Best of #SMAZ – Blogging Tips, Social Media ROI, & SEO

One of my goals for 2010 is to attend some events / seminars / conventions pertaining to blogging and social media, and today was a great start as I attended the Social Media Arizona event in Tempe. I wasn’t sure what to expect as I only found out about it last Friday, thanks to Annette at TwoZen Productions. So, without further ado, here is a story of my day at #SMAZ.

Almost Not Making It

The excitement of the day started an hour before the event actually did. I was right on schedule, planning to leave my apartment at 7:20am for the drive out to Tempe. Ok, I admit, it was about 7:22 when I got into my vehicle, but 2 minutes late isn’t so bad. What was bad was the noise my truck made – or didn’t made, to be more appropriate, when I turned the key in the ignition – the sound of a dead battery. I had to wake up my hubby, drag him out into the cold, and get him to jump start my battery. Then off I went, jumper cables in the back just in case she didn’t start again later in the afternoon for my return home.

Giant Rabbits

Even after leaving fifteen minutes later than planned and dealing with traffic, I still managed to make it to MadCap Theatres just a few minutes after 8. As I walked out of the parking garage, I saw some rather large bunnies that I had to get a shot of with my new Droid, which has one of the best cell phone cameras I have ever used.

Giant Rabbits and a Fountain in Front of MadCap Theatres

Ok, enough about my morning, now onto the good stuff.

Social Media 101

After having a bagel and cream cheese, my colleague Sarah and I went to the first session on Social Media 101, a discussion led by Evo Terra of A Simpler Way. Amongst the topics that came up was some common sense insight into the usage of geo-based social media sites like Britekite and Foursquare. Simply put, don’t post your location unless you want to be found.

I can see that musicians who want to bring in a larger audience at their gigs would want to put out that they are warming up for their performance at the Boom Boom Room, but the random person doesn’t need to be tweeting their daily travel habits like “I’m at Starbucks on 5th and Grand” every morning at 8am. Two incidences (and I’m sure there are or will be more) of how these services can go wrong included one person being stalked and noticing because the same person was everywhere they went, and another person having their house broken into after sharing that they were going to be at another location for several hours.

Measuring Social Media Influence

The most popular topic at #SMAZ was the measurement of social media influence and the elusive ROI – Return on Investment. The keynote presentation by Greg Chapman, President of Sitewire covered ways to measure social media influence across multiple channels using some advertising research methods that helped measure how catalog advertising affected customer purchasing.

  • Holdout Groups – taking two demographically similar groups and sending an ad to one, but not the other, and measuring the result of the group who received the ad compared to the one that didn’t.
  • Matchbacks – creating a special source code that can be identified as coming from one source.
  • Landing Pages – sending clients to unique landing pages depending on source.
  • Exclusive Products – offering exclusive products to a particular channel.
  • Focus Groups – apply reverse monetization by using social media to get client feedback instead of focus groups to lower research costs.

Social Media Strategy

Probably the best thing I heard about social media strategy is that social media can be more valuable as a listening tool than a speaking platform.

An example of this was given during the keynote. The speaker had went to a restaurant twice and felt the food was bland, so he went to tweet about it. He was soon contacted by someone from the restaurant’s marketing department, and after discussing his experience, the marketer eventually sent the speaker a gift card and revised menu. The food was improved.

Cold Shoulder of Social Media

Park Howell of Park & Co took an interesting approach in his session Cold Shoulder of Social Media. He presented his content like a screenplay, with his main focus being that you should have a story and be a great storyteller when you interacting with others on social media. He suggested that the real benefits of social media are as follows.

  • Social media makes you a better listener and writer.
  • Social media enhances your leadership skills.
  • Social media helps you become a better storyteller.

He also gave an example of a powerful video campaign that charity : water used to illustrate the importance of clean drinking water. It wasn’t just the facts that made the video compelling, but the way they told the story to illustrate the facts. Watch the PSA to understand how storytelling can create a stronger influence on social media.

2010 SEO Trends

Social Media and Search by Arnie Kuenn of Vertical Measures was a great presentation on search trends in 2010. The following are some interesting tidbits from this session.

  • Quality (relevant) backlinks are worth more, while weak backlinks are worthless.
  • Google tracks links and related keywords in social mentions, so having a tweet stating “Our updated link building services page http://…” will Google will associate link building services with the referenced website.
  • Most important search optimization factors include links (internal and external), fresh content, page title & meta descriptions, H1 headers, URL structure (including keywords if possible), and page load times (Google Caffeine).
  • Things to avoid in search optimization include trying to fool search engines using blackhat techniques, keyword stuffing, more links than text on a page (indicator of link farms), and presenting content that is not valuable for a website visitor.
  • Best links are from trusted sites with proper anchor text.
  • Anchor text should be varied in your link building campaign, including capitalization changes and plurality. Most natural links generally are linked to your website or company name.

Blogging Tips for Serious Bloggers

This was one of my “must attend” tracks in the agenda. The presentation included great tips for both beginning to advanced bloggers.

Some gems from this presentation by Jay Baer of Convince & Convert included:

  • Nobody has all the answers on blogging.
  • You have no editor to tell you what not to post on your blog.
  • It’s a fallacy to write only when you have something to say.
  • Don’t overthink – you’re better off posting something that is only 80% good than not posting at all.
  • Want to tweet your post three times in a day? Since you can’t send identical tweets in 24 hours, try writing three different headlines for your post so you can have three unique tweets back to your article.

For more great tips for serious bloggers, you can also check out the slides from the presentation.

Social Media ROI

Later in the afternoon, Evo Terra discussed ways social media ROI could be measured, which would (in an ideal world) mean the social media strategist would be able to do the following.

  • Know their client’s goals, and make (or hope) those goals are measurable ones such as increasing sales on a specific product by a certain percentage, reducing costs related to advertising and inbound sales calls / customer service requests, increasing gross profit, increasing sales efficiency, and so on.
  • Record every significant social media actions and changes including the beginning of a campaign, increase in fans / followers, tweets and retweets by influential Twitter members, eBook and Press Releases, and guest posts.

Again, in an ideal world, the social media strategist would be able to overlay social media actions with business metrics and be able to show social media influence in the bottom line. If a social media strategist is unable to prove measurable ROI, alternative statistics to show proving the benefits of social media would include:

  • New rankings (or change in rankings) for a particular keyword after social media campaigns.
  • Share non-financial impact items like an increase in website traffic, improved sentiment about the brand, and relevant fan / follower numbers.

Another great point brought up during the Q&A was that social media ROI reporting would need to be approached differently based on the executive the social media strategist is approaching, such as a CFO vs. a website administrator.

Closing

The official closing at 4pm didn’t happen, not in the scheduled room anyway. Instead, Sarah met with one of the social metrics panel members from IBM, Tiffany Winman. I was doing my own thing (compiling notes, figuring out what I wanted to share in this post, etc.) and jumped into their conversation near the end. Tiffany asked us for input of what we would have liked to seen but didn’t at #SMAZ – the topic that came to mind for me was more discussion on how to build community on social media and engage with fans / followers. She also suggested that we read the book Groundswell – a must read for social media strategists.

Resources

The following were mentioned throughout the seminar as good social media resources for monitoring and learning more about social media strategy.

Social Media Tools

  • Trackur – Social Media Monitoring Tools in just 60 seconds!
  • Radian6 – Radian6 gives you a complete platform to listen, measure and engage with your customers across the entire social web. Listen and join the dialogue with Radian6.
  • Social Mention – Receive free daily email alerts of your brand, company, CEO, marketing campaign, or on a developing news story, a competitor, or the latest on a celebrity.
  • Spiral16 – Creator of Spark, an advanced software toolset that provides a fresh approach to social media monitoring based on organization, accuracy, visualization and analysis.
  • Google Alerts – Email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your choice of query or topic.
  • HootSuite – Offers visualizations link statistics to impress your friends, your boss or just yourself with graphs showing not only a summary but also individual tweet statistics!
  • PostRank Analytics – For $7 per month, you get a complete picture of the reach of your content – right down to each story – across the social web.

Twitters
In addition to speakers at the event, the following were recommended for those who want to learn more about social media strategies.

  • @minethatdata – helps CEO’s understand the relationships between customers, advertising, products, brands, and channels.
  • @andrewfreeman – an Online Media Planner in Arizona, making his clients look good online while generating more customers.
  • @fvongraf – founder of Social Media Arizona.
  • @abbief – from HMA Public Relations, full-service marketing communications and public relations firm with the vision and experience to secure recognition for its clients.
  • @mashable – providing the best social media news and tips.

Follow the mentions above, plus speakers and panel members from #SMAZ on the SMAZ Twitter List.

More #SMAZ Reviews

I didn’t get to see all of the tracks unfortunately, but there are some great reviews from other attendees. Check out the following for more about the other sessions.

Your Thoughts

Did you attend SMAZ? I’d like to hear about additional gems of information that I missed in other tracks since I couldn’t be in more than one place at a time. If you didn’t attend, did you learn something new from the presentation notes, slides, and resources above?





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Comments

  1. says

    Good afternoon, Kristi. What a great synopsis of yesterday’s SMAZ event. Thanks for giving us all an overview of what happened. I’m glad you enjoyed my presentation (Although I’ll never read from a storybook again to make a point : – ))

    Your post, with all of its links, is a tremendous resource for all bloggers. Thanks for sharing, and I’ll keep coming back.
    .-= New from Park Howell The Cold Shoulder of Social Media with Green Marketing =-.

    • says

      I think the screenplay approach was the perfect way to get across the point of the story… it wouldn’t have made sense to tell people in a factual, bulleted list why they should create good stories. :)

  2. says

    Interesting a story for one day full of events, I like the idea of using the social media as a “listening tool” to improve our biz, this in case someone talk about it!

    I have followed your recommended twitters and joined the list, I would love to learn everything possible about social media strategies.
    .-= New from Hesham @ FamousBloggers Top 18 Stories from MMO Social Network =-.

    • says

      The varying anchor text isn’t new, but I think it has to be repeated as I still see people who go after just one anchor text when they do the KeywordLuv all across the board. No matter how much it is said, not many are applying it.

    • says

      I’m glad it kept you entertained. This was the first seminar/conference I’ve been to that I didn’t get bored at some point. The sessions went quickly… there were a few I could have enjoyed for two to three hours instead of just one.

  3. says

    Thanks for sharing this to us. We have already learned a lot like you did. I agree that social media should not be used to tweet about your whereabouts. I remember the news sometime ago about a criminal escapee who went on telling about his whereabouts on facebook just to taunt police, at least he was eventually caught. Responsible use of social media should be encouraged.
    .-= New from Andrew@BloggingGuide Income Blogging Guide Closing =-.

    • says

      Responsible use of social media and blogging should be encouraged indeed! With the wide reach of the Internet, you never know who you could be influencing by your example, so you have to set a good one.

  4. says

    I’m glad you included the slideshow and for sharing so many insightful information from #SMAZ. It’s the knowledge like this that makes me really want to be there and participate yet unable for the time being. Still, I think what I got most from this is that we need to really plan further and see ahead; people aware of the quality of one site when they enter one, quality is the key factor while visibility is another important issue. Upon reading the serious blogging part, I find motivated because obviously we are all in this together (love that slide!) ^^ Here’s to a greater blogging experience in 2010! As always, stumbled !

    @wchingya
    Social/Blogging Tracker
    .-= New from Ching Ya 7 Productive Things To Do When You Can’t Blog =-.

    • says

      I definitely think we’re all in this together. Blogging is a journey – and the more people you have to help you along the way on your journey, the further you will go.

  5. says

    Great post! You have given a lot of useful links. Thanks for sharing this to us. I have already learned a lot from your post. I agree that social media should not be used to tweet about your whereabouts and responsible use of social media should be encouraged.

    • says

      I’m super excited… I don’t think I’ve ever won anything on that scale before. I won free banner ads once which was fun, but a vacation – that is awesome! :)

    • says

      I think he just changes it in the tweets, but not on the blog. So long as all 3 headlines are relevant to the original topic, I wouldn’t see a problem with that. I was doing something sort of similar before, where I would post the article title in one tweet, then figure out a question version of it for a later tweet. For example, this post could have gone out as: Best of #SMAZ, Review of the 2010 #SMAZ Social Media Event, and What Did You Get Out of This Year’s #SMAZ Event?

  6. says

    The point about not sharing you location or too much of your personal info unless you are in certain industries is quite important, so much so that it is amazing that people would want to use services like that. Of course, I tend to lean to the more paranoid side of things to begin with, so that is just me.

    The tip about not having an editor to tell you when NOT to post something is spot on too. It can be really hard to look at something objectively when you are emotionally attached to it and this is something that I have to always remind myself when I want to get political about something.
    .-= New from Steve@Lift Chairs Making it Easier for Seniors to Live on Their Own =-.

    • says

      Honestly, the first time I saw a tweet from one of those services with the user saying “I’m at Starbucks on 5th and Grand” I immediately thought – that would be ok if the user was set to private tweets and only allowing their close friends / family to see that. But this user was very much public, had 1,000’s of followers, and I just wondered how creepy it would be for a complete stranger to follow you around based on your tweets. I’m sure there are plenty of instances of this happening that people don’t know about, and possible crimes related to it that have just not been linked yet. I lean with you on the paranoid side… I usually don’t tweet when I’m going somewhere unless it’s a big event like this one.

  7. says

    Thanks so much for posting this. I especially liked the gems for bloggers since that is where I am in my journey currently. I am envious of your definition of “cold” since I fail to see snow in your bunny picture.
    .-= New from Kidgas Made Google AdSense Payout =-.

  8. says

    Really interesting article sister, especially about the tips on serious blogging. This is my 2nd year on serious blogging and your tips really help. I plan to optimizing social media to spread my blog, I learn so much from this article, thanks sister.

  9. says

    Kristi-

    Thanks for mentioning Spiral16 in your list of social media toolsets. We’re finding that consultative customer service is also extremely important, especially as companies grapple with determining ROI. With automated semantic analysis, sentiment classification, and 3D data visualization, it’s a lot to take in. Its important to be able to make sense of it all.

    cheers,
    Eric Melin
    @Spiral16
    .-= New from Eric Melin Exciting improvements and redesigns on the way for Spark =-.

  10. says

    Okay, I know it’s not what your post was about, but as an ASU Sun Devil, what captured me was the stupid rabbits. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked by those bunnies, and as I write from frigid Massachusetts (it’s like 11 degrees right now), I actually kind of miss those statues!

    Not enough to want to move back, mind you… ;-)
    .-= New from James@photographs Guitars =-.

  11. says

    That’s scary about the stalking incidences with Foursquare. I’ve never heard of any stories like that (although, they were bound to happen anyways). I’ve always had negative feelings about that application, that just cements them even more. The only thing is that other applications are starting follow suit – such as Yelp. This could really be a problem if kids get a hold of this application too, ya know?

  12. says

    yup many people say social media just wast of time but i think Nothing is assured in SMO if you go in right direction you got more, unlike other push mediums of advertising concepts, social media does not offer any guaranteed results, the entire promotional campaign is focused more on appropriate usage and communication power!!
    .-= New from SEO Company Strengths of managed hosting services =-.

  13. says

    Wow, sounds like a jam packed day.

    I have tried a few different tests on social media measurements. Followers, fans and traffic from social media sources is straight forward but trying to understand ROI is a different matter. Social media can drive potential customers from so many different sources it becomes impossible to track accurately.

    Some great tips in here thanks.
    .-= New from search engine optimisation Building Links To Links?!? – Link Boosting! =-.

  14. says

    Wow Kristi, I must sing your praises and let you know you nailed it. I got so much from this article and will be searching for your other posts as well.
    I completely agree with the information you have shared and have found that the greatest benefit that can be gained by using social media breaks down to 2 simple things.

    The first is when sharing information, whether for fun or marketing, whatever the outcome you seek, be a good story teller! be yourself and express…

    The second is to be a good listener. I believe that most women are better at this then men by nature and do so without trying to solve the speakers problem.
    Sometimes just the act of listening to a person is all that is needed.

    Tell a great story and listen well. I am working on these two every day :)

    Thank you again Kristi,

    .-= Alyssa from buyqualityebooks.com Online Promotion secrets: Social marketing revealed =-.



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