August 31, 2011

Twitter success demands both top influencers and everyone else

Do you focus on the most popular and ignore the rest in social media?

Chris AbrahamToo many colleagues, organizations, and companies are keeping their circles of influencers small, believing it is better to invest limited time and resources on the most influential, the most popular, and the most celebrated. Happens in DC all the time. I’m rocking the latest dinner party, parlaying attendees with my wit and banter, when someone snazzier and trendier enters. Immediately I’ve lost my audience’s attention. The idea easily transfers to Twitter.

Other users focus exclusively on networking within their own space, effectively limiting scope and reach by preaching to the choir. If you’ve invested in running with the A-list, fine; however, that’s an old model reminiscent of old PR, of the golf club, the lodge, and the private club.

The Internet created something that not enough social media consultants and coaches support and advise: the ability to expand circles of influencers, to engage with anyone and everyone. Only recently has the Internet become ubiquitous and global in a real way. Previously, the digital divide was a barrier to not just many Americans but quite a few developing nations becoming part of the global conversation.

The value of the Internet is proportional to the number of connected users. It’s also living proof of Rule 34. No matter how obscure, vertical, or arcane your material may be, there’s an audience for it. Someone will show it love and attention. Online social networks have made all of this even easier to the point where it is becoming less of a potential and more of a promise, an eventuality. In short, there is real value associated with connecting to as many followers and collecting as many “Likes” as is humanly possible. For real effect.

There’s also a psychological benefit of large numbers. I have won contracts and business on the power of five-digit followers on Twitter, which is modest compared to most of my peers. However, for someone who only has a couple-hundred followers, 38,000 is a lot and suggests mastery. To be honest, I wonder how long it will take these “less is more” social media consultants to realize that it’s not good business to dismiss what the client wants out of hand. Continue reading

August 24, 2011

Build Twitter followers using the theory of everyone

Look to the Long Tail to recruit brand ambassadors

http://mariosundar.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/500x_rodolex-hlarge.jpgChris AbrahamWell, as regular readers of this blog know, I am a Cluetrainian. This means I put more trust in the value and impact of the online influencer long tail than I do in the impact of the couple of dozen top influencers that most social media consultants and digital PR teams recommend. This is the Internet, an efficient platform allowing easy access to what’s called the network effect: The value of your social network is dependent on the number of others using it.

While it may well be important to have the top 100  influencers on any particular topic following you on Twitter or Facebook, it is not essential. You can make up for it by attracting, retaining, and activating everyone else. In short, anyone who shares her time, talent, and experience online is an important online influencer and potential brand ambassador for my clients.

How do you get lots and lots of people to follow your brand? Don’t know where to start? First, make sure you share your Twitter and Facebook information everywhere your brand exists in the real world or in cyberia. You could spend months and months developing these lists and groups of followers, encouraging folks to retweet your content and so forth. Continue reading

July 27, 2011

How to add value through your blog

Strategies for standing out in a world without context

Chris AbrahamI am in the middle of guiding some new bloggers over at Marketing Conversation on how to blog most effectively. It is pretty exciting and instructive because there are many things I take for granted. One of the biggest trends I see is internal shorthand. What I mean is that my bloggers tend to write based on a lot of assumed context. When they write my company name, they might choose AH instead of Abraham Harrison; and, since that AH is on a corporate blog, they might forget to link it to the best page in the corporate website.

They simply assume that people who are reading content from Marketing Conversation or Because the Medium is the Message — or even an article on the corporate website — are in on the joke. That they grok the context.

Not only is that not true, but it is dangerous, because I am guilty of it myself. I would say north of 80% of the people I engage with on a daily basis online don’t know that I am president of a digital agency with over 50 staff and dozens of clients.  See, I make the same assumptions.

I assume that I shouldn’t be so self-referential because “they” surely know who I am by now, I have been branding for years. Pretty darn shamelessly if you ask me — at least I thought so.  Not so.

Brand perceptions don’t keep up with reality

And I have not even gotten to the most important part: Even if people know who you are, what you do, the company you own, and its products and services intimately, their brand perception hasn’t evolved at the speed of your business.  What I did in 2006 is quite a bit different than what Abraham Harrison does now, as a company.

Even worse, after we spend all of this time, resources, hours, money, and brain trust on creating insightful analysis and share it for free on our blogs and via Twitter and Facebook, we’re living in a Derridian world: “there’s nothing outside the text.”  Let me explain. Continue reading

July 19, 2011

What a Linkedin InMap can tell you

deltina-linkedin

Deltina HayALinkedIn InMap is a tool that can help you visualize your profession network on LinkedIn.

The tool generates a visual “map” of your entire network using nodes for each person in your LinkedIn network.

Clusters are formed on your map based on how people are connected to you and to each other. In the map below, I can clearly see the clusters that represent my connections in the social media realm as well as the publishing industry and within the college where I teach.

Within the “live” tool, you can click on a node to see who it represents.

Aside from just looking really neat, you can use this unique view of your network to your advantage in a number of ways:

  • Visually understand how to better leverage your network
  • Gain insight into how others in your network are connected
  • Pass along job opportunities based on new insight
  • Identify gaps in your networking strategy
  • Analyze how well you are adhering to your overall networking goals within a specific industry

Are there other ways you have found to apply this tool?

This post originally appeared as a Social Media Tip of the Day on SocialMediaPower.com.

July 13, 2011

The synergy between social media and search

‘The more retweets a link receives, the better it performs in search results’

http://www.crunchbase.com/assets/images/resized/0000/0952/952v3-max-250x250.jpgChris AbrahamI am very grateful to of SEOmoz for doing the work that explains a little better how social media, online social networks, and the real-time Web heavily influence the results that Google proffers when we search in the form of Experiments on Google+ and Twitter Influencing Search Rankings — a lot more clearly than my recent How to become a super-node rant.

Abraham Harrison has this synergy in its DNA but I have been doing this since 2003 for various agencies sort of by feel. But here’s a compilation of the results of Mr. Shepard’s experiments: First, the real-time search you had been seeing from Google was highly reliant on a direct firehose from Twitter, which has been mysteriously cut:

The mystery began on July 3rd when Google Realtime Search went dark. The next day we learned that the underlying cause was Google losing access to its special Twitter data feed. The source of the disagreement is unclear, but the effects have been immediate. Realtime Search disappeared–all of it, not just the part that relied on Twitter. This included Realtime results from Google News, Blog Search links, Facebook fan page updates and more.

The direct result is that launching Google+, whether it was ready or not, was mandatory. Real time search of the real time Web is essential in order to be competitive with Facebook and especially Twitter — the epitome of the real-time Web — and so Google Plus is not an option, it is a requirement:

For the past two years Google used Twitter not only to power Realtime results, but also for faster indexation of content and, we believe, to calculate Author Authority for use in their ranking algorithm. Google says they plan on reinstating Realtime with the power of Google+. But the network will have to grow significantly before this works.

With real-time results, a highly influential tweet, widely retweeted, could end up as the #2 result on Google within a couple hours. For reals. Not the old answer of, “I think we can get you onto the front page of Google within six months, no guarantee,” the natural SEO shop response of the past. Continue reading

June 30, 2011

How to become a super-node in the attention era

To turn up in organic search, you need to play three-dimensional chess

Chris AbrahamI try to read through my RSS feeds every day. Today I stumbled upon an article by my friend Christopher S Penn, entitled Social media now directly influences search rankings.

It shows that Google is playing Tri-D chess in a world where most companies are mastering checkers:

If you’re marketing something, there’s now a direct incentive to build your network as large as possible among your prospective customers. Size matters.

Long story short: every search you make on Google returns results that are weighted heavily to favor people in your social network, especially those people and brands to have a lot of friends, likes, and followers.

In other words, you can access top organic search engine results for your company, brand, products and services by really diving into social media marketing and eveloping connections, followers, likes, and lists–getting people to like your brand on Facebook or follow your brand on Twitter hasn’t ever just been about brand awareness, it has also become an essential secret weapon for search engine ranking.

You should read Chris’ article for sure, but I have my own example to show how personally-tailored Google search has become

A few days ago a journalist friend of mine popped me a note to ask me if I knew the Rosetta Stone CEO.  I didn’t, however, he thought I must because my name came up twice when he searched for ‘Rosetta Stone” on Google.

See, I blogged for Rosetta Stone for a while and have used their products for years. When I did the same search, I didn’t show on the first page at all. Online, my friend’s world is heavily colored by me.

I showed up because he and I are connected via LinkedIn, Facebook, Google Talk, Gmail, Twitter, and who knows where else.

His search reality isn’t objective at all.  It is being heavily adjusted by the connections he has and will make to other people and brands online. In real time, immediately, to order, based on dozens of tacit connections.

Google isn’t stupid. I won’t show up in all of his web searches–only those that are relevant to what he wants. However, if I have ever written and published anything online that is, in fact, relevant, there’s an excellent chance I will turn up on page one, possibly even if he’s logged out of Gmail.

With the multitude of social network profiles that I possess and maintain, the nearly five-thousand friends I have on Facebook (including the high-caste of many of my friends), the 38,000 followers I have on Twitter, and my 12-year-old blog, my 2,200 contacts on LinkedIn, 3,400 folks on FourSquare, subscribers on FeedBurner, all my content on YouTube, and others, means that Google generally tries to include me in other people’s searches of the Internet, gaming serendipity to the point that I come up as a few of the search results on such a competed-for search term like Rosetta Stone in the Manhattan offices of one of the top global newspapers.

I chose to use this example because I have invested myself so heavily towards building these connections shamelessly. People wonder why I would engage in promiscuous “follow back” on Twitter and maintain the maximum friends on Facebook? Surely I am not special. I, like anyone else, cannot maintain close friendships in excess of Dunbar’s Number of 150 friends.

I have been doing this for myself, for my company, and for my clients, using myself as the most shameless example to prove the concept that having the “right” friends online, following the few “right” people and brands is not only wrong but dangerous.

Shoot for quantity plus quality followers

The more people you touch via social media and social network connections, the greater the chance that you will turn up as a top result in search results.

Yes, get the right followers, but also get as many followers as possible. In a world where people get their search results based on who their friends are and what they’re looking at or doing, you’re going to want to become connected to as many as humanly possible, possibly indiscriminately but certainly promiscuously. The more people you touch via social media and social network connections, the greater the chance that you will always be a top result whenever they do a search in your general direction.

Sure, my level of social media populism is not for everyone because it does take a lot of work, and pursuing the Cluetrain long tail of everyone can surely scare away some of your elite contacts and friends, which it has done, personally, because I do create a lot of content and “noise” to someone who only has 150 friends on LinkedIn, on MySpace, Friendster, and Twitter. I have surely driven them away and hear, “I had to unfollow you because you were the only person I ever saw on my
Facebook wall.” Fair enough. No worries.

While this example is personal, all of these map across to brand beautifully. I am co-founder and president of Abraham Harrison and Google knows that. It is on my Google Profile (you really need to look at this and set this up and try to get all your employees to set their profiles up as well). Google met me halfway when it came to the profile, too, as it was mostly already sorted out for me when I arrived. I just made sure they didn’t miss anything.

This might all seem like Mickey Mouse child’s play but the net effect is that the experience of daily search for tens of thousands of people online tends towards returning content that I have liked, dugg, retweeted, blogged, stumbled upon, thumbed up, shared, starred, emailed, and recommended, including a mainstream media highest-caste global newspaper journalist, and others. Their search reality is strangely influenced by my Internet behavior. That’s powerful. In the attention data game, I am considered a super-node.

In terms of an SEO strategy, this means–and has meant for a while–that simply nailing your site’s information architecture, naming convention, keyword-rich URLs and titles, content, keywords, ALT tags, and link strategy is not nearly enough.

The new secret weapon for Search Engine Optimization is digital Public Relations and Social Media Marketing.

Even more info on this strategy over on Steve Rubel and SEOmoz. Via Mike Moran’s Biznology blog.

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