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July 14, 2014

The 2014 E-commerce and Internet Marketing All-Stars: The Top 9 Blogs

July 14, 2014 | By | No Comments

2014 Internet Marketing and E-commerce Blogging all starsEvery year for the last few years, I’ve been rounding up the blogs and bloggers who help me get better at e-commerce and Internet marketing and who force me to think about our industry in new and often unexpected ways every day. Without further ado, here’s this year’s list:

  1. Leading off are the fine folks at Get Elastic, ably led by Linda Bustos (@Roxyyo on Twitter). Get Elastic claims to be the #1 most subscribed e-commerce blog and it’s easy to see why.
  2. Clearly, there’s a huge shift towards mobile in both e-commerce and digital marketing. Which is why I rely on my old friend Karen McGrane to help make sense of it all. While Karen blogs about more than just business, she’s funny, insightful, and always a good read. (I also couldn’t keep up without the news I get from Mobile Commerce Daily, um… daily).
  3. The team of bloggers at Biznology offer tons of great content and context every day, under the guidance of the legendary Mike Moran (Full disclosure: I’ve written a monthly post for the blog there since 2010, but I’m really recognizing the other bloggers there. I’m not that self-serving).
  4. Another source I couldn’t live without is Benedict Evans’ eponymous blog. Ben talks more about technology and investing than marketing or e-commerce. But his understanding of the shifts occurring every day in the digital space are “must-read.”
  5. Search still comprises one of the primary digital channels. And that’s why I check out Search Engine Land every day.
  6. For all my Travel Tuesday fans, you owe it to yourself to check out Vikram Singh’s Words of Vikram blog. Somehow, Vikram and I have never met, but I look forward to trading ideas with a very smart, very capable fellow fan of the travel space sometime in the near future.
  7. Mitch Joel’s Six Pixels of Separation offers spectacular insights about the state of digital that you really need to read.
  8. If social’s part of your game plan, make sure you visit Mack Collier’s blog. Mack hosts the weekly #blogchat on Twitter that’s well-worth checking out too.
  9. Finally, no list of e-commerce and digital marketing blogging all-stars is complete without Seth’s Blog, by the incomparable Seth Godin. Such a smart guy. I learn something new every time I check him out. You probably will too.

There you have them, Big Thinkers. Your 2014 E-commerce and Internet Marketing All-Stars. Read ‘em. Listen to ‘em. Love ‘em. And for more great tips, tools, and techniques, take some time to review the 2013, 2012, and 2011 editions of the list, too.

Interested in learning even more about the future of e-commerce and marketing via the social, local, mobile web? Register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

Given the popularity of the Travel Tuesday series, you may also want to review the tips in my recent presentation Digital Marketing Directions: Three Trends Shaping 2014 Hospitality Internet Marketing. Again, it was built for a travel audience, but its lessons apply across industries. The full deck is here:

Finally, you might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

Tim Peter

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June 30, 2014

What You Need This Month: The Top 10 Digital Marketing and E-commerce Posts in June

June 30, 2014 | By | No Comments

E-commerce and marketing executives reviewing content on a tabletCurious about the top 10 posts from June? Thought you might be. Without further ado, here’s what we’ve got:

  1. Your favorite post this past month was this Travel Tuesday entry, “What in the World are Priceline and TripAdvisor Up To?”
  2. Coming in at a very close second was this look at search engine marketing, which explained “What Google Won’t Tell You About Search Engine Marketing.”
  3. You all really enjoyed another Travel Tuesday post, “Warning: OTA’s Want to Own Your Guest Every Step of the Way.”
  4. My weekly podcast, Thinks Out Loud, covers all manner of e-commerce and digital marketing strategy questions. Episode 76, “Why Mobile Commerce Will Be Even Bigger Than You Think,” was your fourth most popular post in June.
  5. “Wickedly Effective Laws for E-commerce Websites,” a look at best practices for e-commerce websites was the next most popular item last month.
  6. Another podcast episode, ‘What Does “It’s All E-commerce” Really Mean?’ comes in at #6.
  7. Your next top item comes from the Travel Tuesday series, and uncovers “The Little-Known Factor That Will Kill Your Hotel Marketing.”
  8. The 75th episode of Thinks Out Loud must have been a good one, because this look at “What’s Wrong With Mobile and E-commerce Best Practices?” was your 8th favorite topic this past month.
  9. Another Travel Tuesday post comes in at #9, “Industry Leaders Show Why Guests’ Changing Behaviors Matter.”
  10. Finally, this look at “How to Reach Top Decision Makers in 5 Minutes” closes out your top 10 favorite e-commerce and digital marketing posts for June.

You also might want to check out last month’s round-up, “10 Things You’ve Got to Know Now: The Top 10 Digital Marketing and E-commerce Posts in May.” As ever, I reserve the main spots for original content, so it’s not included in the main list despite its popularity, (it actually represented the fourth most popular post overall). And you might want to check out April’s list, too, if you have a moment.

Interested in learning even more about the future of e-commerce and marketing via the social, local, mobile web? Register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

Given the popularity of the Travel Tuesday series, you may also want to review the tips in my recent presentation Digital Marketing Directions: Three Trends Shaping 2014 Hospitality Internet Marketing. Again, it was built for a travel audience, but its lessons apply across industries. The full deck is here:

Finally, you might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

Tim Peter

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March 7, 2014

Tools of the Trade: A Process (and 6 Blogging Tools) I Can’t Live Without

March 7, 2014 | By | No Comments

Blog toolsI got an email the other day from Steve in Madison, WI, asking me for tips on how to blog more effectively and efficiently. Well, Steve — and everyone else — here’s what I do.

  1. It’s all about process. You can’t write regularly about any topic without a really solid process. I’ve developed mine over the course of some 9 years of blogging, plus loads of conversations with good friends like Mike Moran, Rob Petersen, and others about what works for them.
  2. Learning. First, I try to keep up on what’s happening in the world of e-commerce, digital marketing and marketing strategy. I talked a couple of weeks ago about using Feedly to keep track of my favorite news sources every week and keep a fresh list of ideas top of mind.
  3. Archiving. For news stories and viewpoints that I really like (or at least want to give more thought to, I use the web clipping feature in Evernote. Very handy, and it works across desktops, the Web, iOS, and Android, so I’ll always have my content where I want it.
  4. Brainstorming. I’m a big fan of outlining my ideas, though I especially like mind-mapping as a way of thinking through those ideas. These days, I’m using FreeMind (for the desktop) and SimpleMind+ (iOS). I may switch to using SimpleMind for the desktop, but I’ve got lots of all FreeMind maps, so… we’ll see.
  5. Planning. I develop a weekly and monthly content calendar. I haven’t switched to more robust tools yet, and still keep everything in an Excel spreadsheet (which you can download here).
  6. Composing. I love MarsEdit for writing and compiling my posts. No, like really. I’ve highlighted the program in my 2013 Holiday Gift Guide and bemoaned its absence in my list of essential iPad blogging apps way back in 2011. In fact, I’ve used MarsEdit for just about every post I’ve published since roughly 2007 or 2008. While you can definitely write and compose posts within WordPress’s editor, I find it’s easier to keep drafts on my local computer and only upload when they’re close to done. The editor integrates beautifully with WordPress and Tumblr (my two go-to publishing tools), as well as Squarespace, Blogger, Movable Type and lots more. I can’t imagine blogging without it. For images, I like iStockPhoto a lot. And I have a handful of little, but useful Python scripts I’ve put together over the years to help with things like compiling the top monthly posts quickly each month.
  7. Publishing. For me, it’s all WordPress, all the time (I run the self-hosted version at Dreamhost, though am really excited about their Dreampress offering). I’ve looked at most of the other big tools out there (and like many of them), but I’ve been using WordPress for most of my blogging life and can’t imagine changing now.
  8. Promoting. Finally, building a successful blog for your business entails promoting your work… but that’s another post. I’ll be sure and offer more details in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.

Anyway, that’s what works for me. Do you have a different process? Something you can’t live without? I’d love to hear more about it in the comments.

If you’re interested in learning more about the future of e-commerce and marketing via the social, local, mobile web, register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

You might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

Tim Peter

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February 7, 2014

Get Practical: 3 Steps to Efficient E-commerce Content Marketing by Megan Totka

February 7, 2014 | By | No Comments

Get extra value from your contentThe idea of content marketing can seem overwhelming. To do it well, you need multiple channels, interesting things to say, and regular fresh content that targets the various demographics of the channels you’re using.

As an e-commerce company, you’re already devoting a lot of time to maintaining your online presence. So when will you ever have time to write all that new content?

Implementing an effective content marketing strategy doesn’t have to be a huge hassle. If you’re looking for a way to create and distribute a lot of great content, and you don’t have a lot of time and resources, this three-step method may work for you.

1. Create a Content Foundation Piece

Does the idea of generating brilliant new content day after day, or even week after week, make you nervous? The good news is that it’s not essential to do that. You can develop a central work that will let you expand, spin, or repurpose existing content and supply you with new material for months.

Of course, it’s important that you have high quality content for your marketing campaigns, so you’ll need to make sure you have a great foundation. The initial step will take longer than writing a blog post, but it will save you time in the long run.

Create an engaging, well-researched, long-form piece of content, such as an eBook, buyer’s guide, or magazine. If you don’t feel confident developing a longer piece, or you simply don’t have time, consider investing in a freelance writer to build your content marketing foundation.
Once you have your starting point, it’s time for the next phase.

2. Break Up and Repurpose Your Content Across Channels

With a strong foundation piece, you have a lot of options for breaking up, restructuring, and distributing your content online. You can use excerpts, chapters, quotes, statistics, and more to create:

  • Articles and blog posts. Use shorter portions of the work to make blog posts or articles that you can post on your own blog, use as guests posts for other business bloggers, or distribute as articles.
  • Infographics. If you have any research or statistics, you can create and distribute infographics on social media and blogs.
  • Images. Repost any images from your foundation content on social media, or pull interesting quotes and create images to share from them. To make quote images, you can use free online services like QuotesCover, PicMonkey, or Quozio.
  • Video. Use any how-to or instructional sections from your foundation content to create simple, engaging videos and post them to your website, YouTube, and other social media.
  • Newsletters. If you have a mailing list and need content, you can break your long content into multiple sections and send them out as weekly newsletters to your subscribers.

3. Analyze, Tweak, Repeat

One of the best benefits to this content marketing method is the ability to measure the impact of your efforts. With a steady, long-term supply of content, you can run your campaigns on several channels—and find out which ones are working the best for your business.

Then, once you finish parsing out your foundation content, you can narrow your content marketing targets to the channels that bring you results. When you create another long-form piece, the next round of marketing will last longer and increase your effectiveness.

Do you have a content marketing strategy that works for you? Share in the comments!

Interested in more? Register to receive a free copy of Tim’s special report, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World,” produced in conjunction with Vizergy, here. While it’s targeted to the hospitality industry specifically, most of the lessons apply across verticals.

You might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

About the Author:
Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.
Tim Peter

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January 3, 2014

Should Marketers Really Trust Google in 2014?

January 3, 2014 | By | No Comments

Is it safe for marketers to trust Google?

Like many of you, I’m prepping 2014 plans with many of my clients and for my own business. And, while looking through some year-end reports, I had a chilling thought: What if Google really sticks it to us next year? What if they turn off key services, eliminate more data or, most worrying, restrict access to customers?

Now, before we go too far down this path, let’s be clear: I’m not asking whether Google is evil. For the record, I don’t think they are. Neither is Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn (I’ll get to these guys in a minute). Each of these companies is doing its very best to take care of its shareholders. And, to be fair, doing that pretty well.

My question is, is what’s good for their shareholders also good for your business?

Consider the changes Google introduced to the overall digital marketing landscape over the last twelve months:

  • Google has continued to reduce the number of organic first page results. Traditional, “10 blue links”-style search engine results pages (SERP’s) occur less frequently than in the past. Growth of Google Now and Conversational Search may further reduce your opportunity to be seen.
  • Google limited business access to organic search data. While you can get some keyword data from Webmaster Tools, Google no longer provides search query info directly to site operators.
  • Google killed Google Reader. And, to a degree, took RSS with it. Again, in the spirit of fairness, RSS may have been dying (see here and here), whether Google kept Reader or not.
  • Google buried subscribed emails in a secondary, “Promotions” tab within Gmail even for emails customers deliberately subscribed to. Not great from an email marketing perspective, to put it mildly.

Now, let’s see. These changes effectively reduce your opportunities to get in front of customers via organic search, RSS feeds, and email. If I were a conspiracy theorist, I’d think Google was trying to move businesses towards some other form of advertising. If only they offered a product to help businesses reach more customers, they’d really be able to make some bucks.

Oh, wait…

Anyway, Google isn’t the only one doing these sorts of things:

  • Facebook recently admitted it’s limiting organic reach and recommending use of paid ads. AdAge quotes Facebook, “We expect organic distribution of an individual page’s posts to gradually decline over time as we continually work to make sure people have a meaningful experience on the site… We’re getting to a place where because more people are sharing more things, the best way to get your stuff seen if you’re a business is to pay for it.” [Emphasis mine]
  • Twitter is growing its Promoted Accounts and Promoted Tweets products. The company is expanding its promotional tools into mobile, providing you another “opportunity” to pay to talk to customers.
  • LinkedIn also launched a “Sponsored Updates,” a paid reach product. Sensing a trend here?

Now, again, none of this is evil. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google all have a right to do whatever they believe is best for their business. And, as public companies, one could argue have a responsibility to their shareholders to increase revenues and profits however they’re able.

You, however, have the right—and a responsibility to your shareholders—to ask whether you want to play along. After all, remember whose brand Google really wants to build.

Now, I doubt you’re going to run away from Google. Or Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or the rest. But it’s highly likely the costs of reaching customers through these channels will rise over the course of the next year. And it’s in your best interest to do more than just accept that.

What can you do about it? A few things, actually:

  • Adapt your mindset. The best digital marketing teams these days often refer more to inbound marketing than search marketing or social media marketing. They’re not focused on any one strategy or tactic; they’re focused on the result. And they’re willing to shift as individual channels gain or decline.
  • Focus on creating compelling content for your customers. Great content will continue to rank well in organic search. Great content will continue to attract links, “Likes,” and “Shares” for search and social benefit. And, most important, great content will continue to attract and engage customers, helping them solve their problems and increasing their awareness of, interest in, and actions towards your brand.
  • Continue to build your mailing list. Yes, I know I said that it’s getting tougher to get seen in your customer’s inbox. But email remains popular among consumers and a cost-effective channel for marketers. Plus, if you’ve got great content, why not share it directly with your customers?
  • Finally, pay attention to search returns, not search rankings. Even if you’re not sure whether to trust Google, that doesn’t mean you can’t put them to work for your brand and your business. Search remains a key driver of traffic and conversions for most businesses. That’s unlikely to change right away (if ever). But instead of gauging your efforts against “rankings” (a dubious metric in an age of increasingly personalized search), measure how effectively search drives your business results. Then invest appropriately to improve those results over the coming year.

I’m pretty sure it was Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part II who said, “Keep your friends close but your enemies closer.” I don’t know if Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are enemies. But it’s worth keeping them close in the coming years, just in case.

If you’re interested in learning more about the future of e-commerce and marketing via the social, local, mobile web, register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

You might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

  1. The Secrets Behind “It’s All E-commerce” for 2014
  2. The Zen of Digital Marketing Strategy
  3. 7 Steps to E-Commerce Heaven
  4. Today and Tomorrow: Mobile and The Changing Customer Journey
  5. Warning: Mobile Drives Booking Costs Up and 4 Ways to Prevent It (Travel Tuesday)
  6. Mobile Makes E-commerce Even More “Frictionless”
  7. 3 Key Trends for 2013
A version of this post originally appeared on Biznology.
Tim Peter

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December 16, 2013

Five by Five: Thinks Most Popular E-commerce and Internet Marketing Posts 2008-2012

December 16, 2013 | By | No Comments

Happy anniversary ThinksWe’re beginning to wrap up the year here around Thinks Central. But I don’t want to miss an important event: Our anniversary. That’s right, Big Thinkers. Your favorite little ol’ e-commerce and marketing blog (well, this blog, anyway) is 9 years old this month. Give or take[*].

Over the course of those 9 years, I’ve published more than 1,750 posts, received some 3,400 comments, received many hundreds of thousands of site visitors and pageviews, and gone through roughly 387 laptops (I may be wrong about that last number).

Anyway, to commemorate this occasion, I thought you might enjoy the 5 most popular posts from each of the last 5 years (2008-2012; I’ll have a full list of the most popular posts of 2013 next week). To determine “most popular” posts, I’ve selected those posts that had significant traffic, better-than-average bounce rate, and large number of social shares. Each post is listed by year and includes its overall rank, too. As a sign of the value of having “legacy” content or “tent-pole” content on your site, many of the oldest posts on the blog continue to gain traffic and, as a result, tend to rank highest in terms of overall traffic. Something to think about as you optimize and enhance your site in 2014.

Without further ado, I offer you The Most Popular Thinks Posts (2008-2012). Enjoy!

Top Posts From 2008

  1. The most popular post from 2008, and still the #1 most popular post overall on the blog is Smart companies use Twitter. Here’s how.
  2. Another biggie, I Heart Zappos – The best customer service story you’ll ever hear (#4 overall)
  3. A very popular look at your need for a website: Is your business still invisible? Why? (#6 overall)
  4. For a long time, the most popular post on the blog was this review: Comparing Jimdo to SiteKreator, Webnode, Weebly and WordPress (#7 overall)
  5. Visitors consistently enjoy this look at how to set up your first business blog (#12 overall)
  6. Twitter was a big topic back in 2008, as this shows: What’s the business value of twitter? (#14 overall)

Top Posts from 2009

  1. This next one is a hugely popular post straight through to today and is frequently among the top 15 most-visited pages each month: 5 Questions About Landing Page URL’s (#2 overall)
  2. This look at the downside of social media still offers some good tips. (#15)
  3. Another post that continues to do well asks: What does an A/B test look like, anyway? (#17)
  4. One of my personal favorites: What are the best tools to improve online marketing? Here’s a hint: Who cares? (#20)
  5. Another slow and steady, but still popular post that continues to do well each month: 4 Steps to Create Great Content For Your Business Blog (#23)

Top Posts from 2010

  1. A big entry from my (on-hiatus) “Small Business E-commerce Link Digest” series: Improving web analytics to improve your business (Small Business E-commerce Link Digest – July 9, 2010) (#10 overall)
  2. Good look at analytics tools and theory: What’s the best tool to measure your website? (#45)
  3. First entry that falls outside the top 100, but also my first detailed look at the value in mobile… from three years ago. Just sayin’: Is Amazon’s $1 billion in mobile sales enough to convince you? (#105)
  4. A very popular guest post: Jumpstart E-Commerce Sales with These 5 Easy Tips (#107)
  5. Good question: Is it possible to fail too fast online? (#112)

Top Posts from 2011

  1. A consistently strong performer. Keeps climbing in popularity year after year: Subdomains and Subdirectories for Branding (#9 overall)
  2. I can’t lie. I love this post: You Don’t Need a Website (#26)
  3. Another guest post. Ironically enough, it’s about the value of guest posts: The Benefits of Guest Posts For Your Small Business Blog by Carol Wilson (#36)
  4. Good insights into SoLoMo: Learning 21st Century Social, Local, Mobile and Video Marketing From a 19th Century Company (#51)
  5. Another exploration of social: Social media marketing is a good idea: Reason #324 (well, it’s #54, not 324, actually)

Top Posts from 2012

  1. Good content marketing tips: A dozen useful content marketing best practices worth reviewing (#27 overall)
  2. Good overview and another personal fave. Glad it made the list: Building your brand story (#32)
  3. Great tips: 5 amazing mobile strategy tips from HEDNA (#46)
  4. Excellent guest post: Guest post: Four Keys to Increase E-commerce Exposure in 2012 by Nii Ahene (#49)
  5. And another “Small Business E-commerce Link Digest” entrant: 9+ tips for improving your website’s effectiveness (Small Business E-commerce Link Digest – March 23, 2012) (#54)

Well, Big Thinkers, I hope you enjoyed this look back as much as I did. But don’t worry. I’m not getting all nostalgic on you. Look forward to more great e-commerce and Internet marketing content tomorrow (and the next day. And the next. And the next…)

If you’re interested in learning more about the future of e-commerce and marketing via the social, local, mobile web, register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

You might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

  1. The Secrets Behind “It’s All E-commerce” for 2014
  2. The Zen of Digital Marketing Strategy
  3. 7 Steps to E-Commerce Heaven
  4. Today and Tomorrow: Mobile and The Changing Customer Journey
  5. Warning: Mobile Drives Booking Costs Up and 4 Ways to Prevent It (Travel Tuesday)
  6. Mobile Makes E-commerce Even More “Frictionless”
  7. 3 Key Trends for 2013

Here’s a little history. I originally launched Thinks over on Google’s Blogger service, way back in December, 2004 (you can still view the retired old blog here). Back then, I focused less on marketing and business, to avoid any conflicts with my employer. Instead, I posted slightly snarky observations about Web culture, technology, and really anything that caught my interest.

In December, 2005, I moved the blog to a self-hosted WordPress site (the very one you’re on today, although I switched hosts in November 2007 when my old hosting company folded its tents and vanished in the middle of the night. No joke. You can read about the aftermath here, if you’re interested).

In June, 2006, I launched a second blog, called “TravelStuff,” on WordPress.com to catalog developments in the world of online travel distribution and e-commerce (I worked for a hotel company at the time). Much like the original Thinks, I avoided too much direct commentary about the industry to avoid any conflicts of interest. That content evolved into my current “Travel Tuesday” series. Both the original TravelStuff items and new weekly “Travel Tuesday” posts are now hosted within Thinks but you can still view all travel-related content separately via the TravelStuff.TimPeter.com domain.

And, there you have it. The complete history of Tim Peter Thinks in a nutshell. Hope you enjoyed it. And I hope you keep coming back for more in 2014 and beyond.

Tim Peter

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September 12, 2013

Building Connections/Happy Anniversary – Thinks Out Loud Episode 42

September 12, 2013 | By | No Comments

Success celebration

Building Connections/Happy Anniversary Headlines

Most Popular Past Episodes

  1. Thinks Out Loud Episode 15: Are You Ready for Facebook’s Graph Search?s – January 25, 2013
  2. Thinks Out Loud Episode 28: Say “Hi” to Conversational Search – May 23, 2013
  3. Thinks Out Loud Episode 32: Vines, Videos, and Visuals in Marketing – June 21, 2013
  4. Thinks Out Loud Episode 11: Does Podcasting Make Sense? A Digital Marketing Case Study – December 20, 2012
  5. Thinks Out Loud Episode 9: Is Social Media a Waste of Time? – November 29, 2012
  6. Thinks Out Loud Episode 1: The Why’s of Mobile – September 14, 2012

You can also register to receive a free copy of my special report, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World,” produced in conjunction with Vizergy, here. While it’s targeted to the hospitality industry specifically, most of the lessons apply across verticals.

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Technical details: Recorded using a Shure SM57 microphone
through a Mackie Onyx Blackjack USB recording interface into Logic Express 9 for the Mac.

Running time: 14m 56s

You can subscribe to Thinks Out Loud in iTunes [iTunes link], subscribe via our dedicated podcast RSS feed (or better yet, given that Google has now killed Reader, sign up for our free newsletter). You can also download/listen to the podcast here on Thinks using the player below:

Tim Peter

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September 9, 2013

Facebook Etiquette: 4 Social Media Marketing Mistakes to Avoid by Megan Totka

September 9, 2013 | By | No Comments

Facebook marketing etiquetteFacebook marketing can be a tricky beast. As a business, you want Facebook engagement to translate to sales—but you don’t want to come off as pushy. There’s also the social aspect to consider, the need to be approachable and personal.

While there’s no magic formula for the right approach to Facebook marketing, remember two things:

  1. There are a number of mistakes you must avoid in any marketing channel
  2. Proper Facebook etiquette tips will help you boost engagement by not turning people off about your Facebook page, your message, or your entire brand

What is “proper Facebook etiquette”? Glad you asked.

Don’t Ask For “Likes” on Your Posts

The Facebook “Like” button has become something of a holy grail for some marketers. Get enough “likes” on your post, the idea seems to be, and you’ll magically go viral. Your fan base will explode. Money will start pouring in. That’s why you’ll find plenty of social media marketing advice out there telling you to ask for the like.

The problem with this strategy is that everyone knows it’s a strategy. There are massive numbers of posts on business Facebook pages out there starting with, “Like this post if you…” And while your likes may start to add up, those numbers aren’t going to convert to dollars.

It’s better to write fantastic content that people “Like” because… well, they actually like it. You may end up with smaller numbers next to your thumbs-up, but they’ll reflect a true, organic level of engagement that’s more likely to go viral because people are actually interested in what you have to say.

Don’t Clog Up Your Fans’ News Feeds

There’s a difference between actively posting and over-posting. You want to maintain a social media presence, but you don’t want to post so often that people see nothing but your company in their news feeds. That’s a fast way to get your page un-liked.

Instead, opt for quality posts over quantity. Make sure that when you post something to Facebook, it will add value for your followers in some way. The same advice applies for when you’re using hashtags on Facebook—post them strategically and sparingly.

Don’t Patronize Your Audience

Talking down to your Facebook followers is a sure path to disengagement. For some great examples on what not to do, check out the Condescending Corporate Brand Page, a parody Facebook business page that gathers, posts, and comments (sarcastically) on social media blunders from big corporations.

Along the same lines, avoid the appearance of capitalizing on national or global tragedies by not posting about your “sympathy” or “thoughts and prayers” on Facebook. It’s better to either completely avoid the mention on your business page (save it for your personal page), or instead of thin sentiments of sympathy, post a link that gives your audience a way to help, such as donations or official support websites.

Don’t Say “Thanks”

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t show gratitude to your audience for engaging with you. Rather, it means that when people take the time to offer thoughtful comments or suggestions, it’s dismissive and rude to respond with a single word. Just saying “thanks” makes it seem like you’re too important to bother thinking about their comment.

When you take the few extra seconds to offer a personal response to commenters on your Facebook page, you’re creating fans for life. So don’t simply go down the list and click “Like” next to your comments, or add “thanks, everyone” at the end—engage your audience, and keep them coming back for more.

If you’re interested in learning more about the future of marketing on the social, local, mobile web, register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

You might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

About the Author:
Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

Image credit: Image courtesy of birgerking via Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Tim Peter

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July 29, 2013

Which Social Networks Should Marketers Be Worried About?

July 29, 2013 | By | No Comments

Are Pinterest and Foursquare in trouble?

Consider the following social media services:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Google+
  • TripAdvisor
  • Yelp
  • Tumblr
  • Pinterest
  • Goodreads
  • Instagram
  • Foursquare

One of these things is not like the other.

Well, two, actually.

At least two of these sites likely are on the decline. And that definitely affects your marketing for next year.

Which two? And why?

Well, let’s take a look. Most of the major social players have either expanded their services (LinkedIn added significant content, Twitter now allows users to post videos and images, TripAdvisor and Yelp recently added functionality to let you book hotels and make restaurant reservations, respectively), been acquired by one of the major AGFAM players (Instagram by Facebook, Goodreads by Amazon), or both (Tumblr and, yes, Yahoo’s looking to join the AGFAM-ily). And while I’m not terribly bullish on Google+, I don’t think it’s going anywhere anytime soon.

By contrast, it’s pretty clear to me that Pinterest and Foursquare don’t fit this pattern. When you get right down to it, they’re not companies. They’re features. One lets you collect images and share them with other people. The other lets you tell your friends where you are.

I realize I may be giving these two somewhat short-shrift here. They offer somewhat more functionality than just that. Their problem stems from the fact that, in both cases, it’s only “somewhat.” According to comScore data, Pinterest’s monthly traffic growth has fallen since January and lags the trends seen by Twitter, Tumblr, Yelp, and LinkedIn over the same period. (January and June data available here).

As you begin planning your social media strategies for 2014, take a look at where your customers increasingly spend their time. And look at where you spend yours. While I don’t recommend trying to pick winners and losers ahead of time very often, I do recommend you look at which activities continue to drive results for you. And I suspect you’ll find Foursquare and Pinterest falling from that list.

Interested in learning more about the future of marketing? Register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

And you might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

Tim Peter

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July 17, 2013

5 Top Tips from Thinks E-commerce and Marketing All-Stars

July 17, 2013 | By | No Comments

Tips from the Marketing All-StarsI wanted to follow up on yesterday’s list of the 2013 Marketing and E-commerce All-Stars by highlighting why various members made the list. While I don’t have an example from each member (for instance, Inbound.org and Tumblr don’t exactly lend themselves to this type of curation), it should offer a picture of what makes each of these folks special.

  1. Jeff Bullas wrote a piece asking “Are You Waiting to be Perfect Before You Start Your Blog?” Love this line: “If you don’t start then nothing will happen…. it is that simple.” Want more? I also love his piece on How to Unleash the Power of Content.”
  2. Mitch Joel builds on Jeff’s theme, asking What’s The Point In Commenting On Blogs? Mitch offers clear thinking in asking questions like this:

    “…the need to leave the digital equivalent of a high five doesn’t fit with my personality. It’s not an indication that I’m not appreciative of the discourse (quite the opposite, I’m extremely thankful that individuals read the content and feel compelled to comment). I’ve had people leave a comment, then post to Twitter that they have left a comment, then posted a link to the blog post with an additional comment on LinkedIn, Google + and more. There are many social media “experts” who feel that every comment must be acknowledged on a blog post. Does this mean that bloggers must also acknowledge those additional comments, shares and more on every other channel as well?

    Counter-intuitive, but well thought out. And illustrative of the kind of advice Mitch provides every day.

  3. Get Elastic is a bit more prescriptive, noting “only 25% of the 85 retail blogs we tracked in 2007 are still actively updated today” and offering alternatives in “Beyond Blogging: 13 Content Marketing Opportunities for Ecommerce.” Good stuff.
  4. Mike Moran looks at the overall value of content marketing (and many other techniques) when he asks “Does Brand Marketing Still Matter In The Digital Age?” As Mike says, “Digital marketing, in fact, is way more about marketing than about digital.” Worth noting, no?
  5. And let’s close out with Seth Godin. Seth makes a great point (as ever), in his post “The Thermostat And The Frying Pan”
    “There is significant pressure on marketers to get it done fast. And so the inclination to spend a lot, to race around, to turn the thermostat to its most extreme state. Yelling, basically. But all the yelling doesn’t build your brand faster. In fact, it might do quite the opposite. Trusted brands don’t get there by spending their whole budget on one Super Bowl ad.”

As ever, each of the Marketing and E-comemrce All Stars offers a ton of great information, tips, and deep thinking to help you grow your business. Check out the whole list and let their advice help you grow.

Interested in learning more about e-commerce and digital marketing? Register to receive a free copy of my new special report, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World,” produced in conjunction with Vizergy, here. While it’s targeted to the hospitality industry specifically, most of the lessons apply across verticals. And, if that’s not enough, you might also enjoy some of our past coverage of strategy, digital marketing, and e-commerce, including: