SMX Panel Recap: Effectively Leveraging Social Networking

Day two opened up this morning with the Effectively Leveraging Social Networking panel, featuring:

  • Dave McClure, Entrepreneur & Startup Advisor, 500Hats
  • Cindy Krum, Senior SEO Analyst, Blue Moon Works
  • Helen M. Overland, Director, Search Engine Marketing, non-linear creations

Additional live blogging coverage on this panel is available on Search Engine Land, Search Engine Roundtable and aimClear.

Dave McCLure on Facebook

Dave began by querying the crowd on their familiarity with Facebook. which indicated that the vast majority of attendees were regular or fanatical users of the service. Using that as the base of his presentation, he began by discussing the importance of feeds.

For Dave, the power of using the feeds is all about setting up your network appropriately. Tagging content with the people you feel are relevant is certainly important — and it will allow you to reach others in your market area or segment with ease. Tagging people in content like videos is an excellent way to immediately associate yourself with others who hold a large network of friends. In one particular example, Dave showed how he took an SMX logo and tagged it with Danny Sullivan and Vanessa Fox’s name.

Using that example, Dave went on to add in Neil Patel before using the “share” tools on Facebook. He recommended using the “post to profile” option which will allow you to then add the tagging event to your profile and feed. Once you have done this, those who you are friends with will now have access to that information. Furthermore, those who have been tagged in the photo (using the example from Dave above), will receive a new notification which will help to raise their awareness.

While Facebook is not at all complicated, you can use things like feeds and tagging those in your network to push content out there to people beyond your own network.

By now, I hope I have communicated that using the share tools in Facebook is something that Dave really wanted to drill home to the audience. Compounding on that idea, Dave finished up by discussing how the creation and joining of groups allows for you to have more reach when your feeds are updated.

Helen Overland on LinkedIn

Helen was here today to talk about a great tool for those looking for professional social networking — LinkedIn. With exposure to more than 15 million professionals, the average user earns $140k annually. If those stats aren’t enough to get you hooked… read on.

With LinkedIn you can ultimately choose how you want to use the service. Many try to connect with as many people as they can — while others become secretive or guarded, trying to build only high quality contacts. Here, Helen discussed the importance of using the “Lion” or LinkedIn Open Network users. These users are trying to build up as many contacts as possible, and being connected to them will give you a connection to their first and second degree connections. Having a few of these will be enough to propel your information out to millions as Helen then went on to demonstrate.

Increase Visibility and Branding
Helen offered up three solid ideas here for increasing your your visibility and branding:

  • display expertise in the “answers” area
  • Announce web sites and services
  • drive readers to your blog posts when they can be used as Answers.

Generate Sales
For Helen, LinkedIn can really be used well as a sales tool. Using your connections you can easily research potential clients and partners by locating various people in organizations. Since those using LinkedIn associate it with professionalism, you can leverage this form of communicating to help solidify your name or brand.

Generate Traffic and Supporting SEO
While many may overlook the SEO value of LinkedIn, Helen offers some great tips for us to reconsider. When you use the answers area of LinkedIn, you are getting your information indexed in the major engines. Because of this, if you can integrate links to your site — you will of course receive some kickback by increasing inbound links. It’s worth noting that many of these answer pages, while indexed, are also listed as supplemental results.

To help reinforce SEO efforts, you can change your profile’s URL to be that of a “vanity URL” using keywords or phrases relevant to your brand. Since LinkedIn profiles are indexed — you can assure additional exposure here as well.

Finally with regards to SEO efforts — Helen recommends that you have employees link back to your web site. Using this one technique, you should be able to gain at least dozens of links assuming your employees are active users of LinkedIn.

Case Studies
Case studies that Helen conducted also seemed to indicate that the people visiting your site having been referred by LinkedIn not only visited more pages, but also spent more time on the site as well.

Cindy Krum on MySpace Opportunities and Risks

Cindy brought a lot of energy to the podium, and led into her presentation by discussing the positive elements that MySpace profiles can carry.

The first example that she provided to the group was the profile for Flying Dog Brewery, a local company to Denver with national distribution. They’re using their profile to establish the company personality and to create a community around the brand. A particular example of how well this company used the system included the use of a flyer for their profile picture. Of course, when someone clicks that image — they’ll immediately receive more information on the event.

Cindy continued with Flying Dog Brewery review by dissecting the images the company has used in their profile. With a number of categorized albums, those who are friends with FDB now have access to a wealth of information and media — which only helps to reinforce their brand.

The next component in the FDB review was their strong use of the MySpace events feature. Publicizing events to the MySpace demographics is a great way to encourage others to blog and link to the event — while of course producing offline marketing and business success. So, why does all this matter for SEOs? Well, Cindy shows us that a search on the company name actually produces a link to MySpace before Wikipedia’s entry on the organization. That’s strong!

Review of True
True is an online dating web site that plays upon the users that make up the bulk of MySpace users. True is trying to get more people to interact with their brand — and one solid example of this is the “Create a Date” game that they have added. Regardless of the games or tools, these elements are all here to better serve their users in a lighthearted manner. Still, when people engage these tools — they are then referred over to the True web site with real time results.

The Downside of MySpace…
Cindy opened up here with a client she worked with — Westwood College. Since a large number of users had identified themselves as Westwood students on MySpace, the organization wanted to connect with those people to help reinforce and further publicize Westwood.

Creating the profile took some time though as Cindy then went on to explain. Keeping a profile fresh and updated was an important step here as students make up a fickle crowd. Keeping them informed yet entertained was key to grabbing more friends for the Westwood profile. Once friend requests started coming in, there was also a sudden need to review things more carefully.

In an example of how quickly things can turn sour, one particular friend became very active on the Westwood profile. They were doing all of the right things like commenting, providing links and actively participating in group discussions. While that was great — things changed when the user opted to change their profile picture to one where they were wearing an S&M outfit. In an instant, this person was all over the Westwood College profile and group pages doing nothing but harm the branding image.

Communicating with other users were another issue for Cindy’s client. Managing a MySpace profile is relatively easy on the surface, but less so when you represent a professional organization. Questions that should arise for you include: Who writes back to emails and comments? Will we be blogging? If so, what topics and content is appropriate for our friends?

Auto Europe Widget
Cindy wrapped up by discussing MySpace widget development through a client case study. Since our focus here on is search optimization and marketing — I will stick to some lessons that pertain to those topics. Based on Cindy’s recommendations, we need to keep an eye on how MySpace encodes their URLs. Since MySpace will make an effort to encode all URLs, you must be careful to check where links end up pointing. Grabbing the link love to reinforce your SEO efforts should certainly pass along some value.