The Internet Marketing Driver: Glenn Gabe's goal is to help marketers build powerful and measurable web marketing strategies.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Black Hole of Blogging and Twitter, The Importance of Consistency and Persistence for Building Critical Mass in Social Media


Why many new bloggers and Twitter users get frustrated and drop off the social media grid.It’s hard to have a conversation about online marketing without bringing up both blogging and Twitter. Both have become critical components of a well-balanced online marketing mix (and for good reason). Blogs can be the anchor in a social media marketing strategy, enabling a company to humanize itself, provide valuable content for targeted users, and also target the long tail of SEO (which is critically important for natural search). Then you have Twitter, which has become a powerful way to engage targeted users and to get the word out about your valuable content. If you’re new to social media marketing, then blogging and Twitter should probably be the first two items on your checklist when starting. They are too powerful and ubiquitous to ignore.

So based on what I just explained, it’s natural for companies to get excited about launching a blog and Twitter account. Setting them up is the easy part (as most people find out). The act of consistently and continually blogging and tweeting is the hard part (and where most people fail). Once the accounts are set up and ready to go, I typically hear a few important questions from new bloggers and Twitter users. For example, “what should I blog about?” or “why do my tweets seem to go nowhere?”, and “what’s the ROI of this?” I’ve heard these types of questions so many times, that I can almost answer them in my sleep. To help demonstrate the problem, I’ve displayed a bell curve below representing the stages in the process of starting a blog or Twitter account. The graph includes brainstorming, excitement and enthusiasm, the launch, publishing, the first encounter of the “black hole”, and then a quick fade to confusion, frustration, slowdown, and ultimately silence. The cause of the trend is what I like to call The Black Hole of Blogging and Twitter. It won’t be studied in astronomy classes across the country, but believe me, it’s there.

The Bell Curve of New Bloggers and Twitter Users.

Defining The Black Hole of Blogging and Twitter
There's a slide in my presentation about social media marketing that consists of a single large black circle with the caption, “This is what you’ll be blogging to once you launch.” Then the following slide contains another black circle with the caption, “And this is what you’ll be tweeting to...” Both circles represent the black hole that new bloggers and Twitter users face during the beginning of their social media initiatives.

But what exactly is the black hole of blogging and Twitter? It’s actually simple when you break it down (and makes a lot of sense). When you start a blog or Twitter account, nobody knows about you (usually) and the hard truth is that nobody cares. Your priority as a new blogger or Twitter user should be to build credibility and trust, and just like in the offline world, that takes time. So, you start writing killer blog posts and tweeting valuable content. You build some subscribers and followers, but nobody gets in touch with you.

There are no retweets.
There are no votes.
There are no stumbles.
There are no high search engine rankings.
There are no comments.
And there are no calls.

Yes, you just realized that you’re blogging and tweeting to a black hole. Cue Twilight Zone music. :)

Overcoming The Black Hole
I’m sure you’re wondering how you break out of the black hole. Good question. In order to break out and gain some traction, you need to build critical mass. And no, this isn’t easy and you cannot game critical mass. Building 2000 Twitter followers in a week via some automated service won’t build you true followers. It will build zombie followers. And although they’ll be there, they won’t know who you are, they won’t care about you or your tweets, and you’ll get no value from having them. You need to earn true followers.

The Key To Breaking Out of the Black Hole
The key to breaking out of the black hole is to build a strategy for blogging and tweeting and simply keep going… You need to keep blogging, promoting your posts, and connecting with other bloggers. You need to respond to comments on your blog and on Twitter (although there won’t be many in the beginning). You need to be consistent, persistent, and tough it out. On Twitter, you need to keep pumping out valuable content. It should be content that interests targeted users. You should track your tweets to find out what your followers are interested in and refine the content that you tweet. You need to filter what’s important and make sure you tweet multiple times per day, every day. Yes, that’s every day, including weekends. You need to engage other Twitter users, respond to direct messages, and help out your followers. No, it’s not easy, but the benefit will greatly outweigh the work involved. But, that benefit will only come if you work your way out of the black hole.

If you do end up gaining critical mass, then the black hole will start to shrink. You’ll see breaks of light in the darkness and you might start connecting with people from all over the world. If you’re tracking your efforts, you’ll start to see more subscribers, retweets, inbound links to blog posts, social media activity around your posts (like Stumbles, Diggs, Bookmarks, etc.) You might just start becoming a believer in Twitter, blogging, and social media. And always try to remember the bell curve I provided above, and try as hard as possible to not become part of that trend. Unfortunately, I see it way too often from companies launching new blogs and Twitter accounts.

Did I Mention SEO?
As more people enjoy your posts, share them with others, tweet them to their followers, vote for them, and bookmark them, the more valuable links your blog will build. The more valuable links you build, the more SEO power you gain. The more SEO power you gain, the more keywords you’ll rank for. And as more targeted users search for topics you write about, they might very well end up at your blog. And since you’ll promote your Twitter account right on your blog, you’ll also gain them as Twitter followers. And the more subscribers, followers, fans, and new customers you build, the more you’ll want to blog and tweet. The cycle will all make sense to you at this point, but you need to get there first. I’ve written about the Twitter Effect on SEO previously on my blog. Read the post and you can see how both blogging and Twitter can have a profound effect on natural search. You shouldn’t ignore that fact. Natural Search is too powerful to ignore.

Don’t Give Up
If you’re new to blogging and Twitter and you are currently dealing with the infamous black hole, don’t get frustrated. Stay the course and keep going. You need to keep building and sharing quality content, connecting with others, tweeting great articles, etc. And if you’re able to work your way through the black hole, you might eventually see the power waiting on the other side. But if you let the black hole get to you (like many people do), you’ll end up off the grid, and you’ll lose out. And if that happens, you’ll leave a void that your competitors could fill. And they sure will. The opportunity is there. Make sure you’re in the game.

Now go write a blog post. :)

GG

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Icing on the Cake, Announcing the Winner of the “Search a Small Business” Holiday Giveaway


Kati's Kupcakes wins the Search a Small Business Holiday Giveaway from G-Squared Interactive.Last week I announced the “Search a Small Business” Holiday Giveaway from G-Squared Interactive. Since small businesses often move at light speed to keep their operations running, they sometimes don’t have the resources to stay on top of online marketing. So in the spirit of the holidays, I wanted to give a small business in New Jersey a free online marketing audit and analysis performed by myself and Matt Leonard (@mjleonard).

The audit and analysis will provide a roadmap for the company’s online marketing efforts and could include recommendations for SEO, SEM, Social Media Marketing, Website Optimization, and Web Analytics. Although an “audit and analysis” doesn’t sound like a killer online marketing service, it’s probably one of the most powerful services I offer. The analysis will identify online marketing strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities, and will ultimately help develop a roadmap for moving forward. And if you’ve read any of my previous blog posts, you know I don’t believe in “charging the hill” without performing a thorough analysis.

And The Winner Is…
I’m happy to announce that the winner of the holiday giveaway is Kati Angelini who owns a small business in Moorestown, NJ called Kati’s Kupcakes. We’ll be reaching out to Kati today to set up an initial conference call where we will discuss next steps. And yes, I plan to ask for a few cupcakes along the way. She doesn’t know it yet, but I’ve got a serious sweet tooth. :)

So congratulations Kati! We’ll be in touch shortly.

Happy Holidays!

Glenn Gabe and Matt Leonard

Labels:

Monday, December 07, 2009

Announcing The “Search a Small Business” Holiday Giveaway from G-Squared Interactive


The Search a Small Business Holiday Sweepstakes from G-Squared Interactive.The holidays are always a great time to reflect upon the past year in online marketing. Looking back at 2009, it’s interesting to analyze how various companies utilized new technologies and marketing channels to increase sales and engage prospective customers. I feel fortunate to be in a position where I get to speak with many marketers from a wide range of companies (both large and small) to learn which tactics they are using to grow their businesses. I think it's been an amazing year, with Search, Social Media, and Mobile attracting a lot of attention from a wide range of companies and organizations.

However, looking back on my conversations and projects over the past year, it’s hard to ignore the lack of resources available to ultra small businesses. These small businesses unfortunately don’t have the time or budgets to tackle online marketing the way larger companies can. They also happen to be a critical component of our economy, so it just doesn’t seem right.

Ultra-Small Businesses & Online Marketing
To me, ultra small businesses are companies run by one or two individuals, employ less than ten people, generate under $500K per year in revenue, and move at light speed to keep their businesses moving. Ultra small businesses are critically important for our economy, but tend to be overshadowed by news from larger brands and companies. As article after article is written about multi-billion dollar powerhouses, the small business owner remains somewhat anonymous. Yet, those very business owners in aggregate employ millions of people and are an important part of the framework of commerce in the United States.

This got me thinking. What could I do this holiday season to help a small business start 2010 the right way? Let’s face it, many small businesses don't have the time to learn about the latest in online marketing and how to leverage those tactics to increase sales. But, just because they don’t have huge budgets and big brand names doesn’t mean they have to be left out in the cold!

The “Search a Small Business” Holiday Giveaway
So in the spirit of the holidays, I decided to launch The “Search a Small Business” Holiday Giveaway here at G-Squared Interactive. Over the next week, small businesses that meet the requirements listed below can simply send us an email to enter the contest. The winning business will receive a free online marketing audit, which includes an analysis of how their current website is performing. And more importantly, the analysis will provide recommendations for improving the website and various online marketing efforts. Insights from the analysis could include recommendations for improving Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Paid Search (SEM), Social Media Marketing, Website Optimization, and Web Analytics. The goal is to help the winning company quickly understand changes that can impact its business. The analysis will be performed by myself and Matt Leonard, an incredibly smart online marketer and good friend of mine that has agreed to help. For those of you on Twitter, Matt is @mjleonard and you should follow him now if you aren’t already. Together, we plan to arm a small business with key information for improving its online marketing efforts.

Please review the following requirements before entering the contest to make sure your business is eligible.

In order to be eligible, you must:
* Have less than 10 employees.
* Already have a website. Since this is an online marketing analysis, we need something to analyze. :)
* Be located less than 60 miles from Princeton, NJ and be a NJ business. This is because Matt and I will present the results to you in person at your office. I recommend you check Google Maps to see if you are eligible.
* Be willing to let us write follow-up blog posts about the giveaway and project. We would like to provide updates about how the winner is using the information provided in our analysis.
* Be willing to make changes! The analysis can only go so far. You will need to act on the recommendations in order to see an impact.

To read the official rules and regulations, please click here.

So let us help your business start off 2010 with the right online marketing strategies in place! Enter now by emailing us at smallbizmarketing@gsqinteractive.com. Be sure to include all of your contact information so we know how to get in touch with you, including your full name, business name, business address, number of employees, phone number, and website URL. We will be accepting emails for the contest from Monday, December 7th, 2009 through Monday, December 14th, 2009. We will announce the winner on December 15th on this blog (and directly contact the winner via the information they provide when entering the contest).

Happy Holidays!

Glenn Gabe and Matt Leonard

Labels: , , , , , ,