Our TMM Roving Reporter, Arwa Jumkawala, visited Bend OR earlier this week to participate in the 2009 Bend WebCam Conference where such heavyweights such as Chris Winfield & Adam Audette offered up insights on optimizing your website from an SEO/SEM perspective and gave their thoughts on the increasing importance of social media to any business’ brand-building strategy.
The conference structure was a bit “choose your own adventure,” with three overlapping workshop tracks you could pick from – search, social, and/or creative. Wanting to get a taste for the entirety of what was on offer, She bounced between all three tracks during the 2 days of sessions. What follows are some of her top takeaways, tips and resources for entrepreneurs:
* Social Media is about more than twitter and/or Facebook.
Social media is conversational (forums and message boards) and informational (YouTube). When thinking about how to best engage your own audience, it pays to go beyond the usual suspects and to carefully consider the style of social engagement that makes the most sense for your own goals. For example, online forums are highly underrated as a powerful way to locate and empower brand evangelists or to scout out domain experts you can reach out to. Nor do you have to religiously embrace the new: the 1-800 number in the top left corner of Zappos.com is the best social media activity it engages in per Adam from www.audettemedia.com.
Best social media niche sites: http://www.10e20.com/blog/2009/04/01/niche-social-media-news-websites/
Forum marketing: http://www.10e20.com/blog/2008/01/03/forum-marketing/
Search tool for forums: http://boardreader.com/
* Talk to your customers (duh) and have a plan (double duh).
Before embarking on a social media strategy, you need a to really have a handle on what you’re trying to accomplish – hopefully something measurable you can track your progress against. Think carefully about your key goal: Traffic to your site? Conversion? Brand awareness? Your goals should drive the content you post. But they should also drive where you post. If all your customers are on MySpace, for example, it might not make sense to spend time on Twitter.
Creating your Social Media Plan http://outspokenmedia.com/social-media/social-media-planning/
* See what Google sees
SEO Browser (http://www.seo-browser.com/) will show you how a spider sees your website. Are your title tags (huge for SEO) and H1 tags (they should identify what the page is about) on each page optimized for your keywords? You can even use this tool to take a peek at your competitors! Are they doing smart things that you should be doing as well? Use this information to create a roadmap for improvements.
* Squat and Optimize
Protect your online reputation by claiming your brand name on all social networks. We don’t know what the next Twitter will be and you don’t want to get there and realize some high school kid already owns your name. Example: http://www.youtube.com/mcdonalds.
To register across many social networks: http://knowem.com/
* Don’t be a Bernie:
ORM (Online Reputation Management) is an ongoing process that you can’t afford to ignore until the moment you have a crisis. You need to have control if you get hit with bad PR (e.g., negative customer review). A perfect example is Bernie Madoff. Prior to his scandal, he had almost no prior web coverage or personal sites so when the scandal hit, he had little control over his Google search results. Contrast this to Kanye West, who has many personal sites and coverage. His MTV outburst is no longer on the first page of Google search results.
The ORM Guide http://outspokenmedia.com/guides/orm-guide/
Author: Arwa Jumkawala is the founder of Gemkitty Jewelry , a site where you can design your own gemstone jewelry, then have that design handcrafted for you and shipped right to your door. She enjoys learning DIY tips to market her business online and learning to tweet: (http://www.twitter.com/gemkitty)