5 Ways for Job-Seeking Millennials to Clean Up Their Social Media Profiles Today

by Christie Carton and first published on Recruiter.com

Graduation has come and gone. If you’re like so many young people today who were unable to secure professional employment in the field of their choice before leaving college, you’re likely still hunting for those ideal job postings, submitting applications, and going on as many interviews as possible.

Resume in order? Check. Networking events attended? Check. Social media accounts cleaned up? Hmm.

If you haven’t done so already, you might want to seriously rethink what you’ve put out into the social media universe as well. This, believe it or not, is a critical part of the job search.

A recent survey conducted by my nonprofit, the 1,000 Dreams Fund, via Toluna Quicksurveys found that half of job seekers polled between the ages of 18 and 25 don’t plan to clean up their social media profiles before applying for jobs. This is a big mistake, especially given that employers say they use social media to screen and possibly eliminate candidates, according to another recent survey.

The bottom line is this: Don’t let some social media goof overpower your stellar application and prevent you from becoming the next promising employee at the company of your dreams!

Here are five tried-and-true tips from other successful grads about cleaning up your social media profile during the all-important job hunt!

1. Google Yourself

Search yourself to see what comes up. Be sure to dig deep and see what each page contains. What you see may surprise you – and it’s the quickest way for you to gauge what employers are seeing.

2. Keep It Private!

Depending on what you find during your Google search, it may be a good idea to make your Facebook profile private so that only those in your network of friends can see all the fun you had in school.

3. Delete, Delete, Delete!

Your employer can access pretty much anything online. If you wouldn’t want them to see a specific post, tweet, or picture, delete it. If you find something on a third-party site you don’t want out there, reach out to the publisher or editor to see if they’ll remove the post. In most cases, they will, especially if you are clear that it could impact your ability to find a job.

4. Keep it PG

Getting ready to post an update, or maybe a pic from that girls’ night out? If it’s something you wouldn’t want your teenage cousin or grandmother to see, you should probably reconsider! At the end of the day, there’s no way to gauge who is looking at your pictures or posts, so you should be sure to avoid posting anything controversial.

5. Leave It to the Pros

Cleaning up your social media presence can be a time-consuming process, so it’s important to know that there are professional “scrubbing” services you can lean on. These services are especially useful when you’re dealing with something that’s hard to remove, because they pride themselves on cleaning up messy digital footprints.

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Christie Garton is an award-winning social entrepreneur, author, and creator of the 1,000 Dreams Fund.

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9 Questions To Consider Before Developing a Social Media Strategy

By  and first published on business2community.com.

Most marketers already understand that the biggest benefit to adding social media to their marketing strategy is that a brand can join its customers where they meet and exchange information.   One billion people are talking to each other on Facebook.  They’re discussing everything from the movie they saw last night to the horrible customer service person they just dealt with on the phone.  Brands can sit back and let their customers control conversations related to their product or service – or they can join the discussion and become an active participant in the shaping of their brand’s image.

If you’re a marketer who hasn’t implemented a social media strategy (yes, they do exist), the first thing you’ll want to do is develop a written strategy.  By developing a strategy, you’ll avoid common pitfalls down the road.

To develop an effective social media strategy, you’ll need to address these 9 questions:

1.    Who is your target market?

This seems like an easy task, but you’d be surprised how many new business owners don’t know who their target market is.  Spend time giving this some serious thought.  If you already know your target market, think about additional markets you can tap into.  For example:  You currently sell women’s shoes.  Have you ever thought about developing a specific strategy that targets African American women?  Once you’ve determined your target market, do you know which social networks they use?  Establish a strategy for approaching your target market without coming off as a pushy salesperson.

2.    Who are you?

Do you really understand what your organization does? Do you understand how your organization’s product or service benefits the consumer? I’ve trained a lot of marketers at the senior level who didn’t comprehend the full scope of their organization’s products and services.  A marketer can’t successfully promote something he doesn’t understand.

3.    What are you trying to accomplish?

There’s a reason you decided to use social media as part of your marketing strategy: what is it?  Are you trying to launch a new product?  Are you trying to increase sales? Are you trying to build brand awareness?  Whatever it is that you’re trying to accomplish, set specific and measurable goals that will help you determine the success of your social media campaign.

4.    Who will create, implement and manage your campaign?

Some organizations are large enough to afford a social media team that consists of marketing professionals on all levels.  The executive level person develops the strategy, the senior manager implements the strategy and the entry-level person manages the day-to-day tasks of posting updates and responding to community members.  Some organizations outsource one, or all, of these tasks to a third party.  Regardless of who you choose, those people (or that third party) must have extensive knowledge of social media and must be passionate about building and maintaining relationships.

5.    What tools will you use?

There are hundreds of social media tools on the market – many of which are free to use.  Some of the tools you might want to consider using are blogs, your own website, video sharing websites, social media press releases, content management and tracking tools, apps developed for your smart phone or tablet, and content curation tools.

6.    Where will your content come from?

The one concern I hear often from business owners struggling with their social media campaign is “I sit at my computer and try to figure out what to post on my business page, but I always draw a blank.”   The main reason these business owners sit staring at a blank screen is because they didn’t establish a social media strategy before they added social media to their marketing strategy.  If they had, deciding what to post on their business page would be simple.

I always advise business owners and marketers to establish a content marketing strategy as an addendum to their social media strategy.   This content strategy will include a plan for developing content and it will include a content calendar.  Your content should be a good mix of your own content (blogs, pictures, videos, promotional items) and other people’s content (OPC).   Before you post any content, you should always ask yourself:  will my community find this content useful, informative or entertaining?

7.    What milestones will you establish?

Establish time-frames for accomplishing short-term (3 – 6 months) and long-term (1 year) goals.  Consider timing your milestones with product launches or major corporate initiatives.

8.    How will you measure your progress?

Measuring your progress is extremely important, especially since you probably have a boss you have to answer to.   Besides having a boss who will want to know exactly how the company’s social media strategy is progressing, you’ll want to know your progress so you can build on the activities that are working well and discard any tasks that are wasting time and money.

Use Bit.ly or a similar URL shortener to track clicks on links you’ve posted on your social networks.  Tracking tools, like Bit.ly, will help you track how often your content is shared and these tools will help you monitor the level of engagement with your content.

You’ll also want to track any leads generated by your social media activity.  And of course, you’ll want to track any revenue related to your social media activity.   Tracking other conversions, like the growth of your e-newsletter, will provide you with a clear picture of the success (or failure) of your social media strategy.

9.    How will you manage your brand’s reputation?

Assign a person to assume the responsibility of monitoring the social media sphere for mentions of your company’s name.  That person should also watch for mentions of any key executives at your organization.  There are dozens of social monitoring tools that will help you stay alert.  If a problem arises, your brand manager should put out that fire quickly.  She should respond to questions, comments and complaints from your social community.

Brands that take the time to write a solid social media strategy will develop a great relationship with their social community.  Those brands will also avoid common pitfalls that damage a brand’s reputation.  By establishing an effective content strategy, brands will generate content that gets their community engaged and keeps them returning to the brand’s web properties time and time again.  A successfully implemented social media strategy will turn a brand’s community members into brand evangelists who, by default, sell the brand’s products or services to their friends and family.

Read more at http://www.business2community.com/social-media/9-questions-to-consider-before-developing-a-social-media-strategy-0468673#xhGbckEVKXRAibx4.99

7 Things My Girlfriend Taught Me About SEO

By Ben Holbrook and orignally posted on MASHABLE

No, she doesn’t work in SEO…

I love seeing how my girlfriend uses the internet. I take note of her search methods, the kind of keywords she uses to search, the types of sites she buys from. And of course, I’m frequently called to the computer to “have a quick look” at something mind-blowing.

I see it as a chance to see how “normal” people use the internet, you know, people that don’t live and breathe SEO like we do everyday. So without further ado, here’s a post I’ve been meaning to write for sometime; here’s what Sylvie taught me.

1. People spend far more time discovering than they do searching

“Normal” people are lazy and they live in a world that is geared towards them. It’s easy to be lazy. Sylvie doesn’t actively search for stuff that she wants, she simply hangs out in places that give her suggestions related to the stuff she has expressed an interest in before. Pinterest and YouTube are constant streams of information that feed her with things she likes, without her needing to even think about “searching” for it.

Search should compliment discovery, and vice versa.

2. Long-tail is the norm

People’s search queries are getting longer and wilder. This is a social shift. If we have problems, we expect the search engines to solve them. We ask fully-formed questions and expect perfectly tailored answers.

Smart companies should invest heavily in their on-page content – think “problems and solutions” 

3. YouTube really is the second biggest search engine…

Most people in our industry would agree that the first thing we do when we need to find something, is go straight to the search engine. But I’ve noticed that Sylvie’s search habits lean towards Pinterest and YouTube. This may very well have a lot to do with the fact that she is a young female and I a young male, but the differences were recently highlighted whilst searching for furniture for our little balcony.

Ever the SEO, I started my search at Google with a query for “balcony furniture” – yep, I went straight for the money. Sylvie, on the other hand, went straight to YouTube and searched for “how to furnish a small balcony”. I quickly found sites that sold balcony furniture, but I was instantly hit with my next problem – I didn’t really know what I was looking for. Sylvie, on the other hand, was watching her 5th video and was now on her way to being awarded a master’s degree in Small Space Landscaping. The videos took her to the sites that had taught her so much about getting the most out of a small space, and guess what, they also sold the perfect products – mega double whammy!

Search engines aren’t always “search engines”

5. Searching for reviews is part of the buying process

Back in the day we’d ask our neighbors or friends at the pub for recommendations before buying stuff. We still do that now with social media, of course. but Sylvie has taught me that there are review sites for everything these days, and they’re very powerful. She wouldn’t dream of buying something without finding third-party reviews first.

It doesn’t matter where you rank if you don’t have the reviews to back it up. 

6. Infographics are “a bit stale and a bit scientific”

What can I say, something tells me that no-one loves infographics quite as much as SEOs do.

7. Looks matter

By nature, SEOs can often get a little carried away with rankings – what’s more important than ranking, hey? Well apparently; looks are. Sylvie taught me that, regardless of whether a site ranks in position one or not, if it doesn’t look right, then no-one’s going to trust it enough to send it their money.

Don’t forget to optimise for people, not just our beloved search engines.

The Cheat Sheet for Social Media Cover Photo Dimensions

This article was originally posted on hubspot.com by Anum Hussain.

The rapidly growing user bases of photo-centric sites like Instagram and Pinterest, and the recent image-focused redesign of Facebook’s News Feed are two of many indicators that visual content is a force to be reckoned with in marketing.

According to 3M Corporation90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual. And on Facebook alone, our own research shows thatphotos generate 53% more likes than the average post.

Recent trends and studies are clearly highlighting a new wave of visual content consumption patterns. Even if you’ve never designed anything before, or never even dreamed of being a designer, in order to succeed in today’s marketing world, you need to create visual content. And not having enough budget is no longer an excuse either, as improved technology and access to tools and software has made it more and more possible for mere marketing mortals to work on their design chops.

To help you get started with visual content, this post will specifically give you a helpful cheat sheet you can bookmark and reference when creating the cover photos for your business’ various social media accounts.

The Essential Cheat Sheet for Social Media Cover Photo Dimensions

Fortunately, most social networks automatically re-size the photos you upload to your company pages. Here is a list of instances in which youdon’t have to worry about resizing images or creating visuals using a particular dimension:

  • Facebook album photos
  • Facebook mobile image uploads
  • Facebook Timeline image uploads
  • Pinterest pins
  • Pinterest album covers
  • Twitter photo tweets
  • Google+ news feed photo uploads
  • LinkedIn photo links

However, if you upload a cover photo to one of your business pages that is the incorrect dimension for that given social network, your image may get warped or cropped. This is definitely not ideal for brands looking to put their best foot forward in social media.

The following cheat sheet, created by our inbound designer Desmond Wong, will highlight the different dimensions you should be using for your various social media cover photos. And to help make things easier, we’ve also built free-to-download, pre-sized PowerPoint templates for each of the following social networks for you to use as your design canvas. Just add your creative to a social network’s corresponding slide, save it as an image file, and upload it ensure your design is optimized for that social network. Easy as pie!

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You can download your free cover photo templates in PowerPoint here (template example pictured below). The download also includes our new free ebook, Design it Yourself: The Marketer’s Crash Course in Visual Content Creation, which walks you through everything you need to know to start designing visual content yourself — no previous design experience required!

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#HashtagsIn2013: A Hashtag How-To for Businesses

This post first appeared on Social Media Today and was submitted by: Tomeeka Farrington

hashtag strategy

If your company regularly uses Twitter, then you know how crucial hashtagging is to a successful social media campaign. Unfortunately, Twitter’s popular method of interest-driven communication is about to have a contender in the ring it didn’t expect: Facebook. But don’t get too excited just yet; the social media giant is planning to unveil hashtagging capabilities on its site in the not-so-distant future. Coupled with an updated News Feed interface, this could be the push Facebook needed to catapult itself into the advertising go-to for the digital age.

How can your business make the best use of its hashtags? Simple. #Don’t #Hashtag #Every #Word. Every social media maven knows that populating a Tweet or a photo on Instagram with every other word hashtagged is the PR intern mistake of the year. Hashtags should #looklikethis (no spaces!) and if you want to drive your point home, use capital letters to make your tag #EasytoRead.

Starting a hashtagged phrase is a great way to gain new customers.  It also allows companies a way to drive customers to their business through creating unique tags that represent their brand or message. Creating a catchy hashtag campaign, such as Paramount Farm’s use of #CrackinStyle during its ad in the 2013 Superbowl is a great example of unique hashtagging opportunities. This will ensure that your message isn’t lost in the hashtag spam, thus cluttering the commonly used tags for your industry.

Hashtags are a great way for companies to give further insight into an image or product. They allow for categorization, interest honing, and drive targeted consumer purchases. Think of hashtags as warm leads. If a tag is used properly, you will find that clients found it through researching the broad scope of your product or service. (Examples Include: #Tech, #Apparel, #Outdoors, #Gaming, etc.) Using hashtags to draw attention to a particular part of an image, spec of a product or app, or new design is ideal. You can keep hashtags broad spectrum or niche to your industry—the opportunities are endless! Be forewarned that many popular tags are, as we said—overpopulated. This is why creating a unique hashtag specific to your brand, and encouraging your users to use it is crucial to success.

Facebook aims to reportedly group user interests through the use of hashtags, but its ultimate goal is to get them to sell ads. Using hashtags to drive attention to a promoted Facebook post will be a great way to gain attention when hashtags finally roll out on your client’s news feed.

Keeping your hashtag campaign thriving in 2013 is simple if you follow these steps:

  • #KeepItShort – Nobody wants to see a #Hashtagthatlookslikethis. If you must use a longer message, make use of capital letters to separate words and enable readability.
  • Create a message – What do you want your clients to takeaway? Craft a hashtag around a particular message. Make yourself unique.
  • Don’t stay with the popular crowd – It’s easy for your social media post to get lost in the shuffle if you use a well populated hashtag.

What has worked for your business in the world of hashtagging for social media campaigns? What hasn’t? Do you have a hashtag nightmare to share? We’d love to hear your story! Connect with us in the comments below.

5 Ways to Be Banned By Google Overnight

This article first appear on Website Magazine 3/19/13

by 

Google’s algorithms may be a black box, but its Webmaster Guidelines are meant to leave little room for speculation, yet some gray area remains. While the guidelines are written in easy-to-use language and outline some of the illicit practices that may lead to a site being removed entirely from the Google index or otherwise impacted by an algorithmic or manual spam action, there are no real-word examples, albeit for good reason. 

Here are past and present examples of how to get your website banned by Google overnight.

1. Participate in Link Schemes

Any links intended to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered a link scheme, as was the case in 2011, when the New York Times uncovered a link-building scheme by J.C. Penney. The retailer ranked number one for bedding, dresses, area rugs, and other vague and specific keywords, with “uncanny regularity” for several months. After consulting with an industry expert, the New York Times found 2,015 pages with phrases like “casual dresses,” “evening dresses,” “little black dress” or “cocktail dress,” which all bounced directly to the main page for dresses on JCPenney.com.

NYT excerpt: There are links to JCPenney.com’s dresses page on sites about diseases, cameras, cars, dogs, aluminum sheets, travel, snoring, diamond drills, bathroom tiles, hotel furniture, online games, commodities, fishing, Adobe Flash, glass shower doors, jokes and dentists — and the list goes on.

J.C. Penney said they did not authorize and were not involved or aware of the posting of links that the New York Times sent to them. J.C. Penney immediately fired their SEO agency, but not before Google took manual action against the brand for violating its guidelines. Overnight, J.C. Penney was vanished from search results for anything other than branded keywords (a.k.a. direct searches for J.C. Penney). It took about three months for J.C. Penney to move up the rankings and regain lost rankings.

Build links the right way with Website Magazine’s Big List of Link-Building Strategies

2. Include Doorway Pages

Google defines doorway pages as those that are large sets of poor-quality pages where each page is optimized for a specific keyword or phrase. Google always frowns upon manipulating search engines and deceiving users. In 2006, BMW suffered Google’s wrath for setting up doorway pages to attract search engines and redirect traffic to its German website, BMW.de.BMW’s page rank was reduced to zero. While BMW stated it did not intend to deceive users, the company added, “However, if Google says all doorway pages are illegal we have to take this into consideration.”

3. Sell Links that Pass PageRank

Selling links that pass PageRank violates Google’s quality guidelines; this includes advertorial pages with embedded links that pass PageRank. Google recently penalized Interflora, even removing it from branded search results, for using advertorials to solely influence search rankings. An example of this, is that Interflora reportedly sent bloggers floral arrangements in exchange for links. This was once considered a gray area, but is clearly black hat now.

Google’s Matt Cutts responded, indirectly, to this incident with this blog.

4. Scrape Content

In 2012, Google blacklisted a network of websites run by the family of U.K. Parliament member Grant Shapps after the search giant found the sites breached rules on copyright infringement and that they were based on scraped content. This latter black-hat tactic is typically when webmasters use content from other sites to try to increase credibility and the volume of pages.

According to Shapps’s spokesman (as reported by the Guardian UK), the Parliament member “is quite simply not involved in this business.” Certainly, it was avoidable bad press nonetheless.

5. Use a “Bad” Blog Network 

If your site belongs to a blog network whose purpose is to create backlinks, Google will de-index them and penalize you. In 2012, this happened to Build My Rank, which ultimately closed down and relaunched as HP Backlinks. The relaunch, however, has many people wondering if (and when) Google will go after the network again.

Check out this guide to identifying bad links and disavowing them.

Bonus: Start Cloaking — If you want to get on Google’s bad side, present different content or URLs to human users and search engines. Google bans this practice, because it provides users with different results than they expected. Unfortunately, some sites unknowingly use cloaking. For example, if your site is compromised, hackers may use cloaking to make the hack harder for the site owner to detect. Use Website Magazine’s cloaking checker to avoid a penalty.

5 Video Strategies for Merchants

by 

This post first appeared in Website Magazine.

A strong video strategy can provide merchants with many benefits – from an increase in engagement and conversion rates to better placement within the SERPs.

The biggest challenge with video, however, is creating content that will engage consumers and entice them to hit the play button. While many merchants implement video on their sites, often times their video strategies are limited to product videos and demonstrations for specific items. Although these types of videos are definitely helpful, they aren’t very engaging and are rarely available for every product on an e-commerce website.

In order to harness the true power of video, merchants need to create a more robust and innovative strategy that not only showcases their products, but is also interactive and makes consumers want to hit play. Luckily, Website Magazine has compiled a list of five tactics that can help merchants revamp their current video strategy to get better results, check them out below:

Go Live

Brands that want to stay a step ahead of the competition should consider implementing a live video strategy. One way this can be done is with the Your BrandLive platform, which is a video communication software that uses live video and chat to create a unique customer to brand experience. In fact, brands can use the service to broadcast live video from any location and participate in real-time interactions with customers. Moreover, merchants can sell products during video sessions by uploading items into the Brandlive dashboard. By doing this, products are displayed across the bottom of the live video with titles, descriptions, images, prices and a call-to-action button for making a purchase.

That being said, merchants can also go live on Google+ with Google Hangouts. This feature can be used to video conference with up to ten people at a time, as well as live-stream a broadcast publicly onto Google+, YouTube and websites. This could come in handy when revealing a highly-anticipated product for the first time.

Start Advertising

According to comScore, U.S. consumers watched 11.3 billion online videos in December 2012, which proves that video advertising is a big business. Furthermore, video ads tend to be successful because consumers typically either have to choose to hit play in order to view the advertisement or have already decided to watch a video (meaning they are alert) when the advertisement is shown. Merchants can launch video advertisements through Google, as well as on video ad networks like BrightRollLive Rail or Adap.TV. Additionally, LinkedIn recently announced video ads on its self-serve platform, which could be a good place for B2B merchants to display their advertisements.

Promote User-Generated Reviews

Most merchants know how influential consumer reviews can be, so why not feature them in a unique way? Yes, we are talking about video reviews. In fact, there are a variety of platforms available that allow merchants to include user-generated video content on their site, includingBravoAuthntk and EXPO TV. These videos could even prove to be more valuable than written reviews, because it is easier to tell someone’s sentiment when you can watch them speak, which makes this type of user-generated content more personable, relatable and believable.

Get Social

It is important to use a multi-channel approach when implementing a video strategy. By maintaining a YouTube channel and cross-promoting that content on other social sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest, merchants have the ability to show their products to a wider audience. Moreover, merchants can use their social videos to create a variety of content outside of tutorials and demonstrations, such as entertaining spoofs or a behind the scenes look at a company.

Videos for Every Item

Just because you have updated your current video strategy to include some of the aforementioned tactics, doesn’t mean you should neglect adding or updating product videos/demonstrations on your site. After all, product videos are helpful to consumers who are on the verge of making a purchasing decision, which means having a video on every product page could potentially have a dramatic influence on conversion rates. That being said, creating videos is time consuming, which is why platforms like Treepodia can be very helpful to merchants. This is because Treepodia can be used to turn entire product catalogs into product videos. The platform does this with Image Reviving Technology, which brings still photos to life. Moreover, the videos are always kept up-to-date as the platform automatically generates new video versions to reflect changes in inventory and all videos are based on existing product images, descriptions, prices, user reviews and merchandising rules.