Monthly Archives: March 2011

The 5 Best Books on Social Media Optimization

Social networking

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: social media is a critical part of any website marketing strategy. Unfortunately however, social media is also a hard nut to crack for most people. Heck, I’m still learning a lot about how to do social media myself. However, I am learning more every day and I learned a lot from these five books on social media optimization.

An important note before we get started with this review however: a book, by its very nature is going to have at least some out of date information. It’s just the nature of the beast – social media and SEO is a rapidly changing world and what was true yesterday may not be true today.

Therefore, I suggest looking at these books as “broad strokes” guides. That is to say, they are great for teaching you the fundamentals of how to make the most of social media, but they should not relied upon, at least not exclusively, for information about specific tools or techniques since many things change so rapidly.

Important note: For those who would like to be able to buy the books I reviewed, I included links below which all go to Amazon.com. You don’t have to buy from them though. Feel free to use your favorite bookstore. The links are basically just for your convenience.

Social Media Marketing: An Hour a Day By: Dave Evans

If I had to choose a favorite amongst the five books I reviewed for this roundup of books on social media optimization, this one would probably be it. Unlike most other books which say they talk about social media, this one is much more laser focused on actual social media and not on the stuff you run yourself (i.e. it talks about using the social networks to your advantage instead of blogging or SEO).

If I had a complaint here it would be that it’s not quite “an hour a day” guide. It’s more like, here is the information, now go do what you need to do and spend an hour a day doing it.

The Social Media Bible By Lon Safko

Calling this book the Social Media Bible might be a bit strong. While it is an excellent introduction to social media optimization, I’d say that this book, like most of the ones in this review, is a little broad based for that title.

It spends time telling us the history of the web and talks about a lot of tools that are not purely social media related. Joomla for instance is discussed here even though that’s not really what I would think of as social media (when I think social media, I think of things like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn & some of the popular news sharing sites like Digg and StumbleUpon, etc).

That said, I found the strategies section to be quite helpful because it shows you what to do rather than talking about which tools to use to do the job.

The New Rules of Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott

I liked this one quite a little bit for what it does offer, which is a broad look at how the Internet has fundamentally changed the way we do business. What I didn’t care for however was the way they seem to brush lightly over specific ideas for making social media work for you.

They also are more broad based than I’d care for, talking about how to use the ‘net in general (you could write an encyclopedia on that and not cover everything) rather than being laser focused on a specific topic. Still, it’s good for what it is – an introduction to marketing on the web.

Inbound Marketing by Brian Halligan

Okay, here’s what I like about Inbound Marketing: they talk about one of my favorite subjects, blogging. They explain in beginner’s language how a blog can be used to effectively build your online presence and why it’s so useful. What I didn’t like is that it seems to be light on the other piece of their promise, which was social media optimization.

Marketing to the Social Web By Larry Weber

This one could also be called social media marketing 101. It’s a great introduction to the world of social media, however when it comes to the nitty gritty of what you need to know in order to create successful campaigns in social media, it’s a little thin on that content.

How to Use Ezines to do Online Marketing

Ezine marketing

Finding places to advertise where people really want to read what you have to say is hard; after all, you have PPC, PPV, Facebook ads, direct advertising, however these are all extremely expensive options. Recently however, I’ve been looking into another, lower tech form advertising: Ezine marketing.

Basically, the idea here is that you do one of three things:

1. You Build Your Own Ezine

This one is obvious and something you should be doing anyway. Basically, you should have a mailing list, as I discussed a few days ago here. Then, do something different than most people do with their mailing lists.

What I mean by this is that most people spam their Email lists and make it into something that no one actually wants to read. I know that my spam Email address (I have a special one set aside just for these kinds of Emails) is always clogged with junk and I’ve taken to hitting the spam button rather than ask to be removed from lists.

However, for those who want to do Ezine advertising, your Email list is a perfect place to do it. You can simply send out Ezines to targeted people who actually want to read what you have to say and then include advertising in it. If you actually offer valuable information instead of junk, your stuff will get read and you’ll make sales.

2. You Do Guest Articles in Ezines

This is very similar to guest blogging in that you would be publishing original work on someone else’s property, however in this case, you are doing it with Ezines. The idea is still the same though – you will provide a well written article for the Ezine in question which would then be used to syndicate out to their readership.

While Ezine Articles originally started with this concept, they have since expanded and now appear organically on their own in search engine results and they also see their work syndicated to blogs and the like.

The nice thing about a guest article written directly for an Ezine however is that you can reach the major Ezines, with larger audiences who aren’t interested in rehashing the same material that 500 other blogs and Ezines have posted directly from Ezine Articles.

3. Purchase Advertising in Ezines

Finally, you can do Ezine marketing by purchasing advertising in Ezines. Often, these are cheaper options than buying them on websites or with PPC/PPV services precisely because of the fact that they reach a smaller audience.

However, even though the Ezines reach a smaller audience, they are often better than other forms of advertising because Ezine subscribers have all opted in to receive the Ezine in question meaning that they are very interested in this particular niche.

This can be a very valuable space then for marketing your website or service because of the fact that these people, who are reading Ezines regularly actually want to know what you have to say.

Tips for Building an eCommerce Store

eCommerce shopping cart

Building a website is more than just setting up a blog or a static web page. It often means building yourself an eCommerce website. This means setting up the ability to sell products directly online from your own store. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to do just that. Here’s what you need to know:

Start By Choosing Your Niche

This may be a moot point if you are simply expanding an existing business that you have been running as a traditional bricks and mortar business (for example, if you run an antiques shop and want to start making your offerings available online). However, if you haven’t yet chosen a niche for yourself, then you may want to take a while to think about what you want to sell.

You can sell virtually anything in your eCommerce store that you’d like to sell and you can add just a few items or tens of thousands of items. The choice is entirely up to you, however I highly recommend that you choose a niche rather than offering everything under the sun. Trying to create a new Amazon.com is likely to cost you more than you can afford after all.

Choose Which System You Want to Use

The choice of how you will run your eCommerce website is largely dependent on what you plan to offer for sale. If you don’t happen to have products that you’d like to offer for sale of your own, you may want to create a site which sells affiliate products.

The nice thing about doing this is that you don’t need to sell anything at all on your own. You simply sell products that others have for sale and you make your money from commissions. Here are two of the more popular options for setting up an eCommerce site based on affiliate links:

Amazon.com

If you can’t beat ‘em, join em, right? In this case, it’s the Amazon.com affiliate program, which I’ve written about here in the past. The nice thing about Amazon is that they sell lots of products so you have your choice of niche. The bad part is that the commission is pretty low – around 4% on most purchases so you do need volume.

ClickBank

I’ve never been particularly enamored of ClickBank because they have a lot of products that are pretty scammy. However, they also have tons of other stuff which is great and the commissions are often quite good. Check them out to see what they have for sale and see if any of their products fit the niche you’d like to work in.

Selling Your Own Products

If you want to set up an eCommerce store to sell your own products, there are two excellent solutions that you may want to consider buying into. One of them is E-Junkie and the other one is DLGuard.

DL Guard

DLGuard is a plugin for WordPress that creates an eCommerce site on your blog. You can use it to accept payments from PayPal and to set up a shopping cart on the blog. The cost is quite reasonable as well, offering a two site install for $147.

E-Junkie

For those with very small eCommerce needs, E-Junkie may be a better choice. It also integrates with PayPal and lets you set up shopping carts on your website. The difference is that for a site which offer just a handful of products, it may be a better choice. You can get set up for as little as $5 per month for up to 10 products.

Be sure to search for some coupons though as you can often get months off or even some discounted pricing for the long term when setting up your e-commerce site (for example, I found a coupon on the Warrior Forum, PAYPAL111 which gives you three months free and 25% off on their services after that if you pay with PayPal).

by EricHammer, on       Comments are off for this post