The connection between social media and politics fascinates me. There are two main reasons for this:

1. People are hilarious.
2. Social media has such a large impact on our society that it blows my mind.

For an undecided voter, Twitter or Facebook could quite possibly influence IF they’re going to vote, WHO they’re going to vote for, and WHY they decided to vote for that candidate. One could argue that the social media activity surrounding politics and political events, such as the Presidential debates, could be more influential than the actual debates themselves!

Speaking of which, lately I’ve found myself  wondering:

How boring were the Presidential debates before social media?!

They may not have been THAT boring, but they couldn’t have been as entertaining as they are now! Over the past few weeks my Twitter feed has come to life on debate nights. The tweets are coming so fast that by the time I catch up I’m 30 behind again! I can’t respond to people fast enough, I’m retweeting and favoriting like crazy, and I LOVE it. Why? Because these political tweets are entertaining.

Deciding who to vote for is a very serious matter. It’s a decision that should be made after thoroughly researching both candidates and their stances on the issues you care about–but that doesn’t mean you can’t take a 90-minute break every now and then!

Sit back, relax, and laugh at two politicians who are stuck in a room together pretending to be friends while simultaneously insulting each other. It’s the American way! You can make up your mind about which candidate you liked/hated more after everything is fact-checked. In the meantime, enjoy yourself and the hilarious tweets and Facebook statuses pouring through your social media feeds.

Confession time: This concept of this post wasn’t entirely my idea. It was actually inspired by a friend of mine who tweeted me on Monday, the night of the third (and final) Presidential debate:

My first reaction was to completely agree. This IS great theater. If it weren’t, websites like CNN, TIME, and The Huffington Post wouldn’t have articles dedicated to the funniest tweets of the debate. Some of which include:

From CNN:

From TIME (Note- This is a Barack Obama parody account):

From The Huffington Post:

My second reaction was to take in exactly what he said. “Twitter has revolutionized the debates.” That got me thinking: Not only are these hilarious political tweets great theater, they also have the potential to be very influential. Like my friend said, Twitter (along with other forms of social media) is revolutionizing these debates, and humor isn’t the only thing causing this revolution.

Another reason I love political tweets (aside from their entertainment value) is because they strengthen my political opinions. They make me proud to support a candidate that I believe in, and reaffirm that I’m happy with my decision. The influence social media has on me, a person who’s 100% sure of who she’s voting for, makes me question how much undecided voter can be influenced by an entertaining news feed or timeline.

The sheer number of political tweets that were sent during these debates shows the role social media plays in politics. According to Twitter, 6.5 million tweets were sent during the third Presidential debate. 7.2 million were sent during the second debate, and 10 million were sent during the first debate (a record for a U.S. political debate). Politico newspaper correspondent Tony Romm agrees that social media is an extremely important aspect of politics:

“There is a piece of information . . .and it begins to bounce around, essentially. It’s shared, it’s repeated. It reverberates . . . When a [social media] user shares a news story about something a candidate has done. And then, that begins to explode, eventually winding up in major newspapers, making major headlines across the country. So, it has a huge effect.”

How huge, exactly? A recent survey from Ask Your Target Market reported that 5% of potential voters said that their political opinions have been impacted very much by social media posts, and 21% said that their opinions have been somewhat impacted by social media. Those numbers aren’t HUGE, but they still exist, and with social media constantly growing those numbers are sure to increase in the next four years.

These Presidential debates have once again proven that social media is an incredibly powerful medium, and it’s continually increasing its impact on our society.

How Crowdsourcing Can Be a Powerful SEO Weapon (or Potentially Damage Your Brand Reputation)

The Golden Rule of SEO

“Think like your customer.” If your company has even the faintest working knowledge of SEO and its best practices, then you have probably heard this statement a thousand times before — and justly so. The key to breaking through to quality rankings in Google SERPs involves thinking like the customers do when they conduct a basic Internet search.

But sometimes thinking like the customer can be a difficult task, especially for those deeply involved in the business. While you may think it’s possible to rid yourself of any recollection of your business, sometimes you might not even be sure what your customers know and don’t know about your products or services. This can make customer engagement a challenging task and make it a lot more difficult to improve your SEO efforts. There are a number of things businesses can do in terms of influencing customer engagement for SEO purposes, but crowdsourcing can be a fun and exciting way to tap into the minds of your target market.

Enter: Crowdsourcing

A fairly new concept in the online marketing world, crowdsourcing is the term to describe the act of reaching out to members of the Internet community to contribute to a campaign or project. Crowdsourcing involves appealing to a wider community whose advice and opinions matter most, and it is usually up to the party in question as to whether or not the consumer input is rewarded. Campaigns can take the form of a themed post, a custom landing page, a discussion board or any type of unique, shareable content that fosters a sense of community within the brand.

If this concept is still not ringing a bell, “My Starbucks Idea” is a great example of how crowdsourcing consumer information has produced an interesting marketing campaign.

In 2008, My Starbucks Idea started out as a community website intended to collect suggestions and product feedback from customers, but evolved into something much bigger than that. Unlike most crowdsourcing campaigns that are centered towards improving the business’s products and services, Starbucks created a campaign that instead focuses on the entire customer experience. Ideas have stretched way past the development of better products and entered into the realm of establishing and maintaining Starbucks’ corporate social responsibility. Users are heavily involved in the voting process and have put many well-known ideas into action. That plastic reusable cup you drink your frappe from once originated as a My Starbucks Idea back in 2008.

The power of the crowd is already being utilized by many businesses and is serving as an initiative to replace current customer service models. Crowdsourcing taps right into the core line of support and information for a business’s model: its market. The information can be perceived as honest and invaluable in terms of consumer engagement on a more personal level. And what can be better than getting feedback from the decision makers in your industry?

Okay, So What About SEO?

A recent SEO case study conducted by a photo identification products vendor, ID Wholesaler, took a glimpse into the world of crowdsourcing by creating a unique campaign intended to increase customer engagement for the B2B retailer. Their efforts didn’t stop there; the campaign also aimed at improving various SEO tasks that the company had yet to target including increasing their inbound links and Google SERP rankings.

So what did they do? A lanyard design contest prompted a niche target market (graphic artists, fashion designers, etc.) to submit design entries to a custom landing page that served as the central hub of the campaign efforts. Much like My Starbucks Idea, visitors could submit, view and vote for their favorite entries until a winning design was selected. ID Wholesaler received over 80 entries, 7,000 votes, and nearly 1,000 Facebook “likes” following the campaign launch.

Lanyard Design Contest Custom Landing Page – Source SEO Moz

Although they chose to pay the winning designer, the campaign proved to be well worth the investment. Because the campaign required some initial outreach, the company was able to dig deeper into social networking, an area of online marketing that proved to be an ongoing challenge for the B2B retailer. The campaign spurred a large volume of blog articles written about the contest, as well as a spike in social mentions and inbound links. Crowdsourcing has the potential to turn your online “focus group” into a great source of links back to your site.

Crowdsourcing campaigns can also help your website show an increase in non-paid traffic and rankings, which can be traced through Google Analytics. For ID Solutions, their results were quite eye opening and provided them with fresh information regarding keyword opportunities they were not previously targeting. Keyword variations for the term “lanyard” saw a 90% increase in non-paid traffic and the company jumped to the number 2 position in Google for the search term “ID badge lanyards.”

Ranking History – Source: SEOmoz

If creating a fresh campaign from scratch is too intimidating for you, crowdsourcing can also be as simple as creating an ongoing forum that could be promoted through social networks. A couple intriguing questions is all it takes for decision makers within your industry to want to respond, which can prompt relationship building with industry authority figures, a wider scope of input, more links, more site content and increased brand exposure. If you’re a small restaurateur, decision makers could include a food reviewer or even your local food distributor. Whatever the case, igniting the conversation within key influencers can set you up with the perfect opportunity to understand how viewers interact with your brand, and with a little testing, can point out flaws in your site’s usability and conversion data (Source:

But Before You Go Crowdsourcing Crazy…

As with anything, there are advantages and disadvantages to crowdsourcing. I think this article from Mashable does a nice job of explaining some key tips for your next campaign, but here are the main things to be cautious of when it comes to crowdsourcing:

Understand that crowdsourcing campaigns involve some type of initial or post-investment.

    People want to be rewarded for good ideas. Don’t damage your brand reputation by just soliciting people for what you want – reward those ideas which you want to make use of!

Set Campaign Rules and Have Them Handy.

    Be very clear about what you’re looking for from your visitors, the time period of the campaign and how/when you will select winners. And make sure to have these rules posted on your site to prevent any disasters from occurring.

Keep It Professional.

    Some call crowdsourcing “a solicitation for free ideas.” However, if you keep your campaign professional and rules clear, there is no reason why your brand cannot foster some interesting conversations to produce a change for a mutual benefit. Your consumers are telling you what they want… what could be easier than that?

Has your company had any experience with a crowdsourcing, or have you participated in one? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Let’s talk about Pinterest. Why? Oh, I don’t know. Maybe because:

1. Pinterest sends more referral traffic than Google+, YouTube, and LinkedIn combined.
2. Pinterest is the 3rd most visited social media site behind Facebook and Twitter.
3. Pinterest referral traffic is less than 0.10% away from overtaking Yahoo! organic traffic.
4. Pinterest has grown 4377% since last year.
5. Pinterest buyers spend more money, more often, and on more items than any of the other top 5 social media sites.

(Sources: Shareaholic, comScore)

And that’s all within two years. So why exactly is Pinterest so great for companies, and why should your company have a Pinterest account (other than because of those impressive stats I just mentioned)? Let’s see:

Popularity: Visits –> Time Spent  –> Engagement  –> E-commerce revenue

As mentioned above, Pinterest is extremely popular with social media users. In March, Pinterest was reported to be the fastest growing social media site in both unique visitors and clicks on search engines.

Not only are tons of people visiting Pinterest, they’re spending a decent amount of time on it every time they visit. The average Pinterest user spends 89 minutes a month on Pinterest, while the average Twitter user only spends 21 minutes a month on Twitter.

The engagement level for Pinterest is also impressive. It’s been reported that people are most likely to engage with branded content on social media that contains pictures. Want proof? Pinterest is retaining and engaging users 2-3 times as efficiently as Twitter did when they were the same age Pinterest is now.

Followers, brand awareness, and social engagement is great, but what about the money? In just one year Pinterest has increased their social media revenue for e-commerce sites by 16.2%.  Even better? Pinterest beat both Twitter (by over 400%) and Facebook (by 27%) for the most ‘First Touch’ revenue per click basis.

(Sources: comScore, Forbes, Performics, RJ Metrics, Convertro)

Sharing Capabilities

Pinterest offers businesses three ways to promote their Pinterest account and encourage readers to pin their content.

1. “Follow Button”: Like Facebook, Twitter, and all the rest, Pinterest’s “Follow Button” allows anyone who visits your site to see that you’re on Pinterest, and that they should follow you.

2. “Pin It” button for websites: Again like Facebook and Twitter, this button makes it extremely easy for your readers to pin an image or article that you have on your website.

3. Pinterest artwork: If you have a particularly successful Pinterest account, or are looking to gain followers, you can download the Pinterest logo or badge to link back to your account.


TIP: Businesses can also check out who has pinned their product from their website by typing in:[insertwebsitehere]


Freedom to Express (Brand) Yourself

One of the most awesome things about Pinterest is that it lets you define and/or show off your personality. You can make as many boards as want, you can categorize your boards however you want, you can pin whatever you want (within Pinterest’s guidelines) and you can caption your pins with whatever you want. This freedom allows you to define how you want to brand yourself or your company on Pinterest.  Your company website may be all business, but your Pinterest account can show off your fun side.

Pinterest advice: Don’t be all work and no play

A huge mistake companies make on Pinterest is creating boards that show off their products and services—and that’s it.

Pinterest gives you the opportunity to show your customers — and potential customers — that you’re not a bunch of robots sitting behind a computer screen; you’re actual people. You have personalities, senses of humor, likes, dislikes, etcetera. Your boards on Pinterest make you seem more relatable to your customers.

So yes, create some professional boards that feature your products, services and past work, but also create boards that show your clients who you are on a personal level.

Let’s look at some examples.

The 1825 Inn

The 1825 Inn in Hershey, Pa has a few boards showing off their business, but they also include boards that are useful for their visitors such as “Harrisburg Attractions,” and “Hershey Restaurants.” It’s important to show your clients that you care about what they need beyond what you can offer them.

The Today Show

The Today Show offers a fun “Anchor Antics” board that gives their fans a behind-the-scenes feel. The board features everything from screenshots of on-air bloopers to funny photoshopped pictures, like Matt Lauer’s face on Michael Jordan’s body.

The Herald News

The Herald News created a “Meet the Press” board with headshots and a short bio of each member of their staff. This is a great idea for companies who talk to their customers primarily through email or over the phone because customers are able to match a face with the name.


Last but not least, we at WebpageFX have a “Funny Bone” board! Humor boards are a great idea for everyone; they add some fun to your Pinterest account and make you more seem more relatable. Plus, who doesn’t like to laugh?

So what are you waiting for? Get on Pinterest and get pinning! And don’t forget to follow us!

Google Plus

The biggest Social Media news of the past week is Google+. The “Facebook Killer,” “Buzz Part II” and “Google’s Global Takeover Part XXII” is getting a lot of press, and for good reason: it is a social network that aims to contend with Facebook. It intends to do so with some initial features including group video chat capabilities, group texting (Huddles) and enhanced privacy options (via Circles).

After finally receiving an invite and elaborating on my Google profile (I’ve been a Gmail user for quite a while), there was nothing to do but wait for my friends to get my invites and join. I now have about 10 connections on Google+. So, my Circles are pretty thin. Decidedly, the only way I’ll use Google+ as my go-to social network is if everyone, or at least a majority, makes the transition—and soon. This is as important to me personally as it is to businesses and brands, as they want to be present where their customers are.

The dilemma this “friend overlap” causes right now is deciding which social network to post to (as if there weren’t enough choices already). Can’t my 10 Google+ friends just read what I post to Facebook, along with the rest of my hundreds of Facebook friends? Why double post?

The positive: I can start over with adding people to Google+. I was a freshman in college when I signed up for Facebook; there are some friends I don’t need updates from anymore. Perhaps this could be my adult version of Facebook. (Then again, I’m interested in gaining more Google+ connections, so I’d pretty much accept anyone at this point).

I love the Circles idea. I’m glad Google wants to learn from Facebook’s biggest mistakes, particularly in the area of privacy. Of course, will anything be private from Google now?

I commend Google+ for their “invite-only” launch technique, which is something many new sites are opting for. The invite-only makes it feel exclusive and is becoming the way to entice new users in a world where there is an overwhelming list of social networking sites.

In my opinion, to ensure Google+ doesn’t become defunct, 750 million people need to jump on the bandwagon. That means 750 million people need to abandon their comfortable Facebook personas and habits and learn an entirely new interface, albeit very similar to Facebook. They need to download a new app, add all of their friends and start +1-ing all the content they previously “liked”. These are some major hurdles to ask of people before they know whether or not it’s here to stay.

The bottom line is: I like Google+. I think it’ll thrive, only in a smaller social space. For now at least, it is certainly being used by a pretty niche group.

Our office has been a-“Buzz” over Google+, so we decided to ask a few members of the WebpageFX team to speculate on where Google’s latest endeavor is going to go:

Where do you see Google+ in 3 years?

Trevin: Three years seems like a lifetime in “Internet years” so it is very tough to say, especially this early on. They have had their misses, but most of the time Google’s side projects turn to gold, so I’d wager it will be extremely popular and still pushing the social media envelope in three years.

Saurav: As social is becoming more and more effective, in three years’ time, I see Google + becoming one of the social forces competing against the likes of Facebook.

Bill: I see it having 10% to 15% of social market share.

How do you think Google+ will affect SEO?

Mary: It already is. I can easily +1 any article I read or website I land on with simple click of a button. Then those in my Circles will see my partiality reflected in their own search results. Marketing professionals and business owners alike need to be aware of the huge potential here. Google provides personalized results whenever feasible, and that component is only sure to evolve.”

Bill: Massively – data they collect will greatly influence search results – especially “real-time” searches!

Xander: Well, the whole reason they launched this venture was to get Facebook’s content recommendation data without dealing with Facebook. Google wanted to create an ecosystem where shares, like, and comments were completely accessible to them so they can parlay that data into their search algorithm and promote worthy content. Up until now, they had no reliable way of determining the “social value” of a page. If Google+ takes off, they will.”

Are you, or do you, plan to use Google+ personally?

Trevin: Yes, I’ve been using it daily for a few weeks. I jumped in with both feet!

Saurav: I haven’t had the chance to fully utilize it just yet. But, it’s simple really; you create your profile and connect with others.”

Bill: Yep – since it’s going to be a ranking factor, I will have to use it.

Mary: Definitely, I already prefer it over Facebook – it’s more organized, less confusing and further personalized.

So far, what do you like about Google+?

Trevin: There are a lot of features I like. Circles is a pretty well-thought out way of dealing with sharing among your friends. (Facebook always had the same functionality, but it is a lot clumsier in lists). Some of my friends love when I share Battlestar Galactica videos, but others just find it weird. This is a nice way to break everybody into clusters, which is how we all socialize and interact in real life.


I also love being able to add writers and pundits whom I enjoy to my “following” circle. It’s far more efficient than following their fan page on Facebook and getting slammed with promotional junk. The following circle is like being Facebook friends with somebody you don’t really know without the awkwardness. My favorite feature, though, is Hangouts. Group video chat is awesome and I have pretty much already ditched Skype for video calling.

Bill: Video chat – and circles is a cool concept!

What do you dislike about Google+ so far?

Trevin: It still feels unfinished, which it is of course, so I don’t have any big worries. There are a bunch of little things missing … collapsing comments and posts, notifications are slow, no iPhone app, etc. I would also like to see some sort of groups feature where a bunch of my friends who share a common interest can join and everybody can share information amongst the group, rather than in all of our different Circles.

Bill: It feels like Google is a monopoly and controls too much of the Internet already.

Mary: I actually don’t like the idea of leaving people out at the beginning, even if it has worked well in the past. I think the real push for Google+ will be once everyone is on it. The only reason I would choose Facebook over Google+ is because everyone I know is on Facebook, I can’t say the same for Google+. And unfortunately, a lot of people I have invited probably won’t jump on the bandwagon until everyone else has. I think it will end up the way Twitter has, continue to grow as people realize it really is here to stay.

Do you believe Google+ has a chance to take Facebook’s place as the #1 social networking site?

Trevin: Google certainly has a much better chance of taking down Facebook than Diaspora or Virb or anybody else that has to build from the ground up. Everybody already knows and (mostly) trusts Google. Google also has a massive user base already, which is their biggest advantage. Around 200 million people already have Gmail accounts. I’d guess around 300-400 million people have Google accounts. With the way Google+ is built in to the new black Google bar, nearly all of these people are guaranteed to check it out, at the very least. The people will come, it is just a matter of how good the product will be and I haven’t seen anything so far to suggest that it won’t be excellent.

Bill: No – Facebook has too much of a head start and most users aren’t going to switch.

Xander: Facebook has a 750 million people head start, so it will at least take some time. They are positioning themselves to be a legit player though. The private invites promote exclusivity and that worked for Gmail and Facebook at the beginning. They also have a massive pool of people to pull from—not only everyone with a Google account, but also anyone who visits a Google search property somewhere down the line. I would suspect that they have opened it up to early adopters here to work out the kinks, and then once it’s really ready to go, they’ll roll it out to the world.

Mary: It’s hard to say. It could go either way, though Facebook will be stiff competition, and they are sure to pull out all the stops by adding as many features as possible. Personally, I hope it does in fact outdo Facebook – still, if it does, it will be a slow transition and nothing immediate because there are so many avid Facebook users who will probably refuse to convert for at least a while. I predict it will be like that of Twitter – but a bit more rapid since millions of users already seem to trust Google with their lives.

As you can see, opinions of Google+ certainly vary, especially among leaders in the industry. It’s time to sit back and see what happens!

Photo by Someecards

Peter Shankman maybe?

Thanks to Web 2.0, you can communicate your business’s personality to the world. You can put a face to your logo, so even clients on the other side of the globe can feel a personal connection with you.

No one does this better than Social Media and PR Guru Peter Shankman. He founded a mailing list (called Help a Reporter Out, or HARO) that connects journalists looking for sources with PR pros, making life easier for everyone.

Perhaps the best part of the thrice-daily HARO emails, however, is Peter’s personal tidbit before the “queries”. He frequently posts links to his personal media profiles, letting the HARO crowd know about his adventures traveling around the country.

And if you want your business to be competitive in the next generation of the internet, you had better have a strong presence in these 3 crucial areas, just like Peter:


There’s a lot of buzz going around concerning the sudden use of social networking sites such as Twitter, Youtube, and Facebook to reach their constituents.

The House itself has rules about what platforms it’s members are permitted to discuss and post information on. One of the biggest players behind this cause is Texas Republican Representative, John Colberson.

So how beneficial to the cause of Congress are web utilities such as Twitter? In a time where a majority of the news is gathered on the Internet, this could be a powerful tool for members of Congress.

Not only can they provide their audience with information in record time, but the 140 character limit on “tweets” forces them to be short and to the point, putting the information in a language everyone can understand.

I’d imagine it would be pretty difficult to hold up a filibuster within 140 characters.