Andrew Grinaker | Digital, SEO and Content Strategist Blog | Seattle, WA

Covering Content Strategy, SEO, Social and Reputation Trends

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New Posts on Medium.com

September 17th, 2013 · Uncategorized

I have started posting new content on Medium.com.

Please view my profile and my latest post on Branded Content here.

Thanks!

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My 3 Favorite Influencer Identification Tools

August 16th, 2013 · Uncategorized

I wanted to write a quick blog post on 3 of my favorite Influencer Identification tools. I know that the PR industry has been identifying and leveraging influencers for some time now, but I want the digital marketing and social media professionals to understand it doesn’t have to take hours and hours to identify some quick targets to help jumpstart your campaign.

Here are 3 tools that I like and take less than 15 minutes to execute.

1) FollowerWonk – part of the Moz.com Toolset

This is one of my favorite tools to quickly identify influencers on Twitter around a specific subject area. It will aggregate a list of Twitter profiles based on followers, tweets, days old and social authority, which is a metric unique to follower wonk.

Twitter users with -marketing software- in their bios - Followerwonk

However, my favorite feature on this tool is when you hover over a specific user it will show you their engagement metrics with their audiences, which is crucial when identifying influencers. The metrics given are number of retweets, number of @ contacts, total engagement and the percentage of tweets with URLs.

Another aspect of the tool that is beneficial is comparing users to understand potential opportunity and areas of growth. Below is a screenshot of a user comparison between Nike, Reebok and Adidas.

nike_reebok_adidas

One caveat is that it will only display profiles that include the specific word you are searching for in their bio. If the word isn’t listed, they won’t show up in the list.

2) Topsy

Topsy provides a similar service around a particular query term. However, the tool also allows to filter the data based on links, tweets, photos, videos and specific influencers.

topsy.com-s-q=cloud computing

In addition, the tool will allow you to specify the date range between the past hour, the past day, the past week and then a specific time range if you have campaigns running. Also, if you are interesting in campaign and influencer work outside of the U.S./English, the tool offers additional languages.

The other item that I particularly like is that it will pull in specific articles that are trending, along with the specific accounts associated with them. The screenshot below shows how you can see who is engaged and sharing your specific piece of content.

topsy_cloud_expand

3) Technorati

Typically reserved for finding articles that you are interested in, Technorati is a great tool to find blogs and articles in your particular niche. Quick searches allow for you to make a list of targets for a news article or particular media asset that you have created and want to build some traction for.

Gadgets Blogs - Technorati

 

Technorait also provides a Top 100 blogs as rated by their own authority ranking. They also provide Top 100 blogs within specific verticals like Gadgets, Entertainment, Living and more. You can also filter between News specific sites and Blog specific sites.

www.theverge.com site details - Technorati

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How to Leverage a Television Commercial Online

July 16th, 2013 · Television

A commercial intended for television doesn’t have to only live there. Some commercials have seen incredible success on YouTube or Facebook if shared to the right audience.

Here is an example of a commercial that was edited and added time for YouTube. Disclaimer: this video was produced by my company Possible.

I wanted to outline 4 specific areas that agencies should be thinking about when leveraging their TV commercial online to maximize the performance and traffic acquisition opportunities.

1)      Publish, Share and Promote on YouTube and/or Client’s Web Property

  1. If possible share video before airing to build awareness
  2. Place on Client’s Web Property with Transcription to attract organic traffic

2)      Develop shorter (or longer) and/or secondary forms of the video for easier social sharing and reach additional audiences depending on content type

  1. Behind the Scenes footage only available online (Example below of Fox Sports 1)
  2. Out-takes, funny or humorous footage that can show a lighter side of the brand
  3. Instagram Video version (15 seconds)
  4. Vine version (6 seconds)

3)      Plan a cohesive distribution strategy to maximize audience reach and increase amplification of content

  1. Facebook (What is the best day and time?)
  2. Twitter (What is the best day and time?) – Example shown below.
  3. Target influencers in your industry to help build awareness
  4. Client Web Properties (corporate, blog, microsite, intranet, etc.)

4)      Implement and Leverage Feedback and Analytics

  1. Capture conversations, comments and audience behavior on social channels specific to the video to inform future strategies and ideas
  2. Provide client with reporting on customer satisfaction data based on number of views, how long they viewed it and sharing to their own network

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Five Content Ideas for the New Vine App

January 31st, 2013 · Social Media, Twitter

Five Content Ideas for the New Vine App

The Vine App is Twitter’s new mobile and tablet application that allows you to capture of series of video clips and turn them into a .GIF file. Once the file is created you can share the looping video to your social networks. The app has quickly gathered steam in the marketplace and is already one of the Top 10 Free Apps downloaded on iTunes.

The challenge is that you are only afforded 6 seconds of video to capture your message or story. If you are not familiar with the app, here is a quick summary on Guardian.

Here are 5 ideas and examples of how you could use the Vine app for your company’s social media efforts.

1) “How To” Videos
This is probably the great area of opportunity on Vine. Very few people want to watch a seven minute on YouTube about “How to Make a Cheese Omelete” but if you can boil it down to 6 seconds and make it easy to consume, you have a winner. The “How To” angle can be used for any market or industry – simply document a process in your business that involves a series of steps and you have yourself a Vine content idea.

This awesome Vine shows you ”How to Make a Brownie in a Mug.”

2) Product and/or Company Story
I was surprised that I couldn’t find more examples of companies already showcasing products on Vine but it will only be a matter of time before this is done…effectively. Instead of white papers and product specs, take 10-15 shots using Vine and you have created a cool, unique media asset of your product. Another option, and used in the example below, is using Vine to show your store or company through a series of product/employee shots.  This example is a fan of Guitar Center and documents their products and an enthusiastic employee.

3) Highlight your office and staff
This probably can’t be leveraged more than a few times but it is one of my favorite ideas to utilize the App. Start the App and go take quick shots of everyone on your team and let Vine build a 6 second view of your beautiful faces.

Along with building a staff photo, you can utilize the app to show your office digs. The example below illustrates how the TLC Social Media team showcases their office space and their funky artwork on the walls.

4) Opportunity to be Creative
Admittedly, this is a very vague idea for using the App, but I wanted to call out how Vine can allow you to think outside of the box and stop limiting yourself to your brand and products/services. Use this .GIF service to build engaging content on what normally would be boring. Think about documenting your work commute or how you could “stage” a real estate property. The example below isn’t a Vine for Lego’s but it easily could be.

5) Ask for more User Generated Content 
Brands love user generated content. But the problem is finding easy ways to have your customer base create it and then share it to the masses. Vine helps eliminate some of those obstacles. Create a campaign to entice your user base to generate these short videos and share them. This Vine illustrates how a happy customer of a Four Seasons hotel shared their experience.

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What happened to your blog?

November 20th, 2012 · Uncategorized

“What in the #%$ happened to your blog?”

That is what most people are probably saying when they visit my blog. You know, all 10 of them over the past month. I took a break from the blog for two reasons.

Reason #1: Build my Family

We had our second beautiful daughter, Ruby Caroline on October 1st and we were frantically getting the house ready while also tending to our other inquisitive, precious and beautiful first daughter Addison Rosily. My free time over the past 90 days has been dominated by my daughters, which I love. Addison is now over 2 years old and calling me “An-ru” instead of Dad and basically running the house. Our life runs at a crazy pace but I love it.

For someone that is constantly on the go and busy, they have taught me to slow down and appreciate your life, no matter the situation.

Picture below is Addison (left) and Ruby (right) near Halloween.

Addison and Ruby

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reason #2: Build my Business

Nearly three years ago, I started North City Training (www.northcityaau.com) which helps train and coach middle school and high school athletes in the greater Puget Sound area. The past 12 months have been great for the business but is always a challenge while I continue to maintain my first, full-time job. The business is not going away. In fact, we anticipate great growth this year as we have seen over the past 2 years.

2010 – 12 high schoolers
2011 – 22 high schoolers
2012 – 12 high schoolers, 25 middle schoolers (37 total)

This year, we are planning for 55-60 kids in our program. It is my true calling in life and gives me an opportunity to watch boys turn into men through discipline and playing basketball.

The picture below is the entire program at a tournament in Yakima, WA last year.

north city family

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Sharing a basketball game with Steve Ballmer

April 3rd, 2012 · Uncategorized

Outside of my normal paying job, I coach AAU basketball. A few months ago, I first encountered Mr. Ballmer at an AAU tournament at the Rainer Valley Teen Center in south Seattle, for a game his son was playing in. His son happens to play in the same grade as the team I coached.

For those that don’t know, in March of 2012, Forbes.com released a story regarding the richest people in the world. Ballmer was listed as the 18th richest American and 44th in the world with an estimated value of $15.6 billion.

After hearing from a few parents in the gym that it was not uncommon to see Ballmer at games, I was intrigued to see how he handled himself; the multi-billionaire hanging out with common folk.

He quickly made it be known that not only did he not care that people recognized him but that he loved the game of basketball. He yelled at the referees when they made a bad call. He jumped out of his seat and applauded loudly when his son’s team would score. He was passionate and he was into every movement of the game. The game ended and I sensed I wouldn’t cross paths with the man again.

Fast forward to this past weekend and another AAU tournament. I was intrigued to see some of the top teams at the grade level I coached and was lucky enough that games were scheduled in my neighborhood. I quietly walked into the gym, found a seat and sat down. Two plays later, a small African-American kid sinks a long three-point shot and, the gentlemen sitting two feet to my right is yelling, “O-Marrrrrrrrrrrr!” Naturally, I turned toward the loud voice and the man. Ballmer. Steve Ballmer.

Should I talk to him? Or play it cool and act like I don’t recognize him? I couldn’t resist and asked him if these two teams have played each other in the past. He replied and talk about a close overtime game they had a tournament in Portland about a month ago. We had some further small talk but he was with his entire family, which left me compelled to leave him be.

But as the game continued on, I couldn’t help but observe his actions. Even though his son will only play roughly five minutes in the game, he cheers on all of the players and discusses strategies with the other parents.

I was impressed with this love for basketball but more impressed that not one time during the game (not even halftime), did he check his cell phone. He was there to watch his son play and enjoy time with his family. It was an obvious but refreshing lesson for me. If the CEO of Microsoft can step away from the business side of his life, then why can’t all of us? The email will still be there. The missed call can be returned later.

The one small footnote of this story that I have failed to mention so far is that I walked into the gym with my iPhone and my iPad in hand. I had used both devices to capture film of opposing teams, take notes and script plays that I had seen while watching. I was sitting too close to Ballmer for him NOT to notice that I was playing with not one, but two Apple devices.

If we forgot who was in the stands, the game itself was a treat to watch. It was an exciting, back and forth game between Rotary Select and Rainier Select Basketball (RSB); two inner city teams with amazing athleticism and speed. However, as the game wound down I thought that I must get a picture with him to remember this time (and convince my friends) that I was able to share a game with Steve Ballmer.

With only seconds remaining in the 4th quarter, one of the teams called a timeout. I leaned over, tap him on the arm and asked, “would you mind if I took a picture with you?”

He looked at my iPhone in my hand and then my iPad in my lap. “Uhhh, not with your iPhone or iPad. I don’t think that would be such a good idea for me to be in a picture with one of those devices.”

I was disappointed that he wouldn’t take a picture but understood that from a business perspective, he needed to avoid those situations.

Picture or no picture, I was fortunate that I got to see a side of him that few will probably ever be able to see. It also taught me that even if you are the CEO of the one the world’s largest companies, it shouldn’t stop you from paying attention to what is truly important in this world. Your family.

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What is the best fantasy football site?

January 20th, 2012 · Uncategorized

What is the best fantasy football site?

My first fantasy football experience was when I was 12 years old. My dad felt my football knowledge was solid enough to invite me to be part of his fantasy football league. A league he had done for several years with work friends. The “live draft” was held in a indoor lumber yard, with a draft board that, according to my 12 year old eyes had to be 25 x 25 feet, but in reality was probably half of that. From that day forward, I was hooked.

It didn’t matter that the league didn’t have ESPN.com or any other online service to help calculate the points. You received a newsletter every Wednesday which provide each team’s scores and the weekly standings. It was the greatest piece of mail I had ever received. Because of that experience, I have been part of a fantasy football team for the past 16 years of my life.

Up until last year, I convinced myself that fantasy football can only be properly experienced with one team. You are focused on one team and one set of players. Last year I succumbed to work pressure and joined a work league. This year, I am part of 3 teams. One for my work, one for a small community of Seattle web/social guys who are friends on Twitter (#SeaTwiff) and my “big money” league, which refers to the league (2065 Seattle Couch League) that has been going strong for 8 years with my  closest friends and family.

Each league used its own online platform, including ESPN, Yahoo! Sports and CBS Sportsline. After experiencing each platform, I felt compelled to provide a review to fantasy football freaks.

Ranked in Order

1)    ESPN.com

Cost: Free
Pros:
-Easy to use interface to help add players and set your lineup
-Good mobile user experience with the mobile application properly supported and refreshes at a good rate during the busy Sunday full of games.

Cons:
-The need to click thru several pages to get full story (standings, scoreboard, team lineup)
-Some articles require an ESPN insider membership which is an additional cost for each team

2)    CBS Sportsline – Commissioner Version

Cost: $199
Pros:
-The cost seems to be a con, but it provides complete ownership on the league including historical stats, commissioner privileges to override transactions, and complete custom settings on scoring and lineup configurations.
-Content is free and good. Dave Richard is one of the best in the business and provides great rankings and insight.
Cons:
-Mobile application is unusable. Slow to load and crashes often. One thing to note here is that CBS Sportsline recently open up their platform to third party developers. My guess is next year’s app will be comparable, if not better, than the industry leading ESPN.com.

3)    Yahoo! Fantasy Sports

Rating:
Cost: Free
Pros:
-Homepage gives the entire picture of the league including snapshots into standings, matchups and upcoming opponent.

Cons:
-Mobile application had issues earlier in the year but were fixed towards the end of the season.
-Limited content around strategy and injury reports.

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SEO will Improve Google+ Engagement and Traffic

November 10th, 2011 · Search Engine Optimization, Social Media

SEO will improve Google+ Engagement and Traffic

When I first encountered Google+, I ultimately tried to downplay the importance of Google’s new social network. I even became frustrated when I saw infographics and metrics stating its rapid growth in comparison to Facebook and Twitter. It’s not a new brand people!

I setup my Google+ profile and after 30 days of posting and playing around, I abandon my profile and the network, turning my focus back to Facebook (where my friends are engaged) and Twitter (where the content is.)

And then the long awaited (second?) announcement for Google+ for business came. Naturally, with my role of managing a social media and reputation management team I was asked for my input on its impact and role in a client strategy.

Utilizing my personal business (www.NorthCityAAU.com) I started a Google+ business page. It was very simple with few features to customize the look and feel. Yes, you can create a more customized look like Pepsi below, but it is still in its infancy stages compared to Facebook’s user experience.

However, it was my experience with the review industry that led me to believe that SEO will drive engagement and traffic for Google+ pages. Recently, Google made changes to include their Google Places reviews in the main search result for branded terms, stripping out third party companies from their review aggregate. For businesses that have a presence on Google Places, the SERP would look something like this; website, sitelinks, then their Google Places page.

With this change, they have effectively given their reviews more importance and visibility than any other review based site.

This leads us to my prediction of Google+ integration with branded searches and the increased visibility, and subsequent increase in traffic of a Google+ business page.  Google controls the result and essentially nothing stopping them from showing ALL networks (Google Places, Google+, etc.) when someone searches for a branded term. Furthermore, even if they don’t place the Google+ page in the first result, they can find ways to bring attention to that result, similar to how they are currently treating Google+ profile pages for name searches.

You will notice below that Google has supplied an image to differentiate between Facebook and Twitter. My guess is that over time Google+ profiles will rank higher than Facebook/Twitter and generate more traffic.

Sure, they need to make sure the Google+ business page is valid and displaying relevant content but as you can see above with Pepsi (and their 15K followers) they are already well on their way.

Yes, people will continue to search for businesses and organizations on Facebook but let me break down the search impact on showing up at the top of a branded search result. According to Google’s Adwords tool that displays Global Monthly searches, the term “Pepsi” is searched on Google an estimated 3.5 million times per month! A few opportunities to capture eyeballs on their Google+ business page wouldn’t you say?

Now the catch is ensuring visitors from the searches are engaged and impressed by what they see on these Google+ business pages. This leads to a focus on content and user experience of Google’s social network. I anticipate that businesses will see the traffic impact and put more emphasis into their Google+ page, thus increasing quality of content and a better experience for Google+ users.

Will users abandon Facebook and Twitter? Probably not, but with first page visibility, the opportunity is there….ripe for the picking.

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The State of Reputation Management

October 13th, 2011 · Social Media

The State of Reputation Management

In a world of fake reviews, spamming competitors and hounding customers for testimonials, there is never a dull moment in the world of reputation management. After spending the past 90 days leading a team focused on reputation management and social media services on the review sites, I have gained an infinite amount of knowledge.

I wanted to touch on the three biggest revelations when it comes to reputation management and the review based social media industry.

Before I touch on these three, I wanted to state briefly on one common misconception in the industry. In 99% of instances, you cannot get a review removed. Don’t sign up with a vendor that promises this can be done. It is incorrect and they are providing unethical services.

1)    Customers Reviews need to be an Organic Process.
In my opinion, the voice of authority in the Google Places and reviews world is Mike Blumenthal (insert link). We had a recent Twitter and email discussion around how to generate reviews on Google Places. He touched on three key points when trying to generate reviews, ethically.

-Don’t pressure the customer for a review
-Don’t incentivize the customer (coupon for a review)
-Don’t have them write a review on the property of the reviewing business.

Starts to limit some of your strategies right? Not if you are focused on a long term strategy instead of a quick fix. You can certainly ask the customer for a review and even share a link to your Google Places or Yelp page but just stay away from giving something away in return for a review. It creates ethical concerns and will be viewed negatively if someone states, “loved your business, thanks for the coupon for the Google review.”

How is writing reviews on the property wrong if the customer is doing it? IP address conflicts come into play. If you are flagged by generating reviews from a single IP address, you could get your local listing blacklisted. Share marketing materials to help get them find your page….when they get home.

2)    Use Reviews to Create Actionable Items
Reviews can be quite enlightening if you take the personal side out of them. Yes, you received a 1 star rating on your Yelp page. Get over it and learn from it. Why did they have a bad customer experience? Can something be done about it?
Give your employees feedback regarding the review and ask about how you can improve the situation for the next set of customers. Don’t take the review for granted as a “one off” scenario but leverage the opportunity to improve your business.

3)    Understanding the Major Players in the Review Industry
My take, based on customer feedback and review activity, goes something like this. CitySearch is dying, Google is gaining momentum, Yelp is getting greedy and the rest are struggling to gain any traction.

At one point CitySearch was at the forefront of the review industry but over time they have lost significance, search engine visibility and overall visitor traffic. Our customers have shown little interest in driving reviews to their site.

Google is gaining momentum mostly for their visibility when someone does a company or product search on Google.com. They have positioned their reviews on the Google Places page to show up near the top page 1 search results, adding instant credibility. They have also recently removed third party reviews from their review aggregate and are only pulling in Google Places reviews.

The “greedy” line regarding Yelp above comes from their filtered review technology. They have a process to filter reviews for what is being perceived as either new Yelp users, infrequent Yelp users and/or other factors unknown to the industry. My issue is that if you can confirm the reviewer as doing business with this company, why wouldn’t you want to share that experience with the general public? In the end, I think this will push more people and more importantly businesses away. Businesses will simply get tired of sending confirmed customers to their profile page only to be eventually filtered.

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Five Tips for Google+ (Plus) to Beat Facebook

July 23rd, 2011 · Social Media

5 Tips for Google+ to Beat Facebook
by Andrew Grinaker

Personally, I am glad that Google has entered the social realm successfully this time. Wave and Buzz were failures but Google didn’t give up and have launched a product that is effective, engaging and most importantly an option to Goliath, aka Facebook. Similar to Microsoft reinventing itself with Bing and giving Google Search a competitor, Google+ is going to keep Facebook honest and give consumers what they really deserve; two competing companies fighting for the social space with new features to engage a demanding audience.

Here are 5 things I think Google needs to focus on to beat Facebook.

1) Exclusive (invite-only) Access Needs to Go Away and Soon – It was a smart public relations move to initially start with invite only, (did anyone really believe any bandwidth or beta issues were really to blame?) but you have reached the early adopters and testers by now. Open it up and try to capture as many people interested in it now instead of asking friends for invites or wondering why the hell they need an invite to something they can already get through Facebook.

2) Get out of your own way – Google is big, powerful and won’t be affected if a few hundred (thousand) people leave their GMAIL or Search services. However, social is a different beast. Take for example the Google+ business profile snafu they created. They setup business pages, promised pages wouldn’t go down, took down said pages and ultimately frustrated many people. They did this with little disregard for their end user. These type of situations cannot be duplicated since they will get shared, re-shared, tweeted and re-tweeted.

3) (Effective) Integration with other Google Products – The biggest advantage that Google has over Facebook is the other products their users are already engaged in. YouTube, Google Search, Picasa, Gmail, and Google Docs are a few products that should continue to be leveraged and integrated in order for people to forget about Mark’s “social network.”

4) Google Places and Location Based Incentives – If Google+ continues to grow at the rate it has initially, they will have plenty of users to put Foursquare and Facebook Places on watch for their ability to reach engaged consumers. They already have businesses and organizations setup through their Google Places platform, along with incentivizing their users with the newly created “Google offers.” If integration is done correctly, they could capture the “offers and daily deals” market unlike any other business.

5) Be Honest about Data Sharing and Privacy – An issue that Facebook deals with to this date. If you are up front early on in the game about how data is being manipulated (its all consumed and sold in my opinion) then you will have a better chance to selling your user base on enhancements, APIs and social graphs in the future.

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