Be A Savvy Marketing or PR Professional: Avoid These 10 Obvious Web Mistakes


image credit: matthew fang via flickr

Hey, marketing pro: it’s 2008, and the social web is ubiquitous. If you haven’t taken the time already to learn how the world has changed, feel free to ignore the shift at your own peril, while everyone else gets further ahead.

Continued education is a part of every communication professional’s career success. Just because you finish school does not mean you are done learning, especially in an industry as fast paced as marketing.

Regardless, it is unbelievable to me to see some painfully obvious mistakes on the web made by people in the marketing industry and the business world as a whole. It may not seem like a big deal to you, but think about how you come across to those with an intimate understanding of this space. Imagine if you actually make some of these mistakes with a potential client that is up to speed on tech.

Here’s 10 mistakes (in no particular order) no one should be making anymore:

1) It is Facebook, MySpace, and YouTube. It’s not FaceBook, its not MyFace, and it’s not UTube. Yes, if you are in marketing or PR you should know the difference by now – no excuses. Also, merely putting something random on YouTube without any thought does not constitute an online strategy.

2) Just because you get a PR story from a client placed on a blog does not make it “viral.” In fact, if you’re not sure what the word viral means, don’t even throw it around as a buzzword.

3) Learn the difference between a good URL and a bad URL.

In Aaron Goldman’s own words (owner of the site):

Do’s

  1. CapitalizeTheFirstLetterOfEachWord.
  2. UseDifferentColorsOrBoldToHelpEachWordStandOut.
  3. Whenever possible, use YourBrandName.com.
  4. If .com is not available, use YourBrandName.net.
  5. If .com and .net are taken, find a new brand name. Seriously.
  6. Use YourSlogan.com when running an integrated media campaign.
  7. Use subdomains when driving people deeper than your homepage – e.g. Product.YourBrandName.com.

Don’ts

  1. Don’t include www. We know to go to the World Wide Web to find you.
  2. Don’t include http://. If your audience isn’t web savvy enough to know where to type the URL, you shouldn’t have a website.
  3. don’tusealllowercase (canyoureallytellwhereonewordendsandthenextbegins?)
  4. DITTOFORALLUPPERCASE
  5. No-hyphens/or slashes.
  6. Don’t use acronyms, abbreviations, or numbers unless your brand is widely known as such.
  7. Don’t bury your URL at the bottom of a billboard. I’m the only nerd driving around with a 4x zoom lens to find URLs.

4) Creating a company blog without proper direction and focus is pointless and never a good idea. Neither is building a blog purely for the SEO returns.

5) You can’t “add” SEO on to a .com that wasn’t built with it in mind. SEO isn’t a band-aid and needs to be something built in from the beginning. I don’t know where people got the idea they could do a bunch of things external of their .com and suddenly rise in organic search traffic, that’s not how it works. Google can’t find you for what doesn’t exist on your .com, sorry.

6) If you’ve got an idea for a product .com, great. Just realize you cannot completely outsource it and be (very) successful. Especially not when hundreds, perhaps thousands of others are operating similar .coms that are fully vested in consistently making the user-experience and products better.

You’re up against people with 10 million in funding from VCs. You’re up against a guy who intimately knows how to code, knows about designing for usability and that’s working with his marketing buddy in their basement every single night. Just because you can afford to outsource the creation of a .com doesn’t mean you can build a successful brand online, that isn’t how it works. The way I see it, there are some basic criteria you should consider before developing a product .com:

  • The idea should be absolutely unique, be designed better or differently than everyone else, or at least take a novel approach. You must stand out in at least one way, if not several. The idea also needs to be extremely sticky, have exceptional customer service and deliver tons of value — how else do you create something people will visit more than once?
  • Find a niche product market and be the best at it. As the saying goes, you aren’t going to “out-amazon Amazon.” For example – creating an online bookstore for all genres of books is a terrible idea. Creating an online bookstore dedicated to the mystery genre, for example and branding yourself as the online bookstore for the mystery genre is smarter. You cannot be all things to all people.
  • Be vested in the traffic building process – learn how to grow a web brand and be a part of the growth process. The most popular .coms are created, run and managed by people not necessarily who understand all the design and coding aspects, but at the least understand the undercurrents of the popular internet and the elements that go into ultra-successful sites. They are also dedicated, and the most successful are completely obsessed with their .coms. Hard to compete with that if you aren’t as driven.

7) Don’t get upset that not everyone loves you. Face it, part of the allure of the web (for some) is the controversy and debate. Sometimes, that even makes it interesting. Just realize that savvy web users don’t take everything people say seriously, especially those with no reputation or credibility. Never try and sue people to remove content you don’t like, you’ll merely evoke the Streisand Effect and bring lots of attention to something few would have otherwise seen.

8) Not everything is something that can be spun to “go viral.” In many cases, trying to spin something to spread it is the antithesis for what actually spreads.

9) Creating expensive .com promotions, advergames, or videos with the same strategy as you’d take with broadcast media is never as effective as doing things which build community on the web. Not treating the web as a conversation and a place of deep, two-way interaction is a mistake.

10) Don’t engage a web design agency that charges you even a cent to make changes to your .com. Good design agencies will hand you the keys to your .com to make your own changes. The people that charge you hourly to make small tweaks to your text are not the type you want to work with. The best design agencies focus on just that – design, not coming up with millions of ways to bill you. At this point, it is probably time to have someone on staff that can make minor tweaks to a .com for you. Programming is the new literacy, can your organization afford to not have this skill available 24/7?

This is just the tip of the iceberg. I’d love to hear some of the things you’ve witnessed in the comments.

Related articles from The Future Buzz:

50 Common Mistakes Non-Geeks Make With Computers And The Web

10 Tips For How To Choose The Best Web Designer

10 Reasons Your Small Business Should Have A Blog

Related articles from around the web:

Don’t Get Fooled Again (Seth Godin)

SEO Don’ts: 20 Fatal Mistakes You Must Avoid To Succeed (Search Engine Land)

Mormons The Latest To Make Their Secret Document Popular By Trying To Take It Down (Techdirt)