What’s The Deal With Facebook Timeline?

I’m sure you’ve noticed the big change over the weekend. As of March 30, Facebook has ported all of it’s pages into the new Timeline design, including business pages. While there are plenty of people who aren’t happy about the change, those who are business minded know how to accept, and most importantly, adapt to change. Properly used, Timeline has been shown to increase engagement by 46% on average. What does it mean for your business?

Real-time Analytics

Unlike the old Facebook pages which took up to 2 days to provide insights and analytics, Timeline’s tools provide information within 5-10 minutes. New or enhanced metrics include virality, people talking about engagement, friends of friends and reach. What this does is give businesses the ability to monitor the popularity of their posts, the influence of their page, how far their posts are travelling, and even allows for adjustments to be made immediately. Tracking virality (the percentage of people who saw the page and “talked about it”) is now easy to do, which can help sellers tap into what’s being discussed amongst their fanbase and post accordingly.

Content, content, content

What is the most effective way to drive traffic to a storefront? Fresh content. Sure, it takes more work than the old Facebook Fanpages since Timeline encourages sellers to post new content frequently, but creating a daily posting plan rich with opportunities for customers to interact, through polls or thoughtful updates which engage the customer to participate in a discussion, will help businesses increase exposure.

Regular Expression

Commonly known advertising tenants tell us that one of the best way to reach customers is through visual imagery (pictures and videos). With fully customizable features, like the 850 x 315 pixel cover, and 111 x 74 pixel picture icon (located just below the cover), businesses can focus on expressing their core brand message. Profile information has been moved from the left of page to the front and center, and have gained 310 pixels, which businesses can use to display more products or larger images in the most visually optimal spots on the page.

The real message here is that, while changing over to something new might be a hassle at first, Facebook’s Timeline provides an excellent opportunity for businesses to integrate themselves into the Facebook experience in ways that not only promote their products and services, but also create a social space where consumers can return for thoughtful interactions. Your business actually has the chance to become a regular Facebook “friend” for the fans, which will increase customer retention, and perhaps even opportunities for conversion (linking someone from Facebook to your own site where they can choose to become a member).

While it seems as though converting your model might take a little getting used to, the numbers indicate that it is a worthwhile investment. Some of the businesses involved in the preliminary launch of Timeline reported an increase in engagement by as much as 161%. The real question is, can you afford not to use Timeline?

Social Content Optimisation (SCO): Real or Just Another Acronym?

Advertising agencies do put a considerable amount of effort into their advertising strategies, and now as online marketing is getting mainstream attention, we see them coming up with sophisticated and convincing strategies. A 3 letter Acronym is popular with online marketing. PPC (pay per click), which we know is very real, and SEO (search engine optimisation), and SMO (social media optimisation) and now we have SCO (social content optimisation). I have looked at their strategy and flow-chart extensively, and have worked in advertising for 10 years, along side many agencies, including the one that created this new one. The whole point of this new SCO is to show that search and social are not mutually exclusive, and a few added bonus points. Here is a look at the issues, and further points to consider.

 

  • Auditing. The first stage of SCO is the general audit of what people are talking about on a particular client’s website. This makes a certain amount of sense. It is a look at what content assets a client have online, and what their followers or related users are actually talking about, and comparing the two. This is relatively simple stuff, and is a job for some junior staff to do.

 

  • Search-able and Shareable. The goal we see arise from this is knowing what the majority of users are interested in and then creating content and media that is appropriate for them. This again, makes sense. If you were serving food at a construction site canteen, and you wanted to sell more of it, you would start asking around to see what the majority of people wanted to eat. Social media websites make this pretty easy, as we only have to analyse words, images and video. Creating simple software to assist with this can be done without any programming knowledge.

 

  • Breakthrough? As a plan of action, it makes clear sense to a potential client, although it is not really any groundbreaking strategy. Anyone in business would and should be doing this. On the other hand, making content that your users will be impressed by is probably going to come from a creative department. Creating something ahead of the content curve of your readers is the true art of content developers. Not so far ahead that it loses traction, but far enough to give them a jolt, and inspire them.

 

Can we really say this is a new strategy? It is more like grandstanding and banner adding to something that should already be apart of sensible and step-by-step SEO (search engine optimisation) and social media strategy. Advertising agencies are very good at selling themselves to their clients, and then managing down their expectations – the words spoken directly to me by a major Asian director of a substantially sized ‘digital agency’.

What Happened?

Hello Everyone,

No, I didn’t die. No, I didn’t fall off the edge of the planet. No, I didn’t get bored of this online stuff and go “offline”.

A New Year brings new changes to life and this year I decided to switch it all up. I challenged myself to make a YouTube video every day for the next year. This year I plan on focusing the mass majority of my energy on YouTube. I probably won’t be making blog posts or podcasts as much this year, but I can guarantee you will be able to see a video instead (which is much cooler)! 😉

Don’t worry, I’m still here. I may just be slow at times in responding to you. I assure you though that I read everything you send me and will respond to it.

Watch my Daily Vlog HERE.
Main Channel (where most of my sketches, shorts, and shows are).

To Your ULTIMATE SUCCESS,
Taylor Marek

Targeting A Portfolio For Freelance Designers And Content Writers

If you’re a freelancer, you have to pay your dues and work your way up the ladder. The problem is that a lot of people are sitting on portfolio material which can make getting the better jobs a lot easier. Many freelancers do work like book printing jobs and don’t seem to realize how valuable this work actually is.

The fact is that some of the most basic work forms the basis of all jobs. Good work in these fields is a lot more useful than people think it is. If you’ve done work as a ghost writer, cover designer, or formatting work for a book print, you’ve also done the fundamental work required for some much higher paying jobs.

Targeting a portfolio

Contracts and employers are looking for skills. The better your skills, and the more value you can bring to a job or a contract, the more likely you are to get that job. You’ll also more than likely get more work and above all add to your portfolio some of this very valuable higher rate material.

The classic mistake when going for jobs is to be a bit too literal minded in interpreting what the job wants. It’s advisable to do your homework on any job which attracts your interest.

Start with the basics:

Check out the products, content and design issues: This is like a map of the realities of the job. It’s valuable information, and it can also show you how to approach getting the job.

What does the job really need? This is critical approach. Look for the strengths and weaknesses in the work. If the job lacks something you can do, you’ve got material to work with.

What additional values can you bring to the job? What would you say you can do that they’re not doing? Don’t get too modest about this issue, because your skills may be exactly what this job needs.

What materials can you use to give a really good presentation? What do you have in your portfolio that’s better than their existing work? Remember that you’re the expert in this case, and your skills need to prove that you know what you’re doing. If the contract sees good value, you’ve got the job.

What can you create to show the contract or the employer? This is a slightly sneakier approach, but it’s effective. Can you do something in their type of business as a mockup, which will act as a portfolio presentation, even if you don’t have direct experience? If so, you’ll at least get their interest, and quite possibly any extra outsourcing work they’ve got, as well.

The idea is to make yourself very clear:

  • Yes, you can do everything the job requires, and more
  • Yes, you can prove your skills
  • Yes, you can do brochure printing, greeting card content, flyer printing, whatever they need done.

A successful presentation has nothing to do with luck. It’s content that counts in getting the jobs as much as your designs and your content work. Keep that in mind, look for opportunities, and you’ll do very well.

What do you think?

5 WordPress Plugins I Could Not Live Without

After having this blog for 4+ years now, I’ve gone through over 150 different plugins searching for just the right ones. Here are 5 I could not live without (my commentary in italics)…

1. Blubrry PowerPress Podcasting plugin

Blubrry PowerPress brings the essential features for podcasting to WordPress including full iTunes support, web audio/video media players and more. I’ve been with Blubrry for years, and they do quality work. If you are a podcaster, you had better have this plugin.

http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/powerpress/

2. Akismet

Akismet checks your comments against the Akismet web service to see if they look like spam or not. So far, Akismet is responsible for catching 12k spam comments on my blog.

http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/akismet/

3. IntenseDebate Comments

IntenseDebate comments enhance and encourage conversation on your blog. Build your reader community, increase your comments, & boost pageviews. I run many WP websites and run both ID and Disqus on certain installs. ID so far has been responsible for all the cool stuff comment-wise you see on my blog. The cool thing is they also backup your comments, so you will never lose them!

http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/intensedebate/

4. Top 10

Track daily and total visits on your blog posts and display the count as well as popular posts. This one little plugin helped me keep track of what the 10 most popular posts on my site were. I would’ve never known “How To Write A Check” was #1 without it.

http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/top-10/

5. All in One SEO Pack

Automatically optimizes your WordPress blog for Search Engines (Search Engine Optimization). Little did I know my blog would rank better automatically for this. I was able to find I rank pretty high up in Google for “America’s Got Talent Tips” (Search Results).

http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/all-in-one-seo-pack/

Those are my 5 plugins I couldn’t live without. What are yours?

I Need Your Comments – Blog Redesign?

I’ve been tinkering with the idea of changing my blog design once again. Typically it comes to me every year around this time and I start to play around with different website designs.

This time, I want your feedback though. What would you like to see? What do you want my site to have that would make it easier/better for you?

Joe Boyle of Website Begin brought this idea to me and will be working with me on the redesign, so I’m pretty pumped to see what he (and you) will come up with.

If you want me to go ahead with this redesign, simply leave a comment saying, “Yes!” and a feature you would like to see on my new design. If you don’t want me to redesign my website and want it to be left alone, leave a comment saying, “No” and a reason why (optional).

-Taylor Marek

The One Word Secret To Blogging Success

Hundreds of videos have been made, hours of audio have been recorded, and millions of words have been written on how to become successful at blogging. When it really comes down to the point, it really boils down to one word.

Determination

I’m not going to sugar-coat it for you. I’m not going to hide it behind my e-mail list, nor mystify it to be uncovered in a product. I’m putting the word out there for everyone to see. Ruminate on this word.

It takes a alot of determination to set out on this path, and even more so after. I’ll dare say most of you won’t make it down this path, you will falter and fall. But those who push on, those who do not falter, those who show an unimaginable amount of determination will push all the way to the end, wherever it may be.

Determination. Do you have it?

Ready, Aim, Wait

How many times have you done this? How many times have you done this unconsciously and not even realized it? Did you know you may be programmed to do this?

It could be a good thing at times, and it could be a bad thing at times. It all depends. What I will say though is that the mental trigger never goes off and we miss the opportunity that we should not have.

After putting this much energy into this project, making sure everything is ready, and then waiting, you’ve just killed the moment. You need to train yourself to recognize the opportunity and instantly pull the trigger. It could very well be the difference between life and death.

How do you train yourself to recognize opportunity? Leave a comment with your thoughts.

Daily Vs. Weekly Blog Posts: A 30 Day Test

After one month of collecting data and testing a couple options, I’ve come to several conclusions. Before I tell you, let me show you a couple pictures…

Conclusions

  • This just doesn’t make any sense… #GoFigure ;P
  • I personally seem to feel better getting thoughts posted on a daily basis opposed to a weekly 600+ word cram article.
  • It seems more people visit when I post daily as opposed to weekly.

Ah well, that’s just me. Now you know what I’ve been up to the past month. I’ve set new goals for this month and will be tracking and posting the results at the end of next month. Stay tuned. 🙂