Social Networking & Web 2.0 for Professional Associations
Tue, June 17, 2008
Last week, Fuel Interactive's CEO Will McIntosh and I spoke to a small group of association executives at the South Carolina Society of Association Executives' 3rd Annual Conference about how they can use social networking to bring their communications with their membership into the 2.0 era.
Listen to the Social Networking and Web 2.0 for Professional Associations presentation mp3 (which is funny and fun with lots of laughs and learning too- and way better than this description of it) and view the PowerPoint while you listen.
I wasn't too aware of the whole "professional associations" world (also called professional bodies) before we were asked to speak at this conference, but every profession from lawyers to doctors to asphalt industry professionals has an association, they all have memberships, and they're perfect to make use of web 2.0- they already have people, they just need to connect them.
Here are some of the things we discussed:
- Web 2.0, Blogging, bunches of web 2.0 tools
- Blogs vs. forums vs. listservs
Sites and Services:
- Ning- Overview and Features
- Examples of Ning networks, some of which are associations
- Blogger, Wordpress
Social Networking and Web 2.0
- The best 2.0 sites for associations with limited resources
- Matching your social networking platform and your membership demographics
- Age and demographics issues with usage of 2.0 networks
- Quantcast demographic data on social networking sites
Making Your Association More 2.0
- Incentivizing members members to use 2.0 sites and services
- Using your existing email list to get people involved
- Leveraging membership to do the work for you!
Issues Associations May Have with Web 2.0
- Privacy Issues with blogs, Ning, and LinkedIn
- Comment moderation, spam filtering
- Professional discussions, discussion of legislation
Listen to the Social Networking and Web 2.0 for Professional Associations mp3 (which is funny and fun with lots of laughs and learning too- and way better than this description of it) and view the PowerPoint while you listen.
Search Marketing Business: Are You Losing Your Shirt Because You're Wearing the Wrong Shirt?
Tue, June 10, 2008
Why I Wear Graph Paper Shirts: Fashion & The Business of SEM
Previously a fashion choice made only by engineers and MIT students, graph paper shirts are now all the rage in the hot, young, explosive search marketing industry. Coincidence? I think not.
Graph paper shirts symbolize everything that's right and good about the business of Search Marketing.
I'm going to tell you why:
1. Aren't Graph Paper Shirts Nerdy? Yes. And that's a good thing!
Good SEM is analytics-based. Analytical people like order. Does anything say "I'm organized and logical" better than a shirt with lots of parallel and perpendicular lines? Graph paper requires thinking inside, alongside, and through the box.
Is there an "outside the box" in SEM? Yes, but it's inside some other box.
Sorry, you visionary freaks! Think of something new. We'll categorize it and assign metrics to it and define the process for doing it optimally. Then you'll be in another box to think outside of. We'll keep you visionaries on the run, and you'll love it, because you define yourself in opposition to us.
Alternative Lifestyle Indulgences: Wear mock turtlenecks or your old Metallica Ride The Lightning t-shirt and talk about "conversations" and "engagement". Watch the facial lines of worry stay stubbornly etched into the faces of executive decision makers handcuffed by a recession economy.
Best Solution: Wear graph paper shirts, talk analytics, talk metrics, talk bottom line. Use charts and graphs. Project profit. Get more clients. Make lots of money.
Taking it Too Far: Drawing 45 degree upward ROI lines on your graph paper shirt with those big sharpie markers is kind of unnecessary ...Rob. ...Duh!
2. Professional? Yes. Clients like it.
SEM, like most new computer things, is an unknown quantity (scary) for the traditional businesses we're trying to help.
Your prospects and clients don't understand PageRank Sculpting, Quality Score, or Information Architecture, but they do understand charts, graphs, and metrics.
Even if they haven't used KPI's adequately in their own businesses, your evangelizing of ROAS while wearing your graph paper shirt speaks reassuringly to their bottom line.
And they do understand the bottom line.
Fun Alternative Business 2.0 Lifestyle Choices: "Hey, we're new and wacky, we're business 2.0, we wear hawaiian shirts and birkenstocks and tattoos- we are new and powerful and weird, respect us!" Cool, may work for getting small SEO contracts for surfboard shops, but take that to a posh real estate development company in the South, and... um... nuh uh, see ya!
Best Solution: Wear graph paper shirts, talk analytics, talk metrics, talk bottom line. Use charts and graphs. Project profit. Get more clients. Make lots of money.
Taking it Too Far: Creating your own graph paper pants. That's common sense, guys. Just say no to graph paper pants. Yes to graph paper shirts.
3. Changes Your Attitude? Yep! Use it!
Don't get me wrong, it took me 34 years to darken the doorstep of a Brooks Brothers store. I'm the ultimate cool casual clothing sorta guy. I used to work at an outdoor gear retail company where business casual was a The North Face fleece, convertible khakis, and Merrell hiking shoes.
But dang it I'm in the South, and I'm in management. Have you read the research that shows that one of the biggest determinants of who gets to be the leader is the one who most looks like the leader? Studies also show that the taller you are the more money you make. I'm not a tall guy so I have to impress people with my stunning good looks, my mind-blowing intellect, my cantankerous obsession with results, and my ridiculously hilarious sense of humor.
But all of that would fall apart without my graph paper shirts and Italian dress shoes. Why? Because I think and act differently in different clothes. Are you so different? Try it and see what happens. I act more professionally, more conservatively in dress clothes.
Conversely, I'm more lax and self-centered in casual clothes. I call it being "creative", being "me", etc. but the measure of my value at work is the potentiation of my internal resources (knowledge, decision making ability, analytical ability, creativity, everything) in a team framework- and I'm simply a better team member in dress clothes. Weird, but true.
Self perception affects behavior, behavior affects self-perception. Classy clothes stimulate classy behavior, classy behavior creates a classy person.
This from a guy who used to say "it shouldn't matter how I dress- you should accept me for who I am". But if it doesn't matter how you dress, then dress respectfully- and if you won't do that, that says something about who you are, doesn't it? Noncomformity is disrespectful, because other people have limits in their perception of value- we use external cues to guess at truth- and if how I dress changes my own behavior, then I'm optimizing my work value by wearing different clothes... as an SEO I understand that clearly.
Alternative: Wear whatever you want, and witness yourself starting emails to clients with phrases like "hey dude..." and "hey man!" Sure there's a place for that, but it shouldn't be the default. Try an experiment- measure your productivity from client perspective, what you got done for them, and alternate your dress on different days for 6 days- analyze the results of your productivity in your different get-ups, and let me know what you find.
4. Morality? Yes, Clothing Affects and Creates Business Morality
Everybody in SEM knows morality is an issue. At the recent SMX Advanced conference, Danny Sullivan asked Matt Cutts how it felt to be the moral compass of SEM. SEO professionals must decide whether to and when to use gray and black-hat techniques.
Fundamental to this decision are questions like:
- Is this truly not a white hat technique? (Discernment)
- Will this technique put my client at risk? (Altruism)
- Will this technique put my reputation at risk? (Vision)
- Is there truly no better white-hat alternative to this (Creativity)
It may be argued that gray and black hat techniques don't jeopardize an SEO's career, especially if they only do it on their own sites- some may even posit that usage of these techniques increases SEO savvy. However, if your use of these activities could injure your client and could directly or indirectly injure your career, I'd argue that your attitude is immoral, instant-gratification-oriented, unwise, and more importantly: un-American, and you probably support the euthanizing of homeless people.
Is there less chance you'd engage in gray or black hat activities if you were wearing a graph paper shirt? Of course! Read on...
Alternative Amoral Clothing Choices: Everyone knows that the Enron executives got tattoos and road Harley motorcycles to work and wore leather boots just before defrauding their investors of millions of dollars, right? Just kidding. But Enron executives did not wear graph paper shirts, and they should have. They wore black suits and ties, and that may have been a problem, but more research is needed.
Best Solution: Wear graph paper shirts, go to church, feed the homeless, write down your SEM ethics, and follow them.
Taking it too Far: Using a red marker to check a box on your graph paper shirts every time you beat the temptation to take gray or black hat action. We don't need to know, buddy. Keep it to yourself.
Bottom line? The clothes make the man or woman. And if you disagree, you're wrong. I know, because I wear graph paper shirts, so I'm right.
More reading on Clothing, Self-Perception, and Business:
- BusinessWeek: Leaders Must Look the Part
- The Influence of Appropriateness of Dress and Gender on The Self-Perception of Occupational Attributes
- Clothing interest, clothing satisfaction and self perceptions of sociability, emotional stability, and dominance
- Search Google Scholar for more!
The Best SEO & PPC Reports
Mon, June 09, 2008
We hold ourselves to a higher standard than most of our clients do.
That sounds pretty pompous, but it's true. For example:
- SEO clients may ask for rankings- we give them those plus ROI, CR, ROAS...
- PPC clients want low CPC- we explain AdWords and deliver ROI, CR, ROAS...
- Not all SEO clients want reports every month, but we give them to them.
I think working well with clients in SEM requires these qualities:
- Desire to educate
- And personality and a sense of humor help too!
Detailed, Valuable SEM Reports
We've probably gone through at least five iterations of PPC reports and same for SEO reports- finding out what we need to communicate, what clients want to know and what account managers want to know has taken time, but we think we've finally got it dialed in.
Some clients are overwhelmed by our reports (but some clients are overwhelmed by new words, too, and some of that can't be avoided). We've tried simplifying the reports. For a time, we did shorter executive SEO reports with results, trends, business intelligence, etc. But sometimes clients or account managers wanted more detail. It really takes less time overall if we standardize a longer report that has everything they'd ever want in it.
For some time, I wasn't happy with our PPC reports because either they were so simple that the clients had no idea what went into managing PPC, or they had some keyword or ad detail, but we didn't have time to show everything- the entire complexity of adgroup level keywords and ads- so clients would make suggestions based on what info they did have, often suggestions that didn't make sense when you saw the bigger picture.
Fortunately, we switched to Acquisio, and their PPC reports are pretty easy- once a long report is set up (and some of them can be 25 pages long), the data just gets repopulated for the new time range next time you do your report. Easy enough.
And I'd rather a client either was overwhelmed and realized that's why they have us doing it for them, or got enough information to participate in a savvy way. Part of our monthly process is communication and taking suggestions or new campaign needs into account.
We have a saying about the reports our senior analytics lady does- "the most valuable part is the comments." These are her insights into the data based on the time she spends in the reports and months or years of knowing a client's data. We do the same with our PPC and SEO reports- we analyze and talk about what's changed, how we're doing compared to last year, what the seasonal trends might be, results of tests we ran and changes we made, and we state what our plans our next for improving the campaign.
Clients have varying needs- some are quite savvy and can collaborate directly with the Search Marketing department- these clients usually need more detailed reports and monthly review meetings. Some account managers like to do something similar with us before they meet with their clients- and sometimes we all meet. Some clients love to challenge you with questions or to try to get you to raise their game. It's nice to be prepared for meetings like that. Some clients don't want to know much and never have questions, or perhaps they look at the reports but never want to talk about them- regardless, for all these cases, comprehensive reports are best.
AdWords 911: The 4 Step Emergency Fix for Dying AdWords Accounts
Sat, June 07, 2008
I thought it was interesting at SMX Advanced how much more attention was given to SEO than PPC, and how some of my social media/SEO friends knew little or nothing about PPC, so here's a start at some info for them:
Do you ever inherit clients' AdWords accounts? They can be a mess, right? Where do you start?
Wouldn't you like an organized way to sort through everything?
I'm building a quickly growing SEM department, so I spend a lot of my time mapping efficient SEM business processes. One of these is how to take an AdWords account that's new to us and transform it into a shining example of the kinds of best practices that get stellar business results.
Sometimes clients have been running an account for years in what we'll diplomatically call a very simplified form: one campaign, one adgroup, no match types, no conversion tracking. They want to lower their cost per click because that's the only metric they can measure.
So we start educating about better metrics, and we transform that account into an AdWords machine that can get optimal results.
BTW you may apply these steps to whatever degree to other PPC engines- Yahoo, MSN, etc. - but I'm AdWords-centric... Do I have to explain why?
The 4 Step Emergency Fix for Dying AdWords Accounts:
1. Check Conversion Tracking
Is there any conversion tracking? Is it adequate?
This is the most important thing to do first, because you can't optimize without using a metric to optimize with... and CTR and CPC are not the right ones to use. What should be your key performance indicator (KPI)?
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