Archive for April, 2010

Social Media Dos and Don’ts for Realtors

Friday, April 30th, 2010

The following is a guest post by Leslie Mann, a real estate agent with Hallmark Sotheby’s International Realty of Hopkinton, MA and the real estate blogger for the MetroWest Daily News.

Most real estate agents have a social media presence, but are they really giving home buyers and sellers want they crave? Buying or selling a home is an important financialand emotional decision. Most people are full of questions when they undertake this endeavor.

They want more than someone who’s just experienced in the industry. They want someone who will protect their interests and help them navigate the complexities of real estate. It is important that the agent they choose is someone they’ll feel confident having by their side throughout the process.

That’s where social media comes in. If applied correctly, it can be a great way to open a dialog, share advice, and begin to forge a relationship.

Here is a handy list of social media dos and don’ts for real estate agents.


  • Invite buyers in – Home buyers want to know the good, bad, and ugly of each town they’re considering moving to. Yet most real estate blogs
    simply give buyers basic demographic statistics and perhaps some flowery language about the area. Give potential clients a far richer understanding of the markets you serve, letting them know the pros and cons of each area. Be honest and forthcoming with a wealth of information and opinions.
    Let them know why you chose where you live and they’re more apt to turn to you for advice.

  • Be yourself - I’ve heard of many realtors who pay a ghost writer to write their blogs, yet this approach has its shortcomings. The copy simply doesn’t ring true; it fails to give clients a sense of who you really are. Studies show that consumers want to make a personal connection with those they do business with. Let your personality shine through. It’s a great way to open a dialog with a client, before they ever pick up the phone.

  • Take advantage of controversy - Some of the most trying days as a real estate agent prove to be great lessons we can share with our clients. Tell readers about common real estate pitfalls to help them have a smoother home buying/selling experience.

  • Chat -
    Home buyers today expect instant response to questions, day or night. Use a free widget like Meebo to allow home buyers to initiate a chat session wit
    h you, right from your blog.

  • Respond to comments, good and bad – Respond promptly and courteously to engage readers who post comments on your social media sites. One caveat: Don’t feel compelled to respond to those who post abusive comments. The social media space does lure its share of online bullies. Resist the temptation to get into battle with them, instead help to solve their problem.


  • Shout about your home listings - It’s fine to let people know about the homes you’re marketing, but don’t make that the primary topic of your interactions. Think about common questions home buyers and sellers ask you, and turn these into posts. Provide valuable content and you’ll keep people coming back.

  • Forget video - It’s tempting to skip this expense, but online video is
    an important element of home marketing. If well done, video creates an emotional connection with buyers—and improves search engine optimization.
    Video is 50 times more likely to appear on the first page of Google search results than a text page, according to Forrester Research.

  • Assume you’re only connecting with first time buyers - The fastest growing Facebook demographic
    is women over 55. At last count, there were already nearly 30 million U.S. users ages 35-54 and more than nine million U.S. users age 55 and older on Facebook.
    It’s a great place to engage “fans” and learn what they’re looking for from their agent.

  • Talk to yourself - Social media is more about listening than about talking. Pay attention to what people are saying about you and your brand. Solicit and gather feedback through informal polls or via free services like TweetBeep or Google Alerts.

  • Ignore your existing clients - Invite your previous buyers and sellers to join your social networks. This way, your sites becomes richer communities of shared experiences and objective advice from those who recently completely the home buying/selling journey. These contributors may prove themselves to be your strongest advocates. 

How do these ideas translate to industries outside of real estate?

Photo Credit: TheTruthAbout…

Live Webinar: How to Use SEO & Social Search for Lead Generation

SEO and Social Search for Lead Generation Webinar


Join Mike Volpe, VP of Marketing at HubSpot for insights on how to generate leads with SEO and social search.

Date and time: Friday, May 7, 2010 at 1:00pm ET 

Reserve your spot now!

Connect with HubSpot:

HubSpot on Twitter HubSpot on Facebook HubSpot on LinkedIn HubSpot on Google Buzz 


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A Business Owner’s Guide To Google’s New Street View

Friday, April 30th, 2010


Looking for a pastry shop in Boston? Or how about a late-night sushi cafe in Cambridge? Just whip out Google Maps and it will return a list of related locations with directions, photos, and even reviews of the destination.

With location-based sites like Yelp, Foursquare, Twitter, and others on the rise, Google decided to enter the “location war” with Google Places, a tool that enables business owners to build a directory page in Google Maps. However, Google has taken it up a notch. People can now browse local business in Google Street View and find nearby listings right on the map.

Local Businesses in Google Street View 

In a seemingly virtual reality world, users can “walk” down a street and explore nearby locations. Each location has a company name as well as an icon indicating the type of business. If you hover over a local business name, its information (address, phone number, ratings, etc.) will appear in a pop-out box. These are the same business annotations that were viewable zoomed out, but they are now available as you explore around town.


What Should Business Owners Do?

  1. Set up Google Places page. People are already searching for you online, so make sure they are finding the right information. Set up your business listing on Google Places and include information such as your address, website, phone number, photos, business hours, etc.

  2. Ramp up your online presence. Create coupons for customers who find you online or offer special deals to draw people in from Google Street View. If you sell products online, a 15% discount will certainly attract users who are just passing by online. Be sure to offer great customer service to receive good ratings on your business listing.

  3. Analyze your online traffic. Use Google’s data to learn more about your customers’ activity, behavior, and trends. Find out who’s searching for you and where they are coming from, and accordingly adjust your online strategy. Don’t forget to check that your business is in the right place!

SEO for Lead Generation Kit

Learn more about how you can optimize your site to get found online in search engines to generate more leads for your business.

Download our search engine optimization for lead generation kit.

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Marketing Analytics: How Do You Decide What to Measure?

Friday, April 30th, 2010

Marketing Analytics - know what to measureWe all know that the “it” buzzword is ROI.  Here at HubSpot we have a saying we live by:

In God we trust; all others must bring data.”
W. Edwards Deming, physicist and quality improvement pioneer.

So you know that you need to measure your marketing efforts.  The problem many marketers have is figuring out what to measure

Here are a few tips to help decide:

  • Where’s the money going?  While it’s reminiscent of Jerry Maguire‘s infamous “Show me the money” quote, your first priority is to show where the money goes.  (And, of course, to show what comes back from the money!)  If you’re trying to figure out where to start with your analytics, start with your biggest budget item and work your way down.

  • What do the “Powers That Be” care about?  Does your CMO or CEO have a pet project?  Wouldn’t it be awesome to show them a great ROI?  Conversely, wouldn’t it be great to show them objectively that it was a waste of time and money?  (Note: if you do the latter, don’t actually use those words.  Present the data simply and cleanly and let them come to their own conclusions…)  Maybe your CEO has a certain budget item under a microscope; measuring that would be very useful.
  • Do you NEED the detail?  It is easy to get wrapped up in the minutae of data points.  Do you really need to see exactly who clicked on exactly which link in your email?  Or would a unique click computation for an email blast or lead nurturing campaign be sufficient?  When you’re thinking about this, keep in mind that more detail = more human time spent in analysis and more complex tools required to gather and analyze the data.
  • What if you screw up?  I know that you’re thinking about that last point, “But if I don’t measure EVERYTHING, my CEO will ask me for that one number that I don’t have and I’ll look bad!”  You do run that risk, but if you have the numbers that prove the cost of collecting and analyzing a huge amount of data, you can both defend your decision and try to build that time and those tools into your budget going forward.  I’ll also warn you that this will happen.  You’ll occasionally screw up (being human and all).  To try to minimize the damage, see if you can find out what your CEO wants to see and measure before you begin.  By setting strict parameters of time and what you’re measuring, you can defend your data.

You may not get all the numbers right on your first attempt. However, through trial and testing you will be able to build a solid foundation of web analytics knowledge and be able to apply it to your business moving forward.

What steps have you taken to measure digital marketing in your business?

Image Courtesy of Gerry Lauzon.

Video: Marketing Analytics 101: How to Measure the Effectiveness of Your Website

Learn how to Measure the Effectiveness of Your Website.

Download the free videoto learn how to Measure the Effectiveness of Your Website.

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Thanks to This Month’s Sponsors April 2010

Friday, April 30th, 2010

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I’d like to say thanks to the people who sponsored the blog this month, without them there wouldn’t be regular posts here.

Text Link Ads – New customers can get $100 in free text links. – Supplement your analytics with action information from click tracking heat maps. – Get a premier listing in the internet’s oldest directory. Regional Directory – Check to see if your website is listed!

Brick Marketing – Sign up for the SEO Newsletter

Directory Journal – Get permanent deep links in a search engine friendly directory

Interested in seeing your message here? There are banner and RSS advertising options available find out more information. Be sure to check out our new Sponsored post option.

Here’s a list of some other programs and products I reccomend

Thesis Theme for WordPress – Hands down the best theme on the market right now, read my Thesis Theme for WordPress Review.

Scribe SEO – Improve your blog posts with this easy to use built in tool, read my Scribe SEO Review.

KnowEm – Protect your brand, product or company name with a continually growing list of social media sites, read an Interview with Michael Streko.

TigerTech – Great Web Hosting service at a great price, read my Tiger Tech Review.

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This post originally came from Michael Gray who is an SEO Consultant. Be sure not to miss the Thesis WordPress Theme review.

Thanks to This Month’s Sponsors April 2010

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B2B Search Engine Optimization: Focus on Content SEO

Friday, April 30th, 2010

MarketingProfs B2B Forum is coming up quickly next week and I will be presenting about an hour of essential search engine optimization tips and insight specifically for B2B web sites along with Vocus Product Manager of PRWeb, Jiyan Wei.

There’s a tremendous opportunity for B2B marketers to leverage SEO to increase prospect acquisition and to facilitate after the sale support and upgrades.  Most B2B marketers create a substantial amount of content to guide prospects through sales cycles that are much longer than companies selling consumer products/services.

While much of that content is published online, most of it isn’t optimized for search and digital assets are often ignored as potential traffic drivers via search.  In this session, we’ll focus on core SEO to help make a website’s content search engine friendly and talk about best and worst B2B SEO practices for processes to optimize content for better search results. The PRWeb case study will show how they worked to refine their content management system overall so it would be technically search engine friendly. Other topics include: large website issues, duplicate content and what to consider when planning a website redesign.

Specific topics we’ll be discussing include:

B2B Content Optimization Strategy & Core SEO

  • Optimized Content Strategy
  • Core SEO (Keywords, Content, Technical & Links)
  • B2B SEO Best & Worst Practices Examples

Large B2B Website and Publisher SEO

  • Challenges you may run into if you have a large website
  • Duplicate content issues
  • Planning a redesign of your existing website (Migration Plan)

PRWeb as a Case study

  • PRWeb experience with SEO during site design, CMS updates
  • Technical SEO tips, sitemaps, site architecture

Focus on B2B SEO Best Practices

  • Best Practices Content SEO for B2B
  • Best Practices with Content Management Systems
  • Best Practices B2B SEO Measurement & Analytics

Then we’ll wind things up with about 1/2 hour of Q and A. If you’re a B2B marketer with a small or enterprise level web site, this is a must attend session and definitely an important conference to attend. We hope you can make it.

© Online Marketing Blog, 2010. |
B2B Search Engine Optimization: Focus on Content SEO |
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LinkedIn Adds the Ability to Follow Companies

Friday, April 30th, 2010

followWith over 65 million professionals using their network, LinkedIn doesn’t often get the buzz that Twitter and Facebook commands.  However, a new tool introduced today gives LinkedIn members the ability to follow companies. 

Similar to a Facebook Fan Page, being a company follower on LinkedIn will get you specific status updates such as recent hires and promotions, new job opportunities and company profile updates. With the initial launch the interaction opportunities are fairly basic, but as the feature matures more opportunities will be released to improve communication between companies and individuals. 

It is extremely simple to follow a company.  For instance, you can follow HubSpot by going to our LinkedIn profile and click on the “Follow Company” link in the upper right-hand corner of the page.


As part of a new piece of research, we’re seeing how quickly we can grow our followers on LinkedIn’s new company profile tool (and will share that information with our readers in the next week). 

When we started evaluating the new LinkedIn tool it was mid-afternoon, and in the course of just three hours, we gained 128 followers (we have 140 employees).  This beats out with 86 followers and 4000+ employees.  Another well-known company, Twitter, has 381 followers and 500+ employees. 

How did we do it?

1. We sent an email to all of our employees asking them to follow HubSpot.  We also asked our social-savvy team to ask their networks to follow HubSpot on LinkedIn.

2. We sent out a Tweet from our HubSpot account.


linkedin tweet

3. We posted a Facebook update on our Wall. 

4. We posted a Discussion Topic in the Inbound Marketers group on LinkedIn. 

Granted, it is late in the day, and not everyone is paying attention to their email or social networks.  But, with a little effort, a company can gain an advantage in the Social Marketing wars by leveraging an easy-to-use tool from LinkedIn. Company followers are listed, along with a blurb and LinkedIn profile.

 hubspot linkedin followers

Besides going to a company’s profile page to follow, you can click on the company name in a person’s LinkedIn profile and an option to follow that company will appear.

Many people will think that this new tool is no big deal.  But, just think about the opportunity to have customers, prospects, potential employees and other connections following a company, your company.  

We hope that LinkedIn will continue to add features so B2B marketers can optimize this business social network even further.

What do you think of the new feature? Are you going to follow companies on LinkedIn? 

Photo Credit: Marloes*

How to Monitor Your Company Brand Using Social Media

Video: How to Use Social Media to Manage Your Company Brand Online

social-media-brand-presense Learn how to use social media to manage your company brand.

Download the free video and learn how to manage your company brand effectively using social media.

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Calculating How Much Website Traffic You Need to Hit Your Monthly Revenue Goals

Friday, April 30th, 2010

A little while ago, I published a free worksheet which helps marketers devise an inbound marketing strategy to support their revenue generation goals. A bunch of prospects, customers and partners have started using it. 

But, it’s too complex for most to grasp. And involves a lot of work to complete. Our new marketing analytics tools makes it easier to get the data needed to run the model, but for non-customers who are new to the whole idea of actually predicting and measuring an ROI from inbound marketing, I realized I needed to simplify it. 

Here’s my simpler stab at it…

1. Revenue Goals Determine Sales Goals
2. Sales Goals Determine Lead Goals
3. Lead Goals Determine Traffic Goals  

setting website traffic goals

If you want to undersand the math behind it, here’s some suggesstions on how to gather the data and what formulas to use. 

Calculate the Number of New Customers Needed in a Month

Every company has monthly or quarterly revenue goals. If you’re a small business owner or startup and you don’t have some, you should set some. If you’re in marketing and you don’t know what the plans are, you should sit down with your CEO, CFO or VP Sales and ask, “How can I better support the monthly revenue targets?”

Either way, the formula is pretty simple: # of new customers per month = monthly revenue goal / average revenue per new customer

Calculate # of Leads Required to Hit New Customer Goal

The only way to calculate this number is to know your website lead to customer conversion rate. If you’re still relying on cold calling, this is hard to do. But, even if you do old-school outbound stuff like cold calling and direct mail (or that crazy effective 1-2-3 direct-mail-cold-call-trade-show-punch), you should have a handle on your ‘appointments set’ to customer close ratio. Just assume that an ‘appointment set’ through direct-mail-cold-calling-trade-shows is like an inbound lead, only colder. Any well run sales organization should have a handle on their appointment set to customer conversion rate. If your organization doesn’t have a handle on it, I’d recommend starting a free trial of

Formula: Lead Generation Goal = New Customer Goal / Lead to Customer Conversion Rate

Calculate the Traffic You Need to Generate the Number of Leads You Need

Okay. It’s going to get a little harder for you to start calculating this stuff. We need you to estimate your visitor to lead conversion rate. Hopefully, you’re keeping track of the number of leads you’re getting from your website per month. If you are, you should be able to look at your analytics package and figure out the number of visitors you’re getting. If you are pretty sophisticated and have some kind of lead tracking setup or closed loop reporting established, you should be able to get this number very quickly. 

If you have no clue what your visitor to lead conversion rate is, you should probably assume that it’s in the 1-3% range. If you do online lead generation right, you might be able to achieve a 5-10% visitor to lead conversion rate.

Here’s the formula: Visitors Needed = Leads Needed / Visitor to Lead Conversion Rate.

Now, the Big Question Becomes: How Do You Get the Traffic?

We’ll save that one for another blog post, but if you want a head start on figuring it out, here’s the Inbound Marketing Playbook


Inbound Lead Generation Kit

Learn how to generate more inbound leads using SEO, blogging, and social media.

Download the free kit for tips and tricks to drive more leads and business to your site.

Connect with HubSpot:

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Thought Leadership on Social Media Strategy

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

With more businesses realizing the power of digital channels to nurture relationships, rally fans and build customer affinity, opportunity abounds for savvy professionals.

But with execution all over the board how should those who are new get started?

To answer that question, we posted thoughts from a variety of marketing and web professionals on social media strategy before tactics.

It’s an ongoing debate, but the consensus among the marketing and PR crowd is clear:  strategy before tactics is the logical approach for businesses to take when engaging in social media.

Sarah Evans provides a clever analogy:

Would you pick up a phone and randomly dial 10-digits? Unless you’re prank calling, probably not. The phone is a tool for communication, just like social media is a tool. Before making a phone call, sending a tweet or launching a blog, strategy is essential. It will guide the decisions you make, the platforms you use and how you interact.

Yet, in social media marketing and PR, it’s common for communications professionals to dive immediately into tactics without strategy “randomly dialing numbers” as Sarah notes above.

How often have you been in a meeting and heard things like “we need to be on Facebook, let’s get on Twitter, or why don’t we start blogging?”  In the social web, it’s analogous to inviting people to a theme party and not telling them what the theme is (or even knowing yourself).  If you approach social media in this way, expect your returns to be as predictable as the costumes your guests at the party will wear.

Shel Israel notes:

You really need to know why you want to use social media and which tools are best suited to meeting that objective. A good start is to know where, on social media, your customers hang out and what you can give them by joining their activities. This depends on which objectives you have in mind. It can be sales, lead generation, support, feedback, new ideas. So many things can be achieved in social media. If you know what your goals are they will shape the tactic.

Indeed.  While “getting more Twitter followers” may seem like a great idea, what if your market isn’t congregating on Twitter?  What if they are still using forums and boards (as many do)?  What if they are all bloggers who barely touch Twitter?  By jumping immediately into tactics without any thought, you may have success – but you may not.  It’s just not a methodical approach.

Peter Kim adds:

Strategy needs to drive tactics, as companies first need to know where they’re going before they figure out how to get there. A lot of roads can get a brand from point A to B, but a good strategy will help selection of the optimal route, as well as how to respond if setbacks are encountered along the way.

This makes sense, as with any type of marketing – digital or otherwise – it is the strategy all tactics should roll to.  Without a solid strategy in place aimed at positioning you as the stand out in the market, it’s difficult to brainstorm and map out cohesive tactics that provide the best route to success.  In other words:  you might get lucky once in awhile if creating tactics without strategy, but you will not build up the momentum required to accelerate ahead of competitors.

All the strategy talk aside, tactics matter too.  And Guy Kawasaki understands this intimately:

“Social-media strategy” is over-rated if not a downright oxymoron. The goal is to do more business. Social-media is a means to that end. Maybe you’ll use it to establish warm and fuzzy communal feelings. Maybe you’ll sell excess inventory. Don’t focus on some kind of high-level strategy because no one really knows how to use social media yet. Focus on tactics: Get more followers, make them happy, promote your stuff to them every once in a while. That’s all you need to know about strategy right now.

Guy has a point:  a solid strategy does not decrease the value of experimenting, tinkering and trying new tactics out.  Yet in a sense, Guy is offering his own strategic approach to social media – the no strategy strategy.

At TopRank Online Marketing, we believe that trial-and-error under the umbrella of a strategy is extremely valuable for businesses new to social media.  This is actually where they will learn the most, get real-time feedback and ultimately become fluent in social media marketing.  The strategy simply provides a framework for both planned and improvisational tactics, which can be dynamic.  In fact, a strategy itself could be designed in such a way to be fluid and shift with the times if a business is agile enough to change directions quickly.

Valeria Maltoni provides a succinct summation to the discussion:

In practical terms, you want to know where you’re going so you can get there. Every resource you expend in business needs to be justified. Everything worth doing needs to be measured. Social media is no different. It may be a great way to share useful content in places where your customers spend time to generate interest for further actions. And it can provide powerful business intelligence back, straight from the people who buy your products and services.

However, to capitalize on all of that, your process needs to tie all your activities together — the information sharing, the intelligence gathering, the communications, content creation, and anything else that happens in between. All activities aligned with and in support of the business. Without a strategy and goals, you won’t know how you’re going to measure results and won’t be able to answer the “so what” question.

Valeria’s statement is heavily grounded in reality.  To get buy-in from key decision makers and stakeholders, you need to be able to present a strategic plan outlining the tangible steps you’ll follow for success.  In the current economic climate (and really all of them) everything worth doing needs to be measured, and spends need to be justified.  The strategic plan allows you to confidently answer the all important “so what” question marketers inevitably receive from the C-suite.

Be sure and subscribe to TopRank blog as well as follow @TopRank on Twitter – we’ll be offering a PDF with even more from industry thought leaders on strategy vs. tactics in social media next week.

© Online Marketing Blog, 2010. |
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IT Works Recruitment try to hire our SEO team!

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

More or less simultaneously today, at least 3 of our SEOs received an email direct from a recruitment agency who claim to ‘represent two digital agencies in Leeds who are looking for SEO professionals‘.
On a personal note, I feel pretty slighted because I wasn’t apparently deemed good enough to be “headhunted” in this fashion, but [...]

IT Works Recruitment try to hire our SEO team! is a post from: Dave Naylor’s SEO Blog.

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Don’t Put All Your Eggs in the Facebook Basket

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

Post image for Don’t Put All Your Eggs in the Facebook Basket

While Facebook may be a hot marketing tool right now, there is danger in putting too much effort into making it the center of your marketing efforts.

In a recent post I spoke about publishing paths and tailoring your content and selectively publishing it to different websites. It can be dangerous, though, if you take it too far and focus only on building your content on one website (particularly one you don’t have absolute control over) because you leave yourself and your business open to whims and decisions of others. I see this happening withTwitter to a certain extent and now, with increasing frequency, with Facebook.

Facebook should be a tool in your marketing toolbox … just not the only tool.

Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with websites like Twitter or Facebook–as long they are part of an overall strategy. However, when Facebook represents all of your marketing activity, you are taking a huge risk. I’ve seen this done with small brands, but I think that, by picking a well-known, national brand, I can drive the point home much more effectively. Let’s take a look at the website for Vitamin Water at

At the time this post was written, 301 redirects to a Facebook page for Vitamin Water. I’m all for trying new things, thinking out of the box, and experimenting. After all, I was one of the few people who liked the skittles redirect stunt. But it was temporary. When you redirect your website to a twitter page, facebook page, wikipedia page or any other page not under your absolute complete control, you are no longer your own master. A lot of web 2.0 companies have a spotty track record and have been known to make some really bad decisions in the past, and I’d put Facebook near the top of the bad decision makers list. Anyone remember the beacon fiasco,  holocaust denial incident, or recent privacy kerfufle? When you put all your marketing eggs in the Facebook basket you put the fate of your company under the guidance, regulations, and terms of service of a company that has shown increasingly poor decision making with alarming regularity.

Let’s be clear: Facebook wants to rule the web. If you don’t think the deactivation of several high profile Google engineers facebook accounts wasn’t a warning shot across the bow, you really need to open your eyes. Facebook and Google will be at war for the web very soon, and you don’t want to be collateral damage in that war.

Facebook should be a tool in your marketing toolbox … just not the only tool.

Facebook and Google will be at war for the web very soon, and you don’t want to be collateral damage in that war.

In the coming year, expect Facebook to make a concerted effort to bring business onto Facebook. In fact I would expect them to do everything they could to incentivize people to make Facebook their main or only web presence. If I was Facebook, I’d have a team of developers and programmers working on making Facebook pages easier for less technical people to use and update. Don’t fall for the trap.

If you are looking for information on how to get more out of Facebook, check out this presentation from Brian Carter at Pubcon 2010. It’s really good.

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This post originally came from Michael Gray who is an SEO Consultant. Be sure not to miss the Thesis WordPress Theme review.

Don’t Put All Your Eggs in the Facebook Basket

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