Social Media Advice for Beginner Business
Post date: Dec 1, 2014 5:02:36 AM
How long have we been in the business of Search Engine Optimization and Social Media Management? Since 2006, when I started blogging and sharing my posts in social media. In 2009, I began marketing The Play Connection, Inc. online (at that time a special events venue for kids) through calendars, interacting in Mommy forums, and commenting on related websites. I had no idea I was working it for Search Engines or that I was acting as my own social media manager. I didn't even know that those things existed. From what I learned, I'll share some social media advice for beginner business.
After I shut the doors in 2012, I noticed a remarkable longevity to some of the calendar posts, Yelp Reviews, Yellow Page ads and interactions in the forums. I realized I was on to something.
If only, I had known it at the time. I shut the doors due to lack of funding. My dream was bleeding me dry and then some. Then, my phone began to ring every day for birthday party room rentals, Easter programming, and summer camp registration- until I changed my number. I didn't understand what was happening. I frantically tried to locate all of those links and posts with my information in them as quickly as I could. It was depressing. No one was calling when I was sitting in a lonely building waiting for the fun to begin. Even though, I had carefully added my events to the calendars as much as a month in advance!
Then, all of sudden the phone wouldn't stop ringing. I'm not going to lie, word of mouth played a role too, but those posts all over the internet were doing the bulk of the work. How do I know? I asked. "Where did you get this number?" "How did you hear about us?"
It took awhile for search engines to catch up with all the work I'd done. I was a failure, or so I thought. Most success stories are based on failures and the ability to bounce back or accept that their original idea wasn't the right idea. I think my original idea was the right idea, but I should have done more advanced planning. One of these days, when my kids are older, I plan to reopen those doors and keep my dream alive.
Why do you care? Because I failed, so you don't have to!
SEO "Experts," professionals, who have some sort of official training in the area, don't seem to be what they claim. I wonder, where did these professionals get their experience? How did they learn what works and what doesn't? Do they have a successful blog or a website? Most of these guys, aren't really SEO experts, the majority are scam artists and the rest are usually just textbook experts. You know, tech guys who know how coding and such is supposed to work, what algorithms are and how they work, and how all of this knowledge should come together in theory. The problem is theories don't always work. Most SEO experts aren't Google Insiders- they have no idea how Google really works... nor do I. But, I know a few things about social media and how a few tweaks to a crappy Mommy blog, can make it a successful money making blog!
I do have one big reveal... If you came here to find someone who can manage your website for you- so you don't have to do anything and can sit back with your legs up while the money funnels into your bank account... you might not like it. So, I'll save that big reveal until the end :)
You can find anything you need to know about SEO online for FREE. If you don't want to spend hours searching for the information- you can sign up for one of the thousands of webinars out there which offer the information, all in one place and neatly packaged for about $99. And then, you can do it yourself or at least know what you should be doing - so you don't get fleeced. People are getting fleeced every day.
They are hungry. It's like, when you are starving and you are down to your last $10 bucks. What should you do? You probably should buy some rice or Ramen Noodles. Maybe buy some seeds to plant vegetables that will continue to feed you for weeks... something that can sustain you for a few days until you can earn more money for groceries, but instead, you go buy a Big Mac and Fries. Problem solved, you aren't hungry any more. When you get hungry again... well, you'll cross that bridge when you come to it. Right? Maybe you'll get lucky and find a dollar on the sidewalk.
You have money now or maybe you don't, but you think none of it will matter once you sink a little cash into your website. In no time, you'll be rolling in the dough. It'll be worth it. And, if you are paying someone to manage your SEO or social media accounts, you'll give them some incentive by letting them know- "if you do a good job, I'll be able to hire you for more hours at a higher rate." As you are saying this, you might be thinking- And if you don't, I won't have to pay you because you didn't do what you promised...
Let's be very clear, I don't make "promises." If I tell you I can do something for you, it is based on an evaluation of your site and what I THINK I can accomplish based on past experiences, but social media is fickle and there are no guarantees. The Play Connection team and I work very hard managing your accounts as if they were are own. We come to love our clients' websites and miss them when the contracts end. So much, that, when we see you out there in internet land, we often 'like' you with our latest client and comment, share and interact with our personal accounts- because we care!
No. That's not you? You'd never do that. You know how business works. These are hardworking people who have dedicated themselves to becoming your voice and your face on social media. They put in several hours each week, posting, managing, sharing, tweeting, pinning- all the things you'd rather not be doing right now because, well, frankly, you have a life. Here's another secret, they do too. They are trying to do their best to please you- to be you. It can be difficult, not meeting in person, interacting with lengthy, long-winded phone calls, short texts, or long emails.
When most people contract someone to do their social media, they contract for 1-20 hrs. per week. They don't factor in the emails, phone calls, marketing plans, and reports they expect to see. But, you have to... this is all part of the deal. Your social media manager has a life and other clients too. They can't make a living off your 3 hrs. per week. They have to work for others too.
When you want to connect on your hour drive home from work or while you're in the middle of video conferencing with someone else and, "hold on, this will just take a minute" or you forgot your pre-scheduled call and call at dinnertime or bedtime... yeah... there will be a charge for that. And, they probably won't answer the phone at dinner time or bedtime. No hard feelings - just be respectful of their time.
We know you are king of XYZ and we should be honored to work with you, because one day you'll be an internet sensation but right now- you aren't. We want to help you reach your goal, but we AREN'T your Personal Assistant, VA, or Best Friend. Sorry. We also don't offer free couch sessions. The doctor is out. We just can't be those things. We focus on what we can do for you, and how we can HELP you do for yourself. That seems like an odd paragraph for search engine optimization tips and social media advice, but believe me there are a lot of people financially stressed who need a shoulder to cry on or people who NEED to feel important to hold on to their sanity. Yeppers, it takes all kinds. In fact, this paragraph may just be the best tip for beginners. If it resembles you, reevaluate.
If you need to Skype everyday or check-in with a phone call to see what your SMM (Social Media Manager) needs to do to change things to see results yesterday, they are going to charge for that too... every. single. Skype. And then, you'll be upset because, "I am paying you for 3 hrs. a week and you've done nothing on my account this week!" Notice those quotes? These things really happened. Happen. So many times, I had to write this post about it.
So, I say... "Yes, Mr. XYZ, but it is Monday, and I haven't started working on your account this week, and we've already consulted for 4 hrs. this week." "What?" He says with astonishment in his voice. "You're charging me for nothing?" Well, yes, yes I am. You see, my brain is full of valuable information. My 'consulting only' fee is $25 per hour, (it really should be more) and you, sir, have a fantastic deal at $15 (or less) per hour. Oh. But, you didn't agree to consultations? I see. Well, my time is very valuable these days, I have several other clients. "Several other clients? You mean you aren't dedicating yourself to my cause?" Well... of course, Sir, I am very dedicated to managing your social media account and working toward your goals, but I cannot feed my family on 3 hrs. per week. Now, if you'd like to keep me on retainer, we can talk about a fee for that otherwise- less talking, more action. ;) Just a word of advice - Retainers are a bad way to go for everyone. If you're starting a social media marketing business, beware of people offering retainers. Fixed price for agreed work is perfect. IMO Retainers are dangerous.
If this happens repeatedly, we're probably going to offer some alternative ways for you to communicate or even recommend another social media manager for your account. As SMMs, we get that you want to chat up front or even in the first few days. Emails are great! They leave a written trail of evidence or memories in case either of us forgot something. Oh, yeah, I remember that now. Oh yeah, you didn't promise, it was a misunderstanding.
Then, there was that guy, the guy, who even though the contract had ended refused to let us stop working on his account. He was a difficult client. Many times, I said, "I think we've done all we can do for you." We had achieved his original goal, completed the assigned tasks, and continued managing the accounts without a contract. BAD IDEA..
He decided he wanted more. More time, more effort, more traffic, more ROI, more, more, more. And, (since he'd paid me so much already) I was going to get it for him- just like I had "promised" or else. AND... he had a pretty nasty or else. Think slander, blackmail...
He wanted to talk about how we could do better. I wanted to end the work, we were no longer under contract, and we clearly had a personality clash. Every time we spoke, he asked what we could do to get better results. Every time, I told him (based on my experiences with my own blog and other client accounts) what we NEEDED to do to improve the results, and every time I made those suggestions, he told me why he felt that wouldn't work.
I asked timidly. So, what do you want me to do? He guffawed. "You're supposed to be the expert!" Right... Threats or not, they didn't matter to me. I just didn't want to have an unhappy client. Remember, some people are never happy. I chose to let it go and off he went. Sometimes, I do still worry he'll do something crazy. You never know who you are dealing with in the World Wide Web.
One thing I CAN GUARANTEE... if my hands are tied, I cannot get results. We have a method. More hours isn't always the answer. You've heard the sayings, "blog smarter not harder" and "fake it until you make it"? There are a lot of people faking it out there, and a lot of people chasing them by blogging harder and wondering why they aren't making it. I won't tell you we need 10 hrs. per week when we only need 5 hrs. If you tell me you have 15 hrs. to spend, I'll let you know the actual time it will take to complete the tasks. NO fleecing here. I want to help you succeed. I want you to know it won't be easy. BUT, if you insist I work 15 hrs. a week pinning or tweeting... well, okay, I'll do it. After all, it is easy money. Just remember, I told you it wasn't necessary.
Think of it like taking an aspirin, if two do a good job, then 200 must do a fantastic job... of killing you. More isn't always better. A lot of times, more will get you penalized by Google, frozen out by Facebook, or on probation with Twitter, and blocked by Instagram. Keep it simple. Slow and steady wins the race. It really does!!
No matter what you've heard, these things don't happen overnight. Sure, someone out there had tremendous luck and now their site has gone viral overnight. It is comparable to winning the lottery. Too many times, I've seen eCommerce sites or blogs throw in the towel right when everything was beginning to happen. They DELETE their sites.... and all that effort... and all that cash.
If they would have asked me, I would have bought their domain for a small price. Likely, so would someone else- maybe for a large price! But, these people put a time limit on their goals. The goal didn't happen as quickly as they expected, so they just throw it all away. Nothing pays off better than time, resilience, and perseverance.
Chaotic Confession: I had some of that luck. Pinterest shared my profile with new sign ups. A little luck, a little awesome sauce. New pinners didn't have to choose me as someone to follow, but one night they did- to the tune of 10k new followers overnight. I also have had a blog post or two go viral... luck? awesome sauce? perseverance? content my niche loves? Yes, to all- a perfect storm.
The Secret Sauce
Is your sauce good or bad? Sure, good marketers can sell even the nastiest sauce, but I don't want to. I don't want my name on nasty sauce, you know what I'm saying? The secret sauce is you- just ask Po. Po knows.
If you are awesome sauce, the internet will love you and believe in you - so, let your personality come through in your branding. If you aren't awesome sauce, well, unfortunately, the internet can sense these things. Be awesome sauce!
That's not to say your product or blog has to be exceptional, it just means that you have to have or present an awesome personality - whether people love to love you or they love to hate you, either way... love is good!
So, the news you might not want to hear? Well, it has been my experience that those who are willing to put in their own work- interacting and engaging in social media at least a few times per week- are the most likely to succeed. Elbow Grease.
But... it really isn't all that difficult. What are your REALISTIC goals? What do you want to achieve with your website? We all have the same wishful thinking, but those aren't goals. Success isn't built on wishes. Keep the big picture in full view, but knock off the steps to get there with your feet firmly on the ground and your head screwed on tightly. Determination. You can do it with awesome sauce on top!
Traffic? What even is traffic anyway?
Traffic is the daily amount of visitors to your site. The actual number of times people visit your site from wherever... Traffic and pageviews aren't the same thing. Depending on your goal, likely only one or the other will matter.
For my blog, Kids Creative Chaos, I am more concerned with pageviews. Of course, more traffic leads to more pageviews, but if you get the right person to your blog, they can view many pages in one sitting. If you clicked the link, you just became traffic to my site which will show in my Google Analytics account as referral traffic from www.theplayconnection.com. Each time, you click a link to another post or tab, you give me a pageview. See. Super easy. Why does that matter to me? I want to get sponsored posts. The big brands want to know how many monthly pageviews I get. The more the better.
Organic Search? Where does traffic come from? Traffic can come from Organic Search. In the description above, it describes referral traffic. Referral traffic usually requires a lot of effort on your part- unless some awesome sauce site shares a link to your site. It isn't the same as paid search engine traffic with AdWords. Organic Search is the most awesome of the awesome sauces.
This is what you dream about when you start out. Someone types in some words or a question into the search engine bar and boom you appear as the #1 unpaid site for that topic, also known as keyword. This is what people are talking about when they say, "I want you to get me to number one on Google Search." Of course you do, but, um, let us be realistic first. If your keyword is-- oh I don't know-- "face book," (yes, I've really been tasked with that) you won't be listed #1 in Google Search for Facebook. I promise.
This website draws organic search for "Elance 5 stars," (Now Upwork) "SEO Expert," and "Kids Creative Chaos." I didn't even try. I haven't done any SEO on this site. I barely look at it anymore, because, I am super busy working on the organic keyword search for my blog, KIDS CREATIVE CHAOS. If I were to optimize it, I would choose keyword phrases like "Social Media Manager" or "Search Engine Optimization Tips."
So... if you've been SEO shopping, you've probably heard one of two philosophies. Some SEOs will tell you 'if your SEO is telling you to go for short or longtail keyword phrases, they don't know how to do their job.' These SEOs insist that they can get you to the top of Google Organic Search with just one keyword. Maybe. It isn't impossible, but it is a long shot. It will probably require a series of SEO work on your site. More than you had initial thought required.
Either way, if your site is established, updating SEO can be a daunting, time consuming task. Expect to pay for many hours of work. Newer sites don't require as much work. The keywords can be inserted in key places with little editing required. From that point forward, every post, article, or page text will need to plug in the keywords in the appropriate places. Beware, many SEOs don't plug them in the right places. They analyze your site, suggest the best keywords, and either use them in text or tell you to use them in text without knowledge of the key places the words and phrases need to be for PROPER SEO.
Long shots can happen. In fact, by sheer accident, my blog, Kids Creative Chaos, ranks extremely high for a set of PRIMO keywords. They bring tons of traffic to my site and advertisers PAY PREMIUM fees to get ads for those words. That was not AWESOME SAUCE. That was luck. I had no idea what I was doing, and I inadvertently placed some keywords in key places in a couple of posts I wrote in 2006. What are they? As if...
As lucky and awesome as it sounds, I did not embrace it in the beginning. It was not what I wanted to blog about. These were not my chosen keywords for my niche. They have very little to do with my site in general. So... I kept blogging harder. Then one day, circa 2011, I decided if Google likes me enough for Page #1 ranking for those words, I'm going to embrace it. Thus, I began blogging smarter.
Get creative. Know what your blog or site is really saying. How does Google see it? Don't force it. When you get into your Google Analytics and see unusual keywords driving traffic to your site- ask not what you can do to change it, ask what you can do to cash in on it. USE THOSE WORDS every chance you get - even if you don't see the connection. Google sees it. Spin it - you know, like I do on my blog, KIDS CREATIVE CHAOS.
I'm not plugging the blog here. I am plugging the words that drive traffic to this site. They really don't do much for this site - unless a person knows, the blogger at Kids Creative Chaos is a social media manager and they want to look me up to manage their accounts. You know how they say, "I just love to sell cars?" I just love to play around with organic search traffic. I'm the guinea pig, so you can learn from my mistakes, happy accidents, and expert experience.
Know what else is AWESOME SAUCE? When organic traffic is coming to your site (referred) by the search of your name! Totally awesome sauce that this site and my blog, both get organic search engine traffic for 'Kids Creative Chaos.' Why? They ask for me by name. The know my name. Name recognition is the most awesome sauce ever.
Per Alexa, my blog has been ranked as low as 40k in the US, 1200 in the UK, and 89k in the World. At the time of this posting, it has fallen to 125k in the US. Pretty good. Not awesome sauce. The secret here is- I know how to make it rank even lower. I have the awesome sauce and the initiative, but the time evades me these days. Of course, I want to be #1, but I have a realistic goal of under 2ok. When I get there, I will reevaluate my goals. I like to break goals up into obtainable bits. This gives me lots of opportunities to celebrate.
I spend all of my extra time and then some building a solid, Upwork 5 Star rating and a business that can keep me financially afloat while I work toward my goal of residual retirement income. This business is one of my 5 streams of income funnels. Those entrepreneur experts all agree that several streams of revenue coming in all at once is the key to financial success. No resting on my laurels or loras as it were.
Next time, we'll do social media marketing and search engine optimization tips 102: Things you MUST ask your SEO. We'll go more in depth on Pageviews too.
Remember, you CAN do it and we're here to help!
Don't like what I have to say? Completely disagree? Saying, duh! Then, don't hire us to help... please. Not sure what to think, because you've heard so many opposing points of view? I understand. It is hard to weed out the bad guys, the cons, and the amateurs.
Let's be 100% honest, I'm probably best described as a professional amateur. I've learned through trial and error. I will only take on your task, if I think I can give it a boost. Like what I have to say? Drop me a note: firstname.lastname@example.org I am happy to consult with you, so you can do it yourself. You are your own awesome sauce!