Digital Marketing

You’ve Got 6 Seconds… Vine video sharing

In January 2013 Twitter rolled out Vine  a very cool new mobile video app that is brings a new dimension to social media video.  When YouTube launched in 2005 it provided a way to easily share short videos online. Since then it has exploded to over 800 million unique users visits each month and over 4 billion hours of YouTube video are watched each month.  With all of YouTube’s popularity just 25% of views are via mobile devices, this is where Vine comes in.   Vine is specifically developed for mobile and social media, but wait, there’s more (or actually less), the videos are only 6 seconds long and run in a continuous loop like animated GIFs.  6 seconds, really, what can you show in 6 seconds?  It turns out a lot can be conveyed in a 6 second clip.  Vine video clips are perfect for sharing short clips from your phone, much like a tweet, and remember, no one believed anything meaningful could be said in 140 characters or less and look where that went! Vine’s introductory blog post explains their vision along with an example of a Vine post.  Vine is still embryonic and right now only available on iOS devices, iPhones and iPads, and sharing is limited to Twitter and Facebook.  Obviously this will change and Twitter has indicated that work is underway to make Vine available on other mobile devices as well as other social networks.    How Businesses are Using Vine Vine is brand new and new to brands, but a few have already started experimenting with it.  Hubspot wrote a great blog about Vine with 15 examples of how businesses are using Vine and a story by Mashable illustrates how Vine was used at London Fashion Week to post video right from the show, capturing the event live and unedited.  The Hubspot examples range from Gumby style animation clips to video collages and straightforward product promotions.  What is interesting is the variety of styles used and how much really can be conveyed in a 6 second clip with no audio.   Ideas for Using Vine The nature of this platform is very social and the short format lends itself to sharing.  A social network for sharing videos (sound familiar) can be a great marketing media channel, but, as with YouTube, not every video is going to go viral and in fact very few will.  I think the 6 second limit will actually be a benefit.  As with the 140 character limit on Tweets, the 6 second limit forces the clips to hit the ground running, be succinct, and most importantly entertaining and interesting, all in 6 seconds!     Here’s some ideas for using Vine Video collage style clips of customers using products or services – but it better be fun and interesting Animation style clips of new products product demo in 6 seconds funny clips or outtakes from your office trade show and event clips News releases and PR; while this is an obvious choice and temptation, traditional news releases and PR will likely flop here.  For more information check Vine FAQs  

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SEO Scams: Promising Page One Results and Fake Page One Results

A common SEO scam sales pitch is “we will get you on Page One of Google!”.  I used to say that any firm “promising” page one results was clearly a scam or at best a charlatan, but recently I ran across some instances where they were telling the truth, well sort of.  I have seen several large SEO companies promising and delivering what I consider fake, or at best useless, Google page one results to naive clients.  Here’s how they do it… Figures Don’t Lie but Liars Can Figure! During the sales pitch they promise X keywords on page one of Google within an amazing time frame, maybe 30 to 60 days, even 24 hours!  Impressed by their confidence and “promise” you sign up, I mean hey, page one of Google, who would say no to that!  30 days goes by, you get your report, and behold, you have X keywords on Google!  Did you get what you paid for and are these results of any value?  In short, NO. Here’s the trick… The keywords they delivered, at least every instance I have seen, always include your company name (will duh, that was an easy mark) and other words that are very specific to your business.  One might think well that’s great, but wait a minute, does anyone search for these words?  The answer is generally no.  These keywords have pretty much zero competition and zero search volume.  Frankly you probably would have ranked for these words without any off-site SEO (in fact I wonder if they even do any real SEO).  Here’s the SEO Snake Oil; while it is technically true that you do rank on page one for those keywords, nobody ever searches for them! Many clients don’t catch on to this and proudly look at their report showing their page one results, but then several months later they get irritated that they aren’t getting any inquiries.  So they fire that SEO company and hire another one that is promising page one results and the process starts over again.  Eventually they become disillusioned with SEO and convinced that all SEO is a scam.  Sadly firms like this are poisoning the well and giving the entire industry a terrible reputation resulting in a common opinion that no SEO company can be trusted. How to Spot an SEO Scam and SEO Snake Oil Here’s a short list of how to spot a SEO scam: Promises of “Google Page One Results”: in every instance I have seen this is either an outright lie or at best the page one results are useless.  If this is the opening pitch stop right there. Fast Results:  It takes time to rank for any keywords that are meaningful and have any significant search volume and competition.  If they promise results in 30 to 60 days, or may favorite 24 or 48 hours! this is snake oil.  Again the results will either be useless or fake. Lame Keywords: if the targeted keywords are yourbrandname and city or yourbrandname and location or the specific products you make or other words that are unique to you this is a redflag.  Of course it is important to do SEO for your brand and products, but this should not be the full extent of the campaign and ranking on page one for your company name certainly is not a big deal or a claim of SEO success.  You can check keyword search volume and see suggested keywords with the Google Keyword Tool.  It is easy to use, free, and a great way to verify if the targeted keywords are of any value or significance. Results on a Spreadsheet or Word Doc:  If your monthly report from the SEO firm is on a spreadsheet clearly created manually this is an immediate and huge red flag.  You should only trust results from Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools and a reliable SERP (Search Engine Rank Position) program. Really Cheap SEO: as the old adage says, “if it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t”, or the other one, “good work ain’t cheap and cheap work ain’t good”.  SEO firms promising “page one results” for a few hundred dollars are clearly charlatans selling SEO snake oil. Silver Bullets:  if they offer a couple of quick fixes for your website like your title is too long or your title is not right, your  H1 headers need to be fixed, or your meta keywords need work and go on to say that this will fix everything this is Snake Oil.  There are no silver bullets that will fix all of your SEO problems with a single shot or two.  SEO is doing a lot of little things right and it is a lot of work to do it right.   SEO Spam emails: I love these because they are such obvious SPAM and BS, but wait… someone must be buying this because they still send them and I get them all the time!  The email will start with I reviewed your site and it only has 68 backlinks… I reviewed your website and it has very low traffic actually any claim in the email that they have “reviewed” your website, even with some fake metrics/stats – they use the same figures for every email. the email has a gmail or yahoo address – enough said… No SEO company website or name shown in the email and finally one of my favorites, the email is from Steve, or Kate, or whoever, and you call the US phone number, the person that answers the phone is clearly not from or even in the US and they either claim they are Steve or say that Steve isn’t here right now and they can help you.  Go ahead, call, press them for details about the review of your website, it is hilarious, I’ve done it a couple of times! We’ve cracked the Google Algorithm or we have an inside man at Google… – enough said, this is an obvious scam. Search Engine Submissions: We will submit your website to hundreds or thousands of search engines!  Today there is really only Google and Bing and while each has country specific search engines they use the same  algorithm.  Long ago it was a practice with marginal benefits to “submit” websites  to search engines, today it is a waste of time and unnecessary as the search engines continuously crawl the entire web and will crawl your site in time.  In fact, most of these charlatans use automated software to submit your website and guess what, Google and Bing and can spot this (yes they are fairly smart) and will ignore spam submissions.   You can speed up the crawl rate through Google Webmaster tools which is the proper way to do it. X Directory Submissions or hundreds of Directory Submissions:  a few years ago this was an acceptable practice with marginal benefits and it did no harm.  Post Google Panda and Penguin updates directories have very little benefit and many have been delisted by Google which means they have zero benefit.  Some in the SEO community even believe that poor directory listings could have a negative impact. What to Look for in an SEO Company OK, so the above was how to spot a scam, here’s what to look for in a quality SEO company you might also consider SMO (social media optimization).  At Esotech we now include both SEO and SMO in our Search Engine Optimization programs as we consider the two inseparable and equally important. What will they do?: ask for a scope of work and make sure they will be addressing both On-Site SEO (work on your website) and Off-Site SEO (link building). SEO Analysis: An SEO analysis or keyword analysis should be done before they start and this should be reviewed with you. Content and blogging: don’t lead them on this, but see if they talk about the importance of quality content and blogging (on your site).  If it is not part of their plan and recommendations enough said. Sample Reports: ask for a copy of a sample Sample Client SEO Report or website metrics report that you will receive.  Make sure that data is from Google Analytics and if it is search rankings it is from a verifiable SERP program – and then check some sample results to make sure it is real.  Case Studies: ask for a copy of SEO Case studies and when you review them look for actual data.  Many case studies have a few paragraphs about the client, the situation, and then what they claimed they accomplished which is fine, but ask for the data – show me the graph from Google Analytics or the actual search results. Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools: make sure the firm is using both Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools and ask that you be added to both accounts so you can check the numbers for yourself. References: at the end of the day the best way to confirm any seo company’s claim is by talking to a couple of real customers.  Nothing can replace the honesty of an actual customer.

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13 Digital Marketing resolutions that will make 2013 your best year ever!

It’s tradition at the beginning of a new year to reflect on the past year, make resolutions for what we will do different in the new year and set goals.  The same applies to organizations; new budgets have either been set or are in work, sales goals are being set, and marketing plans are being developed.  Here’s our list of Digital Marketing resolutions and tips to create a great 2013.   Most lists start with Set Goals, we our started list with a SWOT analysis and Analytics, why?  Before setting goals it is imperative that you know your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats as well as the real numbers for your organization’s performance.  In conducting a frank self assessment and reviewing performance data goals will come to mind and when you set them you will have baseline of actual data to base them on.  13 New Years Digital Marketing Resolutions for 2013 Before you charge off to conquer the world and create a list of how you are going to do it take sometime to reflect on how 2012 turned out, what went well, what didn’t work out so well, and most importantly take a look at the real numbers to see how you really did.  Below we are focused on digital marketing, your website and social media; but you can apply this to the financial and operational side of your business as well.   SWOT Analysis (template here):  Review Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) for your organization.  Be honest in your assessment, don’t sugarcoat it and glaze over your real weaknesses or threats and likewise, don’t sell your self short on strengths and opportunities.  An honest and concise self assessment will make your goal setting in #3 easier and more meaningful.       Analytics and Metrics:  It may be tempting to jump straight to goals, but wait a minute, first you need to have a very clear understanding of what your actual performance was; then you can set goals based on what actually happened and where the organization is actually at.  We have gone into a lot of detail here and it may be more than what many care to review.  We encourage you to at least review the basic top level data so you clearly understand what is really going on with your website and social media.  To fully understand how your website is performing you need to have Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools installed on your site.  Without these too tools you are flying blind.  If you don’t have Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools installed on your site then this is your first To Do for the new year.  If you have it installed but don’t know how to get this data ask your Webmaster or SEO consultant to create a year end report with this data.  Esotech provides bi-weekly metrics to all of our clients, however the list below is  more comprehensive than most monthly reports and is really more of a website analysis-review.  Here are the essential metrics we recommend you review.   Website Traffic Comparison:  We created this simple tool to compare the Alexa and Compete Traffic Rank of your website to your competitors along with the Google Page rank.   Google Analytics:  Traffic Sources Overview: what are your traffic trends, where is your traffic coming from?  Search Engine Optimization Queries: what are the keywords driving traffic to your site? Are they the right ones, are important words/phrases missing?  In Page Analytics: this is a great tool that shows how visitors are interacting on each page and what they are clicking on. In case you are familiar with this tool we wrote a blog on How to Use Google In Page Analytics with examples.   Visitor Flow: Visitor Flow is the companion to In Page Analytics.  This tool shows how users flow through your website and what paths they take.  It is a great way to see how users surf through your site.  We also wrote a blog on How to Use Google Visitor Flow with examples of good flow and poor flow.   Webmaster Tools: This tool is often overlooked in favor of Google Analytics but there is different data here and it provides a lot of insight as to how your website is performing.   Optimization, Content Keywords: This tells you what Google thinks your website is about and what keywords Google thinks are most relevant on your site. This can be very insightful.  Traffic, Search Queries: This shows actual search queries that drove traffic to your site, how many clicks, your CTR (click through ratio) and average position.  This is how people are finding your site in search.   Traffic, Links to Site, more (shows all): This lists the external links to your website along with how many domains are linking to each page shown.  If you want to rank well this is still a vital metric.  Health, Index Status: this shows how many pages have been indexed by Google. If a page is not indexed then as far as Google is concerned it either does not exist or it is not relevant. Content is absolutely vital to the success of your website.   Social Media:  Facebook Insights: from your Facebook Page click on Insights, then See All.  Review the demographics, and Likes trend for your page.  Google Plus: there aren’t really any metrics available for Google Plus yet, so review the following on your personal profile and organization page: Profile/About, posts, Circles, +1’s.    Twitter: Sadly Twitter does not offer any metrics directly unless you are an advertiser. You can get Twitter metrics from third party apps if you are using one. If you don’t have a third party app then take a look at your Friends and Followers, Mentions, and messages and do a self assessment.  LinkedIn: No real meaningful metrics on LinkedIn either, so take a look at your personal profile and company page and do a self assessment of your content, posts, and activity.  Set Goals: Now that you have gone through the painful but enlightening process of the SWOT Analysis and reviewing all that data you are ready to set goals.  Use this handy Digital Marketing Goal Setting Template to get started and change it to suit your needs.  Start a Blog or Improve your Blog: If you don’t have a blog for your organization then this should be at top of your list, ditto if you have a blog and it has been idle and ignored.  Your blog is  Review CTAs (Call to Action):  Review the CTA on your website and subpages, are you asking the visitors to do anything?  Are you providing an easy way for visitors to contact you, order, ask questions, subscribe?  Is your phone number prominent and easy to read and find?  Update Mail Lists and CRM:  Now is a great time to clean up your email list and CRM system.  Review your list; add people that are missing and update records.  Don’t have an email list or CRM, well now is a great time to resolve to set them up!  We recommend and use Constant Contact for our mass email campaign solution.   Social Communities:  Do you have an active presence on the major social networks?  Again, we have a blog to help you develop a n effective social media campaign.  At a minimum you should have company pages on: Facebook Page for your organization Google Plus Page for your organization LinkedIn profile for ALL key staff members  LinkedIn Company Page for your organization (make sure it is complete) Twitter for your organization and possibly for key staffOther Social Networks to Consider: Pinterest Tumblr Squiddo Digg Update Social Networks and Participate – Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter, LinkedIn:  In case you skipped over the previous suggestion because you already have a strong social network presence, visit your social pages and make sure they are up to date, consider updating your banners and page graphics, and most importantly make sure your organization is actively involved and participating not just posting and running.  Check out our blog on Simple and Effective Community Management for tips on how to manage your social networks.   Great Content:  Great content is vital to the success of your digital marketing campaign.  Review your website, blog, and social network posts – are you delivering useful and informative content that your users want?  Is your content interesting and engaging or is it a veiled or worse direct sales pitch to hawk your goods and services.  Take an honest look at your content and then resolve to do it bigger and better this year!  Mobile Friendly:  In case you missed the memo, it’s all about mobile now!  Is your site mobile friendly?  Can visitors navigate your site easily on a Droid, iPhone, iPad or tablet?  Take a look for yourself, visit your site via several mobile devices and you decide how the experience is.   Website Face-lift:  When was the last time you updated your website?  Is it time for a new look or new content?  A new website or face-lift for is a great idea, BUT make sure you keep SEO in mind and don’t inadvertently hurt the search rankings you worked so hard for by doing it wrong.   Lead Nurturing:  This is an area most organization fall short, cultivating leads after the initial inquiry.  The most common practice is a single contact or perhaps an automated response and then wait for an order.  Oddly many companies also say they want to improve the lead capture rate.  Lead nurturing involves setting up a stream of follow up emails to deliver useful information and develop a relationship over the long term.  Constant Contact has a Auto-Response feature (poorly named, it is much more that just auto-response if used right) that will deliver a stream of emails (drip campaign) on a predetermined schedule.   Have Fun! – OK this may seem trite, but resolve to have fun and make it fun for everyone, you will get better results, you will enjoy it more and so will your staff and customers. 

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How to Lose a Brand in 43 Days and Rebuild from the Ashes

Imagine spending over 10 years building a brand with a solid website and excellent search rankings for competitive keywords in your market niche from years of SEO; then suddenly one morning your website is gone!  This actually happened to one of our clients, here’s what happened and how you can avoid it.   What Happened  Our client’s domain expired, not a big deal normally, but her credit card on file had expired also.  The domain registrar sent emails notifying her of her domain expiring and that the credit card had expired, but alas, the email on file was not one she regularly checked.   Fast forward 43 days later… our client’s website is gone and someone has put up a temporary page!  After the client called us we did some fast and furious checking, discovered the domain had expired, the grace period for renewal had also expired, and the domain had been purchased that morning at midnight immediately after the grace period expired.   We contacted the domain registrar, but since the domain expired and the grace period had lapsed the domain was gone and there was nothing they could do.  We contacted the Drop Catcher (see below for explanation) that bought the domain and yes they were willing to sell it back, the cost… $8,500!  That’s right, $8,500 to buy back your own domain that this person had bought just hours ago!  We explain Domain Drop Catching below and also steps to protect your domain, but first let’s talk  about how we helped this client rebuild their brand.    How we Rebuilt the Brand Fast and Security Precautions!  At this point the client has no website, customers are going to the old domain name only to find a very spammy temporary landing page, and the domain is being held hostage for $8,500.  We worked with the client to get a new domain name, restored the website to the new domain name, did as many 301 redirects as possible, and then started a SEO and SEM/PPC campaign.   By the way, in losing the domain they also lost their email domain so we also had to set up the new email, post on the new email domain on Facebook and the client sent several mass emails out to their mail list explaining the change. What is really scary about this is that the Drop Catcher could actually set up a catch all email account under their newly acquired domain and grab all emails going to the clients old domain.  This meant that the client had to change login emails on all of their bank accounts, social media accounts, and anything that had an email associated with it.  Lot’s of work that had to be done quickly.   The new website hit the ground running with a lot of highly relevant content and an excellent information architecture along with solid on-site SEO.  We immediately started an aggressive SEO campaign that focused on quality link building.  Rankings started off at zero, but within a few weeks were climbing quickly and are on track to perhaps surpass the old site.   We certainly don’t recommend losing your domain or starting from scratch, but this illustrates that if you must for whatever reason all is not lost, you can rebuild from the ashes.   Domain Drop Catching  When your domain expires there is a mandated Redemption Grace Period for the domain owner to renew it.  The grace period varies from 30 to as long as 90 days, the registrar for our client it was 43 days.  When a popular or well ranking domain expires there is a long list of opportunistic people called Drop Catchers in line to buy it so they can profit from the domain you have built or hold it ransom and sell it back to you at an exorbitant price.  The moment your domain expires and the grace period has lapsed your domain will be instantly snapped up by a Drop Catcher this is what they do for a living, while some may be legitimate many are essentially domain kidnappers waiting for their next victim.   There are serious questions about whether this violates the Cyber Squatting/Domain Squatting law passed by Congress.  Attorneys advised our client that she could take them to arbitration and would likely win as this was an established brand name, however, it would take 60 to 90 days and the cost would be in the $5,000 to $10,000 range with no guarantees of the outcome.  No wonder these guys get away with this.   Drop Catching is big business now, with automated software competing to see who can snatch up a newly expired domain first, milliseconds can be the difference between wining and losing.  Website Magazine published an article Drop Cacthing Domains – Big Business summarizing a CADNA (Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse) study on the fate of expired domains.  The short story; 100% of expiring Dot Coms and Dot Nets are instantly registered after they expire.  87% are used for PPC (Pay Per Click) sites.  They have no interest in the domain other than to turn a quick and short term profit by creating a temporary landing pages for PPC ads and if they are lucky selling the well established and aged domain to someone for thousands of dollars, maybe even the original owner.   There have been discussions at ICANN and other agencies about the abuses and outright scams surrounding Drop Catching.  The initial intentions were good, set up a way to reserve domains when they legitimately expire and the Cyber Squatting law clearly prohibits snatching up a domain for the purpose of holding it hostage, but regardless, it is being abused.  This had been debated since around 2004 or 2005 and there seems to be very little progress being made and frankly it just does not appear to be a priority for any agency or the gov to address.  How to Protect Your Domain and Brand Domain Renewal: make sure you domain always has at least 3 years until expiration.  This is a good precaution to avoid an unexpected expiration and also helps for SEO.  Domains with long term renewals count as a positive factor for search rankings along with domain age.   Domain Registrar Contact Info: keep your contact information up to date with your domain registrar including phone (although they probably won’t call you), email (vital), credit card information, and most certainly set it for auto-renewal.  Remember that auto-renewal is useless if you don’t update your records.  Consider having your webmaster or SEO firm manage your domain: your webmaster or SEO firm can manage your domain registration for you.  We manage dozens of domains for clients (unfortunately in retrospect not this one until now) and consequently we constantly monitor domain registration status and managed domains are on automatic update.  In a sense it is easier to manage dozens of domains when it is part of your business than it is to manage your own single domain that comes up for renewal every few years (easy to lose track of this).  

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SEO Scams! How to Find a Reputable Web Design, SEO and Digital Marketing Company

If I hear one more company owner tell me they flushed away thousands of dollars on a web company that made big promises and did not deliver results, I am going to need to defragment my mental hard drive! Maybe there is an ashram for business people who need to cultivate compassion for crooks and scammers that give any given industry a bad name. But until we find that place to deal with these bad business practices, we have to exercise caution and remember the old saying, “Buyer Beware.” If you are looking for a website refresh or redesign that increases your traffic, leads and ultimately increases sales through a digital marketing strategy, there are simple ways to verify that a web design and digital marketing company is legit.  Here are some things to look for:  Look at the company portfolio and actually OPEN the websites they claim to have built. Are they user-friendly? Next, open a separate search page and run an “organic search” to see how the website ranks. EXAMPLE: Esotech built a website for Horizon Power Catamarans. If you Google “power catamaran manufacturers”, “power catamaran yachts”, “luxury power catamaran”, or “cruising power catamarans”, you will find the site is ranked on page one for these organic search results.  In fact, this Esotech client has 10 words ranked in position 1 through 3 on page one and 47 words on page one.  Go for the old-school route and ASK for professional references.  Call one or two of their previous clients and ask them whether they have seen results. Beware of Barbie-site designers who only focus on the look of the site and do not take the time to properly build a web site that can rank on search engines.   It’s great to have a “pretty” website, but if there is nothing under the hood working to deliver traffic it is like a car with a great paint job and a 4 cylinder engine that needs an overhaul.  Google robots “crawl” sites to find out what the website is about and what keywords are relevant, and determine the quality of the site. These Google robots then use over 250 different factors to rank that site for various keywords.  Google bots don’t have eyes so they are not looking at how pretty a site is, but how relevant the content is and how it compares to other websites for the same topics. Beware of companies who use ready-made templates to build your site.   Our experience is that ready-made templates are not Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, friendly and are difficult to optimize for a particular customer application. This NEGATIVELY impacts search engine optimization.  Beware of companies who promise instant results, such as “we will have you on page one in 60 days,” or “we can fix your Panda-Penguin problems in 30 days,” or worse, “we can get you page one results for $100 just per month.” These are scams!!! It takes time to build a website properly and get it to rank effectively for keywords.  Don’t let stars of “going viral” get in your eyes. Look for steady incremental increase in your rankings and traffic starting in three to four months and with substantial results over approximately 6 months to a year.    These are just a few tips to help you steer clear of scams and crooks in the world of web design and digital marketing.  

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Plan Your Rebranding to Avoid De-Branding

Without careful planning and implementation your rebranding campaign can devolve into a de-branding campaign, diminishing your presence on the internet and social media, creating confusion with your customers.   After years of developing a brand sometimes a strategic decision is made to change the brand or create new brand and start a re-branding campaign.  Whatever the reasons for changing the brand, before you choose your new identity and launch your rebranding campaign there are several things to consider.   Before there were websites, domain names, and social networks rolling out a new brand was a bit more straightforward.  You picked a new name, made sure there were no copyright issues or companies using a similar name, set the creative team in motion to create new logos, letterhead, print materials and other media materials, and then rolled out your new brand through traditional media.  Rebranding required good  planning and execution, but it was much less complicated than today.  Let’s take a look at a brand launch gone bad and then how to do it right.   Netflix Qwikster – example of branding faux paux  A great recent example of a rebranding faux paux is Netflix roll out of Qwikster in 2011 and immediate retreat and euthanasia of the new brand.  It was bad enough that the new brand represented a thinly veiled price increase of 25% or more to users, but to make matters worse, or from the public’s perspective ironically funny, there was already a @qwikster Twitter account in use and the avatar was a pot smoking, obviously high, Elmo.  Needless to  say this was a short lived brand and very embarrassing epic fail for Netflix.    Netflix clearly demonstrated the need to do your homework and research before choosing a new brand name and launching it, lets take a look at some basic steps to avoid a Netflix brand fail Redux.   10 Steps to Prepare for Rebranding  Before you embark on a rebranding campaign to roll out your exciting new brand here are some steps to take to ensure your campaign is successful:  Google and Bing searches:  Some would think that the obvious first step is #2 below, obtain the domain name, but before you do that it is smart to see what turns up for your prospective name in Google and Bing searches.  We suggest you to both Google and Bing as they do turn up different results and we also recommend you go back several pages and do some variations on the search as well.   Domain Name (url) availability: Prior to choosing your new brand name, the most important step to take is to confirm and then purchase the domain name for your new brand.  In addition to purchasing the domain name you intend to use, make sure you check for obvious conflicts with similar domain names.   Facebook Page availability:  One you have your domain name purchased and it is under your control the next thing to check is availability of a Facebook Page with your new brand name.  Facebook Pages have a title and can have a custom url such as Facebook.com/newbrandname  There can be multiple Facebook Pages with the same title, but once the url is taken it is permanent and unavailable.  If the url for your new brand is available that’s great news, but you will not be able to obtain it until you create a new Page and have a minimum of 25 Likes.  If it is available you may want to create that new page, build it to 25 Likes and then lock down that url as soon as possible. Your current Facebook Page: If you have a current Facebook Page with a custom url you cannot change the url.  Once a custom url is set on Facebook it is permanent.  You also cannot “migrate” your Fans or Likes to a new Page.  The only way to get your existing Fans to the new Page is to place frequent posts about the new Page notifying them of the new page with a link.   Twitter handle (account name) availability:  As you saw in the Netflix example above, make sure the Twitter handles you want for your brand are available and if so set up accounts immediately to lock these down.     Pinterest:  Pinterest is still an emerging social network platform, but it is presently the fastest growing, and even if you don’t have a presence on Pinterest today, you should plan for one in the future and obtain your brand name there with a page. Blogs: While you can’t necessarily lock down a blog name other than via a url (domain name), it is good to check for blogs with similar names and see if there are any potential conflicts.  Obvious conflicts would likely have shown up in the Google and Bing searches, this is just an extra measure of precaution.   Rolling out a new website: once all of the above is done and you are confident you have the right name chosen you can start the design of the new website.  When you are ready to launch the new website it is imperative that 301 Redirects are set up from the old website and all of the old pages to the new website and equivalent replacement pages.  Done correctly, 301 Redirects will preserve your search rankings and pass on the rankings to the new site.  While there may be a small drop in your search rankings, it should be temporary.  Announcing the new site:  Now that you have a new brand and new website it’s time to let the world know.  Use your social networks such as Facebook, Google +, Twitter and your blog to let everyone know. You can also use Facebook ads to build your new Facebook Page and do posts on the old Page to inform existing Fans of the new website and new Page.  Email newsletters are also effective for reaching out to your customer base to let them know about the branding change. Consistency:  With your new brand launched it is vital to be consistent with the new look, style, and tone and stay on message for the new brand. Commingling the brands will cause confusion, there is now only the new brand and you must stick with it. 

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Social Media Enhances and Complements SEO, like Yin and Yang

The argument that Social Media will ultimately kill SEO is an amusing one. Yes, Social Media will dramatically change SEO, in it fact already has changed  it forever; but Social Media will not replace SEO.  SEO and Social Media have a Yin Yang relationship – opposite forces that complement each other within a greater whole.  I think Social Media is the most exciting thing that has happened to SEO in many years and it will significantly improve the relevance and quality of search results. Social media, combined with the Google Panda Update, and eventually Google +1, have changed the landscape of search rankings.  The Panda update made great strides toward better rankings based on quality content, pushing down the rankings for content farms and junk content.  Google +1 will eventually reward highly regarded sites with quality content with higher rankings.  Social Media in a similar fashion will reward websites with quality blogs, great content and engagement via Social Media with higher search rankings, higher website traffic and greatly expanded exposure.  Panda, Google +1 and Social Media are paving the way to more democratic search results based on user likes and interests and much less influenced by those that game the system. So with that said it would appear that SEO is in fact on it’s way to extinction,but this is far from true.  Yes old school SEO of mindless link building is already on it’s way out and is only marginally effective today.  However, there is now a huge demand for Web 2.0 SEO utilizing best practices of website SEO combined with SMO (Social Media Optimization). Organizations still have a need, in fact now more than ever, for high quality SEO and thanks to these developments quality content and engagement will be rewarded and Spam will be ranked accordingly.  So how does Social Media figure into this and what is the Social Media and SEO Yin Yang Relationship? The purpose of SEO is to get your content found, BUT, the presumption and requirement is that someone is looking for that particular content in the first place.  If so, then SEO works beautifully.  SEO relies on people proactively searching for words associated with your product, service, or organization.  SEO is reactive to a proactive user. Social Media has evolved from personal chatter between close friends to sharing news, discussion, debate, and education across diverse groups.  Sharing and discussion is driving the viral affect of Social Media and this is the link between SEO and Social Media. There is a 24/7 discussion raging on Twitter, Google Plus, Facebook and LinkedIn about everything from politics, to music, news, movies, and products.  These discussions often share links to blogs, websites, Facebook Pages, and other posts and these posts are often re-shared and commented on.  Sharing and the viral affect of Social Media makes it proactive in the sense that the message/discussion is reaching people that weren’t necessarily looking for that in particular.  This is how Social Media is complementary to SEO.  Social Media actively reaches out to and engages users, while SEO relies on users to actively search for content. This is the Yin Yang relationship of SEO and Social Media and why the two are complementary to each other.   Social Media is now an essential be part of  a comprehensive digital marketing strategy along with a SEO campaign designed to work with and complement social media.  With Social Media becoming an essential element of a Digital Marketing Strategy and SEO campaign a new term has been coined to label SEO work specifically focused on Social Media and that is Social Media Optimization or SMO. To develop and implement a successful Digital Marketing Strategy today one must employ top notch SEO, with high quality content, and a lively and interesting SMO-Social Media campaign.  More on that in a future blog…

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