A HIPPO Internet Marketing Training blog by Corey Creed

The Jungle Map, your guide through internet marketing

Hippo Academy – We’re almost ready!

February 14th, 2011

HIPPO ACADEMY is getting close to done.

I know some of you have been waiting a while.  But we’ll be opening our doors soon to the Hippo Academy.  It’s taken me longer than expected because it’s going to be much more than I originally planned.

This week I’m creating video training and posting it.  That way, once you get in, it will be waiting for you.  But we’re not stopping there.  Being a Hippo Academy member will get you some other pretty cool perks.

We’re not open quite yet, but will be soon.

PS:  If it sounds interesting to you, feel free to visit Hippo Academy now and leave your email address to stay informed.

Facebook is Now Worth Using for Business

February 14th, 2011

You know me.  I’m a small business owner, consultant, trainer, and entrepreneur.  I’m also an Internet marketer at heart.

But I’m also a stickler for not wasting time.  I feel very deeply that how you use your time is critical to the success of your business (and of your life in general).

FacebookGiven this, I’m not always the first to get excited about social media.  Facebook, Twitter, and other similar tools are fun and interesting.  But they can very easily be a total waste of time.  So it’s a constant challenge to know how much time I should spend with them.  (And by extension, how much I should recommend using them to my students and clients.)

Up until now, I’ve mostly spent a little time here and there in Facebook and Twitter just to be informed, experiment, and stay in touch with those that know me.  But with the new features in Facebook this week, I’m making some changes.

In case you have not heard, Facebook made some changes to the way Pages work.  Most of them were no big deal and mostly cosmetic.  My colleague (and Social Media Speaker) over at Social Fresh made a little video that shows you the 7 changes here.

What’s the big deal?

CaptureThe one change you need to note is the last one.  Namely, you can now use Facebook as a person (yourself) or as a page (brand).  This means you can now follow other pages and comment on them as your company or brand.

For those that have worked in Internet marketing for some time, you know this is huge, right?  For a year or two now, anyone that wants to build attention and get noticed online has realized that commenting on blogs absolutely rocks.  You can now do something very similar using Facebook.

Of course, writing in your own blog is important.  This is similar to creating and growing your business as a Page on Facebook.  Good idea!  Once you have followers, it keeps them engaged and coming back.

But if you are starting out, how do you get people to come to your blog? Advertising works.  But it costs.  SEO works, but it takes time and links.  So the magic bullet was to go find the relevant blogs in your industry.  Find the ones that already have the attention of your target audience and comment intelligently on those blogs.

Now we can do that on Facebook!  We know it works, because people have already been doing it.  You know who the people with the most followers and friends are on Facebook and Twitter?  The most active and interesting people.

Now, businesses and brands can do the same thing.

What should you do?

Game on, people!  If you don’t have a Facebook Page for your business, now’s the time to get started.  (Even just building something quick and easy gets you started.)

But the real trick is to “Use Facebook as your page”.  Then go “Like” the businesses that already have the attention of your target audience and start commenting intelligently on those pages.

Of course, if your page has a good call to action, you’ll get more likes too!

PS: If you are really bored, you can start a conversation with yourself as I did here.

Capture2

Charlotte 2011 Marketing Forecast Event – #CltMktg

January 13th, 2011

Tonight’s Charlotte Marketing forecast event is being sponsored by nine different organizations.  The room is full and it looks like about 300 people are here.  Before it started, the bar area was absolutely mobbed with people before it started.

Greg Caller (WFAE News Director) is the moderator.

Tonight’s panelists are…

Scott Pacer, Marketing Communications Director at Duke Energy
Scott Provancher, President of Arts and Science Council
Lori Wilks, Sales & Marketing at NASCAR Hall of Fame
David Oakley, Co-founder & Creative Director at Boone Oakley agency

The moderator started by asking the audience who feels we are out of the recession.  Only about a dozen of us raised our hand.  Most feel we are still in a recession.

(Obviously, we are.  But some industries are thriving.  The blanket question is really not fair.)

Duke is currently trying to market products that involve using less of what they sell – electricity.  It is a new marketing style for them.

David Oakley was asked if people are starting to spend more.  He feels businesses are just starting to spend more than they did two years ago.  All agencies are starting to be held more accountable and there is a lot of belt-tightening.

Lori was asked how her marketing budget for the NASCAR Hall of Fame was affected.  She says her budget is getting slashed based on the revenue.  Everything has changed over the last three years because of the economy.  Previously, it was “Build it and they will come”.  That’s not true anymore.  They have gone back to the drawing board to make sure the word gets out.  They are fortunate that Charlotte is the home of most NASCAR companies.  It is similar to the auto industry in Detroit.  She is marketing to families and people “crazy” about NASCAR.  She feels creativity solves all problems.

Scott Provancher says that people go to the Arts, even in a down economy.  Ticket sales have been up.  These opportunities are cheap and close to home.  However, 50% of the money coming in is from donations, not from ticket sales.  The Arts and Science Council has been spending less money on advertising and more on getting smart people.  Smart people can pull off better marketing with less money if they are creative.  That’s not the way they looked at it a few years ago.

Duke Energy is currently really good at energy.  They are doing some soul-searching to see if there are others that they should be using for specific functions in marketing, such as customer insight, analytics, etc.  They are looking at concentrating on their core strengths.

David Oakley just gave props to NASCAR Hall of Fame.  He gives Charlotte credit for winning the opportunity to have it here.  (True.  However, we are Charlotte, the world headquarters of NASCAR.  Sorry, I live in Mooresville and it’s hard to be proud of that at times.)

Lori was asked if you should spend more on advertising in a down economy.  She says yes.  You still need to prove ROI, but spend more in a downward time.  The competition is less.  She adds that they are budgeting that the economy is not going to change.  They are budgeting that things will not improve.  If they do, bonus!

What about social media?  What have they learned?  Duke Energy explains that their customers don’t necessarily want to talk to them on social media about the things they want to talk about.  They would love to push new products via social media but see the need to have healthy conversation first.

How are you using social media?  What’s effective?  Duke is trying hard to not fill the air with fluff.  They monitor what is said about them.  They have made Twitter accounts specifically for when your power goes out.  It allows them to get you information you want when you need it.  It has grown to be more than just announcements.  It is now interactive and they talk with customers.  Right now, they feel social media is good for answering questions customers have.  It is about value and education.

Lori adds that social media is about more than just Twitter and Facebook.  It is good to find various spaces, including niches.  She feels it is not about a consistent sales message, but about developing relationships.  You have to be in the space.  The successful campaigns have dedicated personnel.  You have to be on it all the time.  You have to pay attention and nurture it.

(Interestingly, Lori says she feels that good social media marketers are typically just interns around 18-20 years old.  There was a low and steady boo from the audience.  I gotta agree with the audience on this one.  I know my work with Harris Teeter feels that they would never put their social media brand in the hands of a teenager.  Unfortunately, this was a passing comment and the Twitterverse lit up about it.  Poor Lori.)

David adds that social media is so hard and so different from everything we’ve done.  Honestly, the whole growth of the Internet and social media is an explosion and is scary.  Yet, it is also exciting.  The advertising business can be really repetitive and boring.  This change is exciting.  It’s good to have young people involved.  But everyone in the room should be completely engaged in social media.  Everyone should use it.  People have helped him learn Twitter.  He is fascinated with Quora right now.  (He is clearly excited about social media.  Good answers.)

Scott Provancher adds that social media opens up new opportunities that were not available before.  They use integration with Facebook to spread the message.

Lori is asked about the balance between legal and marketing.  She apparently has been an attorney.  It enables her to communicate well with lawyers.  She feels lawyers should not get in the way of marketing.  Make lawyers prove risk.

Lori was also asked why the NASCAR Hall of Fame uses a marketing agency outside of Charlotte.  She says they use Wrayward as the agency of record.  (Duh!)  Nice answer, Lori.

What do you consider metrics for success?  (I turned to Nathan Richie at this point and said “money”.  We laughed and I think the moderator might have heard us because he mentioned that money is the ultimate metric right after.)  NASCAR Hall of Fame says ticket sales and rentals of rooms for events.  David adds that Bojangles gives them a report every day on sales from the day before.

What should marketers know?  Lori says we need to have a lot of different skills and tools.  In this region, we are seeing an increase in diverse business during this downturn.  We need to be adaptable.

(NOTE:  I just asked on Twitter what people would rate this meeting so far on a scale of 1-10.  I’m getting mostly 3’s.  The highest mark was one 5.  Also, people are starting to walk out now.  That’s disappointing to me.  I had high hopes for this event.  It was not terrible.  The turnout was fantastic.  But I have to admit, it could hav been better.)

How should marketers with little to no marketing budget reach their goals?  Lori says “be creative”.  She gave props to the Charlotte Checkers for the things they do with little or no budget on social media.  (YEA!  Way to go Checkers! – One of my students was the social media director for the past year.  He credits Brandon Uttley and I for helping him.)

As a final question, the panelists were asked what important things they want to add before ending.  They said things like “Content is King”, “Be true to yourself”, “Know your marketing objectives”.  David Oakley said that “All marketing is conversation.  Don’t just talk about yourself.”

“Surviving and Thriving in 2011″ – Your predictions

January 12th, 2011

Tonight (Jan 12, 2011) is the big marketing event of the year in Charlotte.  All the local chapters of the marketing organizations get together every year to listen to a panel of local experts explain where they think 2011 will hold.

Here are my notes from last year’s.

I’ll be holding a similar event next week for INTERNET marketing with Brandon Uttley.

So what do you think the experts will say tonight?  Let’s hear your predictions.

The general topics will be:

  • Charlotte market’s economic health.
  • Trends in local employment and hiring.
  • Creative, media and public relations strategies from Charlotte’s ad agencies.
  • Trends in the B2C retail marketing sector.
  • Consumer use of mobile technology.

But what are your predictions? 
What will be unique about 2011 in marketing?

Best of 2010 – Hippo Internet Marketing / Jungle Map Recap

December 31st, 2010

This is the last day of 2010, so it is time to look back at what we’ve done.

Here at HIPPO Internet Marketing, I announced early in the year that I was “going dark.  This was in order to grow the e-commerce side of my business. 

This was so important to me and required so much of my efforts, that in August I announced that I am stopping my classes, also.

In the middle of it all, we moved into our new office in March.  Here’s the pictures of it.

Given this, I blogged less this year (only 55 times) than since I started this blog in 2006.  I just didn’t have the time.  I had to focus. 

(But my focus is about to change.)

I’m happy to report that the efforts were not in vain.  In all honestly, much of the effort I put forth had little to no effect.  But some things worked VERY well.  In fact, December was our best month in two and a half years.  SCORE!

Looking back, here are the 6 posts I thought were my best.  I hope you like them…

  1. 5 Steps for Getting Started in Mobile Marketing
  2. Why do Google, Apple, & Microsoft Race to be the SAME?
  3. Personal thoughts from Blog World Expo 2010
  4. Most Important take-aways from PubCon 2010
  5. A Practical Social Media Policy Template – Steal this!
  6. Twitter – Why Bother?

I can assure you that 2011 is going to be VERY different for me and my business.  HIPPO Internet Marketing is about to announce some big news next week.

The work I did for the e-commerce side of my business was not in vain.  I’ll continue that work.  But my focus is about to shift over to the Internet Marketing Training and Social Media side very quickly.

If you’d like to stay informed, please be sure to sign-up for updates via our newsletter at www.HippoIMT.com.

Twitter – Why bother?

December 9th, 2010

Today, Pew Research released some new stats about Twitter that might really make you think about how much time you spend there.  Their report says that only 8% of online Americans use Twitter.

When you do the math, 8% of online Americans translates into 6% of all Americans.  Then, only about 36% of Twitter users use the service with any regularity.  That gets us down to about 2% of all Americans.

Of course, 2% of all Americans is about 5 million Americans.

Here’s something to think about… 

  • If Twitter is only really being used by 2% of all Americans, how much effort should we put into it?
  • Then again, if there is an easy way to reach out to, and/or search the conversations of even just 2%…  Well…  That’s actually pretty cool, right?

Either way, it’s always good to separate the hype from the facts.  Keep that 2% number in mind as you plan your next marketing mix of time and money.

We’re Hiring – I Need a Video Guy

December 2nd, 2010

Here at HIPPO Internet Marketing Training, I’m desperately seeking some help to get setup for creating video.

I’ve got some big initiatives that will involve online video.  I want it to look good.  We want to do it on a reasonably low budget, yet move far beyond using a web-cam, iPhone, or flip camera.

Please, please, please…  If you know of anyone that can help us as listed below, please send them to this page.  I’m desperate and want to move quickly.  HONESTLY!

MORE DETAILS:

We’re in the process of securing a small studio and need help setting it up. 

1.  Most importantly, we need help with purchasing and setting up professional quality lighting.  This small studio will need to be permanently setup for use with either a white-board or a green-screen at any time.

2.  We also have several other rooms (see this link) at our disposal and will eventually want help learning how to best set them up for quality lighting, video & audio recording, and even live streaming.

3.  We may need assistance with microphone and camera selection for the above mentioned settings, while staying within budget.

4.  We need some basic support with using Sony Vegas software for video editing.

5.  NOTE:  We are only looking for a freelancer to give an hour or two here and there initially.  This is not a full-time or even part-time position.

INTERESTED?

1.  No need to send a resume.  Please simply send me an email (Corey at HippoIM dot com).

2.  Include your experience and interest level.  You must have experience working with lighting, audio, and video to be considered.

3.  Explain your general pricing.  In other words, if you have specific rates, let me know.  If you prefer doing some sort of exchange of services, or some other method, just tell me.  I’m sure we can work something out.

NOT INTERESTED?

No problem.  But please forward this page, tweet it, facebook it, or do whatever you can to spread the word.  We want to get started QUICK.  We need someone that knows what they are doing.

Thank you in advance.

Corey Creed
HIPPO Internet Marketing Training

A Practical Social Media Policy Template – Steal this!

December 2nd, 2010

Looking for a Social Media Policy Template that you can steal, edit, and reuse for your business? 

Any business that has more than just a few employees really should document their social media policy.  This is how you not only discourage your employees from doing something really stupid. You also encourage them to do what’s right.

As a side benefit, you have more of a leg to stand on when you try to discipline those that do something stupid.

Many of my readers may not realize that I occasionally guest-post for Social Fresh.  So here are some links to a recent series I did.  The first two simply lead up to the last one, which is the one that will likely benefit you the most.

Need a Social Media Plan or Social Media Policy?

Social Media Policy – 5 Principles to Remember

A Template to Help Start Your Social Media Policy

PS:  If you like that third one, make sure to retweet it.  It’s been pretty popular on twitter.  It’s the one with the actual social media policy template on it.

2010 Pubcon Vegas Wrap-Up

November 15th, 2010

Here is a list of all my notes and blog posts from Pubcon 2010.

If you see something that interests you, check it out.  If not, please click on the bottom post (about the main take-aways).  Be sure to review the bolded points in that post.

Introduction to Pubcon Vegas 2010

Advanced Pay Per Click at Pubcon Vegas 2010

Advanced Twitter at Pubcon Vegas 2010

How do you Optimize for Universal and Personal Search

Video Optimization Lessons from Pubcon

SEO for E-Commerce Panel Notes from Pubcon

Tim Mayer at 2010 Vegas Pubcon

How to Buy Links – From Pubcon 2010

* Most Important Take-Aways from Pubcon 2010 *

 

 

Most Important Take-Aways from #Pubcon 2010

November 15th, 2010

I’m currently on my plane ride home from Vegas.  Unfortunately, this plane does not have Internet access like my last one did.  So this is a good time to write out a bunch of my observations and thoughts from the conference I just attended.

WARNING:  This post is going to be long.  Feel free to just scan over the Bolded/capitalized headings and just read what you are interested in.

(You can also just read the very brief points at the end.)

1.  PUBCON HAS A DIFFERENT FEEL
The style of Pubcon is different than any other conference in my opinion.  Brett Tabke is a genuine nice guy that does this conference year after year.  Many of the speakers and attendees know him personally and speak positively of him.  The conference has an overall feeling of individuals helping individuals.  Everyone is not just friendly, but genuinely helpful.

Guys like Jerry West, Greg Boser, Brad Geddes, Christine Churchill, and countless others all rally together to learn from each other and to help newbies at Pubcon.  The whole event is very welcoming to newcomers.  This is evident not only in the presentations, but in the constant conversations between sessions.  Pubcon is mostly about search, but like most conferences, they delve into other areas such as social media, new media, etc.

2.  SEARCH ENGINE MARKETING TOOLS
For keyword research, several marketers are complaining about the Google AdWords Keyword Tool.  They are not showing all data as of just a few weeks ago.  It looks like many are going back to using WordTracker and Keyword Discovery for inventory data.  Another incredible tool to mine new keyword phrases is Scrapebox.  It’s amazing.

For Link Building and other SEO tools, it seems as if SEOmoz and SEOBook are the clear leaders. 

For SEO reporting, Raven Tools is quickly becoming the industry favorite.

3.  PAY PER CLICK SEARCH MARKETING
I was surprised that more people were not excited about jumping head first into Microsoft AdCenter now that it is powering both Bing and Yahoo.  Rather, most everyone still focuses their energy on Google AdWords and simply copy what works into Microsoft AdCenter.

The strongest tips that came out of PPC were to focus more intently on negative keywords.  Several presenters encouraged using thousands of negative keywords.  Use tools such as Scrapebox to find as many as possible.

Some other good tips were to focus on Quality Score.  Improving your QS can have a dramatic effect on your spending.

4.  FACEBOOK MARKETING
Between the sessions I attended and the conversations I had, it’s becoming more obvious that using Facebook for marketing is really in its infancy.  Very few marketers are just STARTING to even try this, let alone see the potential.

The technique that many are using is to use targeted ads to drive traffic to custom built pages that engage and reward “liking” the page.  Hopefully, the viral effect kicks in.  If your audience engages, their friends see them and may join too.

The concept is that you then “own the audience” and can try to engage them on the page over and over.  You may choose to push them toward an offer on your website or just keep engaging them to the benefit of the brand.

Interestingly, if it doesn’t work, it’s easy to start over, give up, and try something different on a Facebook page.  So the general idea is to keep trying something until it starts clicking with your target audience.  Very little harm is done if you fail at first.  Just reiterate and move on.

5.  E-COMMERCE
It works.  People make very good money at it.  Search engine placement for the right keywords is money in the bank.  In fact, it is reoccurring money that keeps on coming in.

This is so true that those that are involved in successful e-commerce can’t help but laugh at those that are trying to make money in social media.  Both e-commerce and affiliate marketers look at social media and just smile, as if they know something the others don’t.  (It’s kind of amusing to watch, actually.)

Several of the attendees of Pubcon are clearly making good money and are happy to just pick up a few tidbits here and there and get to know the others that are doing the same.  There is much less effort into trying to “look cool” and “be in the forefront”, as is seen in the other conferences.

Search engine marketing combined with e-commerce and/or affiliate marketing is not a hobby.  It’s an income stream.  And it works.  It really does.  (But please don’t tell anyone.  Smile.)

6.  THE FUTURE OF SEARCH ENGINES
In many ways, the future of how search engines will work is already here.  When you type something into Google or Bing, you don’t just get 10 links anymore.  Those days are mostly over.

You get what is called “universal search”, which means the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) shows videos, news, realtime (twitter), images, local info, and other things.  You need to take all this into consideration.

SERPS are also taking more “unstated signals” into account.  They try to determine where you are, what else you are already interested in or like, who your friends are, and what device you are using (PC, mobile phone, tablet, or even television).

7.  WHAT GOOGLE THINKS
Matt Cutts (the voice of Google) gave a presentation, but others spoke about Google as well.  Overall, I get the impression that Google is scared of Facebook because of the data they own and won’t share.  (What you like and who your friends are – often referred to as your social graph.)

Google also is very aggressively pursuing mobile and television.  (Duh.  It’s where the true growth and money is.)

Google is also admitting that spam is starting to increase within their SERPS.  Therefore they are soon going to start taking an even stronger attack against spam, buying links, and other inappropriate activities that they feel promotes the wrong sites.  They are already rewarding the larger brands over smaller ones.  Several noted this.

Matt specifically encouraged all webmasters and site owners to claim their site in Google Webmaster Tools and turn on the flag that allows Google to email them when they note something of concern.

8.  SOCIAL MEDIA vs SEARCH ENGINES
This is a topic that I brought up to some very interesting people in my conversations.  It seems as if several in the “social media” camp believe that the two may eventually combine and/or social may start taking away from search engines.

In my conversations with several very smart people that know both industries well, there seemed to be agreement that this just plain is not true.  It won’t happen.

Social is good for hearing from and learning from your friends.  Ask your followers on Twitter what they recommend.  Check Facebook to see what your “social graph” likes, etc.  But when you want to do the research yourself and/or follow up to determine how you feel, you almost always end up back at Google.

I had this very conversation with Tim Mayer after his keynote on the future of search.  I also had a roundtable discussion (at a literal roundtable at lunch) with Brett Tabke, Warren Whitlock, Brian Carter, and a few others on this. 

After thinking a lot about this, I firmly believe that search engines are here to stay.  Social media is here to stay, too.  And although they may assist each other a little, they are never going to combine.  Nor are they ever going to cannibalize the other.  That’s my opinion and I’m sticking with it – for now.

9.  VIDEO AND MOBILE ONLINE
These are by far the two biggest and hottest topics in all of the Internet right now.  Period.  Both of these are much greater opportunities, easier, and more powerful online than anything else, including social media.

How’s that for a bold statement?

If you are not starting to create videos and are not at least staying informed of what is happening with smart phones, you are totally missing the bus.  The time is RIGHT NOW to get involved.  The wave is coming and it’s time to get in front of it.  No joke.

10.  LOCAL MARKETING
For the past six years, local marketing online has always been the next big thing and right around the corner.  I feel that it’s actually true this year.  The growth of mobile phones, combined with the effort both Facebook and Google are putting into this makes the claim more believable this year than ever before.

Then again, we said that last year, and the year before that, and the year before that…   You get the picture.  We’ll just have to wait and see.

IN CONCLUSION… 
(Sorry for the long post.)

1.  Pubcon is great.
2.  Go buy Scrapebox for keyword research
3.  Use more negative keywords in AdWords
4.  Don’t be afraid of marketing in Facebook
5.  Don’t let people know that e-commerce makes real money
6.  Realize that search engines show more than just websites
7.  Don’t bother trying to spam Google
8.  Learn how to market in both search & social
9.  Start jumping into Video and Mobile right now
10.   Local marketing is about to take off (maybe)

PS:  I have another post ready to come out of me about the true state of Search Engine Optimization and those that practice it.  More about that later.  Stay tuned.