Learning from Meerkat: If You Don’t Understand the Social Graph, You Don’t Get Social Media Marketing

The Social Graph is About Relationships, Not Followers

Perhaps the most frequently asked question in the whole social media and online marketing arena is, “Where’s the ROI?” As Gary Vaynerchuk @garyvee points out in the animated, educational story that he tells in the video below, the true answer to this question requires thinking that goes deeper than a financial statement. To make his point, he ends up asking, “What’s the ROI of my mother?
Warning: If “the f-bomb” i.e. “foul” language offends you, you should NEVER listen to anything Gary says.

Of course, he’s right. There is a whole lot more to life, to business, and to marketing (in the social media-powered world) than trackable metrics. In other words, when you build authentic, sustainable long term relationships—not only with customers but with prospects—you are building an asset that has real long term value. That’s the true meaning behind the literal meaning of “the social graph.” That’s the point of this post. Please allow me to explain.

Missing the Point

Over and over, we miss the point about so many things. We think abundance is about money when, as we all know (I hope), there are much more important things in life. To me, these more important things are “true abundance.” And yet, we think social media marketing can be encapsulated by how many “Likes” we get on our Facebook page, or even by how many zeros there are at the end of the bottom line number at the bottom of this month’s revenue report.
In a similar way, we get impatient and dissatisfied with our online marketing efforts and miss the point regarding how amazing our world of innovative digital communications truly is. Gratitude really should be ruling the day. Louis C.K.’s famous video, “Everything’s Amazing and Nobody’s Happy” sets a nice tone for thinking differently about all this:

The Social Graph Defines Your Influence

I like to ask (presuming that you are doing some kind of social media marketing), “Are you building sustainable, long term relationships based on authentic human connections, or not?” (This subject is dear to my heart because it’s this kind of focus that puts the “humanity” in my calling myself a Humanistic Marketing Wizard.)

The “social graph” is the more geeky, technical term for your “tribe” or your network of influence which, in my view, is something that one builds by “leading with value” via social media and email marketing. Yet, we think the bottom line is the money, not the people. Wrong!

The bottom line, assuming you want to stay in business for the long term, is the real relationships that you are able to create and maintain. That’s why understanding the social graph is so important. In fact, it’s so important that, just last week, it become the leverage point in a high profile business kerfuffle between Twitter and the hottest app at SXSW, a live video streaming mobile app called Meerkat.

Twitter withheld social graph access from Meerkat thus underscoring the value of the graph.

What’s Meerkat Got to Do With It?

The Twitter vs. Meerkat story is an interesting business story because direct access to Twitter’s user base, i.e. its social graph is what Twitter withdrew from Meercat. They did that because Twitter’s social graph is one of its most crucial assets.
Likewise, so are your true followers, authentically engaged “fans,” and the email list subscribers, especially the ones who actually read and occasionally click on your emails. Their attention and TRUST are priceless/precious.
It’s a complex issue how we all access each other’s social graphs and it’s debatable what is appropriate use for a start up app. Along these lines, I really appreciated the thoughtful analysis of VC/entrepreneur Mark Suster @msuster in his blog post: “Some Perspective on Twitter vs. Meerkat.” I think he explains the business issues involved quite well.
In terms of authenticity, I also appreciate the fact that Suster is walking his talk, not only as a Meerkat user and venture capitalist, but also with how he thinks through this kind of issue. As he mentioned, “I have my social network in Twitter to thank for the public debate that clarified my thinking on this topic.”
And, that’s where the rubber really hits the road… not in terms of bottom line financials, but in terms of meaningful dialog, authentic give-and-take conversations where both parties listen as well as pontificate.
Straight-up social media communications like this not only make for more effective marketing and sustainable long term relationships, but more importantly, they make this a better world!
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Thanks in part to all the blog comment spammers, comments are turned off on this blog (at least for now). However, PLEASE, I would LOVE to hear from you, including any comments, criticisms, suggestions or whatever, via any of the social networks linked at the very top of this page. Thanks.[/alert]

Have More Marketing Ease, Fun & Authenticity Whenever You Want With This On-Demand Webinar Video

The Humanistic Marketing Revolution continues…
Last December, I presented a 45-minute video webinar called Step Up to the Gifts of Ease, Fun & Authenticity: Discover the Catalysts That Will Inspire New Momentum for Your New Marketing and it helped my define this new approach that I am calling Humanistic Marketing and I want to make this presentation available to you so that you can learn from it at your convenience.

That’s why I am now making the video recording of this webinar available as an on-demand digital product so that you can watch it anywhere, anytime you want. And, because I want to spread my teachings as widely as possible, I am also including with any purchase of this recording (only $9.97) a complete formatted PDF of my book, Internet Marketing: 8 Key Concepts Every Business MUST Know which has received 13 five-star reviews on Amazon. Please click here to learn more about this on-demand video webinar.

How Did I Put This Product Together?
For those of you who may be interested in how I put together this offer, technologically speaking… I produced the original video using Google Hangouts combining myself on-camera “live” intercut in real time with an Apple Keynote slide presentation. The video recording of this session was archived as a private, “Unlisted” YouTube link. In order to sell that video recording to you, I’ve embedded this link into a PDF document along with other value-added information, and I’m selling that document as a digital download that includes access to the video (along with the PDF of my book) via the innovative Selz.com platform that, for example, provides the order widget below. Pretty cool, eh? 😉

I hope you enjoy this video webinar and my book. I look forward to any feedback that you may have.


Buy Now or Click to Learn More

Why Being a Small Business Mentor Trumps Internet Marketing Consulting

More Personally Yours

As a small business owner, it’s fascinating to watch my business morph over time. I am always finding new ways to be of service. I genuinely love helping people and businesses to be more successful on their own terms.
Quote-New-Media-New-Marketing-more-humanRecently, the nature of my services have being changing. New offers for helping small businesses with their website, marketing and social media presence have included the 1-to-1 Get It Done Squarespace websites and the New Media New Marketing Playground group mentoring program. Both are collaborative processes where I work with people directly and respond to their specific needs in a customized way.

Mentor vs. Consultant

While good listening and personalized responses have always been a crucial part of the value that I offer, at least to some degree, recently, I find myself calling myself a mentor more than a consultant. Yes, of course, I’m still offering strategic guidance and helping clients to connect the dots amongst the myriad of marketing choices and technologies available. But somehow, as we sort out the priorities, the “know it all” quality of a consultant no longer seems appropriate. It sounds too top-down vs the kinds of collaboration that are happening more often these days.
Part of it also is probably that I am attracting and connecting with smaller businesses who are not so much looking for high level guidance (for example, connecting their marketing with their sales efforts as a larger organization might do) but rather they simply need help, want hand-holding, and to be shown by an expert how to do the things that they want and need to do.

Facing the Challenge of Overwhelm

The biggest challenge for small businesses these days seems to be overwhelm. This is what I have been calling The Grand Canyon Gap between People and Technology since 1990. Now, with social media and the realization of The Video Web, there’s even more information and more kinds of marketing communication technologies consider.
The good news is that New Media and New Marketing are increasingly less about technology and more about human connection. I still emphasize that it’s the communication, not the technology that’s most important; but these days, even more, I am emphasizing the human dimensions within the communication that are necessary to make them more engaging.

Viva La Humanistic Marketing Revolution

My joy is not just helping to sort things out and chunk things down so that moving forward is managable, but I’m also quite consistently pointing to my humanistic values of ease, fun and authenticity as the foundation of an approach to online marketing that is enjoyable as well as effective. I call this The Humanistic Marketing Revolution.
My passion for this approach is also encouraging me to continue to work on more educational programs, like the webinar that I did in December which will soon be available for sale, and the courses that I am currently developing which are about the value and importance of leading with humanistic values. More on these insights and these courses very soon.
Meanwhile, I am thoroughly enjoying these new collaborative ways to support small businesses to grow while they develop the capacity to actually enjoy and embrace social media and the New Media environment.
It really is a Playground for me and I’m open to more playmates. The more the merrier, really! This is especially true when we all are keeping our hearts open and having even more fun. How many “consultants” can say that?

New Talk Walker Video: Why Play & Storytelling Are New Marketing’s Leading Edge

Let the Good Times Roll!

Play and storytelling are not generally thought of as important pieces—let alone as crucial components—of social media and internet marketing; but they are (and this fact is becoming clearer and clearer).

I’m not just talking about these things. I’m doing them. That’s why my group mentoring program is called The New Media New Marketing PLAYGROUND. Because Like Knows Like, my emerging series of videos is called “Talk Walkers.” This reflects the importance of authenticity in being attractive via the Web, and FYI, I’m also planning to take these interviews into the world of podcasting. More on that in a future post.

New “Talk Walker” Video Below

Meanwhile, recently, I’ve been delighted to get to know David Drake of NarrativeCoaching.com. He’s a real big picture thinker. I like that 😉 And, I hope you agree that the insights he shares about the ironic process of taking an attitude of play more seriously, and in particular, about why storytelling is not only the leading edge of content marketing but it is also important for the process of connecting to your authentic voice (or brand).

Whether you are a solopreneur, an entrepreneur, or a larger company, basing all of your marketing communications on a profound foundation of “why” you are doing what your doing has to go beyond a simply intellectual process. Please watch this video. We will explain:

My first Talk Walker interview was with author, speaker, authentic social media marketing guru extraordinaire, Jay Baer.

In case you missed that one, here it is “one more time”:

Wonderful Revelations on the Way of Play & the Path to Community & Collaboration

Finding Freedom

I think we’ve all felt the frustration of feeling overwhelmed by all of the Internet marketing and social media marketing options the online communications revolution has laid at our feet. Of course, what we would prefer to feel is the exhilerating thrill of our natural and authentic enthusiasm for what we are doing, the freedom of full self-expression without self-judgement, and a palpable connection to the value we are delivering.

Your Social Media Journey Can Be Easy & FunI know this feeling personally which is why it has been so exciting for me to have my new online mentoring community, The New Media New Marketing Playground come together so easily and to have such a wonderful group of heart-oriented people become part of this virtual Playground.

Learning from My New Tribe

What has been particularly encouraging is not only the quality of the people who have joined the Playground, but the opportunity to get actual feedback on WHY they joined.

Three key insights have quickly emerged:

  1. People like the idea of fun and play. It has a real appeal, especially in a marketing world where overwhelm is so much more common.
  2. People trust the space I’ve created with this offering. More than one of the members has shared with me that it feels like a “safe space to play” and that’s what they need.
  3. My recommendations of social media and new media tools and strategies are highly valued.

Wow! I’m gratified and honored. No kidding.

Listening & Leveraging Social Proof

These learnings have been like revelations for me. So valuable! For example, in the video clip below, author, speaker, entrepreneur, and Playground Member, Susan Falter explains (slightly edited):

You are the master of ease and a guy who is a lot of fun and highly creative. I love your approach to things. This really is “a playground.” …It’s a no pressure environment. That’s fun, and that’s what I want.

Suzanne also underscored to me the value to her of the kinds of practical information that I share (in the Playground, via our enewsletter and via social media). How could I not appreciate and value this acknowledgement of my knowledge and expertise? 🙂

You are like a Google of internet marketing. I feel like I can type on your forehead “why create videos” and up will come like fifteen different resources and I’ve never heard of any of them. …It’s very helpful to people like me who really want to know what the best, easiest way is. It’s like instead of trying fifteen different apps you’re going to tell me which one to use. That’s really, really valuable.

Please watch the video above for Suzanne’s complete comments, and please click below if you’d like to receive our occasional enews or become a Member of The Playground. As a special “thank you for reading” if you become a member between now and the end of tomorrow (Sept 17th), enter the Code “wonder” at check out and receive 20% off your Playground Membership.
Please click here to subscribe to our “It’s a Wonderful Web” enewsletter.
Click here to learn more or become a Member of The New Media New Marketing Playground.

Are You Missing the Boat on Online Video Advertising?

[A Quick Catch Up on Online Video’s Reinvention of Advertising]
As most of my readers know, I’ve been an “evangelist” for the digital video revolution, especially as it applies to the democratization of media, for many years. By now, the explosion and importance of online video via YouTube and other hosting platforms (from Wistia and Vimeo to Brightcove and Ooyala, among others) should be obvious to everyone. What is not so apparent to many people is the opportunity to use online video advertising as a highly-targeted attraction engine.

The game changer over the past few years has been the move to online, streaming video for virtually every kind of communication and entertainment. Advancements in video technology mean huge benefits for society as the power of video is now in everyone’s hands—quite literally due to smart phones, on both the video creation and video consumption side of things. These advancements combined with mobile video’s remarkable reach means even bigger benefits for advertisers. 

In fact, the shift from desktop online video advertising to mobile advertising has been nothing short of astonishing. To give you a sense of how big this shift is, consider this: In the fourth quarter of 2013, the number of ads showing on tablets was almost tripled from the previous quarter, according to a FreeWheel TV report in USA Today. Plus, that leap in growth was ten times (10x!) faster than the consumption of video ads on desktops.

Bottom line, this is just the beginning. Mobile is still in its infancy. The original iPad was just introduced four years ago.

Multiple Types of Video Content and Placements

Vine growth statsOne of the more fascinating aspects of online video advertising is the wide variety of video types that advertisers are starting to use. The traditional broadcast video advertisement, which is served up in 30-second segments and interrupts consumers’ viewing to blatantly peddle a product or service (in a format that is frequently skipped via DVRs), is not what is working in the same ways any longer. In fact, the exact opposite is what is thriving online. YouTube, for example, is full of informative, how-to videos that are less “commercial” and more informative. This approach connects with my marketing philosophy of attracting and engaging, rather than straight sales pitches.

The way video and entertainment is consumed has also driven the adoption of new types of videos that are working in other ways. Skyword reports that a Mobile Marketing Association study showed that video ads of 15 seconds or less and non-skippable were viewed in their entirety 92 percent of the time. If the ads are skippable, only 9 percent were completed. Whether the ad is virtually embedded within an informative clip that “leads with value”( as I like to say), or is delivered in an non-skippable format, these advertising options, again, are just the beginning of a new world that, in my considered opinion, any serious online marketer needs to consider.

In addition, the shorter video formats are getting more popular on stand-alone social video platforms. Between Instagram video and Vine (just to name two), the public is getting more and more accustomed to digesting their video in shorter formats. Few people who are not active on social media realize the reach of these platforms. Some even call Vine “the fastest growing app in the world.”

More Bandwidth Means Higher Quality Video

Another advancement that has made online video an ever increasing opportunity to be considered as part of your advertising budget is the increased broadband data access speeds that consumers are now able to afford. With faster speeds comes better quality video. With mobile comes any where, any time access. Without the distractions of constant buffering, viewers are able to watch longer videos, and companies are willing to invest in better production quality. For example, a large company like LifeLock invested wisely to produce higher quality online exclusive, more informative videos for its target audience to let them know how they can protect themselves and their identity online.

Jacking into Untapped Potential

In many instances, little difference in quality exists between what you would see on television and what is being shown on the Web. And, frequently what’s online is more interesting, more personal, and certainly more highly targeted than what’s on TV. And, in terms of variety, the Internet offers so much more. But perhaps even more significant is online video’s interface options.

According to streamingmedia.com, interactivity is the main function that makes online video consumption different from television. However, many advertisers are still missing the boat on this opportunity. Right now, 85 percent of online video advertisements are simply the same content that could have also run on traditional television, where the audience simply sits back and takes it in. By allowing the consumer to get more involved in the ad or the original content, and by being able to place advertising videos (whether ads or informative content marketing clips) in MUCH more relevant contexts, viewers naturally become more involved and connected to the product or service, and thus, more willing to make a purchase.

The Future of Online Video

The Globe and Mail claims that big things are on the horizon for online video advertising in 2014. Smaller companies that had been hesitant to hop on board will see the light and start spending on the medium. And, speaking of spending, I don’t think there is any doubt that this will be the year that more companies start shifting their advertising dollars from traditional television to social media and online video. Another shift will be that online video production will become more of a specialty for agencies. With the differences between traditional and online video becoming more apparent, through the inclusion of interactivity and highly-targeted contexts, for example, more production companies and marketing agencies will specialize in online video production and distribution (yes, as ComBridges has been doing for some time).

Obviously, the ComBridges team is here to help if you are interested; but more importantly, I wonder whether it will be you or your competition that will take the lead by leveraging the amazing power of online video and online video advertising.

I’ve seen again and again that it’s those market leaders who stick their necks out to engage with these leading edge trends that grab a significant competitive advantage, especially over time. “A word to the wise” should be sufficient. Yes?

Learn How Compelling Visual Content Can Increase Your Social Media Marketing ROI

In a blog post over two years ago (see Social Media Goes Visual: Why Pinterest is More Than You Think), I started calling the next frontier of social media marketing, “The Visual Web. This morning, I extended this conversation with a Google Hangout interview with Ekaterina Walter, the author of “The Power of Visual Storytelling.” Here’s that 30 minute conversation:

Fundamentally, humans are predominantly visual creatures, and according to a study from National Formosa University in Taiwan, this is reflected in our computer environments—especially in this age of social media!

Bottom line, you may produce the most compelling written content for your business blog and social media marketing efforts, but if you don’t have the right visual content to make it more engaging, you may never see decent conversion rates.

Here are some basic tips (with more to come) as to how to effectively use visual content to engage readers and get a better ROI:

Vary Your Media

To effectively promote content in social media, mix up what kind of visual content you’re using.

  • Photos. Whether you’re using your own photographs, stock photography or a digital vector, you’re going to need a relevant image(s) to go along with your content. Case in point: Marketing blogger Jeff Bullas reports that articles with images get 94 percent more views, and on Facebook, photos get 84 percent more click-throughs than their counterpart text-based posts, according to Kissmetrics. Failing to add a photo can mean a major loss of conversion. Also, let’s face it—the article just looks nicer with an image or two.
  • Video. Integrating video into your social media campaign not only grabs people’s attention, but it helps you stand out as an authority in your field. To create customized video about your area of expertise, use a marketing service like ComBridges or just shoot and upload via YouTube, or use Google Hangouts On-Air as I have done above. If you simply need royalty-free stock video, try a site like Shutterstock.
  • Animated GIFs. Sites like Buzzfeed, Distractify and Tumblr use animated GIFs frequently. These sites get shares into the tens of thousands and views into the millions. With the widespread use of broadband, these kinds of images are far more high-tech and user-friendly than they used to be. They’re a great way to market pop culture events or tutorials without requiring the user to watch a video. If you’re trying to get a quick point across, use a GIF.
  • Infographics. Your target audience may not want to read a wall of text. Instead, offer them quick and easily accessible information (with credible sources) in the form of a visually engaging infographic. In fact, infographics have become so popular in recent years, you can search for just about any topic you’re interested in followed by the word “infographic,” and chances are, there is one available.

And all of this is just the beginning. In future posts, I’ll write more about things like Instagram, Pinterest, SlideShare and more. Please subscribe via the links above to be notified.

Keep Color Psychology in Mind

Because “The Visual Web” is all about graphics and images, color is key. Color sets off certain signals in your brain, even if you’re not aware of it. For example, the color red is exciting and stimulating, while blue is considered calming and trustworthy. Take a look at different business logos and advertisements as you’re driving down the street. Note what kind of an emotional appeal they have for you. Use this same type of approach in your social media efforts. Depending on the emotional response you want to convey, choose your imagery and colors within the content carefully. Visual.ly has a great infographic on the psychology of color that can help you make good color choices for your social content.

More to come! I look forward to your feedback and your shares. 😉

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Video Rant Reveals the Surprising ROI of Leading with Values

I’m turning a corner in my business. I’ve realized that my values are the more important than my (so called) value proposition. And the real eye opener for me was the way that my business coach explained that this approach can actually open up new revenues. Values = $$? Really?

This blog post explains the fortuitous way that I experienced this strategy directly, and how you can use it as an inspiration for your own online marketing communications…

Values Trump Values Proposition

Why Our Values ARE Our Value

The foundation for this story is the way that I’m discovering that my core values of ease, fun and authenticity have become even more important than our company’s skills and talents with Internet marketing strategy, website design, video production, social media marketing, SEO and the rest. 

Radical, eh?

Sometimes this kind of branding/positioning is as simple as adding a line about these values to an email of introduction (and, yes, just last week a prospective client made a point of telling me that she appreciated the fact that these values were included in my email. There was an added element of rapport created even before we spoke on the phone).

This values-based approach really gets juicy when it’s applied to a new breed of video that I’m calling a “rant.” Rant videos are further explained and illustrated below.

Another unexpected result of this awakening for me is that my long-established axiom of “Leading with Value” (Key Concept #8 in my book) is causing me to choose to position myself and my company’s work more clearly around our own core values.

How Audacious Authenticity Can Attract New Revenues

“When you reveal your passion for being of service through your business in the boldest, most transparent and vulnerable way possible—for example, in a series of online video rants about things you care most about—this does more now for opening up revenue flow than almost anything else, particularly if other things have failed and you find yourself extremely stuck. Video is THE medium that carries genuine emotion the very best, online. Use video to allow money to find you, as a reflection of the full expression of your heart.” — Andrea J. Lee, WealthyThoughtLeader.com

The video above is my latest experience with both real time marketing and the art of the video rant.

My friend and client, veteran executive coach and management consultant, Nancy Monson and I were having a marketing consulting session. The day before I had been on a group coaching call with Andrea J. Lee where she had said what’s quoted above about the power of the video rant to both reveal passion and open revenue flows. As I directed Nancy to speak her truth about why most executive coaching doesn’t produce the desired results, she lit up. Recognizing that we were getting to the heart of her values and her commitment to make a meaningful difference, I said, “Let’s capture this, so we don’t have to write it down.” At first she thought I was going to make an audio note. But, after a slight hesitation, she agreed to let me record this video with my iPhone.

The video rant above is the result. I salute Nancy for her courage to swing out in this way and I’m pleased with how her knowledge and commitment to results have been made visible.

The Zen of the Real Time Rant

rant quote“The art and science of marketing is now about focusing on real-time connections and social exchanges.” 
Vocus blog post

It’s widely recognized that because of the explosion of social media and mobile communications, real time communications are the leading edge of what I call New Marketing. What better way to leverage these trends along side the New Marketing requirements for authenticity and engagement than with a video that is spoken with passion, from the heart? (And, it’s easy to see why formal production values are not required.)

More to come. I look forward to your feedback; and by all means, if you like what you’ve read and seen here, please share in every way possible (links below). Thank you! 🙂

PS. If you are interested in bringing more of your authentic passion and core values to your online marketing, please contact us. We’d love to help.

Authenticity Rant Video #2: Why “Live Your Own Life” Makes Marketing Matter

Who among us has never done something because someone else told them they should, even when all along their own gut intuition was telling them to do something different (which, of course, would have been “the right thing”)?

Live Your Own LifeHow many of us do the same kind of “giving ourselves away” with Internet marketing, for example, by thinking that social media marketing, blogging, content marketing or video is something we really “should” be doing, despite that fact that we really don’t have any passion for it?

Unfortunately, we’ve all done some version of this; and this kind of behavior, usually both personally as well as professionally.

That’s the subject of my new Authenticity Rant video (#2) that I recorded this morning via Google Hangouts On-Air with my colleague, Peter Klein. We used Peter’s incantation, “Live Your Own Life,” as our theme; and I connect the dots between that and the best kinds of “sparks” I know that can light the “fire” (that I think is necessary) for the success of your Internet and social media marketing.

Yes, there’s more to successful marketing than formulas or even strategy. And, “living your own life” with regard to your marketing communications is not necessarily easy; but in my experience, it’s worth every ounce of effort that you put into it.

I’d love to hear your thought on this video and these ideas. Thanks!

Why You Can’t Ignore Google+ for Local SEO and Social Media Marketing

google+ logoGoogle+ now claims more than 300 million active users every month, boasting more than 58 percent growth over the past few months, according to USA Today. Although Google+ has a long way to go to match Facebook’s 1.19 billion monthly users, its rapid adoption rate and sprawling community makes it clear that Google+ is not merely another social network nipping at the heels of Facebook and Twitter. Google’s social centerpiece has become a powerful social tool for marketers and businesses looking to increase their brand values and expand their visibility.

Personally, I find Google+ to be less noisy with a higher quality of professional level engagement and features like Google Hangouts On-Air and its photo sharing features that make it more attractive than other social networks.

But, even more importantly, the Google+ social network has several features that deliver significant SEO value beyond what other competing networks can provide:

Google+ Authorship Creates Social Authority

Google authorship is a search ranking concept that aims to stratify content and web pages according to the credibility and authority of their authors. With Google Authorship, content creators use small bits of code to attach a page to its author. But in order to do this, you need to have a Google+ account.

For this reason, a Google+ account can bolster your credibility online—not just within the Google+ network, but in search rankings as well. Thanks to Google Authorship, as your credibility grows, as measured by your clicks, followers and other variables, content can become more prominent online by having your name attached to it.

The ‘Like’ Button That Boosts SEO

Facebook has its “Like” button, Twitter has favorites, Pinterest has re-pins. But none of these directly affects the SEO of your content. This is where Google’s +1 feature is so valuable. The +1 button can be easily integrated into any web page or piece of content, and Google’s search algorithm uses it to assess the quality and popularity of content. Each time you receive a +1 from another Google+ user, your SEO ranking improves. As a result, users are rewarded for creating content that is valuable to their followers and the benefits go beyond what any other social network can provide. We call this earning authority the old fashioned way, and Google agrees. Because it’s fueled by authentic value, this kind of quality content that people want to share is the only sustainable social media marketing strategy.

Generate Feedback Through Community

For all its value in affecting SEO rankings, Google+ is still an effective platform for engaging consumers and generating feedback to improve your overall product positioning and awareness. For example, you can set up Google+ Communities to create spaces where you and your customers meet and exchange ideas, information and other comments. Similarly, you can join communities on the network and make new connections with other professionals, gathering new ideas and possibly some valuable business connections. This opportunity is somewhat analogous to LinkedIn Groups, but the added SEO benefits and a more rapid growth rate would seem to give Google Communities an edge.

This kind of community-based engagement can take more traditional text-based forms, or in multi-platform media. Google+ facilitates video-based engagement, which is where it differs from most other major social networks. Of course, this increases the demands placed on your Internet connection. Managing your social media efforts requires a fast Internet connection, and it’s particularly important with Google+, where media-rich content is widely used. If you plan on streaming video to run Google+ Hangouts, you’ll need a fast connection to make sure your video doesn’t skip.

Google Product Integration

As most people know by now, Google offers a wide array of products and services for businesses and consumers (from Gmail, AdWords and YouTube to Google Docs, Google Maps, Google Local and more). Most of these are available for free. What they do require, in many cases, is a Google+ account—at least to access all of the features of these products. The good news is, Google does not require a Gmail address. Your Google+ information can follow you wherever you go (including via Authorship as discussed above), simplifying processes and helping various Google products deliver better services.

With Google Maps, for example, your Google+ profile can establish your default location, recall your search history and display saved map routes. In a similar way, your Google+ account can and should also be integrated with your YouTube channel (you have one, right?) YouTube integration and connectivity is yet another benefit of Google+ participation; and one that can be expected to expand over time. 

Likewise, every local business (businesses with an actual physical location), in my opinion, MUST have a Google Local listing. Not to do so is leaving money and web traffic “on the table.” 😉

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FYI, ComBridges is currently adding capabilities to enhance local SEO listings and social media integration across 50+ local web directories including Yelp. Please use the form below if you would like more information:

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Also, thanks to Sidney Peters for his writing assistance in crafting this post. Sid is a UK transplant who develops apps for social networking sites. He is also training for a marathon.