Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

How a Recent Yelp App Update May Impact Your Business

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

Yelp Mobile ReviewsYelp; most local businesses have a love/hate relationship with it.  On one hand it’s a great site for getting your business found and assisting in building up your sites local citations.  On the other hand, one bad review could have a significant impact on the reputation of your business.  Until recently, business owners who were afraid of negative reviews being posted felt some comfort in the fact that reviews could be written via the Yelp mobile app, but not posted.  Oftentimes this would result in a negative review being delayed, or perhaps never posted at all.  But a recent change to the app has removed that roadblock.

Last week Yelp announced an update allowing users to post reviews straight from their mobile device.  Recognizing the evolution of its user base and its dependence on mobile devices, Yelp decided it was time to allow users the ability to write and publish reviews directly from their mobile device.  Previously, users could write a draft of their review from their phone, but would have to wait until they logged in on a desktop computer to publish the review.

Why This Matters To Businesses

While this may seem like a minor change, it has the potential to have a major impact on local businesses and how customers interact with them on Yelp.

A Change In User Behavior

This app update has the opportunity to change the behavior of Yelps user base.  Even Yelp admits most users don’t post reviews, but with this change many users who were turned off by the two step posting process may start using the review feature more.  I know a number of people I have talked to over the years have complained about the two step process and have stated that its the number one reason they don’t post reviews.  With the second step removed, there’s a strong chance those users will begin freely posting reviews.

Fullfilling the Need To Be Heard

If there’s one thing social media has taught us, its that we as a society love to be heard.  We tell you where we are, what we’re eating, what we’re doing, and sometimes we even snap a picture of it.  With the ability to post a review on the fly, your customers now have the opportunity to share with their friends and the public how much they love your business or how much they hate your business during the exact moment they are feeling that emotion the most.  This means that if you’re a doctor’s office and a member of your stuff goes out of their way to make me, as a patient, fee more comfortable or cared for I might post an amazing review about how much I love your practice and your staff.  On the flipside, if your staff is uncaring and treats me like an inconvenience more than a patient chances are I am going to spend that few minutes in the exam room before you come in ripping apart your practice and its miserable batch of employees.

Because this is written and published in the moment, chances are it is going to reflect the extremes I am feeling in that moment.  So if I love you in that moment I am really going to love you, and if I hate you in that moment…well chances are I’ll use a few choice four letter words to describe my experience.

A Need For Quality Service

Unless you’re this moron, chances are you recognize the importance of treating your customers well and providing quality service.  That said, business owners are often so disconnected from the day-to-day of their business they don’t really see what’s going on at the point of contact with their customers.

I personally worked with a client who thought his office staff was exceptional.  It wasn’t until he began recording incoming phone calls that he discovered his staff was often rude and would leave callers on hold for unreasonable amounts of time.  In the end we were able to tie poor phone conversions back to how the staff handled phone calls.

Now more than ever business owners need to be checking the pulse of their business and really understand how their customers are being treated.  While Yelp has been around for years, and people have used it for years, this new feature enables its users to be more in the moment and depending on how they feel about your business that could be good or bad.

I don’t believe that this change will generate a sweeping change in how users navigate reviews on Yelp, but I do believe that for a certain percentage of users this is going to enable them to post a number of reviews they may not have posted prior to the update.  As a business owner, now is the time to make sure you have all your ducks in a line when it comes to managing your reputation and making sure that the quality of service you provide your customers is truly meeting their needs.

Infographics: You’re Doing It Wrong

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

With sites like Piktochart making infographics easier for marketers and businesses to produce, there continues to be a strong interest in infographics for building brand awareness as well as backlinks.  But as infographics continue to be a popular means of content marketing, I see a lot of problems with the direction this type of content is headed and how the content is being promoted.

Infographics for the Sake of Doing Infographics

Many of the infographics I see being produced these days are being created solely for the sake producing them and hopefully reaping some of their benefits in the process.  Unfortunately many of the graphics being produced are unrelated to the businesses producing them.  While this technically could have been added to my five reasons your infographic sucks post, I think it has a place here simply because it shows the direction the practice of creating infographics is headed.  If you’re going to produce an infographic make sure the data or at least some aspect or theme to the graphic ties back to your business.

A while back I came across a fun graphic called TV Living Rooms We Grew Up In, the graphic was a fun look at TV families over the years with some random facts about each of the shows they were a part of.  But at the end of the graphic I was surprised to discover the graphic wasn’t from an entertainment news site or the like, but a custom rug company. Sure, perhaps each of those TV living rooms had rugs, but once I looked at the graphic I had no desire to learn more about the company nor did I remember the brand.

TV Infographic by MyCustomRug

If you’re going to create an infographic, make sure it serves a purpose for your business and can be tied back to data that is important to your business or its customers and will help associate your brand with the data and the product or information it represents.  Ask yourself, if search engines and social networks didn’t exist would I spend time putting together this kind of data for my customer base?

The Rise of Infographic Submissions

There was a time when directory submissions were all the rage in SEO.  You paid anywhere from $10-$100 and some poor webmaster would review your website and then if you were approved your site would be listed within a relevant section of their directory.  Sites like these were a dime a dozen and were the goto for SEO link building in the early days.  Over time most directory links were devalued by Google, the sites that sold them were often penalized, and ultimately SEO’s more or less walked away from directory submissions as a means of getting valuable links for websites.

But while directories may be dead, the business model that surrounded these directories has found a new life in the world of infographics.  I realized it first when I read Paddy Moogan’s post early last year that featured a huge list of infographic sites that accepted both free and paid infographic submissions.  Since then many of the sites that have the most authority surrounding infographics now require a fee to review the graphic before it will be featured on the site or blog.  Sound familiar?

When Google’s Matt Cutts came out last year and said he anticipates infographic links will eventually be devalued, it is these sorts of infographic links that came to mind.  Submitting your infographic to a number of websites for the purpose of links and nothing more is essentially the same practice as the directory link building and in time I anticipate this will lose all of its value, or ultimately hurt you in the form of an unnatural links penalty.

Doing Infographics Right

If you want your infographics to succeed be sure to produce content that offers value to your business and your customer.  Remember infographics represent your brand, put the same effort into your infographics that you would any other piece of marketing or branding material.  Infographics that get the most shares and exposure are informational, provide value to the consumer, are visually appealing and are many times entertaining.

A lot of people feel that infographics are dead, but the slew of infographic pinterest boards, websites, and even a recent project from Google suggest otherwise.  Good infographics are here to stay and if distributed with the correct audience in mind and through the proper channels can be highly beneficial to a business and its SEO.  If you’re stuck creating junk graphics and distributing them to random sites across the net, chances are you’re going to be looking for a different strategy in the next six to 12 months.

Why a New Facebook Feature Means It’s Time To Get Serious About Blog Images and OpenGraph

Monday, June 24th, 2013

New Facebook feature which allows Pages to upload content preview imageOver the last couple of weeks, Facebook has been quietly rolling out a new feature to Facebook Page admins that is going to force content creators to start seriously thinking about their use of imagery and Open Graph protocol on their content.

What It Does

The feature, which I just discovered this past Friday allows Page admins to disregard the images suggested by Facebook for a shared piece of content and instead upload an image of their own.  The feature is useful, especially for folks trying to make their Page content look as presentable as possible even if they are sharing from another source.  Where this will be most handy however is when content creators refuse to use imagery in their content and Facebook shares are left with generic imagery from the website.

Why Images Are Important

Imagery not only helps to visualize your content to viewers, it can also help to break up large blocks of content and make your content easier to read.  We are a generation of skimmers, very few people read web copy these days, instead they skim to digest what they can out of content.  Images can help to break up content and make it easier to skim.

If that wasn’t enough, social media has made us an extremely visual culture.  Sites like Facebook and Google+ are automatically pulling imagery from your website to help make content shared on their sites more appealing, so why not make sure its an image that makes sense with your content as opposed to an ad or some other random image off of your website.

By adding relevant imagery you can not only make the content on your site more engaging, but you increase the probability that users who see your content on social networks will click through and view your content.

Adopting the Open Graph

The Open Graph protocol has been used by Facebook for a few years now.  Like the structured markup that can help local SEO, it is a means of helping machines and systems, in this case Facebook, understand more about your content.  With Open Graph you can tell Facebook specifically what the title of your content is, what description to use when it displays your content, and best of all what image it should use when people share your content on Facebook.

By telling Facebook what title, description, and image to use with your content when it’s shared, the odds of people seeing your content exactly as you want it represented when seen on Facebook is that much greater.  Even if you’re using images in your content, this ensures that Facebook can properly access the imagery and use it alongside your content.

This weekend I tried to share a piece of content from a site that was using images in its content, but for some reason the main image that was most relevant to the post wasn’t suggested as an option from Facebook, instead it was pulling irrelevant imagery found in the sidebar of the page.  Had the site been using Open Graph I wouldn’t have had to upload the picture myself before sharing it on my Page.

Image options for the content before and after

Implementing Open Graph

There are a number of ways to integrate and implement the Open Graph protocol into your content.  If you have to hard code the tags into each piece of content I would highly recommend Neil Patel’s piece on social media meta tags.  On the other hand, if you’re a WordPress user like me, you can simply install WordPress SEO by Yoast.  It not only gives you a ton of great SEO functionality, but has Open Graph protocol features built into it that can help ensure your content is seen properly by Facebook.

TL;DR What You Need To Know

  • Facebook is rolling out a new feature that allows Page admins to upload an image of their choice to represent content they share on their page
  • If you want your content to be properly represented visually on social networks you need to make sure you are using images in your content
  • If you want to make sure Facebook is using the right images for your content implement the Open Graph protocol on your content to help Facebook identify the right image to use for your content when its shared
  • If you don’t take this seriously, Pages can choose imagery for your content that may not align with the message or theme you were hoping to convey

Why Social Can’t Be Your Only Online Strategy

Monday, May 20th, 2013

The other day a longtime friend of mine tweeted, “LIKES are the New Links.”  As an SEO, I cringed a little.  It’s statements like these I see coming from a lot of folks these days, the rise in social media popularity and the use of social media influence in both Google and Bing’s search results have lead many to claim, or even believe that social is all you need.  Thankfully my friend doesn’t come from this school of thought, but her tweet got me thinking a lot about why social media as a sole online strategy falls so short of what a business, big or small, can achieve online.

The Appeal of a Social Only Effort

There is a lot of appeal to social only strategies, especially for small businesses.  Social only strategies tend to:

  • Tailor to smaller budgets
  • Require less effort to gain momentum
  • Require fewer resources
  • Utilize existing social media understanding of staff, or office members

It’s easy to understand why so many businesses are drawn to social media.  They hear all the buzz around social media, they see big corporations using social media in major ad campaigns and it leads them to believe that social is where its at.  And in a lot of ways, they’re right.

Social media is a great way for brands big or small to increase visibility and create engagement among existing customers, but in comparison to SEO, social media has a hard time driving leads and delivering high ROI from a dollars and cents perspective. People use social media to socialize, but they use search to find solutions to their needs.

As a recent Search Engine Watch article pointed out, recent studies from both Adobe and Conductor find that when it comes to online queries, most consumers are still turning to their favorite search engines before their favorite social network.

A graph showing where users go to find information.

Why You Need More Than Just Social Media

You need more than just a social media strategy, just like you need more than just an SEO strategy, or just a paid search strategy.  At the end of the day digital marketing delivers numerous channels for businesses to pull from.  And with anything, its never a good idea to put all of your eggs in one basket.

It Doesn’t Lend Itself to Discovery

Unless you’re running paid advertising on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and the like, chances are you aren’t going to generate a lot of new discoveries for your brand or your business.  SEO is great as a foundational element for building your online presence.  It helps people who aren’t familiar with your brand find you and discover what you or your business has to offer.

SEO Can Strengthen Social Engagement

When you think of the core of SEO you think of on page factors such as Titles, Descriptions, and the like.  Optimizing your website for discovery lends itself nicely to social media in that when people share your content on sites like Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ they won’t just see words like “Home” or “Products” in the title of the links shared from your site.  Instead they will be keyword rich titles and descriptions optimized for encouraging people to click through to your website and describing exactly what it is the page is about.

Social Can Increase SEO Visibility

When you look at the adoption of social results in both Bing and Google, you recognize there is a huge opportunity for businesses not only to use SEO to show up in the search results, but to take it a step further by having relevant content that has also been shared or liked by social media users who influence the person searching.

Search and Social Are Stronger Together

There’s no question that social media has become valuable tool, but as it grows in popularity and is analyzed by the search engines and how they rank content it will only increase in its value.  However the value will only be there if you have a strong foundation within your website to fuel it.  Without the proper SEO foundations in place, there is no way to guarantee your content is going to show up in front of the right audience.

I would never recommend a solely social strategy to a client, just as I would never recommend a SEO only strategy to a client.  Fueling your business from a single channel is dangerous no matter what that channel is.  If Facebook, Twitter, or any of the other social channels you’re using shut down tomorrow where would you earn your business online?

Twitter Hacked: Password Resets Being Sent To Impacted Users

Friday, February 1st, 2013

Oh, Fail Whale, How I've Missed Thee by Jeff HesterJust a short time ago Twitter posted about a security threat that may have given hackers access to over 250,000 users.  The attack, which follows a string of recent attacks on U.S. websites such as The New York Times  and Wall Street Journal, have forced the social media giant to take action to protect its users.

This week, we detected unusual access patterns that led to us identifying unauthorized access attempts to Twitter user data. We discovered one live attack and were able to shut it down in process moments later. However, our investigation has thus far indicated that the attackers may have had access to limited user information – usernames, email addresses, session tokens and encrypted/saltedversions of passwords – for approximately 250,000 users.

As a precautionary security measure, we have reset passwords and revoked session tokens for these accounts. If your account was one of them, you will have recently received (or will shortly) an email from us at the address associated with your Twitter account notifying you that you will need to create a new password. Your old password will not work when you try to log in to Twitter.

Twitter believes the attack was carried out by very savvy individuals and does not believe it to be an isolated incident.  While the company has not completed its investigation it announced the attack because of its severity and the belief that other websites may also be impacted.

If you were impacted Twitter suggests creating a strong password that isn’t utilized across multiple accounts.  The password should be at least 10 characters, with a mixture of upper- and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.

The story is still developing, but users should be on the look out for the mentioned emails and as a safety precaution update their passwords.