The Social Tools Summit Hits Boston May 12, 2015: Be There in Person or Virtually

 

The Social Tools Summit is right around the corner. If you care about social selling or social media marketing, this is an industry event not to be missed. The Social Tools Summit is the first event of its kind—an entire conference focused on social tools, where you can learn Social-Tools-Summit-Boston-2015about the latest and most effective social tools and how industry experts leverage them to improve the ROI of social media efforts in order to amplify marketing and boost sales.

Have you struggled to implement social media best practices throughout your company? Many social business enthusiasts struggle with getting their colleagues to take social media and social tools seriously. With 40 industry speakers, the summit will explore various issues that businesses face regarding social media; learn how to make social tools an invaluable part of your marketing strategy from CEOs as well as in-the-know social media practitioners.

The keynote speakers are Dave Kerpen, CEO of Likeable Local, and Neal Schaffer, Founder of Maximize Social Business of author of Maximize Your Social. I will be speaking at the event on Trender panels throughout the day on numerous social media topics as well as marketing automation. I am thrilled to take part in this highly valuable and unique industry event. There are countless reasons to attend the Social Tools Summit; Neal Schaffer details many in his article: 45+ Reasons to Attend the Social Tools Summit.

Without a doubt, you will gain valuable knowledge about how to improve the ROI of your social media efforts. While there are certainly countless educational advantages of attending the summit, there is much to be gained from networking with the industry leaders and social media practitioners who are speaking at the event.

How to Rock Networking at an Industry Event

The goal of your networking should be to develop lasting, mutually beneficial relationships. To form valuable, long-term connections, you must be genuine in all your actions and be professional. Be a good listener and a respectful and responsive conversationalist; be patient and kind with others. Strive for full understanding of what they do and their business or professional concerns, all while not coming across as overly “salesy.”

Start by being helpful. Do something to help out a new connection; perhaps mention his company or remarkable work in your published content or refer business his way. People are more inclined to help those who have already proven themselves as skilled, knowledgeable and in the know.

Show up prepared to an industry event; arm yourself with high-quality business cards. I recommend Moo; they offer a vast selection of artful business card designs as well as the option to design your own business card from scratch. You should also bring a notebook to jot down key information you learn as well as notes about the people you meet and the conversations you have.

Finally, be strategic about your networking. Research the event you will be attending and reach out to people on LinkedIn ahead of time. A brief message saying that you will be at the event and would like to connect and learn more about their business is effective. The Social Tools Summit hits Boston tomorrow, May 12, 2015. I hope to see you there. If you cannot attend in real life, visit the website to get a streaming pass.

 

Join DDC for Our Google Connect Event

Join Darwin Digital Content for an exciting Google Partners Connect event on Wednesday, May 21st, 2014, in Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA.

DDC-Google-Connect-Event-Marketing-SEOThe event is a great opportunity for marketers to learn from Google experts about how to grow their business and take their brand all the way to the big stage.

We will provide refreshments; all we need is your company. We would love for you to come learn with us. Space is limited, so act fast to secure your spot. The last day to register is Tuesday, May 20, 2014. RSVP with Eventbrite. This is an event you will not want to miss!

The Google Connect speakers:

Arjan Dijk, VP of Global Small Business Marketing

Arjan, author of The Small Think Big Book, will share unique insights, inspirational stories, and actionable ideas to help small businesses thrive in a hyper-connected marketplace.

Fred Vallaeys, Google Adwords Evangelist

Fred will examine how businesses can navigate online advertising and expand their online presence through smarter insights—leading to greater customer engagement with digital ads.

Ben Wood, Director of Channel Sales Americas

Ben will discuss how small businesses should approach working with an agency, what resources the Google agency team provides, and the importance of working with an online professional.

 

Thrive Under Google Hummingbird’s Reign

To excel at marketing, there is no doubt that you need to remain highly informed about Google best practices.  Google rules the Internet, and Google Hummingbird now reigns supreme.  If you have not done so already, google-hummingbird-seoit is high time to update your overall marketing strategy—optimizing for Hummingbird.  Hummingbird is the most significant algorithm update within the last ten years.  The new algorithm is more sophisticated and able to process more complicated search queries and return highly relevant content.

Hummingbird is the solution to users inputting longer and more complex search queries and using Google more and more on smartphones with voice search; Hummingbird provides more effective semantic search.  For marketers, this requires a more holistic approach to high-quality content creation, which does not only revolve around keyword optimization.  Marketers now need to consider how they can deliver the best possible experience for their audience.  Create content that is highly valuable to your target audience, answers important questions and solves vital industry issues.  The Hummingbird algorithm is Google’s first step in evaluating the intent of your content and matching it to the intent of a searcher.  Now, let us discuss some Google Hummingbird best practices.

Optimize Your Website and Blog for Mobile Users

Since Google has such a wealth of data on hand, the company can predict online trends more effectively than anyone else.  The fact that Google has zeroed in on mobile Internet use and revamped their search processes in order to improve mobile results is telling; mobile Internet users should be a major concern for marketers.  To optimize for mobile users, a good start entails responsive website design, ensuring that your website is fast and fixing any smartphone-only errors.

Get Noticed with the Aid of Google Authorship

Enable Google Authorship to have your reputation and influence as a content creator taken into account in Google search results via AuthorRank, which has altered inbound marketing in a major way.  It is important for Google to know that you are the originator of your own content, which is where Google Authorship and AuthorRank can play a vital role.  Implementing the rel=author meta tag for all your content allows you to publicly declare it as your own original work.  Even if someone else posts your stolen content, they will be uncovered by Google and penalized according.  Put the following steps into action:

  • Edit your Google+ pages—both personal and business.  Inform Google that you are an author for the websites that feature your content by adding their URLs to the “Contributor to” section.
  • Create links from your content to your Google+ page.  This step is easy, if you have email addresses on the same domains as the websites you added to the “Contributor to” section.  Visit the Google Plus Authorship page to enter your email addresses.  If this is not an option for you, you must add the following HTML code to the text of all your original content: <a href=”[your profile URL]?rel=author”>Google</a>.
  • Test your content to verify that your Authorship set-up was effective by entering one of your article’s URLs into Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool.  Your Google+ profile picture, byline and “More by [your profile name]” should show up in the sample search results.

Be Active on Google+

Utilizing all the tools Google has to offer will help you fare better with Google Hummingbird.  Being an active Google+ user and publicizing your original content on the social network should be a no-brainer.  Create a robust Google+ page for your company—featuring your main content topics in the introduction.  Work to increase your influence and credibility on Google+ by leveraging authentic engagement and participating social discourse frequently.  Share relevant, high-quality content, and foster relationships with industry influencers and thought leaders.

Have you established a strong social presence on Google+ and enabled Google Authorship?  Are you publishing high-quality, valuable content, which will help you attain status as an industry influencer?  These actions could help you please the Hummingbird.

 

Inbound or Outbound Marketing? Think Boundless Instead

Without question, inbound marketing is currently en vogue.  Outbound marketing has fallen out of favor for a number of reasons, including high costs as well as data and content overload.  boundless-marketingAccording to HubSpot CEO, Brian Halligan, your prospects are deluged with over 2000 outbound marketing interruptions daily.  Breaking through the noise and capturing attention is becoming increasingly fraught with difficulties, as many individuals avoid marketing interruptions with email spam filters, caller IDs, DVRs, satellite radio and other creative methods.  Such technological advancements have made enticing your target audience through outbound marketing a more complex and expensive enterprise.  Certain outbound tactics like cold calling have no doubt become far less effective since the dawn of the digital age.

Outbound marketing can feel like an uphill battle—trying to attract and convert the very people who are actively blocking your access to them.  Conversely, high-quality inbound marketing entails the creation of highly relevant, information-rich content, which demonstrates deep industry insight and thought leadership.  Strategic inbound marketing can bring your prospects right to your website, your content, your CTAs and all the way through your sales funnel—on their own accord and without any aggressive push tactics like intrusive pop-up ads or cold calling.  It is clear why many marketers have abandoned outbound tactics for the promise of inbound marketing success.  Although outbound marketing has certain drawbacks in the current marketplace, it should not be left in the dust.

Your inbound marketing will likely be most effective with Generation Y—those born between the early 1980s and 2000—and Generation Z—those born in the early 2000s to the present.  These individuals are—or will be when they grow up—tech-savvy and highly engaged in social media.  Gen Y grew up relying on the internet for information, and the internet is more central to the Generation Z way of life than any earlier cohort.  While all this sounds very promising for inbound marketing, outbound marketing still has significant value.  Consider a typical CEO in his mid-50s.  While he corresponds via email daily, he is not an avid social media user and does not fully grasp the importance of content marketing in the current economy.

Imagine that you are an enterprise software company trying to turn this CEO into a qualified lead and ultimately convert him to a client.  He may be unlikely to visit your website or read your top-notch industry blog; he might never see your highly relevant content, strategic CTAs or enticing premium downloads first hand.  When this CEO wants to make a SaaS purchase, he delegates the research to his staff.  He may just hear the broad strokes about your company and service offering compared to your top competitors.  You may never get the chance to wow him with your inbound marketing, simply because he does not have the time to read lots of enterprise software industry blogs.  The CEO is virtually consumed by the day-to-day demands of running his corporation.  He does not have the time for—or any interest in—tweets, likes, +1s or social content curation.

When he wants to hire a company to help him reach his business growth objectives, he relies on the research of his team, word-of-mouth marketing, business journals and his extensive professional network.  To reach him through these channels, your influence needs to extend well beyond social media.  You need to be well known, well respected and broadly perceived as superior to your industry competition.  Attaining such clout calls for clever PR, impressive reach and mass exposure won the old-fashioned way—not simply by one of your blog posts going viral.  Such business influence could take years to build.

Inbound and outbound marketing each have particular merits and should be used in concert to optimize your marketing ROI.  Last month, I visited New York and walked through Times Square, where I was immediately struck by social-media-big-businessthe convergence of inbound and outbound marketing by many major brands, including Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Disney, Hyundai and Samsung.  These brands spend big in order to have their outbound marketing featured in such a prime location; Disney even has vintage cartoons playing on a massive silver screen.  The marketing strategy of these major brands is a combination of inbound and outbound tactics.  They all utilize the full spectrum of marketing options—social media included—in order to win big.

I advocate boundless marketing, which encompasses both inbound and outbound tactics; it does not limit or confine you to just one operational paradigm.  Function boundlessly in your marketing—drawing on inbound and outbound tactics on a case-by-case basis.  While inbound marketing can be highly effective for most types of prospects, others—like the CEO—can be immune to its charms.  You will need to infect his kind with a potent mix of PR, outbound marketing, traditional advertising and high-powered face-to-face networking.

After all, not all professional networking happens on LinkedIn…A firm handshake, a killer golf swing and the ability to hold your scotch could not hurt either.  This advice is not just for men; do not limit yourself in business due to your gender.  Do not confine yourself or your company to inbound or outbound marketing exclusively.  Instead, be agile and strategic about your marketing strategy.  The ability to pull this off winningly is what separates the real movers and shakers from everyone else.

Excellent Content Plus Genuine Engagement Equals Social Business Success

Content marketing is no longer optional.  Any company with a website can benefit from content marketing.  With the current importance of social business practices, high-quality content content-marketing-social-media is rewarded with a social media spotlight, amplified exposure and increased lead generation and conversion.  All content types are important—including tweets, blog posts, webinars, SlideShare presentations, infographics and premium content, such as whitepapers and ebooks.  Social engagement is paramount.  Whether it is a LinkedIn update, a reply to a Facebook comment or a long-form blog post, attention to detail and quality is essential.  Social media success happens when top-notch content creation and true engagement converge.  In fact, real marketing success of any kind calls for excellent content.

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing can be broken down into three major categories: original social content creation, social content curation and social engagement.

1. Original Social Content Creation

What is social content?  It is content that is created, curated or part of a social media dialogue.  We have all heard the phrase: “Content is king.”  However, not all content is created equal.  You need to publish content with real-time relevance and rich in information, which strikes the right chord with your social audience and target market.  MarketingProfs CEO Ann Handley explains: “Content isn’t just another channel. It’s a mindset. It’s not new, but instead, technology and social tools and platforms have created new opportunities, which continue to evolve, and afford us new ways to respond to customers and communicate with them.”

Numerous content types can be utilized to promote your company on social media.  Not all your social content must to be created from scratch.  If you have a vast inventory of company content, including blog posts, video and premium content going back years, you may be able to update and repurpose relevant content to share on all your social media channels, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.

  • Perform an audit of all your original content.
  • Analyze your social media data and content curation history to determine which content types and topics performed best on each social network, and then tailor your social content strategy accordingly.
  • Use your findings to create a social content style guide; use it as a framework for all future content created for social media.

 2. Social Content Curation

Social content curation done right entails the discovery, curation and sharing of relevant, industry-leading content across at least the big four social networks—Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.  If you are committed to going social, a company presence on these major social networks is a minimum requirement.  However, just having social media profiles is not enough.  Smart social content curation is valuable to others and can help you attract a more significant social following and magnify lead generation.

There are plenty of great resources for the discovery content to share on social media, such as Klout, Topsy and Tweepi.  Syndication websites like Social Media Today and Business 2 Community are highly useful digital destinations for finding fresh writing talent and the content best suited for your social content curation.

3. Social Engagement

Genuine social engagement is essential.  When someone shares your content, always reply with a personalized message to thank him or her.  When questions are asked, answer them with deep industry insight and authority—showcasing your thought leadership.  Following these practices will promote greater engagement, augment your industry influence and help you get recognized as an industry thought leader.

Without high-quality content creation, you will not be able to build social capital, and your company will suffer as a result.  Highly shareable content, smart social content curation and genuine engagement could dramatically amplify your reach and dramatically boost lead generation and conversion.

 

Inspired Content Creation

Content marketing has revolutionized the way marketers, companies and organizations of all types generate interest, reach their audiences and inspired-content-seoconvert prospects.  Successful content creation now calls for more than traditional SEO tactics and a focus on run-of-the-mill industry topics.  The quality and social capital of content has taken on paramount importance.  To attain a high-traffic website and booming business operations, you need to produce unique, cutting-edge, captivating and yet still highly relevant content.  Substance matters.  While high-impact, exciting topics may boost your visibility initially, information-rich content jam-packed with deep industry insight will win you long-time blog subscribers and frequent website visitors. [Continue reading on Social Media Today.]