• Duo Consulting
    Michael Silverman on October 15, 2014

    4 Reasons Drupal Is the Best Social CMS

    It turns out Drupal and Social Media are a match made in heaven. Because of Drupal’s system of modules, integration with external websites can be as easy as installing a module that fits your site’s needs. And once these modules are installed, you will have a central place to manage profile information and plug-in modules, such as follow and share buttons.
  • More signal, less noise. Start writing awesome blogs that break through and get found with this comprehensive Blogging Checklist for Wordpress and Yoast users.

    You are probably reading this because you know that quality content creation is a fundamental part of your company’s digital presence and overall success. You may also know that a lot of other people know that these days, and the net result is a whole lot of content “noise” (the bad stuff) degrading the “signal” (the good stuff). Understanding that fundamental difference and knowing you definitely don’t want to be part of the noise is half the battle. Next, it’s about choosing and writing about the right topic and then optimizing your post.

    Part 1: Choose the right topic. Write a great post about it.

    Nobody reads “content”

    So how do you go about creating truly effective content? You stop writing “content” and start writing about things you are close to. It’s then that you can offer something of true value, whether it’s based on inspiration, frustration, insight, opinion, or even an experience.  That’s the stuff that gets read. Then, take it one step further and add personality and even humour; that’s the stuff that gets shared.

    Ask yourself…

    • Is this refreshingly interesting?
    • Am I creating “signal” by offering a unique opinion, insight, or something else of value that will push through all of the noise around this topic?
    • Is my own voice and personality coming through to make this read less like a boring textbook and more like a fascinating conversation?

    Make your blog work for you

    While you want to write about a topic that really breaks through the noise, you also have to make sure it ties back to your business goals. Sharing knowledge is one of the best ways you can prove that you are THE expert your ideal client should be talking to.

    Ask yourself…

    • Am I solving a problem for my target market? Bonus points if you solve a problem they didn’t even know existed.
    • Is this timely? Is this insight, analysis, or opinion coming at a time when people are seeking this information and can action it?

    Part 2: Optimize it. Get your blog (and your company) found.

    It starts with the platform

    Blogging can’t stand on its own without a great platform that helps get it (and you) found.  We choose to work exclusively with the WordPress platform for ourselves and our clients. Why? It provides everything we want & need and nothing that we don’t.  WordPress offers a simple CMS that even newbies can use. Not only does it look great, it’s also easily adaptable & expandable, and has built-in SEO tools.

    Here are some easy ways to work on SEO in WordPress:

    • Pick a “Focus Keyword” and include it in the body of your post as often and as naturally possible, as well as in the title.
      TIP: It can be a word or short phrase, and should be something people would naturally type into Google if they were looking for this info.
    • Include images to visually break up the text & give them descriptive Alt Tags containing the Focus Keyword. They help Google decipher image content, and they count towards your total keyword count.
    • Break up your text with headings and use the Header paragraph formatting to make them stand out.
    • Categorize your blog (check off the most relevant Category) and add in 1-4 descriptive Tags (to tie similar posts together). While categories and tags don’t necessarily have a direct impact on SEO, they help readers easily navigate your blog and ideally stay on your site longer.

    Then give it a boost

    Although WordPress generally makes friends easily with search engines, we boost SEO with a free plugin called WordPress SEO by Yoast. It offers comprehensive SEO tools in one spot with a red/yellow/green light indicator to let you know how your SEO is scoring. Not doing so hot? The built-in page analysis tool spots SEO issues to help you bump your score up. Yoast also displays a snippet preview of what your post looks like in Google search results.Yoast

    Here’s a quick Yoast checklist to help you make the most of this plugin:

    • Enter your Focus Keyword
    • Write an SEO title for your blog that is worded in the way someone might type into Google. Include “ – Your Company Name” at the end.
    • Write a short description for your blog in the Meta Description box that includes the Focus Keyword (Sum up your blog nicely instead of having Google pull your witty introduction that doesn’t clearly communicate the whole idea)
    • Save your post as a Draft and check your SEO indicator in the Publish box. If it is green, you’re good to go. Grab a coffee. If you’re seeing yellow or red, check Yoast’s Page Analysis tab to see what you can adjust to improve your score.

    We’ve pulled out these checklist items and put them in a neat & tidy one-pager that you can download here and refer to.

    Good luck with your blog posts!

    ORIGINAL POST

    These 9 methods can seem overwhelming at first but you don’t have to do all 9 at once, ideally one of these methods jumped out at you as something you already love to do but never thought of it as a way of telling your story. Embrace your story and test out new methods and ways to connect your story with your community.

    In my recent blog post “Personal Branding 101: Whats Your Story” I discussed the importance of story telling and understanding what your story is before you worry about building a personal brand. To my surprise many brands and leaders when asked how they can share their stories with their community believe they must give a keynote speech, write a blog post, write a book or produce a video or commercial. Social Media is the perfect platform for storytelling but to do it correctly it’s more than just telling your story with words it’s a compilation of all your digital actions. 

    Just like relationships on social media there is no easy button and to do storytelling the right way you have to have a strategy and play the long game. With that being said that doesn’t mean you have to wait to give a “Ted Talk” to share your story but you also don’t want to be that person that comes across as salesy or forced. 

    With so much noise on social media you must find ways to reach new audiences and capture their attention long enough to share your story. Having a consistent story is vital but equally as important is sharing your story in multiple different formats, on different social networks ideally targeted towards new and unique audiences. 

    Storytelling humanizes the message, is memorable and inspires action! 

    Here are 9 ways to share your story on social media.

    We are in the midst of a social media revolution, where sharing tools are free and fast. Always consider the impact of your actions when you post that Twitter card with an image. Please.

    Tuesday, October 23: At 12:43 today, I watched the tweet stream about the Ottawa shooting with horror. The story unfolding in 140-character bites, complete with pictures and up to the minute snapshots on the scene. Photos of victims, police and journalists are flooding the #Ottawashooting hashtag. There are faces and places in all those snaps. I understand the importance of sharing information on the social channels – this is the collaborative economy and social sharing has enabled the world to be a better place – from fueling revolutions to empowering people for social good. But there is a line to be drawn and it is our responsibility to understand the limits and act with accountability.

    The keyboards and phones in our hands are mini weapons when used improperly. When someone tweets out a photo of a tragedy- consider the consequences. The face of the fallen may be recognized (or mistaken) by a parent. It is the role of the police or hospital do the informing, not yours. When a photo and location of a police or journalist are shared, they are exposed to greater risk in the midst of a crisis. This is where the line of public safety gets crossed.

    Now, the responsibility of photojournalism isn’t entirely on the shoulders of citizen journalists and many missteps have occurred in formal communications channels as well. I recall a particularly awful day in 1994 when my friend, Shannon Lowney and another woman Lee Ann Nichols, was shot and killed by a gunman on New Year's Eve day at the Planned Parenthood office in Brookline, MA. She was the receptionist. It was a truly tragic event. It happened at a time when online was just starting to learn about visual web display. That evening, when I logged into my AOL account, I saw a dramatic and particularly graphic, photo of my dear friend on a stretcher. I wrote an angry letter. “Consider the family! Give her some peace,” I begged. I didn’t hear back from anyone, but still remember that day far too vividly.

    We are in the midst of a social media revolution, where sharing tools are free and fast. Always consider the impact of your actions when you post that Twitter card with an image. Please.

    Google is the most viewed website in the entire world. And while this may not come as a big surprise for those that use Google, it’s quite astonishing when you step back and realize that this site has one of the most simplistic designs on the entire internet. Here are 15 reasons why the Google search page has just three buttons and how it helps the site.

    Google is the most viewed website in the entire world. And while this may not come as a big surprise for those that use Google, it’s quite astonishing when you step back and realize that this site has one of the most simplistic designs on the entire internet. Here are 15 reasons why the Google search page has just three buttons and how it helps the site.

    Minimalist Approach

    With as much as there is on the internet, Google proves that a minimalist approach is best. In this case, less is certainly more when it comes to how well Google works.

    It’s Easy To Use

    Even those who are using the internet for the first time can easily use Google to search for things. With less buttons or confusing things to click on, anyone can learn how to use Google within just a few seconds on the site.

    It’s a Simple Cover For a Complex Platform

    It’s important to not be deceived by how simple Google is on the cover. This search engine offers millions of results in just a split second, which goes to show that you can’t judge a book, or a search engine, by it’s cover.

    It Doesn’t Draw Attention From Anything Else

    Google just wants you to know that you are on their site and nothing else. Therefore, there isn’t anything that is distracting or drawing your attention away from the fact that you are on their search engine page.

    It Looks Better On Mobile Devices

    With as many people that access the internet from mobile devices, it’s important that websites look smooth and are easy to use while on the go. With a simple and easy interface, people can access Google from their phones as easily as they can from their desktop.

    It’s Quicker For People To Find What They Need

    Google doesn’t require that you hit a lot of buttons or search through whatever the results are in order to find what you are after. Instead, there are simply three different buttons to press and you will be given a never-ending listing of results.

    People Can Find Something New

    With the, “I’m Feeling Lucky” button, users can even come across things even more quickly. Instead of waiting for a list of results and then clicking the link, this button allows users to be directed to the most common site when they type in a query into the search box.

    It Makes Instant Responses Easier To Find

    As a user is typing into the Google search box, there will automatically be results listed. Because there are only three buttons on the homepage, it’s easier to move these buttons and list the results that you are looking for.

    It Leaves Room For Creative Images

    Google has always done a great job of implementing creative images on their homepage. These images can be used to commemorate someone or something special, or they can be a way for Google to mix up the typically, “GOOGLE” image that most people are used to seeing.

    It’ll Teach You Something New

    By clicking on the image that is listed above the search box, users will find out something that they never knew before. This helps people to learn more about the internet, as well as the world in general.

    It’s Recognizable

    Google itself is a brand. Just like Pepsi, Nike, or Facebook images are recognized anywhere you go on earth, so is the word, “Google.” By having just that icon, people immediately associate it with the best search browser in the world.

    It Changes The Way That Other Websites Are Built

    Google’s simplistic and minimalist design has changed the way that other websites are designed and built. Other websites now know that they too have to consider a minimalist design, especially if they want to have the same type of success as they have.

    It Allows For Easy Change

    In the event that Google ever wants to change their layout, they can easily do so. Granted, there’s no point in fixing something that has been so successful. However, if they ever wanted to make this consideration, they’d be able to do so since the design is so simple.

    Avoids People Accidently Clicking On The Wrong Button

    One of the most frustrating things that can happen while your online is clicking on a link that you didn’t mean to. This often takes a long time for you to then back out and try to find what it is you are looking for. With the simplicity of Google’s page, you don’t have to worry about accidental clicks.

    They Changed The Way Search Engines Were Created

    Simply put, Google only has three buttons on their website because they wanted to be original and unique. Needless to say, they were successful. They were able to change the way that search engines were created and how the world viewed the internet. But this was only possible through their simplistic design.

    Not every tweet will interest everyone in your audience, and that's fine so the question is what and when do businesses need to Tweet and what are the best practices?

    As a business owner, by now you already know that using social media such as Twitter can give your website or brand a boost in search engine rankings. Indeed, according to some internet marketing experts, participating in social media is not optional but mandatory if you're serious about establishing your brand authority in the field. As a matter of fact, according to Mediabistro one third of people on Twitter follow at least one brand

    So you've dutifully signed up for a Twitter account. Now you are wondering what kinds of things you should post (or "tweet"). If you've also signed up on Facebook, LinkedIn, and/or Google+, you face the same question on those sites, but with Twitter the question is more pressing since the optimum frequency for posting on Twitter is much higher than for other social media -- studies suggest that tweeting at least five times per day gives best results, with modestly increasing gains as you increase the number up to about 20 times per day. With that in mind here is a very interesting article by Simply Measured that gives you more food for thought on how much and when to tweet.

    But the big question I always get is…wait for it…what do you Tweet? Are you supposed to tweet a continuous stream of reminders about your company and its great products and services? Do you post repeated links to key pages on your website? Can that really be what Twitter is all about?

    Why Tweet

    In answering the question of what to tweet, go back to basics for a moment and reflect on your reason for being on Twitter. Some business owners and marketers assume that the main point of being on Twitter is to bring people to your website by tweeting out links to it. However, that by itself is generally not an effective strategy, and it's certainly not the best way to leverage your presence on Twitter.

    Instead, one of your primary purposes for being on social media is to demonstrate to Google and other search engines that you have authority or influence in your field and that people are interested in what you have to say. On Twitter, that means they choose to follow you, or they show their approval of a tweet by clicking, retweeting, or marking it a favorite. So, the goal is to be interesting!

    That's a great start, but it's too broad. You want to be interesting, yes, but interesting to a particular group of people: your target audience. That means your potential customers, right? Absolutely, but don't stop there.

    Whom to Talk To

    Keeping in mind that Twitter is a two-way communication medium; consider not only people you want to deliver a message to but also people who might have something of value to say to you. Thus, your target audience can include not only your potential customers but also colleagues in your profession, peers in your industry, suppliers of materials you need for your business, experts in subjects related to your field, and even your company's competitors.

    As an example, suppose your company produces and sells a line of educational posters used in classrooms. Your target audience definitely includes teachers and school administrators, but also consider students, companies that produce other classroom products, companies that produce educational posters and materials for other contexts such as the workplace or home schools, small printing companies, suppliers of raw materials you need, researchers and educators who provide the kind of subject matter you use in creating your posters, and businesses that offer classroom posters very similar to yours.

    This is a richly diverse audience, but they all find common ground at the niche where your company is positioned. Become aware of what you can pass along that would be of value to these people and businesses. When what you have to say attracts people from each of these groups to follow you, it establishes your reputation across the reach of your domain.

    What to Talk About

    Now that you have a clear picture of whom you'd like to communicate with, you have a better idea of the types of topics you might tweet about. Keeping your target audience in mind, think about what they need to know that you can provide or share. What sorts of news and information would you hope someone would be thoughtful enough to pass along to you? Be the kind of information resource that you yourself would find valuable.

    In that light, suppose you were publishing a weekly newsletter to this audience; what kinds of topics would you include? Relevant stories from the news are always popular, but ask yourself what else you can offer to provide depth, background, or color. Consider any angle that relates to your area of business: articles that give a historical perspective, opinion pieces that challenge common assumptions, observations by noteworthy personalities, the research or technology behind a product, how-to guides, humor, customer comments. All of these will contribute to rounding out your appeal by building a multi-faceted presence.

    You have probably noticed that many of these candidate topics might not mention your company or its products at all. Of course you will want to weave in a tweet about your brand on occasion, but you don't want to talk incessantly about your company on Twitter any more than you would in a casual face-to-face conversation at a networking event you're attending.

    Not every theme will interest everyone in your audience, and that's fine. Just be sure to vary your content so that there's something for everyone on a regular basis.

    Perhaps equally important is what not to talk about. In general, avoid overly intimate or detailed revelations about your personal life; generic topics that have zero relation to your business area; unprofessional digs at coworkers, clients, or competitors; desperate appeals for more followers; and affiliate links. There can be exceptions to these guidelines, but if you stay focused on your mission to provide value to your target audience and to present it in an interesting and professional way, you won't go wrong.

    How to Tweet It

    Now comes the nitty-gritty of how to use those 140 characters in sharing your links and ideas. A tweet can take a variety of forms, and different modes attract different people, so it's good to mix it up. Use an assortment from the following eight categories:

    Link. This is the most obvious type of tweet, where you point to a web page that's of interest to your followers or at least to some subset of them. The link can be to a news story, a blog post, an article, a product description, or a new page on your own website; again, variety is the key. You also need to introduce the link somehow; the quick and easy way is simply to copy the title of the article or page and use that. If the title is appealing and meaningful for your audience, you can get by with that approach, but ideally you'll want to personalize it. You can pose a question that the article answers, quote a compelling line from the item, cite an intriguing fact or shocking statistic, or give your personal reaction in a few words. Remember that your overall objective is to be interesting, so frame the link in a way that entertains as well as informs.

    Picture or Video. When you glance at your Twitter feed, what do you notice first? Often, it's a video or graphic that will grab your attention. Use that to your advantage, and include a relevant video or image in some of your tweets. Images can be photos, infographics, diagrams, or even comics. Audio-only media are another possibility.

    Fact. Report a surprising statistic, a humorous tidbit, or a little-known bit of trivia. This is a perfect option when you run across an article that contains a few fascinating details but is not suitable for linking to for one reason or another.

    Quote. Everyone loves a great quote. Funny or insightful quotes that fit with your niche liven up your Twitter feed. Quotes can be recent or historical, familiar or obscure, by famous names or unknown writers, from books or poems or songs or movies or interviews.

    Personal Observation. Put forth your own views every now and then. Comment on a current news item in your business area, or respond to a question or discussion by sharing your perspective. Show that you're a real person, someone who thinks and feels and laughs, and not an auto-tweeting robot. At the same time, it's wise to steer clear of sarcastic or insulting remarks, which are easily misinterpreted and can reflect poorly on you and your company.

    Question. Questions can be of two types (not counting rhetorical questions, which actually belong to the personal observation category). In one type, you are looking for a specific piece of information; in the other, you are aiming to gather subjective opinions from a variety of individuals. When there's something you need to find out, you can direct your question to appropriate individuals by tagging it with their Twitter @usernames, a technique which is especially helpful if you haven't yet accumulated a large number of followers.

    Answer. Your followers and those whom you follow will be asking questions too; if you have something to contribute, reply with an answer. Of course, you should always reply to queries that are tagged with your Twitter @username. You may also spot questions that you are especially well suited to answer among tweets from the general population of users; help out with high-quality answers, and it could earn you more followers.

    Retweet. When you see a tweet that your followers would appreciate, pass it along by retweeting it. If you'd like to personalize it by adding a few words of commentary, you can use the "RT" format and preface it with your thoughts.

    With any of the above styles of tweet, there are two add-ons you can use:

    * A hashtag, which is a word prefixed with the symbol #. This is to identify the tweet as part of an ongoing conversation or to label it with a keyword to help searchers find it. Don't use hashtags in every tweet, and avoid using more than two or three in one tweet.

    * A mention, which is an @username anywhere other than at the very start of the tweet (which would make it a reply instead). You can add a mention in order to credit that user for being the source of a link or quote or idea, or you can use it to draw their attention to your tweet, as a way of bringing them in on a discussion that they might like to contribute to, for instance.

    Use a robust blend of the above eight types of tweets and two add-ons, and you'll have a pleasing variety in your Twitter feed, something for everyone in your target audience.

    As you become more familiar with the Twitterers in your niche, you'll find a few whose style and content you especially appreciate and admire. Observe their practices, and see if there are some you can adapt as part of your own distinctive style.

    Providing Consistent Value for Your Target Audience

    Summing up the conclusions that resulted from the questions asked above: To derive the most benefit from Twitter for your business or brand, understand your purpose for being on Twitter, identify your target audience groups, and provide them with valuable content, offering it to them in an array of appealing styles. When your tweets are consistently valuable and irresistibly interesting, people in your target audience will respond positively, and Google will recognize and reward your genuine authority and influence.

    Now, go forth and tweet!