You Can’t Cheat on Social Networking

I am repeatedly asked by prospects and clients to set up and manage their social networking platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter and will not do it. Why? I use these platforms myself and what I have found is that you simply cannot cheat on them. People want to connect with the real you not someone masquerading as you!

Only you can speak from experience and exude the authenticity that these platforms require for you to grow your network and to interact with others. If users find out you are “cheating” the blow back will be fierce.

Now I do believe that there is a niche for coaching in these areas, but there is no replacement for the real you. So if you don’t have time to work these platforms, then I recommend that you stay away from them for the time being, and that you set up a blogger and hire a blogger, but don’t outsource a crucial way to connect legitimately with others interested in your field and services and risk being outed as a cheater.

Tips for Crafting the Perfect Blog Post Title

This is an art, yet something that you can learn to be proficient at easily for your own blog with a bit of practice. The best blog post titles are ones that catch your eye in a feed reader and entice you to click in. You’ve got just seconds to make an impression and if the feed reader being used only shows post titles (like mine does on MyLive), your post title absolutely has to hit the mark.

My two top tips for blog post titles:

1. Word your blog post title as you would a Google search query. Here are a few examples:  What is SEO?, Best Organic Search Engine Optimization, you get the gist – use keywords in the title and even consider using a question format. This type of format gets excellent results on search engines in the organic results.

2. Create a shock factor or spark reader curiosity – I always click into the blog post that is titled with an eye catching phrase. Here’s one I just found on my feed reader for the Merjis blog: Recession – Killing Me Softly, from Matt Cutts blog: How Many Links Per Page (who wouldn’t want to know what Google says about links?), or from the Blog Tutorials Blog: Launching a Blog? Do It With a Bang.

Your blog post title is key and should reflect the content of your blog post, so make sure it is crafted to work for you on search engines AND to entice readers to click in.

Preferred Blogging Frequency

A blog is not a blog if you never update it. From my experience the best scenario is to update your blog daily and at the minimum three days a week. Blogging one day a week or just several times a month will add content to your blog but will never create the return on your time investment that regular blogging will.

I know this from personal experience. I have blogged for years on my own blog. In late 2007 and early 2008 I have some blog personnel issues, one of my blogger’s father was in a slow decline and I ended up with some very serious blog coverage issues. I needed to blog for my writer on a regular basis but typically without any advance notice. As a result, my own blog suffered. I posted infrequently or sporadically. I saw my blog readership drop from nearly 40% of my website to under 5%. I saw a huge crash in my website traffic that was very concerning.

It has taken over eight months of consistent blogging, without fail, to rebuild my blog base of regular commenter’s, blog visitor traffic, and website traffic. It was very hard work and it was slow to regain what I have built and then lost.

Blog visitors will typically not come back to revisit a blog that is half heartedly maintained. I know I don’t. So if you want to get into the blog game, make the commitment to a minimum of three days a week and stick with it. Your traffic will build and your blog and website will benefit both.

CAN SPAM – Are You Breaking the Law?

I have recently had two situations that were similar in nature and wanted to talk about the two as you may benefit from the experience.

One situation the person had paid a party on eLance to scrap emails (harvested them) from websites manually in order to create a email list so they could send a notice of a new product they were selling. I was presented with the lists and asked to load them into the subscriber database control panel. I had to approve that the list was not a violation of the services terms of use and that the lists were  CAN SPAM compliant. I stopped the load and had to ask where the list had come from and found out the history.

It is very important to understand that lists of this nature – harvested emails, even done manually do not meet the criteria to pass review and do violate Federal Law. No one likes spam and although you might be able to get away with loading a list of that nature by lying your way through, are you willing to be held legally responsible for participating in that?

In another situation the person said that they could buy a list of 120,000 names from a party who they did not personally know for about $1,100 and that the list was CAN SPAM compliant and had been double opted in. This person was even told they should set up shell domains and spam, whoops send, to the list the first time and then resend to the list the second time on another domain – so the emails would not be blocked by ISPs. This is a spammer technique clear and simple – milk a domain for a few days, then drop it and move to another.

I have to say in both cases a business really flirts with disaster by doing shady deals and gray market activities in an effort to generate business even in a tough economy. My question in both these cases is: is it worth tarnishing your business reputation to send out spam? You hate spam, but you are you willing to spam others to make money for your own business?

For me, I will not participate in these types of enterprises. They are in violation of the law and I simply cannot risk get drawn into a bad situation that may spiral into legal action.

My question to you today is, are you breaking the law too? Or possibly just contemplating breaking the law. Maybe you just don’t know what they law says. Find out what the truth is when it comes to email lists and what is considered spam by reviewing the CAN SPAM act here.

What is interesting is that after these two conversations I checked with management at Topica (where my own e-newsletter list resides) about their policy on list creation and was told that they do not even allow the load of info, sales, and other generic email account names to the subscriber’s list as they know that these may be harvested emails. They focus on being totally CAN SPAM compliant and would not knowingly accept a harvest list of these natures. Vertical Response flags lists that are large (over 1,000 names on load) and asks the list owner to reconfirm in writing that the list is clean and not in violation of their terms of service or the CAN SPAM act. They will not even send the emails out until you provide answers.

New AdWords Image Templates

I picked this info up from the AdWords blog and checked it out for you. AdWords now has an image ad builder in the AdWords ad variations control panel and it is cool.

Right now AdWords is showing Flash image St. Patrick’s day ad templates. The easy control panel allows you to add text, upload a logo or image, and does all the heavy lifting for you to have a very cool animated image ad in just the right sizes.

I think that this is a wonderful tool as the time to create all 8 size variations of image ads can be extremely time consuming and may even require the help of a graphic artist or Flash designer. The new image ad builder allows non-designer types to use image ads without having to spend huge chunks of time or money to create them.

When would you want to use image ads? Well, now this is the big question. In my years of experience I know that ads in the content network simply do not convert at the rate that they do in search, and right now image ads only show in content. So, it is important to know that you can really spend a huge chunk of cash advertising in content using image ads and not generate the real sales to cover the expense. Still even with that for name exposure, brand marketing, and wide advertising exposure targeting the content arena does work, just don’t expect the same conversion rate you get on Google.com.

Facebook For Kids and Teens

Kids can do crazy things, things we wish they wouldn’t. As a parent I have to say I get a window on my kids activities by their personal pages. I am going to share some of my own family guidelines with you on the use of social networking sites that I have for my own kids.

First for my college freshman. I have recommended that for now he should set his Facebook page up as private and only to be seen by people he authorizes. I reminded him that funny photos doing silly things may come back to haunt him. I don’t necessarily mean the photo of him coming out of our dryer in the laundry room, but I do mean ones where he may not doing something that I would approve of. Periodically I check his Facebook page not to rant, but to give guidance and to know what he is doing. He and is friends are into mud sledding (mudding) right now. But if I see something questionable, I do phone and just remind him of not showing himself in the best light. We have a great relationship and I try to be a mentor now that he is on his own.

For my three small fry (age 12) all social networking sites and instant messaging programs are off limits. I am not allowing this type of interaction at this age. I feel that they can connect with kids and chat online at Fiesta, but beyond that I say no to MySpace and Facebook.

For some weird reason their age group is wanting to IM using Skype instead of AOL AIM, but I am not letting them do this at this time. What I have found from my big kid I am using to help my little kids. Instant messaging can be a huge distractor from homework. I have even institute computer time controls as I have found that it is very easy for them to be addicted to being online and I feel that at their age they need one-on-one interaction and socialization from clubs and activities offline.