Facebook Facelift

Social Media

If you have a Facebook account, chances are you are a fan of something or someone. But, if you’re hesitant to join in the social media hoopla (don’t worry, I was too) here’s how fanpages work. When you set up a Facebook account for a company, you actually create a fanpage, where Facebookers from all over the world can become a fan of your company and suggest their friends become fans also. Any status updates from your company show up in the newsfeed of all your fans. You can use this to make fans aware of specials, introduce new products or use special Facebook fan only discount codes!

Many national companies have utilized fanpages, such as Macy’s, McDonald’s and Coca-Cola. However, not everyone has an attractive fanpage. What makes these companies stand out from everyone else? These companies, and several others, have integrated a section, such as the company homepage, About Us or Contact Us pages right into Facebook. You can check ours out here!

Not only can you have your homepage be a part of your Facebook fan page, but you can also have all of your fans and fans-to-be default to particular Facebook tabs. For example, many fans-to-be are directed to the homepage or About Us tab in the fanpage, while actual fans are directed to the fan comments tab or a tab introducing new products or specials.

So, how is it done? Facebook uses a special language, FBML (FaceBook Mark-up Language) to code the insertion of your website page. There is a special application in Facebook (FBML app) that translates the code of your website into FBML so your content can be viewed in Facebook. You can search Facebook for the application and follow directions or, if you are anything like me and this stuff is just way beyond your realm of geekiness, call us at Cornerstone and one of our gurus would be happy to help get you set up with an appointment for your very own Facebook Facelift! (no surgery required!)

Using Autoresponders To Build Long Term Customers

Design Marketing

No matter who you are most companies fail to use the power of the autoresponder features that are available with applications on their site such as newsletter signups, online stores, membership sites, etc. to build relationships and improve sales.  An autoresponder is a pre-scripted, automatic response to such things as a newsletter signup, online order, or a membership registration.

Here are some ideas to use them for customers:

1. Send a confirmation email after a subscription request or purchase.
2. Send a thank-you message after a purchase (with an upsell to a complementary product, of course!)
3. Send tracking information for your customer’s package
4. Send helpful information about how to use your product once someone has purchased
5. Answer questions instantly with an FAQ email, and give an email address they can contact if the question isn’t answered.
6. Ask your customers if they are happy with the product after they have ahd it for a little while
7. Follow up on a purchase anniversity
8. Send a follow up on a your customer’s birthday
9. Offer a customer loyalty voucher after they had made several purchases
10. Remind customers to bookmark your site, and offer to email them when new information has been added
11. Remind customers if they have an appointment with you if you’re running a service-based website
12. Send out a short survey asking your customer’s opinion about shipping times and any improvements you can make to your product
13. contact customers and remind them of what you can do for them during the holidays and specific shopping season

Sending automated follow-up promotions will generate a healthy amount of extra income without taking really any time.  In fact, if you do it right you should expect a healthy increase your revenues.

Our Po!nt: Be sure that you talk to your web design firm to make sure you are taking advantage of the autoresponder features found in most applications they developed on your website.

Is Your Company’s Reputation On Alert?

Our Blog

In today’s business world your company’s reputation is everything and being able to monitor what people are saying about it is paramount.  Now that 1.5 billion people have access to the Internet and the fact that every five seconds someone writes a comment about a product, what re they saying about your products?  If you are like me I’d sure like to know what they are saying about me and my company.  Well now you can.

You may not be aware of a free service that Google offers called Google Alerts.  This great little Google app can be used in dozens of ways in your business.  You can find people asking questions related to your products and services, be notified when new competitors hit the web, and probably the most important, when a customer is talking about you.  Using Google Alerts is one tool you should be using to alert you about your company’s reputation globally.

To setup a Google Alert account, go to www.google.com/alerts.  You’ll see a simple form where you can imput any term you want to be notified about and have it  sent to your email box every day with the results Google has found you are tracking.  In order to effectively track your reputation, you’re going to want to track the name of your company, your name, and the name of your products.

The real secret of using the Google Alerts is to use quotes.  If you don’t, you will find Google will provide you with alerts for any portion of the name you are tracking.   I set up “Cornerstone Media Group” in quotes so I only get the results for our company’s full name not for each individual word or combination there of that are unrelated.

The power of this application is that it alerts you to both the positive and the negative comments people are making and the sort of negative comments your competition may be saying about you as well.  It will also alert you to where the comment was made on the web.  Having this sort of information allows you to respond to any negative immediately.

The Po!nt: Remember what Newsweek magazine said recently, “You are only as good as Google says your are!” Keeping track of what the world is saying about you, your company and your products has just gotten easier.

As always we welcome your comments and thoughts.

Building Blog Traffic – It’s all About Content

Design Marketing Our Blog

Everyone knows that if you want a successful blog you have to start with great content. But what does it mean to have great content? Your friends and family will read your blog because they know you and like you. To reach out
beyond your social network to a much wider audience you need to provide something valuable, something a reader can’t easily get elsewhere, or can’t easily get all in one place. Here are some things to consider regarding what goes on the pages of your blog:

Be Useful, Entertaining, or Timely

The most successful blogs are useful, entertaining, timely, or a combination of all three. Of these three, probably the one that will have the most legs is “useful”. When you present something that’s useful, people will return to it over and over again. A blog like Darren Rowse’ ProBlogger.net is filled with practical advice for bloggers. You can spend hours going through Darren’s archives. The addictive Life Hacker blog recommends ideas and software to help us all become more productive. A new favorite is Lara Ferroni’s Still LIfe with… blog about food photography. With each of these examples, the content doesn’t expire the day it is written, but remains valuable to readers for months or even years.

You don’t have to write about celebrity gossip to be entertaining. One of the most popular blogs on the planet is Heather Armstrong’s Dooce.  What Heather writes about (constipation, Mormon jokes, her kid) is not remotely useful, nor even timely, but it is highly entertaining. The same could be said for Cute Overload, Durham Township, Post Secret, and ZeFrank.

Regarding timeliness, I would argue that sites like Engaget and Boing Boing succeed not only because of the breadth of content they deliver, but the fact that usually you can hear it from them first. They get the scoops on interesting products and net happenings. Blogs covering news, sports, and stocks all rely on time-based information. Political sites like Wonkette are timely as well as entertaining, and if politics is your life, probably useful as well.

What should you emphasize – utility, entertainment, or timeliness? It all depends on what you like to do, what you are good at doing, and how much time you are willing to commit. To have a successful blog that relies on timely information, you need to devote a lot of time to updating your content, probably several times a day. I read somewhere that the guy from Engaget starts his day at 6 am and puts in at least 10-12 hours a day in front of his computer. To be entertaining, you
have to be, well, really entertaining. Some people are talented writers, most are not. Some people are brilliant and looney and you could watch them all day, most are not. Some people are wickedly creative. Personally I don’t like to write and I don’t even pretend to be entertaining, so I stick with the third category, usefulness.


Blogs become popular by attracting the attention of other bloggers with similar interests who link to them. The more you focus on a subject the more likely you are to attract readers and other bloggers who care about that subject. If you care about building an audience, it’s better to have a blog about gardening, and only gardening, than it is to have a blog about gardening, movie reviews, political commentary, and astrology. Unless the movies, political commentary, and astrology
entries are actually about gardening. (When the moon transits Venus later this month, Aquarians will be advised to plant tulips.)

Post Frequently, But Not At The Expense Of Quality

Conventional wisdom states that one should post a new blog entry at least once a day. I don’t agree with this. For the most part, frequent posting is better than infrequent posting, but not at the expense of the quality of the posts. We all have limited time and most of us would rather spend it reading things worthwhile than entries with little substance that were obviously put up just to fulfill some arbitrary “post everyday” rule. Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks updates her blog once or twice a week. 101 Cookbooks is a gorgeous blog, well written, with beautiful photography. Heidi gets thousands of
visitors each day to her site, and she is one of the most highly ranked food blogs in Technorati. If you only post once a month, don’t expect thousands of readers. But unless you have a blog that depends on producing timely information, e.g. a news blog, you simply do not have to post every day. Actually, when I start feeling pressure to update my
main blog every day it sort of takes the fun out the process and the blog begins to feel burdensome. I know when I start feeling resentful of my blog that it’s time to take a break. Usually a few days away does the trick.

Posting more than once a day may actually have a negative effect on blog popularity. As Erik Kintz discusses in his Why Blog Post Frequency Does Not Matter Anymore post, too much posting can lead to “RSS fatigue”. People remove you
from their feed subscriptions because they are tired of sorting through all your posts to get to the good ones.

Use Images and Photographs

This may seem like a trivial suggestion, but let’s face it. We are visual creatures. We respond well to beautiful images. Even the Wall St. Journal now has color and photographs throughout its pages, for a reason – people want them. Graphics and photos can help to accent or illustrate your points. They also break up the monotony of text, and give relief to eyes tired of reading online. If you use graphics or photos, make sure they are high quality. Don’t take them from other sites unless you have clear permission from the site author. Invest in software (e.g. Photoshop) and a decent digital camera, preferably an
SLR (i.e. the Canon Rebel or the Nikon D70). Take as much care with the quality of your images as you do with the quality of your writing.

Write Well

Writing is a craft, a skill that improves with practice. Some people are great writers; most of us struggle to be simply proficient. Help your readers by not rambling – get to your point. Eliminate unnecessary words. Punctuate. Capital letters exist for a reason. Check for spelling and grammatical errors and typos. Proofread before you post. After you post, read it
again, just to be sure, and correct then any mistakes. Keep it simple.

Consider Headlines

Most professional journalists-turned-bloggers I know promote the use of imaginative, eye-catching headlines in blog posts. Personally, I think this tip is overrated. I’m more concerned that the headlines contain keywords in them that will be picked up by the search engines (more on that in a future post). In most situations, I want the headline to clearly indicate what is in the blog entry. If however, your blog is more oriented toward being timely and entertaining, and you aren’t particularly concerned about traffic from search engines, then a snappy headline makes a lot of sense.

Make Us Care

As I mentioned in the introduction post to this series on building blog traffic, your blog needs to be about something that some people, somewhere, care about. No one’s going to give a hoot about your blog unless you care passionately about it first. When you feel passionate about your subject, it will be reflected in your writing. It is the energy, care, and attention that you bring to your subject (or anything for that matter) that will inspire others to take notice and to come back.

Our Po!nt: Take the time to develop and plan your content.  If you do you will be rewarded with repeat offenders visiting your site regularly.

To Blog or Not To Blog!

Marketing Our Blog

I realize that it may sound somewhat Shakespearean to make a statement like that but over the past few weeks I have been running into some interesting observations about the future of a blogs.  I had lunch with one of my friendly competitors recently and he made a disturbing comment to me about the future of social networking and blogging.  He said and I quote, “It’s just a fad!  Will be gone in a year to eighteen months.”   My comment was, “Are you NUTS!  With over 12 million blogs currently online and with 175,000 being added weekly, I doubt it will ever go away!”

From a B2B perspective you have to be careful if you are going to blog not to make it a blatant sales pitch but something that is informative, fun, personal and creates long term value for your customers and visitors.  Us your blog to also provoke comments and discussions about your topics and opinions.

Our Po!nt: Focus more on what your customer needs are and you will win long term.  as always we welcome your comment, thoughts and insight.