Social media for recruiting and retention – five tips to get you started

I had the pleasure of presenting this morning at the Florence Melton Adult Mini-School Directors Conference in Ashkelon, Israel. What a great audience! It’s such a pleasure to have an energetic group that’s as interested in learning and asking questions as I am in teaching and answering them.

I hope I hear from many of the participants again – there’s only so much one can cover in a short presentation, but I know this group has some fabulous opportunities when it comes to marketing themselves online.

If you’re interested in learning a little more about using social media as a tool for recruiting and retaining students, you can view my presentation below.

Get Started: Five blog post ideas to market your small business

Image credit: techiemania.com

When you decide to dive into blogging, the plain white screen in front of you can be a bit intimidating.

What should I say? How do I start? Do people really want to read about that?

Good question. A good blog will look different after six months. It’s a development process. You’re in infancy now, you’ll go through a gawky teen period with every conceivable social bookmarking icon and changing themes as often as your retainer color, and evolve into a functioning adult. [Read more…]

Three tips before you create your Facebook page

facebook fan page tips, facebook fan page tutorial, facebook fan page how to, create facebook fan page, facebook pages for business, change facebook page nameFacebook pages for business are a useful marketing tool. Their benefits range from increased interaction with fans, a way to offer avid customers unique content and deals and overall branding that can help your product or service spread virally with the help of happy clients. A recent study has gone as far to attach a dollar value to each fan for consumer brands on Facebook – $136.

Unfortunately, many of Facebook’s tools aren’t as well documented as many marketers would like. While there are myriad choices for improving your Facebook page and brand strategy, avoid these three stumbling blocks before you begin.

Choose your name carefully – you can’t change it later

What’s in a name? A lot – especially when it comes to dominating Facebook search for key terms. As Nathalie Klein reminded me after a related Facebook page post, you can’t edit the name of your Facebook page. Once it’s created, your only options are deleting the original page (and losing all of your fans) and creating a new one. Take a minute to choose carefully when registering the new page. [Read more…]

How do I delete our Facebook fan page creator?

facebook, fan page, admin, remove admin, remove creatorChange must be in the air – we’ve received this question (paraphrased below) three times this week at askp3@pixelpointpress.com.

We have a Facebook fan page for our business. The employee who created the page left our company recently and no longer wants to be listed as an administrator on our page. Also, our company isn’t comfortable having her listed as an admin since she’s no longer held to our guidelines, etc. How can we remove her as the administrator?

Are you sitting down? There’s good news and bad news. The bad news can be a little hard to take.

You can’t delete the page creator.

From Facebook’s Help section on Pages for Businesses:

Q. How can I transfer Page admin rights?

A. There is currently no way to take away admin status from the creator of a Page.

Ridiculous, right? You build up a page with thousands of active fans and the VP of marketing who created the page leaves the company. Your options are to leave the person as an admin or to delete the page. Not a good choice.

Fortunately, the page creator can delete themselves assuming that another admin has been added. To remove yourself as the administrator of a page you created:

  1. Log in to Facebook.
  2. Navigate to the page.
  3. Click Edit Page on the upper left side beneath the page logo.
  4. Scroll to the Admins listed in the left column. If there is only one admin listed, add another. You must be friends with the person you select as an admin.
  5. Click Remove Admin to remove yourself as the administrator of the page.

What’s the solution for companies creating pages?

  1. After the page is created, add another admin. Have the original admin remove themselves. Now, since the creator is no longer attached to the page, no one “owns” it and all admins are on equal footing.
  2. Always have more than one admin in place.
  3. Ensure that you have social media guidelines in place before creating a page. The guidelines should stipulate a procedure for the handover of all accounts, from social networks to media outlets and third-party tools such as HootSuite and TweetDeck.

As Facebook’s Terms of Use prevent you from having multiple personal accounts or having a business registered as a personal account, there isn’t a way, within the rules, to avoid the “creator owns the page” issue. The issue becomes even more complex if the company hires a social media company to do the page building process for them. When hiring a company, ensure that the contract stipulates how the accounts will be managed, transferred and maintained, especially when the monthly retainer ends.

Got questions? Send them to us at askp3@pixelpointpress.com and we’ll feature them in a future post.

Understanding SEO, SMM and PPC – a gardener’s analogy

What’s SEO and what does it do? Do I need it? What’s PPC?

Those are some of the most common questions I’m asked when I begin working with clients small and large. Let’s start by defining them:

  • SEO means Search Engine Optimization In short, this is getting a site to rank better in search engines using techniques that are both technical and marketing oriented. Some SEO is performed onsite, other aspects are performed offsite.
  • SMM means Social Media Marketing Though this is a broad category including everything from blogging to YouTube to Foursquare and all of the social networks, we can understand it as using social tools on the web to foster interest, engage our target market and ultimately achieve goals – whether those goals are brand awareness, fundraising, sales, thought leadership, etc.
  • PPC means Pay Per Click Advertising! The most common PPC campaigns are through Google AdWords, and this group is also commonly known as SEM or Search Engine Marketing, as many of the ads appear among search engine results.

Did that solve all your problems and answer all of your questions? All ready to go and handle your web marketing? No?

Let’s work with an analogy to understand how these various marketing tools can fit your needs.

Imagine you’ve just moved into a new home, built from the ground up just for you. Now, it’s time to plan your garden. Your budget is tight, what with the new mortgage and all, but you know what you can afford and what results you’d like to see. You want to invest in things that will grow over several years, but you’d also like things to be pretty this summer. And you want to bring a bit of the garden back inside with you, so some herbs are in order. Grab your trowel and gloves and let’s get working.

SEO & Apple Trees

Your first purchase is an apple tree. This tree might cost more than all of the other plants and flowers in your garden, but it’s worth it to you because you’re in this for the long haul. The small sapling doesn’t look like much now, but you understand it’s an investment. That said, it’s not as simple as dropping this glorified twig into the ground and letting it fend for itself. You have to maintain it and meet its basic needs, with water and a bit of fertilizer if you want to go the extra mile, but you know it will in time bear fruit. It takes a few years to mature. Unless it contracts a disease, your fruit tree will continue to provide you with tasty treats. If you really want fruit now, you’re going to have to buy a mature tree.

Search Engine Optimization is like an apple tree. The time and money invested in optimizing your website will continue to bring you results for as long as you have the site. Barring major changes in the way that search engines rank sites (and these changes do occur), SEO doesn’t expire and often costs less to maintain – as long as it gets a healthy start. Unfortunately, like our apple tree sapling, SEO doesn’t bring results overnight. Although technical and marketing changes can make vast improvements in site ranking relatively quickly, SEO is a cumulative – it may take months to see clickthroughs from targeted traffic while the site’s rank continues to rise for relevant search terms. If you want the ranking associated with a powerful domain name, your best bet might be to buy that domain name – but it can get costly quickly.

Social Media & Basil

While you love your garden, you really enjoy bringing a bit of the outdoors back inside with you. You want a close relationship with Mother Nature – and for you, that means fresh herbs for the dinner table. To that end, you’re growing basil.

Though you’ve started from seeds, cultivating each plant, it doesn’t take too long before you’ve got some leaves to harvest. But, if you really like basil and want to enjoy it more often, you’re going to need quite a few basil plants. If you took all of the leaves off of one plant as soon as they were large enough, you’d kill the plant. But if you have five plants and harvest them in rotation, you’re going to have vibrant plants and a steady supply of basil. That means having to buy more seeds and growing more plants at the start, even though by the end of the season you might have more basil that you bargained for.

To further complicate matters, there are several types of basil available and you’ll need to know which plants will give you what you’re looking for – depending on if your goal is pesto or spicy Thai food.

Social media tools are like basil plants. Each network has a niche that it’s best suited for and some media types work better than others for different markets. To get the most out of it, you need to know which tools will help you achieve your goals.

While social networks don’t take as long to develop as search engine optimization ranking, they do take time and commitment – if you pester the first people to join your Twitter feed or Facebook page by constantly begging them to invite their friends or retweet your posts, you’re going to kill your following. Grow your network slowly – and, dare I say it, organically – instead of paying for leads or spamming your potential clients.

If you want to cast a wide net and see results more quickly, you will have to invest more resources initially. This might mean employing a wider array of social networks and media sites to create more entry points for potential followers. The downside here is that you might eventually have more interaction than you could anticipate – which means more to manage.

PPC & Snapdragons

The basil and the fruit trees are all lovely, but your basil doesn’t have any flowers and your sapling is healthy but doesn’t have the immediate eye candy you were looking forward to this summer. In short, you need cheap flowers and you need them now.

You might want snapdragons. Very colorful, with a relatively low cost and short life span. They’re annuals, meaning that they won’t be around to flower next year, but that’s okay by you. You just need something nice to show your mother-in-law this weekend.

While you’re going to put some money into pretty snapdragons, you’re not going to blanket every speck of open soil with them. Their value and beauty are fleeting, so covering the backyard with them would be a huge waste of your budget.

Keyword-based advertising (pay-per-click campaigns) are like the annual flowers in your garden. They provide results right now and have a relatively low investment cost as compared to maintaining social media projects or site-wide search engine optimization. Unfortunately, advertising only works while the ads are in place – once an AdWords campaign ends, your premium slot on content networks or search results pages evaporates.

Finally, to dispel a myth, purchasing advertising through Google does not increase your ranking in search engine results. Those results are organic and cannot be bought.

What do you need in your web marketing garden? It depends on what results you need and when you need them.

Ask P3: Using WordPress to build a website with a static home page

Answering your questions on social media, search engine optimization and wordpressI’ve had the pleasure of teaching a month-long course for small business owners and marketing executives that demonstrates, hands-on, how to use WordPress to build and manage a complete website. My students have some amazing projects and continue to amaze me with creative uses of WP’s content management tools and excellent questions about usability and SEO. I’d like to share a common question about WordPress.

I installed WordPress on my domain and added a template that gives my site the look and feel of a business, but my home page is still my most recent blog posts. How do I create a real home page?

It’s a common question when you start using WordPress as a full-out CMS instead of blogging software (or in conjunction with a blog). Although it’s been answered elsewhere, I’ll also cover it here.

Note: Some themes automatically shift your most recent blog posts to another page without taking the steps below, so you might want to check if your theme supports this option before you start working.

If your theme is a standard theme that defaults to recent posts, here’s how to create a static page for your home page. We’re using Mystique for this example.

Log into your WordPress dashboard. Under your Pages menu, click to add a new page. The WordPress editor opens.

We’ll create the home page first. Add a title and any content that you’d like to appear on the new, static home page.

Creating a static home page in wordpressWhen you’re finished, click publish. Of course, you can always make changes later.

Next up, let’s create a page to hold all of our blog posts.

Under your Pages menu, click to add a new page. The WordPress editor opens.

Add a title for your blog page – “blog” is a good choice, but you might also consider “recent news” or “latest updates” depending on how your target market feels about the credibility of the dreaded B-word.

Unless you want content to appear at the top of the blog page above the posts, you’ll want to leave this section of the site empty.Creating a blog page for your WordPress siteWhen you’re finished, click publish.

Now let’s tell WordPress which page goes where.

Selecting a static home page in WordPressUnder Settings, click Reading to display the Reading Settings for your WordPress site. The default setting is that the front page displays your latest posts. Instead, let’s click the radio button for a static page. We’ll set our front page to Home and our posts page to Blog (or whatever name we chose).

You can also change the number of posts the posts page will display (the default is 10) and the number of posts that will appear when folks subscribe to your RSS feed (again, the default is 10). You can show your RSS readers the full text of each blog post or a summary – there are pros and cons to both options, but we’ll save that for another blog post.

You can also change the encoding of your blog pages and feeds. Unless you know that you need to change it, you’re best leaving it set to UTF 8.

After saving our settings, let’s go to our site and see what we have.

Our new static home page in WordPressAnd now, let’s see what we get when we click on the Blog page.

Our new blog subdirectory page in WordPressLooks like we’re all set!

Delete extra home page link in WordPress themeBut, what if your theme has a link to Home hard-coded into the header? When you add a Home page, you might end up with two home links in the header. If we apply the Jarrah theme, we end up with two home page links.

Although there are a number of different ways to fix this, learning how to exclude pages from your navigation is a handy trick, and we’ll use it here.

In your Dashboard, click under Appearance > Editor. Click on the right-hand side to edit the header.php file.

Although every template is a little different, we’re looking for the part of the code where our theme creates our top navigation. Where our code says

wp_list_pages(‘title_li=&depth=2&sort_column=menu_order’);

we want to change it to

wp_list_pages(‘title_li=&exclude=’);

where we’ll add the page numbers that we want to exclude from our navigation. In this case, our home page is 2, so our code will read

<?php wp_list_pages(‘title_li=&exclude=2′); ?>

Remove home link from top navigationWe’ll save our changes and refresh our home page to see the change.

To determine what the page number of any given WordPress page (or post), you can mouse over the page link in the page editor. From the Dashboard, select Pages > Edit. When your list of pages loads, mouse over the page title link and the page number will appear in the bottom left of the browser window.

Page link preview in WordPress edit pagesOf course, if you’re not using SEO-friendly permalinks, you can just navigate to the offending page on your WordPress site, but you really should be using SEO-friendly links! That’s another post for another time.

Three steps to improve your SEO

Social Media 1-2-3It’s been awhile since our last Social Media 1-2-3 post. For that, I apologize. We’ve been crazy busy here at P3. December is a jam-packed speaking, moderating and attending circuit for us. For me, being out of the office and away from the organized nature of my desk aren’t conducive to blogging.

This week’s post is on SEO. While you might think search engine optimization isn’t related to (or – gasp – necessary for) a successful social media campaign, you’re missing out on a crucial opportunity to draw in more relevant web traffic.

Finally, you might also think that SEO is for super-guru-expert web developers only. To be sure, there are aspects of SEO that would befuddle the average blogger, but the big picture is well within your grasp.

With that said, let’s look at three simple steps anyone can implement.

Keep it human friendly

If you take one grain of knowledge from this post, it’s this: what’s human friendly is also SEO friendly. It’s true in every instance I can think of – quality of content, ease of navigation, site speed, etc. Google serves human beings and it’s in their best interest to direct their incoming search traffic to sites that are human friendly.

What can you do to keep your site user friendly?

  • Write content that you would enjoy reading and keep it clearly organized using headings
  • Keep your site clearly organized using categories and tags
  • Create sitemaps – one in HTML for real people, one in XML for Googlebot (not using a CMS? you can still create a sitemap here)
  • Keep the navigation simple – real people don’t enjoy clicking through six levels of navigation to get to your sterling prose

Increase your incoming links

Give potential visitors a good reason to visit your site multiple times, comment and even share your content. Provide your would-be visitors with content that offers value (without heavy marketing jargon) and they’ll be more likely to share the link with others. Since Google and other search engines place a high value on the number of incoming links from other high-quality sites, increasing your incoming links (known as inbound marketing) is a great way to raise yourself in search results.

What’s the best way to regularly update content in a simple, SEO-friendly format on a website today? You’ve got a handful of options, but the easiest is probably a blog. Post new content on a regular basis. Find other bloggers that are covering similar content or reaching out to the same target market and comment on their blogs. While it might seem like a simple strategy, it’s also very effective and easy for anyone to do.

Avoid duplicate content

Have you heard this one?

You’re a new blogger. A friend has been blogging for years. In order to help you get some additional traffic when you first start blogging, your friend copies your first blog post and posts it over on their site. A link at the bottom tells readers to “visit this site for more great blog posts like this one!”

While it might seem like your friend did you a kind favor, the reality is that they hurt your SEO. Duplicate content appearing on multiple sites is a no-no for SEO. In short, you’re in competition against your friend for ranking on the same blog post. Since your friend’s site is older, has more incoming links and likely more content, you’re going to lose.

Avoid posting duplicate content on multiple sites. Although SEO experts disagree on how dramatic the impact might be, the general consensus is that it’s to be avoided whenever you can.

Three simple, non-technical tips can go a long way toward improving how Google sees and ranks your site.

For more specific tips on how to optimize a site built with WordPress, don’t miss Joost de Valk’s excellent post and presentation on the subject (and thanks to Rebecca at Illuminea for sharing the link to the presentation on Twitter).

For more technical (and frequently comic) tips directly from Google, don’t miss the Google Webmasters Channel and more info from Matt Cutts on Twitter.

Ask P3: Should I share the same content on multiple networks?

Ask P3


This week’s question is a common one we’ve come across when clients begin using multiple outlets for their content.

I’m using Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook (fan page, group and my personal account) to promote our site and the content we post on our blog. We also use YouTube for video. When I post a new video to YouTube, should I share that video on the blog too? Should I post the link in Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn? We have a lot of overlap on the social networks and I’m afraid people will get sick of seeing the same content in three places.

Thanks for your excellent question! In short, my answer would be yes. But, we need to take a look at how content gets shared to understand the reasons why.

Let’s say you’re in charge of marketing, including social media, at a software company. You’ve decided to give it a shot and created a company blog. You blog regularly and get some good traffic, but you’re always looking to get more impact for the time you spend creating content. To gain a bit of exposure, you start sharing your content on three networks – Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. When you’ve got other content, you post it to a media-based site like YouTube, Flickr or SlideShare. So far, things are going well and you’re getting some success at engaging users, having posts go viral and converting a fair share of your new traffic into sales. In short, your social media is a success.

But you have this nagging worry that some of your geekier clients – stalkers, if you will – are getting the same barrage of content on multiple sites. You’re worried they’re going to get sick of you and stop sharing – or worse, stop using your software.

Not to worry – it’s not likely. While a user might connect to you on any multitude of formats (RSS from your blog, Twitter and Facebook, a fan of your YouTube channel), it’s unlikely they’re paying attention to you in each venue. Even though many of your users might be using all of the same social networks, they aren’t using all of them the same way.

Think about how you share content. When you see something you’re eager to share, do you run to Facebook or Twitter? Do you “favorite” things on YouTube and SlideShare or do you email the link to your friends (or share the link in another network entirely)? Are you active in social bookmarking sites like Digg and Delicious? No matter your answer, the point is this: you probably aren’t doing every one of them for every story that catches your eye.

Now let’s get back to your users. Even when the same story hits RSS, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, your users are going to share and spread it a little differently depending on their particular way of sharing content. By leaving out one network, you take a chance that someone who prefers to share in Twitter is going to copy and paste your link from Facebook, if that’s their preference for sharing. While it may not sound like much, it’s added work for a user – and a chance you may not want to take.

There’s another factor when it comes to sharing the same content – something akin to six degrees of separation. Although you might be connecting directly with the same people in Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, the people that they’re connecting with might be different. With the goal being that your network shares your content, the potential market you reach once you get a few steps removed from your original post might be dramatically different from network to network. Let’s look at a diagram to illustrate our point.

How networks share content

How networks share content

To be sure, there’s going to be some degree of overlap in each level of connections – this is especially true if you’re target market is B2B. That said, by the time my contacts have shared my content with their contacts, I’ve already reached a huge market I couldn’t touch directly. In this way, even a small but dedicated following within a social network can have a huge impact and reach well beyond their limited numbers with a valuable message.

Three steps to getting started in Twitter

Social Media 1-2-3

Social Media 1-2-3

twitter introduction, getting started twitter, new user twitter, twitter tutorialThe social media world is still abuzz about Twitter. How can simple 140-character messages help you to inform and interact with your target market?

Here are three steps to get you going with this potentially powerful marketing tool:

Step One: Create your account: It might seem obvious, but you’re going to need a Twitter account (and possibly more than one – even if you plan on tweeting from only one). Head over to Twitter.com and get started. When possible, use your real name as your Twitter handle (the @username part). Then add your real name so that others can find you easily. Use a password that’s tough to break and an email address you check frequently.

It’s a good idea to let Twitter check if your friends are already online by comparing your email contacts. You can also check in with other folks you’re connected to in social networks. It’s your choice whether or not to follow the celebs that Twitter suggests, but might help you get a start following some folks that tweet regularly. Once you’re finished registering your account, it’s time to finish editing your settings.

Click the Settings link. Inside settings, you have six tabs:

  • Account
  • Password
  • Mobile
  • Notices
  • Picture
  • Design

We’re going to edit your account, picture and design. When you get some free time down the road, it would be good for you to check out the others as well.

Under account, check the information and update your time zone (unless you are in Greenland). Add the web address to your site or blog. Add your location and language. For your bio, try to write a short and witty synopsis of you, what you tweet, what you do and why someone might be interested in you. It’s social media, so it’s okay for your bio to be creative – remember, you’re trying to connect with other real people. When you’re finished, click save.

Under picture, we’ll upload a small snapshot of you so people know who’s tweeting. Try and pick a tightly cropped shot since you’ve got a small window to fill. And despite how cute they are, use your picture – not your kids, your pets, or your cartoon avatar. We want to see you. When you’ve added your photo, click save.

Under design, it’s time to get creative. Your best bet is to create a custom background using of the many tools available on the Web. Make sure your background has your Web address – Twitter is even more successful when it’s used as a tool to get people back to your home base on the Web. When you’re finished making changes, click save.

Step Two: Connect with others: Now you’re ready to get going. You can fire off a few introductory tweets, but you might want to try and make a few connections first. Start by finding folks that you know are on Twitter – allowing Twitter to compare your email contacts and other networks is a great way to start. Look for any friends you know are using Twitter. When you find someone, click Follow to begin seeing their tweets in your Twitter stream.

Search for other contacts by using the search field on the right side of your Twitter site, looking for keywords that interest you. Take a spin through the trending topics and see if any tweets jump out at you.

When you’ve got a handful of folks you’re following, see who they’re following and who else is following them – chances are higher that they’re legit (meaning they’re not spammers) and that they may share some similar interests with you.

Tip: Don’t be surprised if you have some followers before you have sent out any tweets. Some might be spammers – if so, you’ll want to block them and report them to Twitter – but others might have found something of interest in your bio, your location, or might have matched their own email contacts with your address.

Step Three: Share great content: Why would someone want to follow you in Twitter? Because you provide a resource, a wealth of information that interests them and that they can share with others. The absolute bare minimum should be a 50/50 balance in content. Half of the time, you need to share content that is useful but in no way self-promotes or references your marketing interests. Half of the time, you can gently lead your audience into articles, posts, or other links that cast you in a favorable light. Anything more heavy handed quickly becomes, to borrow a term from Chris Brogan, social media’s version of carpet bombing. Become the go-to person on the Web for all information in your focus area – whether it’s thought leadership within your industry or reasoned commentary on news events of a particular bent – and you will get followers who appreciate your work, share your links and are eager to interact.

We’d love your feedback on our new series – Social Media 1-2-3 – here on the blog at Pixel/Point Press. Don’t miss last week’s article on drafting a social media strategy. And come back next week when we look at three common Twitter terms explained: retweets, DMs and hashtags.

To read more articles in this series, please bookmark this category.