Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

Category: Social media marketing (page 19 of 41)

The big secret behind successful blogs

One of the most common questions people ask me, is: “What laptop / notebook is best for blogging?”  As I get asked this so often, I decided to answer it here AND share the big secret behind this blog with you.

First things first:

  • Using Rafael Nadal’s tennis racket will not make you a Grand Slam winner.
  • Using a top of the range MacBook Pro, probably won’t improve your blogging.

That’s because those items are simply tools.  They are beautifully designed tools, but tools nonetheless.  It’s what we do with them, which counts.

I fully understand the value of using great tools.  However, when I write a blog post using my Mac, Samsung or Dell, the reader can’t tell the difference.  Similarly, if Seth Godin wrote his posts using a 5 year old Toshiba laptop, he’d still be successful.

Here’s my secret blogging sauce!

If you really want to massively increase the value of your blog, (and your business too) you need to embrace your inner freak!  THAT’S what makes the difference.

Who are you?

As far as the marketplace is concerned, who are you?

I mean, if I were to read the information about you on your website, blog and social networks, what would I know about you?  Typically, people share very little of their uniqueness and instead, use generic drivel to describe who they are and what their business is all about.  They lack the kind of narrative that inspires people, then wonder why prospective clients aren’t motivated enough to contact them!

As your prospective client, I need you to show some passion.  Some energy.  Some creativity.  I need you to tell me what sets you apart from the thousands of others in your industry.  If you can’t do that, you will really struggle to attract clients; let alone high quality clients.

Keeping it human

Take a look at the areas of your marketing, where you describe who you are and what your business does.  Remove any references to “providing client focused solutions” or “strategic implementation.”  Talk to people like humans and tell them what value YOU and YOUR business bring, in real, quantifiable terms.

You see, if you don’t give people enough information about you and your business, you will have no outsiders.  That may sound like a good thing, until you realise that you can’t have insiders, without outsiders.  These insiders are the ones you need, in order to grow your business.  (NB: I wrote all about this in detail, in this post.)

In short: The less you sound like everyone else, the easier you will find it to capture the marketplace’s attention and earn their custom.

The money is not in the list!

The most successful businesses in the world, large and small, have something in common:  They build relationships with their clients on an emotional level and then nurture those relationships.

money is in the listMany small business owners get this wrong.  They use their marketing channels almost exclusively, to send sales messages to the marketplace.  You are more likely to find them on Twitter sending out links to their sales pages, than reaching out to clients and future clients, with help and ideas.  They are so short-sighted that they see social networks simply as a free way to push sales pitches and broadcast.

The money is in the relationships

The enlightened small business owner has figured out that the money is not in “the list.”  The money is in the relationships.  They know that before they can expect the marketplace to care about them or their business, they must first earn that privilege.

  • This means communicating rather than broadcasting.
  • It means understanding that when you refer to your COMMUNITY as your LIST, you have just transformed them from PEOPLE into ITEMS on some database.
  • It means offering your marketplace independently valuable information (like this brief blog post), rather than sales pitches.
  • It means listening.
  • It means understanding, really understanding, that behind every name, handle, photo and avatar, is a fellow human being.
  • It means understanding that you need to play the longer game, if you want to stay in business long term.
  • It means humanizing what needs to be human and automating what needs to be automated AND knowing the difference.
  • It means understanding that the process of giving and receiving starts with giving.

In short:  Business is all about people, so keep it as human as possible.

Photo: davedehetre

You have a voice, so let’s hear it!

When was the last time you initiated something?

It’s easy to join in, but far more challenging to initiate.  The temptation is to wait for someone else to get something started, then, for us to echo their views or copy what they did.  This is why the Internet is full of me too content; people writing the same safe viewpoints.

It’s also why Twitter is overflowing with retweeted links and famous quotes.

  • It’s easy.  It takes a split second to hit the retweet button.
  • It’s safe.  As someone sharing content rather than creating it, you can’t be directly blamed if your followers think what you shared is a piece of crap.
  • It’s simple to justify.  “Hey, I’m just passionate about sharing!”

Your voice and visibility

Many extremely bright people struggle to get their voice heard, because they initiate too little.  They have great ideas, yet fail to share them because they haven’t seen anyone else expressing that idea or viewpoint yet.  Conversely, we have all seen some pretty average people gain impressive visibility, because they have the courage to initiate, then share, an idea or viewpoint.

Today, we have all the marketing tools we need in order to reach a massive, targeted audience.  However, before we can hope to capture a worthwhile share of our marketplace’s attention, we need to be prepared to earn it!  We need to push through the fear of being challenged for what we say or (heaven forbid) being wrong.

Why?  Because on the other side of that fear, is something of great value.  Maybe the missing piece to your marketing puzzle?

Photo: woodleywonderworks

Twitter, Facebook, web traffic and rhinos!

Today, I want to talk to you about what I call rhinos.  These are special rhinos, the type that can ruin your online marketing results and cause you to make serious errors.

RHINO = Really Here In Number Only

So, what is a rhino?

  • Rhinos are the automated followers you have on Twitter, who follow you only because you follow them and have no interest in you or what you have to say.
  • They are the commenters on your blog, who leave comments just to get links.
  • They are the numbers you see in your analytics, from people who landed on your site in error, because one of their buddies auto-tweets everything you post.
  • They are the people who always open emails before deleting them, thus making your read rate look a lot higher than it is.
  • Most importantly, rhinos cause the untargeted numbers that make it unnecessarily difficult to refine and improve your online marketing.  They are all about empty volume, rather than meaningful value.

People will often engage in zero value activities, because it generates a visible increase in website traffic or social network numbers from rhinos.  They then get so addicted to these numbers that the thought of decoupling from all the bullshit that attracts rhinos, is scary.  It would mean confronting the reality of the numbers behind their online marketing.

Whilst that would help explain why they get so few inquiries from their thousands of followers / fans and website traffic, it would mean acknowledging the limitations of their true reach.

The bottom line: If you are interested in generating bankable results, you need to learn how to focus on building the numbers that matter.  No, this is not easy.  But it is required.

Photo: Mr Moss

How NOT to look like a fake!

One of the big changes of the past few years, is that your marketplace can now see what you say AND what you do, like never before.

Until relatively recently, it was possible to have glossy brochures and advertisements, which showcased us as consummate professionals.  Then, our prospective clients wouldn’t know any different, until they met us or spoke with people who had experience of us and our work.

Thankfully, the world has changed

Today, many of our actions are visible to anyone who wants to check us out and these highly visible actions can be extremely revealing.  People can see how consistent we are, by looking at what we claim and comparing it to how we act.

For example, the marketplace can see:

  • When you preach the value of permission marketing, yet pester people with your unsolicited communications.
  • When you claim to be passionate about your business, yet feel the need to tell the world via your social networking accounts, how overjoyed you are to get the heck away from your business every Friday.  It’s understandable for a disgruntled employee to act like that.  When we see business owners doing it, the temptation is to suggest they quit and start a business they actually enjoy and are energized by.
  • When you say you offer a high quality service and believe in investing in quality, yet you operate behind an outdated or cheap looking website.  Don’t expect your marketplace to invest in your business, if YOU don’t.
  • When you claim to be a leader in your field, yet your online activity is that of a sheep.
  • When you market yourself as a creative person, yet your articles, posts or social networking accounts, show no craft.
  • When you market your services based on being reliable, yet you fail to show up on your blog regularly.

The best part is that everyone is free to do all of the above, which means that many of them will.

This makes it massively easier for YOU to shine, by showing people you are the real deal, through acting in accordance with what you say.

How to create a GREAT 6 figure income online!

Here is how I generate a great, 6 figure income from my online marketing and how you can too.

Back in 2008, I was introduced to Kevin Kelly’s concept of 1000 true fans and quickly switched all of my marketing online.  Kelly’s theory is beautifully simple and massively powerful.  It suggests that if you sell a product, you can make a good living from having 1000 true fans; people who will buy everything you produce, travel across town to hear you and tell their friends about you.

More importantly to me and most small business owners reading this, if you are a service provider, this number is much, much lower than 1000.  Closer to 100, in fact.

Fans are not followers

It’s easy to get a follower.  It’s challenging to earn a fan.  For example, you can randomly follow 10 people on Twitter and gain a follower, simply because 1 of the 10 people you follow, will feel social pressure to follow you back.  To gain a new fan, you need to consistently practice your craft and figure out how to attract the attention of people who will fall in love with what you do.

Chasing the wrong numbers

The Internet is filled with struggling service providers, who have thousands of followers, yet very few true fans.  They chase the wrong numbers.  They do everything possible to increase the numbers that don’t matter and very little, to earn the numbers that do matter.  This usually sees them spend too little time sharing their craft with people and too much time figuring out how to reach their next, low-value, social networking milestone.

These people love to use software, to automate the people they follow, the links they share and anything else that may attract others.  Of course, they only attract followers, instead of Kelly’s true fans.

The trick to getting it right?

The trick is to stop looking for tricks.  As Seth Godin has been telling us for years, if it can be automated it has little real value because anyone can do it.  If you want to develop true fans rather than followers, you need to show them who you are and what you believe.  Those who get it will love you and what you do.  Those who don’t, won’t; which is perfect.

You see, unless you have people outside your circle, you can’t have people inside your circle and these insiders are your true fans.

The numbers approach gets this all wrong and treats everyone the same – just a number.  The reality is that behind every tweet, blog comment and Facebook update is a person.  A small, targeted minority of these people will have a need for what you do.  These insiders are the true fans you need to connect with.  It takes more time and work to attract these extremely valuable people, but the rewards are enormous.

For instance, in February, I wrote a post offering a single place on my marketing mentor program.  In the following 24 hours, I had 92 people asking for information about that 1 place on my program.  Based on my typical conversion rate, of inquirer to client, if I had enough places, I could have sold almost £100,000 worth of placesYou can read about it here.  Now, compare that approach to the emails I receive weekly, from business owners with more “followers” than me, who are slowly going broke.  People with thousands or tens of thousands of followers, yet too few of Kelly’s true fans.

If you can connect with what I am saying here, it’s a game-changer.

How it works

Sadly, I can’t show you a quick, foolproof way to attract true fans.  I would need to be working with you directly and know exactly what your ideal profile of client is, your industry, your services, your resources etc.  I can, however, give you some general ideas.  This is based on a few of the things I work on with clients, on my Marketing Mentor Program:

Start by reading these 2 posts:  The first is about doing work that matters and the second, is about how to apply your craft.  These will show you how to create the kind of impact, which true fans are searching for.

Stop chasing the wrong numbers:  Instead of measuring your success in “likes” and followers, measure it in conversations.  Measure it in emails from people, who love your work so much that they feel compelled to email you and say thanks.  Measure it in telephone calls from people, who connect with your craft and want to hire you.  But don’t measure it in followers.  If that’s your thing, go and buy 100,000 followers and see how that works for your mortgage payments at the end of the month.

Spend more time creating and less time curating:  Yes, it’s wonderful to share other people’s ideas with your social network, but people need to see your work too. I see people who share hundreds of words every day on social networks, yet their blogs have not been updated in weeks.  True fans need to see YOUR ideas and connect with your experience, as well as connecting with you on social networks.  They need to see value in your work.

Show them who you are, what you think and what you know.  Then, share other people’s pearls of wisdom.  If you simply ping out links and retweets, I can get that from an RSS feed.  Remember, if it can be automated, anyone can do it and it has little meaningful value.

Don’t complain, then stay the same:  If you like the idea of being able to write a single blog post, as I did in February, which generates an avalanche of income, change your current approach.  Don’t keep rowing your boat harder and harder in the wrong direction, complaining you have not reached your destination yet.  If you have hundreds or maybe thousands of followers and wonder why you get so few inquiries, you need to change your current approach.  It’s screaming at you that you are missing the true fans, who are just waiting for you to engage, and educate them with your craft.  These insiders will only be attracted to you and your work, when you stop chasing followers and connect with real people.

However…

Most people will dismiss this concept, because it’s uncomfortable.  It requires courage and conviction.

  • It means an almost certain initial drop in your follower numbers, as you swap from the numbers game, to the business of people.
  • It means having the courage to be the best YOU that you can be; rather than yet another number chasing, social media sheep.
  • It means more than telling yourself and others that you are a people person, whilst using software to build your following or spit out links 24/7.
  • It means being prepared to have outsiders, because that’s the only way you can attract insiders (or true fans.)  That’s frightening.  Too frightening for most to even consider.

But for those with the courage to stand up, get their work out there and connect with the people who “get it,” the rewards are life changing.

Photos: MGM_Photos & AnnieHP

Google: How to get your photo to show up in Google search results

A number of readers have noticed that whenever a post from this blog shows up in Google’s search results, Google displays a photo of me next to it (see above).  People are emailing me more and more, asking how I did it, so here goes.

I need to start by saying that I didn’t do it. Google did! This is really important. Even if you follow the steps in the guide I am about to share, there’s no guarantee it will work for you. According to Google:

This feature is being rolled out gradually, and ranking will be implemented algorithmically, so author information will not always display in search results.

So, this may or may not work for you. Currently, I know just a few bloggers other than myself who has had the feature activated by Google. Every other example I see comes from huge sites like mashable and a-list bloggers like Robert Scoble.

Why are Google attaching “author information” to Google search results?

There is a huge issue right now, with people stealing other people’s content and claiming it as their own. Thanks to this new author information service from Google, it will be easier for people to identify the initial or original source of a blog post or article. In essence, when you see that photo show up in your search results, it means Google are verifying that the blog post was written by that person.

If you look closely at the image above, you will see that next to my photo are the words “by Jim Connolly.” If you then click on my name in the search results, it takes you to my Google+ Profile. By the way, you can join me on Google+ here!

For bloggers like myself, whose content is used without attribution on lots of other sites, this author information allows people to find the original source. Within minutes of my posts being published here, they start appearing on other blogs; something known as content scraping.  This is an effort by Google, to help match the correct blogger (or author as they call us) to the correct post. Most of my posts are scraped around a dozen times, meaning there are lots of versions of my work out there, often attributed to people who simply scraped them.

How does Google Authoring work?

The idea is actually extremely simple. You link from your blog (or your website), to your Google Profile and then, you link from your Google Profile back to your blog. This reciprocal linking verifies that the owner of that Google Profile is also the (or an) author on that blog. If you own a multi authored blog it works too. You just need your bloggers to link from their Google Profile, to their author page on your blog. Once that process is completed, a circle is created, allowing Google to confidently identity you as the rightful author of your own work, in their search results.

Whilst the idea is extremely simple, the process is currently a little tricky. Rather than try and explain it here, I’d like you to read the instructions from Google, which I followed. I also recommend you watch the short video on that page.

Then what?

Once you have followed the instructions, check that you have done it correctly using Google’s Rich Snippets Testing Tool. This tool is extremely useful and will show you if the code is working and what your blog’s listing will look like in Google’s SERPS (search engine results page), AFTER they have activated it. To use the Rich Snippets Testing Tool, simply paste the URL (address) of one of your blog posts into it and press the preview button. It’s that simple.

Then, if everything looks OK and you see your photo in the preview, it’s a matter of waiting!

Sadly, I don’t know people at Google who can fast-track your site and I am not the guy to help you if you try this and find it doesn’t work; so please, no technical questions in the comments. I just followed the instructions and it worked for me.

Is it worth it?

Yes. It’s useful for people to know that they are reading something, where there is a verified connection between the author and the content. I have also seen a significant increase in Google search traffic since the author information was activated. This makes sense as anyone searching Google, who knows who I am, will see my photo next to a search result and be more likely to click it. Photo’s act a lot faster than text and give an immediate signal.

I applaud Google’s work in helping bloggers to be credited with authorship of their own work. I look forward to seeing your smiling faces staring at me when I’m next searching!

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