In honor of the day, we Mack Web folks decided to send out a little love…to one of our own.
It may surprise you to know that we here at Mack Web Solutions do not actually conduct our lives as a non-stop party.
I know, I know. We just exude an aura of constant revelry, but the truth is…we are actually serious people conducting serious business.
Ha! Yeah, I couldn’t even keep a straight face typing that. We try to have a good time and we usually succeed.
That being the case, you can bet that when there’s an actual reason to party…we do.
One of the strongest messages we send as a web marketing company is that your content should only be about 20% self-promotion or back-patting, but we also think you need to celebrate your wins.
Which is why the rest of the company is taking this chance to sincerely congratulate (and let the rest of the world know that we are sincerely congratulating) Mackenzie Fogelson AKA EponyMack AKA Our Fearless Leader for being selected as a speaker at the upcoming SearchLove Boston Conference.
In case you aren’t aware, SearchLove is a conference that Distilled, an international online marketing company, hosts yearly. They are pretty amazing.
(For more information on the conference, scroll allllllll the way down. (We could just link to it again here, but…we think you should read the post first. Not that we’re biased or anything).).
This is a goal Mack set for herself and our company less than a year ago. (Seriously. Remember this Twitter post from back in the day? That marks the start date of her tireless campaign to get here.) We are incredibly excited and amazed to see it come to fruition so soon.
Nothing says “well done” like confectionry.
Knowing Mack, she’ll probably be putting together a thoughtful post reflecting on the road she traveled to SearchLove and the ways in which that journey validates our company philosophies (which it does, fyi).
But that’s a post for the future. This is a post for unabashed self-congratulation.
And also cake. See, here, Mack’s celebratory cake:
And see, also, Mack’s face upon receiving said cake:
(Not an actual depiction. In case you were wondering).
Aaaaaand, that’s pretty much it. Like we said, the whole point of the post was blatant congratulations, so that’s what we’re doing:
Yay Mack! Yay team! Yay SearchLove! Yay cupcakes!
(And if you don’t think a cupcake counts as a party…well…I have nothing to say to you. Clearly you fail to understand the cosmic importance of cupcakes).
Go see Mack (and other people) speak
Here’s the vital stats, if you’re interested in witnessing Mack’s triumph first hand:
Where: Joseph B. Martin Conference Center, Boston When: May 20-21, 2013 Cost: $699 (basic ticket), $999 (fancy ticket, bonus content, etc).
If you’ve been using Facebook as part of your company’s marketing strategy for more than a year, you know that this particular social outlet is subject to frequent change. Whether it’s an addition or a subtraction, Zuck & Co. aren’t strangers to the idea of “new and improved”. As users of their product, we really shouldn’t be surprised anymore.
Now, I’m not telling you that you need to be happy about each Facebook change but, please put away your surprised face.
While we don’t have a right to be surprised at the fact of change, a recent change to Facebook may have been a little shocking.
Sounds a little scandalous, right? Well, it’s because Facebook has been “free” since its inception in 2003 and this new change seems like a completely different model for Facebook.
What we’ve got now is the addition of a “promote your post” feature, a way to pay cold hard cash to get your content noticed by those who “like” your company’s page.
You read that right folks. All of those little thumbs you worked so hard for on Facebook have lost quite a bit of their value. Only a fraction of your fans see the statuses you post in their newsfeed organically.
So if no one comments or likes your post it may not be because they lack interest, but that they never even saw your post to begin with.
We noticed a drop in views
The proof is in the pudding, folks (mmm pudding). Mack Web has been working on building our own community for nearly a year now. We’ve been writing content on our blog and in our industry in order to encourage this community growth. Throughout this time, we’ve had some pretty decent engagement through Facebook but towards the end of December, we noticed a significant drop in our Facebook statistics. This was all due to Facebook’s infamous EdgeRank. EdgeRank was put into place to help alleviate the noise and reduce spam, but it has also caused businesses to disappear from their fans’ newsfeeds.
Like many businesses, Mack Web experienced a significant drop in visibility after EdgeRank made an appearance:
As you can see we went from reaching nearly 1,500 people organically, to just a mere 20-70 people, depending on the type of status we post. That was a drastic and, frankly, unpleasant change. We left Facebook alone for a few weeks to see if there would be any other significant effects and as you can tell from the image, it stayed about the same until we decided to bite the bullet and use the new feature to promote a post (more on that below).
So what should you do?
I know, it seems unfair. You’ve worked so hard to build your community on Facebook and your brand awareness and now it feels like it’s going to waste.
Well, don’t let it all be for nothing. With change this drastic, all you can do is shift your perspective to match. It’s not about random posts or being on Facebook ‘just because.’ If you are doing that, you’re wasting your time. Now you have to invest some money and become more strategic about the content you share.
When you pay to promote a post, it needs to be something your community is going to appreciate, enjoy, share, read, engage with. You have to be really thoughtful of what is truly needed within your community.
Ins and Outs of Promoting Postson Facebook
Now, because I have the opportunity to assist in the management of a number of communities, I’ve learned there are some ins and outs to promoting a post:
According to Facebook, pages with at least 100 likes can promote posts and the posts that are promotable have to be made after June 2012.
You can share photos, offers, videos, questions, events and good ol’ status updates.
Promoted posts are labeled Sponsored.
You pay for a post by providing credit card information.
You don’t have much control over a promoted post’s life span (but you can extend its visibility.)
What you’ll see when you go to promote a post:
Hit the promote button
Go to the wheel and you’ll input your credit card information
If you have the option, you can choose your budget for the promotion
Then hit promote post
Two case studies
As part of our services we help our clients manage their online communities. We have great partnerships and our clients are quite amazing.
Because I’m the dedicated Social Media Strategist andCommunity Manager, it’s my duty to do what is best for our clients. I wanted to determine whether it was worth paying the money to promote posts, so I went ahead and did a little experiment.
Case Study #1: Warren Federal Credit Union
For this case study, I am focusing on one client in particular because recently they wrote a post that informed their community on the advantages of being a member at a community credit union versus being a customer at a bank. It was a brilliant post that wasn’t getting the attention it deserved so, with their permission, we spent a little money and promoted it.
The situation pre-promotion
Prior to the promotion these were the stats:
175 people saw it.
5 people liked it.
It was pinned to the top of their page which means it had a prime spot for visibility.
When you promote a post you can choose the audience so I chose to promote to people who already like their page and to their friends so that it gets the most reach available to them.
The maximum budget allotted was $10. Facebook estimates the post will reach 700-1300 people. I chose to run the promotion for 3 days.
As you can see from the image below our client was able to reached 1,525 people with this particular post while only spending a little more than half of their budget.
One of the most important metrics from this promotion is that they gained 11 new likes. (Win!)
Also, there is some good engagement (likes and shares and comments and such), which helps in terms of Facebook EdgeRank (the more a person engages with a company, the more likely that company is to show up in their newsfeed). The client was happy with the results and it will be in their best interest to continue promoting great content/give-aways/contests/new products.
Case Study #2: Mack Web Solutions
Recently, Mack wrote an industry blog post for SEOMoz. It was a good one that I thought our community would appreciate because it was all about building community with value, so I promoted it even though it didn’t lead people to our website. It lead our community to great content and that was reason enough.
The situation: pre-promotion
This is what our stats looked like right when the promotion began:
25 people saw it.
3 people liked it.
It was pinned to the top of our page.
I chose to spend $5.00 over three days to promote this post.
These results are very different from our client’s experience, but still pretty good. For $5 dollars, we had about a 5600% increase in visibility along with increased interaction with people within our community:
And the verdict on promoting a Facebook post is…
Facebook has clearly committed to this change and I don’t think they intend to “go back to the way it used to be.” Promoting a post is a new way of informing the community you’ve already built. You still need to earn the respect and intrigue of people in order to increase your audience size on Facebook, but now you’ll need to pay to reach them.
Based on this little experiment and the results both Mack Web and our client experienced, I would highly recommend you promote a post chock-full of value or a post with some type of purpose behind it. Not one like this:
But one that will actually educate or provide your consumer with important information or get the word out on a contest or giveaway, etc.
See how well it does, and if you aren’t satisfied with the results then keep it organic next time. After all, who knows what the next change will be.
Try it for yourself. I’d love to hear about your experience with this new feature, so feel free to comment.
Wheel-Cogs and Puzzle Pieces and the Like
So, here at Mack Web Solutions we’ve overlooked a rather critical piece in the process of a company’s self-actualization as a web marketing entity.
Now, in our defense, we didn’t overlook it because we were ignorant of the need for this piece. We overlooked it because we have gotten so phenomenally lucky in our acquisition of it that it never occurred to us that it might not be so easy to find.
Thoroughly confused? Excellent.
The piece we’re talking about, you see, is June. (Smile and wave, June. All eyes are on you).
For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure, June Macon is Mack Web Solutions’ community manager. (And social media strategist and sometime project manager and frequent comic relief).
Of course, all those hats means that we’ve actually broken one of the cardinal rules of selecting a community manager. Which is rather embarrassing, considering there’s really only two.
But more on those in a minute. First, a more fundamental question.
What is a community manager?
I am so glad you asked. Your community manager is the person primarily responsible for your company’s online presence.
They manage your social media accounts, review and share the blogs and social pages of your industry thought leaders, and oversee the distribution of your content.
Fancy talk, but what it boils down to is that they spend their time checking a lot of blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, and the like. They read, respond, and reshare anything of value they find.
They are also responsible for making sure any of your blog posts, infographics, videos, or company announcements reach the virtual world in the most efficient and relevant way.
So, in other words, your community manager, uh, manages your community.
Sounds fun, huh?
The truth is that it can be, but that leads us back around to those two simple, but cardinal, rules.
Rule #1: Pick someone who actually likes social stuff.
It sounds like a ‘duh,’ but the truth is that there are a lot of people out there who are quite good with socializing and quite bad at social media.
You can’t just grab a random person out of your IT or PR staff and thrust them into the social universe. (Well, you can, but you probably won’t much like the results).
Try to find someone who already knows most of the ins and outs of things like Twitter or Google+. There must be at least one person on your staff who has a blog or a Twitter handle. That one person is probably who you want to start with.
Someone who already likes and does not fear the social realm is far more likely to be an effective ambassador to the Disparate Republics of Internetesia.
Because the truth is that, though they may deny it, many, many people find the idea of tweeting or commenting or Hangouting rather intimidating. And not unlike dogs and kindergarteners…the internet can smell fear.
So find someone who is actually willing to give it the ol’ college try. (Whatever that actually means. It’s kinda up there with “to boot” for baffling phraseology).
Rule #2: Pick someone who actually has the time.
Being a community manager is a whole lot of work. While the description may sound suspiciously like “sitting on your duff, browsing the internet”, managing an online community requires a real time commitment and a targeted determination.
So heaping that particular burden…er…delight on someone who already has a demanding job is both counterproductive and rather unkind.
(Unless, of course, they are a superwhiz like Our June. Then it’s more a statement of admiration for her general awesomeness).
Just to get an idea of what we’re talking about with this, here’s a brief glimpse of what June’s daily community manager grind looks like:
9:00 am: Arrive in office. Exchange pleasantries with co-workers. Turn on computer.
9:03-11:00 am: Work like a fiend.
11:01 am: Take a deep breath.
11:02 am – 5:00 pm: Mostly do client stuff, while checking in with our community as necessary. Occasionally, there’s lunch. (And with June, frequently there are snacks. Many, many snacks).
Also kinda June.
Working like a fiend
In all seriousness though, in that one to two hour interval, June’s actual task list is broad but variable, depending on whether or not it’s a “post day.”
(Post days, just to clarify, are days where the Mack Web team is putting out a new blog post).
But post day or no post day, her routine usually looks a little something like this:
Facebook: check our wall, check our newsfeed. Engage, comment, like, respond. Search for content to share. If found, share.
Twitter: check for engagement (direct messages or responses), respond. Search the stream for content to share. If found, retweet or create a tweet with link, hashtags, and clever teaser.
Google+: check for engagement, respond. Search for content to share on the stream. If found, share. (Are you sensing a theme, here?)
LinkedIn: check her personal profile & groups. Look for content to share. If found, share. Check the company profile. Share content.
Check news headlines. Yahoo News, Mashable, etc. Look for content to share. If found, share.
Check our friends’ blogs. Comment, respond, engage. Look for content to share. If found, share.
While she’s checking these many outlets, she’s also keeping an eye out for fun ideas we can appropriate and repurpose or gaps in the general knowledge of the community that we can fill.
On top of all that, on a post day, she drafts specific content teasers for our various outlets and audiences.
She also oversees the preparation of things like pushing our content live and post-specific email marketing.
And here at Mack Web…we pretty much have at least one post day a week.
Hence the fiendlike working.
Finding a support system
The beauty of belonging to a group that specializes in fostering online community is that they’ve created a rather lovely online community you can join to gain inspiration and indulge in a little commiseration.
If you have been honored with an appointment to the Noble Order of Community Managers, there are ways to find and connect with your brethren.
There are websites specifically created and populated just for you and your topics of concern, the aptly named The Community Manager and My Community Manager. That last one, by-the-by, once named Our June Community Manager of the Day and hosts Google+ Hangouts that Our Same June frequently attends.
You even have your very own Community Manager Day. (An honor previously only held by Mothers and Fathers. And Grandparents. And Teachers. And Secretaries. And Veterans. And Presidents. And Flags. And St. Patrick).
The point being…you’re not alone. Hook up with your peers and celebrate your not-aloneness.
Get the picture?
So, in essence, June’s job is to keep Mack Web Solutions active and relevant in the wide world of the interwebs. It takes a lot of work and a lot of smiling and a lot of communication both internal and external. And, apparently, rather a lot of snacks.
How did you select your community manager? What other characteristics would you take into consideration?
So, here’s a true thing: Mack Web Solutions loves Fort Collins. Full-on big, sloppy, puppy adoration.
And what is one of the hands-down best things about this town-that-we-love?
Well, the food, obviously. Rumor has it that Fort Collins has more restaurants per capita than any other city in the Union.
This, obviously, has nothing to do with Web Design, SEO, or Social Media. (Except for the fact that we find deliciousness inspiring for mind and body alike).
All the same, we still felt that our giant crush on Fort Collins’ gustatory delights was worthy of some small celebration.
Which is why we’ve put together this list of our top 10 favorite local food and beverage spots. Except, we couldn’t decide on just ten. So we bumped it up to fifteen.
Just ‘cuz we can.
If you, dear reader, are a local, you might already know this stuff or maybe you’ll find something new to try. If you’re not a local, well…you should come visit. Some of this stuff really is worth the trip.
So, without further ado, we present “Mack Web’s Official Favorites (Insofar as Dining, Snacking, and Imbibing Are Concerned).”
(Long, yes. But so descriptive, no?)
1. Onion Rings at The Crown Pub. Just the best onion rings. Certainly around here and possibly in the whole world. They practically melt in your mouth to begin with and they come with this dipping sauce and…yum. Plus, the Crown is one of the few bars where you can Strongbow. Tart cider and sweet, rich onion rings: heaven.
2. Avo’s (more formally known as Avogadro’s Number) great tempeh burgers (2 for 1 on Tempeh Tuesday!) and strawberry milkshakes. They have other shakes, too, but, according to Courtney, strawberry is the only true milkshake.
3. The gluten-free burger buns at Al’s Burgers. These are a dream come true for Natalie, who is partial to (by which we mean “is required to eat”) all things gluten-free. It says a lot when she calls a restaurant “dreamy”. (Presumably, she means that the remainder of the burger is good, too. The rest of us here certainly think so).
4. Drinking margaritas at the Rio (on the back patio). This is a great activity for Friday summer evenings. We think everyone in town would agree. It certainly seems like we see them all there.
5. Ice Cream stops at Walrus. These are an office favorite for sunny afternoons. They have some great original flavors and are just enormously satisfying. Some of us don’t even need it to be sunny as an excuse to visit.
6. Bann Thai’s Drunken Noodle dish (ordered super hot). This is Natalie’s feel-better-quick remedy for colds. Something spicy and delicious always makes her feel better.
7. The Cobb salad for lunch at Austin’s. It is the best Cobb salad in town…and yes, Mack has tried them all. Plus it comes with that cornbread…
8. Coffee (and homemade treats) from Cafe Ardour and Starry Night. We can’t decide between them. And, really, why choose when you can just alternate?
9. The breakfast burritos from La Luz. We love them. We eat them with glee. And great frequency. This has as much to do with how good they are as it does with the fact that our office is right above them.
10. The Helvis (a bloody mary martini) from Elliot’s. It’s delicious and satisfying, but it doesn’t make you feel full. It has just the right amount of spice, and June recommends pairing it with bleu cheese-stuffed olives.
11. Bottomless Mimosas for brunch at Cafe Vino. It’s only $10 bucks for the Signature and, so far, is the best deal June can find in town. The ambience is relaxing and the outdoor seating area is just lovely in the summer. And what says lazy, luxurious summer mornings like champagne and sunshine?
12. Eileen’s colossal cookies. In our collective wisdom and through careful experimentation, we have come to the conclusion that they make fantastic bribes for your kids. June’s son loves the sprinkled and frosted sugar cookie. And, to be perfectly honest, so does June.
Back in the day (like, a whole year ago) it used to be that you could invest in some good SEO for your website and, with the right keywords, and a few links, you’d be attracting some pretty awesome targeted traffic. Thanks to Google (and we mean that in a good way), this is no longer accurate. Things have changed. A lot.
If you’re one of those people who want to know how to get your website on the first page of Google, you should read on…
Blame it all on a guy named Panda
In the early months of 2011, Google launched an algorithmic update that utterly and irrevocably altered the world of search. Even the practices that ethical search engine marketing companies (ahem. that’s us, by the way) were using were no longer enough.
In a nutshell, here’s what happened:
A engineer-type dude at Google named Navneet Panda engineered some updates to Google’s ranking algorithms. These changes drastically changed many of the rankings websites were accustomed to holding. For some this was very, very good. For many it was…not. The whole world proceeded to freak out. Mass panic in the streets, much headless-chicken behavior, etc.
The Panda update necessitated an evolution in the way we approach SEO and internet marketing. Here’s why:
Before the Panda update all you really needed for decent SEO was a fairly simple checklist:
build some good content
integrate some keywords that you researched
build some links to it
pat yourself on the back for a job well done
Problem was that a bunch of people, even big, otherwise reputable companies like JC Penney (where grandma buys her shoes! insert sob of betrayal, here), were trying to scam the system. People were generating a ton of mediocre content and farming for links to that content. And, however inadvertently, they were being rewarded in the engines for this shifty behavior with good rankings.
Google was on to them. Panda updates went live. Stuff happened.
It was the search equivalent of heavy artillery fire turned against hordes of rampaging scavengers. Carnage.
When the smoke cleared and the new world order was established, that checklist had gotten a lot less straightforward.
Suddenly Google (and where Google goes, the others soon follow) was a lot more sophisticated about how they parsed the content on your site. The ways they evaluated your trustworthiness and authority, your relevance and appeal had grown up and gained some discernment.
Their reasons were pretty clear: a search engine’s purpose in life is to provide searchers with the best online answers to the questions they ask.
When you ask a question to a human person, how do you evaluate the information you received? You look at the source: how likely are they to know the answer? Has anyone vouched for them? Do they strike you as knowledgeable and trustworthy? You also evaluate the answer: does it make sense? Is it articulate?
The Panda update was Google’s way of applying those very human and instinctual rules to its own search results.
Of course, because of the very nature of the internet as a ginormous computer program, they still had to find ways to do this electronically. And those clever enough and not overly burdened with scruples can always find ways around electronic measures meant to emulate human response.
But the simple (and fortunately moral) truth is…Google hires the very, very clever, too. And they’ve sent a very clear message: we are watching.
Creepy, I know.
But wait, there’s more…
The new reality of search
It’s fairly safe to assume that any further changes Google makes to its code will trend in the direction of ever more human ways of evaluating your information. What this means is that, in both the long- and short-term, the most sustainable way to conduct your SEO is to meet all the standards that actual people demand of those from whom they seek knowledge.
You’ve got to build a community around your brand. You’ve got to be a brand that people know, trust, and want to share.
Links still matter, but the quality of the links have become of even more important. You’ve got to be selective about who you are building relationships with (and stop thinking about it as building links).
Design & user experience, always a factor, is now a screaming necessity. User behavior is one of the ways Google is teaching its engines how to think like people. It is weighed and measured to determine if human people linger on your site or click away quickly. (Word to the wise…most people aren’t wild about a design cluttered with ads and this is one of the first things the humanized search engines seem to have learned).
Pages with low authority (no one links to them, poor content) can drag down the authority of your whole website. There’s no such thing as a throwaway page. Every page on your website needs to be valuable and worthy of being shared (or linked to) by others.
Content must be meaningful. Funny is good, but authentic and relevant are requisite. Be professional and engaging and put your personality into your content. Get the multimedia going: photos, maybe an info-graphic or two. Video if you can manage it. You want you site to have bits that people want to tweet, share, like.
And you really need to pay attention to your metrics. Not just how many unique visits you have on your site, but also: how long do they stay? how many pages do they view? do they share or like? are they talking about you out there in the wide world?
So, to recap, SEO now means more than just the keywords that you target on your website. You need to think about the bigger web marketing picture (which is brilliantly illustrated in this infographic if we do say so ourselves).
So what does this all mean to you?
What this comes down to is more time spent on generating valuable content and becoming the company you’ve always wanted to be…online. Because really what we’re saying is that if you do all of this and do it right (and Mack Web is behind you every step of the way), you will experience:
Higher domain authority (trust us, this is important)
An amazing and supportive online community
More value in your company
More value for your customers
Better relationships with your customers
A clear-eyed view of your company identity and goals (this will change your company, believe us. we know)
If you want more information on how Mack Web Solutions can help your company succeed with web marketing, give us a shout. We’ve got some good stuff to show you.
All of us here at Mack Web Solutions would like to welcome our new Social Media Strategist into this world of search engine marketing and web design. June Macon is the newest edition to our roster of innovative employees.
Ms. Macon is experienced in public relations, marketing and social media and enhances the creativity, reliability and professionalism Mack Web Solutions currently provides for clients. Macon, with her expertise in social media and ability to identify the wants and needs of a company’s audience, will focus on social strategy and social engagement.
Prior to joining Mack Web Solutions, Macon held the position of Director of Public Relations, Professional Relationships and Events at a local company with a focus in education. She also consulted with companies in the education, health and real estate fields, providing web writing, social media management, social media strategies, social media campaigns and services in public relations. Macon holds a Master of Arts in Adult Education and Training and a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism with an emphasis in Public Relations.
“In today’s web-driven world, it is imperative for businesses to establish an online presence,” says owner Mackenzie Fogelson. “We’ve found an approach and process that really works, giving our clients the web exposure they want and need. Bringing June onto the team expands our expertise and opens new avenues to generating great results for our clients.”
If your company would like a free consultation to learn how Mack Web Solutions can improve your search engine marketing and increase engagement in your current social media efforts or you are interested in learning more about what Mack Web Solutions can do for your company, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Mack Web Solutions:
Mack Web Solutions specializes in custom website design and development, search engine marketing, email marketing, social media, public relations and navigation development. For more information or to look at Mack Web’s portfolio please visit www.mackwebsolutions.com.