Why are you building someone else’s Web 2.0 wealth?

There are many community based sites on the Web2.0… and many of them are private companies, not foundations. While many of them claim to have altruistic motives, sometimes the motivation of money can be much stronger than the notion of building a unique service that helps humanity.

For most users, that’s fine because they don’t really worry about such things. But if you are a webmaster and you’re busy using these websites (e.g. Facebook) to build your brand, draw traffic to your site, or sell products, I have but one question to ask:

Why are you making someone else rich when you should be tilling your own Web 2.0 fields?

This is seriously an issue. It didn’t just affect your social life, it will also impact your business development. I’ll give you three reasons:

1. It’s their field, not yours

Simply put, you are building someone else’s business by submitting content, viewing content, and developing relationships THERE. It’s not building your own brand, business or blog HERE. Facebook’s stock valuation is rising, how is yours doing?

Well, if you put all your time & effort into your Facebook profile, and neglect your own field… there’s not going to be much to harvest come summertime, is there?

Solution: Till your fields, drive traffic from the Web 2.0 to your site, put most of your effort onto your site. Avoid distractions.

2. It’s their game, not yours

Things change, something we all realize. Since the internet first came about, the only constant has been the nature & speed of change. We intrinsically know this. But even within Social Media, things change fast.

Even a simple change in TOS can effectively mean that your business is no longer possible (either outlawed by TOS or made prohibitively expensive). While these kinds of changes aren’t that common, you can just ask those users of services like YouTube, Ebay, AdSense, etc. that have had accounts closed because of changes of TOS, or been forced to close accounts because they can’t continue under the new TOS.

Where service continuity and TOS aren’t issues, you will find that algorithm changes can severely impact your social network performance. Take a look at the feed of your Facebook profile, now compare that to the most recent feed. The same? Hardly. Facebook’s algos regularly pull content from your feed that IT thinks you don’t want to see.

As a user, I find this very regretful. I followed many websites on Facebook because I wanted to stay current with their updates, such as OMGUbuntu, or Agnes b coffee shop, but I rarely see posts from either in my feed. With less viewership, there is less incentive for these websites to post anything new on their Facebook profiles.

No one expects Facebook to be primarily for brands or products, but … we do like to keep up with our favorites, don’t we? Agnes b. for example has over 120k likes… yet on one of its posts, there were 331 likes and 2 comments! I won’t tell how small the % of the interactions is… it’s ludicrously small.

Solution: Look for value on the Social Networks. Sometimes paying to play will provide the answer to your issues (because they need to earn money and discern quality feeds). Consider…

3. Pay to Play

Facebook want you to pay for that access; and you can advertise on their system. For many websites, this is a viable way to go and traffic can be quite good for a reasonable price. I would only suggest you do this to drive traffic to your site.

Obviously, Facebook wants you to drive traffic to your presence on THEIR network. You could do this, too; but I think you will find that there is little point to doing so. One of the ways of doing is to “Boost Your Post” which is activated on selected posts (again, you can’t always choose which post to boost). Check out this post from The Digital Marketer on “The $5 Solution to Your Organic Reach Problem on Facebook” on performance and read the comments. Obviously, there are as many caveats: watch your performance, track your budget, watch for algo changes.

4. Service Outages

First there was Myspace and Friendster. Who uses those nowadays? Now we have Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn. But how long those will be here? Already many apps are forging communities based solely around the phone; it’s already the next big social network.

Now look at the gyrations that happened to Myspace over the years, and consider what happened to Geocities and Friendster? Neither of these sites is now operational. Yahoo! closed Geocities down recently, too.

And Yahoo has a habit of purging sites, services and companies that they do not feel have a future. So, although I use Flickr, I don’t depend on Flickr being available for ever. But I wonder how many people upload their photos to Flickr as their only copy! Stupid, yes. Do people do it? Yes.

But this threat can cut into your business, even when the site doesn’t disappear.  Twitter, FaceBook, YouTube are all evolving media and while at least one of the three is supported by big pockets, you can bet bottom dollar that ALL of these services will depend on being successful on their monetization models.

However, even success there doesn’t guarantee that the business won’t be closed down, limited, restricted, or made premium, by current or new owners at some point in the future.

So, if you value something, always have at least two copies of something: one on your PC, and one on a preserved copy. Just in case you have to deal with a closure.

Now, have I convinced you to start planting your own fields? I hope so. Have you started yet?

Google Traffic: Help! What should I do now?

The real question is how do you grow your business? Yesterday is gone, today is here. Tomorrow is the opportunity. I do believe that ‘the build content and visitors will come from Google’ days are over. Google is now increasingly ranking existing traffic. In other words, if you’re already popular, expect to get found in Google, but if you’re not… well, you know the story now.

The recent updates haven’t only been about finding Spam & Unnatural links in the index, but if you peel back the layers, you will see that Google is boosting branded sites; authorship is important; following social habits; and gearing up for mobile. This is at the same time as it is coming under pressure in its advertising markets from the likes of Facebook, Microsoft, & Yahoo! Advertisi

Add the list: Build the list

I had nearly 1,000,000 (that’s six zeroes) page views… but because I didn’t follow this mantra, I ended up with 150 subscribers to my mailing list. 150 out of 1 million pvs? What does that tell you?

So I would strongly recommend adding a popover for your newsletter, and push as many of the visitors you get now to sign up for the newsletter as possible. Put your RSS content into the newsletter and make your newsletter a PDF subscription only monthly update newsletter that is ESSENTIAL to have.

You can mirror the content throughout your site…but the convenience of having it once a month far outweighs the inconvenience of searching for all the disparate content on your site. Don’t leave it to late to do that…

Take your power back from Google

One of the dangers of working the SBI system is the power that you hand over to Google without realizing it. And many webmasters are now ruing the day they made that decision …of putting Google in the position to decide the future of their business. My coffee site is a classic example of this, and something that I have not remedied yet.

Essentially, a viable site has to have a diverse and diversifying source of incoming visitors. You cannot, should not ever rely on Google for your mainstream visitors. They are fickle, they are come & go, they don’t stick around, and they don’t often return to your site… too many other options to consider. However, they are loyal to Google, so it doesn’t matter to them whatever happens to your site.

Avoid Endless P&P Reports & Tweaking

Many SEO specialists, gurus and affiliate marketers advise and sell products/services that encourage you to get back into Google’s graces by endlessly tweaking your site’s keywords, URLs, keyword density, Google algo data… whatever particular flavor they are selling that day. But search engine rankings is a game for SEO specialists whose business is SEO.

Is SEO your business? No… Your business is bring the best of your site to your visitors. That is your business. Not endlessly tweaking WordPress, PHP, HTML, GWT, or whatever acronym there is. I’m not saying “neglect these”… but your purpose should be tweaking those for the sole point of satisfying your visitors enough that they will ‘Like’ you, ‘Share’ you, Subscribe, Bookmark or Purchase from your site.

So what should I be doing?

So the ultimate question becomes not how can I get my site back in Google but how can I help my exisiting traffic LOVE my site or NEED my site to the extent that they will gladly give up time, money or effort to get it. That is branding. That is what Google is now looking for.

And with only a set number of hours in the day, then you have to ask yourself is it really worth my time hacking all these errors or would the time be better spent writing the content (for the blog or newsletter or Facebook) that my visitors/customers will LOVE? So don’t let the Google errors, the plugin problems, the niggles over CSS/HTML diminish your passion for your site.

Simplify what you need to do to serve your customers better. That’s all you need to. Let Google sweat the details. Because you have a great site, a great brand, great customer loyalty, great content… it is Google that has the troubles, the software issues, the problems… they are Google’s problems.

Don’t let Google ruin your business

Your site is what matters. When you focus on that, you will find the help that your site needs. And you will benefit your customers and visitors. Directly building your own brand & brand loyalty is the best (and perhaps the only real) alternative to letting Google run and ruin your business.

Coca Cola (NYSE: KO) Can Coca Cola stock keep growing?

In this report, we’ll be looking at Coca Cola Company. The Coca Cola stock price has rebounded on the basis of a good business model, a good profit margin, increasing dividends and a great PE, even Buffett seems to like owing this stock. Shouldn’t you?

The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE: KO)

Coca-Cola is a product that is consumed in over 200 countries and territories worldwide. Lesser known is the fact that most distribution of the products is carried out by franchisees, as Coca-Cola only make the original syrup which is then shipped to bottlers and canners worldwide. In fact, one of the biggest bottlers trades under the symbol ‘Coke’ and could be easily confused with the original company.

The Early Fizz

Dr. John Styth Pemberton formulated Coca-Cola in 1886 as a medicinal drink, realizing sales of $50 in that year at five cents per glass. Today Coca-Cola’s products are sold in 200 countries and people around the globe consume more than one billion drinks per day!

And yes, Coca-Cola did contain a small amount of cocaine because Dr. Pemberton’s creation depended on the coca leaf for much of its medicinal qualities. By 1929 technology had advanced enough for the company to eliminate the 1/400th of a grain of cocaine in each bottle and none of the millions of people who were loyal to the drink noticed a bit of difference in the taste or refreshing qualities of Coca-Cola.

Coca-Cola continued to thrive in the 19th century and well into the 20th. Striving to make it distinctive and memorable, the company settled on a contour bottle that would make Coke instantly recognizable even if a person were to touch the bottle in total darkness. Even when broken, people would recognize the pieces! Of course, when glass bottles were phased out Coke made an equally distinctive aluminum can.

The Magic: Shaken, not stirred!

Coca-Cola doesn’t produce the cans and bottles of Coke that we all know and love. The company actually manufactures the syrup the drink is made from and sells it to bottlers throughout the world who mix, bottle and distribute Coca-Cola. This means that Coke’s overhead is fairly low, raising its profit margin and lowering the risk. Coca-Cola is sold to restaurants, food service distributors, grocery stores, concessions, sports stadiums and nearly every establishment that serves food and drink or entertains in some way.

By 1999, the company decided to diversify and bought Cadbury Schweppes, maker of Dr. Pepper and other popular soft drinks. The two companies thrived from their merging and Coca-Cola decided to try its hand at other drink products. By 2006, it had capitalized on the sports drink craze and could boast of over 400 brands worldwide. It also manufactures carbonated waters, still waters, and enhanced water drinks.

Added to this you can find juices, juice drinks, teas and even coffee drinks. While you may recognize the carbonated beverages marques of Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Fanta, and Sprite, you may not realize that Dasani (waters), Nestea (iced tea drinks), and even Fruitopia (fruit drinks) are also their own brands.

While it’s the top soda in many markets world-wide, China and the Far East pose challenges to the soda business. Top drinks in many of these countries are typically green teas, juices, and fruit drinks. Even in Japan, its canned coffee is its top selling product. But Coca Cola hasn’t let that stop it developing an international business by developing and/or buying up other companies or products.

Its Winning Formula

Coca-Cola is the world’s large beverage company and markets the top five nonalcoholic carbonated beverage brands in the world. Although the company had a significant drop in profits in the fourth quarter of 2007, it has recovered nicely using sound business sense and creative advertising and continues to perform well.

The 2008 Olympics gave sales a big boost, too, and Coke’s sponsorship of other sporting and charity events keeps it visible and in demand. Coca-Cola rarely suffers losses because they’ve taken steps to insure that their popularity crosses generations as well as cultures. Coke is an affordable and popular product whose returns are consistently steady and whose stock is a reliable investment.

This company clearly survived the downturn, expanded in Asia (which drinks largely tea), and created new brands. So I wouldn’t bet on the Coca Cola stock price falling much, that’s for sure. But at what point does it become a ‘buy’ for you? I do like those increasing dividends, which grew at over 250% over 10 years. That’s a nice return, there!

The Coca Cola Stock Price

The stock for this company has largely languished since it hit a high of $85 in 1998. Though in the early part of this decade, it has risen to the 60’s on several occasions. If you had bought at a high in 1998, you’d likely still be sitting on a loss of nearly 40%.

Fortunately, this poor performance in Coca Cola stock price would have been compensated by a large jump of 290% in the annual dividend from just 60 cents a share in 1998 to a $1.76 in 2010.

The Coca Cola stock price is not cheap by any means, its PE ratio stands at over 18, and the company carries nearly $12 billion dollars in debt. However, this is more than compensated by a robust profit margin of 23% and plenty of cash in the bank.

While the stock rocketed from just $1 and change in the 70’s to its current position, it’s not likely to do that again! After all, when you can grow to over 200 territories, could you really grow your business that much again? So what’s your take on the Coca Cola stock price, business prospects, or markets in 2010~11?