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How I became a social media convert

Written by Terry Van Horne   
Monday, 31 August 2009 13:49

Thoughts from an old-school marketer after a stint on Twitter

(the following is a guest post from Terry Van Horne)

So... after about a month of studying the ins and outs of Twitter and the ever emerging Social Networking media space I can safely say that I was wrong, admittedly, for the first time in a long time, Social is not a fad it is a real growing trend.

I've seen a lot of fads come and go in the time I've been doing internet development. I remember when the first mobile sites were being built and thinking... hmm definitely people with a lot of time on their hands. Well, 10 years later and Mobile is still not a big deal in NA. I've found if you just let things take their natural course when the time is right the new will mesh nicely with what you're already doing i.e. leverage your current activity with the new activity.

I was an early adopter but back then everything was new and everyone doing it was an early adopter so there was no no need to wait and do the "safe play".

Dog eat dog




Then came social media marketing


I fought the urge to do social because I didn't see where it benefitted me or my clients in making sales. I heard the tales of the Dells and whoever doing big numbers but what always bugged me was that for the companies that mentioned the sales were negligible and IMO, still are.

What I mean is Dell could likely hand out coupons outside of the ACC (Air Canada Center - local arena) on a Saturday night and sell something. Sure, you also hear the little guy talking a big game but when pressed they never up the numbers or they say, "(...) understand this stuff is hard to quantify or track" - which is why I didn't jump on the Social bandwagon sooner.

I find it tough enough without trying to sell a client a "pig n' a poke" when I can sell services that I know work and benefit my client. I especially don't believe you research i.e. try new techniques with clients money.

Of course there is one exception to that rule. I have managed and developed the strategy for a pretty extensive video campaign (300 + products) on YouTube that to date the videos have received Millions of views and driven significant traffic to the product pages of an ecommerce website. Enough to enable them to replace their low converting PPC with YouTube traffic.



Video as a traffic driver


I didn't know a thing when I started but I did have the advantage of having worked my way through the unknown before during the early days of SEO. No one talks about it but IMO, having done that once gives us old time SEO's an advantage in SMM because we've already played a game where few techniques have been honed to a point they are talked about.

The decision to steer that client toward video was easy because I felt videos would help with the sale and YouTube... is well... YouTube! In fact the day Google bought YouTube I called the owner and pitched him on video marketing. Within days he started putting together a production team to do the project . We already had over 100 products on YouTube when Google started including videos in the results.

The video success showed me the apparent potential was indeed real and for many products video can be an enhancement to a sales landing page especially if the buying decision uses audio or visual senses in the buying process. Apparel is a definite candidate from what I've seen but not many stores are using it with theirproduct sales pages.

Social media sells!


To blog or not to blog


Admittedly I'm not an SMM neophyte, and for that matter, I've also been a big forum user and SuperMod on a well known SEO forum. I also see Social in many ways as just being web Communities on web2.0 steroids. A community is a community! All that's changed really is the tools used to engage that community have been improved by new technologies.

Blogging... I'm warming to it but not easily. I guess because I started calling them WoDS (waste of disk space) a long time ago and never have taken them seriously.I'm trying out some guest appearances first if that works out then I might start one. I have a few .NET blogs but... I don't publish there much mainly because I was unable to find a M$ product that wasn't a crapshoot every time you pressed the save button!

Three blogs, three implosions with everything salvageable but only after hacking the scripts enough to log in, get the posts, and shut it down.

Social Media technology is different in so many ways, and that's what I'm really interested in, but, you have to understand the "community" before you can develop technology for it and most important, monetize it, hopefully, without the aid of one Mr. AddCents. Giving Google over half the dough does not sit well with me.

Let's look at some of the conclusions I've come to about a few of the issues facing us as Social Marketers. Yes I am including myself! I haven't paid my dues but...we all start somewhere.


I've seen the social media light!


First let me say this, when I started in this Internet game you could see the potential.

  • Social is no different it's just another stage in the evolving Internet.
  • Social is still in its infancy and will see exponential growth as the ubiquitous internet becomes reality.

Ubiquitous, I've been looking for a way to use that word in an article and finally here we are! The biggest turn-off has been all the "Social Marketing Guru" crap with their "How to make $1000's a week, just like me, on Twitter and social media sites" BS. That said, for the time being the gurus and the really savvy marketers who know their customers well will likely be the only ones who will make a lot of money from Social.

The good news is in the overall scheme of things the costs of participating are negligible. I would strongly suggest any small business with a limited budget and a desire for an internet presence check out social networking sites, start a blog and engage your customers.

Social Media Marketing will create a buzz and I readily admit that Social is a signal Search Engines are presently lusting after. Personally, that's why I decided to take a closer look. Social will be a marketing mainstay, however, for the time being it will be seen as a suck on resources. Why? I believe that is the result of three 3 facts that you just don't hear about much.


  • A lot of the "Social Networking" is going on while people are at work. The main reason people are on these social networks is to "screw the pooch" not buy things. In fact many are very sensitive to ads outside of where they expect them. You have to be there, because that is where the customers are but for now we're still learning how to use these network conduits to drive sales and lead generation.
  • There is an expectation of clients that web marketing is easily measured and that is part of the reason for the movement of ad budgets to the web from traditional media during the current economic downturn. SMM is the only marketing activity on the web that isn't easily tracked. Buzz is hard to track and quantify in terms that our customers "get" i.e. $'s. When you talk engagements many clients look at you like your talking about a wedding not marketing.
  • Time is hard to leverage and the tools to save time in this market activity are nothing like those available elsewhere. They are just starting to come about and that's to be expected because the medium has just recently reached critical mass and reached the point where it pays a developer to develop products for the niche.


In conclusion if you ever hear me say "I'm a Social Marketing Guru" please! take me out behind the barn immediately and pound some sense into me!

BTW, want to know my secret to making 1000's a week on SMM? Get people to pay you $50 a week for "social media coaching". If you didn't see that coming? You're a perfect candidate for the coaching!


About the author; Terry is an old school SEO geek that works out of International Website Builders and the founder of - You can also hook up with him on Twitter. As a guy that had to be dragged into believing the world of SMM had long term value, it is good to see others that also resisted... Maybe there's something to this social media after all? hee hee...


An interview with One Riot

Written by David Harry   
Monday, 17 August 2009 14:56

Looking at real time search once more

A while back I had been musing about the phenomenon that is real time search. It would seem that it is this year’s buzz phrase much like last years obsession with ‘social search’. What bothered me most was that many of the existing RTS engines were little more than social mention regurgitators with Twitter being at the core. To me, most of them don’t satisfy what I believe a search engine is (traditionally).


You can see these for more;

Real time search engines; should SEOs care?
Making sense of real-time social search


Now, along the way we talked about OneRiot and their ‘PulseRank’ approach. One of the reasons I became more interested in OneRiot is that they actually do some crawling and make indexing and ranking decisions. This is more in-line with what I believe a search engine to be…

Not one to be shy, I managed to get talking with the folks at OneRiot and despite my less than enthusiastic stance on RTS, they agreed to answer some questions for me. What follows are the interview with them… I hope you enjoy!


Read more... [An interview with One Riot]

Avoiding the curse of the Twitter wanker

Written by David Harry   
Wednesday, 22 July 2009 08:18

A tale of two Twits

(the following is a guest post from James Duthie)

As an online marketer who enjoys dabbling in social media, last week was definitely not a good one in the land down under (Australia). In an industry that is still trying to establish itself as legitimate and credible (much like SEO had to), a scandal involving media celebrities, fake Twitter accounts and public slander was never going to be good for the collective reputation.

And as entertaining as the story is, it serves as a sobering reminder of the challenge many social media marketers face in shifting traditional marketing attitudes that have existed for decades. But let’s start with the story first…


Attack of the Twankers

It revolves around two of Australia’s highest profile media celebrities – Kyle Sandilands & Jackie O. The pair are long time radio personalities, hosting one of Australia’s most popular radio segments. In the last few years they have also made the transition across to television, hosting a series of Big Brother together, and Kyle also served as a judge on Australian Idol for a number of years. More recently, they’ve made the foray into social media channels such as Twitter, where you can find them at @kyleandjackieo.

Kyle Sandilands and Jackie O


As mainstream media personalities, it was no surprise to see them amass a sizable audience. But suspicion arose recently at the speed of their growth as they passed over a quarter of a million followers. To put that in context, our national leader (@KevinRuddPM) has just 187,000 followers at the time of writing. Delta Goodrem, a popular local musician, has just over 20,000 followers (surely people would be more likely to follow a musician than the DJ’s who play them…). Heck… Hugh Jackman only has a little over 400,000 followers and the whole world is in love with him. So how on earth did Kyle & Jackie O manage to amass such a following without a global fan base…?

Read more... [Avoiding the curse of the Twitter wanker]

NEW: FriendConnect adds Twitter contacts

Written by David Harry   
Tuesday, 27 January 2009 09:54

FriendConnect iconsGoogle FriendConnect just got a little more social

For those of you using FriendConnect the lack of anything new to play with has made it a less than enthusiastic endeavour. It seems that have at least updated the core offering, which is something. Yesterday my bud ‘Moving Man’ Mike brought my attention to an interesting anomaly – small icons on the avatars in FriendConnect Gadgets

It seems to be for adding/identifying additional social sites…though the selection is weak. Here's where to find the settings;

Friend Connect get more services

In our case (above) you can now invite Twitter contacts to visit this site whenever you see an "Invite" link. We await more service options. It's interesting, but once more a bit lacking in bite; more services please :)

I shall add to the post as I play around more later…go try it out!!


Fulfilling needs builds stronger social networks

Written by David Harry   
Wednesday, 21 January 2009 00:04

The Primary Motivators of Social Networking

[the following is a guest post from James Morris]

In a digital world where you are interconnected and inundated with messages and images, it’s important to identify and address the needs of those you are trying to network with, to be effective.  When it comes to social networking, are you making the right connection with your audience, or are you simply broadcasting to the masses? Are you giving back to the collective whole or are you just taking what you can get? By understanding your audience and making lasting connections, you not only build a following, but you will also be delivering your message in a more meaningful way.


Why should you care about social networking?

There are many reasons to become involved in social networking. A leader in this industry,, boasts thousands of different interest groups and reasons for making connections. Whether your interest is cars, cameras, dating, rare collectibles, industry affiliations, or any one of thousands of reasons to connect, chances are, there is a social network that caters to your interest.

Making a connection

For professionals, especially in the realm of marketing, the desire and the need to get involved in social networking seem obvious. The more connections you make, the more exposure your brand receives. It’s a numbers game. Achieving success to that end, however, is an entirely different subject.

Read more... [Fulfilling needs builds stronger social networks]
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