Last week, I was in New York City for BlogWorld (disclosure: I co-organize the Social Media Business Summit track at BlogWorld). It was my first time in New York City, so for me, this particular trip was as much about the landscape and environment as it was about the content and the conference.
That said, I sat in a number of outstanding sessions at BlogWorld. And, while I took away at least one nugget from each session I participated in, there were a handful that were extremely useful and relevant for my world.
Below are 8 key takeaways from four outstanding sessions at last week’s BlogWorld:
Develop personas for you blog
Lee Odden gave a great presentation on the intersection between search and social. But, he also talked about some blogging best practices. Among them: Developing personas for your blog. Think about who you’re trying to reach—and create a complete description of this person. Is it a middle-aged housewife who’s tech-savvy? Is it a teen who spends upwards of 40 hours a week on his smart phone? Whatever the case, take the time to develop these personas (there may be more than one for your blog). By identifying these ideal readers, it will help you identify keywords (and what keywords THEY are searching for relevant to your brand) and encourage more relevant content.
Go beyond the basics when optimizing blog content
Sure, you want to think about optimizing your posts with keywords, titles, and tags, but quite often we forget about a number of other critical ways we can optimize our blog content. Remember to include alternate text for images you use in your posts. Use list posts regularly (with links). And this was the biggest ah-ha for me: Don’t forget about “social signals.” That is, star ratings, retweets and “Likes.” All these signals impact your larger SEO.
Create your own Facebook tab—in under five minutes
Two of the more interesting people I met all week were from the same company: WebTrends. One of those fellas was Justin Kistner, who led a session around iFrames and best practices for using the tool to develop useful Facebook tabs. The big takeaway? With iFrames, creating a tab is now a reality for everyone. In under 5 minutes. Just follow these steps:
* Visit www.facebook.com/developers—set up a new app
* Name the app
* Enter the tab name
* Enter the tab URL (the URL you will “point to”)
* Set the tab for the page
* Browse for WordPress themes (make sure it’s 525 pixels wide)
The key to Facebook success: Ask questions
Justin also shared some interesting Facebook statistics. Notably around the items that are the most clicked on by users. Content that focused on emotional stories or provocative, passionate debates were 2-3 times more likely to be clicked than other content. And simple, easy questions were 1.5-2 times more likely to be clicked than other content. While those passionate debates might be tough for brands to get involved with, organizations can sure share emotional stories and ask simple questions regularly. And, since those stories can take a while to find and develop, it’s the simple questions that can and should be posted most regularly. Think about what you could ask your fans. And remember, it doesn’t have to tie directly to your product or service. Think about what your fans care about. What interests them. And build questions around those interests.
Target your existing fans—not potential fans—when advertising on Facebook
Justin shared some interesting findings when it came to Facebook Advertising, too. Most fascinating was that ads to non-fans had an average click-thru rate of just .05% (half industry standard of a banner ad, mind you). Meanwhile, ads targeted at existing fans had an average click-thru rate of 35%. Quite a gap, right? So, I see two interesting points here for Facebook advertisers. 1) Consider using your existing fans as a way to get to potential new fans—in other words, target friends of fans when advertising. 2) Think about Facebook ads as an email list. Facebook ads can be a great way to get your messages, offers and information in front of your biggest fans on a regular basis. On a platform that they’re using. A lot.
Images are the most important part of your Facebook ad
One interesting slide Justin shared featured 9 different images. He then asked the audience which images we belived to be the most compelling when it came to the Facebook ad it was featured on. There were numerous guesses for different pics. Not a single person guessed the image that was the most clicked. Lesson? Test images as much as you do headlines and copy—it is often the most important piece of your ad.
Countering the social media blocking argument
Even though I’ve heard pieces of it before, Shel Holtz gave a great presentation on social media blocking. Surprisingly, a full 54% of companies are still blocking social media. This is an issue I run up against with new clients, so it was helpful to get a few new perspectives on how to counter that claim. Most notably 1) It’s futile—employees don’t need your networks anymore. They have their smart phones and they’re using them to access Facebook any time of day they want. 2) Better decision-making—people’s reliance on the Web-based professional networks has skyrockted the last three years. So, denying these decision makers the ability to access those networks seems counter-productive, right? Why not open them up so staff can ask friends and colleagues for tips, information and best practices? All data they can use to make your business run faster, smoother and more profitably. 3) Employee productivity—sure, we’ve talked about the general concept before, but I’ve never considered the entire scope. Think about staff time working at home and extra hours logged in evenings/weekends. And then ask yourself this: Would productivity really improve by blocking social networks? Or, would employees just find a different way to spend those 30-40 minutes a day they might spend online?
Tips to get your posts seen in the Facebook news feed
Bryan Person moderated a great panel about Facebook news feed optimization. In particular, Chad Wittman from EdgeRank and Dennis Yu from WebTrends had some very interesting tips and information to share. Among the most useful tips: 1) By using third-party platforms like Hootsuite, you decrease your news feed optimization–just a bit, 2) Use Facebook Questions to create discussion, which will ultimately help your question show up in the news feed, and 3) Targeting wall posts by geography can help optimize your content for the news feed–consider testing this for maybe one post a week and see how it works for your brand.
Note: Photo courtesy of the BlogWorld Posterous Blog.