Friday, January 31, 2014

What I'm Reading - Owner Magazine

Just yesterday I wrote about how important it is to maintain a balance between selling yourself or your business and talking with others on social media.

Today, I read this slightly cheeky, but frighteningly familiar blog post, by Chris Brogan "You Can't Talk About Yourself Enough, Apparently". In the post Chris shares the fact that a large number of his audience have no idea what he does. To be fair, he does a lot of things, he blogs, he teaches online workshops, he is a published author (Amazon affiliate link), he is a podcaster, he is the co-founder of the unconference, PodCamp Boston. But the thing he is doing now, which he is surprised so many people don't know about is, is that he is publishing an digital magazine called Owner Magazine.

I follow Owner Magazine in two ways, through the RSS feed which sends every new article to a website which collects them for me, and through an email newsletter which gets sent to me with new articles.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Holistic Web Marketing - Step Three, Drive Traffic

In the words of Gary Vaynerchuk, this part is the Right Hook.

This is the part most difficult for businesses and organizations. When it comes to driving traffic to your website, building a list of leads, asking for sales businesses struggle to find a balance. They either do it constantly, or they never do it.

Driving traffic is about asking your network to take an action, usually called conversion. Business that do a great job of measuring the results of their marketing online keep track of many conversions, not only sales. A website visit, a request to join a mailing list, reading a blog post, watching a video, joining a webinar and more.

I'm not too proud to say I don't make mistakes :-0
Most of the time a business errs on the side of asking too much. A constant stream of tweets with links back to a business website or blog tells a potential follower that the business does not care about them or what they have to say.

Givers gain is a common mantra in the art of building a network. If all you are doing is asking something of your followers, but not giving them anything, you might as well be talking to yourself.

I know, I know, every blog post you write is full of knowledge you are giving away from free, but let's remember that the reason a person writes a blog is to make sure their website is visited often. That might be free knowledge you are giving away, but there is still a cost to the reader, you are still asking something of them. Stop looking so needy, "Come to my site, please!"

On the other side,there are businesses that can't quite understand how using a tool like Facebook or Twitter, or even writing a blog, will get them a sale. Sure you may know all of your followers favourite restaurants, their favourite tv shows and sports teams, you know who they are married to and how many kids they have, and they know the same things about you. But don't forget that you are here to get people to buy from you. Now that you've built trust with your followers, you need to ask them to do something once in awhile.

Just because your website is in your Twitter profile does not mean that your followers are going to click it. They might not have any idea what you do! Help them to understand.

There are  a number of different ratios I've heard around the water cooler of the internet. Some people love the Pareto principle and apply it to everything, so 80% of your posts should be about building your community and 20% about converting traffic or selling to them. I've heard of the lis-TEN ratio, 1 sales tweet to 10 replies. Gary Vaynerchuk argued to have his book called "Jab, Jab, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook" since he feels it should be 5 jabs, or conversational posts, to one right hook.

I tell my clients they should follow these five steps, in order, on Twitter and Facebook
1. Reply or comment on someone else's post
2. Retweet or Share someone else's post
3. Be conversational - share something personable and easy to talk about
4. Share a piece of interesting or helpful content that is not owned by you
5. Talk about your business, share a link or ask for a sale.

Everyone has a different formula, but what you will notice is that the majority of what you do should not be asking for a sale, but you do need to ask for something. We are all busy people, help me out and make it easier for me to do business with you by letting me know what you can do.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

In Service, The Series - Wellington Waterloo Webmakers Meetup

I keep thinking that I am at the end of this series, but then I remember one more neat thing I am a part of. Like the Wellington Waterloo Webmakers Meetup, which might actually be the Waterloo Wellington Webmakers Meetup, I'm not really sure which W come first.

Of course that name is new. Until a couple of weeks ago the group was called the Guelph Web Makers Meetup, or GWMM.

GWMM has been running for three years and is a monthly meetup bringing together any person involved in making a website or app. It's a really inclusive group that includes coders, designers, usability experts, SEO specialists, content creators and anybody that has ANY part in creating a website.

I started attending and found that even though I'm pretty much just on the soft side of website creation (in the content area) I was really interested in many of the other topics we covered. Some nights the demos went way over my head, but the results of what people were live coding was always really cool.

My involvement in GWMM got me back to coding and I started learning HTML and demo'd a website I created from scratch (no templates here). Sure it was only four pages and ugly as hell, but I built it.

I'm adding this group to my In Service series because I have donated my time to help market the group. Tonight I was at the Guelph Technology and Design Showcase, held at the University of Guelph in the Science Atrium. It is basically a career fair where local technology companies set up booths and meet with the computer sciences students.

This is the second year that I have attended and worked the GWMM booth, meeting with students and encouraging them to come to our group meetings. There are so many jobs available to computer science students, so many fields they can go into. But it is also a volatile industry, with start-ups launching and failing every day and long time established companies being pushed out of the industry when they stop innovating.

Like I said yesterday, everyone needs a network of people they can go to for support, and in the technology field the more people you know, the more opportunities there are for you. A meetup group is a great way to build that network.

Last year, as I mentioned, I build a webpage from scratch, with the help of GWMM and presented it to the group. It was not pretty, barely functional and had no bells and whistles, but the people watching (most of whom could have built that in seconds) were incredibly supportive and some even reminisced about their first time learning to code. It could have been a terribly embarrassing demo, but instead they shared my excitement about building something that worked.

Not long after that GWMM took part in an event which happens in Waterloo called Family Hack Jam. It's an event for kids to learn coding and engineering skills. There was a module for building a video game, one for HTML coding to build a website about a unique animal, a section for building 3D boxes with paper, and a section for using a 3D printer.

I was asked to represent GWMM and help run the module on HTML coding and building a website.

I feel strongly that there is absolutely no better way to learn a skill than to try to teach it to someone else. I got to spend that entire day teaching kids some very basic HTML coding, more basic even than the website I built. And I got to see in those kids what everyone else in GWMM saw in me when I was showing them my website, pride and amazement when you hit that button and the page loaded just the way you wanted it to.

Unfortunately, some of my other volunteering has gotten in the way of my regular involvement with the webmakers meetup. It's the one technology event in Guelph that I truly miss when I can't attend it, and it's been a long while since I've been to a meetup. So when the opportunity came to go represent the group tonight I jumped at.

I think the GWMM has been one of the most beneficial things I've been involved with and has both introduced me to a network of people I can go to for help, and taught me how to do things I used to think were beyond me. I was happy to put in 4 hours of my time tonight and tell the comp-sci students how much they can gain by attending a meetup.

And you can bet I will be at the next one, February 12th at Symposium Cafe at 7pm. See you there, maybe?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Holistic Web Marketing - Step Two, Network Building

We've already talked about one of the first benefits and goals of creating an online presence and that is controlling the message people receiving about your brand.

Today we will talk about the next benefit anybody can achieve using online tools and that is building a network. Depending on the client we call a network an internet army, brand advocates, referral partners, and even friends.

Offline people rely on a support network for many personal and business goals. Parents rely on trustworthy neighbourhood kids to babysit. Men and women rely on other club members to fill in their golf foursomes. Business people rely on BNI or Rotary or Chambers of Commerce to get referrals. Some people even rely on the people they meet at pubs to come over on weekends and help them build decks and fences.

Any person in your life that you ask for help from is a person in your "network". The word networking has a bit of a bad connotation, bringing to mind smarmy used car salesmen types with business cards they hand out everywhere from their kids choir recitals, to funerals. In reality it is every single person you know, some are smarmy, and some are genuine and lovely people.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Be Happy

Today has not gone as planned. That's not to say I haven't been productive, or that I'm not proud of the work I produced today. It is to say that I planned my day to the minute, but the execution did not work out. I blame bad math.

In actual fact, of the dozen or so tasks I had on my list, I only got about half of them done. And most of that was before I took a lunch break. Since coming back from lunch, however, my plan tanked. Two of the tasks on my list took way more time than I had allowed for them.

Which is why it is almost 9pm and I'm only just writing this post now. I had a plan for tonight's post too, but it involved research and planning. It was a doozy of a blog post... But for now you will have to live with this one. And so will I!

Yesterday a friend posted this infographic on Facebook and I really took it to heart. Of the 10 items on this list of simple things to live a happier life, I've enjoyed 8 of them today.

I woke up after a great night's sleep well rested and ready to go.

I got more than 7 minutes of exercise, outside, enjoying my commute from my home office to my man's home office. And despite the science which says 13.9C is the happiest temperature, I really, really love temps well below zero. This is my happiest season.

I regularly give time to not for profit organizations (see my In Service - The Series posts), and this morning's highly productive start included a number or tasks for those organizations.

I took a lovely (and slightly long) lunch break with my man, and practised smiling with the owner of the restaurant, the smiley Bobbi.

And I practiced gratitude by being thankful for a number of friends who helped edit my work today.

I will also add my own personal thing to the list, which is to forgive myself for not getting everything done.

Choose to be happy. Everything else is a bonus.


Sunday, January 26, 2014

My Tool Belt - Google Alerts

The world wide web moves pretty fast - if you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. - Ferris Bueller

At least I think I he said something like that.

As we learned yesterday while listening to Stuff You Should Know, the web is a huge place, and growing at a massive rate. How are we supposed to keep up with everything posted on the net? How do we know if someone has mentioned us in a blog post, a tweet or a news article?

This is where a tool like Google Alerts comes in handy. I know, I know, Google has let us down recently by closing some features that were super handy (I will forever miss you Google Reader), and they even let us down two days ago by having a major outage across a bunch of their features like Gmail, Google+ and Blogger. Some people even complain that Google Alerts is not as functional as it used to be, and expect it to be the next thing Google stops providing.

But for now, Google Alerts are great at keeping you up to date about the topics you want to watch.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

What I'm Listening To - Stuff You Should Know

If you can only listen to one podcast this week I would say you should listen to Mitch Joel's Six Pixels of Separation episode on Content Shock - the idea that humans are consuming the maximum amount of content possible, but marketers and entertainers keep making more and more. But since I recommended you listen to Mitch's show last week I will make a second suggestion.

Photo from StuffYouShouldKnow.com
If you have time to listen to two podcasts this week the second one should be Stuff You  Should Know's new episode on the Deep Web.

Stuff You Should Know is the first podcast released by the How Stuff Works emporium that I ever listened to. I have almost never been disappointed in an episode. I learn from each episode. I laugh with each episode.