Control Your Facebook Preview Image

I was trying to post a link on Facebook, but it wouldn’t select any of the images I’d used and wanted to pull a picture from my template layout. This inspired me to find out how to control that, and thankfully the information was available on their Faceboook development page, and is done via “Open Graph” tags.

<meta property=”og:title” content=”This will be your Title” />
<meta property=”og:description” content=”This will be your description” />
<meta property=”og:image” content=”http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3217/2762458387_31207c1a81_m.jpg” />

I am still testing this myself, and it seemed to work initially.. Let me know if this works for you!

What I learned as a Facebook Page Noobie

So a few months ago I started dabbling with creating Facebook pages for a couple of different clients and projects. There was the Facebook page for The Riverside Home Source, a real estate and community site for Riverside, my site for Claremont and it’s Around Claremont facebook page and of course my Chino Roller Derby Team- The Prison City Derby Dames. Here’s a few things I learned as I got started a

  1. Most businesses have not leveraged their Facebook pages correctly. Either they don’t exist at all, or they don’t post anything useful, just shout at people deals and squeals.
  2. Most pages don’t have enough photos. You should have at least a profile picture, and then 4 more so they fill the bar at the top of your profile page.
  3. It’s not about likes, it’s about “engagement”. Don’t go begging “we’re trying to get to x # of likes” instead put out pics, comments and try to engage other pages. It’s worth far more to get people commenting on your posts then to get more likes.

Here’s the most helpful site I’ve found for Facebook tips, The MLS App , it’s admin’d by Jimmy Mackin who actually responds to your comments quickly and often uses yoru questions as fodder for video response blog posts. Take some time to read his Facebook guide, or watch a webinar. He rocks!

Observe, Participate, Engage – Social Media Coaching

Here’s a good phrase to use when you need to coach clients on effective social media marketing, “Observe, Participate, and Engage!”, let me break it down for ya:
Observe
You want to encourage your clients to observe the social media outlet they’re targeting and understand how it works.
Youtube: Liking, playlists and comments
Facebook: Liking, posting links, pictures, questions, videos on Facebook profiles and fan/business pages
Twitter: Tweet, @ Reply, Retweet, List
Yelp: Reviews, Comments
Blogs: Relevant comments, referencing posts in your own blog

Participate
Show your clients that they should participate in the conversations that already exist around blog posts, videos, posts, questions etc.It’s an opportunity to connect with a target audience and express a humanity and common interest. In most cases it also counts as an inbound link as their profile name leads from their comment/like etc to their profile.

Engage
Effective marketing on social media is fueled by good content, so post links to their own site’s resources, interesting articles they’ve discovered, video that is topical, interesting quotes or thoughts etc. By putting something out there you’ll engage active participants, gain recognition and with patience and diligence a following.

Blog is a Four Letter Word

A personal blog is, to me, a misnomer. Other than being in the drivers seat as to its contents, what’s so personal about it? Isn’t the point to reach other readers?  Because honestly if I just wanted a personal diary, I’d still keep it between my mattress and box springs.  And I’m not gonna lie… even at my age, it would have unicorns or ponies on the cover and a cute little plastic padlock that couldn’t keep a two-year old out.  Whether it’s posting personal photos, articles I find interesting, music recommendations or random ramblings, my primary audience is friends and family.

But let’s face it. Branching out from that and reaching strangers who want to read what you have to say has its appeal.  And with user friendly operating systems and the plethora of blogging sites out there to get you started, it’s so easy for almost anyone to get into blogging.

If you’re like most people, you want to make your blog special. You want yours to stand out. Or at the very least, as in my case, I want to enjoy looking at it. Because if I enjoy it, then the friends, family and occasional stranger who stumbles across it just might enjoy looking at it as well.

The basic templates available to users are fine for getting started. But who wants a blog that looks like (potentially) thousands of others?  So you have to get creative.  In the interest of full disclosure, I did cheat a bit.  Being barely conversational in html, I usually turn to my lovely sister-in-law for assistance. She’s responsible for my newest blog layout and can read code like she’s reading an elementary schoolbook.  But what to do when she’s not available? (The Holy See of search engines, Google, doesn’t even need to be pushed here, right?) So aside from bumbling around with trial and error,  has some great advice and straight-forward instruction for html, graphics, and coding of all sorts. I’m even tempted to delve into their Java tutorials next.

Another site I found helpful when first starting out was (http://onlinejournalismblog.com/2009/02/04/starting-a-blog-12-ideas-for-blog-posts/) I find #12 especially amusing given my present task, but I vehemently disagree with #6.  That just seems like dirty pool to me.

So go forth and blog. It’s simple enough to do, and hey, it’s the interwebz.  That means someone, somewhere, will probably want to read what you have to say.  And if you feel so inclined, stop by, say “hi,” and listen to the birds.

Local Search Case Study: An Event to Remember

When people are searching locally, and getting information specific to an area, quite often they are actually searching for local events. This could be anything from classes and seminars to the latest gig for their friends band.

A Valuable Event

There is a niche type of website that caters to supplying this event information to online sources, and one component of your local search optimization should include the use of these resources. One reason for this is the “Citation” that they can provide your business, because when you list your business as a venue you enter your business name and address and also have an opportunity to get an inbound link to your site. You also have the opportunity of creating your own profile on that website and get another link on that profile. This is in addition to the even listing itself, so all in all you can get 3 quality inbound links all in one go, on top of the exposure to their users!

The Top Event Sites

Eventful- Event Listing Site

Doux vintage Eventful profile
Doux Vintage Grand Opening Event

Upcoming- Yahoo Events
Upcoming Event: Doux Vintage Grand Opening

Doux Vintage Upcoming Profile

Zvents Logo
Zvents- Doux Grand Opening Celebration

Doux Vintage Zvents Profile

Doux Vintage : Venue Listing

Bonus Event Value!

It turns out that Zvents.com exports to several different platforms! So when you add your business as a venue, it actually gets syndicated to several different authority sites!It exports to Things To Do by MSN and also to the Press Enterprise Events page, and may have other partners, but these two showed up in a Google search very quickly as they are authority domains! Update: It looks like another exported page is on a High Desert News website, once again through Zvents.

What about your events?

Be sure to take advantage of Event Marketing because it has many valuable rewards to give you. Don’t think you have an event worthy of listing? Here’s some quick thoughts for you where you could list yourself. Host a seminar on your industy, create a “coffee group” to discuss your expertise, list your grand opening ( like I did for Doux Vintage…be sure to offer refreshments like cupcakes and wine and you’ve got a win!). You could also host a band, which could also yeild extra links if the band has a blog, since they’ll want to let their groupies and followers know where they’re playing(thanks Alex Guillen for that tip)!  Any way you slice it, there’s tons of value in event marketing so get to it!

Update: Thanks to everyone that attended the Grand Opening of Doux Vintage! Your support was very much appreciated!

connected: Life as the Internet

I can’t tell you why it took as long for weblogs to happen as it did, except to say it had absolutely nothing to do with technology. We had every bit of technology we needed to do weblogs the day Mosaic launched the first forms-capable browser. Every single piece of it was right there. Instead, we got Geocities. Why did we get Geocities and not weblogs? We didn’t know what we were doing.

One was a bad idea, the other turns out to be a really good idea. It took a long time to figure out that people talking to one another, instead of simply uploading badly-scanned photos of their cats, would be a useful pattern. That useful pattern has churned out entire online communities of interconnected people interacting on 2.0 websites every day. The numbers are STUNNING, with Google reporting in it’s Social Media Webinar, “86 million users on social networks” with 78% over the age of 18 and the number is expected to grow to 115 Million in the next 2 years.

The evolution of 2.0 software, as talked about by Clay Shirky, has lead to a new type of communication, and as you can read from his keynotes “”A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy” it poses a big challenge for website owners and designers, bloggers, as well as a more and more “Connected” society.

You cannot completely separate technical and social issues.

Our whole society is becoming more and more plugged in, as noted in this years “future of the internet III” survey from Pew.

The divisions between personal time and work time and between physical and virtual reality will be further erased for everyone who is connected, and the results will be mixed in their impact on basic social relations.

It’s up to us to determine what kind of actions we will choose to make. We’ve all been to a blog post where a flame war has sprouted, or just random insults fly… The question about our future is will it be the case of  “Normal Person + Anonymity + Audience = Total Fudgewad” as Viginia Nussey of Bruce Clay noted in her article “Let’s make intolerance intolerable“, or will we take her advice and “be a smarter, wiser, bigger person”….

One of the lessons that Clay Shirky teaches us is that owners of 2.0 sites actually can design platforms that encourgage good behavior, by adding member recognition, kharma, and a profile system. However, a site owner can’t just step back…your online community has to be engaged. So as a blogger, site owner, or moderator, you need to remain engaged in your community to keep it viable.

As users, we need to see ourselves as members of our online communities and work together to encourage a positive experience.  Desphinn bad comments, thumb down knee jerk flame comments and take the time to read your comments before you post them.

Youtube users are not poor teenagers

YouTube Video Audience has deep Pockets

If you thought that video websites were only visited by bored, disillusioned youths in America, then the recent 2008 stats from Youtube should open your eyes!

The virtual audience actually has the highest percentage of users making an annual income of $50,000 – $74,999 annually, with 27 %. Even more surprisingly, nearly half of Youtubes users have an annual income that actually exceeds $75,000 dollars!

Adjusting Marketing to address your Audience

The numbers are there, America is becoming more and more enveloped with video, and websites that ignore this type of content for their site are losing out on a huge piece of the pie. As a site owner here are some quick ways to get into video

  1. Film a product introduction for your site
  2. Produce helpful tips for your industry
  3. Cover an industry event like a convention or meeting

There are a variety of hosting platforms that are free to use, and embed into your website. You could use Youtube, Vimeo, or Viddler. However, if your video is quality and you want to get the biggest splash, then I recommend using http://www.Tubemogul.com where they syndicate out and track your video across a wide number of platforms. You of course can choose which platform you grab your embed code form, but this method will get your site out as far as possible. Natually you are also going to want to follow some good content writing and seo advice!

Social Media: Participation or Exploitation

I recently had the privilege of writing a blog post for a Search Engine Optimization blog about the topic of social media. In my previous post on social media, I first found a thrill of exhilaration as my links from social media sources were quickly discovered on my google sitemaps. After some more time however, I developed a sense of concern about my self promotion on the social media sites.

I think that this has a huge potential to become a self defeating practice. Because, while it does expose my site to more viewers, who may like my site and link to it later from their own site, it is self promotion. If every website or search engine expert jumps on the bandwagon, it will go the way of Reciprocal Link networks and leave a flurry of wreaked sites when GYM change their algorithms to handle social media links.

I’m not the only one to think about these topics apparently, because there was some buzz about it on some SEO forums. I think the tactic I will follow is to be sensible about how you use social media.

If you love it and leave it, by making a quick profile and only linking to your own site, then I think that is a shame and a waste of a good internet concept. If you continue to participate, bookmark other sites and rate other sites, then good on ya! It will benefit you more in the long run as you may build a reputation as an authority over time. So please…bookmark responsibly!