Saturday, January 31, 2009

The top things that twitter Social Media Experts DONT tell YOU

They're everywhere on twitter. Easy to spot and fit into the same profile. They are twitters self-acclaimed "Social Media Experts" (also: Ninja, Gurus). Niall Harbison and others have posted about them - they're a modern day plague.

If you've been on twitter for longer than a week, then chances are you already know them! The bio's with big cheesy smiles, often American, self proclaiming their Social Media/Marketing expertise based on the 10,000 followers and a blog containing 10-, 15- or 25 top tips to market on twitter. Nuggets of information like "Top 10 Tools used by Top Twitter Marketeers".

All of them proffer advice about marketing but it's always twitter-related. Twitter DVD's about "Traffic Explosion 2" and "How to get 45,000 followers while eating a small sandwhich." etc.

Well they aren't experts - they may be taking advantage of a very open and friendly social media tool - and the people who use them -but they are not top marketeers. There is nothing wrong with mixing business and social media if it's done right. But you don't go around to your freinds house and repeat every 2 mins "I can make you rich. Log on to my blog right NOW to find out how!". It's ridiculous, shameless self-promoting at it's worst.

Time to shed some light on them with my
Top Things Social Media Experts DON'T tell YOU!

  1. They claim to be online marketing experts. They have a blog about it. Truth: Funny how their blog often has no PageRank or a low PageRank (i.e. Google doesn't think much about it) and their only visitors come from twitter. That's not online marketing! Real Online marketeers, whether using social media or SEO have been at it for longer than 2 months and have some PageRank. It's a good test for anyone.
  2. They back up their claims with the 4,000 followers they "gained" while putting on their socks this morning. Truth: They may be following your tweets (for a while anyway) but they're not hanging on your every word! The reality is that when you follow someone, they follow you back, it's polite. It's not because you're a genius. Having followers on Twitter doesn't make you a leader.
  3. Twitter is broadcast channel and they are the News Desk. Repeating the same message daily about sharing Aloha or how they got $4,000 in one hour (and you can too!). Truth: After getting bored, most people stop following and ignore them. Twitter and tweeters don't need this and if most of your followers are selling the same thing, how are you going to sell to them.
  4. Twitter is great for marketing. And you need them to tell you how! Truth: Twitter is great for marketing if people recognise you as a leader in what you do and recommend you or write about you. If people just promote you or link to you because they want to get promoted, you end up with a meaningless list of sheep. Just share your thoughts, news and information and -if it's good - people will follow you automatically.
  5. They're getting thousands of visitors while just sipping on a soda. They clearly have the magic formula and you need to buy the ebook before it sells out. Truth: They have lists of followers as long as highway BUT - here's where it falls down - 90% of them are selling the same message.
Americans are great at standing up with a smile and trying to motivate, sell and market to anyone who'll listen. And Americans are great at sitting there and paying money to be sold motivational, selling and marekting advice. That's great - in Vegas. Not so great on twitter for the people who love to use it.

Twitter - what is all about?

I'm relatively new to twitter but already I love it. I've gotten to meet a great bunch of people, including the Limerick Open Coffee Club and the inspiring #Bizcamp Limerick Business Startup Project. I've also caught up with people I used to know and work with (pre-twitter).

twitter is a great tool. You pick up on news very quickly. People share ideas, knowledge and information that you'd otherwise never be able to pickup on. I always thought the News on TV and newspapers never went into enough satisfying detail. I don't just want to know what happened to the bank, I want to know why, how and who was behind it - and thanks to all of the financial gurus, technical whizz-kids and general bloggers out there I can get a whole better understanding.

twitter has some great networking opportunities. Meet like minded and smarter people at tweet-ups, barcamps, bizcamps etc. People end up collaborating together or even get hired for a particular project or event. All very good. But this great tool is under massive abuse from the so called "Social Media Expert". These people are very easy to spot and my next post will go into further detail

Sunday, January 25, 2009

#BizCamp Limerick, Incubation Space and other ideas

 #BizCamp is being run in with Stephen Kinsella and other good people at the University of Limerick. I had a tour of the Kemmy Business School on Friday, and it's a very impressive place. Read more at Stephen's blog.

Other quick items: Italian Tailored Suits in Ireland - found this nice online tailoured suit webstore -TailoredToSuit. I like TheJackanory blog - something unique and very readable. Also nominated for the '09 Blog Awards.

Karina has launched 1-2-1 Business Networking , which has announced First Wednesday, a meetup every first wednesday in the Mint Bar in Dublin.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Blogs need promoting too!

I've been reading quite a lot of new blogs this past week. I've also been convincing a number of people to setup their own blogs. I spent Thursday and Friday in Dublin meeting a number of clients and I'm delighted that they are all going to start blogging!

These blogs will give them a better way to connect with their clients. Websites can be a little cold, too much of a shop window. But websites need search engine optimisation (seo) too! Blogs have great avenues for SEO and I was very pleased to see this blog get a PageRank of 3/10 from Google in just 4 weeks. Not that I'm overly bothered with Toolbar PR! (Read about Toolbar PageRank)

The traditional way to promote blogs is from having other people recommend you - through blog aggregators, blog rolls, twitter posts, social media networks and so on. But look at the visitor traffic information for any well read blog and you'll see traffic from Search Engines is one of the biggest traffic providers - but only if you have Search Engine visibility.

Many young or first time bloggers forget this, opting for the "build it, they will come approach". Yes Google loves unique content and every good SEO will repeat this mantra over and over again.

But you cannot stand out on the internet through self validation alone. Unique content without authority/votes from other important, relevant meaninful sites are still needed. Blogs go down very well with Google, but a blog with little or no links won't gain traction. There's too much competition. Google's ranking of sites is still heavily based on its link-voting system.

I'll be setting up a new, personal blog this week (I hope), and I'll use it as a case study about promoting blogs. I know I'm relatively new to blogging but SEO for blogs hasn't changed. In the 6/7 weeks we've set this up, posts from this blog are live in Google in under 5 minutes, and often ranked in the top five for it's post title or tags. We get 50% of our traffic from Google and have over 100 subscribers across different subscription systems.

Must to things to promote your blog? Build a circle of links to your blog, website and social networking sites from your blog, website and social networking. MyBlogLog, a service from Yahoo, is a fantastic "hub" type link spot. Here you can join your blogs, profile and links from social services in one page. So Google can find your other profiles and so can other people. You can also join other communities and make new friends. Take a look at the page I setup for this blog to see what I mean.

Then go over to Technorati and set up your blog there. You'll need to add a widget to your website. It's not that complicated! My Technorati blog page is here. Now, set yourself up with Feedcat. Feedcat gives a great little button so that people can see how many RSS subscribers you have with that service. Other great places to get your blog into are:

Monday, January 12, 2009

Update to Open Coffee

The IGO Network URL is for people in Dell Limerick who are interested in setting up or helping others setup their own business.

Geo Targeting in Google

The days of having one domain show for all countries is nearly over. Domains are now, almost always, indexed for a particular country. There is a way to set certain folders on the same domain for different countries, but if you're localising content, why put it on the same domain. Single domain strategies are a failure - that's what happens when you listen to branding experts!

Such a common "strategy" of people is to use their business name/brand name as their domain name. Of course every company should have a matching domain name to their brand but if you're interested in SEO, then it's to reach people which your brand hasn't. So having the brand name in the domain name doesn't help. You can put your brand name on the web page.

For companies with multiple products and multiple locations, then multiple domain SEO is the best strategy. Note to self: follow up on this in more detail

Limerick goes on...

I wasn't too impressed with everyone blaming the government for DELL's closure in Limerick. I'm not entirely sure that DELL are moving to Lodz as much as they are just closing Limerick. There has been a downturn in demand for it's products. So it cut from it's most expensive cost base.

Limerick has become too costly for a number of reasons - land, fuel, shipping, labour costs from suppliers (think contractors, electricians). It's very sad to see it all cut so quickly.

In response to it, Evert Bopp and others are using the Limerick Open Coffee Club to spearhead an initiative to help people in Dell and Limerick who want to take their own ideas to market. The group is made up of professionals and experts in Limerick who meet informally at the Absolut Hotel.

The club meetings are open to everyone and anyone may attend. I attended last weeks meeting, and found it very worthwhile and interesting. I'm sure with more and more members this will only get more interesting. There was a good range of people with business and sales experience, as well as general entrepeneurs who no doubt have many years of wisdom to pass on. I look forward to meeting the other members in time.

For those interested in starting up in Limerick, there are a number of resources you can look to. I'll Publish about this separately.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

DELL closes in Limerick

Just a quick post to say how very sorry I am for all the employees at DELL in Limerick who going to lose their jobs this year and maybe into next year. I'm also very sad to see DELL's plant close in Limerick as I feel it was an important part of Limerick and a great source of local pride. It's also a massive part of the Limerick and Irish economy and I feel too for the many suppliers who will be hurt who don't get as much of a mention, as well as the many retailers and hotels and so on - we'll all be affected by it. I worked at DELL for 2 years, met my fiancè while working there and cut my teeth as a programmer, software engineer and project manager.

Let's not forget at this time the many companies who have weathered many storms in Limerick, much longer than DELL. Analog Devices, just down the road from DELL have been here since the '70's, I'm sure their continued presence will be even more value by Limerick.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Saying goodbye to 2008, lets say goodby to some bad habits

If you build it, they will come. The famous quote from the film, Field of Dreams, became a rally call in the 90's and early noughties in the newly discovered "Web of Dreams". This is easily one of the biggest myths about owning a web business and selling on the web - and it's rampant.

Everyday I meet and talk to people who believe in this so fervantly that they refuse to listen to advice, no matter who gives it or why. They'd rather believe that as I work in SEO, clearly my advice must be biased and aimed at making a sale.This myth is strongly tied to the misbelief that a website is a marketing tool. Fact is, both statements are very wrong, even though 90% of people with little web experience probably believe it.

The worst thing about this myth is watching the slow realisation that dawns on the would-be Internet Business Owner as they watch the visitor stats that never seem to grow. It's painful because you've seen it 100 times and you really want to help.

Compounding this, we refuse to accept that if we're going to enter the web world, that we have to try to understand it. "I'm not technical" has become a standard gym-class excuse note for all manner of people throwing money at websites. Clearly building a web-business is just like having your car serviced - you go to a mechanic, get a price and job done. You don't need to know how your variable valve timing system works, he does. It's his problem.

People believe all too commonly that a website is a cheaper way to open a shop in O'Connell Street. It is a shop. And everyone knows that when you open your shop people come in the door. Can you build an e-Commerce site for €3,000? Certainly. And a very nice one at that. Can you kit out a new store in town for that? No, you certainly can't. Can you set up a serious retail store for less than €25k? Possibly, now that tradesmen aren't as expensive, but I wouldn't say you could do it for much less.

So why do people think they can setup a web-based business and take on Ryanair or Amazon for €2,000? Because they believe that their website is their business, shop and marketing tool rolled into 1. Add to that the next common myth suffered by many businesses and agencies - the Automatic right to Google #1!

That's right - so many companies, agencies, organisations and NGO's believe they have an automatic right to be number 1! That Goolge will just call them up and ask them where they'd like to appear.

New Golden Rule for 2009: If you want to get into business on the web, you've got to be prepared to understand how the web works for business AND how it doesn't. It's not about being "technical" (God I hate that) - its about being responsible to you, your business and your investment.

If you want to try your hand at an internet business, apart from whether or not there is space for your business or it's a good idea, know at least these things:

  1. Chances are if you build it, nobody will come
  2. You don't have an automatic right to be #1 or to be found at all!
  3. You need to go out and promote your website on the internet and off it
  4. You have to compete on the web, maybe even harder than if you had a store
  5. You may have to spend more on marketing it than you spent building it - this is because the startup costs web-store can be cheaper than a real store
  6. At least web marketing can be cheaper than traditional marketing (TV, Print, etc)
  7. You are going to have to write your own, unique, readable, interesting content
  8. You are going to have to connect
  9. You cannot hide behind the excuse of "I'm not technical" - because nobody cares. Understanding the web and social media, networking and marketing are not technical. Programming computers and assembling space rockets - that's technical. This is business.
  10. Forget branding. If People used SE's only to look up brands, we wouldn't need them. SEO is the opposite of brand-based marketing. It's used by people to launch products against the big brands as much as it's used to sell big brand products.
Best of luck to everyone setting up an online business in 2009 - Don't be afraid to ask !!!!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

SEO is a modern hero for the average Joe - a new theme for 2009

I read recently on an Irish Web blog that "SEO is bull****". I read this a while back and I've been thinking about just how wrong that statement is. SEO and Search Engines together are a modern hero we've never had before. Marketing Agencies are very brand orientated. Brand is everything. Branding is used to build a company. SEO, Social Marketing and Search Engines are about people recommendations - people can vote and promote a product they like not because a marketing agency has told them but because they have discovered it and shared it.

Brands have been a powerful force that shaped our lives from the 1800's. Many people grew up calling their vacuum machine a "Hoover" or their oven a "Stove" irregardless of the manufacturer. These were uber-brands. Companies have used the power of brands to tell us that "Guinness is good for us", Knorr tells us that their products are natural, wholesome and good for you. Cow and Gate currently feature an ad with babies in a happy form and a captions below them making ludicrous statements like "I don't look like I need more nutrition do I?" etc.

Well we don't know, you just look happy. It's a baby. Did the babies in the ad really take Cow And Gate? Are they happy All the time? People really buy into this. Instead of checking to see what really is best, they see the happy baby on TV and want their baby to be happy and healthy.

Why is SEO/SE/SM a hero for modern times? Let's say take Knorr. For years in Ireland they've dominated Soup Stocks. Until a few years ago, you could make your own stock (if you knew how, many people don't) or you had to use the soup stock cubes available in all Irish shops and supermarkets. Because of their huge advertising and marketing budgets, its been very difficult for anyone to get into this market place with a proper product. Like organic stock or superior quality stocks. OK, maybe our market is small and not attractive. But a raft of stock producers have come in. Superquinn in Limerick have been great to offer these rangs and I note Dunnes and Tesco are following suit. This is great for us consumers. The Knorr offering has been sub-par and even Knorr have changed their products suitably, offering improved recipes and now a jellified stock-pot. This would never have happened without competition.

Thanks to Chef's like Niall Harbison (read his video recipes blog), people are learning to become better cooks and to use better products. More people buying fresh organic stock helps fight bad brands who use money to tell us their product is better!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

2009 is here.....Happy New Year Web-people

What will 2009 bring? No doubt the Irish media will continue it's recession news-fest. Is it just me or do RTE seem to present news of the widening financial crisis with glee? They are very sensitive when it comes to job losses up to a point - who wants to be interviewed on national TV just seconds after your job has been taken away?

What will 2009 mean for retail? I suspect quite a few ambitious retail projects will be forced to close down - even in a strong economic climate I think that too many retail outlets opened up, particularly in the home/DIY segment, where Limerick has been very well served - but are there enough shoppers to sustain all of them?

The main challenges facing us in 2009, I think are, in order of most obvious:

  • Reduced house purchases
  • Reduced investment into new business
  • Reduced construction in all sectors
  • More and more businesses folding
Main Drivers for these factors are:

  • Reduced confidence
  • Mass Emigration (Irish people and Migrant labourers) - reducing demand for housing, retail and entertainment
Worst Case scenario for year-end 2009:
  • 20% unemployment
  • 20% drop in population
  • 1980's style dole-que's, etc
Unless we start spending again, en masse and businesses have to pay their bills on time - this is causing massive cash-flow strains for a lot of businesses in Ireland. And it's a knock-on effect that is becoming harder and harder to tolerate for many. I think January and February will set the tone for the year, so hopefully we won't have to wait too long. There is still a lot of money out there - just how will it be invested?