Spending Time with the Family and Losing Digital Connection

Going dark. It doesn’t sound like it is a big deal. It probably shouldn’t be a big deal at all, but I could count on one hand the number of days I have gone completely dark from my business since 2009. That doesn’t mean I haven’t taken more than a few days off from work since ’09, it just means I haven’t unplugged. On weekends I work; answering emails, logging into analytics, checking campaigns in SEOmoz etc. Not that a lot of heavy lifting is done, but there is always time spent working every weekend. Its baked into my morning routine on the weekends. Email on the phone, twitter, linkedin, blogs, all the apps are there on my phone, ready for consumption- and I am an addict.

Spending time with my family isn’t difficult. In fact, if there is one thing I feel like I do well on a regular basis, it’s spend time with the family. We sit down to dinner together and have playtime before or after. I am committed to this at any or all cost. My son and I have coffee time every Saturday and Sunday morning, when we spend about 45 minutes at a local coffee shop catching up on the New York Times and the recent gossip of Christy Park Montessori. I treasure these moments.

If there is one knock to my family hustle, it is undeniable addiction to being plugged into the happenings in the search world. I can’t help it, I catch myself checking my phone incessantly. So in this challenge for a solid Saturday I left the mobile at home, and the computer turned off. The things that you don’t miss when you are unplugged can be the most memorable. Who the hell cares what google does on a Saturday, but enjoying every moment with those who love you is priceless.

This should be a no brainer, but I am going dark one day a weekend in my 30’s. Don’t get me wrong I love my job, and I love my industry. They both fit me as a person. I am someone who struggled most of my life to fit in ample time for the right and left brain. I love art, creativity, free form, but I also love numbers, stats, math problems that seem impossible. Not very many positions in the professional world mash the two worlds so perfectly together, but SEO does. None of that matters if it I don’t let it provide me the time and attention for my family. Full attention. I do reserve the right to pick which day and it could vary….however, it will be done. This post is part of Derek’s 30-in-30 Project.

Smart Facebook Tips for Businesses

Is your business on Facebook, yet yielding a microscopic fan base and a depressing amount of interaction? You’re not alone. But you’re also not using the site to its full potential. It’s a common misconception that businesses can just guess their way to thousands of “likes” and positive feedback. In fact, the most successful companies on the social networking site have most assuredly been following a specific set of tactics to get where they are now. They didn’t just guess. It can be challenging to see the marketing potential from a site that fervently discloses your friends’ drunken documentation, less-than-subtle status venting, and basically every single detail, good or bad, of their everyday lives. Facebook for business So you’re going to have to change your mindset. Facebook is all about connectivity- that’s for sure. But as a business, you don’t have to worry about extending connections past the surface level. No one expects that kind of intimacy. You don’t have to limit your status updates to discussing the weather, but you really shouldn’t delve much further. The best time of the day to post is actually after business hours. Specifically, weekends and from 2pm- 2am. This is when people are off work. It’s when we relax and do whatever is the biggest waste of time. In most cases, that would be Facebook. These times are the best time to post because it’s when user interactivity is at its highest. Another point to note is that while most businesses post during Thursdays, your activity during off-peak hours (weekends/ after work) will grant you more interaction from users because you’ll be posting when they’re ready to engage. Fortunately, you won’t have to spend evenings and weekends in front of a computer. You can schedule postings with various tools. However, it’s not a bad idea to keep an eye on your page’s activity. That way, if someone does comment, you’ll be available to offer a timely response. One vital bit of information is the importance of sharing photos as often, if not more often, than status updates alone. A photo can spark an emotional connection in an instant, thus increasing a fan’s chance of commenting or “liking” the image. Whether you upload new office furniture, a smiling customer, or scenes from an event, your fans will enjoy this additional peek into your business. While the feeling may only tickle the unconscious, itas still strong enough to compel fans to interact. Photos are easy to upload and obviously powerful visuals, so every business owner should be utilizing this feature on Facebook. Business Facebook pageMoving on, sometimes you have to ask your customers for likes. It’s a very simple call to action that will reflect positive vibes. Customers enjoy contributing, especially if they like your business. Most importantly, taking a proactive approach– asking your customers for comments and likes- will increase the interaction rate on your Facebook page. A quick “LIKE if you’re excited for cooler weather!” is a great example of how to engage Facebook fans with a call to action and a statement that is widely agreed upon. You can even take it further: “what is your favorite part about Fall?” and the comments will pour in. Final words- don’t be afraid to show that there’s a human on the other side. Directly respond to comments, post kind wishes during holidays, and definitely address any issues that consumers may have. A timely, composed apology or expressed concern is a brilliant PR move. Maintain a unique voice, one that matches your brand identity. Your posts and photos may develop a rare consistency that will attract fans to your page. That is the ultimate success- and itas not impossible to achieve.

30-in-30 Video Report

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SEO for Video

So you made a video and uploaded it to your site. But how do you make sure that people actually watch it? Whether the video cost thousands of dollars to produce, or it was a one-man (you being the man) project that was tackled during your spare time, if it’s important enough to be posted on your site, then it deserves to be watched and enjoyed.
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Challenge #3 Change one thing at Evolve

I am not afraid to adapt. I thrive in it. I am not afraid to be proven wrong over time. I named our company Evolve because in this industry, what is efficient today might be made obsolete tomorrow. A huge part of that is willingness to change. If I look closely at all of the things we have changed here at Evolve: Digital Labs over the years, the common thread is in execution of work. We work on knowing and challenging our business everyday. As I wrote in a letter to myself for challenge number one, its all about the people working in our organization. We need to help them not just with tools and improved processes, but more importantly, with personal growth. Without mutual planning for the employee and the company, mutual satisfaction seems unlikely. For long term commitments from employees you need to provide satisfaction along the way. When it is put in simple terms like that, it makes me feel embarrassed how neglectful I have been. So, no longer. To Start: I went to the goog and found this Employee Performance Review that breaks down the core categories I would like to discuss. 1. Job/ Technical Knowledge 2. Problem Solving and Decision Making 3. Planning and Organization 4. Communication Verbal and Written 5. Teamwork Personal Skills 6. Company Policy 7. Self Management There is also ample space to review the goals from the previous review, along with make new ones. With the right tool in place, I started an internal debate: at what intervals should these take place? Once a year isn’t close to enough. Once every six months seems reasonable, but considering the change this company has seen in its first 3 years, even that seems slightly underwhelming. I found the answer in this logic: the average employee at Evolve is going to work about 48 weeks in a calendar year. That equates to about 1920 hours. If I met with an employee for 30 minutes every 90 days on goals and performance, we are spending a limited tenth of a percent. For now that is where we will start. I am not sure anyone wants to spend that much goal-driven quality time with me anyway. Finally, I would be somewhat of a hypocrite if I didn’t give my employees the opportunity to review my performance as well. So every 90 days I will send out one for my review to everyone, let the truth ring out. This post is part of Derek’s 30-in-30 Project. Click here to learn more about it from the initial introduction

Challenge #2 Facing your fears and why it matters in business

One of the first challenges that jumped off the page at me, was “to face a fear.” Why? I don’t know maybe because I do like a good challenge or, much like Marty McFly, I hate being told I can’t do something. Even if its me doing the internal talking, once its a public challenge…it’s on. Read more

Adapt Your Brand to Complement Consumer Behavior

At Evolve, we emphasize the importance of knowing whom you are marketing to. The online realm is much different from the physical world; it’s easy for customers to remain anonymous. Without a definite understanding of your consumers’ behavior, it may be difficult for your brand to flourish online.

We’re Emotional Beings

One important factor to note is that consumers make emotional purchases. Before social media, we relied heavily on personal experiences to drive us toward purchases of specific brands. For instance, I drink Diet Coke, not because it’s the only sugar-free beverage out there. God knows it’s not. But I drink it because my mom drank it (and still does). It’s familiar. It’s what I know. And for me, it’s an emotional experience. Bending back the tab on a cold can of Coca-Cola creates a recognizable psssffft, indicating that I am inches away from fizzy refreshment. Advertisers rely on emotion as well. If they can create a 30-second spot with a punch of humor, a heartfelt storyline, or a sense of security, perhaps you, the consumer, will be swayed. Maybe even swayed from a brand you have used loyally throughout your lifetime. While advertising tactics are still very influential, thereas now a new way to play the game. This, of course, is social media. Marketing is now more personal than ever, as brands have a chance to interact, engage, and converse with their consumers. You may not have the brand strength and history of Coke. In fact, your product might have debuted last year. But you can still compete and succeed if you take the opportunity to build relationships and trust with consumers. But you have to use social media the right way. If someone were in need of running shoes, he wouldn’t use Twitter as a tool for purchasing a pair (unless he was asking opinions of others). He would turn to Google and search “running shoes.” But if your brand has a voice on Twitter, along with plenty of Retweets and a loyal following, there’s a good chance that someone in the market for a sweet new pair of kicks will not Google “running shoes,” but “Brand X running shoes.” Catching on? It’s about relationships now. Use platforms like Twitter and Facebook to show your personality and interest in others- and reap the benefits through an increase in conversions and enriched connections.

What Lies Beneath…

Moving on, the non-verbal components of a brand, such as the logo, typography, graphics, color palette, etc. have a huge impact on your brand’s ability to tap into the consumer’s unconscious mind. Most people aren’t aware of the impressive choices you’ve made on your brand’s site: clean lines, appropriate typography, and impressive phrasing. In fact, unless they’re graphic designers or writers, and have been trained to notice those details, those factors are seemingly looked over, unnoticed, ignored. However, the unconscious mind is a powerful empire. I’m not going to go all Freud on you and teach a course on psychoanalysis, but I’m sure you understand that details matter. And although people might not consciously recognize good content or well-designed pages, they will immediately spot a sloppy website.

Consistency is Crucial

Furthermore, it is essential that your brand carry a solid, consistent brand message. If each person on your team knows the company’s core mission and values, then the chances of conveying that to the public are greatly amplified. A strong, clear message is essential in order to successfully articulate your company’s message to users.

Enhance the Experience

Finally, ensure that your company is providing a valuable experience for your consumers. That ties in to the emotional factor; we buy products for the experience. If your website is easy to navigate through, or if the Calls to Action are evident, and if the entire experience is welcoming and beneficial, then people are likely to return. And if the site is a sty of frustration, your visitors won’t return, regardless of how low your prices are. There you have it- and hopefully you’re able to take something from this post. The Marketing world is changing- ahem, evolving- and although it may feel like you’re playing an endless game of Catch-Up, it all pays off if you keep moving forward. Written by Emily Wisely. Find her on Twitter at @em_wisely.

Day 1 Letter to myself two years ago via Will Critchlow of Distilled

Dear Derek, You are not going to believe this, but you actually accomplish a few things in your life you never thought possible. Starting with making it to your 30th birthday (maybe slightly assumptive but…) You started this company with lofty expectations, all of which are still in play and seem obtainable. Obtainable to the point you drive into work every morning with a cheshire grin. Please find some solitude in that, because challenging days are ahead. No seriously. It’s tough enough to weather your baby face. A second kiddo doesn’t help either, but that’s another letter for another day. Here is a heads up on the things you need to know, embrace, and live.
1. The world will not move any faster for you, no matter how many hours you work. Regardless of the midnight oil you burn or nay-sayers you take on.
2. People are your most important asset, treat them accordingly, but do not waste time on penny stock employees. Hire right or fire quick.
3. Managing people is hard, especially wrong people. Managing a process is easier.
4. Confidence as an owner comes from your team and their capabilities.
5. It’s ok to turn down work, in fact, your greatest mistakes come from challenges that are off the goal path. It will cost you sleep and professional respect. The latter being exponentially more important.
6. Learn to delegate, it is more fun to watch others succeed. I promise.
7. Bad client relationships do not get better and dignity’s price tag starts/ends with respect. To hell with the rest.
8. Do not worry about what the competition is doing, this is a big one. It’s absolutely magical what will start to happen when you focus solely on what you are doing and where you want to go.
9. Failures are not detours. They are just part of the journey. Actually overcoming mistakes or failure is much more rewarding and gratifying than most success.
10. If you continue to consume IPA’s at your current rate, you need to live at the gym. Its not pretty. 11. Build a company that you would kill to work for, because you do.
12. Humility is the bifocal for business. Believe it. If you can recognize and understand these things as they happen or even after, you will be me. An extremely grateful person. Actually, you can forget all these things if, you just remember success is a state of mind and not a physical place. Keep good on the promises you have made to yourself and your family. You will never regret making good on those.
Derek Mabie

This post is part of Derek’s 30-in-30 Project. Click here to learn more about it from the initial introduction.

Derek’s Big News: The 30-in-30 Project

Derek is requesting dares of all sorts, no matter what industry you are a part of. As he said in the video, however, they have to be able to be completed in one day because he is documenting his progress throughout the entire duration. Additionally, the challenges must somehow pertain to his abilities as a boss and business professional. In other words, Derek is probably not going to partake in the Gallon Challenge unless you can somehow convince him that it will directly improve his skills in client relationships. But of course, it doesn’t, so don’t even try. We know what you’re thinking. One realistic example would be telling him to face the criticism of his employees. After all, it’s pretty important for your employees to like you.

In Derek’s case, however, the suggestion box would be empty. Consider this an opportunity to help Derek approach age 30 like no one has ever dared. This guy is seeking homework for his birthday presents. As far as humbling birthdays go, Derek’s 30th takes the cake.

How I Nearly Lost My Mind: Website Overhaul

First of all, I’m not yet an expert on SEO. The university I attended in the south is still stuck in 1956, so I didn’t learn anything about it there and I certainly never felt compelled to research it myself (until I realized that it is kind of an essential aspect of marketing, and my future). Read more