You Have More Twitter Followers Than You Think

Posted in: Blog, Industry News, Twitter by SpiderWriters on October 14, 2010 | No Comments

Need help with your Twitter marketing? Call 757-499-1990 today to learn more about what the Spider Writers can do for you.

Recently a client questioned the effectiveness of their Twitter account, particularly the question of why people weren’t following at a higher exponential rate as the months passed. One might expect, if you spend enough time tweeting about your business, products, or services, that eventually word will catch on and people will click that magic button to add you to their feed. In theory this should be the case, but to be fair we should consider how no two Twitter accounts are alike, and the reasons why people use Twitter will effect your business regardless of whether or not you are followed.

You may not realize it now, but there are people reading your tweets now and finding the information useful, but deciding not to follow you. Before we get into an explanation of why, let’s ponder a few points:

1) If you operate a niche business that caters to local market where the population is about five thousand people, don’t expect a million followers.

2) In fact, don’t expect a million followers unless you are Conan O’Brien, Lady GaGa, or that guy whose Twitter account became a television show.

Feel terrible now? You shouldn’t. You may look at your hard numbers and think that because your followers have yet to round up to three digits means that nobody is getting your message. This isn’t entirely true. One thing to remember about Twitter is that – unlike Facebook, where somebody is expected to register and/or log in before information is made visible – the data is there for anybody to see. One doesn’t have to have a Twitter account to read Conan’s 140-character long bon mots, nor does one need to subscribe to Lady GaGa’s feed to find out which Pulp Fiction inspired brassiere she plans to wear in concert tonight. Go to Twitter’s main page and search anything you like: people are either tweeting opinions about it or telling you where to buy it.

It is through Twitter Search where the accounts with low followers can achieve conversion. If your follower count is sub-100, you may feel discouraged and consider writing off Twitter altogether. This wouldn’t be a wise thing to do, mainly because every word you type and every link you paste is cached in Twitter’s search database. Let’s say you operate a bed and breakfast in the heart of Virginia wine country and want to fill up some rooms during a lull period. Tweet specials using the essential keywords (discount, Virginia, B&B, etc.) and maintain a regular stream of commentary on what visitors can expect when they’re in your area. Repeat tweet every few days – not too frequently to turn the people who are following you. Whether your activity will attract new fans is up for debate, but notice what you have achieved: you are advertising your inn to one of the most used search engines on the Internet. You have created the opportunity for somebody looking for something to do in Virginia to find you, click to your profile, then click through to your website to make a reservation.

This is where the true value of Twitter lies for businesses and people with niche appeal. It’s nice to say, “I have ten thousand people following me on Twitter,” but it’s even better to say, “Last week ten thousand people visited my website after seeing my tweets.”

Even if ten percent of that ten thousand follow through to convert a sale or other goal, that validates the necessity of your Twitter account. Of course, this may lead you to ask, “Well, if they’re willing to click through and buy or opt-in, why don’t more people follow?” There are many answers to that. Some people may wish to designate specific accounts to their feeds – friends and family, or media outlets – and aren’t savvy enough or willing to create lists. Others, who are interested in your industry but don’t want updates pushed to them constantly, may have your page bookmarked or recall your brand and wish only to come back when they want to see updates.

Remember, too, if your Twitter account promotes your Facebook or blog or other site, people who find you this way may sign up for updates elsewhere and don’t feel it’s necessarily to received duplicated information. You gain a follower, but not a statistic.

So if you’re concerned about hard numbers, focus your energy instead on giving people pertinent information. You’ll get bodies through the door, some will use a different entrance.

Kathryn Lively is a social media specialist who has assisted many clients with their Twitter presences. Clients include European hotel search engines, Gainesville bed and breakfast inns, retailers of cloth diapers, global trade portals, and Norfolk hospitals.

Facebook Places: Should Everybody Know Your Business?

Posted in: Blog, Facebook, Industry News, Social Media by SpiderWriters on August 20, 2010 | No Comments

Need help with your social media campaigns? Hire the Spider Writers! Contact 757-499-1990 or contact us to learn more.

Yes, it appears Facebook has once again set off the privacy alarms. It only seems like yesterday when shared post after post liked from my news feed took me to instructions on how to change my privacy settings to remove my voice mail number from public view…with Facebook Places barely out off the launch pad, the backlash hit me like the heat from a blast furnace.

If you aren’t aware of this latest alleged attempt for Facebook to reveal everything but your underwear size, Facebook Places is similar to the Foursquare, Loopt, and Gowalla concepts – acting as a GPS agent, Places tracks where you are in the world and posts it to your profile. Gone down the street to Starbuck’s? Facebook is there. Off to see a movie? It’s on your Facebook.

What’s more, unless you change your privacy settings, your FB friends can tag you on Places. So, let’s say you *cough* called in sick to work so you could catch the Vans Warped Tour three towns over. If a friend spots you and tags you, it’s out there. We all know, too, what happens on Facebook could get you fired.

Now, as a businessperson using social media to promote your work and products, you have to ask yourself of what value is something like Facebook Places to you. Opponents of the tool cite security risks; many pointed to the defunct Please Rob Me site as an example of how even Tweeting your activities without a locator device could land you in trouble, so why let Facebook compound problems? If you have a personal Facebook account and a page to promote your company, does Facebook Places add something of value to your social media strategy?

It can, provided your business is a physical location that other Facebook users frequent, and are willing to mark in Places. One way to encourage promotion via this tool would be to offer incentives to anybody who marks your business in their profiles. Half off their dinner order at your restaurant, or 10% off their purchase or other discount on your services.

Whether or not you should use Facebook Places is up to you. Physical store owners, naturally, would be expected to be at work. If you do not feel comfortable with Facebook tracking your every move, don’t feel as though opting out will hurt your business. Yet, for those who choose to use it, keep the offers open, because word of mouth never hurts, no matter where the words are posted.

Kathryn Lively is a social media specialist assisting clients with social media writing and blog writing services. Recent clients include retailers of pet supplies and cloth diapersGainesville bed and breakfasts and European hotel bookingagents, and Virginia Beach web design firms.

Changing Social Media Clients Mid-Stream: When Free is Suddenly No Longer Free

Posted in: Blog, Industry News, Social Media by SpiderWriters on August 17, 2010 | 2 Comments

Need help with your social media campaigns? Hire the Spider Writers! Contact 757-499-1990 or contact us to learn more.

If there’s anything to be said for the usefulness of social media, it’s that you’ll normally learn news about social media there first. While checking my Twitter feed this weekend, a friend posted how she wasn’t looking forward to finding  new multi-account Twitter client in the wake of HootSuite’s recent announcement of their new “Freemium Services.” According to the popular multi-platform social client company, HootSuite plans to roll out changes to their current free and premium service tiers, which would limit the number of social profiles a free user can operate on one account. My friend, who operates more than the limit on her own HootSuite, grumbled that she now had to give a less liked competitor another chance.

Then it hit me how many profiles I have on my own HootSuite account, and that got me worried. Especially if you manage Twitter and Facebook accounts for different people, you’ll find that when life throws a curve ball in the guise of new terms of service, you’re left scrambling to decide to swing or stand.

Think about why you use Twitter and Facebook. The casual user with only one profile on each needn’t worry in this situation – this change won’t affect you. However, for the entrepreneur monitoring several Twitters, Facebook pages, and even LinkedIn and Foursquare, not only do you stand to let a lot of hard work go stagnant, but now you have to shop around for an alternative solution, and basically start anew. Yes, you could hold onto HootSuite for your Top Five list and continue that work, but then you risk neglecting other accounts which demand attention as well.

It’s not uncommon, as free services grow, for the providers to contemplate and execute paid options in order to keep everything running. Some, like MySpace, turn to ad model and Google Adsense to generate profits, and depending on how much you like the social client you may be willing to pay for the perks. Many podcasters I know, while they could upload files to their own server and post new episodes on Blogger, choose to work through a paid podcasting service for the convenience. If the convenience and ease of use is there, it could be worth the investment. Plus, if the work is entirely for business purposes, it’s a tax write-off.

Now, let’s say paying for premium multi-account social monitoring and posting leads you to raise your own prices in order to absorb the cost. This could backfire on you, especially if you had to do some creating accounting to afford a premium account. Now what? Suddenly the headache of transferring everybody over to a free service doesn’t sound so bad in light of the possibility of losing work/customers.

In the event your business in unaffected by the added expense of premium services, you may not have to worry, for a while. As often as policies change, you never know what tomorrow or next week will bring. The free service for which you abandon Hootsuite for just may end up a paid model as well. Closely following that, another beta startup.

If you are an avid HootSuite user bothered by the coming change, consider all options and map out your future strategies involving your social media campaigns. Base you next move on the future of your business in social marketing, whether you promote only for yourself or for others, and adapt to the changes. If you don’t regardless, you’ll most certainly be left behind.

Kathryn Lively is a social media specialist assisting clients with social media writing and blog writing services. Recent clients include retailers of pet supplies and cloth diapers, Gainesville bed and breakfasts and European hotel booking agents, and Virginia Beach web design firms.

Domain Dilemmas: When Your URL No Longer Describes You

Posted in: Blog, Industry News, SEO, Social Bookmarking by SpiderWriters on May 25, 2010 | No Comments

No matter how tall you are, we can help with your social media writing success! Call 757-499-1990 to learn more!

It’s true, Spider Writers has enjoyed opportunities to mingle with the rich and famous. We’ve always been proud to count a bona fide Guinness record holder among our clientele. For years, Hampton Roads resident George Bell was known as America’s Tallest Man, yet today we have learned his title is now claimed by a man in Minneapolis. Igor Vovkovinskiy appeared on the Dr. Oz show to be measured for the official title.

Our friend George took the news in stride, saying he was happy for the opportunity to have been the country’s tallest man, and he congratulated Igor. If you’ve ever met George, you know that he’s truly a stand-up guy (no pun intended), and his friends in Hampton Roads will always look up to him (literally!).

Now, those of us who helped George with his website are wondering: what about his URL? We registered http://www.americastallestman.com for George for the purpose of promoting his record, but now that he’s officially off the Guinness books, what is the future for the website? Of course we would like to keep it live, since being the second tallest man in the US is quite a bragging point, too. To our knowledge, Igor hasn’t expressed interest in building a website, or registering a URL to define him. When George’s domain expires, should we let it go or re-up for another year?

When you think about, Igor is Ukrainian-born, but lives in the US. Technically, then, George is the tallest American-born man. If Igor moves back to the Ukraine, will George get his title back? One might think charting world records is simple, but there sure are a number of provisions!

Well, we haven’t decided what to do yet. For now, George’s site is still active at the same URL and you’re welcome to visit. This experience, in the meantime, has prompted other thoughts on domain naming issues, in particular for businesses and organizations that change scope and may require a new identity.

Let’s say when you launched your online presence, you specialized in writing services. You chose a domain that naturally represented your skills, and included “writer” in some form on the URL. You do a decent business, win a few clients here and there, but as you work you realize you’re doing more work directly with social media and networking. The writing component is still there, but not as prominent as, say, your freelance Facebook and Twitter work.

Suddenly the “writer” URL doesn’t really define your business. You can change the way your page looks easily, and maybe re-title it for search, but the URL sticks out like a sore thumb. What to do? Should you register a better domain, or keep what you have? There are a few schools of thought on this. For one, depending on how long you’ve had your URL, you may have established solid branding and recognition with it.  It may also be solidified within search…it’s not uncommon for some websites to lose that mojo when they move to a new domain. That’s something to think about.

If you are able to secure a more appropriate name for your business site, you can always point the URL to land at your current site. That way you don’t lose the momentum you built and you have a proper domain for print promotional items. Going to a site like Domize can help you determine a good name to register.

Until then, we’ll keep an eye on George. He could have a late growth spurt, you never know.

Spider Writers to Expand the Margins of US-Based Global Supply Chain

Posted in: Blog, Industry News by SpiderWriters on April 15, 2010 | No Comments

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

VIRGINIA BEACH, VA – Spider Writers, the social media optimization branch of CINIVA Systems, a leading Virginia web design firm, is proud to announce they will assist in building the social presence of MarginUp, a supply chain portal based in Bellvue, Washington which specializes in managing real-time trade activities between wholesalers around the world.

“Having assisted local distributors of health products in the past with increasing their search visibility, we are excited for the opportunity to work with an organization like MarginUp,” said Kathryn Lively, content and social media specialist with Spider Writers. “In this economy, it’s important for our businesses to operate at optimal levels, and we believe companies working with MarginUp can help boost their overall profit margins.”

MarginUp is a closely held company comprised of staff experienced in global trade, electronic data interchange implementation, XML solutions, and  wholesale distribution communication. Their goal to bring an affordable real-time trade environment to worldwide trade brokers and agents, freight carriers, and storage companies is presently realized through their main website, and will be supplemented through social networking.

About Spider Writers

Spider Writers is a division of CINIVA Systems, one of the top Web design and development firms in the Mid-Atlantic region. Spider Writers has had the privilege of creating highly functional and unique social media presences for major organization and local businesses, including the Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Victory Center, the Currituck County Department of Travel and Tourism, and Sundays Blue Box Tanning Resort.

On the Web:

MarginUp – http://www.marginup.com

Spider Writers – http://www.spiderwriters.com

Contact Information

Kathryn Lively
Spider Writers
a division of CINIVA Systems
258 N.  Witchduck Rd., #258
Virginia Beach, VA 23451

Local Business Focus Online Can Boost Search Relevancy

Posted in: Blog, Content Writing, Google, Industry News by SpiderWriters on March 31, 2010 | No Comments

Let us help put your local business on the map. Spider Writers is a full service online marketing firm specializing in content and SEO writing for building your site’s visibility. Contact us today at 757-499-1990 ext. 104 for your free consultation.

In our work, we assist a number of local B2B and B2C companies with their overall search health. When one has to compete with several businesses for the top result under, say, “Virginia Beach home improvement” or “Norfolk real estate agent,” it can turn into a virtual fist fight. One can optimize specific keywords on the main site, blog and tweet and distribute articles linked back to the main URL, and you will see some improvement – how you fare on page one, however, depends on a number of factors. In addition to all this work, we strongly suggest taking advantage of local business listings.

Whether you have a physical retail location, or a headquarters for your online concern, it’s important to have your information confirmed with sites like the Google Local Business Center, Yahoo Local Listings, Yelp.com for services and UrbanSpoon and the like for restaurants. While you might find on certain sites your listing is available – but needs only to be “claimed” by an owner or manager – taking the time to manage and enhance your listing can boost your visibility in search results. With review-based social networks, you have the added advantage of blended search paradigms to have your optimized listing called up, and regular monitoring of such pages can assist with mediocre or negative reviews, and hopefully establish your business as one that is concerned and ready to listen to consumers and clients.

Dress Up Your Profile

With Google Local Business and Yelp, for example, one can add photographs of the business to give customers a better idea of what to expect. Google Local also allows you to set up coupons as incentive, while through other social networks you can advertise specials as people find your pages. Have visitors print your page for a discount, for example, turning your network into a coupon itself.

Taking control of your online business profiles lets you clarify hours of operation, address and phone, and web URLs. The more you monitor your pages, too, you can get on top of bad feedback and soothe any raw nerves in a timely manner that gets noticed, not only by the plantiff but others who view your profile.

Direct People to Your Profiles

You might wonder how useful it is to direct visitors to these social and search profiles rather than your main site or blog. Fact is, should these pages show up in search before your official sites, potential customers and clients will see that information first. If you know there are people ready to praise your work and products, encourage them to visit these profiles and post their opinions. they more made available gives newcomers a basis for trying your services.

Once you have control of your name online, you can move into controlling the success of your business.

Kathryn Lively is a social media specialist assisting clients with social media optimization and travel social media services. Clients include Gainesville hotels, European hotels, and Virginia web design firms.

How Top Companies Use Social Media

Posted in: Blog, Industry News, Social Media by SpiderWriters on March 17, 2010 | 1 Comment

Here’s an interesting series of charts compiled by FlowTown which illustrates how the Fortune 100 companies are utilizing social media. Where does your business stack up in these statistics? Do you spend more time tweeting about company news and products than interacting with followers? Have you neglected Facebook in favor of fostering a viewership on YouTube? How many different accounts do you have for your company across the various platforms?

While the statistics provided here should not necessarily be discerned as the norm or the recommended rate of sharing data, it is interesting to note how larger companies handle their social presence. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide how to present yourself online, and it will take time and experimentation to find the proper balance.

It Only Takes One: Creating the Social Spark

Posted in: Blog, Blogging, Industry News, Social Media by SpiderWriters on March 11, 2010 | No Comments

Need assistance with article marketing? Spider Writers is a full-service social media marketing company ready to assist with building your social media presence. Call us today at 757-499-1990, ext. 104 for your free estimate.

Consider these recent events in social media:

1) Former Tonight Show host, in an attempt to kill time during his forced exile from television, starts a Twitter account which quickly amasses more than half a million followers. For reasons not entirely clear, he chooses to follow one person at random, turning a 19-year-old Michigan woman into an instant celebrity.

2) A fan of actress Betty White, determined to see the TV legend host Saturday Night Live, sets up a Facebook fan page to generate support. About three months and nearly half a million fans later, it’s reported Betty will host the show in May.

3) Film critic and prolific tweeter Roger Ebert points followers to a blog article on The Feminista Files about dressing Oscar nominee Gabourey Sidibe for the ceremony, resulting in a significant increase of readers for author Erica Kennedy, whose blog received a further boost with mentions on high-profile sites Salon.com and The Frisky.

You as a social media marketer may think: what are the chances some celebrity is going to follow your Facebook or Twitter, or else share your content and spark a viral spike in unique views. It would be nice to be singled out in this manner, thereby allowing you to take advantage of growing interest in your blog or social profile – while in time the mass numbers may drop off as the Warholian fifteen minutes tick away, there remains the opportunity to maintain a higher readership than you had before you were discovered.

Of course, nobody will discover you, famous or otherwise, unless you give people something to find. The one advantage to building an archive of blog articles and commentary, Twitter data, and even Facebook status updates is that once they are set free, they remain cached in search. It’s very possible a blog you may consider old news will pop up on somebody’s radar, prompting them to share via Digg, Delicious or a host of other services. The more information is shared daily via social media, the longer it retains relevance. You may think a topic is expired, but it’s always new to somebody.

How do you ignite the spark to get that one retweet or dig? It’s a challenge to pinpoint the magic formula, but ultimately it boils down to A) writing what people want to read, and B) writing it often. You may find it will take many strikes of the match to set one aflame, but if you refuse to lift the flap first and get started, know it will never happen.

Kathryn Lively is a social media specialist assisting clients with social media optimization and travel social media services. Clients include Gainesville hotels, European hotels, and Virginia web design firms.

Google Acquires Aardvark Social Search

Posted in: Blog, Industry News by SpiderWriters on February 11, 2010 | No Comments

Mashable has confirmed that it’s been a busy week for Google (when is it not?). This week they not only have launched their Google Buzz social platform, but also acquired Aardvark, a social search engine that allows users to ask questions, which are answered via various social profiles like Facebook and Twitter (Read all about it). While details are not forthcoming, particularly as to whether Aardvark’s original concept will change under Google’s watch, it does present one more step toward Google’s attempted domination of the social media world.

We’ll have more to say on this acquisition and how it can affect the way you do business through social networking very soon.

Facebook Turns 6 – You've Come A Long Way, Baby

Posted in: Blog, Facebook, Industry News by Jessica on February 4, 2010 | No Comments

I’ve never had the opportunity to say this, so I’m going to bask in this moment.

Back in MY day, Facebook was very different than it is now. Only college students were allowed, and the news feed was non-existent.  We didn’t use Facebook to figure out a company’s business hours, talk with our favorite aunt in Vegas or live feeds.  Back when it was www.THEfacebook.com, there was no Farmville, no Mafia Wars, dopplegangers or status updates. The utility of Facebook was brilliantly simple – if you didn’t go to class to take notes, send your friend a message (writing on the wall was kind of weird at the time).

Then came the groups, the photo tagging, and the complicated relationships.

Here’s what a profile page looked like when I first started Facebook in 2004:

Ah, blissfully simple. Nice, clean boxes. Then, everyone freaked out when “The mini feed” came rearing it’s ugly head. As if the addition of the status wasn’t too creepy feeling, Facebook wanted to chronicle every thing you did on the site.

If we only knew! The mini-feed has now split into a news feed AND live feed, your wall is the most prominent feature, and we are inidated with pay-per-click ads on the right side of the page that are targeted toward everything we put into our personal information in our profile.

Mark Zuckerburg had no idea his small Web project would turn into a revolution for marketing and advertising. With over 350 million users, Facebook has become part of almost everyone’s lives, whether they want it to or not. For businesses, if you do not have a presence on Facebook, you are behind your competitors. For students, Facebook is a way to not only keep up with class notes and party spots, but an outlet to talk outside the school walls. For families, it’s never been easier to stay close when you are spread apart.

Am I pleased with the progression of Facebook? Sure. Why not? I’m a big believer in “Facebook is what you make it.” If you love Farmville and taking quizzes, wonderful. If you love connecting with other professionals, fabulous. If you are a helicopter mom (please stop what you are doing), Facebook is good for you.

More importantly, now we have the ability to use Facebook (and all of social media, really) for good. News breaks faster than ever and awareness can be given to important causes and charities. Millions of people united to help those in Haiti stricken by disaster by donating food, money and time.

So happy birthday, Facebook. I’m excited to see how far you’ve come, and where you’ll go from here. If you had it posted on a profile, you’d have 350 million notifications. Lucky you.

Jessica Swink is a freelance writer specializing in articles about Search Engine Optimization and Facebook Marketing.