As the year finally comes to an end, I asked each “Thunder Cat” to share one thing they’ve learned in 2012 that will still be useful in 2013. From social media rants and email productivity tips, to marketing revelations and local search recommendations, there’s a ‘lil something something in here for everyone! We’re looking forward to an amazing 2013, and can’t wait to learn more with you in the new year!
Brave New (Media) World | Annu Subramanian
Journalists have flocked to social media, and some of the best ones use it often. News breaks on Twitter daily, the press is able to interact with sources through Facebook and today, anyone can report on what’s happening.
But as the media strive to become more real-time, it will be the task of news organizations online to fully — and seamlessly — integrate with social media. Nationwide, print papers are folding and their online counterparts are becoming a principal means of information sharing.
What does this all mean for the media? Stop with the hokie social media tactics, get quicker at sharing existing content online and make digital marketing strategy part of the business strategy. Until the press fully appreciates that and applies the same techniques companies are using to boost traffic, their readership won’t grow and their revenue will flag.
2013 can also mark an important moment for the citizen journalist. We’ve seen through sponteneous, watershed events worldwide that regular, press credential-free people are sharing crucial information — and beating reporters to it. Now, it’s time for news organizations to engage with citizen journalists in ways that go beyond questions on Facebook posts to increase click-through rates.
I’d like to see 2013 be the year that, through search and GPS technology, reporters alert interested citizen journalists to breaking news, and commission them to gather immediate information. Whether through Facebook, Twitter or FourSquare, a tool that notifies proximate people and seeks their aid in news gathering might just offer more colorful reporting with an on-the-scene presence.
The term “reporter” is changing, and we can only benefit from more information. Let 2013 be the year the press fully embrace that.
Oh, How the Mighty have Fallen | Brian Skarin
In 2013, I predict that Facebook will finally lose its death grip on the world of social media marketing. While it will remain relevant for big-name brands and products that generate consistent, interesting content (think Redbull, GoPro, Apple). The days of seeking out “likes” as a relevant, useful strategy for many businesses that simply have no place on Facebook are numbered. With the introduction of paid post promotions as well as the general inability to connect “likes” and shares directly to ROI, I hope to see fewer businesses utilizing the platform and creating a page “because someone said we need a Facebook” and rather, focusing their online efforts in ways that reflect their audiences’ needs as well as their brand’s.
Don’t Get Lost in the Shuffle | Georgia Hitchcock
If your 2012 was anything like mine, you probably spent a lot of time playing catch up. There was just so much to keep up with and so many updates like Pandas, and Penguins, and Bears… (Oh my!), that something as simple as responding to an important email could have been lost in the shuffle.
Enter my new best friend: Boomerang. Boomerang for Gmail is a Firefox or Chrome plugin that lets you take control of when you send and receive your email messages. There are 3 main perks to Boomerang:
- Schedule an email to be sent later. – What? You don’t want people to know that you are working at 3am and responding to their emails in the middle of the night? Then schedule it to go out at a more acceptable hour.
- Set a follow up reminder. – Clean out your inbox without forgetting about important emails. Just set a time for the email to be returned to your inbox so you can respond to it when it’s more convenient for you to do so.
- Remind you to follow up when you don’t hear back from someone. – This is my absolute favorite! How many times have you responded to an important email and then figured “Well, it’s in their court now” and totally dropped the ball on something because you never heard back from them? With Boomerang you can select to be reminded if nobody replies or regardless. Don’t let any more messages slip through the cracks!
Happy New Year and Happy Boomeranging!
Genuine Outreach is Key | Hutton Marshall
In a recent SEOmoz Whiteboard Friday video discussing outreach through email, one of their tips stuck out to me, and I’ve found it very effective in practice. In the video, emphasis was put on personalizing outreach, which will show whomever you’re outreaching to that you’ve taken a sincere interest in them personally. Doing an extra five minutes of research about the person or company your reaching out to, and tailoring your message accordingly, can greatly affect how the person or company responds. Even avoiding generic phrasing such as “Dear sir or madam” can make a big impact. To me, this is key in order to differentiate your outreach from generic mass emails, which are often dismissed as spam.
Earning vs. Building Links | John Bertino
Considering my roll in business development, I spend most of my time speaking with potential clients about Thunder SEO’s online marketing services. In 2012, I invested quite a bit of time into reeducating or perhaps re-engineering our prospects’ ideals on what link building has come to mean and how we (SEOs and businesses collectively) need to begin to think of it more as link earning than link building. Since our approach to the process tends to focus on content marketing and is heavily integrated with social media marketing efforts, the link building/earning process requires much more actual integration with a client’s internal marketing team and overall marketing strategy. As a result, an upfront understanding of what we are doing, how we are doing it and why we are doing it is really necessary to get everyone on the same page and to properly frame a potential client’s expectations going into a service agreement. I’ve found this video to be a tremendous help in getting the message across but this still assumes that the client will invest the necessary time to actually watch the video. I certainly don’t expect Google to radically redefine how it values links in 2013 and so thisreeducation process projects to continue for the foreseeable future.
Tend to the Red-Headed Stepchild | Lindsay Mineo
Google has been working feverishly to get all the kinks worked out with Google+ for businesses (and believe me, there are kinks), but it’s poised to be a monster in 2013. Get the ball rolling now and incorporate Google+ into your social campaigns. I promise you’ll see the results in local search next year.
Get to Know Google Webmaster Tools | Max Thomas
Watch Google Webmaster Tools in 2013. This previously under-served Google product has really ramped up its functionality and features.
One highlight that stands out: View all indexed content for the past year in Health >> Index Status >> Advanced (tab). Now website owners can see the change in indexed pages and any dramatic drops (which might indicate an issue that needs attention like slow servers, blocked URLs, etc.). The same chart also shows the change in pages “Blocked by robots” and “Not selected”. There’s so much more to love in the new Webmaster Tools (check out the integration with Analytics). I’m expecting 2013 will bring even more useful and impactful features.
Another great feature of Google Webmaster Tools is the ability to “Submit to Index”. Ever made a title tag or content change and didn’t want to wait for Google to get around to recrawling and indexing the change? Now you can get near real-time updates to your indexed pages in Google. Go to Fetch as Googlebot, then Fetch URL, then Submit to index.
Treat Yourself Like a Client | Monique Pouget
Sometimes, you’re so busy worrying about pleasing your customers, you forget about yourself. You’re buried in emails, you have dozens of meetings all week, your team is working on strategies that you have to oversee, and you couldn’t possibly think about doing one more thing that doesn’t benefit the immediate bottom line (or your sanity). That’s where you’re wrong. I recently read a fantastic post by Moz’s CTO, and found a quote that totally sums up my feelings on this very conundrum: the times when you feel like you don’t have time to step back and reassess are exactly the times when you should.
In 2012, Thunder started treating Thunder like a client, and it was the best decision we’ve ever made. We ramped up our blog efforts, started pitching to conferences to build the brand, collaborated with other marketing superstars on projects and posts, founded and organized two San Diego SEO meetup groups, established mission and vision statements, and sent our very first email newsletter greeting. We’re even hosting Mozinars for SEOmoz in early 2013…dreams do come true!
In addition to growth in site traffic, we’ve made new friends, learned and experimented with new strategies for our clients, pushed ourselves further than we ever imagined, and defined what Thunder SEO means to us. Can you imagine what’s to come in 2013? I’ll give you a hint: A whole new Thunder SEO web experience! More on that soon.
So my advice is nothing technical, it’s not a tool, and it’s pretty simple…but it sure is important. Treat yourself like an important client, and everyone wins.
Commit to a Mobile Strategy | Phoebe Wong
With the millions of smartphones used around the world, 2012 is truly the year of mobile. We all know that tablets and smartphones are here to stay, but this is the year that their impacts are really hitting home in the world of web design. With the fact that 55% of American adults access the web thought a mobile device, and the prediction that “mobile searches will surpass desktop searches by 2015,” everyone is being forced to adapt to this new environment IMMEDIATELY regardless if you are ready or not. All websites now have to work across different platforms, from a 27” desktop to a 5” cell phone.
To cope with this challenge, designers and developers offered two solutions, which everyone talked about this year: Mobile Websites and Responsive Design. We discussed the difference between those two earlier this year, so which one is better? No one can say yet. This web challenge is still very new, and people are still exploring the solutions. In 2013, we should look forward for these solutions to be more standardized and perfected. Who knows, maybe there will be a third solution to the equation. Let’s discover!
To learn more:
Here is a very interesting article that discusses the 2012 presidential race, and their web design choices in a very interesting way.
Here is an article that shows you the different dimensions you should consider for your mobile-friendly website.
Keep Your Local Search on Lockdown | Shawn Massie
Darren Shaw and David Mihm published the best citation sources for over 50 large US cities and your company should be on all 10 no matter what. If you sign up for Whitespark Local Citation Finder (Darren’s service) you can also get access to the top 70 sources by industry.
Building an Authentic Social Brand | Tati Torres
Lots of companies are still trying to create and build their social media presence, but one thing most people always forget is that social media brand pages and campaigns should be only a plus in their overall marketing plan and mix. In fact, mixing and integrating both strategies, inbound and outbound, actually increases the chances of positive results at the end of the day.
In order to do it right, you must build a social brand just like your offline brand. Every company has a logo, default colors, photography and typography and most importantly, a personality. When creating your social media brand profiles, you can’t forget who you are and what message your brand wants to communicate. Just like any other marketing campaign, it needs to be consistent with your other marketing efforts.
So, before launching your brand on social media platforms, ask yourself these three simple questions:
- How can I integrate the brand’s look & feel in the social media profile page?
- How do we usually write and speak about ourselves in other marketing tools, like our website?
- Which brand personality attributes fits the conversation on this social media platform?