All posts by Mitch Mitchell

I'm an independent consultant in many fields, so I have a lot to share.

Social Media & The Concept Of ROI

I belong to a consultant’s group where monthly we have a presentation on something that most consultant’s probably need to know for their business.

A few months ago I was the presenter, and I gave a shortened presentation of the one I did back in 2010 on social media, which was a 5 hour presentation. I had to strip it down to 50 minutes, which wasn’t all that hard since I concentrated only on certain things for these folks, most of whom are older than me.

It’s that “older than me” part that makes it interesting because I always get the same question from the same guy: “Have you gotten any business from it?” When I say I have the next question is “what’s your ROI?”

That, for the uninitiated, stands for “return on investment”, and for many businesses it’s a critical question that has to be addressed. For instance, if you spent $25,000 on a print campaign that involved paying someone to create flyers, going to the printers, mailing everything out, and it resulted in an overall loss or a profit of less than $5,000, you’d probably have to say that your ROI was pretty bad.

When it comes to social media, evaluating ROI is much different. If you’re going to base everything on costs, they could end up being minimal or costly; it’s up to you. For instance, you could start a campaign of Twitter posts and if you do it yourself there is no cost, assuming you’ve already got everything else in place if you’re sending traffic somewhere. The same goes for Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, or anywhere else, even if you own a brick and mortar business.

Or is it cost free? See, with social media, even if you do it all yourself there’s an inherent cost; it’s just how you decide to evaluate it. The cost is in time and what your time is worth.

Let’s look at this in two ways. One, do you count the time if it’s outside of 40 hours, which is the American standard for working hours? Some might, since many of us (yeah, even me) work more than 40 hours if we own our own businesses. Some might not if they stick with traditional times and consider anything else as free time.

For someone like me, based on which business I’m doing at the time, I get paid anywhere between $50 and $250 an hour; yeah, I’m like that. Anyway, this means that if I’m putting in a 10-hour day and 2 hours of that happens to be writing my blog posts, which you might not think about like this but at least 4 of them I consider as business related in some fashion, then it’s costing anywhere from $12.50 to $62.50 each time I write a blog post (I average 10 to 15 minutes per post most of the time). If we look at one of my business blogs, where I try to write a post every 3 days, that averages out to around 120 posts a year, and if I use the lower figure it means it costs me about $1,500 a year of an investment towards writing that blog; that’s not counting responding to comments (I don’t have a lot yet so y’all need to go check it out).

Since posting a link to these social media platforms takes almost no time whatsoever, this pretty much means that I need to generate at least $1,500 a year from that business to break even. Of course I just started that blog in August, but already I’ve made that much, though it wasn’t from blogging, but it doesn’t matter. The thing is that as a marketing campaign, one isn’t always sure where they’re getting their business from, but even if it was related to the blog I could still say that, based on time, I’ve about tripled my initial investment.

Here comes the next stage though. What if you want to pay someone else to handle certain social media aspects of your business? For instance, say you hired someone like me to write your blog posts for you. I’m not saying this is necessarily my fee, but say it costs you $400 a month for a certain number of blog posts, and those posts automatically go out to Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook (although I know Facebook just shut down one program and I’m not sure if there are others still working right now)? The approximate cost to your business is $4,800 a year; do you have the kind of business to overcome that amount of outlay? Is there the possibility that your business will generate that kind of money online, or will it come from offline sources?

That’s just it; you don’t know. Do you consider it offline if someone found you on Google and called you up, as opposed to contacting you via email? I don’t, and we all know that more content on one’s site helps them gain more prominence on the search engines. If you’re someone like a Marcus Sheridan, whose business is swimming pools, how many sales would he have to make because someone called him because they found him on Google to have made back all of his money if he paid someone to write his posts (which he doesn’t)? For that matter what’s his ROI now from blogging and obtaining business? I’m thinking it’s probably pretty good.

Every person has to evaluate for themselves whether they think they’re getting out of social media what they’re putting into it. However, you can’t make an evaluation if you don’t try. So, what are you waiting for?
 

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Sidebar Toolbars; The Next Scourge Of Blogs And Websites

For those of you who are relatively new to this blog, let me tell you something I hate: toolbars. That is, I hate them on websites and on blogs; I don’t mind if you want to have a toolbar on your browser because that’s not getting in my way, although I keep fighting the Google sidebar (a toolbar in its own fashion).

Of course I just led into my newest gripe; sidebar toolbars. In a rant I wrote last June on things that irritated me about blogs, I commented on these toolbars getting in the way of trying to read a post for a couple of reasons.

One, I like reading things a little larger than the norm. When I increase the size of the font, these toolbars increase as well, and suddenly they’re blocking all the content, making me bring everything down to size again. That’s irritating.

Two, you have your sidebar following me down the side as I try to get into some of your content. Now it’s not only big, but I can’t outrun it; that’s irritating as well.

You know, I get it. You read somewhere that you need to make sure people know how to share your stuff on Twitter, Facebook, Google +, etc. You’ve tried other things and you’re not sure if people are actually seeing these things because you have no idea if your traffic is going up or not. So you’ve figured “hey, if this thing is always in their line of sight, there’s no way they can miss it.

You got that right; what you don’t have right is that now people can’t read your content, and if they’re like me they’ll just leave and, well, so much for anyone sharing anything. And if I don’t like you I’m never coming back; so much for traffic as well. See the image above? That’s what I’m seeing with my text enlarged. Not only did it cover text, but as you can see the bottom part is cut off anyway, so if I’d wanted to share it via the final 3 options it gives me I’d have to reduce my text just to see it.

The funny thing is that what finally prompted this post is that someone I like recently wrote a post talking about how her traffic has dropped, and I can’t read it unless I make everything smaller because there’s this large sidebar toolbar blocking everything on the left side, and no matter where I go it’s there. I’m thinking that can’t help. And no, I’m not naming names; I’ll say something if she sees this post.

Of course, though I’ve been busting on sidebar toolbars, I can’t resist busting on those other little toolbars that follow you as you’re scrolling down a post as well. They’re sometimes on the bottom and sometimes on the top, and the purpose is the same as those moving sidebar toolbars; irritating as sin because it distracts you from reading. At least it distracts me.

I’m seeing these things starting to pop up on news sites as well, and it’s driving me nuts. I know I talked about our reluctance to market ourselves but this isn’t the way to overcome that if you ask me.

Folks, how many times does one have to state the fact that if you have things on your blog that irritates people and it’s not the content that you’re going to drive people away? Toolbars, popups, music playing when you get there, too much flash, people walking out from the side and talking to you (that always freaks me out)… stop it! lol

I know I can’t be alone on this one; speak y’all!
 

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Our Reluctance To Market Ourselves

I love social media. I love how there’s just so much going on and so much information being shared by so many people. I love sharing information myself, which is why Twitter is my favorite place to be, because you never know what someone will share there and there’s lots being shared.

Dad and Me

You know what I also notice? I notice that there’s not as many people actually sharing their own stuff. I’m guilty of that myself. I often believe that since my blog articles automatically post when they go live that I don’t have to do anything else to promote them, hence, I don’t have to do anything else to promote myself. Man, how wrong I am, and those who believe as I do are.

I first touched upon this question back in May 2008 when I asked the general question How Far Are You Willing To Go For Promotion. That was based on something a local guy did (he’s now retired) where he wore certain types of clothing and a gold badge everywhere he went to always be promoting himself, and I wondered if anyone else would ever have the guts to do that. Seems the answer was no.

Over the years I’ve asked a lot of questions about marketing. I once asked if we could stomach sales. I once asked if we hate marketing so much because of what we’ve seen others do. I’ve talked about reasons why we don’t trust salespeople, and thus don’t want to become them. I once even announced that I was about to step up marketing efforts; that didn’t last, if it ever came to fruition or not.

What turns out to be interesting is just how little most of us end up marketing ourselves. A funny story from last week is that I was talking to my buddy Beverly Mahone about writing something for her that would help promote both of us. I put it together and sent it to her, exactly what she asked for. The next day she called and said I didn’t write a bio; I said she hadn’t asked for one. She also said I didn’t add a title page and I said once again she hadn’t asked for one. In essence, what she was saying to me is how could she promote both of us if I hadn’t given her anything to promote myself. Now that’s a shame.

I tend to believe that many of us miss opportunities to promote ourselves, our blogs and webpages, and our blogs. If you ask me, I think a lot of people end up doing it wrong on social media when they go through social bookmarking sites like Visibli before trying to push their content themselves first.

None of us likes “pushy”; I think that’s fair to say. We don’t want to get hammered daily, sometimes even once a week, with a sales message to buy something. I was reading yesterday where Sharon Hurley Hall wrote that she was unsubscribing from a number of newsletters that no longer suited her purpose. Probably a lot of those newsletters were marketing something on too consistent of a basis; that’s why I’ve unsubscribed from so many.

But there are some truths. One, we all need more outlets to advertise or market ourselves and our wares, and we have to be willing to do it. If you can’t advertise in your own space every once in awhile, if not have something ready on a 24/7 basis, well, how fair is that?

I have some products on 4 of my blogs that anyone can buy if they so choose at any time; is it wrong for me to want to have the ability to make money here and there? To the right, by the picture of me and the bird, I have links to some of my other pages where I’m selling stuff; will people hate me for having the audacity to try to make money that way?

Let’s talk about blog posts, or articles. How many times to you promote your own articles and posts on Twitter, where there are literally millions of people saying stuff every day, we have at least hundreds if not thousands following us, and yet we all know that the same people on at 10AM are probably not always the same people on at 8PM, or even 2PM. Who says you can’t pop your own links out more than once?

IMAG0360

Me & writer Don Yaeger

If you have a Facebook page, are you taking advantage of it by sharing your content, or every once in awhile sharing a product of yours? What about your Google+ page? None of these things are aggressive enough for anyone to gripe. Now, if you’re doing it once an hour or more, yeah, that will get irritating pretty quickly. But here and there… do you really care if a few people begrudge your opportunity to make a living?

Quick story. I was telling Beverly that I knew a local TV news personality but felt strange talking to him about things I do because I felt it might be manipulative in some fashion. She said I should contact him because people in the news are always looking for experts in different fields. I figured I had nothing to lose so I sent him a private message on Twitter, telling him I do things with blogging and social media and could possibly offer an older point of view on these things. He wrote back thanking me for telling him because he hadn’t realized that I did this type of thing. Will it end up with me on TV? Who knows, but at least I’m now known by someone in a prominent position for this sort of thing.

Most of us have to be ready to talk about ourselves, share our links, sell our products, let people know we and those things exist. I’m just as bad so this is a joint project. Sometimes we can do it while we’re supporting others; do you think I didn’t feel I was getting some benefit when I was helping John Garrett market his book How To Deal With Stupid Clowns? What about when I helped Beverly market her book Don’t Ask, or my artist friend Isaac Bidwell market himself and some of his art? Anyone see how that kind of thing helps me and them at the same time?

We can get this done. We can double our efforts, which pretty much means if you’re not doing it already anything you do will be a major step forward. Even if you’re not trying to sell something, if you’d like more visitors to your blog, go ahead and put your link out there somewhere, in a space you have more control over, and get yourself known.

And I’ll try to do it as well. 🙂
 

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5 Lessons Learned From Creating Videos

I did my first video on December 30, 2010, when I was testing my new webcam. Since that time it seems I’ve created 13 videos, 12 from the webcam and one from my smartphone. I can honestly say I’ve learned a few things and I think I’ve gotten better since that first one.

The 5 lessons I’ve learned aren’t major things probably, but I think each of them are first steps towards figuring out how people want to put their videos together. Of course I’ve tossed my own flair in because, after all, it’s me.

I’m also doing something a little different for me in that I’m putting this same video on two blogs at the same time. I figure that in general the audience for each is different, but the video will work well for both. The video is below this, but for those who don’t watch the video, here’s the list of my 5 lessons:

1. Video’s not so easy to do.

2. One has to consider their background.

3. One has to figure out the best lighting to highlight their face.

4. One should rehearse their presentation before just sitting down before a camera and going for it.

5. If your video has anything to do with business, mention your website, including the domain, and spell it if necessary.

And now, video!


 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Mitch Mitchell

What Does Your Site Look Like On All Browsers?

Last week while I was over a friend’s house, I wanted to show him my local Syracuse blog. He uses Internet Explorer (seems there’s still a lot of those out here lol) so I pulled up the main page and all looked fine. Then I pulled up an individual post and… ugliness!


bad code

I forgot about it until I was reading a post on a blog called IBlog4Dollars titled 35 Serious Blog Design Mistakes That You Should Avoid At All Costs written by Dennis Marshall. I got to #10, where it talked about making sure your website is cross-browser compatible, and then I remembered the problem I was having with IE.

I pulled it up on my IE and I had the issue like my friend did. I then went to work, and for the next 4+ hours I went through all the CSS code and checked all the PHP files, looking for something. I ran it through the W3C CSS Validator, which found some errors but nothing causing the issue. Man, was I frustrated.

Luckily, I play chess with Mitch Allen, so I threw the question out to him via one of my chess moves. He came back with a diagnosis that it was some javascript in the code, probably the Google Analytics script.

As I’d been researching the issue, I had come across something where it had been predicted that javascript could cause issues, but it never occurred to me it could be that one.

I went to the theme and then had to search for where I’d put it. Most of the time Google Analytics script works best in either the header or footer, but I realized I’d put it somewhere else, and then I remembered why. For some reason I can’t save many of the files on this particular theme. I get sent to a 404 page after attempting to do so, which was irksome. I found the script in a PHP I’d never put it on anywhere else because it turned out to be one of only 2 files I could actually save.

Once I removed it the site came back to life for IE8, which was great, but I still had a problem; how to get that Google Analytics code in. After all, if I couldn’t track my traffic, I wouldn’t know how I was progressing or digressing right?


good code

Then I remembered that sometimes you can fix things through your FTP program. I use something called WS_FTP for that purpose, so I opened that up, went to the plugin file and clicked once on Header.PHP. Then I right-clicked and went to Edit, and I popped the code in and saved it.

Came back to both my Firefox browser and IE, ran my tests, and all is working perfectly still. Just to make sure I also tested it in Chrome and Opera; looks good so far. Whew!

You can pick up things from other blogs, that’s for sure; heck, even this one I suppose. I had obviously taken time to see what that blog looked like before, but only the main page; that was a mistake, one I need to remember not to do again. One little code; with IE, sometimes that’s all it takes to mess stuff up.
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Mitch Mitchell