October 18, 2017

An Easy Guide to Discovering Content Ideas

Two of my favorite things, outside of my wife and daughter (of course), are 1) beer and 2) creating content from high volume keywords. I can hear you saying, “Really, Greg?” and I would say, “Yes, really.” So, what a better blog topic that combines these two and gives some tips for creating content that people actually want to read?

You might have guessed, but I’m a beer snob. I used to be ashamed to admit that because I hate being trendy, but I can’t hide the fact that 2017 is the height of craft beer mania. Check out how the term “craft beer” has trended since 2004 according to Google Trends. Craft beer may as well be Taylor Swift, pointy fake nails, Herschel bags, or one of those undercut haircuts with a tiny ponytail on top.*

*For the record, I’m currently drinking a Lamplighter Stardust IPA brewed with Simcoe, Summit, and Amarillo hops. I love Lamplighter Brewing Company in Cambridge, Massachusetts (Lamplighter employees: Hit me up to coordinate my free cases).

Cool chart, huh? It's free courtesy of the Googs' Trend tool. You can get a graph on anything you want there.

Let’s imagine I came up with the really unoriginal idea to start a beer blog. For the sake of this blog, let’s assume I want to be a source of education for beer newbies. So, where do I start? I can hear you saying, “Greg, it must be really overwhelming to figure out what to write about, right?” And I would say, “Wrong.”

With the right (mostly free tools) and a little bit of SEO know-how, you can figure out exactly what you should be writing about and how to drive traffic to your site over time. The best part is - it’s all based on real data and what people really want.

I bet a lot of beer newbies see a porter and a stout as being similar. Looking at Google Keyword Planner, we can see that “porter vs stout” gets 5400 searches per month. BAM! I’ve written my first article entitled “What is the Difference Between and Porter and a Stout?” For those of you who aren’t aware, Google Keyword Planner is linked to an existing Adwords account. If an Adwords account doesn’t exist, there’s a great free keyword research tool through “The Hoth.”

When should I write this article? In the chart below, it looks like search interest around the term “stout” peaks in the cool/cold weather months - not surprising since a stout is a hearty beer. It’s also not a surprise that searches peak around St. Patrick’s Day. Guinness is a stout and it’s one of the most famous Irish beers. With this knowledge, I’ll likely publish my article in the fall, and then maybe I’ll do another feature on stouts around St. Patrick’s Day. BAM! Who am I? Emeril Lagasse? Punch me…

Ok, so now my mind is working. What about summer beers? I see a lot of people drinking shandy-style beers in the summer. Since I actually have no idea what a shandy is, I’m going to Google “shandy” now. Based on Google’s “Auto Complete,” many other people have the same curiosity as I do:

 

Based on this tip, I confirm that many people are curious to know what a shandy is. After doing some keyword research, I see that 1600 people per month type in the exact query “what is a shandy?” Sweet.  Check out the shandy search trends below. There’s no surprise that queries around “shandy” peak in the summer since it is a light, fruity, and refreshing beer.

Search data is great and all, but what is actually resonating with the public? What have people been sharing over the past year? Using BuzzSumo (which just got acquired by Brandwatch), we can see the most shared content pieces pertaining to a given topic over a preselected period of time. I love using this tool to understand the types of content that actually resonates with the public. Check out the results below for the query “craft beer.”

An article entitled “IPAs Are Giving You Man Boobs” was shared over 93K times. This list has some great inspirations for fun and lifestyle content that I can add to my blog. Most importantly, I’m currently rubbing my chest and thinking that I might need to go to the gym.

TLDR: Use keyword data to discover and create awesome content.

  1. Google Trends to see popular searches
  2. Google Keyword Planner to see the volume of searches for particular keywords
  3. BuzzSumo to see what’s being shared in social
July 24, 2017

Content Marketing: Being Honest and Keeping Your Friends

I just read a Content Marketing article which discussed whether Content Marketing needs to be rebranded now that it’s been a buzz term in the industry for a handful of years. For those of you that know me, I absolutely loathe forced marketing lingo. I’d like to think that many people see right through it, but maybe I’m overestimating the “BS” meter than people are born with.

With that said, imagine ourselves in a professional situation. Let’s assume we're colleagues and we’ve come across one another at various events and we have a cordial professional relationship. At an industry event, I turn to you and say,“What are your thoughts on leveraging a synergistic approach to acquiring palliative hydration?” Translation: “Do you want to go grab a beer with me?” Of course, you wouldn’t want to get a beer with me, because I’ve just outed myself as a giant arse.

For some reason, I feel that marketers are constantly trying to reinvent the wheel. I get it. Our job is trying to sell things, but whether we’re trying to sell something to fellow marketers or the general public, a certain level of honesty needs to be involved. This notion is especially true in the case of content marketing.

Content marketing is pretty simple. Employ a value based entity with the desired outcome of positive absorption (Non- jargon translation: Write stuff that people want to read that provides them with value). Google has figured this out. Organic rankings are no longer filled with fluff results from SEO’s overstuffing keywords and manipulating the latest algorithms. Sure, there is still an art to SEO, but organic rankings are now based on Google’s machine-based algorithms, aka robots, who ignore all the cheesy jargon.

And while we are on the topic of cheese, let’s talk about a real life example. If you’re a brand that wants to sell more cheese, try positioning yourself as the ultimate authority on cheese. Answer all of the questions people have about cheese in a useful and valuable manner. Google will see you as being a purveyor of valuable content. People will start thinking of you as an authority on cheese and they’ll trust your brand more than the brand that just tells you that their cheese is the best, and then talks about how great their founders are. If you don’t tell them which kind of cheese pairs best with Pinot Noir, somebody else will.

What it comes down to, is that agency folks need to be honest with brands. Content about mission statements or awards is not what converts. People are generally not interested in anything aside from what they’re typing into a search engine at that specific moment. Be their buddy and give them an answer they’ll feel good about. Do your research to figure out what people are looking for. You just might be rewarded with free organic traffic for years to come.

April 25, 2013

Why Your Brand Needs Stipple

Take Back Your Brand's Photos

Most brands have hundreds, if not thousands, of product images on their websites. And those images get reused, re-blogged, re-tweeted and re-posted by hundreds of other sites and users around the internet every day. So that's good, right? Well, not really. While it's great for awareness around a product, tracking those photos becomes extremely difficult, not to mention the fact that carefully crafted marketing messages that live on a brand's site are nowhere to be found when those images find themselves elsewhere. That's where Stipple comes in.

[caption id="attachment_8679" align="aligncenter" width="650" caption="Stipple Allows Brands to Share Interactive Images.                                                                     Image source: Stipple.com"][/caption]

 Tag, Share, Track, Repeat

Stipple believes they have solved that issue by allowing everyone from brands and merchants to bloggers and photographers to place interactive, trackable tags on all of their imagery. Now, when those images are pulled onto other sites (social sites included), they will be embedded with everything from videos to e-commerce tags to make purchases directly. For more on Stipple, check out the video below.

 Game Changer?

Will "smarter" photos have the ability to make imagery the future of social commerce? Is Stipple the solution that marketers have been looking for when  trying to measure the effectiveness of their content sharing? We'd love to hear your take. Sound off in the comment section below.

February 12, 2013

The Harlem Shake: Why Is This a Thing?

Oh Internet, you never cease to amaze me. Just when I feel like we get each other, you come out with something so inherently ridiculous, I can only shake my head, smile and say, "you do you, Internet; you do you." The latest craze in a long line of plankings, lip dubs, Call Me Maybes, horse heads, and Gangnam Styles (if you want more of these, check out our posts on ROFLcon) is The Harlem Shake.  The TLDR overview of this new trend goes like this: Normal situation turns into a weird rave-y dance party with this song playing in the background. But I'm not here to talk about "what" it is. I'd rather discuss "why" it is. Why is some video that started in a dorm room inspiring everyone from frat bros to marketing agencies (see below) to go nuts for, quite literally, 15 seconds of Internet fame?

The question may be as simple as "there was a huge blizzard in the Northeast this weekend and a ton of people were bored." However, my guess is that it has something to do with this statement: Never underestimate the human need to be a part of the cultural Zeitgeist. Seriously, we even did one.

In our study, "The Psychology of Social" (click here to download), we express that social media placates certain inherent human needs to fit in and have a role within the larger group. In 10,000 BC, each member of a group of prehistoric humans had a role - be it hunter, gatherer, or mammoth stylist (those were things, right?). While human roles and needs have changed slightly over the past few thousand years,  the group mentality remains. We are, and always have been, a species built on sharing, connection-development, and esteem building. While we no longer have the need for mammoth stylists (I swear those existed), with our Internet/information-driven society, being the one in your group of friends to find these things, create them, or share them allows you to fulfill your role in the larger group.

So, why did THIS catch on? It probably has something to do with the group that the creators of the original video has around them. Things spread more easily when the content gets into the hands of influencers. Mix that with the fact that that there is almost no barrier to participate (a camera phone, a song download, a laptop, some friends) add a little absurdity and a lot of fun, and you've got yourself a engagement-driving concoction of excellence.

January 6, 2013

Holding Down a Piece of Time: Currency in the Digital Age

In the early 1980s, budding NYC photographers captured the graffiti art spray-painted onto subway cars that traversed the city. They'd wait to set up shots. Pull emergency levers to stop trains, buying time with their cameras and the fresh paint. It didn't matter that these 'photographers'? were just kids or that the graffiti they worked hard to capture would soon be painted over by MTA workers. That's because the kids snapping photos and the artists who 'bombed'? trains were all interested in the same thing: Capturing something meaningful, ephemeral.

The New York Transit Authority in the 1980s

Fast forward to today. Many of us are on Instagram taking photos of the seemingly mundane: what's for dinner, our evenings out, our kids'?¦ and ourselves (a lot of those). While it may seem silly to compare a 'selfie'? we post on Instagram to the photographs of graffiti from the 1980s, I would argue that these two phenomena actually have a lot more in common in terms of human motivation than we think. And looking at how they're connected will sketch a roadmap for the unfolding digital landscape.

To be known and to belong

A photo of artwork we like. Our reflection in a window. The frothy cappuccino you had at lunch. They're not exactly graffiti on subway trains, but they're the fleeting moments of our ordinary lives that connect us to people and practices'in other words, 'culture.'? By snapping a photo, you contribute to the macro-level conversation about a given topic, make your voice heard, and accrue status accordingly.

It makes sense then that Instagram and Facebook serve as a way of building your identity and social status. It's a way of telling the world, 'I recognize this as something important, and therefore, I belong.'? And those are a couple of the underlying utilities of social media'to be known and to belong. It doesn't matter that your post is irrelevant in 24 hours. All that matters is that you caught a piece of life that was meaningful to you in some way, even if it was about to get painted (or posted) over in time.

When teenage photographers pulled the emergency lever on subway cars so they could take more photos of graffiti, they were taking part in the same practice. The modern day obsession with Instagram is motivated by that same impulse: to hold down a moving piece of time and claim it as part of your experience.

What it means for advertising

The implications of this new, rapid-fire digital landscape have been discussed ad nauseam, yet advertising professionals still need a call to action'what are we supposed to take away from this paradigm shift? How has this technology changed the way we express ourselves, and what do we do with that dialogue?

The answer becomes clear when you look at specific situations and examine human behavior over time. When we do this, we begin to see the truth of human experience. We begin to see that the graffiti-capturing teens of the '80s aren't that different from the ordinary folk who post pics on Instagram. Maybe we share too much now. Maybe not. Regardless of how you feel, it's changing our high-level cultural dialogue about everything from brands to what you wear to work each day.

For advertisers, this is a significant shift in engagement with consumers. Brands want to get in on the conversations we're having. The age of big campaigns with long runways is coming to a close. Today, creative content and effective strategy requires a much shorter incubation period than ever before. Quite simply, when our feeds are moving as fast as our brains (and vice versa), content needs to keep up.

Content as currency

In the new digital landscape, brands are judged on their capacity to create authentic content for their followers. A brand's ability to do this well leads to the accrual of social currency. That currency buys engagement. When you do this well, consumers ultimately include you in the conversations they're having. Listen, this isn't as dirty as it sounds. Let's suspend cynicism for a moment and consider this: Engaging with consumers as part of conversations they're creating means we can potentially elevate and diversify human experience to a new level. To put it simply, we'll have the power to open up the world to more human perspectives than ever before. Where this will take us is anyone's guess, but as advertisers, we need to be prepared to take the ride.

January 17, 2012

2012 CES: Key Themes

We ate entirely too much Sbarro.

Hey, it was a quick meal fix in a pinch and there was so much at CES to view / listen to / play / swipe / poke / drool over, that a microwaved pizza slice was often the best option. The three-to-five minutes that it took to inhale a triangular piece of mediocrity was ample time to reflect on the handful of key themes that kept popping up across the miles of exhibitor floorspace, conference track events and flashy keynote speeches. Back at the office, I managed to gather my tomato-sauce-stained notes and expand on the most prominent dynamics from this year's CES.

The Year of the ________?

In most years at CES, there is typically one product or category that grabs all the media attention and consumer buzz. Last year tablets were the big craze. But there doesn't appear to be a clear winner this year. Some may argue that the emergence of Intel's Ultrabook category won that right with a dizzying number of models released from leading brands, while others may contest that OLED TVs were the next must-have. Aside from those two examples, there weren't really any 'game-changers'?. Maybe it wasn't a product or category at all but a trend known as the 'ecosystem'?'?¦

Owning the Ecosystem

If we had a nickel for every time the word 'ecosystem'? was uttered, we'd have a big ol' bag of nickels. But what does this new buzzword mean? Simply put, the ecosystem is the synergy created by a single provider that can offer users hardware (devices), software (an operating system), content for those devices (music, e-books, games, apps, etc.), and an online marketplace to purchase content ' all working together seamlessly. Apple has this structure in place now ' you can download a book from iTunes, read it on your iPhone on the train home from work bookmark your spot when your stop arrives, then resume reading from that point on your iPad while reading from the couch when you get home. Because it took Apple years to build and integrate this model seamlessly, they're in the leadership position and competitors are scrambling to catch up.

In most cases, one single company does not have the necessary resources in place to handle an across-the-board solution so they have naturally turned to strategic partnerships or acquisitions to fill-in the gaps. Last year the industry saw these building blocks being put into place. In February, Nokia and Microsoft announced a strategic alliance where that mobile cog helps Microsoft build out their own ecosystem. In April, Dish acquired Blockbuster's assets from bankruptcy auction, giving them more content firepower against a slew of competitors in DirecTV, cable networks and Netflix. Finally in October, Sony bought out Ericsson (you'll see the 'Sony Ericsson'? brand phased out in favor of 'Sony Mobile'? in the next few months) in a move that gave Sony complete control of the device end and allows for future integration opportunities with PlayStation 3 and content from the PlayStation Network.

To best understand the marketing implications of this ' first marketers must understand how consumers engage with these devices. Long gone are the days when a consumer sat in front of a TV with undivided attention. Today, that consumer could very well be using multiple devices at the same time. It is the responsibility of the agency/advertiser to understand the best way to reach the audience across multiple screens through a comprehensive brand experience. The benefit of these ecosystems is the ability to provide an integrated, one-stop solution across all touchpoints completely customizable to the assets (physical or digital) available. However, the downside is the device fragmentation, where consumers have multiple devices but not from the same manufacturer / ecosystem ' then that synergy and compatibility is lost.

Convergence on Convenience

In this ecosystem model, the ability to move from device to device with similar entertainment content is the ideal experience. There is a similar dynamic of interoperability through a 'connected'? home where various 'smart'? devices, appliances and systems work together for a more functional, efficient and cost-friendly residence. Imagine being able to get a text from your fridge to remind you to pick up more eggs because it knows that you're running low and you're close to the grocery store. Or maybe your bathroom shower mirror is voice controlled with the ability to give you today's weather and top news stories as you get ready for work.

These experiences are getting closer to reality and as they do the ability to enhance existing behaviors will come with it as well. For example ' your fridge then sends you a coupon on premium free-range eggs (because it syncs with your search/browsing history and recognizes that you're a foodie with a golden heart). Or your bathroom shower mirror gives you headlines from the New York Times that you can bookmark and sync to your phone to read on your drive in ' all included with a single NYT subscription.

Such emerging communication channels and opportunities may be a few years off. Fragmentation issues will still remain and there needs to be sufficient consumer demand for market viability but it's interesting to think about how a truly connected home might affect our day to day lives.

3DTV Today and Beyond

3DTVs aren't going anywhere. There's still a battle between active glasses (battery-powered, with a lens shutter) and passive glasses (polarized lenses like the kind you get at the movies). There were only a few autostereoscopic or 'glasses-free'? models on the exhibition floor ' mostly in some beta form from the big CE brands or offered by smaller specialty companies. In past years, the adoption of 3DTV was a 'chicken vs. egg'? scenario ' content was scarce so consumers didn't want to spend for the extra capability that they would use minimally and content creators and distributors didn't want to front the cost against a small universe of capable TVs. This was the same growth pattern that HDTV went through about a decade ago. But now, with most new higher-end sets featuring 3D capability (at a marginal cost), there is less consumer trepidation, especially when considering dedicated 3D television channels (ESPN3D, 3Net, etc.) and an ever-increasing slate of 3D movies released each month. All of this points toward consumers becoming more comfortable with 3D engagements.

That doesn't necessarily mean that the format will lose the luster of its impact entirely ' it just needs to be approached with caution. While it's easy to fall into the trap of creating gimmicky content (i.e. a soccer ball flying out of the TV), the approach should be the same as any other advertising medium where the focus is on the message and communication to your target audience first, not the effects. Designers don't say 'holy crap, we HAVE GOT to put a lens flare on this'? then build a concept using that as a starting point. Once that message is crafted, a few ideas to potentially explore are applications that can show size and scale (i.e. various classes of pickup trucks), precise details (i.e. industrial design of a sleek new handset), or use to provide depth to a scene / environment (i.e. panoramic shot of a tourist destination).

What's Next?

It'll be interesting to see these dynamics shape up over the next twelve months. It's highly unlikely that a game-changing product pops up this year. Any announcements from Apple (traditionally absent at CES) can shake things up as well. Who knows if any of the industry's leading brands will be able to gain traction on Apple's ecosystem, but it's certainly an uphill battle. Smart appliances could become more widely adopted as consumers become increasingly tech savvy leading the way for further growth in that category in coming years. 3DTVs and content will continue to grow but by the end of the year will it remain a fun novelty or will it become a serious way to enjoy the home television experience?

As for next year's CES, making predictions for what we'll see is always a crapshoot. I'm guessing 3D-capable mobile devices. And hoverboards.

Over the next few weeks, we'll be reporting back on a cross section of our time at CES ' everything from industry trends to brilliant new products to mind-blowing apps. Stay tuned.

August 4, 2011

Buying Your Way to the Top with Social Media

With the popularity of SEO, social media, and the boom of the online industry, competition is becoming fiercer than ever. It is no longer common to find someone outside of the marketing world who doesn't understand the basic fundamentals of search engine marketing.

Back in 2001-2002, all you needed was a website utilizing basic SEO elements and a few links and Google would love you and you could outrank your competition. Fast forward to today, the game has completely changed. Now, Google will likely ignore you until you're able to prove your website deserves to rank in their search results based on their criteria. With over 100 factors taken into account into the Google search engine algorithm to determine how a website is ranked, this has lead to new level of abuse and capitalization from certain individuals and companies to try to game the system. Search engines are constantly changing the way their algorithm works in order to fight spam and tactics that violate their guidelines. Violation of these terms can lead to a website being penalized or in worst case scenario, banned.

Social media has become a key player in influencing the impact of search engine marketing and Google has openly stated they are now considering social signals in their ranking algorithm. With the popularity of social media networks such as Digg, Twitter, Facebook, and most recently, the introduction of Google+, the level of abuse is rising from underground groups to manipulate and find ways to trick search engines.

Most recently, new social media company Plussem.com began offering a service where they utilize a group of people to vote for the website of your choice on Google+ in exchange for a fee. Looking for 50 votes? It'll cost you just 20 bucks. Want 2,000 votes? You can get it by paying the equivalent cost of an XBOX 360. While this idea sounds enticing, and may work for a short time frame, the MIT engineers behind the scenes at the Google Plex are most likely working day and night trying to figure out a way to prevent abuse from such services. My thought on this topic is, if you do get any type of benefit, it will be short lived.

This type of manipulation is nothing new. Dig further around the web and you will find all kinds of paid services where you can buy social media love.

Let's take a look at the service Subvert and Profit as an example. This site offers everything from paid YouTube to Twitter votes. Not only can advertisers benefit from this, but social media users can also make money from it. Want your message to be spread across Twitter? You can do that too, with a service like Sponsored Tweets.

The rise of these types of services is here to stay. While these services can make you appear popular to your audience, participating in these networks will not give you a long term benefit or a spike in search engine traffic or rankings.

Focus on building buzz-worthy and interesting content your audience will naturally react to. Utilize SEO best practices, participate in social networks to build your networks and you will build your reputation online as an authority on your topic.

Remember, content is KING.

August 4, 2011

Buying Your Way to the Top with Social Media

With the popularity of SEO, social media, and the boom of the online industry, competition is becoming fiercer than ever. It is no longer common to find someone outside of the marketing world who doesn't understand the basic fundamentals of search engine marketing.

Back in 2001-2002, all you needed was a website utilizing basic SEO elements and a few links and Google would love you and you could outrank your competition. Fast forward to today, the game has completely changed. Now, Google will likely ignore you until you're able to prove your website deserves to rank in their search results based on their criteria. With over 100 factors taken into account into the Google search engine algorithm to determine how a website is ranked, this has lead to new level of abuse and capitalization from certain individuals and companies to try to game the system. Search engines are constantly changing the way their algorithm works in order to fight spam and tactics that violate their guidelines. Violation of these terms can lead to a website being penalized or in worst case scenario, banned.

Social media has become a key player in influencing the impact of search engine marketing and Google has openly stated they are now considering social signals in their ranking algorithm. With the popularity of social media networks such as Digg, Twitter, Facebook, and most recently, the introduction of Google+, the level of abuse is rising from underground groups to manipulate and find ways to trick search engines.

Most recently, new social media company Plussem.com began offering a service where they utilize a group of people to vote for the website of your choice on Google+ in exchange for a fee. Looking for 50 votes? It'll cost you just 20 bucks. Want 2,000 votes? You can get it by paying the equivalent cost of an XBOX 360. While this idea sounds enticing, and may work for a short time frame, the MIT engineers behind the scenes at the Google Plex are most likely working day and night trying to figure out a way to prevent abuse from such services. My thought on this topic is, if you do get any type of benefit, it will be short lived.

This type of manipulation is nothing new. Dig further around the web and you will find all kinds of paid services where you can buy social media love.

Let's take a look at the service Subvert and Profit as an example. This site offers everything from paid YouTube to Twitter votes. Not only can advertisers benefit from this, but social media users can also make money from it. Want your message to be spread across Twitter? You can do that too, with a service like Sponsored Tweets.

The rise of these types of services is here to stay. While these services can make you appear popular to your audience, participating in these networks will not give you a long term benefit or a spike in search engine traffic or rankings.

Focus on building buzz-worthy and interesting content your audience will naturally react to. Utilize SEO best practices, participate in social networks to build your networks and you will build your reputation online as an authority on your topic.

Remember, content is KING.

August 4, 2011

Buying Your Way to the Top with Social Media

With the popularity of SEO, social media, and the boom of the online industry, competition is becoming fiercer than ever. It is no longer common to find someone outside of the marketing world who doesn't understand the basic fundamentals of search engine marketing.

Back in 2001-2002, all you needed was a website utilizing basic SEO elements and a few links and Google would love you and you could outrank your competition. Fast forward to today, the game has completely changed. Now, Google will likely ignore you until you're able to prove your website deserves to rank in their search results based on their criteria. With over 100 factors taken into account into the Google search engine algorithm to determine how a website is ranked, this has lead to new level of abuse and capitalization from certain individuals and companies to try to game the system. Search engines are constantly changing the way their algorithm works in order to fight spam and tactics that violate their guidelines. Violation of these terms can lead to a website being penalized or in worst case scenario, banned.

Social media has become a key player in influencing the impact of search engine marketing and Google has openly stated they are now considering social signals in their ranking algorithm. With the popularity of social media networks such as Digg, Twitter, Facebook, and most recently, the introduction of Google+, the level of abuse is rising from underground groups to manipulate and find ways to trick search engines.

Most recently, new social media company Plussem.com began offering a service where they utilize a group of people to vote for the website of your choice on Google+ in exchange for a fee. Looking for 50 votes? It'll cost you just 20 bucks. Want 2,000 votes? You can get it by paying the equivalent cost of an XBOX 360. While this idea sounds enticing, and may work for a short time frame, the MIT engineers behind the scenes at the Google Plex are most likely working day and night trying to figure out a way to prevent abuse from such services. My thought on this topic is, if you do get any type of benefit, it will be short lived.

This type of manipulation is nothing new. Dig further around the web and you will find all kinds of paid services where you can buy social media love.

Let's take a look at the service Subvert and Profit as an example. This site offers everything from paid YouTube to Twitter votes. Not only can advertisers benefit from this, but social media users can also make money from it. Want your message to be spread across Twitter? You can do that too, with a service like Sponsored Tweets.

The rise of these types of services is here to stay. While these services can make you appear popular to your audience, participating in these networks will not give you a long term benefit or a spike in search engine traffic or rankings.

Focus on building buzz-worthy and interesting content your audience will naturally react to. Utilize SEO best practices, participate in social networks to build your networks and you will build your reputation online as an authority on your topic.

Remember, content is KING.

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