Monday, June 22, 2009

Case Study: Social Media Success with Blogging

The Problem
180 Urban Design is an architecture and design firm that specializes in New Urbanism design. The principal architects wanted to be recognized as leaders in New Urbanism, form-based codes, and LEED regulations. The company was having issues with low Google rankings which hurts business because people can’t find the company online. 180 wanted city planners and developers to know that they were building communities across the country. Awareness to the company’s projects were to be promoted through a podcasting blog.

The Strategy

As account manager, I developed a strategy that would position 180 as industry leaders by tagging search engine optimized (SEO) keywords to their blog posts, posting relevant articles from other industry leaders, promote the blog through other online communities, and pitch the blog to traditional and new media outlets. I knew podcasting would be great for other architects, but it takes grassroots marketing to promote a blog. You can’t just let it sit there in cyberspace, you have to interact with people who might be interested in your blog and find new and creative ways to not only get them to the blog, but make them stay there. I was determined to get the bounce rate under 50%. It was one of my secret goals. The bounce rate is when a user presses the back button-the lower the better. 180 Urban Design would become the go-to source for New Urbanism design.

The Tactics

Referring sites helped bring visitors to the blog. I registered the blog on Alltop, a blog search directory-one listing under architecture and another under design. I also posted relevant comments to other blogs and online articles like the New York Times Green Inc. blog, Facebook's New Urbanism groups, and Huffington Post’s Green section. When posting comments on these blogs, you shouldn’t just state, “Great post/article.” You have to share insight, ask questions, provide solutions, then the magic trick, leave your blog’s link. I also shared the podcasts on sites like Digg and Technorati. One of the main referring links came from Twitter. The Twitter profile 180Degree attracted more than 1,100 profiles in just two months. I had to search for not only architecture and design profiles, but for green profiles too. New Urbanism is all about green, walkable communities. Eventually, I started to attract my client’s target audience, city planners. Again, I listed the Twitter profile under a Twitter search directory, We Follow. I listed the 180Degree profile under architecture, design and urbanism. I posted tweets linking to the blog’s articles, other New Urbanism news stories, and other prominent architecture and design blogs.

In three short months, the New Urbanism Blog attracted more than 2,500 site visitors, from more than 50 countries from around the world. The client was very impressed by the blog’s appeal to the global architecture community. The client stated if I ever got a blog hit from Belize, please let him know; he would have to make a special vacation/trip to the country (smile).The average site visitor viewed the blog for approximately 2:05 minutes (think about how long you stay on a web page).The blog received 75 online subscribers and more than 300 comments. The page views were more than 4,550 with the average page views at 1.95 page views per visitor- that's nearly two page views per site visitor. The top landing page was the blog’s front page so site visitors could read more than five posts. I was impressed with this data. Most visitors were looking deep into the site by searching under the categories listed, visiting the "About 180" and "About New Urbanism" page, and going to older pages of blog posts.

The Solution
One of the firm’s principal architects was a great speaker on form-based codes. I posted and tweeted that he would be speaking around the country on what his company is doing with urban design. One subscriber posted a comment asking could we provide video of the workshop since he would not be able to attend. I immediately contacted the client and the organization he was speaking to and they loved the idea of sharing his insight through video to the blog. I immediately established a YouTube channel for the company. Once the videos were posted on YouTube, I provided link exchanges between the two platforms. One of the blog posts with a YouTube video helped the video go viral amongst the architecture and design community. 180 received praise for the insight and city planners immediately began contacting the company for help developing their downtown areas and residential communities. 180 Urban Design's social media success led to potential clients. Since one of the firm’s principal architect was such a great speaker, he secured another speaking engagement but this time for the Congress for New Urbanism’s annual conference.

Basically, the blog did exceedingly well compared to other architecture and design blogs of similar size. Benchmarking for site visitors is +475%; Page views +282%; Average time on site +90%.

I also secured traditional media placement for 180 Urban Design. The company has been featured in Period Homes, New Orleans Channel 4 WWL, The Kansas City Star, One KC Voice, Panama City Beach Daily, Midwest Construction Magazine, Midwest Contractor online magazine, Kansas City Small Business Monthly-architecture issue, and

Overall, 180 Urban Design’s Google search engine ranking increased from no listings within the first 1,000 results to be included amongst the top 10 results listed for keywords and phrases such as New Urbanism, form-based codes, walkable communities, urban design, architecture blog, sustainable design, revitalize downtown, green in the Midwest, smart dwelling, and LEED for homes.

It’s been tried, tested and proven: SOCIAL MEDIA CAN GENERATE NEW BUSINESS.

1 comment:

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