Social Media Success Summit 2011 Keynote Aims for Escape Velocity

As part of our weekly strategy session this week, Anne Swanson—client, collaborator, and sister—and I watched a streaming video recording of the keynote address of the 2011 Social Media Success Summit. SMSS is an online conference that’s billed as benefitting small-business owners, corporate marketers, and social-media users who want to use social media to take their businesses to “a whole new level.”

Jeremiah Owyang’s advice: Achieve escape velocityLast night’s keynote, “The Future of Social Media: A Forecast Based on Research,” featured Altimeter Group’s Jeremiah Owyang. The presentation seemed to be slanted toward the stakeholders responsible for social media activity in corporate environments, but Owyang’s message contained some useful strategies for small businesses, social-media consultants, and nonprofits as well. His main message contrasted two possible paths for social-media efforts—getting caught in a reactive “social media help desk” scenario or implementing a proactive approach he called “achieving escape velocity.”

To reach escape velocity …[more]

What Is Local Search, and Why Should You Care?

Internet marketing experts say that a significant chunk of web searches contain “local intent.” I’ve found figures ranging from 20 to 40 percent. In other words, lots of people are going to Google looking for products, services, and experiences in their geographical vicinity.

Starfall Graphics’ local-search listing

Starfall Graphics’ local-search listing

The big search engines know this, and in their competition to provide the highest-quality search results, they’ve created systems to provide highly relevant results to people searching with local intent. They’ve set up localized directories and made their own sites location-aware. That means that when you visit search engines, they check your IP address to get an idea where you are in order to tailor search results …[more]

Giving the Web a Pretty Face

Typekit screen shotLike most designers who migrated from print media to the web, I’ve always found it frustrating that the selection of fonts available for use on web sites is limited by what the site visitor has installed on his computer. The 20 or so “browser-safe” font options are a dreary collection of faces that either come preloaded in some form on Mac and Windows computers or get added by various Microsoft product installers. Until fairly recently, if you wanted to display text in beautiful fonts, the best option was to create headlines and other display text as images. But images are roadblocks to effective search engine indexing, so designers have had to learn “image replacement” tricks to preserve searchable text for headings …[more]

Local-search Services: screen is a portal that aggregates several leading local-search sites into one convenient interface. Plug in the name of your business and your ZIP code, and will check the status of your listings on Google, Yelp, Bing, Yahoo, and Best of the Web and give you a score for completeness. It also supplies links you can follow to add your business listing to those sites’ local directories or to edit your existing listings.

You can register with to get a user account …[more]

WordPress Plugin: Social Media Widget

Social Media Widget icons

The Social Media Widget adds a set of buttons to the sidebar of your WordPress site to allow visitors to connect to you through a variety of social-media sites. The latest version of the plugin (2.4.1) comes loaded with icons for more than 30 sites, including all of the most popular ones, plus icons for your site’s RSS feed and e‑mail subscription link. The developer, Brian Freytag, has maintained the plugin in very active development recently, with each update adding a few more resources. It also includes three slots in which you can insert custom links with icons that you supply yourself.

The plugin comes with three sizes of icon sets—16, 32, and 64 pixels—in four styles …[more]

Local-search Services: screen is a company that specializes in local search. The company maintains a central site and 700 regional sites aimed at providing users with targeted, relevant local-search results. It provides free directory listings, paid premium listings, paid advertising, product and service reviews, special offers from local businesses, and more. If you’re just starting out in your efforts to build local-search rankings, is a quick and easy starting point.

To register your business in the directory, start by visiting and searching for your business …[more]

Community & Conversation Workshop
July 23, 2010


Here’s what you’ll need to bring with you to the workshop:

  • Laptop* and power supply
  • Software: web browser(s) of choice, e‑mail client of choice. (Or user name and password for a web‑based e‑mail account, if your laptop is not configured for e‑mail access. Some of the resources we’ll be exploring will require verification by e‑mail.)
  • User name(s) and password(s) for your own WordPress site(s)
  • User names and passwords for your accounts on any or all of the following social-media sites: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter

Please give us a call at 713-562-1813 if you have any questions or need help to prepare for the workshop.

*A few computers will be available for participants who don’t have access to a laptop. Please send us e‑mail to discuss details.

Featured Strategy: Local Search


Revisit and to finish creating your free local-search directory listings or to set up new listings for your business.

WordPress Mod-of-the-Month
Plugin: Social Media Widget

The Social Media Widget adds a set of buttons to the sidebar of your WordPress site to allow visitors to connect to you through a variety of social-media sites. Read a full review and tutorial of the Social Media Widget.


If you haven’t already installed and configured the Social Media Widget on your WordPress site, take a look at the tutorial. Install the plugin, add the widget in the desired area of your site, and fill in data for the social-media resources you’re using. Feel free to contact me if you need any help!


Feel free to post your questions, feedback, or suggestions for future workshop topics as comments at the bottom of this page, or using the Comment Wall area at right.

Client Profile: is a business venture of my Starfall Graphics partner, Mark A. Herrera. Mark already had a lifelong passion for consumer electronics before I met him, and then I got him hooked on Apple products about a dozen years ago. Now he’s putting to work his expertise and keen nose for bargains as a consultant, helping clients buy, set up, repair, and maintain Macintosh computers and networks, Mac operating systems, iPhones, storage and backup solutions, home and office audio and video systems, and more.

Web and social-media projects include:

  • Web site built in WordPress.
    Note the custom-made bullets in bulleted lists!:
    Custom bullet style at
  • Facebook fan page. New blog posts on the web site are automatically posted to the Facebook page using the Networked Blogs application.
  • Twitter account that tweets Mark’s blog updates
  • PBworks wiki for internal communications and project management

What Is All This Salty Pink Meat Doing in My Blog Comments?

SpamAround the time you finish setting up your WordPress blog—or not until a day or two later, if you’re lucky—you’ll start getting “comment spam.” Comment spam is a stream of mostly nonsensical comments left on your blog in the hope of routing traffic to the spammers’ target sites. The comments contain links to those sites. They’re counting on finding blogs on which comments aren’t moderated, leave their links, and drive up their own search engine rankings. Most of the spammers seem to employ software robots to drop their loads of unwanted canned meat in your comment threads. But there are also humans who engage in this tacky form of self‑promotion, plugging their porn sites on your blog about needlepoint, for instance. (Posting legitimate, relevant comments with backlinks to a site about a related topic, on the other hand, is perfectly cool.)

Fortunately, WordPress comes loaded with a strong defense against comment spam …[more] Leverages the Power of Free Stuff

There’s been a lot of talk in the last couple of years about “free as a business model”—the idea put forth by Chris Anderson in a 2008 Wired magazine cover story that you can build a successful business around a product or service that you give away for free. Bill Gurley presents a nice overview of the development of the idea. One of my favorite books about the Internet economy is What Would Google Do?, in which Jeff Jarvis talks about how Google has exploited the power of free services to make piles of money.

FreeDigitalPhotos.netYesterday I went looking for an image to illustrate a blog post, and I stumbled across an exciting application of “free as a business model” at This stock photography site offers web-resolution versions of all of its images for free on one condition: the user must acknowledge the photographer and …[more]

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