A case study in failure. by Jennifer DeWitt

What if you had a client that turned out to be a case study in failure? Would you use that example in future presentations to share what won't work in social media? Let me tell you about it and then feel free to comment below.

Once upon a time I had a client. This client was an established, thirty year old organization with a history of successes and milestones in real life. They wanted to create a community. They wanted to offer valuable resources. They wanted to share. It all sounds good, right? I agree. In fact, for nearly a year I worked with this plan in mind; spinning ideas and developing new web content models, web video proposals, and blog ideas.

For ten months I slowly built a tiny community of followers from sharing other people's links, videos, and content. The client never provided me with any fresh original content, nor was I allowed to publish any. Every tweet, post, and comment (except for a handful of their own product promotion) was from an outside source.

So the dust has settled, and the case study is a valuable piece of promotional material for what not to do. It shows what happens when you don't create anything to share. The answer: nothing. You can't build a community without content. In short, content rules. (In my head, I'm imagining myself in leopard spandex jumpsuit and yelling rules like "RULZ!!") 

Look, you know what content means to the success of social media, Internet marketing, and even the Web itself. C.C. Chapman knows. Kristina Halvorsonknows. Valeria Maltoni knows. The basis of all that I do revolves around good fresh content. Like Kristina said back in 2010,

"Content strategy isn’t a bunch of tactics. It’s a plan. It’s a well-foundedplan, fueled by your business objectives and user goals. An achievableplan, created with your current business reality, content assets, and limited resources in mind. A future plan, for what’s going to happen to your content once you send it off into the world. And, most importantly, aprofitable plan, where your measures of success ultimately have impact on your organization’s bottom line."


What is Education Media Design? by Jennifer DeWitt

Yesterday wasn't the first time that I was asked how my passion for education could be combined with media design and social network development. Many people don't automatically make the connection between education and everything else. Those with great abilities to teach are normally thought of as standing in a classroom in front of children or young adults. Choosing to apply education to this new field of mobile networking and social connectivity seems so natural to me. Our lives are now so connected, so collaborative, that every moment can be filled with sharing new information, critical skills, product development ideas, and design processes. How is education NOT connected to everything else?

When we were taught how to read and write, to think critically, and to successfully and creatively navigate our way through the world, we hardly gave a second thought to those processes once we left school. Naturally, we go on to lead lives full of further education but don't necessarily call it as such. We become designers, filmmakers, writers, artists, managers, and building developers and we leave the teaching up to the teachers. Think on this however, when explaining a new concept to an important client, wouldn't it be better to present information in a way that not only informs, but educates and inspires? Wouldn't having knowledge of learning processes and theories really step up your game in the corporate world? Imagine connecting with your clients and consumers in a way that would engage them and providing a platform from which they become invested in you. Suddenly you've moved beyond collaboration and into building a solid community. 

Be aware of the skills that professional educators bring to the corporate world, whether it's SCORM compliant instructional design, social network strategic planning, or presentation creation, this is what we can do. What education media design is about: connecting your ideas with the world in ways that are based on the most modern of learning theories. I can help you share, create, build, and grow, by tapping into multiple intelligences.

Here's how an education media designer can work for you:

Create modern presentations capturing your clients on a variety of levels: visual, audible, tactile, spacial, etc.

Develop strategies in which to engage your audience through modern media and social networking techniques. Knowing which will work with the varied abilities of differing demographics of users.

Content creation that is engaging, clear, on-point, professional, and entertaining. (Don't forget, teachers typically love to inspire, engage, encourage, and empower.)

Open-minded project development and direction. Knowing how to drive the creative process from inception to fruition is a great skill. Imagine having someone on your team who can do that forwards and backwards. It's not easy taking an end product back to it's roots. 

Flexibility is the key to creation. As a teacher I have come up with what I thought was the greatest lesson plan of all time, only to be met with blank stares. I have written press releases, created webpages, and developed online shopping carts that were rejected, deleted, or failed to work. One should always have a back up plan. Always be light on your feet. Always be prepared for the message to be changed, tweaked, reversed, or scratched all together. Bounce like Silly-Putty. Being rigid puts everyone at risk.

Patience is a virtue, but knowing when to take action is just as valuable. Years of applying this skill have become second nature to many education media designers. 

Contact me for more info on how an education media designer can help you with your blog, video production, website design, social media campaign, or in-house training.

Online Marketing Basics - Part 2 by Jennifer DeWitt

Part 1 was about planning. Once you've got your basics noted and sitemap developed, you are ready to jump into development and implementation.

Dabbling in Design: Thinking about a website layout when you aren't a web-designer can seem daunting, and it's true that some coding experience may lead to your greater success. These few tips can help with the most important points.

  • Remember that functionality comes before beauty. Remove all clutter from your page.
  • Coordinate the look and feel of your website with other materials you have such as brochures, business cards, social network platform designs, etc.
  • Use HTML text.
  • Be sure that your page names, file names, picture names, and anchor text include keywords that people will search for.
  • Leave room for ads in the sidebar if you're going to have them.
  • Eliminate unnecessary code and avoid an excessive code-to-content ratio.
  • Use <strong> HTML tags instead of <bold> and <em> instead of <i> for SEO (search engine optimization) purposes.
  • Tell Google what your abbreviations mean.
  • Validate your code to avoid mistakes.
  • CSS (cascading style sheets) allow absolute placement and reduces the code-to-content ratio.

Creating Content: Unique content updated at least once a week that uses strategic keywords is important for the SEO (search engine optimization) and CMO (content marketing optimization) results you need to increase your Quality Score and ranking.

  • You need at least 500 words of keyword-rich text on each site page.
  • Most people don't read, they skim. Use bulleted lists and headers to break up text for visitors.
  • Use in-links to other pages within your site, deep links and a few outgoing links to relevant sites. Give crawlers the path to your most important content.
  • Use unique keywords in your Meta Tags (Title, Keywords, and Description) on every page.

Finding a Host: Choosing the right web hosting company initially will save you future frustration. Be sure to do your research before deciding on a home for your site. Ask these questions:

  • What is their up time? Do they have backup servers?
  • Do they offer domain forwarding in case you have multiple URLs?
  • Do they have phone, live chat, and email customer support?
  • Do they offer ancillary services? (website builders, built in PPC (pay-per-click), email accounts, etc.)

Goods for Sale?: Make sure your shopping cart software has the same criteria as your hosting company. Think first if you will have anything to sell. Explore different options as everyone should have something they can sell. Most importantly: Can your software calculate shipping, taxes, and automate invoices?

Email: You should have an email account: xx@yoursite.com and have multiple accounts such as: info@yoursite.com, sales@yoursite.com, etc. to project a professional image.

In addition:
Set up auto-responders to contact, checkout, etc. letting visitors and customers know exactly when and how you will be getting in touch with them or thanking them for a purchase.

Automated follow up information on anything is possible. As long as it doesn't negatively affect the user experience. (For example: a visitor inputs their email address and receives a confirmation that they have been added to the newsletter mailing list. They then automatically receive the newsletter and other marketing emails.)

Next steps will be discussing traffic driving. I used to be scared of numbers and am typically horrible at math, but simple equations changed all that. Find out more next week.

Online Marketing Basics - Part 1 by Jennifer DeWitt

Recently more and more people have asked what exactly Internet marketing means and how they can incorporate a few basics into their own plans for website optimization. The first stage is Infancy. During this stage a business should:

Review the Business Plan - How will you deliver the product you intend to sell? What is that product? How will your website fit into that plan? Think about the process in reverse from sales to engagement to reach to lead generation.

Buy the Domain Name - It should be your company name but also purchase a domain that incorporates what you do. It shouldn't be too long or too difficult for clients to remember or spell. Check out Bluehost, Network Solutions, or Instant Domain Search to register.

Research Your Competitors - Who are your competitors? What can your site do better? What type of content to they provide visitors? How are they utilizing search engines and where do they rank for the keyword phrases that are relevant to your site? How much traffic do they have? Sales? Revenue? Research their demographic information, pay-per-click information, and the source code of their site for keywords, title, description and meta tags. Research keyword traffic.

Research Keywords - What words are competitors using and how much do they cost? How many words/phrases will you concentrate on? Are there any well-trafficked keywords that aren't being utilized by your competitors? What niche can you thrive in? Is your niche local? Focusing on the wrong keywords can be expensive and cause you to start over from scratch when they don't work. Test keywords with PPC and track conversion rates. Split test PPC ads and strive to increase your Quality Score.

Develop a Sitemap - What is your matrix of pages? (Home, About, Products, Contact, etc.) Develop title tags for each page with a specific number of characters. Remember to use a theme. Where will you put the product? Aim for a flat architecture with the least amount of clicks between the homepage and any final destination. Don't forget to submit your XML sitemap to Google in Webmaster Central.

Visit next week for Stage 2 of Online Marketing Basics.

SEO for Beginners by Jennifer DeWitt

3 tips for figuring out search engine optimization:

Do your research. 

Or pay someone to do it.  

Look, before you even begin to build a website, be sure you're targeting your audience with smart, effective keywords.  


Keyword research shows how viable your industry terms are for clickability. How clickable are you? Do you appeal to your niche market with keywords that rock? Brainstorm a list of words related to your industry and its audience. Start with a list of fifty or so. Then plug them in to see which have the lowest competition and the highest return of clicks. Use tools to find out more: 

  1. Market Samurai is the one I use. It offers a crazy amount of bonus information but it does take a bit of training to get used to. And, if you're just working on your own webpage, it might not be most economical for you.  
  2. Google AdWords Keyword Tool is pretty effective and fun to play with. Most everyone has a Gmail account and you can access Google Analytics on your webpage and even setup an AdWords account. An all-in-one dashboard is handy.

Now what?

Well, what do you do with these keywords. Also, do keywords expire? The answers are a lot and sometimes, respectively. What you can do with keywords is this:

  • Use them as Titles of your webpages
  • Use them in Descriptions of your webpages
  • Use them as Categories and Tags of your Blog posts
  • Add them into Content in the pages of your website and Blog posts
  • Use them as Anchor text of photos, images, and videos on your website
  • And did I mention content? CONTENT! 

Do they expire? Well, let's just say they can become less popular or perhaps your audience has changed a bit and you need a few new keywords to freshen up your content. Go back and do your research again to see what pops up.  Listening to conversations online and following trends will help you stay on top of modern search terms.

Use Wisely.

Used in conjunction with dynamic blog posts and long-form content, organic SEO can change your page ranking over time. It will not happen as quickly as paid marketing, but it will happen. Stay dedicated. Be diligent and the return will happen.  


Building Blocks for Your Online Reputation by Jennifer DeWitt

What are the building blocks to a great online reputation?

In order to increase your reach and improve your reputation, you need to think of your website as your home base for your business online. Even as an independent contractor or small business, this is your identity. 

Align your staff with your vision and voice. If you have a team, make sure you're all on the same page in terms of customer responses, status updates, and blog posts. One of the toughest acts to recover from is when a rogue employee responds rudely or posts a status update that doesn't align with the company's mission or voice. Put a plan in place and make sure protocol is followed. Also discuss consequences for thoughtless posting and commenting.

You must create unique engaging content. I've had clients who have flat out refused to give me any content to work with. I've had to attempt to manufacture a following from other people's links, photos, videos, and blog posts. It just doesn't work. Unless you're putting something out into the world that is of some value; whether comical, informative, inspiring, or authoritative, it just won't work. Before you even begin to use social media, have a plan in place for content. Ultimately, you want to drive visitors to your website where they'll find frequently updated, relevant content.

Listen to the web around you. Keep an eye on your niche and others related to it. Who are the top influencers? What are the questions being asked on Quora? Who is doing most of the talking on Twitter? What is your take on the topic at hand? How does the morning news relate to your brand? Listen to the web, it will give you great insight into the movement of your industry as well as provide loads of content ideas.

These building blocks will allow you to invest in the real estate of you, online.