Facebook and the Never Ending Quest for Privacy

October 15, 2013

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                    return to JayVee Media Link LLC

Facebook has changed its privacy policy yet again. It was only a matter of time after the platform rolled out its Graph Search feature; nevertheless, a large percentage of the platform’s users are concerned about how they may be impacted.

As of last week all Facebook profiles are searchable. Previously they could be set so they did not show up in search. That capability has been removed for all except minor users in order to augment graph search’s ability and accuracy.

Importantly, graph search will continue to honor the privacy settings we configure for our timeline posts. And any person we have blocked will still be unable to see our profiles.

Facebook privacy shortcutsFor those who wish to retain as much privacy as possible, the best defense is to be more vigilant than before regarding profile settings. We must set them as we desire, and then check them often. Facebook’s continuous changes commonly cause a shift in those settings. Sometimes they are reset when we share others’ posts that were originally shared publicly.

Facebook post privacy settingsTo be safe, we must get into the habit of looking at the privacy setting of every status update we share before hitting the post button. The setting can be changed after we share, too. But it is best to look beforehand. It takes but a couple of seconds for an unintended reader to save our information if he/she so desires. We lose control over our post if that happens.

How do you feel about your personal Facebook profile being searchable? Will it affect your behavior on the platform? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Google’s Link Scheme Changes Mean Changes for Us

September 16, 2013

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                        return to JayVee Media Link LLC

When Google makes changes we all need to take notice.  And Google has recently made changes to reinforce its new emphasis on quality content creation.  In fact, its new decrees are forcing a shift away from formerly acceptable methods of traditional link building; thanks to the modification those strategies may now land our sites in the penalty box.

The target of Google’s recent changes appears to be bloggers who sprinkle their posts too liberally with keyword rich anchor text links. In the past such a practice was a good way to attract inbound links.  Writers would guest blog on other sites, or create online ad copy that was stuffed with niche related keywords.  Then they would turn those keywords into links back to their own websites.  Ideally, interested readers would click those links, and voilà!  Inbound links would be earned, increasing traffic to the writers’ own sites.

Google link building scheme screen shot

Google’s recent changes reflect a new perspective on this formerly acceptable practice.  It now apparently views the strategy as more of a scheme, and will penalize websites that use it to increase their visitor traffic.

content crownThe answer to this shift is to adjust our content to reflect Google’s emphasis on quality creation.  Google wants us to build links, but via the natural route: the higher the quality of the value we impart, the more our readers will want to visit our sites.  So we need to concentrate more on readability, word flow and informational value, and less on keyword stuffing and rich anchor text links.  We can also boost our website traffic via other Google approved methods such as our Google Plus and other social media profiles, and registering our businesses with location services.

Do you think Google’s link scheme changes will facilitate the growth of website traffic for businesses?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!

The Importance of a Well Written Blog – and 6 Tips to Make it Stand Out

spotlight from February 20, 2012                         return to JayVee Media Link
by Jeanine Vecchiarelli

typing a blog

blogging away!

In social media marketing, everyone knows that the blog is the life blood of an online presence.  Without an intelligently written, interactive blog site, would-be internet marketers are merely floating along in a chasm of vast, unresponsive cyberspace.  How else do you get your message out there in a way that connects with potential clients?  How do you build the trust factor and earn credibility?

Of equal importance to the blog itself is the manner in which it is composed.  With few exceptions, we fool ourselves if we believe we can sit down and bang out a quality piece in the blink of an eye.  We need to acknowledge that proper construction takes lots of time and repeated self-editing.  Here are six tips to help get us pointed in the right direction:

  1. Get a feel for the right length as you organize your thoughts into a usable sequence.  You are not going to attract hordes of readers if your posts are long-winded and rambling.
  2.  Show your human side.  No one likes to read a detached, uninspiring passage.  Potential clients have no idea who is behind the keyboard at the other end of their internet connection.  Being able to inject some personality and humanity into your writing will put your blog readers into a comfort zone.  And the more comfortable they feel, the more their trust in you and your brand is likely to build.
  3. Make sure you deliver quality content.  The best method for building trust and respect is sharing value from within your field.  Educate your readers; impart helpful tips and share instructional information that they can take away from your posts.  The more value you deliver, the more trust and confidence you instill.  The more trust and confidence you instill, the more repeat and referring readers you will create!
  4. Include pictures, and be sure to use alternate text and to caption those pictures with optimized text.  Not only are photos attractive to a reader’s eye, they help break up the monotony of reading an ongoing stream of words.  As an added bonus, in this age of Pinterest, you can spread your blog more widely by pinning its related pictures to your boards on that platform!
  5. Post short videos.  The best way for blog site visitors to get to know you is to have them see and hear a message directly from you.  While video blogging, or vlogging, has been popular in the past, this year it is ESPECIALLY so!  Videos don’t have to be masterpieces of production.  In fact, the more informal ones tend to do best among viewers these days.  There’s nothing wrong, and perhaps everything right, with recording yourself sitting across the table from your camera,  having a brief, intimate chat with your audience.
  6. Watch spelling and grammar!  This is BIG.  There is probably no faster way to rob yourself of respectful consideration than by having potential clients read a professional blog that is full of misspellings and grammatical inconsistencies.  Take the time to get it right!  Have a dictionary and thesaurus (or the URL links to them) handy while you write.  Keep your wording interesting by making use of synonyms instead of repeating the same terms ad nauseum.  Make sure subjects and verbs agree in tense as well as in singularity/plurality.  Lastly, read and then reread your post before publishing it.  Take the extra few minutes to make sure your presentation is completely professional.  You won’t regret it if you do; you just may if you don’t!

Like it or not, the blog is THE way we communicate across the worldwide web.  Whether we are announcing business promotions, sharing helpful pointers, making new connections or teaching lessons, the blog is the vehicle by which we get it done.  Learning to appreciate the form and giving it the creative respect it requires will go a long way toward achieving success in our online connections and transactions.

Have you any additional tips to offer?  I’d love to hear them!  Please share your ideas in the comments section below!

I think, therefore I blog

Like Swaps – A Worthwhile Exercise?

August 26, 2013

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                  return to JayVee Media Link LLC

Facebook thumbs up and Twitter follow buttonsFacebook like swaps and Twitter mutual follow invitations often pop up on various social media platform threads.  Born of the desire to swell the number of likes and follows on our business pages, the strategy is simple enough.  You like my page and I’ll like yours.  While the numbers do rise, how effective is this popular strategy?

From where is the like swap invitation originating?

The first thing to consider when weighing whether to partake in like/follow swapping is the origination of the invitation.  It often originates generically; e.g., in a LinkedIn group specifically formed for that purpose.  Other times the invitation is extended through well established social media authorities who do so in a good natured gesture to help followers build their own pages. The value of like or follow swap invitations can vary widely depending on their sources, since their origination is a likely predictor of subsequent behavior after the likes and follows have been swapped.

Will the like continue to add real value to your page?

Facebook like thumbThe answer to this question depends on what happens after the Facebook likes or Twitter follows are exchanged.  Does all activity end there?  Or is an effort made to take an active interest in each other’s page, adding additional value in the form of post likes and comments?  This is where the real value is imparted.

Like/follow swap invitations that are extended by well known social media authorities tend to include folks who realize that adding ongoing value to each other’s pages is weighed much more favorably by ranking algorithms than just having a higher number of page likes/follows.  These folks take the time to follow up at least a couple of times a week, visiting the pages they have liked/followed to take advantage of engagement opportunities.  In return, most see the same effort expended on behalf of their own pages. 

Is like swapping worthwhile?

The answer to this question is yes…and no.  I would advise against joining generic groups unless you know the members engage with each other’s pages afterward.  I have tried a couple myself, with the stipulation that engagement should be as reciprocal as the like or follow itself.  In every case I ultimately left the group due to lack of any activity beyond the physical like/follow.

Twitter follow buttonIf you are interested in partaking, it is best to do so when invited by a reputable professional in the social media field.  Again, these folks tend to have followers who are better versed in how to maximize the benefits of this strategy.  Make a reference list of the pages you like and follow, and visit them throughout each week.  Look for opportunities to engage, and watch for reciprocal behavior on your own page.

Are you considering/already engaging in like/follow swapping?  Please share your thoughts or experiences in the comments section below!

Hootsuite: A Brief Overview of an Amazing Social Media Tool

August 19, 2013

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                        return to JayVee Media Link LLC

“What exactly is Hootsuite?”  That is a question I have been fielding lately, particularly from new coaching clients.  Here is an introductory look at the social media tool.

Hootsuite owlHootsuite is a tool that simplifies a user’s social media experience by allowing virtually all duties across a multitude of platforms to be enacted within one easy to use dashboard. When a person signs up for the service he/she configures that dashboard by securely adding user names and passwords for any or all of the following platforms he/she uses: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Plus, FourSquare, YouTube, Instagram and Tumblr.  A WordPress blog site can also be added.  After configuration, one user name and password allows the client access to all his/her social media accounts, eliminating the need for continuously signing in and out of them individually.

Hootsuite dashboard screen shot

Hootsuite allows users to monitor activity on their social media platforms, and to post to them. Posts may be shared immediately, or they can be scheduled for release at a future time and/or date.  They can be easily edited and even deleted from the scheduled streams.

Another great feature of Hootsuite is its built in URL shortening service.  When sharing links to Twitter we can’t afford to have our 140 character maximum be taken up by long URLs. Furthermore, they are unsightly even on platforms that allow unlimited characters for posting.  We need only paste our long form links into Hootsuite’s status box, click “Shrink,” and a much more manageable version is generated and inserted into our posts.  As an added bonus, Hootsuite tracks the short links it creates. This puts the analytics for what we share right at our fingertips.

Hootsuite link shortener feature screen shot

Two features that help keep Hootsuite close by for easy use are its mobile app for our smart phones, and its Hootlet plug-in for our desktop/laptop browsers.  Both are straightforward, fully functional and very easy to use.

Hootsuite mobile app and Hootlet browser plug in screen shots

Hootsuite offers three levels of service.  Its basic level is free for use by one client, who can add up to five social media accounts.  Its Pro level allows the integration of up to 50 social media platforms, and one “team member” to assist in management duties.  The entry Pro level costs $8.99/month, but add-ons are available if a user needs to handle more for expansion of his/her social media business presence.  The final level is Enterprise, which is for big businesses with large staffs and much to oversee.

As users grow their social media presences they may find useful the more advanced features Hootsuite offers.  They may, for example, wish to configure platform streams to allow for monitoring of specific groups or keywords, including mentions of their companies.  Undoubtedly they will also want to take advantage of the tool’s integrated analytics for research and reporting.

Have you tried Hootsuite yet?  What is your impression?  Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below!

How to Run a Facebook Business Chat

August 12, 2013

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                  return to JayVee Media Link LLC

Business owners have been experimenting with chats on Facebook since the platform unveiled a “reply directly to comments” feature earlier this year.  Facebook is rumored to be testing a group chat element as well as a formal chat room; in the meantime, business owners have been organizing them right on their page timelines, using the reply feature as the vehicle to drive the chat conversations.

How does one organize a Facebook business chat?

The most efficient method of setting up and executing a successful business chat on Facebook entails the following steps:

1. Pick a compelling topic.  It can be a trending issue; how to accomplish an objective; advice on completing a given task; a crowd sourcing exercise; a troubleshooting session.  We might even crowd source for a topic!  Whatever we choose should be something about which many people would be motivated to chat.

2. Keep in mind our specific goal(s) while choosing our topic. Do we wish to promote a new campaign? Increase engagement on our pages? Grow our reach? Add their contact information to our mailing lists?  Our chat sessions should be guided in a manner that leads to or incorporates our goal(s).  That may well mean designing a special landing page to which our participants can be directed.

3. If our chosen topic will require an expert’s participation, line up that person to be sure he/she is available for the chat.

megaphone amplifying sound4. Give LOTS of advance notice, and share it widely.  Spread the word across Facebook personal profiles and business pages; other social media platforms on which we maintain presences; and even email messages.  The earlier we advertise our upcoming chats and the farther we spread the word, the greater the turnout we are likely to see.

HubSpot Facebook chat advance notice5. Create large, eye-catching graphics to use in advance notice postings.  Be sure to incorporate the chat’s specifics in text right on the picture, including topic; hosting page and its URL; day, date and time; and featured expert guests, if any. Check out this example of an advance notice announcement HubSpot shared for one of its Facebook chats!

6. If possible, enlist another person to help watch the comment stream for both our guest experts and ourselves.  Anyone who uses Facebook’s comment reply function understands that tracking those replies as well as new comments can become confusing.  Some may be accidentally overlooked if we fail to scour the whole thread constantly. Also, monitoring the streams helps us to keep track of questions/comments we may not have time to answer. We may wish to follow up on those afterward with links to additional resources.

7. End with a specific call to action. Perhaps we would like our participants to download a discount coupon. Or we may wish to send them to a specific blog post for more information. Maybe we have invited them to download an ebook. Whatever our intentions, we need to wrap up our chats by directing participants to take a specific action. Remember the special landing page we discussed in step #2?  This is where it will be put to use.

Facebook business chat recap example8. Share our chats after they conclude so others who couldn’t participate may benefit from the information that was disseminated.  The more important and relevant the value received, the more likely those folks will make the time to attend our future chat events!

Here is a great example of a graphic announcing a Facebook chat recap for sharing, and here is the link to the actual post!

Have you hosted a Facebook chat?  If not, are you considering doing so?  Please share your thoughts/experiences in the comments section below!

Building Blog Visibility – 6 Tips

August 5, 2013

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                     return to JayVee Media Link LLC

bullhorn overflowing with blog postsYour blog post is done and ready to ride the internet wave.  You used a great title; seeded your keywords judiciously; included a couple of compelling graphics; hit your message concisely.  You release it…and it is promptly swallowed up by the mind numbing horde of other blog posts released at the same moment.  How do you cut through the noise to get your content found?

The first thing to understand is that unless we are already established blog creators, even well optimized content will not necessarily get found right away.  Like so much else in the world of social media, ranking takes time to build.  It takes time physically for the search engine bots to find, crawl and index our sites and web pages.  And it takes time to build a trust factor between those search platforms and the websites they are working to rank.  Unfortunately, these factors are out of our control.

What we can do

We can work to facilitate those search bots’ discovery of our content and websites.  Here are six steps we should take:

1. Write consistently, even if it means delivering only one post per week.

2. Make sure the information shared is of the highest possible value for our target audiences, and presented in a professional manner.

3. Use keywords, but use them judiciously.  “Stuffing” our posts with them will result in rankings penalties.

4. Work hard to come up with blog titles that virtually scream to be clicked.  Titles should never be afterthoughts; they are the gateways to our wonderful content.  The more clicks our titles generate, the more search engines will take notice!  For excellent tips on creating killer titles, see Anne Reuss’ wonderful post “You Can’t Afford Not to Write Bewitching Headlines.”

5. Share widely, across all social media platforms. And include sharing buttons with blog posts so readers can easily share them as well.

6. Google authorship screen shotSet up Google authorship for our posts.  This creates a link between our blog posts and our Google Plus profiles, and adds our thumbnail profile pictures to the meta descriptions of our posts when they show up on Google search.  Rob Henry shared easily understandable directions for the procedure in his excellent post “How to Set Up Google Authorship.”

I’ll note here that promoting our posts is also a good way to gain visibility for them.  But it should be understood that doing so lends a temporary bump which ends with the termination of the promotion.  So even if we plan on promoting we must still do the SEO work to build overall longevity for our posts and websites.  Staying power is the goal, after all!

What additional tips can you add to help boost our blogs’ visibility?  Please share your ideas in the comments Google botsection below!

Facebook Insights – New and Improved

July 29, 2013

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli           return to JayVee Media Link LLC

Facebook recently announced that it is rolling out new, more detailed insights for business pages.  The new layout should greatly assist us in our analyses of what is or is not working on our pages.

For starters, the “People Talking About This” (PTAT) metric will be broken down into more specific readings.  The number used to reflect a generic whole in a more overview fashion. We will now be able to see details, including how many people liked our pages, the number who clicked on and/or liked particular posts and who commented and/or shared them.  Also, page interactions such as mentions, check-ins and tags will be noted in the new Insights.

Facebook new insights general overview screen shot

The “Virality” metric has been changed to “engagement rate” in the new version of Insights.  This moniker reflects Facebook’s move to include post clicks in the measurement.  Surprisingly, they were not factored in previously, even though the virality metric was considered a reading of overall quality of page posts.

Another very useful improvement in Facebook’s new Insights is the more comprehensive level of per-post analytics.   Each one will now feature a score card type of layout, obtainable when we click on the name of a post we wish to examine more closely.  The number of people reached will be listed, as well as the exact numbers of likes, comments and shares.  Precise numbers of views and link clicks will also be enumerated.  Additionally, negative activity will be included in the new Insight metrics.  We will now see how many times specific posts were hidden, reported as spam, or even resulted in page unlikes.  These improvements will allow us to determine better than ever before which of our posts generate the most positive activity.  Armed with this knowledge we will be able to produce more of a similar type to grow our followings and engagement.

Facebook new insights post score card screen shot

The final change – for now – to Facebook’s page Insights has to do with the demographics metric.  It currently breaks down by gender, age and geographic location who among the population we reached with our posts.  With the update we will also get to see who among all those folks we have engaged with those posts.  What a wonderful way to see which types of content resonate with what segments of the population, so we may be better able to target our messages!

Facebook new insights demographic reach screen shot

Are you looking forward to using the new Facebook Page Insights?  Which part of the new metrics do you feel will benefit you the most?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!

See also:  Facebook Studio’s Updating Page Insights

Keepass – Keeping Your Passwords Safe

July 22, 2013

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli             return to JayVee Media Link LLC

Passwords are a big memory challenge for every person who uses the internet.  Every online bank account; each online merchant account; every blog site, social media platform, etc. requires a password.  Each one should be different, and every one of them should be changed frequently. Ideally, they should contain mixes of numbers, upper and lower case letters, and symbols. And they should not be easily ascertained strings like children’s names, birthdates, anniversaries, etc.  It’s all very important for security reasons, but it is enough to cause sleepless nights.  How to cope?

Keepass is a wonderful free app that takes the weight of password issues off our shoulders. It is a portable (it doesn’t even need to be installed), savable database that is entirely encrypted to NSA top secret standards.  While the app itself is completely offline, it can synch across PC and mobile platforms via Dropbox or any other synching service.

Keepass master password screen shot

Keepass holds all URLs, user names, passwords, and notes for every one of our applications that require guarded entry.  A secure master password that we develop opens a home screen where we may begin setting up our databases.  We need only input each of the platforms/services we use along with our user names.  We can then either input our passwords or have Keepass generate random ones based on the criteria we give it for length, character inclusions, upper and lower case, etc.  We can also configure the app so our passwords expire after a specified amount of time, thereby bolstering security by ensuring frequent changes.  Inputting the URL of the sites which require our passwords makes accessing them from within the Keepass application as easy as clicking the generated link.

Keepass add entry and password generator screen shots

Upon clicking to our desired platforms we need only double click on our user names within KeePass.  That action copies the information to our clipboards, where it remains for about 10 seconds.  Within that time we need to paste those user names into the appropriate fields on our platforms.  Repeat the process by double clicking on our passwords in KeePass and pasting in the appropriate boxes for passwords on our platforms. Done!

New users who would like to learn more about the application can take a look at this wonderful KeePass tutorial.  It is great for easy reference while setting up our databases.

Have you tried KeePass?  What do you think of it?  Please share your feedback in the comments section below!

Keeping the Social in Social Media

July 15, 2013

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                     return to JayVee Media Link LLC

100 dollar bill with twitter and facebook logos“How many Facebook fans will you promise me?”  “Can you get me 3,000 Twitter followers by next month?”  Questions like these illustrate two issues: 1. business owners who don’t understand how social media works; and 2. an invitation to be hoodwinked by the less ethical in the field.  Let’s examine the first issue in order to prevent falling for the second:

What do I want from my social media platforms?

Businesses maintain social media profiles for several reasons:

1. to build followings – Yes, numbers do matter.  But the way we build those numbers, and more importantly, the quality of those followers, matter more than the mere numbers.  Ask any business owner with a successful social media presence what he/she prefers: a large number of fans who are invisible on the page except for their places in the fan count; or a smaller number of fans who spend lots of time on the page, interacting, asking and answering questions and being brand advocates.  Hint: ranking systems take much more notice of page activity than of fan counts.  In fact, high fan counts with little or no activity can actually work against rankings.

face with x over mouth2. to foster client relationships – I shudder when I see business profile pages configured to prevent fans from posting to them.  That defeats the entire purpose of social media!  Businesses build loyal followings and strong referrals by interacting in a social manner with their clients and prospects.  That means more than just one way posting of news and product/service pitches.  Businesses that maintain consistent presences, actively listening, engaging in dialogues, welcoming and promptly addressing customer service issues show the online world how attentive and concerned they are for the satisfaction of their clients.  There is no purpose for having profiles if this activity is prevented.

I find most businesses that configure their pages to prevent interaction do so to avoid negative postings.  But dealing quickly with such issues turns negatives into huge positives.  Here’s another point to consider: there really isn’t a way to prevent irate folks from complaining about companies on the internet.  There are plenty of other outlets available for them to use. Wouldn’t it be better to have these folks bring their issues directly to those companies – where other fans can see them resolved quickly by business owners who really care for their clients?

3. to drive sales – Businesses ultimately maintain social media presences to achieve their unified goal:  driving sales.  The quickest way to stifle this goal is to broadcast constant pitches.  People use social media to be social, not to be sold to.  Hence, this goal is accomplished by sharing great value that benefits fans and followers, and again, by encouraging and participating in conversations, listening attentively and showing genuine concern for their satisfaction.  Getting to know prospects and clients in this manner yields the benefit of identifying their readiness to make purchases.  Messages and activities can be fine tuned to each level of preparedness.  All these undertakings unleash the power of social media to guide clients and prospects down sales funnels to successful transactions.

Gaming the system

Open trenchcoat with Wanna Buy a Like sign insideThe power of social media marketing is unleashed when it is done correctly.  Business owners who comprehend all that needs to be undertaken also understand the fact that it is a slow, steady process.  It takes much time and effort to build solid relationships that yield trust, loyalty and brand evangelism.  Anyone who comprehends these facts also realizes promises of 3,000 Twitter followers or 1,000 Facebook fans in one month are pure folly.  At best falling for these claims won’t improve business at all; at worst a sudden swell in numbers without accompanying interaction will work against the business’ page ranking.  It’s always best to remember the old adage “Slow and steady wins the race.”  Think marathon, not sprint.

person hawking bought likes is vanquishedAre you harnessing the true power of social media marketing?  Which best practices are you employing to build trust and loyalty among your fans and followers?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!