Online popularity contests are rarely valuable. People cast empty votes with the hopes of seeing a friend or cohort emerge with a faux victory. Contestants plead for votes like a candidate in Florida on election day. Nobody really wins, except the company collecting the registration information for its database. But this one’s different.

I’m not talking about the South by Southwest panel picker here. This time, I want you to help me be an Office Hottie. But in this contest, there could be a winner. Well, three actually.

Click here to vote for me!

So, why am I doing this? Well, at first it was a lark. A way to amuse myself by putting a ridiculous photo of myself in amongst the Affliction-clad, Axe-wearing bros and the spray-tanned, attention-needing girls.

But then I made it through to the third round, thanks wholly to friends and family on Twitter and Facebook. And I realized I could do some good here. So, here’s my pledge:

If I win, 100% of the prize will go the following charities:

  • Jolkona Foundation. This is a pro-bono account for the agency I work for, but it’s also a great organization doing very innovative work to enable a culture of giving.
  • Domestic Abuse Women’s Network. DAWN supports families that have been the victims of domestic abuse and is a local non-profit that I’ve supported in the past. It does good work here in my local community.
  • A charity that is important to YOU! See, you’ve all helped this happen, so I want to give everybody a voice on where the money goes. Post a comment with a non-profit and a short reason why the remaining funds should go to it.

Now, go help me be an Office Hottie!

We can debate influencers, journalists, bloggers and the like endlessly. But at the end of the day if you’re not out telling your story in public, somebody will do it for you. And regardless of how you define it, when you let somebody else tell your story for you, you can’t control that message. And that’s not very good PR.

Tweeting and facebooking are SEO because Twitter and Facebook have become search engines. According to a study just released by Seattle-based SEO analytics software maker SEOmoz, Facebook shares had the highest correlation of the factors it examined that influenced where a page ranked in search results. Shares had a higher correlation than link authority, keywords in a domain and anchor text. Adding in data from the study on the correlation of Facebook likes and comments leads me to believe that a strong presence on Facebook will help your content rank better in the search engines. In spite of the appearance of correlation data showing that Facebook has a tremendous impact on search engine ranking, this is really showing that people share quality content. Continue reading

Posted in PR

While press releases and creating link bait have been marketed as a great SEO tactic, I’ve finally had my epiphany: Search Engine Optimization is a public relations tactic. Public relations is not an SEO tactic.

As I recently had the great pleasure of attending SMX Advanced, I listened to a presentation on how to use elementary PR tactics as an SEO tool. In addition, SEOmoz recently published a post outlining the potential dangers of SEO managing PR and vice versa: “At the risk of writing with very broad brush-strokes, the PR world still knows nothing about SEO. This ignorance is reciprocal. …As SEOs, we know very little about how public relations actually work, but we should. Applying PR fundamentals can turn your PR Agency into Linkbuilders on Steroids…” Continue reading

Do you want to know who has influence? Celebrities. Celebrities have influence.

Such as one tweet from Ashton Kutcher generating more than 13,000 views of a YouTube video with a single tweet. Click on that link, because it contains a slight shift in the definition of “influence.” It renames it leverage. It’s not influencing a purchasing or life decision, it was just a lot of people clicking a link. Leveraging your popularity to get people to do stuff.

When rapper 50 Cent tweeted about a small cap public company that he turns out to now be a minority equity shareholder, he caused shares to jump 290% to 39 cents, boosting the company’s market capitalization to around $82 million, a jump of roughly $60 million in a single day. Monday’s volume reached almost 9 million compared the issue’s usual churn of less than 30,000.

But, when we as communications professionals define influencer (hint: it’s not this), we often think of self-anointed gurus that have labeled themselves as such and we completely forget those that have the power to shift the direction of a brand.

I wouldn’t normally name names, but let’s consider a tech reporter such as Aaron Ricadela, a tech reporter whose byline is frequently found in Businessweek and Bloomberg. If we apply the metrics such as Twitter followers or Klout score, he is not influential at all. He’s only tweeted four times and has 14 followers.

But he’s absolutely influential.

My point is, if you approach influence with a narrow perspective based solely on social media metrics, you are missing out on engaging with a ton of people that can shape the perspective of your clients or brand. And isn’t that why we’re in this business?