National Mail Order Association -- Expert Advice Series

February 2008

John D. Schulte's Expert Advice Column

Web 2.0, a six week plan you need to start right now.
by John Schulte

 

You’ve heard about it, web 2.0. And if you’re like me you wonder, what is web 2.0 and what does it mean to me as a marketer of a product or service?

Searching the web on the subject even complicates the matter because you find all sorts of information that is written in hard to understand tech language. This article is meant to simplify the meaning for a marketer and tell you what you need to do right now.

 

First off, from a marketing standpoint web 2.0 is really about building search engine ranking and word of mouth marketing. It represents the shift from your company controlling all the information about your company’s products and services, (i.e. web 1.0,) to the consumer providing and sharing information about your company’s products and services.

This is done through blogs and other internet social web sites like www.Facebook.com, www.linkedin.com, www.fastpitch.com,  www.MySpace.com, www.plaxo.com, www.flickr.com, and www.YouTube.com,  and social bookmarking sites like, http://www.digg.com, http://www.propeller.com, http://www.stumbleupon.com, http://del.icio.us, http://www.Reddit.com, http://www.newsvine.com, http://www.technorati.com (i.e. All together gives you Web 2.0)

 

In other words, Web 2.0 is about word of mouth marketing, or “conversation marketing.” You need to interject social marketing tactics into your regular marketing that will help spread the word about your company and also give you additional search engine optimization for your web site. You need to do this to rise and stay at the top of the search engine rankings with relevant keywords and the topics associated with what you sell, and you do it by building highly relevant social communities that tie into your target market.

 

You want to use new web technology to encourage and engage conversation about your product rather than you simply pushing your communication about your company into the marketplace.  You want people to talk about you using blogs and social networks, bookmarking information about your company and then sharing it with their friends.

 

As an example, let’s say you are selling aftermarket automotive accessories. The current Web 1.0 approach is to discuss features and benefits of the accessories on your website. Where a Web 2.0 strategy is to encourage customers to upload their pictures and videos using your accessories on their cars and trucks.

 

Why is this shift happening?  Mostly because people are becoming disinterested with static “one way” corporate generated content, and now that the tools and technology are available for them to easily learn from others and share experiences with others, the natural tendency is to go looking for more interactive options to help them with their research and purchasing decisions.


Everyone now depends somewhat on the internet as a marketing channel, and that will only grow, and to keep up, you need to incorporate a few tactics this year.

 

Why must you start now? Because most non-blog sites are falling fast in search engine rankings, 60-80% of indexed pages on Google are now blogs. Traffic on Social Media Sites is quickly surpassing other sites.  

 

You may have personally noticed this shift when you've searched on a word or term and comments found on Wikipedia come up at the top of the search listings.

So here is a six week plan for you to start this very week. Don’t put it off.

 

Week One: Start up a blog around some relevant topic to your business and make at least one post, and link it to a page your main site if you have one. Blogs are an essential component of a Web 2.0 strategy, and important to the future online marketing success of your business.

 

 A blog will:

- Increase traffic to your corporate web site and other call to action pages.

- Build an online BUZZ around your company’s products and services.

- Help reduce part of your search engine optimization costs.

 

To get past any inertia you may have of setting up a blog today, and avoid much of the learning curve, I recommend using a self-service blog creation service like Moguling or Blogger by Google. We set up blogs on both of these and they're pretty easy to use and both have the important Web 2.0 functionality and components you need built into them. Both have free versions to use. Here is the wholesale blog I did on Blogger. http://wholesalenewswire.blogspot.com/ One advantage to Blogger is you can download the entire blog and move it in the future if you desire.

 

If you have not yet created a web site for your business at all, start now with a blog. If you start using Blogger by Google you will not even need your own URL.

If you have regular website you can start a blog and put a feed from it on a page of your main site and your blog posts will appear there also.

 

Week Two: Set up a free account at these social bookmarking sites: http://www.digg.com, http://www.stumbleupon.com, http://www.Reddit.com, http://del.icio.us, http://www.newsvine.com, http://www.technorati.com And on each posting you make to your blog, use one or all of the bookmarking sites mentioned above to optimize the posting by tagging it and adding it to your favorite list. And you ask everyone you know to tag it as well; Friends, employees, relatives, and good customers.


Week Three: Create your first profile on a social web site. I would recommend starting with www.facebook.com. After you have a detailed profile on Facebook, do a search for groups on Facebook related to your industry and join them and contribute something to that site, maybe linking to your blog, or your company profile. If there is no group related to your industry, start one. You might want to start one even though there are others. Here is an example of the direct marketing group we started for the NMOA, http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=5375374834 (Join us for free and post your link!)

 

Week Four: Create a profile on www.twitter.com, www.linkedin.com, www.fastpitch.com,  www.MySpace.com, and www.plaxo.com. Just open your Facebook profile and copy and paste the same information from there into these new profiles. This makes it quick and easy. Remember, each of these social sites you create profiles on give you additional links to your main site for free, and also put you in a network where others can find you.

 

Week Five: Set up a Press Release Page on your main web site if you don’t already have one so you can post any news releases about your company. Here is an example of the NMOA’s direct marketing press release page. Then write a press release about your new company blog, post it to your web site, and then submit the release to various press release distribution services. A reasonable fee based PR distribution service is prweb.com and a decent free one is pr.com Then use the social bookmarking sites you made an account with in week two, and tag your press release. (The NMOA Industry Contact Directory lists over 80 free and low cost press release posting and distribution services.)

 

NOTE: Watch for the new NMOA training guide on “Marketing without Money using Press Releases and Articles.” It’s just about finished and should be out in the next few weeks.

 

Week Six:  Make additional posts to your blog and tag them with the social bookmarking sites. And then each week after this, make additional posts. Make sure any of your sales people or employees get registered to post to your blog too.

 

This six week plan will get you started, and that’s the most important thing when it comes to a Web 2.0 marketing strategy; it’s a work in process, ever evolving, your first steps you do here will lead you to the rest.

 

If you have questions, or need help, contact me at the NMOA and we’ll see what can be done.

 

If you missed my article, one tactic to increase your web sales you can click here to read it.

 

To your success,

 

John D. Schulte

schulte@nmoa.org

Follow me on twitter, www.twitter.com/jdschulte