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Stand Out From the Crowd with Unique Content Marketing

October 5, 2013

Photo credit: Flickr user theirhistory via photopin cc

Introduction

A recently published report from Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs noted that 93% of B2B Marketers are using content marketing. Let’s hope you’re not a part of the 7%. With such a high rate of content marketing adoption, competition is fierce. Not only is your content “up against” your direct competitors; you’re also fighting for attention against all other B2B marketers.

Let’s say your content is about marketing automation, while another piece of content is about Hadoop. If your reader chooses to read the Hadoop article and forgets to return to your marketing automation piece, then you’ve “lost” that mini-battle. In this piece, I’ll cover tactics you can use to stand out from the crowd. Since everyone’s doing content marketing, you need to attract attention by being unique.

Create a perpetual motion machine of content.

Consider the top content marketers. They’ll publish multiple times per week on their blog (some may even most multiple times per day). They’ll create new videos, white papers, eBooks and webinars each and every month. They publish so much content that readers can’t even keep up (and that’s OK). And, they don’t sacrifice quality for quantity.

Marketers who create a perpetual motion machine of content are unique. And it’s this uniqueness that creates a sustainable advantage for them. Consistently churning out high quality content is not something competitors can easily copy.

Vary your content formats.

Good content marketers re-purpose their content. Great content marketers vary with a purpose. You’ll want to take that webinar and create multiple pieces of content from it: a Slideshare, a podcast, a white paper, a few blog postings (and a little bit of gravy to go on top).

But don’t pigeonhole yourself into a fixed set of media. If you’ve been doing webinars and blog postings for years, plan to do something completely different next quarter. How about a video-based comedy skit? Or a bus tour to visit customers? Maybe doing your next eBook in the form of an audio download (with 25% set to music)?

Marketo did a coloring book. Have a read through this Social Media B2B piece for more on that (and others).

Surprise people.

Each day at work, I either wear khakis or cargo pants (depending on how formal I feel like dressing). I pair a dress shirt with the khakis and a T-shirt with the cargo pants. What if I wore a suit and tie into the office? I’d be noticed and I’d receive comments from at least half of my co-workers (the other half would just think I’m unusual).

If people always expect you to do one thing, then do something completely different, to create attention. So do something that your audience isn’t expecting. Give them free product for a week. Write about a topic you’ve never covered before. Publish something that’s completely unrelated to your business.

Take a stand.

Rand Fishkin, Founder and CEO of Moz, took a stand against Google. By suppressing keyword data on organic search queries (but preserving that data for Google AdWords customers), Google is abusing its monopolistic position, according to Fishkin.

The statement from Fishkin drew a lot of attention. In fact, HubSpot’s Dan Lyons published a blog post with details of Fishkin’s stand, which he (Fishkin) communicated via video (you can find the video embedded in this Moz post).

Fishkin didn’t stop by just taking a stand, however. The bulk of his video informed marketers about how to adapt to Google’s changes. He provided a number of useful tips on how to work around “Not Provided” to infer some of the same data that we used to receive from Google.

So don’t just take a stand for the sake of it. Take your stand, then provide useful information related to it.

Produce and publish long form, ungated content.

Give us useful, in-depth content and “put it out there” for all to see. You’ll still need to produce gated white papers (to drive new leads), but add ungated content to your editorial calendar. A representative from Google once said, “we encourage original, high-quality content, since that’s what’s best for web users.” If your high-quality content is behind a registration page, then Google (and many others) will never see it.

Long form content is a golden opportunity right now: the field is wide open for you to produce useful content that both readers and search engines will love.

For info on how to produce in-depth content, have a look at these two resources:

  1. Search Engine Watch: A Great Strategy to Create In-Depth Evergreen Content
  2. Copyblogger: How to Write the In-Depth Articles that Google Loves

Finally, here are recent examples I’ve come across that are both in-depth and high-quality:

  1. KISSmetrics: How to Regain Lost Traffic with These Remarketing Strategies
  2. Buffer: 7 Big Facebook Changes You Should Know About for a Better Facebook Strategy
  3. Social Media Examiner: Content Marketing: How to Attract People With Content
  4. TOPO: Sales and the Buyer: Why Sales Misunderstands the Buyer
  5. Copyblogger: How a Stay-at-Home Mom Built a Million-Dollar Business

Conclusion

With 93% of B2B marketers doing content marketing, the bar has been raised. It’s no longer enough to produce content. In addition, it’s no longer enough to produce quality content. You need quality plus uniqueness to reach today’s reader. Are you ready to think differently?

Related Webinar

I presented a webinar titled “Content Marketing: 10 Tips in 30 Minutes.” Visit the webinar detail page to view the on-demand replay. In addition, you may view the webinar slides below.

Originally published on the DNN Software blog.

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All I Know About SEO I Learned in Kindergarten

September 28, 2013

Photo credit: Flickr user woodleywonderworks via photopin cc

Introduction

I attended kindergarten at Zena Elementary School in Kingston, New York, where my teacher was Ms. Silvernail. Back then, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) didn’t yet exist. Search engines didn’t exist because the web was not yet invented. Mainframes dominated the computing landscape and PC’s were a decade away from invention.

Despite the lack of tablets, apps and the web, I sure learned a lot in kindergarten. It was my first formal setting with other kids my age and Ms. Silvernail taught us a lot about manners and other social norms. When I look at today’s “white hat” SEO strategies – that is, those that follow search engine rules and guidelines and focus on the “human audience,” I see a lot of similarities with the concepts I learned back in kindergarten.

Let’s consider how kindergarten helped give me the foundation for today’s SEO practices.

Respect authority. “Listen to what the teacher says.”

Prior to kindergarten, we learned to respect the authority of our parents. In a school setting, we had to learn how to respect our teacher, along with other authority figures at the school.

With SEO, the search engines are authorities who hold a lot of “power.” In fact, they determine your effectiveness, in the same way that teachers determine your grades. For optimum results on Google, for instance, a good first step is to use Google Webmaster Tools.

Google will use this tool to send you “Messages” about your site’s availability, as well as instances where it suspects that link spam is pointing to your site. If a teacher asks you to sit up straight, you do it. If Google finds link spam pointing to your site, you investigate and resolve it.

“If you get something that’s not your’s, give it back.”

A classmate hands me something that’s clearly not mine. I’d tell Ms. Silvernail, explain that it’s not mine and she’d take it away from me. There’s a similar arrangement with SEO. Let’s say Google finds links to your site that violate their quality guidelines. You’ve never heard of the site linking to you and don’t understand why they’d want to do so.

You can use the “disavow links” feature in Google Webmaster Tools: “In other words, you can ask Google not to take certain links into account when assessing your site.” (read more at Google’s disavow links page). For expected turnaround time on the disavow, Google says this:

“It may take some time for Google to process the information you’ve uploaded. In particular, this information will be incorporated into our index as we recrawl the web and reprocess the pages that we see, which can take a number of weeks.”

“Play within the rules.”

Whether it was in the classroom or on the playground, we played by Ms. Silvernail’s rules. If we strayed from the rules, there were consequences to pay. Google has posted its own rules: a detailed Webmaster Guidelines that includes a number of sections. Pay close attention to the “Quality guidelines” section.

Also, have a look at a useful video from Google’s Matt Cutts regarding the Google Penguin 2.0 update, which deployed on May 22, 2013:

Alternatively, read a summary of the Cutts video, posted by Search Engine Land.

“No cheating.”

Truth be told, I can’t recall whether the concept of cheating surfaced in kindergarten (for me). But it was certainly introduced during elementary school. Google has a page detailing link schemes, which “includes any behavior that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site.” Carefully review the “forbidden” practices listed in this article. And know that for SEO, it never pays to cheat (Ms. Silvernail said so).

“Be honest. Say what you feel.”

We were taught to be honest in kindergarten. The web, on the other hand, has seen shady practices that were implemented to “game” the search engines. For the most part, these practices are no longer effective: keyword stuffing, unnatural anchor text, etc.

Write content for your audience (of human beings) and not for search engines. Write clearly and “say what you feel.” Read your page content aloud to confirm whether it sounds natural. Search engines now reward quality content over “crawler optimized” content.

If you’ve been punished, correct bad behavior and let the teacher know.

Let’s say your website traffic fell off a cliff. Perhaps you can trace it back to May 22, 2013, when Google deployed Penguin 2.0. Just as in kindergarten, you work on correcting the “bad behavior,” then let the teacher know.

While a teacher explicitly tells you what you did wrong, the search engines aren’t nearly as direct. So the biggest challenge may be identifying the (perceived) bad behavior. Titan SEO has a good article on the “road to resubmission” that lists things to investigate. The article notes that after correcting issues, you can submit a reconsideration request to Google.

Conclusion

While the details of search engine optimization may seem complex, they’re based on principles that we learned in kindergarten. Follow guidelines, avoid tricks and be honest. And if you do stray from the guidelines, correct past wrongs to get back in the good graces of the authorities.

Unlike kindergarten, the rules and guidelines of SEO are constantly changing. Google makes more changes in a given day than your kindergarten made all year long. So keep up to date with changes from Google and the other search engines.

And if you’re reading this, Ms. Silvernail, I hereby disavow the free lunch that I received from the cafeteria on the first day of kindergarten.

Related Webinar

Titan SEO did a webinar titled “Google’s Latest Algorithm Update! What You Need to Know.” You can register to view the webinar replay. In addition, we’ve included the webinar slides below:

This post was originally published on the DNN Software blog.


33 Blogging Lessons from Publishing 333 Blog Posts

October 4, 2012

Introduction

I recently published my 333rd blog post here at “It’s All Virtual” (this one is my 334th!).

It’s been a fun ride: thanks for coming along. In December 2012, this blog will turn four years old. So going with the theme of 3’s, I thought I’d share 33 lessons learned over my 3 (almost 4) years on this blog.

33 Blogging Lessons

  1. Blogging is a whole lot of fun.
  2. Your blog will be most effective if you write about what you’re most passionate about.
  3. When you think up ideas, write a few posts at once (rather than one at a time in sequence).
  4. Add social sharing buttons to your blog, so your readers can promote it on your behalf.
  5. Author guest posts on related blogs. It helps drive awareness of your own.
  6. Set aside dedicated, “turn off your devices and email” time for writing your posts.
  7. Place your blog’s URL in your Twitter profile.
  8. Configure you blogging software to tweet the link upon publishing.
  9. Tweet your blog content. Repeat those tweets later on, in case followers missed it the first time.
  10. Always respond to comments, even if they’re negative.
  11. Only delete comments that are obviously spam.
  12. Turn your blog into a book! There are a number of services that will do that for you.
  13. Turn selected blog postings (topically related) into an eBook. Publish the eBook on your blog.
  14. Use your blog as the foundation of your social media activities.
  15. Write once, publish many: turn blog content into videos, podcasts and webinars.
  16. Embed your YouTube videos, SlideShare presentations (and more) into posts. It’s so easy.
  17. Share selected blog postings with family members. They’ll get to know you even better.
  18. Use blogging to discover what you think.
  19. Ask yourself questions on your blog, then answer them. Why? It’s good for SEO. The question you ask yourself is the same term (question) someone may enter into a search engine.
  20. Keep a regular heartbeat to your publishing schedule. A blog that hasn’t been updated in weeks can be taken for dead, even when it’s not.
  21. Another reason to publish regularly: apparently search engines like that, so your SEO will be the better for it.
  22. Join a tribe on Triberr to help promote your posts.
  23. Invite the community to contribute relevant guest posts.
  24. Monitor blog stats regularly to help inform your future posts.
  25. When making cultural references, try to keep in mind that your blog has a global readership.
  26. You blog, therefore you are.
  27. Create a pinboard on Pinterest to feature images contained within your posts. This helps drive traffic to your blog.
  28. Publish contact info on your blog, as you may receive inquiries related to business or job opportunities.
  29. Think about SEO when crafting titles for your posts.
  30. Spend as much care and attention on your title as you do writing the post.
  31. Write your posts outside of your blogging software (I use Microsoft Word), then copy/paste in the text when you’re done. I find that this approach helps me focus.
  32. It’s OK to take a brief vacation from blogging.
  33. But, never stop blogging, it’s great!

Note: I invite you to connect with me on .


Virtual Events In Europe: Best Practices, Learnings And Observations

April 19, 2010

The following is a guest post from Miguel Arias of IMASTE.

In the past months we have delivered a virtual career fair in partnership with Monster.com in various European countries. After a number of successful events in France, United Kingdom, Ireland and Italy (and with the imminent launch of the German version and preparations underway for the Polish and Czech versions), it is time to evaluate the project.

With a reach of over 400,000 unique attendees and more than 200 participating exhibitors to date, the Monster European virtual job fairs have become a very relevant case study about the way virtual events and tradeshows are being hold in Europe.

There are a few issues that I would like to point out:

Market differences within Europe

The fact that each of those markets has a different language is a known fact, which demands a certain level of customisation capabilities in the virtual event platform. This affects not only the code language but also all the 3D environments, interfaces size, fonts, etc.

And some of the countries have many official languages; therefore virtual event platforms need to have “real time” Multilanguage capabilities.

But, there are some other subtle differences that may have a big impact for virtual event production and development. For instance, legal differences lead to changes in the résumé data model and in different levels of integration with the partner´s databases.

Different customer expectations

The penetration and market awareness of virtual events is different in the UK, France and Italy. This leads to relevant gaps in terms of pricing, willingness to pay or expected features for the potential customers in each of those countries. Live interaction seems to be more relevant in UK or France, while an immersive user experience ranks higher in the Italian market.

We have also observed that French companies are keener to virtual stand customisations than British companies. It is difficult to generalise, but there seem to be some trends there.

Different marketing approach

In line with the last idea, the effectiveness of some marketing tools is quite diverse. The use of social media to promote the event has proven more successful in our French events than in other countries, while the effect of SEO/SEM strategies have worked better in UK. There is a need of knowing which are the best specific web traffic drivers of each country, to ensure high quality attendees in each event.

Vendor – client relationship

Since virtual events are “live” events, there is a need of a common trust between the event producer and the virtual event vendor. In order to build this relationship, factors like distance, time zone sharing and face-to-face trainings, meetings and follow up are very relevant.

We hired native country managers in Imaste for the French and British market, and will be doing the same with the Italian and German market in the following weeks.

To summarise, I would say that, the Monster Virtual Career fairs, in spite of being delivered for the same company and being the same type of event, implied an important percentage of adaptation and flexibility in each country. And the personal relations that go with a good level of service, involve a cultural understanding of country related particularities.

I believe that Europe can’t be considered a homogeneous market as the US is. American vendors should take this into account when entering the continental Europe market.

About Miguel Arias

Miguel Arias founded IMASTE in 2003 in hopes of building a bridge between companies and university graduates via live career fairs. Over the years, IMASTE has evolved to become one of the major agents in the virtual trade shows and events market, with successful projects in various European and South American countries

IMASTE is a Spanish company, European leading provider of virtual events, 3D online environments and online trade-shows, which connect, inform and engage visitors and exhibitors. IMASTE´s customized solutions reduce travel costs and are environmentally friendly, while our customers are able to generate leads, networking, increase online sales chances and communicate projects or services globally.

IMASTE has delivered more than 100 successful virtual events for global clients across the globe. You may find more info in http://www.imaste-ips.com

Miguel holds a MEng in Civil Engineering from Universidad Politecnica de Madrid and a Professional MBA from the Instituto de Empresa Business School.

Related links:

http://www.monster-edays.fr/2010/printemps/

http://www.monstervirtualjobfair.com/DEMO/

http://www.fieralavoromonster.it/

http://blog.imaste-ips.com

http://www.imaste-ips.com


Virtual Events 101: Tips For Building Your Virtual Booth

April 13, 2010

Your company is exhibiting at a virtual event and you’ve been assigned the responsibility of building your company’s virtual booth.  You’ve had plenty of experience assembling a physical booth, but never before have you built one virtually.  What’s your first step?  To immediately resist the urge to start the virtual build.

Set/Confirm Objectives & Goals

The objectives and goals for your virtual booth should align with the goals for your company’s participation in the virtual event. If you do not set the direction yourself, be sure to round up the necessary decision makers and have a documented set of goals – publish them internally and be sure that all stakeholders have a copy.  Sample goals include:

  1. Obtain contact information from “X” number of prospects
  2. Generate “Y” number of meaningful prospect engagements in-booth
  3. Yield “Z” number of qualified sales opportunities
  4. Generate “X%” of brand uplift, as measured by “Y”

It’s absolutely critical that goal definition be your first step, as it drives the decisions you make regarding the build-out of your virtual booth.

Content is King

The main elements of a virtual booth are (1) content [e.g. images, signage, videos, documents, links, etc.] and (2) virtual booth staffers.  Your first job is “content curator” – review all content available and be selective about which content you’ll place in your booth.  It all goes back to the defined goals – the content you select should align with the goals.

So if your goal is demand generation, find the same White Papers that your marketing team is using to generate sales leads across the web.  If your goal is driving awareness around a product launch, grab that 2 minute video of your product manager and have it auto-play when visitors enter your booth.  Besides documents in your marketing library, be sure to cobble together useful links on your web site, along with third party articles, blog postings and product reviews that reinforce your objectives.

Booth Labels Are Like Headlines

Content in a booth is typically housed behind a set of “booth labels”.  Your next job is one of headline writer – you’ll want to craft captivating “headlines” for the booth label, along with attention-grabbing titles (and descriptions) for the underlying content items.  You’re like the home page editor for your favorite content site – you need to figure out how to write headlines (titles) that will grab your visitors’ attention.

While you certainly want to avoid the “bait and switch” (e.g. writing a label/title that intentionally deceives), your labels need not literally reflect the underlying content. For example, if you assemble a set of blog postings from your company’s blog, you need not label these “Blog Postings”. Instead, organize the blog postings into themes – a set of postings on best practices could simply be labeled “Best Practices” in your booth.

While I suggest you do not change booth labels while the event is live (that would significantly confuse your booth’s repeat visitors), you’ll want to review the activity reports from your booth to learn from the labeling decisions that you made.  You’ll begin to figure out what worked and what didn’t – and can use those learnings for your next event to more effectively use labels/headlines to achieve your goals.

Use A Call To Action – Not A Declaration

For signage within the virtual booth, I prefer to use a call to action (e.g. “Ask Us Why 2010 is The Year of The Hybrid” above) over a declaration. So instead of declaring, “The world’s leading producer of plastic widgets”, try a call to action, “Ask us why plastic widgets are the new metal widgets”.  The call to action initiates a conversation with your visitors, rather than telling them what they should know.  If visitors enter your booth’s group chat and proactively ask the question stated in your call to action, then give yourself a pat on the back.

Stand Out From The Crowd

You’ll likely have competitors exhibiting in their own virtual booths, which means that a key part of your job is to figure out how to separate your booth (and company) from the crowd.  Greenscreen video (aka an embedded video greeter) has been used at enough virtual booths that it won’t make your booth any different.

Instead, try an offbeat video that’s not yet made its way to YouTube.  Or, how about an avatar of your CEO whose mouth movements are synchronized to the words s/he is speaking.  Perhaps an animated avatar is the new greenscreen.  Thinking further outside the box, how about bringing one of your products to life – personalizing that product to the point where it speaks and delivers a message to visitors.  A good example (in general – not in a virtual event) is the DCX Man character created by Brocade:

Source: Brocade (dcxman.com)

Further information can be found here: http://www.dcxman.com/whois_dcxman.html

Optimize Your Content For Search

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is not the sole domain of your web site or blog – it applies to virtual events as well.  How can this be?  Well, most virtual event platforms provide basic and advance search capabilities – they index all content in the event (e.g. documents, links, Webcasts, etc.) and some platforms even index the contents of uploaded documents.

As a result, keep SEO in mind for selecting documents to include in your booth, along with the labels, titles and abstracts that you use to catalog your booth content.  Taking a step back, be sure to write an SEO-optimized description for your company and booth – if attendees search for a key term and your booth is at the top of the search results, then all is good in the world.

Subject Matter Experts as Booth Staffers

While you’ll certainly want sales reps and sales engineers as booth staffers, it’s critical to work subject matter experts into the staffing schedule.  A visitor who asks specific product or service questions is a hot prospect – and telling that prospect “let me get back to you with an answer to your question” becomes a lost opportunity.  Even worse, that opportunity could fall into the lap of your competitor, whose booth is only one click away.

If you’re a technology vendor, try to have your product manager, chief engineer or event your CTO available within the booth.  While some technology folks may not be comfortable face-to-face with a customer, most feel quite at home in a text chat session.

Optimizing For: Demand Generation

If you’re looking to generate sales leads, cobble up all your best lead gen content – the latest White Papers, Case Studies, product sheets, videos, podcasts, customer testimonials, etc.  Be liberal and selective at the same time – that is, ensure there is a good mix of content choices, but be religious in making sure the content you select aligns with your goals – and relates to the theme of the virtual event.  The beauty of a virtual event is that registration occurs once – but all activity with your content is tracked.  So you’ll have rich activity profiles at your disposal to help you separate the cream of the crop leads from the visitors who came simply to enter your prize drawing.

Optimizing For: Thought Leadership

Are some of your co-workers experts or luminaries within your industry?  If yes, then have them be staffers within your booth!  Visitors will have a natural inclination to engage with them – and they’ll be able to funnel the ripest opportunities to sales reps within your booth.  If your employees have not achieved rock star status within your industry, leverage some of the luminaries to produce content on your behalf.

Perhaps it’s a research report authored by an industry expert – or, a video interview (hosted by the expert) with your CEO.  Better yet, a Webcast within the virtual event that features the expert(s) who provide a presentation prior to your own speakers.  If the experts are available to attend the virtual event, invite them to provide Q&A within your booth, as they’ll serve to draw interest and engagement from visitors.

Conclusion

While much of the logistics occur “online”, building a virtual booth will take longer than you think (if done right).  Be sure to clearly define your goals first – then, make sure your booth achieves those goals.  Take planned breaks from the virtual build to assess whether your booth aligns with the stated goals.  Finally, be sure to study activity data from the live event so you can make improvements for your next event!

Related Links

  1. Browse the Virtual Events 101 Index Page
  2. Download the eBook, “Virtual Events: Ready, Set, Go

Note: I invite you to connect with me on .


To Promote Your Physical Or Virtual Event, Think Outside The Inbox

November 21, 2009

Source: flickr (User: Mzelle Biscotte)

For many, email is a constant stream, an endless loop – we receive too much of it, both “important” emails addressed directly to us and marketing emails that are sent as a result of opting in (or not) to past content, webinars, white papers and marketing lists.  Outbound, push-based email promotions face the following challenges:

  1. Imperfect delivery rates (mail server outages, spam filters, etc.)
  2. Decreasing open rates
  3. Perception of spam – if recipients don’t remember opting in to your list (even though they did), they’ll ignore your email – or, opt out from your list
  4. List fatigue due to overuse of marketing lists
  5. Decreasing click-thru rates (CTR) – once you’ve made it past delivery and open, recipients are clicking less on your embedded offers

Adding to this mix is the fact that many users now interact with brands (and by extension, promotional offers from brands) via their social networks, instead of email.  A user is more inclined to respond to an @reply or direct message (on Twitter) compared to a conventional email blast from a marketer.

Given all this, it surprises me that email is still a primary vehicle for promoting physical and virtual events.  Event marketers have much to gain by thinking outside the inbox.

Social media and social sharing

Your first step outside the inbox should be in the direction of social networks.  Build a presence in social communities and you’ll find that you naturally generate interest and awareness to your event.  Previously, I wrote about leveraging Twitter to promote your virtual event.  As Ian McGonnigal (GPJ) astutely pointed out, those same tactics apply quite well to physical events as well.

In addition to Twitter, consider the following:

Create a LinkedIn Event entry for your event

  1. Create a LinkedIn Event for your event – a LinkedIn Event page allows you to post relevant information about your event on LinkedIn (e.g. date, event content, etc.) – LinkedIn members can then indicate whether they’ll be attending, not attending or “interested”.  This can be quite useful, as folks often attend events based on knowing whom else will be attending.  By creating a LinkedIn Event, you’ll receive the benefit of having LinkedIn auto-recommend your event to other members, assuming their profile is a “match” with the profile of your event.  Members may also utilize search and find your event.  More info can be found on the LinkedIn blog page announcing the Event feature.
  2. Post videos to YouTube – it’s the #2 search engine after all (behind parent Google), so having event videos posted on the site will generate traffic from the millions of folks who visit YouTube.com each day.  Record videos of your host, keynote speaker, group publisher, etc. talking about your upcoming event – if your keynote speaker has a prominent name, your videos will attract interest from users who search on that name.  When you have a critical mass of videos, create a YouTube channel.  About.com has a neat guide on how to do just that.
  3. Create a Facebook Fan page for your event – with a fan page, you’ll generate interest for your upcoming event – and, you’ll build an ongoing community that you’ll be able to continuously leverage!  The All Facebook blog has a nice guide on how to build a Facebook fan page.
  4. Leverage blogs – author a blog posting on your corporate blog – or, if you don’t have one, ask a relevant industry blog site whether you can author a guest posting.  Alternatively, leave a comment on postings from relevant industry blogs with a pointer (link) to your event.  The key here is not to over-promote your event – your first goal is to provide useful and relevant content/commentary with your event being a secondary (and subtle) mention.

SEO and in-bound links

If you pay attention to search engine optimization (SEO), your event page(s) will receive “organic” traffic – that is, traffic that finds you, rather than you finding the traffic (i.e. the “pull” from users searching, rather than the “push” from your email promotions).  Think about the search keywords that you’d want to associate with your event [e.g. when users are performing searches] and make sure the content on your event page is rich in those keywords.

To increase the page rank of your event page, increase the number of inbound links that point to your page.  A few simple ideas:

  1. For all of your social media efforts (listed above), make sure they provide links to your event page – shazam, you’ve just created a number of inbound links
  2. For event staff (especially those with large followings on Twitter), ask them to temporarily point the “web site” URL in their Twitter profile to the event page
  3. Ask partners, associates, even clients to post a URL from their web site(s) to your event page
  4. Add a “Share on Facebook” capability on your event page – this may result in page rank benefit as search engines begin to index Facebook wall posts – until then, what this really does is generate awareness and outreach of your event to users’ Facebook friends.  If a potential attendee visits your event page and shares the page with her 100 Facebook friends, then you’ve just received 100 free advertising impressions

Advertise

Some affordable options to consider:

  1. Facebook advertising – purchase targeted ads on Facebook.  For a physical event, you can target by geography (e.g. starting with users who are geographically close to your event site).  For a virtual event, geography is less important, so you may want to target based on attributes in the users’ Facebook profiles.  You can pay per view (of the ad) or per click (on the ad), so the terms are flexible.  eHow has a good overview on Facebook advertising.
  2. Content syndication – purchase web syndication with online publishers in your industry – get your event listed in their directories, content sites, etc.  They may charge you per click or per lead (completed registration).  Not only can this generate registrants for your event, but it also improves your page rank by generating more inbound links to your event page.

Hopefully I’ve covered a few “outside the inbox” options for you to consider – certainly continue to promote your event via email – however, use some of these options to lighten the load a bit on your email marketing lists.


Popular Virtual Event Blog Postings

November 19, 2009

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One of the most enjoyable aspects of virtual events blogging (for me) is the ability to observe which postings “work” and which postings don’t work.  I’ve come to learn that my intuition is often off – postings that I think will generate a lot of traffic don’t, while postings that I thought were marginal become very popular.

For instance, I wrote a posting on the concept of applying Web 2.0 to webinars – it was one of my better pieces of work, but the blogosphere voted with their mouse clicks and (unless we had an issue with counting / undercounting of votes) it didn’t even scratch the Top 10 list of posts [over the past 3 months].

With social media sharing these days, I found that the biggest factor in which posts receive traffic (relative to others) is how and where a given posting is shared.  All it takes is a few retweets from prominent Twitter users (i.e. with 20,000 followers each) to drive a lot of page views to a particular blog posting.  Or, someone posts your blog entry to a sharing site, such as StumbleUpon or digg – you’ll see traffic spike when that occurs.

Another factor is search engine optimization (SEO) – with some of my blog postings, I referenced people, places, certain virtual worlds, etc. – and received search engine traffic from users searching on those terms.

Examples include: Gregory House, My Little Pony (they have a virtual world), Online Dating, Club Penguin.  Some of those blog postings were marginal at best – but they continue to draw traffic to this day – by virtue of having common search engine terms in their content.

Here’s a listing of the Top 5 blog postings (on this blog) over the past 3 months – as measured by the number of page views:

  1. How To Promote Your Virtual Event On Twitter – the key point in this posting – to be able to best leverage Twitter, you need to work hard to build the right “following” first.  This posting received top billing (of traffic) by virtue of tweets/retweets, along with some postings to digg.
  2. Virtual Tradeshow Best Practices: Top 10 Exhibitor Tactics – written back in May, this is always a popular one – it has a fair number of in-bound links and also gets a lot of search engine traffic.
  3. The Advantages Of Virtual Meetings – I provided commentary around a Forbes Insights piece that presented the case for face-to-face meetings.  This gets a lot of its traffic via inbound links.
  4. Virtual Worlds: Where We Were, Where We’re Going, What Does It Mean to YOU? – a guest post by Linda Holroyd, CEO of FountainBlue.  Linda may not have known it at the time, but her posting is an SEO hotbed – it contains lots of relevant terms related to virtual worlds – and, lists the names of many industry executives and entrepreneurs (and their companies).  So this blog posting receives traffic when users search for those individuals’ names or company names.
  5. Hey Kids! I’ve Got a Virtual World For You – it’s like a boomerang (it keeps coming back) – I wrote this back in January and the posting can still make this Top 5 list of the past 3 months.  The reason?  It’s rich in search-friendly terms (Club Penguin, Webkinz, My Little Pony, Cabbage Patch, Beanie Babies, etc.) – I suppose I’ve managed to extend the reach of this blog to parents, who are performing searches on children’s toys!

So there you have it.  I’d love to hear from you – what’s been your favorite blog posting?


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