KD Web Strategies Blog

November 2, 2012

New home for KD Web Strategies Blog

Filed under: Uncategorized — kellyduffort @ 6:30 pm

I’ve moved my blog over to my website. Please catch up with me over there at http://www.kellyduffort.com/blog.

June 7, 2012

Bing Social Search: “Discovering Hawaii” Promo

Filed under: Bing, social search — Tags: , , — kellyduffort @ 2:20 am

Bing’s “Summer of Doing” marketing campaign has kicked off, showing us how “It’s amazing what you can do when your friends are part of your search.”

I’ve been playing around with Bing’s social search and although I get how it’s supposed to work, my searches and my Facebook friends’ areas of expertise don’t seem to overlap too much. So, my social search results aren’t all that exciting…yet. The “Discovering Hawaii” commercial is a pretty, fun example of how Bing’s social search, which as of this month has been rolled out to all U.S. users, should indeed work.

Three thoughts:

  1. The way I use the web now…I would just hop over to Facebook and post my “Headed to Hawaii!!!! Who has some recommendations?!?!” announcement and question over there. I wouldn’t be on Bing. But, this is what I say now, knowing that the lines between “social” and “search” are blurring.
  2. How I wish I had a reason to post “Headed to Hawaii!” on Bing social search, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.!?!?!
  3. The evolution of social search fascinates me. I look forward to seeing what it looks like and how we’re using it, via both Bing and Google, say…a year from now. I expect we’ll see many, many changes in our results with both search engines in the very near future.

June 4, 2012

Facebook’s “Don’t Miss the Good Stuff”

Filed under: Facebook, SEO, social search — Tags: , , , — kellyduffort @ 12:58 pm
Facebook Good Stuff

Your friends won’t know you starred them, but Facebook will and they’ll use this data as they continue to work on social search.

With its new “Close Friends” feature, Facebook invites you “Don’t miss the good stuff” by starring your closest friends. What they’re asking in return is the “good stuff” you’ll provide by sharing who among your Facebook friends do you care about the most, want to hear from the most and trust the most?

Why?

Because thanks to social media, how we conduct an Internet search is changing. More importantly, what we expect to see in our search results is changing. What we see now  – and what we can expect to see much more of in the future – is “social search.” Consider it a crossroads between obviously…social media and search.

Think about it. The last time you needed a plumber, a painter or pet sitter, did you go to Google or Facebook? If the latter, did you save yourself the hassle of calling three different companies, comparing estimates and sifting online reviews by just going immediately with the one company that your friend recommended?

Facebook and Google know this and the race is on to build the Internet social search platform that we’ll all want to use and that we’ll all trust. And as a result, the platform that all companies will buy advertising from because that is where we’ll all be.

So, back to starring your friends. If you tell Facebook which 20 people you’d like to hear from most, they will make that happen. They will also keep that information and as Bing’s social search (which by the way incorporates your Facebook data) evolves, use it to push the opinions and referrals of those all-star friends to the top of your search results. You probably won’t notice this right away. If like me, you rarely go to Bing, you might not notice it all. That’s okay because Facebook still needs to collect a lot more data on you and all of its users. But take note, they’re not offering you the good stuff just to enhance your Facebook experience. They’re asking for it so they can collect and process your “good stuff”  as they build their social search.

Personally, I’m on the fence about starring my friends. Social search is coming. And I’ll probably love it once I get used to the idea of so much of who I trust and what I like floating out there for search engines to process, but … still … how much information do I want any one company to have about me?

“Don’t Miss the Good Stuff” Poll
How about you? Have you starred your friends? Has it changed your Facebook experience? How about what appears in your Bing search results? Are your all-star friends showing up in your Bing social search results?

March 19, 2012

Readability Tips from IABC NC Triangle Writing Workshop with Ann Wylie

Filed under: Writing for the Web — kellyduffort @ 2:03 pm

How “readable” is your writing?

Does your audience read what you write start to finish? Or, do they start and stop?

According to Ann Wylie, highly-acclaimed writing expert and owner of Wylie Communications, communicators aren’t in the business of creating content. We create attention for our messages. And that is a tough job to do in this age of information overload.

Ann Wylie at IABC NC Triangle Writing Workshop

Ann Wylie speaks at IABC NC Triangle Writing Workshop at SAS Executive Briefing Center on March 13, 2012.

Last Tuesday (March 13th), Ann spoke at a full-day writing workshop presented by the NC Triangle chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators, IABC NC Triangle. (By the way, I am an IABC NC Triangle board member and I served on the workshop steering committee, but I’m writing this post primarily from a workshop attendee viewpoint.)

Ann covered a number of topics and she did a wonderful job capturing and keeping her audience’s attention. She presented concepts that made me think and backed up her points with statistics from reputable sources. (I’m sorry to say I didn’t capture all of her sources, but I did catch many of her concepts.)

So, back to capturing and keeping your reader’s attention. One section I found particularly interesting was her coverage of the numbers you should know to make your sentences and paragraphs easy to read.

In keeping with Ann’s interactive delivery (very much appreciated at a full-day workshop!), I’ll share these numbers in the form of questions.

1. What is your best guess on the recommended number of words for an introductory paragraph?
A) 25
B) 50

Hint: Per Ann, you don’t have to tell your whole story in the first paragraph. You just have to get it started. The answer she provided for this question came from the Circulation Managers Association.

2. What is your best guess on the recommended number of words for all other paragraphs in a blog post, webpage, brochure, white paper, etc.?
A) 42
B) 102

Source for this answer might have been Poynter Institute. She sourced them a few times.

3. What do you think is the recommended number of words in a sentence for maximum comprehension?
A) 8-12
B) 14-21

4. And last, take a guess at the number of characters and syllables that words in your copy should average?
A)  8 characters and 2 syllables
B)  5 characters and 2 syllables

Be sure to jot down your guesses before reading the answers at the end of this post.

Readability Tools

Ann mentioned the “Readability Statistics” feature in Microsoft Word, but I’ve been unable to get it to run on my computer. If you can get it to work (check Microsoft Word’s Help section for instructions), the feature will tell you the average number of words in your sentences, in your paragraphs, etc. There are several online readability tools that will do the same. (For example, see The Readability Test Tool, Online-Utility’s Readability Calculator.) But, whether you’re looking at your exact counts, or like me, just keeping the recommended numbers in mind, knowing these numbers and striving for them should improve your writing’s “readability.”

For more writing tips shared by Ann Wylie at IABC NC Triangle’s Writing Workshop, which was graciously hosted by SAS at their beautiful Executive Briefing Center (okay, I’m writing this from board president point-of-view), check out:

Or, go straight to the source for tons of great writing advice, Ann Wylie’s Rev up Readership program.

By the way, how did I do with this post’s readability? If you made it to the end, let me know by posting a comment below. Or, if you attended the workshop, what were your key takeaways from Ann Wylie?

Answers 1. A, 2. A, 3. B, 4. B

November 29, 2011

My Social Media Analytics Takeaways from Internet Summit 2011

Filed under: social media — Tags: — kellyduffort @ 5:22 pm

Social Media Analytics GraphA couple of weeks ago, I promised to write a few blog posts about what I learned at Internet Summit 2011. I covered Facebook Pages and search engine optimization (SEO) in my first two posts (before cutting out for a week of vacation). Social Media Analytics is the topic of my third and final #isum11 blog post.

Two big-picture takeaways from the “Measuring Social” speakers were:

  1. Before you begin any social media campaign, know your business objectives. Not your social media objectives, your business objectives.
  2. From the start of the campaign, have a consistent, streamlined way to measure how you are meeting, missing or exceeding your pre-defined social media expectations.

John Lovett (@johnlovett), senior partner at Web Analytics Demystified and author of Social Media Metrics Secrets, gave an excellent presentation on “Ten Tips for Paving Your Social Media Analytics Roadmap.” He talked about creating a roadmap, establishing proper expectations, documenting your journey and assessing your progress.

Two of his social media analytics points that really stood out to me were:

  1. Skip the vanity metrics (e.g., fans, followers, likes and dislikes). This point might surprise small business owners who are trying to manage their social media campaigns on their own, perhaps feeling pretty darn proud of themselves when they reach 300 fans on Facebook or 1,000 followers on Twitter. You might be excited about these milestones, but how are you interacting and engaging these fans and followers to drive sales? There are much more meaningful metrics that you should track and analyze.
  2. Plan for desired outcomes – When you start to gain more exposure through social media and you’re kicking off more and more conversations and interactions, what do you want to happen next? How will you allow or encourage these interactions to improve your products and services?

Adam Covati (@adamcovati), founder and chief technology officer of Argyle Social, gave a great presentation entitled, “Managing, Measuring and Monetizing Social Media.” He had some solid tips for getting started with consistent, simple measurements:

  1. Start simple with a bitly.com account.
  2. Add Google Analytics parameters on links.
  3. Use tracked links everywhere.
  4. Begin marrying data sources.

These steps will start measuring your social media activity. However, according to Adam, this approach will not accurately report social media’s total impact on your business.

For example, Google Analytics will attribute social media for a conversion that comes immediately and directly from a link on a social media site. Argyle Social’s software tracks social media interactions over a period of time and gives a more in-depth report of conversions that were “socially influenced.” For more information on the difference between the beginner tips listed above and much more advanced social media analytics possibilities, you might want to check out Argyle Social’s whitepaper entitled, “A Primer on Social Media Attribution & ROI.”

Well, I said it in 2010 and the (in)frequency of my blog posts proves it, “Kelly Duffort is not a Blogger.” It’s just that I learn so much from all the great speakers at the Internet Summit each year that I thought it would be fun to pull together a few posts. Whenever I can’t attend an event and instead, learn from people who are so kind to blog about it, I’m very, very grateful. If you couldn’t make it to Internet Summit 2011 or missed this particular session, this blog post is for you.

So…until next year’s Internet Summit or whenever the blogging bug first bites me in 2012, farewell!

November 18, 2011

My Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Takeaways from Internet Summit 2011

Filed under: SEO — Tags: , , , — kellyduffort @ 11:14 pm
Binoculars

Are people finding your web content? Do you know the latest SEO trends? (Photo by doraemon, Flickr, Available via Creative Commons License)

Jessica Bowman, founder and CEO of SEOinhouse, jump started Internet Summit 2011 for me as the first speaker that I heard during Tuesday’s Pre-Conference Intensives. She was a great example of a speaker whose approach is “You’re here to learn, I’m here to teach, let’s get to it!”

In addition to her enthusiasm (an extra important quality in the 8am time slot), she had tremendous knowledge to share. According to Jessica, quality content, now more than ever, is crucial to search engine optimization. (As a content person, I thank you, Jessica Bowman. That’s what I like to hear.)

Jessica reminded us that search results are getting more and more crowded every day. You’ve got to work harder and you have to stay up-to-date on what works and what doesn’t. One point that she spoke on, which was later echoed by Bill Slawski (@bill_slawski), president of SEO by the Sea, is the impact social media has had and will continue to have on SEO.

Jessica’s tips for gaining social authority are:

  • Automate minimally
  • Associate with people who will share
  • Mix up your sharing so you aren’t too predictable
  • Do not over expose the message, repeating the same message over and over again.

Later in the day, I attended the “Advanced SEO” session with four speakers. I learned something new from each and every one of them.

Lindsay Wassell (@lindzie), partner and consultant at Keyphraseology, recommended that brick-and-mortar businesses claim their local listings (e.g., establish a presence on Yelp) and then encourage and manage reviews. She also pointed out the increasing importance of posting images. More and more, images are appearing in search results, with and without the related content due to the greater and greater weight search engines are placing on images and videos.

Michael Marshall (@michaelmarshall), lead instructor with Search Engine Academy of North Carolina, spoke about the difference between on-page and off-page optimization. On-page optimization includes the steps you take to optimize your webpage as you are building it including title tags, alt tags, header tags (H1, H2), keyword density and keyword proximity, sitemaps (XML and HTML), usability and internal linking. (Note: Some of these factors are not used appropriately today.)  Components of off-page optimization include your activity, presence and mentions on social networking sites, search engine/directory submission, social bookmarking submissions (digg.com, de.li.cious.com) and article submissions. I had not heard of that division – on-page and off-page – and I appreciated the breakdown.

Markus Renstrom (@markusrenstrom), Head of SEO at Yahoo!, said that SEO is:

  • content strategy
  • accessibility
  • relevance architecture
  • user focused

Well, I liked everything that Markus had to say since he puts such high importance on content strategy and because he had the best accent – helps break up the day when you’re listening to speakers for 9 hours straight.

The slide from Bill Slawski that made me think the most was:

Google+   >   Twitter + Facebook

I love Twitter, I enjoy Facebook, but I’ve really been dragging my heels on Google+. Looking ahead to where search and social are headed, his equation make complete sense. If you’re not on Google+ now, you better get busy and join. (Look me up when you do…I’ve got some Google+ homework to do.)

Bill closed with a recommendation that really resonated with me as I start up a couple of new projects. Something I knew, but is always good to hear the experts reinforce: Teach and coach clients how to social network instead of networking for them. They are the subject matter experts. It’s more authentic when the content comes directly from them. Authenticity is very, very good for search engine optimization.

So… what was the best search engine optimization (SEO) insight you gained from Internet Summit 2011?

November 17, 2011

My Facebook Page Takeaways from Internet Summit 2011

Filed under: Facebook — Tags: , , — kellyduffort @ 4:33 pm

I’m ramping up some work on Facebook Pages for a couple of clients. Instead of sharing my Internet Summit 2011 notes on the topic in an email just with them, I’ve decided to turn them into a blog post.

With a little luck, I’ll get similar blog posts on my search and analytics takeaways in the next couple of days.

As Matt Peters (@fracked), co-founder and creative director of Pandemic Labs, put it so eloquently, “NO ONE IS VISITING YOUR FACEBOOK PAGE!” You can have hundreds of people like your page, but you should know that, on average, less than 5% of them ever return.

Your Facebook Page is not a destination, as Matt explained. It is an important place from which you pump out content, but that content needs to be written with the goal of appearing in fans’ news feeds. The goal of getting them to “like” it or preferably “share” it with their friends. It’s golden content if inspires your fans to respond to it. “Engagement” (as we folks in the industry like to call inspiring people to respond and talk about what you post) is what you want.

Matt provided some excellent food for thought and provided some great examples on what qualifies as an excellent Facebook Page post. For your Facebook Page content to be successful, it should require:

  • minimal attention
  • minimal cognitive resources and
  • high emotional value.

Lisa Braziel (@lisabraziel), strategy director at Ignite Social Media, and Jim Tobin (@jtobin), president of Ignite Social Media, both referenced Facebook’s EdgeRank Algorithm in their social media presentations. Folks who work on the web know it and build content around it every day. Small business owners toying with the idea of a Facebook Page should know that it is the magic formula for determining whether your post appears on your fans’ (or friends’) newsfeeds. Every Facebook post is measured according to it and the three magic dimensions are affinity (engagement and interaction), weight and recency.

Matt Crenshaw (@mcrenshawATL), vice president of marketing and analytics for Discovery Digital Media, Discovery Communications, gave an interesting presentation that covered his company’s analysis of their Facebook Page postings, their fans’ comments and how Discovery Communications adjusted their Facebook Page activity as a result. Another part of their extensive analysis was a tactic that any small business can and should adopt. A few questions that I think are excellent starting points – and points to revisit every so often as you create and manage your Facebook Page content.  Determine:  “What is my competition posting? What is working for them? What isn’t working for them?”

If you made it to the Internet Summit this year, what were your favorite Facebook Page takeaways? For you or for your clients?

My Internet Summit 2011 Takeaways

Filed under: Uncategorized — kellyduffort @ 4:21 pm

Internet Summit 2011 TshirtFor the third year in a row, I attended the Internet Summit (November 15-16) here in Raleigh, North Carolina. Each year, I have walked away from two days of non-stop learning with more information about what’s happening and what will be happening on the Internet than I can mentally process. And I love it.

It is a wonderful event for a small business owner/mother of two young children like me who would LOVE to find extra hours in every day to read and study much more than I do, but instead gets quite jazzed every November about having a legitimate business-related reason for dedicating two solid days to learning as much as I can from industry thought leaders.

I took 10 pages of notes this year – and live tweeted probably another couple of pages. The topics that interested me the most, based on projects I have before me, were Facebook Pages, search engine optimization and analytics.

Let’s see if I can bend time and write three blog posts on those topics over the next few days.

January 10, 2011

Facebook and The Jelly Bean Jar

Filed under: Facebook — Tags: , , , — kellyduffort @ 3:38 am
Jelly Bean Jar Game

What's your best guess?

Lots of buzz last week about Goldman Sachs’ estimation that Facebook is worth $50 billion. The investment firm paid $450 million for less than 1% of Facebook’s stock. $450 million. For less than 1%. Crazy, isn’t it?

There’s  talk of a possible Facebook IPO in 2012. Question is…what will the company be worth then?

I’m not a finance person so I’m not going to try and call that number. Let’s have a little fun with some simpler numbers, though. Take a look at the number of Facebook active users over the years and give me your best guess on what that number will be in say…December 2012?

Number of Active Facebook Users

December 2004:         Almost 1 million
December 2005:         Over 5.5 million
December 2006:         Over 12 million
October 2007:             Over 50 million
August 2008:               Over 100 million
December 2009:         Over 350 million
July 2010:                     Over 500 million
January 2011:              Over 600 million

I wasn’t any good at “Guess the number of jelly beans in the jar” game so my guesstimate will be laughable, I’m sure. Nevertheless, I’ll start us off by guessing 1 billion active users on Facebook in December 2012.

January 2, 2011

It’s 2011. Why aren’t you on Twitter yet?

Filed under: Twitter — kellyduffort @ 8:59 pm
2011 Calendar Photo by eaglegrl76, Flickr

Photo by eaglegrl76, Flickr, Available via Creative Commons License

Well, here we are in 2011 and despite what you might have thought in 2008, 2009 or 2010, Twitter is still around. In fact, Twitter seems to be gaining in popularity not just by what you see on the web, but by what we see at the end of TV commercials, hear on the radio and catch (surprisingly) even on the back of mail-order catalogs.

Last year was a terrific year for Twitter, according to Sysomos, provider of social media monitoring and analytics technology. From January 2010 until mid-August 2010, 44% of Twitter’s total population consisted of new users. (See Twitter Statistics for 2010 on Sysomos’ blog.)

I signed on with Twitter in 2008, but didn’t do too much with it until last year. I’ll admit … it takes a while to understand and even longer to figure out how you, personally, might use it. Nevertheless, once you “get” it, I’m betting you’ll find it useful and fun. Below are five reasons why I really fell in love with Twitter in 2010.

1.    Twitter enables you to connect with people you would never meet otherwise.

Whether they’re down the street or around the world, you can follow whomever you like on Twitter to learn more about them and/or from them.

For example, I love using Twitter to connect with people whom I’d like to meet at an upcoming conference. We can connect on Twitter, find out about each other via our tweets and decide to set aside a few minutes at the conference to talk face-to-face.

(In this example, I could perhaps meet the person without the advance Twitter connection, but it would be a lot more difficult and our conversation would be a lot more superficial than if we’ve already spent a few minutes learning about each other via our Twitter profiles.)

2.    You  can be who you want to be.

Don’t get me wrong. Be real, be who you are, but in the 160-character Bio section, list things that interest you, things that you want to learn more about, things that you want to discuss specifically on Twitter.

I make this point specifically for job seekers. I was a job seeker when I started on Twitter. It struck me that while LinkedIn is great a great place for outlining what I had done in previous jobs, Twitter is a more exciting place to talk about what I am doing and what I hope to be doing in the future.

3.    Twitter search is fun!

The web is a crowded place, getting more and more crowded every day. Google helps navigate it, but Twitter’s real-time search results can make your journey a little more interesting.  Looking up a topic on Twitter can lead you to someone who is tweeting about that topic right at that moment. That person might not be the authoritative figure with the answers that you really need (or he might!), but it is still pretty cool to find someone, somewhere tweeting about that same topic.

4.    You can build a community.

You can build your own Twitter community focused on topics, industries, people, locations, etc. that you like. As a member of that community, you should share links to news articles or blogs that you like, re-tweet posts by others and work your way up to taking part in Twitter conversations. The people you follow will be doing the same. As a result, each time you log into Twitter, chances are good that you’ll find a tweet, a news article, blog post or dialogue that “speaks” to you.

5.    Twitter empowers you as a consumer.

If you’ve ever been frustrated with black-hole customer service e-mails or hour-long customer service phone calls, you’ll be excited about the change Twitter is forcing upon companies’ customer service departments. It might be a while before all companies are on Twitter, but the smart ones are getting on it quickly and they’re listening. More importantly, they are responding…quickly. You can read all kinds of case studies, but when you experience it yourself (as I did a couple of times last year), you’ll be jumping up and down with tremendous customer satisfaction … and singing Twitter’s praises like me.

If you’re still a Twitter skeptic, now in 2011, what’s holding you back? If you’re a Twitter lover (like me), what’s your favorite way to use it?

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