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Blogging Beyond the Basics: What Makes Your Company Great?

Do you think your company doesn’t have enough to say to merit having a blog? That means you’re probably overlooking what makes your company unique. You should know the things that set you apart from competitors, and you should blog about them.

Let’s consider a hypothetical plumbing company. Conventional thinking may suggest that there isn’t much for a local plumber to regularly blog about. You, as the owner of this imaginary plumbing company, assume that after building a website highlighting your services, there’s nothing more to say. After all, how much can you write about snaking a shower drain or fixing a leaky kitchen faucet? It’s true, there might not be a need to regularly write about the services you offer, but you can share more about who you are as a company.

If you’re a local business serving customers in your immediate area, you should use your website to highlight what makes you a strong part of your community. Do you support a local charity? Or sponsor a little league team? If so, write about it! By sharing this information with customers, you give them a better sense of your company beyond the nuts and bolts of your basic services.

When a customer searches for a plumber, they’ll know what they need. They need someone who can fix a broken toilet, and it’s safe to assume that every plumber in their area is capable of handling this task. When they find ten local plumbers, how do they go about choosing which one to call?

They’d probably first consider price, but you’re hopefully already competitive in that regard. Next, they might look at customer reviews. You should ideally be set for this as well, displaying numerous positive reviews from previous customers. So assuming you’ve covered the basic minimum customer expectations of competitive prices and trusted quality, you’ll want something extra to set you apart from all of the other local plumbers who also meet those basic expectations. A great way to do that is to reveal your company’s personality beyond the basics.

Every blog post you write is an opportunity to show customers what makes your company great. Don’t overlook such any opportunity to set yourself apart from your competitors. Think about what makes your company more than the basic services you provide. Once you know what that is, share it with your customers.

Facebook Graph Search – Our First Impressions

Yesterday Facebook Graph Search launched and our phones were ringing as clients understandably want to know more about it. While we completely understand our client’s interest in Graph Search, we are in the process of gathering as much information as possible. It would be premature to provide a robust list of recommendations for how to get more exposure from Graph Search. For the time being, I would point you to recommendations directly from Facebook about how to help people discover your business. With that caveat out of the way, we have been monitoring the news closely and have some important points we want to address.

What is Facebook Graph Search?

Facebook Graph Search allows you to search for people, places and things by leveraging your existing friend data and publicly shared information of non-friends. Keep in mind that this is an incredible amount of data which allows you to search in new ways. For instance, you couldn’t search in Google for restaurants in East Lansing, MI liked by your friends who went to Michigan State University. Graph Search also has many non-commercial benefits. You can now search for photos, videos, and music that friends have liked. It is in beta right now, but expect it to be available to everyone soon.

What does this mean for your business?

We believe that Graph Search is helpful for certain kinds of businesses. Most of the examples of how to use Graph Search involve businesses like restaurants, retail and some services. You can easily imagine how this will benefit restaurant owners and encourage them to solicit likes. However, it’s unclear how Graph Search benefits other kinds of businesses. People tend to think of search in purely positive ways – find a restaurant, a boutique, a place to dance, etc. In reality people have a lot of interactions with businesses that they might now want to announce to the world. Facebook users are far less likely to “like” their bankruptcy attorney or rehabilitation clinic even if the experience was positive. We work with a lot of B2B clients. I don’t know how many opportunities will be available on Graph Search for businesses that aren’t particularly interested in targeting individual consumers.

What does this mean for Google and other online marketing portals?

We do not believe this presents a meaningful challenge to Google’s dominance in the search space. We still believe that in six months, Google’s share of the search market will not change very much. We believe that Graph Search is fundamentally different than Google search and agree with Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land who said,

“It remains very early, but I already find it fascinating the types of searches this is allowing me to do, searches I hadn’t contemplated before. It reminds me of how in the past, we wouldn’t have thought of doing things like YouTube searches or Twitter searches, since we didn’t have those resources. Now, we search at these places for unique needs. Facebook is a great repository of data, and it finally has a search catching up to all it knows.”

We especially like the YouTube and Twitter comparisons. Google’s stated mission is to, “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” Graph Search, like Youtube and Twitter, has a far less grandiose mission. Graph Search isn’t interested in organizing all the “world’s information.” They simply want to help you search for nice things your friends are interested in and use Facebook’s data to make their website more useful.

We believe that Graph Search has a bigger impact on other websites. Yelp’s stock dropped 8.5% after the announcement of Graph Search before rebounding later in the day to close down 5.9%. Getting reviews from your friends or friends of friends is more appealing than reviews from total strangers. Others have noted that Graph Search also presents a strong challenge to LinkedIn. It’s easy to see how people would use Graph Search the same way they use LinkedIn today to interact with professionals. We would still be surprised if these popular websites are dramatically impacted by Graph Search. We still recommend pursuing positive Yelp reviews and keeping and updated LinkedIn Business Profile.

What Recommendations Can Evolving Interactive Make at This Time?

We work with our clients to develop fan acquisition strategies. Graph Search only makes a comprehensive fan acquisition strategy more important. The same way SEO evaluates websites by the quality and quantity of links, Graph Search will be impacted by the quantity of “likes.” For more information on how to develop a strategy for your business, contact us anytime.


Best Tools For Social Media Growth

The important of social media marketing is only expanding, and you’ll need certain tools to start and grow your social media campaign. According to a study by Network Solutions, LLC and the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, about one in five small business owners use social media for marketing. Professional services businesses, real estate businesses, and the entertainment, food, and lodging industry use more email marketing, and the social services and education sector use more social media and direct mail marketing.

Whichever category your business falls into, though, social media marketing is likely to become more and more important to your business in the future. Here are just a few of the best tools that can help you grow your social
media marketing campaign.

If you’re already using Twitter as a way to market through social media, you need to know what other Twitter users have to say about your business – and your competition! Monitter is a real-time service that checks in on Twitter mentions. You can set it up to find information on mentions of just about anything, like your business and your business’s competitors. Monitter will then set up a multi-column display that allows you to see what people are saying about you. It’s a must-have tool to track what’s being said about your business and the competition, and it can also help you come up with ideas for further Twitter marketing in the future.

Facebook Insight
Automatically a part of your Facebook analytics, Insight lets you track trends and see how your fans are using your Facebook page. With Insight, you can get a section of demographics about your fans, which includes a list of who most often refers others to your page. You’ll also get analytics about the interactions fans have made with the updates on your page. This lets you see what type of content works best to get a buzz going on your Facebook page, who your fans are, and how you can more specifically market to your target audience.

This is an easy URL shortening tool that gives you automatic analytics on all your social media. A Bit.ly account gives you an analytics suite that will show you historical data, top referrers, and other vital information about where your links are ending up and who is following them through.

YouTube videos are easy to create, and they can be a vital part of a great social media marketing plan. If you’re using every form of social media except for YouTube right now, it’s time to jump on the bandwagon. Upload videos of employees giving presentations. Make walk throughs of how to use your products or troubleshoot common problems with them. Give DIY tips that link with your service industry. Many social media users are more likely to watch a video on a topic that interests them than they are to read a blog post, and once you’ve uploaded videos to YouTube, it’s easy to link them with your Twitter feed, blog, Facebook page, and whatever else.

Email isn’t dead quite yet, and in many industries, the email mailing list is still going strong. Whether you already have a mailing list or want to get one started, MailChimp is a great option for you. You can manage a list of up to 500 subscribers for free, and you can integrate your MailChimp with Twitter, Salesforce, and WordPress. Lots of major companies, including Intel and Fujitsu use MailChimp for their email list management!

While many of these tools are free, some require a subscription or yearly fee, especially if you want to get the most out of the service. If you don’t have it in your business budget to upgrade your MailChimp list, for instance, you have a couple of options.


Evolving Interactive Blog Chat – Jay Gierak, Stik.com

This week, Evolving Interactive’s Director of SEO, Mark Bealin sits down with Stik.com founder Jay Gierak to discuss the effects of social media’s integration into search engine results. Stik.com uses your social and professional connections for an informed consumer experience. Watch the interview here:

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Google Search Goes Social – How it Benefits You

A Guest Blog Post by Jerry Hillburn

Rise and shine fellow marketers, a new day has dawned at Google, and the game is afoot. On January 10th, 2012 at 06:29AM Google Time, Google quietly announced the arrival of Search, plus Your World . The big G has changed how search results are served up, and in doing so has created an incredible opportunity for those who publish daily content to get better positioning for their efforts.

According to Google, “We’re transforming Google into a search engine that understands not only content, but also people and relationships”. Interesting! As a fulltime participant in multiple social media platforms I have developed an understanding of the strengths and weakness of each. With Twitter you get tweets and about 5 minutes of fame, and if you’re very lucky, a viral retweet ripple that drives traffic. With Facebook you get a rich environment in which to engage your friends, and through Fan pages customers and prospects. As long as you live inside the walled garden you can have a lovely time with either.

But while both are great in their core offering, neither offer decent search results. I follow search very closely for my clients and I am always looking for ways to get their tweets or status updates seen in the big G search results. Over the past two years we’ve watched Facebook and Twitter updates appear in the results for a period of time, and then completely disappear. These messages come and go with little predictability.
Within the walled gardens of search on FB or Twitter we don’t see much better search results either. We often find that in Facebook Search you have to write your query in “exact case sensitive” detail or you get bounced to the Bing results. Google has owned the best search on the planet for years, but the walled gardens block its bots, which prevent it from serving up consistent Facebook and Twitter results.

For instance, let’s say you’re a chiropractor. You’re interested in finding people who are having lower back pain issues. Prior to 1/10/2012, when you do a search on Google for the exact term “my back hurts”, you would get a list of websites that offer to help you with your pain. But you don’t get a list of people who updated their Twitter, or FB status with mention of their pain.

Of course we will all still be tweeting and posting statuses to our friends, but for those of us who work in G+ there is the added benefit that when our friends, business partners, and clients work in G+, everything they post shows up in the Google search results.

There is a wrinkle. To see those results, you have to be logged into your G+ account when you search. But if you’re like most of us who have a gmail account, you’re always logged in and your search results now will be influenced by that little detail.

And so fellow marketers, there you have it. One doesn’t have to think hard as to how this new paradigm will be of benefit for your customers. And while I am hopeful that other results would appear as well from Facebook and Twitter, given the intense rivalry between these companies, I am not taking bets on it happening anytime soon.

This is a guest blog post by Jerry Hilburn. Jerry Hilburn runs a company in San Diego serving the local small business community with business web development, social marketing, and content publishing services. You can reach him at www.san-diego-marketing.com .

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