Remember Bo Jackson?  I sure do; I ripped through his Bo Knows biography with the fervor of a twelve-year-old kid, mesmerized by a titan of a multi-dimensional athlete.  Along with popular trends of the day, such as French-rolled jeans and Umbro shorts, I was into the ‘Bo knows’ commercials and campaign. 

It was creative and Bo Jackson was the prime candidate to serve as face-man for the marketing sentiment.  Today, most online marketing professionals have to emulate the jack-of-all-trades sentiment of the ‘Bo knows’ campaign.  It’s of paramount importance, integral to success that an SEO knows a variety of things.

Naturally, to become a multi-dimensional all star like Bo, SEOs need to put in the training.  Great clients and savvy businesspeople don’t place the entire online marketing campaign in the hands of providers; they also put in the time to understand trends and best practices.  SMB owners interested in search engine optimization and online success, should be asking, “What would Bo know?”

Bo knows SEs

Bo would know about the major search engines and how consumers are engaging each.  In deciding upon successful SE strategies, it’s important to understand each has its own set of “rules” or guidelines.  If you adhere to the suggestions, your site(s) will slowly but surely secure more authority and SERP exposure related to respective products and services.  But don’ spend too much energy here; there’s more to “know.” Plus, a lot of respected sources agree that a brand needs to spend less time worrying about SEs and more time on addressing customers.

Bo knows social

In the early nineties, you gave out buddy bands to show your allegiance toward friends and others; today, you “like,” “follow,” and “one up” them by engaging social media sites.  Facebook and Twitter have quickly become bastions of real-time information and platforms for cyber, ‘word-of-mouse’ marketing; and, oh yeah, you probably want to give Google+ some love too.  Just remember social media sites are to be used in a social fashion.  Don’t neglect your customers; be sociable with them.

Bo knows copywriting

With a plethora of ‘content’ options (videos, infographs, podcasts, and more) I should really tweak ‘copywriting’ to ‘content implementation.’  Online content is how your brand relays information to interested consumers.  I suggest using a number of implementations to engage your crowd, much like a teacher would engage a classroom.  Be careful with stale, ad-dense, low-converting copy; don’t assume throwing keyword-drenched pages on your sites is a way to attract engines and eventually consumers.  Neither enjoys bad content; the latter won’t be interested in your brand and is likely to bounce off your pages, but the former will get animalistic on you.

Bo knows branding

I personally take an intense interest in branding and reputation management.  They’re both very important, because as suggested above, a successful brand is going to attend to customers foremost when it comes to online marketing; SEs are a means to the brand-to-customer-engagement end.  Brand management involves creating associations for the general public and envelopes products, services, logos, mission statements, CEOs, employees, and more (anything connected to your brand).  The Web is a rich source of information; consider any consumer can get their virtual hands on information in real time and you got yourself an unwavering necessity to pay close attention to how your brand is exuding sentiments and how those are received by consumers.

Conclusion

The Web doesn’t sleep.  Online professionals take a break,  even all stars need rest, but make sure you’re continuously training and attending to the ‘knows’ of SEO and online marketing.

Should my brand be using Google+?  That is a question posed to many SEO and online marketing professionals by business owners who are novices to online practices.  Coincidentally, I read a post this morning, calling social’s benefit to business into question.  Google’s social media platform is still very young; the passing of time will help us better assess its true value, but immediately, considering the platform allows for brand pages, it’s another source for online marketing in the least. 

Estimates and theories can only get your brand so far; maybe viewing the traction of other brands first is a good place to start.  Fair enough? That makes sense, right?  Why don’t you keep track of how the Cadbury brand fares in using the Google+ platform?

Is your brand preparing to launch a new product or service?  Such efforts could cut into your marketing budget, but your brand can use social media to facilitate a launch, such as the Cadbury brand did, saving money, but not cutting corners when it comes to exposure.

What I thought was additionally savvy was the leveraged dynamic between multiple social media sites.  Cadbury has accumulated over 900,000 Facebook fans; the former using accrued fans to facilitate the success of the Google+ page launch.  The process seems to be working well; the endeavor fielded over 500 likes and 181 comments and counting…

The cost of such a process has to be little to nothing (the cost of in-house resources uploading an image and orchestrating the Google+ page?).  I encourage all business owners to track the development of this Cadbury campaign; take notes and consider using some of the same practices in your own efforts.

In addition, the new candy bar’s wrapper is infused with Blippar technology, a new application for smart phones.  Whoa, the Cadbury brand has been doing its homework; maybe they learned by surveying the trials of other brands; you can too!

Search engine optimization and overall online marketing creates exposure for your brand.  As online opportunities increase, savvy brands make appropriate decisions and implementations.  For instance, if this was five to ten years ago, I would be unwaveringly blogging, beseeching EVERY business owner to develop a Web site.  That sentiment is old news; (I hope your brand has a main site!) today, I am passionately asking business owners to consider orchestrating mobile Web sites.

It’s hard to track down real-time facts related to mobile phone usage but Facebook’s official statistics reflect more than 350 million active users leverage smart phone to access the social media platform.  The consumption of mobile devices rose in 2010, up 18% from the prior year.  I want those small business owners , who believe they can get away with just a main site, hoping the majority of consumers leverage home or work computers, to take a look at this statistic; usage is high at home (93%) and at work (72%).  Remember my opening sentiment; make appropriate decisions regarding opportunities.  You can’t deny the benefit of hosting a mobile site.

Don’t forget browsers, whether leveraging a laptop, desktop, or mobile device have options.  Ensure your mobile design emphasizes usability amongst other things I’m about to mention:

Streamlined Design
Branding focuses on developing associations with a company’s desired market.  Though repeated exposure, a brand begins to take root in a consumer’s long –term memory; a company’s emblem, taglines, executives, products, etc. become immediately recognizable.  I suggest your Web design emulate the look of your main site regarding colors, fonts, and general layout.

Navigation
From a usability perspective, I think this is the most important aspect.  A mobile browser will disengage if it’s highly difficult to navigate your mobile site.  Think simple.  What are the most important pages on your main site?  These get first priority regarding mobile implementation.  In addition, what are your site’s most visited pages?  For instance, one could be a resource page.  Browsers, familiar with your main site, grown accustomed to resources, may expect your mobile site to host the same resources – something to think about.

Consistency
Use clear, concise, and clearly labeled links throughout the mobile site.  Consider making the fonts of links large; this is useful to those who are using fingertips.

Links
I think placing additional navigation links at the bottom of the page rather than the top is less obtrusive to browsers.   Remember, consumers want information fast and readily available.

Optimize for Multiple Devices
This is the portion of the mobile design phase that designers love the most – ensuring your site is optimized for the multitude of mobile devices available on the market.  For instance, your site may look dynamite from a Blackberry but lacks usability from an iPhone perspective.  You don’t want to alienate any users; it’s necessary to be diligent in checking your site from multiple devices.

No, I’m not suggesting spending your local store’s dollars in exchange for “protection,” but urging local owners to facilitate more inspection by local consumers.  The dynamic of a local owner is interesting.  On one hand, the disadvantage of a limited budget and larger competition is apparent.  However, local owners have the ability to secure lasting relationships with members of their target market, who live in the store’s vicinity.

The 99ers

If you’ve been off the planet this past season, you’ve missed the multiple “occupy” movements taking place all over the country.  A disgruntled public seeks larger equality regarding financial security of the population; the 99ers are prone to support “the little guy,” some going great lengths to buy “local.”

Cash Mobs

I know those living in the Philadelphia region have heard of “flash mobs,” the phenomenon of people, leveraging social media to meet in large numbers.  However, extract negative, unruly sentiments and exchange them for good, consumer-based intent, and you got yourself a “cash mob.”

It seems like consumers, in the wake of the “occupy” movements, and still holding 99er sentiments, are fueling local economies and having fun doing it.  One consumer, quoted in the New York Times article, explains the inertia behind cash mobs: “We want to support local businesses that employ people and build wealth in the community.”

Is Your Local Business Supporting the Supporting Sentiments?

It’s my understanding that flash mobs had good intentions at inception; it was a fun way for people to meet at a single location and enjoy company.  I think consumers are willing to adopt the original sentiment again.  What is your local business doing to facilitate social media matters?  Are you engaging in social media?

A local blogger organized the cash mob chronicled in the Times article but you can be the author of your own fate.  Have you considered orchestrating a cash mob?  We learned last week consumers engage small business on social platforms, most desiring coupons and discounts from vendors.

Are you hosting a sale, releasing a new product/service, or desire more popularity within your community?  Have you considered accumulating a social media list, creating the potential to form your own cash mob?  Social media platforms, such as Twitter, are getting more business-centric all the time.

More brands are finding leveraging social media is advantageous, creating more exposure and revenue.  Get more diligent with your social media participation; there are mobs of opportunity out there.

I read an article yesterday in the NY Times discussing YouTube’s new design and the wave of reactions, mostly negative, on the Web.  Relevant to the times and various “occupy” movements established throughout the country, people, specifically online consumers, are finding power in numbers, in some cases, making an influence, getting “heard.”  Actually, I believe the amount of information sharing, and the little time needed to do so, changes the way brands make decisions.

In the past, it took longer for consumers to start dialogues and conversations about a brand’s evolution or changes to logos, procedures, services and products, etc.  Conversely, modern times allow consumers to instantly communicate through various social media platforms.  Consider more people tote smart phones around these days, enabling social media interaction from just about anywhere, and the likelihood of consumer-driven brand conversations is greater.

Oh the Irony

My point is that consumers have the power to instantaneously make brands rejoice or cringe over major decisions.  Consumers leverage social media to unite, form opinions, and influence the thoughts of other consumers in a given market (something the brands are trying to do as well).  Brands shouldn’t view its target market’s social media participation as a bane waiting to happen or an ineffective communication avenue; alternatively, brands should embrace networking…(especially with respective target markets) before making major decisions.

I bet NetFlix will be more diligent, at least pondering incipient consumer reactions, not immediately acting, the next time the brand makes a major decision.  In YouTube’s case, the brand did not tamper with consumers’ wallets but did modify the user experience, changing an element of its provided service; and, the people spoke.

More Relation and Social Communication

Data was released yesterday related to how consumers find information.  One stat made social media look ineffective as a tool for securing local business information.  I wrote a blog post, illustrating a point: the lack of consumer use reflects the lack of brands utilizing the tool.  Consumers are engaging other consumers in conversations but the brands are the missing ingredient in a finely-tuned, mutually-beneficial, brand-to-consumer dynamic.  Ironically, in some cases, a brand’s lack of social media participation is not giving them an opportune “say” regarding their own decisions, taking them out of the equation and leaving them out of the conversation.  Bad move – public demand influences the brand.

Should your local business rely on search engine optimization or engage in social media optimization?  Both are strong, online marketing initiatives, but data released by the Pew Internet & American Life Foundation show this may influence some local businesses to deemphasize SMO.  It seems consumers, interviewed by land and cell phone lines, reported levering social media only 1% of the time to find information about local business, ostensibly making social media an ineffective marketing tool.

I think the report may misrepresent the importance of social media and does not give the marketing process the credit it deserves.  Sterling concludes his post by mentioning social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, have a long way to go before they can adequately help local small businesses.

Still Young
To begin, let’s not forget the traffic of social media platforms.  We saw Facebook trump Google in 2010.  The numbers are there for local businesses to attract.

Available traffic is not the problem; it may be the other way around.  Perhaps a large number of small businesses, within a waning economy, have not taken part in social media…yet.  Search engine optimization preceded social media optimization; more businesses have made investments in the former online marketing objective.  Maybe more users leverage SEs rather than social media because there’s a greater chance of finding desired information there…for now.  Local businesses are on the SERPs, yet not enough are engaging in social media optimization…yet.  Just about every business has a Web site; only a small number of them engage in social media.

Social Media Influences SERPs
Social media influences the SERPs, creating another reason not to shy from SMO and social media participation.  We’re seeing a shift in the SERPs.  The process of search engine optimization, making brands more prevalent on SERPs, is beginning to incorporate and place more emphasis on social media optimization and participation as well as reputation management, or building a brand’s online authority.

Social Paid Search
Additionally, social media sites, like Twitter and LinkedIn, are offering social paid search opportunities.  Will these paid ad opportunities help local small businesses?  I believe it will.  Don’t give social media the cold shoulder, local business owners.  See the forest through the trees.  Successful brands are in it for the long-term, leveraging social media platforms, using multiple online marketing tools at hand to increase exposure.