What Digital Asset Management is and why marketers should care

Digital Asset Management platforms, often called DAMs, are software programs that store, organize and enable the more efficient use of an organization’s entire library of digital assets. A DAM is the “single source of truth” where marketers can find every relevant version of the media assets that have been created for the brand — images, PDFs, photographs, audio, video and even virtual reality or other cutting-edge formats.

The further benefit of a DAM is that these assets are appended with metadata that can provide information on anything the marketer might want to know before using the asset, such as whether the company owns the perpetual rights to use a photograph (and in what markets), whether the legal team has approved a video, and that an infographic or whitepaper has been checked to ensure it complies with the brand’s design standards.

In 2020, enterprises are using DAMS in a variety of ways. Marketing agencies might leverage DAM technology to help their customers maintain consistency across in-house content and creative developed by partners. B2B businesses might use DAMs differently, drawing on the benefits of a centralized hub for sales collateral and event marketing materials.

The work-from-home boom we’ve seen emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic is also a factor in DAMs’ growing importance, as companies have come to appreciate the benefits of platforms that allow employees to collaborate easily no matter where they’re located physically.

Before the blossoming of software-as-a-service (SaaS), DAMs were installed software that resided on a company’s servers. But their utility has grown exponentially — especially for global and distributed organizations — now that most DAMs are cloud-based offerings.

Learn more about DAMs in our all-new Martech Intelligence Report, a buyer’s guide featuring in-depth profiles of 14 different vendors.

via What Digital Asset Management is and why marketers should care

 

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How Often Should You Perform Technical Website Crawls for SEO?

Any seasoned SEO professional will tell you how important website crawls are for maintaining strong technical SEO.

But here lies the better questions – how frequently should you perform website crawls?

And how often are they actually performing them?

In this post, we’ll discuss what SEO publications suggest as a “best practice” web crawling cadence and the actual rate SEO pros are performing them.

Then, I’ll demonstrate the benefits of a ramped-up web crawling cadence by sharing a case study from FOX.com.

What’s a Website Crawl, Anyway?

Using specialized tools such as Screaming Frog or DeepCrawl, you can take a look “under the hood” of a website – much like a mechanic does when inspecting cars.

But instead of inspecting the mechanical parts of a car, you are inspecting the optimizable elements of a website – including the quality of its metadata, XML sitemaps, response codes, and more.

When something isn’t working as expected in SEO, it’s up to you to diagnose the problem and find the solution to fix it.

Example of the Screaming Frog SEO Spider UI.

What Are the Industry Experts Saying About Website Crawl Cadence ‘Best Practice’?

Industry publications seem to be in agreement that “mini” technical audits should be conducted on a monthly basis and “in-depth” technical audits should be conducted on a quarterly or semi-quarterly basis.

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However, there is little chatter specifically discussing the “optimal frequency” for performing website crawls:

  • “Part of your ongoing SEO strategy includes regular audits to allow you to find and fix issues quickly (we recommend quarterly).” – Erika Varagouli, SEMrush
  • “It’s good practice to do an automated scan once a month. This will be often enough to bring up major issues, like any on-page errors in the form of broken links, page titles and meta-data or duplicate content. – Digital Marketing Institute
  • “I perform an SEO audit for my clients the first month, monthly (mini-audit), and quarterly (in-depth audit).” – Anna Crowe, Search Engine Journal

A website crawl and technical audit are not the same thing (thank you for the clear separation of the two, Barry Adams).

However, it’s fair to assume that these publications would recommend running a website crawl at least as frequently as they run mini-audits on a monthly basis.

What I Learned About SEO Crawl Cadence in ‘Actual Practice’

Best practice is one thing.

But how often do SEO pros run website crawls for client sites in actual practice?

To get an idea, I took to Twitter. (Yes, Twitter polls do have their obvious limitations – but it’s one of the simplest means to get some tangible data.)

Three days, and nearly 2,000 votes later, the results were in:

 

Approximately 57% of SEO pros who participated in my poll fell into the “monthly or longer” bucket, while 43% fell into the “weekly” or shorter bucket.

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In other words, we were all over the map.

You may not be too surprised by these poll results.

After all, both ends of the spectrum could make complete sense – depending on the type and size of the websites you are managing.

That said, I had an experience at FOX two months ago that made me thankful that we run weekly website crawls across our major domains.

I’d like to share it with you all here – in case it encourages you to increase the cadence of your technical website crawls.

How Weekly Website Crawls Helped FOX Take Swift Action on an allRoutes.json Bug

In late July 2020, the FOX SEO team ran a routine weekly website crawl of FOX.com and discovered that 100% of our TV episode pages were unexpectedly serving error status codes (due to a bug with the allRoutes.json file).

Although the pages displayed fine for users, they were throwing 404s to Google bot – making them ineligible to appear in Google search results.

Not only is “watch time” a major KPI for the site, these pages also generate significant ad revenue for the company.

Needless to say, this crawl guided us towards a serious problem.

Users were able to navigate and interact with /watch/ pages fine. However, the pages threw 404 codes to Google bots.

Thanks to the crawl we diagnosed the problem quickly.

But the solution was complex.

Over the course of three weeks (July 23 – August 13), we honed in on this specific problem and confirmed a steep decline in SEO clicks and impressions from this set of pages.

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The bug was fixed by mid-August and we saw clicks and impressions trending upwards back to normal numbers.

From July 23 – August 13, FOX.com experienced a steep decline in SEO clicks and impressions from /watch/ pages – due to a bug with the allroutes.json file.

Then, I had a thought:

If we had waited several weeks to a month before running the crawl (which is largely considered best practice), the improper response codes would have done incremental damage to the site’s SEO traffic and ad revenue.

Not only from the problem itself, but the added time to create and execute a solution.

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While it’s completely possible to have diagnosed this bug without a full website crawl, it would have made the task unnecessarily difficult.

The screenshot below illustrates that without the right Google Search Console (GSC) filters being established, this particular issue hid under a veil within the Search Results report.

The GSC Coverage report was also 10 days slow to identify errors on our watch pages and only offered examples of affected URLs.

via How Often Should You Perform Technical Website Crawls for SEO? via @lefelstein

 

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How to get your YouTube videos appear in Google’s video carousel

30-second summary:

  • Google is giving a lot of visibility to video content through its interactive SERP section called a “video carousel”.
  • Getting your video ranked in Google’s “video carousels” can drive lots of views to your channel but it will also allow you to control more elements in your target SERPs.
  • Ranking in Google’s video carousel is quite doable and doesn’t require months of work or waiting. All you need is keyword research and video page optimization.

YouTube is one of the most popular social media networks out there allowing brands to get discovered by their customers. While creating a popular YouTube channel takes time and a lot of effort, it is well worth it. One piece of a puzzle many YouTube creators are missing is optimizing your videos for organic discoverability through Google’s video carousel.

Here’s a comprehensive guide that looks into all the elements that you can capture to win your spot in Google’s top SERP real estate.

What are YouTube video carousels?

Google offers a huge deal of organic visibility to YouTube videos through so-called video carousels, that is, interactive boxes featuring videos relating to the target search query:

What are Google's video carousels

Source: Google as of August 2020

There’s even more organic visibility for videos in mobile search results where videos carousels take almost the whole screen:

Mobile search results for Google's video carouselSource: Google as of August 2020

Whenever my video starts ranking in Google organic, it brings in lots of well-engaged views, especially as compared to other videos, even for very new/inactive channels:

video carouselSource: YouTube as of August 2020

But this strategy is not only helpful for driving views to your own channel. It is also a good way to better control your target Google SERPs. 

There’s no denying a fact that videos are highly engaging and convert well, and we are pretty sure that visuals (in this case video thumbnails) may be stealing a lot of attention from Google’s organic results (in fact, there’s a real science behind the visual impact on consumers’ behavior), so ranking your video there will help you drive more exposure for your brand.

The good news, YouTube SEO takes less time than traditional SEO does. I have seen my videos ranking in Google within a week after I upload them to YouTube! So this is a pretty fast way to boost your channel views by ranking your videos in Google’s video carousel. 

Craft a detailed and factual title

Your video page title is what you type in the “title” field when uploading your video:

Create a well informed title to rank your YouTube video in Google's video carousel

For SEO purposes (which implies organic search visibility), the title of the page is the most important on-page element, so treat it with care.

Optimizing a page title is always about maintaining a fine balance: You want it to be creative and original enough to get clicks while still being able to add some searchable keywords.

You can only make your title 100 characters long max which is not much!

Here are a few suggestions for you:

  • Always include a searchable keyword (here’s a quick guide on identifying one)
  • If your video includes entities (names, places, events, brands, products, etc), include those in the video title
  • Titles that include numbers generally get more clicks, so experiment with adding numbers to your video title
  • Titles that are worded as questions may spur curiosity and get more clicks
  • How-to titles always perform well for guides and instructions

Tip: Create videos around your target queries

You can go the other way around: Instead of trying to find a searchable keyword for your video idea, you can create videos around keywords you already know are popular with Google’s users.

You can easily do that with tools like Placeit that allows you to turn text content into the video format:

Placeit - using a tool to identify keywords for YouTube videosScreenshot source: Placeit as of August 2020

Placeit doesn’t require subscription payment, plus it offers free templates which makes it the most affordable video creation solution on the market.

The way it could work:

  • Grab any article from your site that received Google traffic
  • Use Google Search Console to find which search queries exactly drive clicks to your page
  • Create videos around those queries (using your existing article)

Another way to find opportunities to get your video visible on Google’s video carousel is by using Ahrefs:

  • Run your domain in Ahrefs and click to “Organic keywords”
  • Click the filter called “SERP features” and check “Videos”

Here you go. There are all keywords your site is ranking for in Google and those are also search queries showing video carousels. 

Ahrefs tool showing organic keywords for YouTube videosSource: Ahrefs as of August 2020

Ahrefs is my preferred SERP analytics tool due to its usability but of course, there are many more cool tools that can help you with this task.

Create a longer description

While for the video titles, we don’t have too many characters to work with, the video description field allows more characters than enough, so take the full advantage of those.

The video description field allows creators to put up to 5000 characters. It is important to create more detailed description for your video because search engines still rely on text content to index and rank your video.

Here are a few ideas on creating a more detailed and high-ranking video description:

1. Create your script

If you are uploading a video interview, a webinar, or conference coverage, chances are you have more than enough text spoken to create a detailed description.

Fiverr is full of gigs offering you to transcribe a video and turn it into text, so it is a pretty easy way to create the text version of any video:

Getting video transcribes with FivverSource: Fiverr as of August 2020

2. Use semantic analysis

I turn to semantic analysis at any time I am writing content. It always helps me discover more topics to cover and identify more questions to answer.

Text Optimizer is an easy and effective semantic research tool that analyzes Google’s search snippets to identify underlying concepts which will make your content more relevant to your target topic:

TextOptimizer brandedSource: Text Optimizer as of August 2020

I don’t think I know an alternative to Text Optimizer for creating an optimized context so easily, but here’s more on semantic analysis and why it is useful.

3. Create a time-stamped video outline

Don’t miss this step! YouTube allows you to add clickable timestamps that take viewers deeper into your video to where you discuss that subtopic.

Here’s a detailed tutorial on creating YouTube timestamps:

  1. Play your video up to the point where it starts discussing a new topic
  2. Pause your video at the point you want to timestamp
  3. Type the time exactly as you see in the video player into the video description field.

Copy time YouTube timestamp - Use it to get your video ranked in Google's video carouselSource: YouTube as of August 2020

This clickable video outline in the video description will drive people deep into the video, so you will see more engagements.

On top of that, your video may enjoy even more exposure in search, because Google sometimes grabs that outline to show right inside search results:

Video outline in Google's video carousel searchSource: Google as of August 2020. (Google giving extra visibility to a video by showing its clickable outline right inside search results)

Add more tags and a few hashtags

YouTube tagging is still a good way to categorize your video the right way. They help search engines to better understand what it is your video is about and rank it accordingly.

You can up to 500-character worth of tags for each of your videos, and there’s no reason saving on those characters. Feel free to use all of them.

Hashtags were introduced not so long ago, and creators still confuse the two, so to help you out, here’s a quick list of how they work and:

  YouTube tags YouTube hashtags
Where to enter Separate the “Tags” field on the video edit page Anywhere in the video description
Has limits  Max 500 characters Max 15 hashtags
Have the hash/pound symbol # No Yes
Is visible on the public video pages No Yes
Helps make the video more findable Yes Yes

While tags are mostly for YouTube search rankings, hashtags appear as a visible part of the page, so they send some relevancy signals to search engines:

Tags and hashtags help find relevanceSource: YouTube as of August 2020. (Enter hashtags into the description area and tags in the separate “Tags” field)

If you need help brainstorming more tags for your video, try Rapidtags.io which generates tags:

Rapidtags.ioSource: Rapidtags.io as of August 2020

Create an eye-catching video thumbnail

A video thumbnail is what shows up in Google’s video carousel, so it will directly impact your click-through. This makes your video thumbnail one of the major assets for your video:

Create eye-catching video thumbnails to rank in Google's video carousel

Source: YouTube as of August 2020

Luckily creating an eye-catching and, more importantly, click-inviting video thumbnail is not difficult. There are tools to create one for free, as well as cool templates to come up with your own unique recognizable style:

Conclusion

YouTube video optimization strategy is very much like any SEO strategy: You need to create a lot of relevant context for search engines to be able to understand and correctly classify your video. To optimize your YouTube video page:

  • Craft an attention-grabbing title which would include your target keyword
  • Write a detailed, semantically optimized video description (and include clickable video outline for viewers and search engines to easily access the part they are most interested in)
  • Add tags and hashtags to make your video even more findable

Finally, links play a huge part in organic visibility, so make sure to link to your videos from your own site. This includes both embedding your videos and linking to them directly.

via How to get your YouTube videos appear in Google’s video carousel

 

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The need to take a fresh look at consumer data

Our understanding of data-driven marketing and advertising has changed in the last six months, evolving into a real reflection of what is occurring with consumers in the changing economic, health and social environment. 

Major life events. Previously, data collection often focused on major life events like marriage, birth of a child or purchase of a new house or vehicle. It’s just not clear right now that those familiar lifestyle patterns will necessarily be reproduced in the new society being created before our eyes. These simple, traditional milestones may need to be replaced with more in-depth data collection aimed at better understanding consumers’ current circumstances before reaching out to them.

That’s the message from David Zapletal, CIO for Digital Remedy, a data-powered technology and service provider for marketers, which recently introduced the AdReady+ platform. “Large faceless datasets really reflect an era that has passed,” said Zapletal. “COVID accelerated this move away from general data, and long drawn out processes, to more specific consumer data in an expedited process.” 

The new rules of data. Large scale data is readily available to most brands, but simplifying and developing specificity within datasets has been a challenge. According to Patrick Johnson, CEO of Hybrid Theory, a data-driven advertising platform, the complex world of consumer data can be made simpler by following some new rules:  

  • Analyze current consumer datasets to judge relevancy for current economic, political and social climates;
  • Separate any new data that has been retrieved in campaigns since the onset of COVID as the most relevant data;
  • Re-trace all consumer journey paths via data to make sure they are relevant to the current market; and
  • Verify all current data to ensure validity.

“We are asking each one of our clients what challenges they are seeing from collecting data, then modifying campaigns accordingly,” said Johnson. “Fresh data captured since the COVID outbreak is so much more relevant. Before we were using data to complete a person, now the right kind of data collection can help us build a picture of a new population right before our eyes.”

via The need to take a fresh look at consumer data

 

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Upon the recently announced Google update I’ve seen some people Tweet things like

  • if you are afraid of algorithm updates, you must be a crappy SEO
  • if you are technically perfect in your SEO, updates will only help you

I read those sorts of lines and cringe.

Here’s why…

Fragility

Different businesses, business models, and business structures have varying degrees of fragility.

If your business is almost entirely based on serving clients then no matter what you do there is going to be a diverse range of outcomes for clients on any major update.

Let’s say 40% of your clients are utterly unaffected by an update & of those who saw any noticeable impact there was a 2:1 ratio in your favor, with twice as many clients improving as falling.

Is that a good update? Does that work well for you?

If you do nothing other than client services as your entire business model, then that update will likely suck for you even though the net client impact was positive.

Why?

Many businesses are hurting after the Covid-19 crisis. Entire categories have been gutted & many people are looking for any reason possible to pull back on budget. Some of the clients who won big on the update might end up cutting their SEO budget figuring they had already won big and that problem was already sorted.

Some of the clients that fell hard are also likely to either cut their budget or call endlessly asking for updates and stressing the hell out of your team.

Capacity Utilization Impacts Profit Margins

Your capacity utilization depends on how high you can keep your steady state load relative to what your load looks like at peaks. When there are big updates management or founders can decide to work double shifts and do other things to temporarily deal with increased loads at the peak, but that can still be stressful as hell & eat away at your mental and physical health as sleep and exercise are curtailed while diet gets worse. The stress can be immense if clients want results almost immediately & the next big algorithm update which reflects your current work may not happen for another quarter year.

How many clients want to be told that their investments went sour but the problem was they needed to double their investment while cashflow is tight and wait a season or two while holding on to hope?

Category-based Fragility

Businesses which appear to be diversified often are not.

  • Everything in hospitality was clipped by Covid-19.
  • 40% of small businesses across the United States have stopped making rent payments.
  • When restaurants massively close that’s going to hit Yelp’s business hard.
  • Auto sales are off sharply.

Likewise there can be other commonalities in sites which get hit during an update. Not only could it include business category, but it could also be business size, promotional strategies, etc.

Sustained profits either come from brand strength, creative differentiation, or systemization. Many prospective clients do not have the budget to build a strong brand nor the willingness to create something that is truly differentiated. That leaves systemization. Systemization can leave footprints which act as statistical outliers that can be easily neutralized.

Sharp changes can happen at any point in time.

For years Google was funding absolute garbage like Mahalo autogenerated spam and eHow with each month being a new record. It is very hard to say “we are doing it wrong” or “we need to change everything” when it works month after month after month.

Then an update happens and poof.

  • Was eHow decent back in the first Internet bubble? Sure. But it lost money.
  • Was it decent after it got bought out for a song and had the paywall dropped in favor of using the new Google AdSense program? Sure.
  • Was it decent the day Demand Media acquired it? Sure.
  • Was it decent on the day of the Demand Media IPO? Almost certainly not. But there was a lag between that day and getting penalized.

Panda Trivia

The first Panda update missed eHow because journalists were so outraged by the narrative associated with the pump-n-dump IPO. They feared their jobs going away and being displaced by that low level garbage, particularly as the market cap of Demand Media eclipsed the New York Times.

Journalist coverage of the pump-n-dump IPO added credence to it from an algorithmic perspective. By constantly writing hate about eHow they made eHow look like a popular brand, generating algorithmic signals that carried the site until Google created an extension which allowed journalists and other webmasters to vote against the site they had been voting for through all their outrage coverage.

Algorithms & the Very Visible Hand

And all algorithmic channels like organic search, the Facebook news feed, or Amazon’s product pages go through large shifts across time. If they don’t, they get gamed, repetitive, and lose relevance as consumer tastes change and upstarts like Tiktok emerge.

Consolidation by the Attention Merchants

Frequent product updates, cloning of upstarts, or outright acquisitions are required to maintain control of distribution:

“The startups of the Rebellion benefited tremendously from 2009 to 2012. But from 2013 on, the spoils of smartphone growth went to an entirely different group: the Empire. … A network effect to engage your users, AND preferred distribution channels to grow, AND the best resources to build products? Oh my! It’s no wonder why the Empire has captured so much smartphone value and created a dark time for the Rebellion. … Now startups are fighting for only 5% of the top spots as the Top Free Apps list is dominated by incumbents. Facebook (4 apps), Google (6 apps), and Amazon (4 apps) EACH have as many apps in the Top 100 list as all the new startups combined.”

Apple & Amazon

Emojis are popular, so those features got copied, those apps got blocked & then apps using the official emojis also got blocked from distribution. The same thing happens with products on Amazon.com in terms of getting undercut by a house brand which was funded by using the vendor’s sales data. Re-buy your brand or else.

Facebook

Before the Facebook IPO some thought buying Zynga shares was a backdoor way to invest into Facebook because gaming was such a large part of the ecosystem. That turned out to be a dumb thesis and horrible trade. At times other things trended including quizzes, videos, live videos, news, self hosted Instant Articles, etc.

Over time the general trend was edge rank of professional publishers fell as a greater share of inventory went to content from friends & advertisers. The metrics associated with the ads often overstated their contribution to sales due to bogus math and selection bias.

Internet-first publishers like CollegeHumor struggled to keep up with the changes & influencers waiting for a Facebook deal had to monetize using third parties:

“I did 1.8 billion views last year,” [Ryan Hamilton] said. “I made no money from Facebook. Not even a dollar.” … “While waiting for Facebook to invite them into a revenue-sharing program, some influencers struck deals with viral publishers such as Diply and LittleThings, which paid the creators to share links on their pages. Those publishers paid top influencers around $500 per link, often with multiple links being posted per day, according to a person who reached such deals.”

YouTube

YouTube had a Panda-like update back in 2012 to favor watch time over raw view counts. They also adjust the ranking algorithms on breaking news topics to favor large & trusted channels over conspiracy theorist content, alternative health advice, hate speech & ridiculous memes like the Tide pod challenge.

All unproven channels need to start somewhat open to gain usage, feedback & marketshare. Once they become real businesses they clamp down. Some of the clamp down can be editorial, forced by regulators, or simply anticompetitive monpolistic abuse.

Kid videos were a huge area on YouTube (perhaps still are) but that area got cleaned up after autogenerated junk videos were covered & the FTC clipped YouTube for delivering targeted ads on channels which primarily catered to children.

Dominant channels can enforce tying & bundling to wipe out competitors:

“Google’s response to the threat from AppNexus was that of a classic monopolist. They announced that YouTube would no longer allow third-party advertising technology. This was a devastating move for AppNexus and other independent ad technology companies. YouTube was (and is) the largest ad-supported video publisher, with more than 50% market share in most major markets. … Over the next few months, Google’s ad technology team went to each of our clients and told them that, regardless of how much they liked working with AppNexus, they would have to also use Google’s ad technology products to continue buying YouTube. This is the definition of bundling, and we had no recourse. Even WPP, our largest customer and largest investors, had no choice but to start using Google’s technology. AppNexus growth slowed, and we were forced to lay off 100 employees in 2016.”

Everyone Else

Every moderately large platform like eBay, Etsy, Zillow, TripAdvisor or the above sorts of companies runs into these sorts of issues with changing distribution & how they charge for distribution.

Building Anti-fragility Into Your Business Model

Growing as fast as you can until the economy craters or an algorithm clips you almost guarantees a hard fall along with an inability to deal with it.

Markets ebb and flow. And that would be true even if the above algorithmic platforms did not make large, sudden shifts.

Build Optionality Into Your Business Model

If your business primarily relies on publishing your own websites or you have a mix of a few clients and your own sites then you have a bit more optionality to your approach in dealing with updates.

Even if you only have one site and your business goes to crap maybe you at least temporarily take on a few more consulting clients or do other gig work to make ends meet.

Focus on What is Working

If you have a number of websites you can pour more resources into whatever sites reacted positively to the update while (at least temporarily) ignoring any site that was burned to a crisp.

Ignore the Dead Projects

The holding cost of many websites is close to zero unless they use proprietary and complex content management systems. Waiting out a penalty until you run out of obvious improvements on your winning sites is not a bad strategy. Plus, if you think the burned site is going to be perpetually burned to a crisp (alternative health anyone?) then you could sell links off it or generate other alternative revenue streams not directly reliant on search rankings.

Build a Cushion

If you have cash savings maybe you guy out and buy some websites or domain names from other people who are scared of the volatility or got clipped for issues you think you could easily fix.

When the tide goes out debt leverage limits your optionality. Savings gives you optionality. Having slack in your schedule also gives you optionality.

The person with a lot of experience & savings would love to see highly volatile search markets because those will wash out some of the competition, curtail investments from existing players, and make other potential competitors more hesitant to enter the market.

via Managing Algorithimc Volatility

 

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Windmill Networking: Understanding, Leveraging & Maximizing LinkedIn: An Unofficial, Step-by-Step Guide to Creating & Implementing Your LinkedIn Brand – Social Networking in a Web 2.0 World (Paperback)

Twitter For Dummies (Paperback)

Facebook Marketing For Dummies (Paperback)