Over a week has passed since the Search & Social Spring Summit concluded in Tampa, Florida. Like everyone who attended the intimate gathering at the DoubleTree Hotel overlooking Tampa Bay, I’ve returned to work and am working hard to implement the great ideas I took away from the conference. Sure, I took note of a lot more ideas than I’m actually attempting to integrate, but that’s how it should be. We write everything down and think everything is the best idea, and then we go back to work and try to match up the ideas with the reality of our specific situations and environments and make proper determinations as to how well these ideas will really work.
So, what are the things that still make sense to me and the businesses I’m working with, over a week after the end of the conference? Let’s see….
Advertising on Facebook
With over 400 Million users across the world and an advertising platform that allows you to micro target in ways no other platform can even come close to comparing, you’re an idiot if you don’t at least run one ad test on Facebook. Yeah, the social networking juggernaut has been put through the ringer lately in terms of privacy issues, but they still have the single largest, most comprehensive database on the things you like from music, books, food, politics, and so much more.
David Szetela did an excellent job talking about Paid Search on Facebook and suggested that, since the idea is still new, your competition is most likely not participating. This not only means super-focused targeting, but a rather barren playing field which can translate to huge sales at an extremely affordable cost.
Link Building Tactics : Outside The Box
Brian Chappell was one of the speakers during the Advanced Link Building Tactics session, and in my opinion he brought the most to the table in terms of finding new and clever ways to get inbound links to your website. Specifically, there are two methods I’m looking forward to executing.
Widgets are programs that can live on a website and perform a specific function that would act as a service to a visitor to that website, and thus be a benefit to have on that website. There are a lot of different types of widgets out there. Some can tell you the temperature in the area where the visitor is, others might scroll the latest Tweets from a specified group of Twits. The possibilities are really endless. One thing any good widget has in common with the next is a little blurb that states who made the widget and where it can be downloaded along with a link back to your website. If the widget takes off (in any respect), people can visit your website, download your widget, install it on their website and you’ve got another inbound link to your page. Multiply this by a hundred thousand or so for a successful widget and you may never have to think about link acquisition again.
Everyone loves a good Contest or Giveaway, especially if they create buzz and bring more attention to your products or services. The best thing about this tactic to attract links to your website is that you can give away just about anything from money, to free products or services, to something generic and played out like an iPad. Yeah, that’s a pretty great gift to win in a contest, but let’s be honest, everyone is doing it. Even so, I wouldn’t mind winning one. One of the great things about these contests is that they spread quickly. Just a few minutes ago in fact, I received a Facebook message from someone asking me to vote for their son in this Smiles contest being held at the Fan Page for Sheri Lynn Photography. It’s the Smiles Photo Contest and this is the little guy I’m supposed to vote for. If his photo gets the most votes, his Mom will win a free $40 photo session. That’s not too much to give away, and definitely worth the cost when you consider how many new fans the page has since starting the contest.
More Paid Search Goodness
Janel Laravie also killed it in the Advanced Paid Search Tactics session and brought up a lot of really excellent ideas for streamlining your paid search campaigns. Personally, I’m not able to spend nearly as much time on paid search as I’d like, and so Janel’s insights were invaluable to me. She had some great suggestions for separating and streamlining campaigns between broad, phrase & exact match types. I haven’t been able to implement those yet but that and other ideas have lit the proverbial fire under my ass to start streamlining my paid search campaigns the way I’ve wanted to for years now.
This part is kind of funny, but not so much in a ha-ha sort of way. While I very much enjoyed the conference, of course there were some points of concern.
Where’s the swag? I rushed to #SSSS on Monday morning so I could register and pick up my Swag, only to find that a) there was no formal registration and b) there was no swag. Did I get there late? Is 8:30AM late? What’s the deal? Where’s my special SSSS pen? Where’s my wrist band? Given the “spirit” of the conference, shouldn’t I at least get a custom shot glass or something? I’m not a swag hound or anything like that but the schedule DID say there’d be swag and, well… there just wasn’t.
They called it “a special networking session” but I’m more inclined to believe it was a mistake in the organization of the schedule. So let’s run through this together. 12p-1p was lunch. 1p-2.15p was a session, which is usually followed by a half hour “networking break” and then another session. On both days, however, 2.15p was promptly followed by absolutely nothing until 3.45pm!! I don’t know about you but it’s confusing to have an hour break, a 75 minute session and then a 90 minute break! The idea of doing even more networking after all the networking we were already doing sure wasn’t something I got excited about. I know I wasn’t alone because it seemed like people were either deciding to go take a nice afternoon nap in their hotel rooms or spend their time “networking” with each other about the big mistake in the schedule. Food for thought.
And OH! The Networking!
Speaking of networking, I did have a great time meeting a lot of my peers in the Search Marketing landscape. Some people approached me, mentioning that they knew me from Twitter, and yeah, I was surprised. I didn’t know I was the kind of Twit you’d come out and notice, but it made me happy to know that some of the things I have to say are taken to heart. I met others like Kristin McLeod who didn’t know me from Adam, and now we talk regularly on Twitter. Still, there were others I met and forgot just as quickly, a single-serving-friend of sorts that lasted about the duration of a cigarette. I’ll remember their faces, though, and won’t hesitate to approach them the next time around.
One networking breakdown of mine took place when the esteemed Sugarrae called me out for sitting along “talking to the palm tree.” In my defense, I wasn’t talking to the palm tree. This was during one of those massive networking breaks. I didn’t have a hotel room to take a nap in, I was hot, tired, and thinking about the dryer I had to go pick out immediately after the festivities ended for the day. She called me out for being a wall-flower, then promptly called me over to sit with her and Michael Gray. Maybe I sound like a groupie, but I don’t care. What an honor. She and Michael were way too busy working on a different website but I was happy just to get to sit there and watch them work. I swear, I’d consider paying for that in the future. When that future comes, I’m definitely going to buy her a beer.