Optimizing Your LinkedIn Profile

These days, you want to create a LinkedIn profile that will get praise on the web. A profile that will get recruiters to dial your number… a profile that will clog your profile with thousands of InMail messages.

Indeed, having a presence on LinkedIn can increase your odds of being recruited. The platform rose to 300 million members last year, amongst which are individual recruiters and enterprises looking to hire the right fit for their corporations. It’s also intriguing that89 percent of employers have recruited from the site, so it’s a great opportunity to seek professional roles.

But just filling out a profile is not enough…

If you hope to be on someone’s radar, you’ll have to optimize your presence. The platform offers many overlooked ways to be more discoverable in search results and promote your expertise.

Below then, are 10 tips to craft a LinkedIn presence that will help you attract eyeballs of potential recruiters:

1. Write a robust summary

There’s a space of 2,000 characters to fill up for the summary, so you have the opportunity to list your goals, broader expertise, and success stories. You could also include real-life examples to demonstrate your experience. If you are a graphic designer, you can include a digital clip. If you are an author, you can include a chapter of your publication.

As for the keywords, the most important spots are the Job Titles, Headlines and Skills, but the Summary section counts as well. Mention relevant keywords in this section (without stuffing) while you write a compelling description. Here’s the LinkedIn summary of Cindy King, Director of Editorial at Social Media Examiner:

LinkedIn Summary should be thoughtfully crafted

Start-ups, sales, marketing, social media – the right keywords can be incredibly effective.

Some other things you should do in the Summary section:

  • Use proper spacing, formatting, and bullets where possible. Don’t fill up the summary with a block of text
  • Demonstrate your experience by including presentations, web addresses, etc.
  • Add a CTA (call-to-action) such as contact references and links to other web profile addresses
  • Display rich media

2. Headline and profile image matters

Headline gives you an opportunity to highlight your experience, so it needs to have something specific than the title of your current profession. LinkedIn will fill this space if you don’t optimize this element by filling the headline with the title of your recent or current role.

You should also note that the professional headline will show up under your name in search engine results. It can be a selling point, so you need to use a variety of terms to show up in a variety of searches. For example, using ‘Graphic Design professional’ as well as ‘Web Design specialist at abc’ will increase your chances of being discovered by recruiters in the same industry.

Example of a bad headline

Example of a bad LinkedIn headline

Example of a good headline

Example of a good LinkedIn headline

I recommend using the divider symbol (|) to separate titles when listing several expertise in the headline. Also, you should avoid any words like ‘experienced’ as mentioning such words is weak telling.

Next, you should pay attention to your facial appearance as it can affect judgments of traits such as competence and trustworthiness. You should avoid using:

  • Pixilated or grainy images
  • Black and white images (without reason)
  • Self-portrait (snaps taken by holding your arm out)

Instead, you should:

  • Use natural lightning
  • A clear light-colored background
  • Relax your face and expression

As the profile picture is crucial for your personal brand, you can take the option of hiring a professional photographer.

3. Join relevant groups

Discover relevant groups by using industry-specific keywords or via the group memberships your connections have. When you join a group, contribute professionally by sharing your views on a particular topic and start ongoing discussions. And if you’re the founder of a group, you might as well be an active member of it.

You might not know that when you’re a member of the same group as someone else you want to get in touch with, you can message them without the need of being their first-degree connection. Group members are also able to see profiles of fellow members without being connected, so joining more groups will expand your profile visibility and messaging options.

So if you’re a freelance graphic designer, you would join these groups:

Join LinkedIn groups to gain profile visibility

Give them a try, and see how joining a group can add a boost to your optimization goals.

4. Use the publishing feature

Wouldn’t you like people to see you as a thought leader as you optimize your profile? LinkedIn’s publishing platform will deliver your content to a network of people seeking professional insight. You can use a tool like BuzzSumo to come up with interesting topics relevant to your profession.

A published post can be viewed by anyone on LinkedIn; think of the platform as a way to showcase your expertise with high-quality information. The added benefit is that LinkedIn articles are ranking well in Google search results.

LinkedIn's publishing feature

Published posts are added to your profile, and anyone viewing your profile can see your publications. Even analytics showcasing the number of views, likes and comments are displayed.

Other tips to remember

  • Use formatting, spacing and best practices like in blog posts
  • End with a call-to-action
  • Be consistent with a publishing plan
  • Participate in comments

If your contribution gets featured on a LinkedIn channel (read about Channels here), you’ll get added exposure.

5. Get endorsements and recommendations

You need to add skills to your profile for optimization and get endorsements for those skills from your connections. LinkedIn will display your top 10 skills based on the number of endorsements, which will help profile viewers know what you excel in. The skills will be displayed in the drop-down menu, and skills that have been endorsed will move to the top.

Endorsing others also helps build strong connections with people in your circle. Usually after endorsing someone, you receive an endorsement and it’s easier to talk to the connection because you’ve been in touch recently. It’s possible to rearrange, edit and remove the skills and corresponding endorsements as well.

Another thing you should do is ask for recommendations from people you’ve worked for or worked with. These recommendations take up important real estate on your profile at the bottom. It serves as a social proof to win over new business; recommendations show what companies you’ve worked with and why they love working with you. Here’s an example of a recommendation given to a graphic designer:

Getting recommended on LinkedIn

To get high-quality recommendations, you need to:

  • Ask a team member or employer to recommend you on a specific detail, such as your deadline driven approach
  • List your key achievements to provide substantive content for the requested recommendations
  • Give recommendations – let the act of giving work out on itself. Recommendations can prompt a positive response, getting you one in return

Only recommendations approved by you will be displayed on your profile.

6. Highlight your achievements

In your profile, you get the option to add your certifications, honors & awards, volunteering experience, publications, projects, and test scores. These credentials will add value to your profile: if you don’t have a job, your volunteering experience will show you have been a part of an organization. If you have a certification that will make you stand out in the competition, display it here. Show prospects what you’ve achieved so far in your life.

You can include a lot of details in each of these sections. For example, publications let you include the URL of the book or website, the excerpt and the title. LinkedIn allows you to add up to 2,000 characters of description to a publication, as well as names of people (if any) associated with the publication.

Likewise, you can list larger initiatives you’ve been a part of in the Projects section. You don’t have to stick to collaborative efforts though; you can too reference your own internal work.

Highlight your achievements on LinkedIn,such as completed projects

Projects to highlight can include:

  • Designs developed/managed
  • Presentations & public speaking
  • Surveys, webinars & interviews
  • Training or team-building tasks

While you can list as many publications and projects as you have available, I don’t see it as a necessity. Instead, list the achievements you really want prospective employers to recognize you for.

7. Customize the URL

Similar to other social networks, your LinkedIn profile URL by default contains alphanumerical random characters. However, you can customize the URL of your profile by following these steps:

  • Open Settings > Edit
  • Click on Public Profile > Customize Your Public Profile
  • Select a name you want on the vanity URL

The profile will include your personal name. My recommendation is to keep the vanity URL same for all your social networks, something like ‘facebook.com/danvirgillito’ and ‘linkedin.com/in/danvirgillito’.

Getting a vanity URL for LinkedIn

Here are the benefits of using vanity URLs:

  • It enables consistent branding
  • It creates link trust
  • It makes you more memorable

LinkedIn users can also use profile badges to promote their profile on personal websites, guest blogs, etc. When users click on those badges, they’ll be redirected to your profile through the vanity URL.

8. Post regular updates

Your status updates will be seen by anyone who views your profile, and these updates will appear in the LinkedIn feed of your connections. Status updates are also included in the email you receive from LinkedIn as the weekly network update. Your latest status update will appear on your profile page. The character limit was changed from 140 characters to long-form for the status.

Status updates are a great way to build a memorable reputation and stay on top of mind of recruiters. Here’s what to share:

  • Key accomplishments: Something like, “Just received investment advice from xxx; excited about giving it a try!”
  • Industry insights: According to LinkedIn’s marketing strategy guide, 60 percent members want to look at industry insights over other forms of content
  • Tips and new trends: Good-quality updates related to your profession will interest others in your industry too. You can write about new trends, share success stories, etc. Search for new trends by following industry publications, Influencers and Pulse

Also, if you can’t post updates in real-time, there is always the option to schedule them. You can use one of these tools:

  • Buffer: Enables you to schedule statuses at optimal times (for company pages too)
  • HootSuite: You can schedule updates to be published on your profile, in groups, and company pages
  • Sprout Social: Schedule updates for your profile

In the ‘your updates’ tab, you can see the summary of all your updates.

Status updates increase LinkedIn engagement

With the above-mentioned tabs, you’ll be able to spot any update that was left as a draft and schedule it for later.

9. Incorporate branding

We think highly of people with good company, so increasing your network connections builds your personal brand on LinkedIn. Connect with former classmates, friends, industry leaders, trusted partners and other professionals.

If you want an introduction to someone, ask your connections (1st degree, 2nd degree, etc.) to introduce you as a contact. Profiles with strong and relevant connections (your connections reflect your personality) are always growing.

Another way you can incorporate branding is by customizing your LinkedIn background image. This requires you to upload a custom 1400×425 pixel image. Background is the first thing visitors notice on your profile, along with the profile image, so it is a sign of trust and credibility.

Custom background is a way to brand your LinkedIn profile

For premium members, it’s possible to choose a default background offered by LinkedIn, but it’s always a better option to upload a custom image. LinkedIn wants you to use a GIF, PNG or JPG image with 4MB being the maximum size.

For the custom image, you can:

  • Work with a graphic designer
  • Use tools such as Pic Monkey to create an eye-catching background design

Choose the option that suits your budget.

Note: When deciding what to use as a background image, keep it simple. If your success can be demonstrated with numbers, add them. If you have known clients, add their logos.

10. Be active

Optimization isn’t just about filling all details on your profile; it’s also about being active as a LinkedIn user. This can be done in several ways, such as by using an application to show yourself as an active individual. For example, you can use:

  • SlideShare: For getting the word out about your presentations
  • TripIt: To post your upcoming trip and keep viewers updated about your next destination
  • WordPress: To showcase your existing blog posts

Using third-party LinkedIn applications

Finally, offering help is crucial. Give out recommendations, congratulate people on their work anniversaries and volunteer your expertise. When people know you can be relied upon, you create a memorable experience, which builds trust and gives you additional recommendations.

Promoted Pins – Wading In The Shallow End First

Do you want to add Promoted Pins to your marketing mix?

Are you wondering how to budget for a Promoted Pin campaign?

You don’t have to spend a lot of money on Promoted Pins for them to be effective.

Because they have long-term visibility, they’re a sound addition to your Pinterest marketing.

In this article, I’ll share how to build an effective, affordable promoted-pin campaign on Pinterest.

#1: Start With Effective Pins

While promoted pins are an excellent way to get the most visibility for your advertising dollar, it all starts with crafting a great social media image. Based on your business specialty or niche, create images that speak to your audience.

promoted pins on a budget

Discover how to create a promoted pin campaign on a budget.

Also, use tall images to make sure your pins get noticed. They stand out better and command the attention of Pinterest users.

Give yourself a section of images and pin them ahead of time, so you have choices if you decide to test out various types of visual content using different small budgets.

Once you decide what image you want to use, here’s how to craft an ad for your promoted pin.

Note: Promoted pins are still rolling out in the United States. If you don’t have access yet, join the waitlist.

#2: Choose Your Objective

Go to your Pinterest profile and click the settings button next to Edit Profile to get to promoted pins in the drop-down menu.

pinterest profile settings

To get started, go to your Pinterest profile and select Promoted Pins under Settings.

Once you click the Promote button, you’ll see that Pinterest offers you two choices: Boost Engagement or Get Traffic.

pinterest promoted pin goals

Decide if you want to boost engagement or drive website traffic from your promoted pin.

To get maximum benefit from your promoted pin ad campaign, choose Get Traffic to Your Website.

Keep in mind this is a future strategy that does the promotion backwards. While you tell Pinterest that you want traffic to come to your website, what you really mean is that you want engagement for your pins.

#3: Create the Campaign

Give your campaign a name and then decide on what date or dates you want your promoted pin to be seen. Since the budget is low, you don’t want to stretch it out too long.

choose a pin to promote

Choose Get Traffic to Your Website, and then decide when you want to run the campaign and determine the budget.

If it’s your first time promoting a pin, use Saturday as your day. The more you use promoted pins, the more likely you’ll find the best day for your brand. Keep fine-tuning this aspect of your campaigns.

Now, decide how much money you would like to spend each day. I recommend spending $10 for one day or spread $10 over two days ($5 per day).

#4: Select Keywords for Visibility

The next step is to pick which pin you would like to promote. Then use keywords to tell Pinterest where you would like it to be seen.

This is one of the most important things you can do to get your pin noticed. Keywords should include everything that anyone searching for what you have to offer would think of. So make sure you hit all of the right niche-specific terms for your pin.

add keywords

Use niche-specific keywords to make sure the right people see your pin in Pinterest search results.

Depending on your niche, you can see an estimate of how many weekly impressions your pin may get.

#5: Determine the Cost Per Click

After you set your keywords, decide how much money you’re willing to spend for each person who clicks on your pin to be directed to your website. This is where you may think you need a large budget to get good traffic. However, we’re not after traffic right now. We want the engagement in the form of repins.

Come up with a low cost-per-click (CPC) number. I usually offer 15 to 25 cents per click.

set the cost per click

Set your Cost Per Click limit at a low number, so you get the most clicks for your budget.

A low CPC ensures you won’t run out of money if people get click-happy.

#6: Review Campaign Results

Once your campaign is complete, review the results and wait for the resulting traffic.

For example, I only spent $5 on the campaign below. It received a lot of engagement and impressions at the time, and I’m still getting traffic from it today.

viewing promoted pin stats

This $5 promoted pin campaign received more than 7,000 impressions and 42 repins.

The point of this whole strategy is to turn small amounts of money into traffic generators for your website in the future. The 42 people who repinned this pin will show it to their followers. When their followers repin it, it opens up new reach for you on Pinterest. It just keeps snowballing.

After two promoted pin campaigns over 30 days, I received an extra 218 repins by using a low CPC and targeted keywords for my campaign.

viewing promoted pin campaign results

Two campaigns in 30 days netted more than 61,000 impressions and 1,360 engagements.

Pinterest is a long game in terms of traffic, so a small budget goes a long way. People will always be pinning, and Pinterest rewards you for it.

Over to You

While many people think they need to spend a substantial amount of money for an advertising campaign to work, this is not necessarily the case.

To succeed with promoted pins, be mindful of your visual marketing. Choose a good branded image that will attract attention. And be patient.

This long-term strategy helps save money on ads, while giving you the greatest benefit. This is perfect for companies, but especially important for individuals looking to increase visibility and engagement at an affordable price.

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Published July 29, 2015

What Industries get the most reach on FB?

If you ask 3 Facebook experts about organic reach on any given day, you’ll probably hear 3 different claims:

  1. Reach is up
  2. Reach is down
  3. Reach hasn’t changed a bit

So, which is true?

Well, it depends on your page, niche, location, ad budget, etc.

To get an accurate picture of how reach has changed over the past year, you’d have to access 1,000s of pages — which is exactly what our friends at AgoraPulse did.

They examined about 7,200 Facebook pages to see if organic reach is in decline.

The pages came from various industries & niches, including:

  • Personal website
  • TV channel
  • Actor/Director
  • Radio station
  • Computers/Internet website
  • Athlete
  • Recreation/Sports website
  • Jewelry/Watches
  • Games/Toys
  • Food/Beverages
  • Cars
  • Hotel
  • Wine/Spirits

And the results might surprise you:

These Industries Are Getting the Most Reach Using Facebook for Business

using-facebook-for-business

These numbers came from pages that use the AgoraPulse Facebook Page Barometer.

You can get a pretty decent perspective on the website as a whole from these 7,200 Facebook pages.

For the infographic here is the break down of pages and quantity of pages used:

  • Personal website: 14
  • TV Channel: 17
  • Actor/Director: 4
  • Radio Station: 44
  • Computer/website: 20
  • Athlete: 31
  • Recreation / sport website: 21
  • Automobile: 59
  • Jewel: 33
  • Games / toys: 19
  • Food / beverages: 270
  • Hotels: 126
  • Wine / spirits: 32

Summary

The study showed that organic reach for some Facebook pages has increased. Many companies are still very successful at using Facebook for business.

But for others, reach has dropped.

Entertainment-based pages in the categories of personal website, TV channel, actor and radio station saw increases.

Reach dropped for pages focused on:

  • cars
  • food
  • games
  • jewelry
  • hotels
  • beverages

Pages that post lots of entertaining, interesting content, rather than just pushing products all the time, saw their organic reach increase.

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Advanced Facebook Marketing Strategies

You have to experiment if you want to take your Facebook page to the next level. Following all the Facebook best practices just won’t cut it. Instead of copying everyone else, here are 8 ways to buck conventional norms & really get important data for your Facebook marketing strategy.

If you’re new to Facebook marketing, don’t worry — this advice is easy to follow. But these tips will work wonders for the most seasoned social media marketer too.

8 Advanced Facebook Marketing Strategies for Serious Pros

1. Segment Time for Different Content

The trick here is to post different types of content throughout the day.

Then take note of what works at what time.

For example, post a news link in the morning so your fans can catch up on what’s happening in the world.

Then publish something more light-hearted in the afternoon — like a meme, fun question or a quote.

Then do the reverse the next day & compare the results.

2. Experiment With New Content

Do you post enough variety on your Facebook page?

Would you like to test some new content but don’t know where to begin?

Post Planner’s new viral photo finder can help. The tool quickly locates the most popular & shared photos on any Facebook page.

I used the viral photo finder to find this post:

http://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?app_id=&channel=http%3A%2F%2Fstatic.ak.facebook.com%2Fconnect%2Fxd_arbiter%2FX9pYjJn4xhW.js%3Fversion%3D41%23cb%3Df3ab4bb43%26domain%3Dwww.postplanner.com%26origin%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.postplanner.com%252Ffec77aa3c%26relation%3Dparent.parent&container_width=764&href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fpostplanner%2Fphotos%2Fa.118784028196924.21727.118495694892424%2F631845643557424%2F%3Ftype%3D1&locale=en_US&sdk=joey&width=466

The trick here is to try posting stuff you’ve never tried before — maybe stuff you’ve never even thought to try before.

See how it works. Gauge the reaction & then try something new.

Think of each post as an experiment! And let Facebook tally the results.

3. Post the Right Content on the Weekend

Maybe people don’t want to read your blog posts on the weekend.

At least that’s what recent research from BuzzSumo says.

So try posting other stuff.

Instead of posting articles, mix it up on the weekend with more engaging posts like questions, quotes & photos.

>> Click to Tweet <<

But again — treat these posts as scientific experiments.

4. Post at Different Times of Day

So many social media experts think they know the #1 best time to post.

Guess what?

They don’t.

That’s because it’s different for every page & fanbase.

The only way to find out is to run experiments.

Ie. try posting at off-peak hours when there isn’t as much competition for eyeballs.

>> Click to Tweet <<

It worked for one of my Facebook pages.

We got strong engagement on content we posted after 10pm.

5. Test Post Frequency

You’ve also heard lots of advice about how many times you should post each day.

Just remember, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for every page. The only way to find out what works best on your page is to experiment.

We post 6-8 times a day at Post Planner!

So it all depends on how engaged your fans are with your content.

Here’s a recent post from Post Planner that got more than 4,000 shares:

http://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?app_id=&channel=http%3A%2F%2Fstatic.ak.facebook.com%2Fconnect%2Fxd_arbiter%2FX9pYjJn4xhW.js%3Fversion%3D41%23cb%3Df68f18d4c%26domain%3Dwww.postplanner.com%26origin%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.postplanner.com%252Ffec77aa3c%26relation%3Dparent.parent&container_width=764&href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fpostplanner%2Fphotos%2Fa.118784028196924.21727.118495694892424%2F631547030253952%2F%3Ftype%3D1&locale=en_US&sdk=joey&width=466

Guess what?

The posts that we posted 2 hours before & 2 hours after this post also got huge engagement.

So don’t believe the hype when experts tell you to post only twice per day!

Test it out for yourself!

6. Be Personal

The Facebook pages I remember best are ones that engage with me on a personal level.

They showcase the personal side of their business.

Try communicating with your Facebook fans on a personal level. Discuss a new product launch by showing your team working hard behind the scenes.

Facebook is a social network, so be social.

Here’s a great Mother’s Day example from Creative Market:

advanced-facebook-marketing-strategies

7. Highlight Current Events

Are there events in the news that may interest your fans?

If so, you can craft your posts around those events.

For example, if a big game is coming up & your page focuses on recipes, share recipe ideas before the game.

If you run a fashion page, ask for opinions from your fans about what celebrities wore to a newsworthy event like the Academy Awards.

The possibilities are endless.

Pool Supply World posted this on Star Wars Day:

advanced-facebook-marketing-strategies

8. Crowdsource Decisions

Are you launching a new product or service soon?

Why not let your fans weigh in with their feedback?

>> Click to Tweet <<

Let them help you make decisions like:

  • picking a new book cover
  • deciding on a title or headline
  • choosing a new logo

This is a great way to get fans to engage with your page.

Check out how my friend Chris Reimer crowdsourced his book cover:

advanced-facebook-marketing-strategies

Wrap Up

Use these advanced Facebook marketing strategies to take your page to the next level.

The tricks could help you attract more followers & stay engaged with your fans.

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Using Blogger Outreach To Market Your Product

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Outreach marketing header

The story of the “great” blogger with “great” content but no traffic is a common one. Your excuse may be that you’re blogging as a hobby, maintaining an online journal just for fun, or not in it for the money.

But who are you kidding? Be honest with yourself—if you wanted to journal and didn’t care about having an audience, it would have been easier to write in a diary or Word doc.

So, you want traffic, right? Even if you aren’t blogging with the intention of building a million-dollar blog, it’s nice to have your ideas, words, and hard work appreciated.

The unfortunate thing is that this idea of “content is king” has got you believing that, if you writeamazing content, the traffic will somehow find you and because of this, you’ve been producing a post or two a day for the last 6 to 12 months. While you haven’t wasted your time, this strategy is incomplete.

Whether or not you run your blog like a business, you need to strategize like a business. Focusing on your “product” with no investment in marketing is like a business sourcing materials, manufacturing 100,000 widgets, storing the inventory in a warehouse, and then wondering why the customers haven’t been buying the product.

Not all is lost, however. You have tons of great blog posts already published and now you need to find the right bloggers or audience to share it with.

Get Your Free Outreach Marketing Template Now!

Outreach marketing mockup

Link Building Strategies: Guest Blogging And Outreach Marketing

Unless you’re already recognized as an authority or have thousands of readers a day, a passive form of content marketing isn’t going to work. Instead, your link building campaign must take two forms—guest blogging and outreach marketing.

For purposes of link building in this article, let me define guest blogging and outreach marketing:

  1. Guest blogging is contributing a blog post to a publication.
  2. Outreach marketing is requesting that a blogger link to your content from an existing or upcoming post.

Any effective link building campaign should, at the minimum, incorporate a combination of these two tactics.

But how do you decide where to leverage each one?

Guest blogging

outreach marketing

Guest blogging should be reserved for highly-relevant, powerful authority sites. This is because, as an individual blogger or one part of a small team, you don’t have the resources (time, energy, money, opportunity cost, etc.) to contribute to every single guest posting opportunity. You have to pick and choose where your resources will yield the greatest results.

The obvious example is that you would make a concerted effort to contribute to the CoSchedule Blog, whereas a smaller, lesser-known blog might get a pitch to be included in next month’s roundup.

Finding guest blogging opportunities.

To evaluate a blog, you must find relevant ones. This is really the easiest task of all because whose job is it to return relevant blogs? Google’s!

However, you need to be specific. If your blog is about “personal finance”, you wouldn’t try to reach out to CNN, Yahoo Finance, Wall Street Journal, or Bloomberg, which happen to be some of the top results for that keyword search.

Instead, pick a related, niche topic such as “how to become financially independent” and open up every website in the first 300 results (maybe not all at once).

Just remember that, as you work through this guide, it will benefit you to repeat the following process multiple times with different keywords to find the greatest number of bloggers to contact.

Evaluating blogs.

To determine if a website is worth guest blogging, don’t bother with the standard PageRank and domain authority (DA) metrics. PageRank hasn’t been updated since December 2013 and doesn’t seem to have the weight it once did in Google’s algorithm. Furthermore, as a third-party metric developed by Moz, DA is easily manipulated.

For example, I’ve come across dozens of penalized sites with high domain authority, and I view penalized sites as essentially useless for SEO purposes. If Google penalizes a site and takes away its traffic, it is effectively stripping the strength of that domain, so why get a link from one? Beware of link sellers and SEO’s selling links on crappy high DA sites.

Ultimately, the best indication of a blog’s strength is the amount of traffic Google sends to it via organic rankings, making SEMrush my favorite SEO tool. Just enter the blog you are interested in contributing to, choose “Positions” under the “Organic Research” tab on the left, and click on “All time” in the “Organic keywords” section.

If you find a level or upward trend, the blog is trusted by Google. Here’s a blog that ranks for nearly 10,000 keywords and is one you would likely be interested in earning a link from:

SEMrush organic traffic review for outreach marketing

Note that this blog has been around for at least 4 years and enjoyed gradual growth until recently exploding with traffic. That’s the kind of blog you should want to be featured on.

However, if this blog only had a 6-month history, now that might be a red flag indicating black hat SEO. And while you may get a temporary boost in rankings by guest posting on a site like that, it might be short-lived and thus a waste of your time because the goal is to build a strong, sustainable, long-term business model even if it takes more time and energy.

An example of a blog to avoid may have a chart like this:

SEMrush organic traffic drop review for outreach marketing

As you can see, this blog was hit by a penalty in late 2011 and has slowly been losing its keyword rankings.

Not all penalized domains will demonstrate an obvious trend like this one, but anytime you see a huge drop in traffic and no recovery, the blog is in decline. This doesn’t necessarily make it unworthy of contributing to, assuming the traffic hasn’t finally reached 0; it just means it isn’t a priority right now. Save it for a lull period when you want to tie up loose ends.

Guest blog vs. outreach: How to decide?

Outreach marketing guest blog vs. outreach

Once you’ve decided a blog is worth reaching out to, you must determine your approach. There aren’t strict rules for pitching a specific blog; it really depends on a number of factors, such as:

  • How many keywords is the domain ranking for?
  • How relevant is the blog to my target audience?
  • Is there a “Guest Post”, “Contributor Guidelines”, or “Write For Us” page? If so, how demanding are the guidelines?
  • Does the author link out often? If so, are the links dofollow?
  • How commercial does the site look?

For me, a domain needs to rank for at least 300 keywords or have a large, loyal following (subscribers or social media) to be worth investing hours writing content. The bigger the blog, the more time you should invest in making your contribution absolutely memorable because eventually, your portfolio of work will be your future credentials in email pitches.

On the other hand, if a blog is weak, you’re better off pitching the blogger on giving you a quick link by asking them to check out your content. Here is a template of the email pitch I use:

outreach marketing email template example

To make this feasible, the page you ask them to check out and possibly link to must be impeccable. Your content has to be extremely unique and insightful, your graphics need to be beautiful and vibrant, or you need to find some way to make a strong emotional connection with the blogger.

The page must offer exceptional value to the blogger’s readers to convince him/her to share your resource; otherwise, you are wasting your time.

Choosing the right content to promote.

I’ve never been a prolific blogger. In fact, I probably don’t build “blogs” the way traditional bloggers do because I don’t develop content on a daily or even weekly basis.

Since I create and grow so many websites, I focus on writing content where it makes strategic sense. There isn’t an exact formula for that, but I’ll use my latest project as an example.

Outreaching marketing choosing the right content to promote

After 5 years of being a full-time Internet marketer and SEO expert, I finally thought it was time for me to start sharing my Internet marketing and SEO knowledge. I created StartABlog123.com to teach beginners how to start a blog.

Given that the competition in the all-encompassing “blogging” niche is intense, it was important that I make my content stand out. This meant comprehensive non-commercial content, useful guides and resources, custom images, infographics, etc.

For instance, I noticed a lot of solo bloggers discussing burn out, not knowing what to write about anymore, and linking to other resources that helped blog owners come up with new ideas. Knowing there was a “market” for this type of content, so I created the “Ultimate List of Blog Post Ideas”.

Now lists of blog post ideas already exist, but none of them break them up into the types of content (how-tos, checklists, top 10 lists, interviews, podcasts, etc.) and then provide 5 examples of actual ideas for each. The post ended up being nearly 3,000 words.

Fortunately, after all that work, it was a hit. I even got a Tweet from Ann Smarty:

Knowing I had created something bloggers might consider special, I searched for “blog post ideas” in Google, skipped the first 30 results, and started approaching bloggers with the email pitch above. Since then, my traffic has nearly doubled!

an example of how successful outreach marketing doubled traffic

Market Your Content

There are many bloggers who pour their heart and soul into their writing and have absolutely amazing ideas, analyses, and content. You may be one of them. Sadly, your work may not be getting the appreciation it deserves, and that’s because you haven’t spent the time to let readers know you exist.

That can all change with an effective marketing strategy.

You can get to 100,000 visits a month with 100 posts or 10,000 posts. Frankly, I prefer the former. The only difference is how much time you invest in marketing your content.

Timeline Contests Break Facebook’s Rules!

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I’ve been keeping an eye on my news feed (as you’ll recall, I’ve liked over 4000 pages & counting) in hopes of finding lots of good & bad examples of contests being run since the rule change.

Honestly speaking, I’m not seeing as many contests as I’d expected.

This is probably because most of the pages I’ve Liked are larger company pages — and not small local pages.

In my opinion, contests on Facebook tend to work best with smaller, local pages — and maybe also with personality type pages, like music bands.

In any case, here are 3 examples of Timeline contests that violate the new Facebook Promotion Guidelines.

1. Tag To Win

According to Facebook’s Promotion guidelines :

In order to maintain the accuracy of Page content, our Pages Terms now prohibit Pages from tagging or encouraging people to tag themselves in content that they are not actually depicted in. So, for instance:

  • It’s OK to ask people to submit names of a new product in exchange for a chance to win a prize
  • It’s not OK to ask people tag themselves in pictures of a new product in exchange for a chance to win a prize

But time & time again I see pages (even after Facebook made the new guidelines) clearly instructing their fans to tag themselves in a photo to enter a contest.

An example of this is on the Nature’s Bakery page:

natures bakery facebook tag contest

This is a clear violation of the Facebook Page Guidelines — but as you can see, 108 people Liked the post & there are 126 comments.

So you can see why doing this kind of contest is tempting.

2. Share To Win

I see this one much more often than the “Tag to Win” contest.

Our friends at Nature’s Bakery appear to be offenders on this type of contest as well:

share to win facebook contest

What do the Facebook Guidelines say?

Promotions may be administered on Pages or within apps on Facebook. Personal Timelines must not be used to administer promotions (ex: “share on your Timeline to enter” or “share on your friend’s Timeline to get additional entries” is not permitted).

Translation: Page owners can encourage users to share the contest & come vote — by Liking their comment on a contest — but sharing cannot be a form of entering the contest.

Looks like 144 people helped Nature’s Bakery violate the rules!

Just so you don’t think I’m picking on Nature’s Bakery, here’s another offender (Lake Tahoe North) that collected 176 shares:

share photo to win facebook contest

3. Upload Cover Photo to Win

This is an old trick I’ve seen many page owners use over the years:

  1. Load a great cover photo promoting your product or event
  2. Encourage fans to upload it as their cover photo for a chance to win something

Is this against the Facebook Guidelines?

Let’s see:

All covers are public. This means that anyone who visits your Page will be able to see your cover. Covers can’t be deceptive, misleading, or infringe on anyone else’s copyright. You may not encourage people to upload your cover to their personal timelines.

Yep, seems like it’s against the guidelines to me!

Even if you aren’t doing it as a contest, encouraging fans to load your cover as theirs for exposure is a no-no.

Here’s an example from a band, Fresh Bakin, who recently asked fans to load their cover photo to win tickets:

cover photo facebook contest

There is no way of knowing how many fans actually uploaded the cover — but it does appear 91 people Liked the image, which was part of the “rules” for their contest.

Legit Facebook Timeline Contests

Don’t get me wrong here — if you want to run a contest on your timeline, then go for it!

Just make sure you follow the Facebook Guidelines.

Promotions

1. If you use Facebook to communicate or administer a promotion (ex: a contest or sweepstakes), you are responsible for the lawful operation of that promotion, including:
a.   The official rules;
b.   Offer terms and eligibility requirements (ex: age and residency restrictions); and
c.   Compliance with applicable rules and regulations governing the promotion and all prizes offered (ex: registration and obtaining necessary regulatory approvals)
2. Promotions on Facebook must include the following:
a.   A complete release of Facebook by each entrant or participant.
b.   Acknowledgement that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.
3. Promotions may be administered on Pages or within apps on Facebook. Personal Timelines must not be used to administer promotions (ex: “share on your Timeline to enter” or “share on your friend’s Timeline to get additional entries” is not permitted).
4. We will not assist you in the administration of your promotion, and you agree that if you use our service to administer your promotion, you do so at your own risk.

In other words, you can require fans to enter your Timeline contest by:

  • Liking a post
  • Commenting on a post
  • Liking & Commenting a post
  • Posting on the Page’s timeline
  • Sending a Message
  • Having the comment with the most Likes

It’s very tempting to run contests that involve sharing, tagging & uploading your cover photo — but don’t do it.

And obviously you can still use 3rd party apps to run your contest.

You’ll need to weigh the options of whether you run a Facebook Timeline contest or use a 3rd party app — that’s your call.

Social Media Calendars: To use or not to use…

You’ve heard of social media calendars before, but do you know what they are and how to use one?

Chances are you don’t. And that’s okay… I didn’t either when I entered the realm of social media marketing. But once I learned about it and how to use it, it change how I marketed my businesses on the social web.

Here’s why you need a social media calendar and how you can create one:

 

Why You Need a Social Media Calendar and How to Create One
Courtesy of: Quick Sprout

 
A social media calendar can help you consistently promote high quality content, cut down on the amount of time you waste, and organize and curate content.

If you aren’t using one, you should reconsider. It’s helped me almost double my Twitter engagement over the last six months.

Shared courtesy via Quicksprout @ NEIL PATEL on APRIL 24, 2015

Facebook Tips From The Trenches

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You know how to set up a Facebook account, you have even boosted posts so reallysocial media marketer how hard is Facebook marketing?

What sets a true social media marketer apart on Facebook? Quite a few things actually, but mostly it’s their holistic vision and appetite for information. Here are a couple of examples of things pro marketers do on Facebook that other page admins most likely don’t.

Natively Uploaded Videos

When you see a natively uploaded video from a brand page on Facebook, it’s a sign that the marketer who shared the video is a pro. Why? Pro Facebook marketers know that natively uploaded videos get more views than links to YouTube videos on Facebook — like 52 times more(!) according to a blog post from GetResponse.

To upload and share a video natively to Facebook, you will need your video’s raw file. Facebook accepts many different video file types (you can check out their list here), but .mov and .mp4 are the most commonly used. Once you have your video’s raw file, you can drag and drop it into your page’s status update box or upload it as you would a regular photo/video.

What a natively uploaded video looks like:

unnamed-1

What a YouTube video looks like:

unnamed-2

Videos with clear calls to actions often yield better results. So to take your natively uploaded video up a notch,  add a call to action button and fill out the optional video description fields.

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Staying on top of industry news — like knowing that natively uploaded content performs better on Facebook — allows pro Facebook marketers to be agile. They can quickly assess (often before the news has become widespread) whether or not they should research, test, prepare for, implement or disregard an update.

Using Graph Search to Learn More About Their Audience

When Facebook rolled out Graph Search in late September 2013, pro Facebook marketers immediately started investigating uses for the new tool. What pro marketers found was that they could use Graph Search in a lot of savvy ways to learn more about their Facebook fans and the types of people they wanted to target.

Since its release, Graph Search has been refined and updated to function as a semantic search engine, making it an even morevaluable tool for Facebook marketers. Now search results are indexed by Facebook (rather than Bing) and include people (both friends and people in a person’s extended network, i.e., friends of friends, people with similar interests and people nearby), posts, hashtags and locations, according to a post by Lior Degani on Social Media Examiner.

Pro Facebook marketers use Graph Search to research their audience, then use the insights they discover to more narrowly (and presumably more effectively) target their users via Facebook posts and/or ads. Here are a few phrases you can enter into Graph Search to start quickly learning more about your audience:

Here are a few phrases you can enter into Graph Search to start quickly learning more about your audience:

  • Pages liked by people who like [insert the name of your page]
  • Pages liked by people who like [insert the name of one of your biggest competitors]
  • Groups joined by people who like [insert the name of your page]
  • Pages liked by people who are older than [insert age] and like [insert the name of your page]

There are so many Graph Search searches you can try. Don’t believe me? Check out this post by Facebook guru Jon Loomer — he tests nearly 15 unique searches and shares his results.

Are Aware Of But Don’t Chase the Algorithm

Historically, when news breaks that a specific practice is working well on Facebook,  you’ll immediately notice a trend of everyone doing the same thing — it’s usually a trick that claims to help you boost your posts’ reach and/or increase engagement. But while everyone is busy changing their posting strategies to start doing “what’s working right now,” pro Facebook marketers are letting the bandwagon go on its merry way.

What’s most important to pro Facebook marketers is consistency regarding the tone, brand image, and the type of content they share on their page. If memes are the new “it” thing to post on Facebook to drive likes, you’re definitely not going to see a company like GoPro start posting lots of memes on their page. Why? Because they’re pros and are going to stick to sharing the content that represents their brand best.

This doesn’t mean that Facebook marketing pros are against testing. Testing is always smart, as long as it doesn’t compromise or confuse your brand’s current strategy.

#4 Pros Admins Think Mobile First

The number of people logging onto Facebook via their mobile devices continues to rise. In fact, of Facebook’s 1.32 billion users, a whopping 30 percent of them use the social network only on their phone, according to The Verge.

As social mobile usage increases, so does the number of pro Facebook marketers who are implementing and testing mobile strategies. These marketers have mobile on the brain! Before they share content, they consider the experience of the users who will consume their content on a mobile device. When they invest in Facebook ads, they invest a portion of their budget into mobile ad buys and tools like ShortStack that allow them to create mobile-optimized landing pages.

Mass mobile consumption is the future, and pro-level Facebook marketers are the folks who know this best.

Facebook Is Not The Only Way They Promote Business

This is perhaps the most important point of all. Pro Facebook marketers, who are also likely pro Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, email, etc. marketers, know they can’t rely solely on Facebook to promote their business. So when Facebook decides to change their algorithm in a way that does not favor content from brands, pro Facebook marketers don’t panic. Why? Because they don’t have all their eggs in one basket, and they know that they can lean on the other social platforms and marketing channels they’ve developed.

Readers, what else do you think sets pro Facebook marketers apart from the rest? Let me know in the comment sections below.

Facebook News Feed Algorithm Updates and What It Means To Social Media Managers

Screenshot 2015-04-23 15.26.26Google isn’t the only tech company making big updates this week, as Facebook took to the ’Net yesterday to announce updates to its News Feed algorithm.

There are three main News Feed updates according to the social network’s announcement. The first update focuses on improving the experience for people who don’t have a lot of content available to see. With this update, Facebook is relaxing its rule that prevents users from seeing multiple posts in a row from the same source.

While this first update may be good news for brands because it could lead to more of their posts being shown to users without a lot of content in their News Feeds, brands may not be as happy about Facebook’s other updates. For example, the second update will give higher priority to friends’ posts in the News Feed so members are less likely to miss this content. Facebook notes that posts from Pages will still be displayed in the News Feed, but the social network is trying to offer a better balance of content for each of its members.

Finally, the last update may have an impact on brands’ social “word-of-mouth” visibility. This is because Facebook is decreasing the visibility of friends’ actions in the News Feed, including stories about friends liking or commenting on a post. With this update, these type of stores will appear lower in the News Feed or not at all.

Facebook warns that these changes may have an impact on the distribution of brand Pages depending on the composition of the brand’s audience and the brand’s posting activity. That said, the social network suggests that brands continue to post things that people find meaningful.

“Facebook is constantly evaluating what’s the right mix of content in News Feed and we want to let you know about a change that may affect referral traffic for publishers,” the social network states in its announcement. “Referral traffic to media publishers from Facebook has more than doubled in the past 18 months and we’re always looking for ways to optimize how content is discovered and consumed. Media content is a key part of the experience for people on Facebook and we’re committed to helping publishers find the right audience for their content.”

by – See more at: http://www.websitemagazine.com/content/blogs/posts/archive/2015/04/22/beware-of-facebook-news-feed-algorithm-updates.aspx#sthash.C8M8tzMK.dpuf

Social Media Personas- What are they and how do I use them

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Social media platforms allow different facets of your audience’s personality to shine through. These traits are useful to incorporate into your marketing personas to better understand and develop targeted communications and content. These characteristics form a social media persona.

Here are three attributes that influence social media persona development.

Motivation for social media participation. One way to assess your social media audience is to understand what drives them to engage with your company on these platforms. By doing so, you can more effectively fulfill their objectives. Here are five of the major categories of participants who interact with firms on social media.

  1. Fans. These participants like your product or firm. They’re willing to show their association with your organization. But don’t assume that their willingness to raise their hand translates to purchase.
  2. Information seekers. These social media participants are focused on finding out more about your products and organization. They actively look for additional information to make the optimal purchase decision and to maximize product usage.
  3. Discount hunters. These are the price savvy shoppers. They associate with you on social media only to get access to discounts and promotions. They’re only loyal so long as you’re giving them the best offer.
  4. Thought leaders. When these social media participants communicate, others listen. They tend to have influential blogs and large numbers of followers. They’re popularity can be social media based or from real life. They’re in-the-know trendsetters. They can move the social activity needle when they endorse your product or blog. Their comments and shares drive traffic.
  5. Detractors. These people have issues with your firm and want others to know it. Often they’ve tried other routes to get their grievances addressed.

Function in the purchase process. It’s useful to know if the people who engage with you on social media platforms are in the market to buy from your organization. If so, how does this influence what they seek on social media platforms?

  1. Prospects. These are potential customers checking out your firm. They may have heard about your company from friends and colleagues.
  2. Customers. These people have bought from your firm recently or in the past. They may be looking to see your current offering, to get more information regarding product usage, or just want to associate with your firm.
  3. Influencers. These people help make the purchase decision. They may do the research or just give their input. In large organizations, especially B2B and not-for-profit, their opinion can sway purchase decisions.
  4. Decision makers. These are the people who ultimately make the purchase choice. Within a company, they have a lot of authority.
  5. Fans. These are past purchasers who like your company and/or products. They’re worth their weight in gold because they tell others to buy from you. They want to engage with your company on social media.
  6. Employees. The people who work for your firm. Train them to represent your company, particularly your social media team and customer service reps, to participate in a way that’s consistent with your organization. Have a set of social media guidelines so employees know how to identify themselves on social media platforms when they represent you and when they’re engaged in their private lives.
  7. Competitors. These participants work for your competitors. Unless your competitors have high visibility thought leaders, you may not be able to distinguish them since they’ll engage through personal social media accounts. Assume your competitors know what you’re doing on social media.

Type of social media interaction.  On social media platforms, participants act in one of three major ways.

90% lurk, 9% comment, 1% create

  1. Lurkers. Comprising roughly 90% of your total visitors, this is the great silent majority. While many marketers and bloggers are disappointed that these people don’t “do anything,” in reality, these lurkers can be your loyal readers or visitors. They just don’t do anything public on your social media platform. Notice, I didn’t say trackable. They are the bulk of your visitors generating the bulk of your pageviews.
  2. Commenters. Accounting for about 9% of your visitors, these people take a small action. It can be a social share, voting or short comments. The easier you make it for them to do something, the more likely they are to act. These participants may exercise their creativity in terms of curating other people’s content since this is a low involvement way of distributing content.
  3. Creators. Comprising a mere 1% of your base, these people actively engage. They leave comments, review your products or write guest posts. For most marketers, these participants are nirvana. Of course, you have no control over whether what they say is positive or negative. This small percentage of active contributors is one reason that marketing plans based on user-generated content are challenged.

To more effectively engage with your firm’s prospects, customers and fans on social media, it’s useful to create a social media persona or to augment your marketing persona with this information. Specifically, consider what motivates them to engage with you on social media platforms, understand their function in the purchase process, and the way they interact on these platforms.

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