you follow them, don’t expect them ever to be social with you.

Can you describe other Twitter streams that clearly aren’t going to engage followers in social interactions? Please leave your ideas in a comment.

Internet Marketing for Pennsylvania Writers

Susquehanna Writers Internet Marketing (SWIM) has been quiet the past two weeks as holidays kept us busy with other things. We’re getting back in the saddle this Wednesday, January 5. We’ll meet as usual at the Mondragon book store on Market Street in Lewisburg, PA (12:30 PM). In case you haven’t been there: once you’re inside the main entrance, go up the stairs to the first landing and turn right. Pass the hallway that heads back along the right side of the stairs and find the first door on your right—it’s across from a window.

More Social Media Marketing in Central Pennsylvania

I’m planning to start a new SWIM session in January and am checking in with area writers’ groups to find out when the most people would be interested in attending. The new group will meet on a weeknight or weekend so it doesn’t conflict with work schedules. I’ll post meeting times if there’s enough interest. Please spread the word and ask interested writers to contact me.

SWIM already draws writers from the Sunbury and Selinsgrove area, but it’s within easy reach from Williamsport, Mifflinburg, Danville, and even Bloomsburg when you consider the quality and quantity of material we cover. Please: if you’re a writer within 40 miles of Lewisburg, get in touch to learn whether SWIM makes sense for you.

Publishing, the Internet, and Writers

I’m sure I sound like a broken record to some of you (Remember what a “record” is?), but I want to emphasize: The emerging publishing model is very simple: As an author you will have a direct relationship with your readers. Publishing companies that figure this out and make changes soon enough will become marketing and marketing support engines, but they will rarely print books. On-demand printing will accommodate people who demand ink on paper.

We’re already seeing that publishers prefer an author who has an impressive online presence. Some publishers are cutting back the marketing support for their own titles, relying more and more on authors to do the work online and through traditional means.

Aspiring writers today need to look ahead two to three years and see that self-publishing is the new road to success: Amazon is giving authors 70% of the revenue for sales of eBooks for the Kindle. Good luck getting 15% from a traditional publisher. The writer who can complete a book, build a following online, and sell the book through Internet Marketing and electronic distribution will sell books as more and more publishing companies go under.

And the Kindle? What’s available today is going to be obsolete within a year (guessing, but confident). eReaders will be full-color tablet computers that deliver multimedia content. Click an illustration and you’ll be watching video or browsing a photo library. Traditional publishers will get this wrong again and again before the emergent Internet publishing industry delivers designs and production technology that makes sense for this new reading platform.

Sure, traditional publishing will be around for a while, but opportunity for new authors will continue to diminish and only the most amazing work will find its way onto paper. In the meantime, authors who promote themselves online and who deliver their work electronically will have a leg up. You can quickly gain an edge against well-established authors who are allied with traditional publishers that still struggle to figure out this whole Internet thingy.

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Social Marketing Strategies for Writers: Blog Platforms

Susquehanna Writers Internet Marketing (SWIM) meets in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. We have met four times since my last post on their progress. Several of us have installed blogs, the core components of our web social marketing strategies. More than that, we’ve posted our first blog entries and Google has already indexed them. We’ve gotten in deep!

Because we’ve done so much, it’s not practical to include all the details in a single post. So, over the next and weeks, I’ll try to write several short posts that report on specific tasks we’ve performed. These posts will both chronicle our progress and serve as “cheat sheets” for class participants.

Hosting Our Blogs

Four meetings back, we signed up with hosting services. I recommend hosting with a company called Hostgator for many reasons. The most important of those reasons is that when you use a paid host, you can install a WordPress blog and still add other components to your web site. The WordPress installation on a hosting service is very flexible; it can handle whatever plugins and themes you feel are appropriate for your presentation.

Alternatively, you can create a blog on a free service such as Blogger or WordPress.com. For SWIM, I asked people using a free service to stick with WordPress.com so their blog control panel will be similar to control panels of folks hosting their own WordPress installations.

I’m very confident about getting excellent Google ranks for blogs we build on our own domains using the WordPress software. We can also succeed with a free WordPress.com blog, but it’s likely to take longer.

Social Marketing Strategies Include Good SEO

We’ve been learning to work with social media in parallel to learning how to lay a great foundation for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). As we deploy blogs, our goal is to position them to get great Google love. We’re also going to participate on social networks to invite people to our blogs.

Through brilliant social networking, you can build a huge loyal following and this may be all you need to be successful online. But a well-tuned blog could draw as many visitors from search engines as you can attract through social media sources. Happily, working with social networking sites is an important way to tune your blog in the eyes of the search engines. In other words, there’s considerable overlap between SEO and Social Media Marketing.

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Web Social Marketing Strategies for Writers Week 6: Find a Keyword

Recent Web Social Marketing Strategies blog entries have summarized the meetings of Susquehanna Writers Internet Marketing (SWIM). This group of writers meets weekly in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania to learn techniques that can build Internet presence and promote their works online.

This week’s meeting brought us very close to starting blogs. Our blogs will be the focal points of all our social marketing strategies. Our other online activities will invite the world to our blogs where we’ll demonstrate our craft and establish authority in our areas of interest.

We started, as usual, with a discussion about the importance of increasing activity on Twitter. Someone on my social network recently asked a bunch of people with similar concerns to join a Facebook group and share insights. In one day there had been a lot of interaction in that group (and it has continued since). My point of sharing this story was to emphasize how the contacts in your social network can become very important to you. Until you show your own chops and get your network established, you’re missing out on these opportunities.

Keyword Research

We’ve had mixed experience doing keyword research with Market Samurai. A few of us have found key phrases with decent stats, but that aren’t necessarily easy to work into conversations. A blog built around a marginal key phrase can be awkward; you’ll know it when you read one: the sentences will be grammatically and stylistically hacked-together to include a phrase that really doesn’t fit.

So, we bounced phrases around to decide whether we could write them into conversations naturally.

We looked at the Market Samurai keyword competition matrices for a few key phrases, and I gave my interpretation of the statistics they provided. Again: some of the key phrases look very good.

Creating a Blog

I provided an overview of 2 options for starting a blog:

  1. Use a free services such as blogger or wordpress.com. The advantage is that the service is free. The disadvantages are that a URL that is part of some other domain may receive less Google love than one that you own outright. Also, free services are rather limited in the selection of themes (appearance) and plugins (added features beyond the blog) available.
  2. Buy a URL and host WordPress (free software) on a commercial service. The disadvantage of this is that you spend about $100 per year for the service and the URL. The advantages are many. For example, there are no restrictions for what you do on your own URL. You can commercialize your own URL, while you may not be able to commercialize a blog on a free service. Hundreds of free plugins are available to help you build Google love and otherwise customize your blog; many of these won’t work on a free blog service. You can expand a WordPress blog on your own URL by adding pages within WordPress, and by adding custom-built web pages outside of WordPress, if you so desire.

You can be successful with free blogging services and with your own URL, but I’m encouraging that you buy a URL and host it yourself because I’m confident we can get such blogs high in Google’s rankings very quickly; you’ll build your online presence more rapidly when you own your blog.

Find a Hosting Service

You can use any hosting service you prefer to hold your own WordPress blog, with one technical requirement: Make sure the hosting service comes with CPanel. CPanel is a dashboard for managing everything you do on your hosting service—uploading files, creating email accounts, installing new web sites, and dozens of things that will probably never matter to you. CPanel is important because software we’ll use to set up blogs relies on the CPanel services.

I recommended the hosting service Hostgator for two reasons:

  1. I know Hostgator and they are reliable and responsive on support issues
  2. Hostgator is relatively inexpensive. If you pay for 3 years and have only one URL, they charge $5 per month. I especially like their Baby Plan that lets you host unlimited web sites for a fixed price. Today it might be hard to imagine having even one web site, but some day you might add a second and third; with Hostgator the cost doesn’t increase when you add sites. Of course, if you start with the “Hatchling” plan for a single URL, you can probably upgrade should you later decide to add more URLs.

If you decide to go with Hostgator, please do me the favor of clicking over to their web site from my Web Social Marketing Strategies web site (or from the links in this post). I confess that I receive a referral fee when you do this, so you can see I have some “bought” bias toward Hostgator.

For Next Week

My hope is to start blogs next week. This will involve buying the URL, registering with a hosting service, pointing the URL to the service, and installing WordPress on the new site (we might be stymied on this last one; it can take a day or two for a new website to show up on the Internet in central Pennsylvania).

At class I asked everyone to do three things by next week:

  1. Find 4 or more key phrases that fit the criteria (see last week’s post) and that you feel comfortable about working into conversations. It’s OK to have one key phrase that fits, and several others that are pretty close.
  2. Decide on your level of financial commitment to your online presence: Either free services only, or about $100 per year to host your own.
  3. TWEET!!! Seriously: more chatter on Twitter, please!

If you have time and inclination, this would be a good time to write a blog post or two or three. Even 200 words is adequate, and generally try to keep your posts under 600 words. You don’t have to post a blog entry the moment you install your blog, but it’s kind of nice to be able to.

Work in whatever word processor makes you happy. For you 2-computer people, consider writing in a Google Docs word-processing file. If you remember your password at the meeting, you’ll have access from whatever computer you bring.

IMPORTANT!

If you’re ready to start a blog on Wednesday AND you’re going to host your own, you’ll need a credit card to submit payment to the hosting service and/or the Domain registration service from which you buy your domain name.

PLEASE DON’T PANIC or feel pressure to jump in. If you’ve done decent keyword research, but you’re not ready to blog… or if you haven’t had time to find just the right key phrase, we’ll still be around. Once the blog is up, things can get pretty lively!

See you Wednesday!

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Web Social Marketing Strategies for Writers Week 5: Market Samurai

Recent Web Social Marketing Strategies blog entries have summarized the meetings of Susquehanna Writers Internet Marketing (SWIM). This group of writers meets weekly in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania to learn techniques that can build Internet presence and promote their works online.

I can’t overemphasize the importance of this fundamental social marketing strategy: TWEET!!! Writers’ Digest’s recent issue has a whole bunch about social media… the writing industry is catching up with us. As the word gets out and more writers break away from traditional approaches to getting attention, it will be harder and harder to build a presence that stands apart from the crowd. WE SHOULD ALL HAVE our presences well-established before the writing & publishing industries figure all this stuff out!!! In 15 minutes a day, you can seriously build up a social network on Twitter and make a place for yourself online. So, TWEET! (Please?)

Questions About Social Marketing Strategies

A few questions had come up from one or another participant through the week. We talked about them as a group in case anyone else had run into the same issues:

Spam Robots: Terrible Social Marketing Strategies

The more involved you are with Twitter, the more likely it is you’ll attract spam robots. A spam robot is software programmed to watch the Twitter stream for specific key phrases. If one of your tweets happens to contain a phrase for which a robot is watching, the robot may follow you. In some cases, a robot doesn’t follow, it just sends an unsolicited suggestion of a link it wants you to follow; that’s pure spam and it’s good practice to report such activity.

You can report spam quietly if you follow @spam on Twitter (go to http://www.twitter.com/spam and click the follow button). @spam will follow you back. Then, when you receive a spam message (someone you don’t follow sends you a link), report the spammer by writing a direct message to spam. I usually write something like this:

d spam Please review activity of @spamrobot Looks a lot like a spam robot to me. Thanks!

If the robot follows you without spamming you, you’ll be able to tell fairly easily. Consider the checklist I published in “Why I Didn’t Follow You Back” You can usually spot a robot simply by the “New Follower” email message you get from Twitter. But sometimes you might need to click through to the new follower’s Twitter page and evaluate the twitter stream to decide if you’ve been followed by a robot.

I argue: Ignore the robot. Let it follow you unless its Twitter stream is morally objectionable. Having more followers than people you follow isn’t a bad thing. If you don’t want a particular follower paying attention to you, you can block that follower.

Spam robots must work or there wouldn’t be so many of them; what’s so bad about them? You’re building a SOCIAL network so you need to be a real person. Real people tend not to care for spam robots. You want people to get to know you and your work, not some software-produced drivel.

Keyword Versus Key Phrase?

What’s the difference between a key word and a key phrase? The number of space characters. I’m afraid I use the terms interchangeably, as does much of the Internet marketing industry. However, when you’re starting a web site or blog, these days you’re most likely not going to find a one-word key phrase on which to optimize. It would be terrific to be in position 1 on Google for a word such as faith, happiness, writing, or whatever, but getting there could require life-time commitment and prove very expensive.

So… in searching for a key phrase for which we’re more likely to rank well, we start with a very broad idea that may be just a word. Then we ask Google for suggestions and research those suggestions until we find a good phrase or two or three that meet the established Internet marketing targets.

Those targets, again, are:

  • 80 or more people each day click a link in Google as a result of a search for that key phrase.
  • There are fewer than 30,000 web pages on the Internet that have the exact phrase in them.
  • There is decent correlation between the “phrase match” and the “broad match.” That is, when people search using the words in your search phrase, do they use the exact phrase, or do they use a phrase that simply contains the same words?

Our big push for the day was to download Market Samurai and use it to do some key phrase research. We had some problems, but eventually three out of four computers had new installations running. People had brought candidate key phrases and we plugged these into the software to see where they’d lead. I’m not publishing key phrases here, but I will reveal that we each were searching in distinct areas. No one found a clear winner on Wednesday, but I hope everyone became comfortable with Market Samurai so they can continue their research at home.

Market Samurai Procedures

Start a project – We entered a key phrase for the project in the keyword box, and accepted the default project title and file path (which Market Samurai filled in when we typed a keyword. Then we clicked Create to start a new project.

Generate key phrases – We clicked the Keyword Research button on Market Samurai’s main screen…

…and then clicked the Generate Keywords button on the Keyword Research screen. Market Samurai prompted with a captcha dialog, and after completing it, we watched the keyword list box fill with suggested key phrases.

I encouraged you to pare down the list of key phrases; eliminate phrases that obviously don’t suit your intentions. I like to get the list down to 30-to-50 phrases. You remove a phrase by clicking the X to the right of the phrase. If there are phrases you want to include in your list but Market Samurai hasn’t suggested them, type them into the box labeled Add Keywords. Type one phrase to a line, and when you’ve typed all that interest you, click the Add Keywords button below the box. When the list of key phrases feels right, click the Analyze Keywords button at the bottom of the Market Samurai window. Market Samurai presents a second Keyword Research screen:

Evaluate the key phrases The box near the top of the Keyword Research page reveals settings that determine what data Market Samurai will load into the list box below. There’s already some data in that list box, but we wanted a bit more. The settings I like are as follows:

Note that I had to check the Total Searches box, change the SEO Traffic box from 80 to 0, change the Phrase-to-Broad box from 15% to 0, and change the SEO Comp box from 30000 to 3000000. Once you have the settings the way you want, click the Analyze Keywords button. It may take a few minutes, but eventually the list box fills with data:

To see items in order from highest traffic to lowest traffic, click the header of the SEOT column. Scan down this column for numbers greater than 80. In the adjacent PBR column, look for a number that is 15 or greater. In the SEOC column, look for a number that is 30,000 or lower. When you find all 3 in one row, the associated keyword may be a keeper.

Find more key phrases If you don’t find a key phrase that meets these criteria, use a few of the big SEOT key phrases to open a new tab in Market Samurai. To do this, click the key to the left of the keyword in the keyword list. Then click the new tab to activate it and use the first Keyword Research page to search for more, different key phrases that might meet the criteria.

You can save a project (pull down the File menu), but in my experience Market Samurai saves automatically, so you never have to save.

For next Wednesday, everyone should have a short list of very promising key phrases they’d be willing to use in their blogs. We’ll use Market Samurai to research the competition for those key phrases and decide whether we’ll be able to “beat” the competition’s Google listings if we do our SEO properly.

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Cooks Source Exposes the Power of Social Networks

Are you having trouble convincing your managers, executives, or staff of the importance of social marketing strategies? An event ripped from the headlines might help you win arguments.

Free Publicity

Blogger Monica Gaudio explained in her blog on livejournal.com that she had been published in a print magazine. Thing of it is, the magazine had published one of Gaudio’s blog posts without asking permission. This is flat out theft according to copyright law.

Gaudio contacted the magazine and received a kind of “in your face” reply. The magazine’s editor suggested Gaudio’s article needed heavy editing and Gaudio should, perhaps, pay for the service. The editor also asserted that all content on the Internet is in the public domain!

Because Gaudio shared this story on her blog, there was a near instantaneous groundswell of reaction from… well, bloggers. Pretty much anyone who publishes content on the Internet knows that unless they state the contrary in print, they own the copyright on their material. But Gaudio’s blog post had gone a step further: the blog page had included a clear statement of copyright.

So, Cooks Source Magazine had flat out stolen Gaudio’s work, and bloggers became angry. The anger went viral: people tweeted links to Gaudio’s report, they posted blog entries and tweeted links to them, they left comments on Facebook pages and tweeted links to them, and they laid siege to Cooks Source’s Facebook page, inundating it with highly critical comments. The information traveled quickly; just two days after the news broke there was a hash tag on Twitter –  #buthonestlymonica – that has been very lively (tweets under that hash tag led me to both the video and the spreadsheet I’ve linked to in this blog post). If that’s not enough, there are already several videos addressing the issue on YouTube. This one uses a popular YouTube device to illustrate the main issues, thought it’s more entertaining if you’re familiar with details of the fiasco:

Who became famous overnight? Yes, Gaudio became famous. Also, Cooks Source Magazine and its editor became infamous.

Good Social Marketing Strategies

Stealing people’s property and then writing snarky emails about it are not good social marketing strategies… unless you want a lot of people to focus on what a jerk you are. But that’s not the lesson here. The lesson is that when you touch the right nerve of a social network, the reaction can be explosive. A person or a company can go from obscurity to world-wide notoriety in hours.

One of your social marketing strategies should be to participate in networks that are interested in your message. As your network grows, learn from it and produce material that excites the network. If your blog post, tweet, Facebook status update, video, or podcast touches some nerve just so, it may go viral and create intense interest just as quickly as Monica Gaudio’s blog post managed to. Even if you can’t find something to trigger such a dramatic viral response, you’re likely to interest a few people who participate in your network. These will amplify your message across their own networks and could translate into a surge in inquiries, new sales, or at least in people joining your social circle.

Need More Better Arguments?

Could this example hurt the case you’re trying to make? What business would open itself to the intense scrutiny and criticism it might suffer from such a powerful entity? The answer is an oldie but a goody: If you participate in the social network, you’re likely to see the first whisper of trouble brewing, and you can intercede. Of course, you’ll need to do better than fire off condescending or smarmy notices that dig your company into a deeper hole. On the other hand, if you don’t even know it’s out there, a viral message against your company can do irreparable damage in just a few days.

Footnote: The social network is producing a spreadsheet on Google Docs to track works stolen by and published in Cooks Source magazine. It’s an impressive list, and it’s more impressive that the magazine had not been outed earlier than this past week.

 

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Web Social Marketing Strategies for Writers Week 4

Recent Web Social Marketing Strategies blog entries have summarized the meetings of Susquehanna Writers Internet Marketing (SWIM). This group of writers meets weekly in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania to learn techniques that can build Internet presence and promote their works online.

So many social marketing strategies seem silly at first, so at today’s meeting I wanted to encourage everyone to work through that feeling. I described some of the acquaintances I’ve made through social media, and I explained the nature of those relationships. I exchange thoughts from time-to-time with fellow gardening enthusiasts, writers, editors, publishers, television producers, and even television personalities. All of these people participate on Twitter at least in part to connect with people who share their interests… and they help each other out.

I pointed out some of my acquaintances who have gotten jobs through their online affiliations. My hope is that by hearing these stories you’ll be inspired to get to know Twitter well and to find some interesting people to follow. I encouraged everyone to find at least one new person to follow each day, but don’t be afraid to follow more than that.

To help identify people of interest, we looked at www.twittgroups.com and www.twibes.com. I was underwhelmed by twittgroups. Though it had been vital two years ago, it was nearly unfathomable today. Twibes, on the other hand, looks very polished, and I encourage you to spend some time searching the web site. Find some appropriate Twibes and join them, and follow people who are also members. As I’ve suggested in the past: when you find someone who is very established in your niche, have a look at the people they follow. These may be good candidates for you to follow.

You Must Tweet!

I’m encouraging everyone to move beyond merely lurking. First, I suggested that you tweet your status. Tweet at least a few times a day about what you’re doing: “Starting chapter x in my book about yadda yadda.” or “I finally came up with the right illustration for the fifth page of my latest picture book.” You don’t have to get personal, just put it out there that you’re doing stuff in your niche. Yes, it seems silly. It seems very, very silly. However, these few status updates begin to build a story about you on the Internet… a story that you hope will interest other people.

Find Folks to Follow

I’m also pushing you to find interesting people to follow, and participate with them. You don’t need to say anything to someone just because you follow them. However, I promise that the more you engage appropriate people, the quicker you’ll make friends and discover opportunities—both to get help from others and to help others. Asking questions is a great way to get to know someone. If they tweet about a writing project or a book project, why not ask what they’re working on? Of course, don’t forget to review their last 20 to 40 tweets and their blog (if they have one) before asking questions they’ve already answered. In my opinion, you come across as a little silly when you ask a question someone has answered in their Twitter profile or in their most recent tweets.

Key Phrases for SEO

We reviewed fundamental strategy for finding a key word or phrase on which to build your Internet presence. Yes, I know people whose only online presence was a Twitter account, yet they became well-recognized within a niche and eventually found jobs through their Twitter connections. We’re going farther and creating a website that supports your Twitter activity and becomes a focal point for all other marketing activity related to your web presence.

You’ll get help from Google if you start with a good key phrase. Internet marketers look for phrases that have favorable search parameters:

  • 80 or more people each day click through to a web page found in a Google search using the phrase
  • The “phrase match” appears on fewer than 30,000 web pages

We looked at Market Samurai so we’d be familiar with how it works. The features that matter to us: Keyword Research and SEO Competition.

The Keyword Research module generates a list of key phrases and then lets you compare their stats. The SEO Competition module lets you compare Google’s top 10 web sites that use the key phrase you’re researching. Stats include the Domain Age (how old is the web site), the Page Rank (how authoritative does Google consider the web site to be), the Pages Indexed (how many pages does the web site have), and the number and types of back links to both the web site and to the main page of the web site. The SEO Competition module also reports whether the key phrase you’re researching appears in the right places within the web site—the URL, the site’s title, the site’s description, and the site’s header. When we install your blogs, we’ll make sure the key phrases are in all the right places. This can give you huge advantage over other web sites that may already be in Google’s top 10.

For Next Week

I asked everyone to build up the list of folks they follow on Twitter. Specifically, I asked everyone to find at least one person of influence in their niche—an editor, publisher, producer—and follow that person. There’s no need to strike up a conversation if doing so doesn’t seem appropriate. Watch and see whether you can learn from this person.

I also asked you to think about key phrases in terms of what you have to offer an audience. You need to find the intersection of what people are searching for, and what you can write (and want to write) to hold their attention. I asked you not to download Market Samurai until we can all work with it together. There is a free trial period for the software, and I want everyone to be ready to take greatest advantage of the trial period… so please DON’T DOWNLOAD Market Samurai. When you have a few decent possible key phrases to research, we’ll get to the software; let’s not start the clock ticking before then.

Believe it or not, we’re almost blogging. Finding the right key phrase is the biggest hurdle: lots of thought and research. Once you have it, you can set up a blog in about 10 minutes.

 

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Web Social Marketing Strategies for Writers Week 3

At this week’s SWIM meet we finally had some serious Internet access and were able to exercise some tools of our social marketing strategies. In coming weeks, I’ll try to yack less and get everyone exercising their computers more.

Google Reader and RSS Feeds

Once we got online, we (nearly) all clicked over to Google Reader, looked at my list of folders and subscriptions, and saw how easy it is to follow lots and lots of blogs through this one interface—without ever having to leave Google Reader.

We used Google’s Blog Search feature to try to find useful blogs to which we could subscribe. Amazingly (but not surprisingly), many of the top-listed blogs for just about any search term are blog-like pages on commercial web sites trying to sell stuff. Surprisingly, it was actually quite hard to find blogs in the top 20 listings that had RSS feeds… or that had easy-to-access RSS feeds.

Everyone eventually found one blog whose RSS feed we could follow. We Right-Clicked the RSS feed button or RSS link on the blog page and chose Copy Link Location or Copy Shortcut from the resulting menu. Then we returned to Google Reader and clicked the Add a subscription button. In the resulting text box, we pressed Ctrl+V to paste the URL of the blog’s RSS feed and we clicked Add.

 

 

We’ll try this exercise again at our next meeting, but I encourage everyone to take a bit more time on their own to search for meaningful blogs and subscribe to their RSS feeds in Google Reader. The question came up: How do you delete a blog from Google Reader? We bumbled around for a bit and found Unsubscribe on the Feed Settings dropdown menu.

 

 

Twitter is One of Our Social Marketing Strategies

We looked at the Twitter interface that you interact with in a web browser. We reviewed “mentions” or “replies” where you address a tweet by typing an at sign followed by a user name: @cityslipper, for example. We reviewed direct messages in which you type a D a space and then the username, and we talked about lists and searches. Most importantly, being in the same room, we were able to follow each other easily and tweet a few messages around.

I admitted that I’m not skilled with the Twitter interface because I use the Tweetdeck client. So, I demonstrated Tweetdeck and encouraged everyone to download and install it. Tweetdeck is free software and you can find a link to its download site on the Web Social Marketing Links page of my Social Marketing Strategies web site: http://www.websocialmarketingstrategies.com/web-social-marketing-links If everyone installs Tweetdeck in time for next meeting, we’ll have another Twitter session to work on any outstanding questions. However, I encourage everyone to do the following before next meeting:

  1. Tweet to each other (and to me, please) about whatever… get used to sending mentions and direct messages.
  2. Set up Twitter searches for phrases that you think people use when talking about things that matter to you
  3. Follow some of the people whose tweets you find as a result of your searches
  4. “Stalk” people who are following people you follow, and follow a few of those people.
  5. At least follow @Leadershipfreak so there’s something in your Twitter stream (besides, he’s a good guy)

About this time in our meeting, Lewisburg’s parking meter attendant was putting tickets on cars. I’m so sorry… that just didn’t used to happen on Wednesday afternoons.

We wrapped up with a promise to get serious about keyword research at our next meeting. Until then, everyone should add to their lists (or start lists if you haven’t) of words and phrases that may find kindred spirits in Google searches. So, if you’re writing mostly fantasy fiction, your list of key phrases might include “fantasy fiction,” “dragon stories,” “fantasy adventure,” and so on. Think especially about words or phrases you would type into Google to find the kind of writing you prefer to do.

So, for next Wednesday:

  1. Subscribe to the RSS feeds of a few blogs that seem relevant to your writing interests
  2. Become more confident and practiced with Twitter (see the previous list)
  3. Bring a list of keywords and key phrases to “seed” your search for the ideal key phrase
  4. Bring your user names and passwords for Google Reader, Twitter, and Tweetdeck… and bring your laptop, of course

Please tweet, email, or phone if you need encouragement or if you have a question.

Finally, two weeks ago I mentioned some articles I wrote that explain how I decide who to follow on Twitter. Here are links to the articles; I’ll also post these on the links page in the next day or two. You don’t need to read the articles to succeed on Twitter, but they provide a reasonable foundation for maintaining a list of high-quality Twitter friends.

Before I Follow You

Why I Didn’t Follow You Back

I look forward to seeing you all next week. I think it’s appropriate to mention: Marsha brought chocolate.

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Web Social Marketing Strategies for Writers Week 2

SWIM is a group of writers that meets in Lewisburg in central Pennsylvania to learn social marketing strategies. The name SWIM came to me in a weak moment: I put together a silly acronym for Susquehanna Writers’ Internet Marketers. (Sorry.)

Sadly, the highlight of this week’s meeting was the lack of Internet access at our meeting place. Because we weren’t able to get connected, we couldn’t work together on our laptops to see technology in action. Rather, we all were victims of technology inaction.

Literary Agents Validate the need for Social Marketing Strategies

In helping two participants who missed last week’s gathering catch up, a brief review provided opportunity to clarify several topics. It was very helpful that most of us had attended the Susquehanna Valley Writers Workshop this past weekend where some literary agents reinforced the importance of Internet marketing for writers. The most compelling admission (I thought) of one of the agents:

When she reads a book proposal, she Googles the proposal’s author. If there is virtually nothing online about the author, the agent feels that the author may not interest a publisher. An attractive author has a following and recognized authority in the subject matter covered by the proposed book. A strong online presence suggests that the author will be useful in promoting the published work.

A second very compelling observation from the writers workshop: After you sell your book, it’s simply too late to start marketing. You need to market your book while you’re writing it… perhaps even before you start. (This is exactly what SWIM is about.)

SWIMmers Make Progress with Social Marketing Strategies

Participants acknowledged that they had registered on Google to be able to access Google Reader. So far, Google Reader might have stymied us, but when we can all work together online to add a few blogs or other media streams to Reader, I think everyone will catch on very quickly. Still, I encourage everyone to tweet with questions… let’s not try to do Google Reader over the phone until we’ve had a chance to work it together at a meeting.

We reviewed “Building an Internet Presence Lite through Social Media.” The premise is that you create a blog and post on it regularly. You also identify other similar blogs, visit them, and leave comments. Interact with the bloggers, promote their efforts, and invite them to examine your blog posts. Also, you participate on social media such as Twitter and Facebook with people who share your interests so you can learn more from them and invite them to learn from you. These are all components of the full-bore Internet Marketing skills that we’re learning… but decent SEO (search engine optimization) can dramatically increase the quality and reach of your Internet presence.

We reviewed Twitter and expanded on its capabilities. Our emphasis now is to use Twitter to learn what people are talking about with regards to the things we want to write: What are they saying? To whom are they saying it? Do they have blogs? It’s important to understand the “market niche” or niches in which we work or would like to work. Some important points:

  1. When you simply type text and send it on Twitter, the message goes to the general Twitter stream. Anyone can read it, and it goes to no one in particular. So, someone following a lot of people might miss such tweets if they happen to scroll past in a long list of tweets.
  2. If you want to be sure someone specific reads a tweet, send a “mention.” The simplest way to mention someone is to start with @ and append the recipient’s Twitter name. So, to be sure your tweet makes it to me, start by typing @cityslipper, then a space character, and then the message. You can embed @cityslipper anywhere in your tweet, and it will find its way to me.
  3. If you want your tweet to be invisible to all but a single person, send a “direct” message. To do this, start by typing the letter “d,” a space, and then the recipient’s Twitter name. So, send me a private message by typing d cityslipper message for Daniel.

We reviewed Twitter lists, but we couldn’t look at how to create them. You can assign people you follow to lists. When you view a list, you see tweets only from people you’ve included in the list. One cool use for lists: you can add people to a list even if you don’t follow them! So, if you want to learn more about someone before you decide to follow them, add them to a list and review their tweets for a few days.

We talked about Twitter Groups and that there are independent web sites where you can register with groups. Groups are self-organizing topics of discussion on Twitter. If you want to find other writers, look for a group that calls itself writers. Two web sites to visit and explore to find and join groups:

http://www.twittgroups.com

http://www.twibes.com

Finally, with regards to Twitter, we talked about hash tags. The hash tag is the mechanism by which you track what people are saying within a group… and the mechanism that reveals your tweets to people in a group. If you want to know what writers on Twitter are talking about, follow the hash tag #writers. If you want writers to see your tweet – even writers who don’t follow you – include the #writers hash tag in the body of your tweet.

Keyphrases: Foundations of Social Marketing Strategies

Before we start blogs, we will identify the best possible key phrases for the subject areas about which we write. To that end, we’re guessing what key phrases our potential readers might use to search for us. Then we’re doing Google searches, looking for forums on Yahoo, Google, Craigslist, or wherever and following discussions there. We’re searching Twitter and following promising tweeps, and (maybe) playing with the Google Adwords Keyword tool. The keyword tool will be much easier to understand when we look at it together, but here’s a link to it:

http://www.google.com/sktool/#

Homework for the Week

  1. Actually really get on Twitter, follow me, and send me a “mention” so I know you’re there. I’ll compile a list of twitter names and make sure everyone in the group has the list.
  2. Use Twitter to search on relevant topics, to identify interesting people to follow, and start following some of them.
  3. Build a list of candidate key phrases. Use Google searches, Twitter searches, the Google Adwords tool (which I just noticed is going away soon), Blog searches, and other resources to find out what’s going on in your “niche,” who is already established in your niche, and how people talk about your niche to each other. You’ll become more savvy about your market and you’ll come up with plenty of candidate key phrases.

Next meeting is on October 20. I’ll tweet the new location to everyone who has found me on Twitter by then, and I’ll back it up with an email so I’m sure everyone gets the information.

At the October 20th meeting, we’ll do some tweeting… maybe we’ll even engineer a Twitter Chat. Everyone who attends should become comfortable with Twitter’s capabilities.

Other Topics for the Next Meeting:

Google Reader – We’ll have a short review. We’ll each find one or two blogs of interest, locate the RSS feed URL, and use it in Google Reader to subscribe to the bog’s feed. When we do this together a few times, I think the procedure will stick. We’ll also briefly review how to navigate within Google Reader to speed your research and keep up with what’s happening in your niche(s).

Tweetdeck – This is a Twitter client, meaning it’s software that loads on your computer and offers a different interface than the one on Twitter. It provides some advantages over Twitter’s native interface.

Market Samurai – This is a vital tool for researching keywords. We’ll have a detailed walk-through to prepare everyone to find the perfect key phrases to promote their own blogs. There’s a link on the Web Social Marketing Links page of this site to Market Samurai, but please don’t follow it until we’re absolutely ready to finish our keyword research.

I’ll be in touch as soon as I find a decent meeting place. In the meantime, I hope to see all of you on Twitter.

 

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Web Social Marketing Strategies for Writers Week 1

On Wednesday, October 6, a group of writers in central Pennsylvania met at Zelda’s, a coffee shop in Lewisburg. Our purpose is to learn social marketing strategies to promote our writing. We’ll meet weekly for an indefinite period as all participants build Internet presences. Our goal is for each participant to find an audience.

The techniques and tools we’ll apply represent classic and cutting edge SEO and social media marketing. For the forseable future, this blog will chronicle activities of our group. Here’s the upshot of the October 6th meeting:

Overview of Social Marketing Strategies

We covered a lot of material very quickly addressing the following main questions:

  • Why develop an Internet presence?
  • Where do you start to achieve the best-possible Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
  • What are the components of an Internet presence?
  • How do you get traffic to your web site?

This meeting provided a sky-high overview of what we’ll be doing in the next many weeks, so we weren’t as “hands-on” as we typically will be.

Build Savvy to Establish Internet Presence

We looked at one potentially useful tool: Google Reader. To understand Google Reader, we learned what an RSS feed is and established that a blog must have an RSS feed to which visitors can subscribe. Then, we looked at Google Reader in action and we subscribed to an RSS feed. With regards to Google Reader, I ask that everyone sign up for a Google account, go to the Google Reader page, and use it to subscribe to several RSS feeds relative to their areas of interest.

To find blogs that you might subscribe to, simply search in Google using keywords you imagine people would use to find you. If your area of expertise is Young Adult Fiction, what words do you think people use in a Google search to find Young Adult Fiction pages? Keep track of the key phrases you think of… especially phrases that bring up articles you’ll eventually produce. Remember: the point of reading other blogs (and so, the point of subscribing to them), is to learn what’s going on in your niche… in a sense, to learn about your competition (though there’s nothing devious about this).

A Tool to Build Internet Presence

After Google Reader, we looked at a vital service that everyone must learn: Twitter. Twitter will be our gateway drug to social media. As silly as Twitter seems when you first learn about it, it forges an enormous number of emotional and business relationships very smoothly. We (unfortunately briefly) looked at how to search within Twitter for tweets about your areas of interest. Then, how to click through to someone’s Twitter stream and “follow” them.

Most people will follow you back if you follow them, but it’s important to understand that there are a lot of “robots” or automated responders that aren’t worth following. So, when someone follows you, I encourage you to review their Twitter profile, read their most recent 20 – 40 tweets, and click through the link that shows at the top of their Twitter page. If they are legitimately interested in the things that matter to you—and not merely a commercial entity—then by all means follow them back. But don’t be in a hurry to get all chatty. I recommend that you lurk for a while and see how conversations develop on Twitter before you insert yourself into them.

The second assignment for participants is to sign up on Twitter, follow me http://www.twitter.com/cityslipper, tweet hello, and find some folks specifically in your area of interest to follow. Make sure you complete your profile on Twitter, and upload an image as your avatar or profile photo. We are all going to become accomplished tweeps, so please get started on Twitter immediately and at least tweet with me. If I can identify you as a member of our group, I can point you to each other as well, so we’ll all be following each other.

More Social Marketing Strategies for Writers

We agreed to continue meeting at Zelda’s on Wednesdays at 12:30. I’m sorry we couldn’t come up with a time to accommodate everyone interested; this meeting time seems to work for the most people. Also: Zelda’s seems very enthusiastic about having us there.

Next Wednesday, the 13th, we’ll start by reviewing each others’ progress with Google Reader, and explore whether people actually find the tool useful. Then we’ll spend a bit more time with Twitter to see how it’s working for you. We’ll learn a few more tricks about finding good tweeps to follow and we’ll explore using Twitter and other tools to identify the key phrases that will be most useful in building your own Internet presence.

The menu item, Web Social Marketing Links, at the top of this page, leads to links that will become useful in the next many weeks. Please don’t rush to follow all the links there; we’ll talk about them as they become important in building our Internet presences.

I’m sad that I haven’t yet received tweets from everyone in the group… so please get cracking! I look forward to next Wednesday’s gathering. Bring your wi-fi-enabled laptops; I’ll bring an extension cord and a power strip!

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