Two changes to LinkedIn this week

Two changes to LinkedIn, one is an important change that all social media practitioners should be aware of and the second is something I’ve been trying to accomplish for a good time and eventually found a post on how to do it.

Twitter updates
This is the major change which will affect the way many people make synchronised changes through one post. LinkedIn announced that updates to twitter will no longer automatically populate through to your LinkedIn status.

This will mean more work for some, unless you adopt the use of tools such as Hootsuite which enable the post to be sent across to Twitter and LinkedIn at the same time.

In relation to LinkedIn they will still allow you to send your status updates out to the Twitter network, so it’s not all bad.

Experience and Positions
For a long time I’ve had a number of roles in my experience section. it has always been an issue that my associate roles appear above my own company role. it wasn’t till this evening I worked out how to change the order. At the end of the day, it’s fairly starlight forward and makes a profile look more realistic.

To make this change, edit your profile and navigate to the experience section. When you place your mouse over one of your entered experience sections it will turn blue showing it as selected. Just click the mouse and drag to the position you wish that particular job role to appear in the list.

Refresh the page and you’ll see the order change at the top of the screen.

Simple and easy when you know how.

Search Visibility for your Website, Blogs and Social Media

Over the past few weeks I’ve won a couple of contracts to deliver a mixture of ecommerce websites and brochure based sites. It’s interesting the levels of success being gained already on the search engines with very little actually focus on search engine marketing .

Over the past 10 years I’ve had the privilege of delivering lectures around social media and search engines with a view to encouraging best practice for website development projects.

Often it’s the client that then goes away and puts the search engine marketing theory into practice and every now and then you get some feedback on success. Most recently a couple of clients have shown major improvements in their sites search position through applying only the basic search engine marketing techniques such as focused page titles and content modifications.  Now that I’m responsible for the full deliver side it’s great to see the theory and practice working together.

Daisy Bank Caravan Park was launched before Christmas and already a marked increase in visitor engagement and sales has been achieved. This revenue generated has already paid for the site development.  They are now seeing better results in search and the next stage is to tweak the pages to improve the search position.

Noiseboys a professional audio website selling quality pa and sound gear has already seen after around 4 weeks very good search position. This week the results of using the Google Merchant Centre is now showing, with increased visibility in search results for purely sending Google a set of product listings.  These activities are all part of the ongoing marketing strategy.

Tranquil Touring Parks are due to release a blog this week enabling them to react faster and also increase search position.  This is part of an on-going redevelopment project of the whole online marketing activity to reduce re-work and duplication of activities.

All these projects and more show the need to create good content and page titles in order to see real tangible results in search position and search engine marketing.

Digital Marketing and a lot more – Free Workshops

Spent this evening finalising a workshop for deliver at the University of Warwick.  The National B2B Centre have won a contract to deliver a number of workshops on a range of subjects and Gareth Edwards and myself are due to deliver the first workshop tomorrow.  We’re hopning for an interactive session that will enable the attendees to go away with their questions answered.  The course will be running again in November and you can book for free at the following website.

What will we be talking about?  In effect everything to do with on-line marketing such as:

  • Planning your on-line activities
  • Search Engine Optimisation and topics such as keyword research, canonicalisation, cannibalisation and latent semantic indexing…..
  • Social Media, how to use to grow your business
  • PPC and on-line advertising, the basics to maximize conversions and reduce expenditure
  • Measurement of all areas to understand where best to spend your money

It’s a lot for one day and the aim is that you take away the basics and then come back for more through one of the more in-depth sessions arranged by the B2B Centre.  To see a list of B2B Courses follow this link to the website.

Get a real name for you facebook business page

Getting meaningful name for your Facebook page always meant you needed to get 25 likes before you could request one. Not any more – get it today.

Facebook have lifted the restriction meaning regardless of the number of LIKEs you can request and activate instantly. Well it worked for me and one of my clients yesterday.

Why should you get a nice URL on Facebook. To the end user you’ll be able to have something a lot easy to tell people instead of the current page URLs with number contained. To get your URL navigate to the following page whilst logged in and follow the instructions.

www.facebook.com/username

You can select from one of the suggestions or choose your own. The system will tell you if it’s available when you carryout the check. Make sure you’re sure when you accept as you can’t transfer or take go back once chosen.

When choosing the name you can make use of ‘.’ but not ‘_’ or ‘-‘. I nearly went for www.Facebook.com/James.pennington but in the end I went actually registered www.facebook.com/advice4theweb.

Getting to grips with social media…..

How do you track and manage your social media – Gareth Edwards gave a talk at the NB2BC networking event tonight that overviewed how some of the B2B clients have addressed and looked at the world of Social Media. He pulled out a few trends, the main one being in the area of Making Social Media channels work better for the business, instead of just using it.

The picture was painted that we live in the world of the digital age, it’s part of what we done, it’s actually an expected place to be. There’s nothing new which should really be scaring us. We’re living in The Post Digital Age?

In order to make effective use of the social media channel we’re seeing that clients with a defined marketing plan actually achieve more in the long term. The activities are managed and tracked and there’s a clear crossover between online and offline but in reality this is seamless and organisations move easily between the two mediums.

Two important aspects is understanding the customer and knowing your strengths as a business. Who do you work with, this can actually assist with gaining brand recognition and trust factors within your market segment.

If your looking to expand in the area of social media remember that time is money. The access to the tools may be free but your time costs and should be factored in when realising the costs and return on investment achieved through these activities.

Information should be scheduled to build regular patterns and this will aid with management of the social channels. Look at tools that assist with scheduling tweets and posts to ease the pressure of using the various channels.

Look at repurposing your content for specific networks aiming it at different audiences. This allows content to be reused over a long period of time. Retweeting similar messages a week after the original post with a slightly different message aids with people reading and clicking. Typically this acts as reminder within someone’s twitter feed.

Make sure that your tracking all this activity through to Analytics to better measure.

How big is social media.

Did you know that Facebook has more users than the number of people living in the USA?

The above statement is mind-blowing when you think about it. Facebook is an enormous website touching many countries and peoples lives, but my natural instinct would be that the population of the USA would have been larger.

Social media has become an enormous tool, both for business and personal use. It has grown rapidly over the last few years and is continuing to grow at an extremely fast pace. Facebook is by far one of the most used social tools I engage with, and then twitter followed by Linkedin. From a business perspective the list would be ordered the opposite way, as the tools fulfil a different purpose when used to promote business activities.

On Friday I delivered a seminar on online marketing to business start-ups at the University Of Warwick Business School and during the workshop there were a number of questions around social media and how as a small business they could look to exploit in an ethical manner the power of the social channel.

Regarding ethical channels and Social Media the main discussion focused on engagement and not selling. In relation to selling through the channel, remember that in the social arena a user chooses to either follow, befriend or Like you or your business page. If you try and sell via the social media channel the quickest measure of it’s effect will be people choosing to remove you as friends, connections or followers.

When using social media for your business remember, the key to success is to engage your market in a way that develops trust and provide useful advice and information. Don’t attempt to sell, as you grow the relationship your connections will begin to value your advice and the selling will come from the development of trust and relationship.

Measuring Social Media Engagement in Analytics

With the rise in businesses starting to venture into the realms of social media how can you actually start measuring the benefits of all the posts and information being put to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIN.  The rise of the  ‘Add This’ button and Facebook Likes needs to be tracked effectively.

These tools are growing in usage and the inclusion of social sharing tools to products and pages within websites are becoming key traffic generates due to the spread of information across a clients social network.

Typically tagging the links placed on the various networks using the Google URL builder assisted with tracking but can be a bit of a pain going and running every URL through the tool. This however only dealt with traffic coming into the website from other sources, what about when the content is shared from your website.

To ease the pain Google have introduced a Social Engagement section within Analytics, which should if used correctly show where your site has been +1’d or Facebook Liked or shared to Twitter.

Following various links, I found the page on the AddThis website detailing how to get this working for those of use who make use of there very good Social Media Widget.  It all seems farily straight forward and hopefully in the necxt 24 hours I’ll start seeing the date being tracked.  A small insertion of code into the page and away you go.  The only downside to the article is the lack of exactly where to put the code.  I went for the bottem of the header section and only time will tell if I’ve done it correctly.

The code is fairly straightforward – just  a few lines…..

<script type="text/javascript">
     var addthis_config = {
        /* your GA property ID goes here: */
        data_ga_property: 'UA-123456-1',
        /* set to true to enable social tracking
        data_ga_social : true
     };
</script>

If you don’t use the ‘AddThis’ tools then you can create your own links using the event method within your website for tracking through to Analytics, the support documents can be found here.

Focusing on traffic or Focusing on Conversion

Is it better to focus on number of visitors or quality of visitors? Is the ultimate aim of a website converting visitors into customers?

Is there a right or wrong answer to both questions?

In reality we look at building websites that engage and encourage the user to either carryout a conversion act or engage with the website. Are we building lasting relationships that look at engagements further down the road.

The starting point with any website should be the developement of objectives from a business perspective. Ask yourself the question;

What should the website be doing in order to support the key business objectives?

Then try;

Does my website support and enhance my business objectives?

Very often a website is seen as a completely new part of the marketing activities which is often seen as a specialist area that the technical people are responsible for, resulting in a business spending money and not really understanding what part it plays within the marketing activities.

A website is just an extension of the marketing activities and should been seen as another channel to market. It should be measured and changes to how it works modified to ensure it supports the various aspects of the business it has been developed to highlight and complement.

In real terms most websites focus on nothing because the fundamental objectives have not been developed and put in place which results in a poor website meeting no key objectives. The content is typically weak and unfocused resulting in low traffic volumes, low visibility in search and ultimately no engagement and definitely no conversions.

If your website get neither traffic or conversions then take a backward step and take a long look at what it says about your business. Is it reflecting your services and value add? Does it tell your customers why your good at what you do?

If your unsure, contact me today and we can look at how you can make sensible changes to the website starting with the basis for developing a website and promoting your company online.

Creating a Facebook FanGate.. Step by Step Guide

I’ve recently started using Facebook Company Pages with a number of clients, not wanting to be beat by technology I’ve tried to create a FanGate page to assist with gaining ‘LIKES’.  This step by step guide may not be correct but it worked for me.  Please feel free to add comments if you’ve managed to do it another way.

1.     Setup Directory on your web server

The Facebook app needs to load files into the Facebook page.  These files are stored on a directory accessible to Facebook.

In my instance I created a sub-domain to host the files and pointed it to a directory within my hosting account.

http://facebook.domainname.co.uk

Please note that this sub-domain will need to have a SSL certificate in order to complete the process of registering the Facebook app.

 

2.     Create files and upload to the server

Each app you build will require its own directory on the server, as the Facebook app is pointed to a directory on the web server.

A suggested file structure could be as follows for multiple apps.

/ Directory

App_1/

App_2/

 

3.     Creating a ‘LIKE Page’ – Welcome Page

3.1.    Download the Facebook API code

Facebook provide all the relevant code for talking to the Facebook interface.  The code can be downloaded in a number of formats ensuring it works with your server environment.  The download page is located at:

http://developers.facebook.com/docs/sdks/

Facebook doesn’t provide an SDK for the .net platform but a number of sites have worked on this and examples can be found through Google.  A link to a resource that may be useful is;

http://geekdeck.com/how-to-access-facebook-api-from-net/

 

3.2.    Query if user has liked the page

The following code works with the PHP code.

 

require ‘src/facebook.php’;

// Create our Application instance (replace this with your APPID and secret).

$facebook = new Facebook(array(

‘appId’  => ‘<FROM FACEBOOK APP PAGE>’,

‘secret’ => ‘<FROM FACEBOOK APP PAGE>’,

‘cookie’ => true

));

$signed_request = $facebook->getSignedRequest();

$page_id = $signed_request[“page”][“id”];

$page_admin = $signed_request[“page”][“admin”];

$like_status = $signed_request[“page”][“liked”];

$country = $signed_request[“user”][“country”];

$locale = $signed_request[“user”][“locale”];

$user = $facebook->getUser();

 

The remainder of the page builds a ‘like page’ if the $like_status value is true.

This page can be styled using CSS and Text to convey messages to the visiting user, as it is located not on Facebook.

By using additional code you can provide offers to the user when they click to like the site.

 

3.3.    Extending the Page to include user name.

The following routine pulls out the users Facebook name and displays to the page as the variable $name.

There are a number of additional tags that can be access from the $user variable.

if ($user) {

try {

// Proceed knowing you have a logged in user who’s authenticated.

$user_profile = $facebook->api(‘/me’);

$name = $user_profile[first_name];

} catch (FacebookApiException $e) {

error_log($e);

$user = null;

}

}

 

3.4.    Developing additional Pages

Once you have connected to Facebook successfully code could be developed to carry out the following functions:

  • Collect username and email address for newsletter registrations
  • Pull out specific items from an already existing shopping cart system
  • Show specially created product pages
  • Promote a competition

The list is endless and identifying opportunities is reliant on the imagination of the user.  The key points are to ensure that the resulting pages meet the business objectives.

 

3.5.    Key Point when creating pages

The page you’re pulling into the Facebook Page is located on your web server.  When using any form posts or parameter driven pages make sure that the code is created in a correct manner to prevent malicious use through Cross Site Scripting techniques.

 

4.     Building on Facebook

4.1.    Navigate the Apps section of Facebook

Facebook apps can be located at the following URL:

https://developers.facebook.com/apps

Carryout the Following Steps

  • Click –  ‘CREATE A NEW APP’ top right of the screen
  • Name your APP – company_welcome
  • Agree to Facebook Terms (tick the checkbox)
  • Click – ‘CONTINUE’ button
  • Select – PAGE TAB – from ‘How your APP Integrates with Facebook’
  • Fill in the relevant boxes
    • Page Tab Name – How it’s labelled on Facebook Page
    • Page Tab URL – The base url for loading content – http://facebook.domainname.co.uk/app_1
    • Secure URL – above url reflecting the https:// prefix
    • Page Tab Edit URL – if you enable Admins to edit the app features
    • SAVE Changes

 

4.2.    AppID and Secret Code

The screen that appears has the APPID and secret code – you will need to insert these into the page loaded to your web server as this allows the page to talk to Facebook and be loaded.

 

4.3.    Add an icon to the APP page

Next to the AppID and secret codes you will see a small link labelled ‘edit icon’.

This will enable you to upload an icon for the App Page and also it will show when in the Facebook Page menu.

It can take while to show in the page as it needs to propagate across the internet.

 

4.4.    Add to your Facebook Page

In the left hand menu of the App Page you will see a ‘Related Links’ menu.  Access the ‘View App Profile Page’ link.

This will open the App Profile Page

At the bottom of the left hand navigational menu – access the link – ‘Add to my Page’

You should be presented with an on-screen dialog asking which page to add the app to.

Select your Facebook Page (USE THE ADD TO PAGE button – don’t click the Page Name on the left hand side)

 

4.5.    Return to your Facebook Page and the App should now be appearing in the Left Hand Menu

 

Social Media and it’s role in the small business

Todays post looks at the role of Social Media within the small and medium sized business. I had the pleasure of working with a number of MSc students over the last year and a number of them have taken various aspects of social media as their research topics.

The project looked at the risk of social media and not listening to the market. Social media is there and growing and companies need to understand that not listening is the biggest mistake they can make. This actually raise a fee issues, probably along due to the fact that the risk to a small business is not listening but not taking action.

In reality listening without action is as bad as not listening at all. Both routes mean the business does nothing about bad customer service and reputation. This will ultimately give rise to a negative impression within the market place and a reduction in sales and business.

If you’re looking at Social Media within your business it’s essential that you identify the correct channels and make sure your listening to your customers. Once you’ve started picking up customer messages it’s at that point you can begin to engage, both with the positive messages as well as the negative ones.

Always ensure that your handling the interactions correctly and not in a defensive and attacking manner. This will have a worse effect than not listening and ignoring.