Content Matters

Your website is your organization’s greatest communication platform. Competition can copy everything you have, but it cannot copy who you are. Let your ‘brand’ shine! Connect to customers, potential members, etc., online with content that focuses on their needs, provides them with information, and communicates the benefits your products and services provide.

Fresh content personalizes your online presence and gives people something interesting to learn about your business, organization or about themselves.  Whether you write a blog post, article, Facebook post or website page, you want your business to be seen as a vital resource. The right content inspires action and pulls people into your message.  Publish content that people want to read, link, subscribe to and share. Use content marketing to generate a following that continually expands.

 

Deliver valuable information that people will talk about and share with others. Here are some very compelling reasons why your content matters as much as the design of a website:

 

  • Positions You as an Expert. Giving your customers the resources to believe in you is the new way to market. If you have good content, other sites might link to your content, increasing traffic to your site and potentially boosting your search rankings. Reliable and up-to-date content will increase your credibility, engage with your audience, and raise the likelihood that visitors will become customers.
Great content, blogs and articles can also serve as (free!) PR for your business, making you an informative and quotable resource to the press.
  • Connects to Customers:  90% of all corporate websites talk about how great the company or product is, but forgets about the customer. The right content attracts customers and retains their attention. Incorporate a ‘News’ section, and make sure it is updated often. Your news page shows visitors that you are proud of your achievements, and that you’re always striving to grow and develop.

Regularly updating or modifying your website’s content gives you an edge over the competition. People will keep returning to your site if they notice something new to see, learn from or enjoy each time.

 

  • Utilizes your entire web presence. Fact: Only 25% of people land on a site via its homepage. The rest are guided into various pages of the site, depending on the keyword phrases they use in the search engines.  Delivering high-quality content on every page increases your chance of capturing a potential client or customer. Each page of content (with proper meta-tags, title, optimization, and submission) is indexed by the search engines, which increases your keyword coverage.

 

  • Increases Sales: Unfortunately, 76% of online shoppers surveyed report that content is insufficient to complete research or purchase online always, most often or some of the time.? (from eTailing Group; click here to view press release in its entirety.)

Avoid Failure to Launch – 7 tips to successfully introduce your new website to the world!

Months of careful planning, objective setting , design review, content building, and preparation have all come down to this moment’s time to go live and unveil your amazing new website to the world! Of course, as part of your launch strategy, you may be considering an electronic message blast to your core constituency, to get the word out, and build enthusiasm (= get traffic in the door), for the new site and your business. You know, tell them about the whys, whats and goals for providing them with another must visit place on the web.  Sounds simple enough, right? Not so fast.

In your zeal to introduce your website, you may inadvertently shoot yourself in the foot right from the get go. How? Not focusing or narrowing the initial communication to your users/constituents, sharing too much information too soon, or by treating the launch itself as a “trial run”, just to name a few.  Here are 7 tips to help avoid “failure to launch”:

Tip 1: Don’t treat the launch as a beta test. Go forth with gusto!  

Like the saying goes, “there’s no time like the present”, and all those months of planning and prep have led to the present.  Seize it, announce your website with confidence, and avoid the temptation to put it out there on a “trial” basis. For example, in your launch announcement, refrain from

  1. language that implies (or, says so directly), that the new site is not yet ready for prime time, and
  2. including a survey at the end of the message, to gather comments and suggestions.  

Instead, don’t set expectations amongst your users and visitors that the site is in a “test” phase; let them cozy up to the new site, (and, e-newsletter if applicable), before hitting them up for feedback.  Launch it, and let it catch on. (More on this in Tip 6.)

Tip 2: Don’t tell the full story right out of the gate.

Give them a reason to keep coming back. You may have a mountain of information you’d like to share, but the announcement message is not the place to do so. For example, if you have several initiatives and projects in the pieline at the time of launch, resist the urge to include a detailed description of each. (We know you’re excited, but…) Instead, include a brief blurb or teaser about one  or two of them, and then link to the related page or post on your website.  Then, be sure to consistently update your content with all the exciting happenings and progress being made on those initiatives, to keep interest growing.  This is of particular importance,  if you will be incorporating a regularly scheduled e-newsletter into your communication strategy, as well as hooks into social media outlets, such as your Facebook page.

Tip 3: Have content ready to publish for at least a month

This ties into Tip 2 re: not telling the whole story on the first day. Keep in mind that the early stages of a new website are filled with many tasks, including generating fresh content. One timesaving deed you can do for yourself is to have content ready to publish, so that you can follow up your launch with great content. Consider drafting a publishing schedule, so you can visualize what you have in the pipeline, as a means of staying ahead of the game. This also frees you up for the many other activities involved in this stage of your website’s growth.

Tip 4: Drop hints about the upcoming launch to build anticipation

An “under construction” message on your current website is a great way to accomplish this. It lets people know that  something new is coming soon, and helps to bolster the launch announcement. This type of subtle hinting can pique the interests of your long-time supporters and constituents. And, those are the people that count the most when your website launches.  If you don’t have an existing website to post an “under construction” message on, get the word out the old-fashioned way…talk about it every chance you get!

Tip 5: Show site visitors a roadmap of what’s to come

This ties into Tip 1 re: treating the launch as a test. No one gets a new site right on the first day. Unless you release your website, anything you think your users will want and need is just a guess. The people who will best help you figure out what works for your users are your users. Including information and posts on your website about your plans for improvements to the site, what’s already in the works, etc., is an excellent way to entice your visitors to make suggestions, and share their preferences with you.  

Tip 6: Solicit feedback down the road

Once your new site has been up and running for awhile, (perhaps a month or two), survey your constituents, (i.e., the folks you sent the initial announcement to + any new subscribers to your mailing list since the site launched), to find out what they like, what they don’t like, what they’d like to see, suggestions for improvements, etc. There are a number of online survey tools you can use to easily and quickly create a survey for no or low cost, such as SurveyMonkey or SurveyGizmo.  you can then embed the survey on your website, send as a link in your e-newsletter, or send as a separate e-communication.  Of course, it goes without saying (but, I’ll say it anyway), if you take the time to draft and send a survey, take the time to read the responses and “listen” to your users. Let them help you create the best web presence for your company or organization!

Tip 7: Provide easy ways to contact you

When you first launch a site, you have to give visitors ways to communicate with you easily. Your initial visitors are early adopters, and as such, they’ll be critical and will help you find things that might be wrong with the site. Make sure you include an e-mail address folks can send comments/questions to in your initial launch announcement, and, of course, include a “Contact Us” page on the website itself.  

Featured Image: Photo by Bill Jelen on Unsplash

Facebook Open Graph & Facebook Timeline

Ever since #f8 the Facebook Developer conference, Mark Zuckerberg used to announce major changes to the Facebook OpenGraph and the Facebook Timeline. I followed the event and also collected a few stories especially on Facebook Privacy on a new curation tool called Scoop.it. 

 

Traveling down the Facebook Timeline
A couple of weeks ago, AAUW CA Online Branch Program director, Sandy Kirkpatrick, and we discussed a few scenarios and disected who will see what posting, comment or tag, for the various privacy settings in your account. As a part of the program, I was also asked if I could explain Facebook Timeline and how it will change how our profile appears for our friends. To answer that question, I took a deep dive in my own Facebook Timeline and published my experience on the non-profit technical support site of the Naples Free-Net. You can read all about it here:

Traveling Down The Facebook Timeline

Google Plus (+): Why You should bother?

What’s that you say?

Yet ANOTHER social network? But I can’t keep track now, with all the Facebooking, Tweeting, Linking In; not to mention my full-time production studio for YouTube videos and podcasts…and, wait…what? A Google social network?

Whoa…we might be on to something here!

The new kid? on the social media block is, of course, Google Plus (Google+…or, GooPlus, if you prefer) and with it come the same questions asked by million of social media users the world over: will my friends follow me to the new network? How will I find new friends? How will I get noticed (Social media is, after all, all about me.?)

With social media, it’s always the chicken and scrambled egg problem: I won’t join a new network when my friends are not there, but my friends won’t come when I am not there.’

Google+ has the same problem. Only a few die hard geeks and close friends are there! And none of my other friends will leave Facebook, because that’s where their friends are.

Put all that aside because there is good news. Google+ can be beneficial even if your friends are not there yet. Hello? Google.

Among other important aspects of social interaction on the InnerTubes, Google+ can boost your visibility with the additional links back to your website. Your posts are part of the public Internet. You can build your network slowly and deliberately.

I recently was invited to answer questions about Google+ at a monthly meeting of the Entrepreneur Society of Naples (Florida). Here is a summary of what we discussed in the meeting. It was only a 15 minute talk, and the slides are available below this article.

So why bother?

Google is the fastest growing Social network right now.

Google+ has reached an estimated 50 million users within the first 90 days, a milestone that took Twitter 3 years and Facebook over 3.5 years. LinkedIn reached those user numbers only after 2354 days, about 6.5 years.

Google is ubiquitous

Google has the advantage that a lot of people use a lot of their free services around the net,

  • Gmail,
  • Calendar
  • Document
  • Photos
  • Google Analytics, and more.
    “‘With the overall available toolbar, as entrance into the social network, a user doesn’t have to switch screens or browser tabs to look at Google+ notifications and review comments on posts.

However, some enterprise level services, like GoogleApps for Business are not yet intergrated, to the dismay of a growing number of business who feel left out, taking advantage of the new network. It’s only a matter of time when companies are able to create brand accounts and use it within their GoogleApps environment, or so we hear.

Google is Search

We do Google. Right, who are we kidding?

Comscore & Highwire, market analysts, put Google market share on Search at 65%, Bing at 15% and Yahoo at 14%.

Nearly all purchasing decisions – a staggering 92% – start with an online search. There is a whole black hat industry out there doing nothing but Search Engine Optimization. And Google employs about 100 people in the Spam fighting department. Social Network add a very important component to the quality of a search.

Fig 1.Conventional Search: Keywords: Immokalee Business.

 

Google Search Result Pages

 

Once I am logged into my Google Account, the search results page changes for me. Now Google becomes Superman and gives me more power through increased relevance with the selection of search results. Now Avatars of my friends/followers from other social network show up next to various links, signaling that a person I know has shared a particular link. It also adds those links, that I have plussed One before, and marked it as standing out . My search resulted in a much more focused and richer collection of links.

 

Fig 2. Google Social Search: Keywords: Immokalee Business

Google Social Search Results Pages

Google adds what’s called social signals. It has it from Twitter, from Google+, not yet from Facebook as most sharing is done behind the Facebook login wall. And for Facebook, having access to the data is a business model so they are careful making it public. The Google crawlers are not yet going to Facebook.

ComScore calls this “Blended Search and the New Rules of Engagementâ€? and writes: …Page 1, Position 1 is no longer the gold standard for successful SEO strategies.

The syngergies between search index and social networking are very powerful. Even if you are not able to create brand profiles yet, you can still use Google+ to create additional links back to your website, but sharing publically on your profile, by using the +1 button on other business website or on your own website.

+1 is for Google, what I Like? is for Facebook. In contrast to Facebook, however the +1 for a site is another signal for the Google Search Index, and with the Internet User now being able to recommend pages but clicking +1 they also are part of a giant crowdsourcing experiment for Google. Any +1 done by an Internet user is a very, very strong human relevance signal and will benefit the particular page on your website.

Slides: Presentation Entrepreneur Society of Naples – October Meeting

http://www.slideshare.net/bph/google-why-bother

SBDC Social Media Bootcamp Open for Registration

Social Media Bootcamp: How to use Social Media to Increase Traffic to your Website?

Presented & Hosted by Small Business Development Center & Relevanza, Inc

Register here
 Saturdays March 3rd, 10th and 17th – 9am-12 (noon)

Florida Gulf Coast University, Lutgert Hall, Room 1203

Social Media Bootcamp

It’s time to go social!  Are you taking advantage of Social Media?  Is your website ready for Social Media? Will it help you reach and grow your audience? The power of Social Media allows users the opportunity to create/communicate with an online community to work for you, to increase traffic to your site. Although each social network has it’s own ways to display information and rules to engage with your audience, once you are past the mechanics and past setting up the space,you will be able to streamline publishing and interact with your followers.

This three-part course will teach you how to set-up your profiles to maximize search engine visibility and connect the profiles to your website. After this course, you will know how to make your website ready for the 21st century and increase search engine ranking. You will also learn how to publish and broadcast to the networks and how to listen to the influencers in your field and grow your network and interaction with the audience.  A large part of the course will be hands-on and discussing case studies for various industries of successful ongoing blend of social networks with lead generation. The networks covered will be: Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.

When: Fridays –  Jan 13 + 20+ 27, 2012 (Time: 3pm to 6pm)

Where: FGCU Renaissance Academy, Naples

Register here