April 15, 2010
Every internet pundit and his brother remind us daily that Twitter and Facebook can be good for business. At first glance, this statement can be puzzling. The tweets that seem to get the most attention are the ones getting pro athletes in trouble with their teams, or regurgitating celebrities' breakfast menus for their fans. Yet it’s nonetheless true that social media postings can help your organization’s marketing – including school and higher education marketing. Social media is a key player in today’s education marketing; along with tools such as an engaging web site, your postings can help build and strengthen networks and relationships.
When incorporated with web design into your total online strategy, social media optimization presents undeniable opportunities and value for any organization. Here’s a list of social media tips: hard and fast reasons to begin incorporating these – and other – online social networks into your higher education marketing.
1. It's the quickest, easiest and cheapest way to get the word out about your programs and campus life. Facebook and Twitter help the people looking for you find you; they also help those people and your organization connect with contacts in related fields. For promoting events, your school’s blog, website, and social media are a natural extension of your marketing communication efforts. When using social media, try to couch your information in terms of newsworthiness, rather than as an advertisement. Share and educate, versus sell.
2. Ask any great sales and marketing professional and he or she will tell you success is achieved by building relationships. Social media is all about that. It’s easy to begin the proverbial 'conversation' with prospects and influencers through the interactive simplicity and immediacy afforded by Facebook, Twitter and other networks. You may even spawn your own networks that, with utilization of Web 2.0 technology and an up-to-date content management system like Campusuite, are becoming increasingly simple to start and maintain.
3. Social media is a great way to test ideas and get feedback on a wide variety of topics. Ask for opinions; conduct surveys; get a discussion thread going; ask and answer questions: all helpful ways to begin a dialog with prospects, faculty, staff and associates. You may not be an expert on a topic, but if you can answer someone's question or point them to a solution, you are positioning yourself nicely as an authority. And don't be afraid to ask for help. Some great synergy can be spawned when people help each other.
4. Don't forget the social graces of online social networking. With the shorthand, abbreviated, 140-character pace at which much online communication moves, it's wise not to lose track of plain ol' common sense and business etiquette. Yes, the line separating our personal and business lives is getting blurrier by the moment, but don't get sloppy and forget to follow up or extend courtesies when they need to be extended – which is more often than not.
5. Last tip: Keep it up. Like any content on the web, if it's not fresh and consistent, it's likely not going to be helpful or held in high regard.
Factor these fundamentals into your online higher education marketing efforts and, along with appealing web design, you'll start creating greater value with a 'social media optimized' web strategy.
January 27, 2010
With 2010 underway and the new decade before us, we can only hope that worst of the economic hardships that occurred in 2009 are well behind us. Sure, big banks (see mortgage and credit crises), automobile manufacturers, and insurance companies took it on the chin, but all you have to do is look around to find someone you know affected by the marked downturn in the economy and this global recession in which we're all trying to dig out of. We may not have seen the last of layoffs, plant closings, and scale backs in operations, but we are seeing a change in how organizations use and manage their web sites.
Yes, times have changed and business is not the same as it used to be, so we must continue to forever be looking for ways to improve how we help our clients sustain and grow. In our own house, Innersync has been on a path the past few years to refine our own mission and continue to provide value to our customers through software as a service (SaaS) web technology for web content management and digital asset management. Following a nationwide trend of increased utilization of SaaS solutions, Innersync is serving up the content software that will drive costs out of – and customers to – your business.
Listening to our own customers and picking the brains of the best and the brightest in delivering web solutions (see Google, Ning, et al), our team made the decision years ago to take all of the technology equity we've developed and put it into the cloud. We're not done – never will be, for that matter, as technology grows faster than the ability to use it – but we completed the first stage of providing a new way to do things on the web. Stage two is the ongoing incorporation of user feedback refinements amplified with further innovation that will make your web site not only more powerful, but less expensive to manage in years to come. Cloud computing and software as a service will only increase and license-based software will decrease. Why incur the costs and weather the frustrations of software obsolescence and server hardware when all that can be eliminated by tapping into the cloud?
There are many lessons to be learned in tough economic times and foremost among them is that organizations of all sizes and kinds must look for ways to earnestly connect or re-connect with their audiences. No more 'pushing of information', rather, interactive strategies that employ the power of the web to engage customers, and begin that all-important dialogue that builds relationships and builds business, even if it's in the clouds.
July 27, 2009
Okay, every internet pundit and his brother are reminding us daily how Twitter and Facebook can be good for business. But just how? The tweets that seem to get the most attention are the ones getting pro athletes in trouble with their teams or leagues, or regurgitating celebrities' breakfast menus for their followings of fans. But less obvious, and quite effective in helping you register info and news designed to build and strengthen networks and relationships, are postings that you and others in your organization can begin using.
We've laid out our spin on it in the following tips: hard and fast reasons to begin incorporating these – and other – online social networks into your organization's m.o. When incorporated into your total online strategy, social media optimization presents undeniable opportunities and value for any organization.
1. It's the quickest, easiest and cheapest way to get the word out there about yourself and your business. Facebook and Twitter help you get found by people looking for you and those individuals in companies in related fields. For promoting events, your company blog, news, social media can be a natural extension of your marketing communications efforts. When using social media, try to couch your information in terms of newsworthiness rather than an advertisement. Share and educate, versus sell.
2. Ask any great sales and marketing professional, and he or she will tell you success is achieved by building relationships. Social media is all about that. You can begin the proverbial 'conversation' with prospects and influencers through the interactive simplicity and immediacy afforded by Facebook, Twitter and other networks. You may spawn your own networks, that, with utilization of Web 2.0 technology and an up-to-date content management system, are getting increasingly simple to start and maintain.
3. Social media is a great way to test ideas and get feedback on a variety of topics. Ask for opinions, survey groups, get a discussion thread going, ask and answer questions: all helpful ways to begin a dialog with customers, prospects, employees and associates. You may not be an expert on a topic, but if you can answer someone's question or point them to a solution, you are positioning yourself nicely as an authority. And don't be afraid to ask for help. Some great synergy can be spawned when people can help out each other.
4. Don't forget the social graces of online social networking. With the shorthand, abbreviated, 140-character pace at which online communications moves, it's wise not to lose track of plain ol' common sense and business etiquette. Yes, the line separating our personal and business lives is getting blurrier by the moment, but don't get sloppy and forget to follow up or extend courtesies where and when they need to – which is more often than not.
5. Last tip: Keep it up. Like any content on the web, if it's not fresh and consistent, it's likely not going to be helpful or held in high regard.
Factor these fundamentals into your online marketing efforts, and you'll start creating greater value with a 'social media optimized' web strategy.
April 21, 2009
If you are not taking advantage of some SEO basics to make the most of your web site, you are not alone. Some organizations are too wrapped up with the bells and whistles of their sites, and not concerned enough about the content foundation upon which their sites are built. We have learned that your site is only worth as much as the connections it makes, which is why we take SEO very seriously. Building a web site optimized for search engine friendliness and usefulness is not as complicated as you might think.
Pay to play
One way to employ SEO is through sponsored words, in which you pay the going rate for the keywords that support your marketing goals. The other is through pages that are "organically" found through search results: pages that are populated with just the right words, phrases and links that feed the world's most powerful search engines. Both strategies – whether paying for sponsorship or paying someone to create and maintain your SEO – require a financial commitment, but we've found the organic route to be an increasingly 'budget-friendly' alternative to Pay Per Click (PPC). You may be dealing with a site that is hard to work with for "organic SEO" and revert to the easy way by using Adwords which is the PPC internet advertising model. This $11 billion industry allows you to get results fast, but it can get to be quite expensive outbidding your competition for keywords.
Go organic and get your marketing budget healthy
We like to focus on organic rankings because they provide more of a long-term strategy, and you are not on the hook to be in an auction for keywords. In addition to having better quality visits – that is, users who stay on the site longer and get the information they need – organic rankings are perceived as a more legitimate sources as web surfers get more savvy and specific with their searches. Some people, frankly, put less faith in sponsored listings than compared to organic search results.
Fighting to get to the top in the organic search maze requires a lot of factors, but the most important is to have content that is focused on your keyword phrases. For example, Google loves sites that are updated frequently, and it gives you points for new content. By adding a news release, blog or some other fresh content once a month can help move you up in the ranking.
Rules of thumb for making sure you are making the most of your site content:
Use good page titles, headings and file names
Think of your content being in a hierarchy that starts from the page title (shows up in the browser bar) all the way to the bottom of the page. Keep your focus on the content from the top down, incorporating keyword phrases in the page title, heading (H1) in the copy that follows. If you have your key phrases in the page title and heading, you have the most important things where they belong. Always keep in mind, this needs to be readable, and making compelling copy with the keyword phrases sometimes requires compromise between creativity and searchability. Seek content specialists who can weave these functions artfully.
Example of a page optimized for "Fishing Worms"
Page Title: Fishing worms from Bobby's Bait & Tackle Shop
Heading: Fishing worms and other bait that help you catch the big one
Page name: Fishing-worms.html
First paragraph: Bobby has been delivering the best fishing worms this side of the Ohio RIver....
Meta-data: the red-headed stepchild of web development that does not get any attention until someone brings it up. We like to focus on "Description" and "Keywords" and try our best to make them unique and readable. Some say search engines do not pay attention to the them but there are two things keep in mind. First, when you look at the Google results page, the "Page Title" and "Meta-Description" are visible, so if you want someone to click your link, it is wise to write something interesting or inviting. Second, Google Webmaster Tools bark at you if you do not have good meta-data. So add good meta-data, and keep in mind, the "Description" copy is what shows up below the title, so make sure it complements the page title without repeating it.
This one is pretty simple and straightforward. As you look at the content on your site, use the keyword phrases as links. For example, instead of using the term "learn more" for a link, try using keywords like "learn more about fishing worms." If you can get anchor links on the home page, that adds even more points. Try to fit anchor links into the first or second paragraph of a new release or blog. That way, if the content is aggregated to other sites, you will gain points for an anchor back-link to your site.
Inbound links (aka backlinks)
Our SEO specialist friends at Purple Trout tell us how important it is to have links to your site to improve SEO rankings. When Google – the godfather of knowledge bases – recognizes when a legitimate site has a link to your site, it rewards you with better status. The more backlinks from outside sites, the better it is for your site indexing.
For starters, submit your site to DMOZ open directory project, ZoomInfo business directory and Yahoo! Directory Listings. Yahoo! is $300 annually but it is worth the money for the back-linking. If it is local business, make sure it gets back-linked on local chamber of commerce sites and other local directories. Next, see if there are any directories that show up on the keyword phrases you are focusing on, you may find some that are easy and free to submit your site.
Look at social networks as increasingly important places into which you can pump your links. The more networks you can share your site links to, the better. We focus on the popular ones: Twitter, Facebook, Delicious, Digg, Reddit, LinkedIn. If you really want to centralize your social networking, add all your sites through Ping.fm, which allows you to post information through one account.
March 24, 2009
With all the networks and tools emerging in the web 2.0 cloud and competing for your attention, do you find yourself challenged by sorting out the options, making the most of, or simply keeping up with them all? There sure are a lot of social networks popping up these days, and for every social network, there are a dozen more free tools just waiting to be utilized. How you choose to use these networks and tools should be considered your blank canvas... your picture waiting to be drawn.
Even novice web users are familiar with Facebook and Twitter, but you name the theme, and there's a list of social networks to support it. Some networks are more professional than others. Some more playful.
I recently found Plinky, where you answer a weekly prompt to spark digital discussion in your own creative way. All these tools are just other ways to express yourself. From Google docs and webmaster tools that support business on the web, to sites like Aviary that bring you Photoshop and Illustrator-esque functionality for next to nothing or totally free, these cloud tools are coming out of the woodwork or falling from the sky. Now the question is, "which ones should I use" and "how can I leverage these?" The answer is simple: use the ones that work best for you. Only trial and time will tell you for sure.
Here's how I manage my own time when it comes to qualifying, utilizing and not being ovewhelmed by these tools, which if you're not careful, can become a full-time job in just keeping up with them all. The first hour of my morning consists of the following:
1. Hit Google Reader where I have all my subscriptions to my favorite feeds. These feeds consist of tech news, design trends, individuals blogs... the list goes on. I have over 100 subscriptions that consolidate massive information into the reader for my quick scanning.
2. I will 'favorite' or 'share' the best entries in Google reader, and it will automatically update my Facebook account. I also add links to Delicious so I and my team members can see what I'm pushing to the front. In fact, we use a common company account for Delicious so that all of the people on our team can collaboratively add relevant links ranging from hot design trends to the latest jQuery snippets.
3. If I'm really excited about an entry in Google Reader, I'll Twitter the link, which shows that I'm sharing knowledge and could create some followers. This in turn, also updates my Facebook account. Do you see where this is going?
4. In turn, for that brief moment on Twitter, I might respond to a few @replies or contribute to some conversations I see going on. After a while, you will notice your name showing up in the #followfriday lists (where fellow Twitterers suggest to all their followers the recommended people to follow)
5. I also have Flickr, YouTube, Last.fm and a couple other sites that I frequent and that add activity updates to my Facebook stream. So, in reality, I don't actually spend a lot of time in my Facebook account other than to upload the occasional photo album. However, it sure looks like I do!
6. I set up Google alerts to scan for my name, my company name, or any of my product names on the Internet. If something is being said, I want to know. I also have these alerts set up in my reader. So, while I'm purusing my morning news, I can see any of these alerts as well.
7. Next up, Twitter search. Arguably one of the most valuable tools on the net. I type in my name, company and products here as well. This lets me see who's talking about me NOW. While I'm there, I might see what's being said about my friends... or maybe my favorite wines. At this time, I might share another link on Twitter, that again, updates my Facebook account.
8. I manage my own personal blog and I contribute to my company blog. These RSS feeds can be set up to syndicate into a variety of places. I have a combination of my personal and company blogs being syndicated into my Facebook and LinkedIn accounts. This goes a long way. While I'm keeping my company site up to date, this valuable information is being recycled as it heads to my various other accounts. Other team members on my team do this as well so that our reach is increased even further.
9. Do you use a CMS to manage your website? We do, and our CMS is considered a Web 2.0 CMS that allows us to syndicate pages, blogs, RSS feeds and more. When we write a blog, we do it in our CMS. Of course, whatever blog tool you are use should have an RSS feed that can be syndicated. This is important. It allows you to move your ideas further from your site, which draws people back to your site.
This is only a smattering of what I'm doing now. When I dicover a new social site, I see it as my obligation as a web developer to take a test drive and understand how it works, and how it could integrate into my morning regimen. I tend to change it up here and there. Some networks, I let fizzle out so I can spend more of my time on the networks that work for me. Remember, I try to keep this consolidated to the first hour of the day and some of these tasks might be relevant to do on a weekly or monthly basis.
Take some time yourself to leverage the new media and turn it into a systematic approach that broadens your reach, sharpens your mind and strengthens your brand.
We're Innersync Studio and we like to build web sites that are alive. More specifically, we like to empower you to breathe life into your web site. We want your site to be loved by many and make connections that have never been possible. We put our ideas here, to help stay in touch with our clients and help spread the good word.
P R E V I O U S P O S T S
- Using Social Media for School and Higher Education Marketing
- How a 'cloudy' economy — or at least web site — may not be a bad thing in 2010 and beyond
- Social media offers value for organizations
- Search engine optimization (SEO) techniques that work PART 1
- Starting your day in the expanding social network
A R C H I V E
B L O G S B Y T A Gblog, campusuite, cloud computing, content management tools, digital image management, Facebook, Innersync, jason, k-12, linkedin, Marketing, online social network, search engine optimization, seo, Social media, social media optimization, social networking, Twitter, web 2.0, web content management