Tag Archives: blog

The blank screen. What should you blog?

People read blogs for all sorts of reasons. They’re into technology, dog breeding, or maybe collecting Pez dispensers. Heck, some people even read blogs because they’re in the business of marketing and advertising – which, hopefully, is why most people read this one.

While part of the charm of blogs is a more personal tone than traditional news sources, the most successful bloggers tend to stick to subjects and types of articles that draw readers to the site. But contrary to popular opinion, most people don’t want to read the most intimate details of your life. Well, unless you’re Britney Spears.

So what do people want you to write about? There are a lot of experts who will tell you which types of stories you should write.

The top reasons to… is a very popular format

How to

The unvarnished review

An insider’s perspective

The devil’s advocate

All these formulas can be great starting points for delivering content your readers will enjoy and maybe even attract a few new readers to your site.

But at the end of the day, the most important thing is to stick to your area of expertise.

Both Jonathan, who manages this blog, and I analyze which articles get the most readers and which ones attract more readers from search and social sources. If you spend some time looking at that type of data, you’ll get a pretty good idea about what types of articles people like.

— Jimmy Gilmore, Senior Copywriter

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What’s your frequency, Blogger?

Writing is hard. Writing to a schedule is even harder. I know, I’m a writer. And when it comes to blogging, it’s not easy to make time to do it.  Heck, it’s hard enough to keep up with work, make time to spend a few hours with the kids, keep the yard up, and even return phone calls. Most people feel like blogging is an extra thing they do, ancillary to their job, so it’s the last thing they get to. Sorry, but that won’t cut it.

Any serious blogger will tell you there is nothing more important to maintaining a healthy blog than actually making quality posts regularly. You absolutely have to give your readers something to come back to if you want them to read your blog regularly.

You could rely on search engines to drive traffic to your blog. Well, you’ll have to have lots of content to do that.  And how else are you going to build up a healthy base of posts for search engines to aggregate than by writing frequently? Also, search engines favor sites that are updated frequently and recently.

You could also rely on social linking and bookmarking. But people like to link to stuff that is new and hot. It may be hard to understand, but folks are not going to Digg your six-month-old article on the introduction of last year’s technology. If you want other people to promote your articles, you’ll have to be an active member of the blogosphere.

Seth Godin publishes every single day. Granted, his only job is writing his blog and the books that come out of the process. But most people would agree this guy is on to something. I guarantee the one million links coming into his blog are more than you’ve got.

Of course, you could pay to have people visit your blog with AdSense. But, at that point, you may as well pay to have them come to your regular site.

It’s important to reflect– you probably wouldn’t read a newspaper or watch a TV program if it appeared on random occasions. So why would you expect a significant number of readers for your random musings?

If you’re a blogger, you must have something you want to say. So say it often, and you’ll be rewarded with more readers than you ever imagined. The blogosphere is a big place, but you’ll be surprised how noticeable you’ll become if you keep clicking Publish.

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In the age of social media, everyone needs a policy

So does your company need a policy? The short answer is duh, yeah.

The long answer is, of course, much more complicated. You see, your policy should be defined by the kind of company you are and the goals you have for social media in general.

Do you even want your company involved in social media? In my opinion the answer should be yes, for any company. But if the answer is no, your social media policy should reflect this. Because you can’t ignore social media and expect it to go away.

Let your employees know they’re not free to talk about the company on Facebook or Twitter or anywhere else on the Web. If you don’t tell them not to, they may decide to do it on their own. If you don’t believe me, start a monitoring program now; you may be surprised.

Or maybe you want your average employee fielding inquiries from Twitter? This is working pretty well for Zappos and Best Buy. But if you produce a highly regulated product like pharmaceuticals it might not be such a great idea to have unlicensed people giving out medical advice.

Do you have a social media strategy? If this strategy involves blogging and using Facebook, it should be reflected in your social media policy. Let people know who is free to field questions on Facebook and who is not.

Are only certain people allowed to blog about the company? What about on their own personal blog? For example, I have one and clearly state that what I’m writing is not the opinion of my employers, although I do prominently link them on my site.

What are your employees allowed to talk about? Are there taboo subjects?

Must they have training before they’re allowed to engage on behalf of the company?

This list could go easily get long – especially if the lawyers get involved. The trick is to keep it short enough to encourage interaction without being so short that it encourages bad behavior.

One thing to keep in mind, your employees have been spreading word of mouth about your company since it began. This is only the next step in that evolution. So the key is providing practical guidelines to keep employees from making missteps in a new media.

Bonus: Here is some reference for developing your company’s guidelines.

— Jimmy Gilmore, Senior Writer

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With Social Media as a Soapbox, Everyone’s a Critic

I am old enough to remember a time when the only critics of your brand were people who had first-hand experience with it or professionals paid to publish formal reviews.   Now, with Social Media, everyone is a critic.

It was reported that 3,600 people blogged about the Super Bowl commercials this year.  These weren’t blogs about the Super Bowl or the halftime show; they were only about the commercials.  Look at the discussion threads for some of the more controversial spots (Audi “Green Police”, Focus on the Family’s “Tebow” spot), and it is apparent that some of the posts are coming from people who didn’t even see the spots.

Similarly, my Facebook news feed is littered with rants, raves and follow-up comments across a wide range of issues.  I’ve witnessed a fairly comprehensive review of the service at major auto repair facilities.  I’ve formed impressions of restaurants and the food they serve based on the photos friends have posted.  I’ve even been privy to heated debate about political candidates in states where I can’t even vote.   In many of these cases, my overall impressions are formed not just from the initial posting, but the replies of people who jumped on the Social Media soapbox and offered a point of view even if it wasn’t based on first-hand experience.

So, will Social Media become the primary tool by which are brands will be evaluated in the future – regardless of the whether the critic has personal experience with it or not?  According to Edelman’s recently released Trust Barometer, probably not.  It reports that only 25% of us consider our peers credible sources of information and that we must hear the same message from 4-5 different sources before it is considered trustworthy.

However, it would be naïve to categorically dismiss Social Media generated criticism as a hot trend that provides a self-absorbed generation their 15 minutes of fame.

It is more likely that Social Media’s critical commentary will establish itself as one of those 4-5 points of influence, challenging marketers to further refine their tracking, analysis and response to address the many levels of experience it represents.

— Pam Alvord, Chief Strategist

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Blogwell Review

Last week, I was the lucky guy who got to spend the afternoon attending the BlogWell Conference at Newell Rubbermaid’s headquarters in Atlanta. GasPedal and Newell Rubbermaid did a great job of putting together an educational seminar with excellent topics and very little remedial content.

“How Big Brands Use Social Media” was the topic of the conference. It wasn’t possible to attend every presentation, so I selected Coke, Orange Business Services, UPS, and SunGard. I chose these sessions because I’d already seen Bert DuMars from Newell Rubbermaid and Seth Miller from Turner Broadcasting System present at New Media Atlanta.

Andy Sernovitz gave a short talk on social media ethics and the new FTC standards, and he provided an overview of the Social Media Business Council’s ethics toolkit. At the least, everyone should give the ethics toolkit a read. In Andy’s opinion, the new FTC standards are a good thing because they will stop social media from becoming what e-mail has become – a mistrusted wasteland of spam.

Adam Brown, director of interactive communications and social media at Coca-Cola, spoke about Expedition 206.  This global social media initiative features a team of young people, called Coca-Cola ambassadors, traveling the globe to all 206 countries in a single year, breaking the world record for most countries visited in a year. While this sounds expensive, in the context of a global marketing campaign he claims it is very cost effective.

Debbie Curtis-Magley from UPS discussed social media crisis management — specifically FedEx’s attack with the Brown Bailout campaign. She emphasized the importance of consistently monitoring social media and understanding the extent of the problem before reacting. She also pointed out that it’s a very good idea to discuss what employees should do or not do, since most of them interact online as both employees of the company and private citizens, and in UPS’s case, also as union members.

Valeria Maltoni of SunGard discussed a social media strategy for B2B companies — how being helpful and providing the community value will drive engagement. She also discussed the internal use of Yelp by SunGard employees.

Yann Gourvennec of Orange Business Services talked about the company’s http://www.Orange-Business.tv project and the success it’s had using the principles of solution selling. By offering customers solutions to common problems, Orange is able to position itself as a thought leader. This effort has generated a great deal of engagement for them.

The big takeaway from the event for me was the lack of discussion about what social media is or whether it is important to these top companies. These are people representing big brands who are way past a discussion of “Is this worth my time?” and “Are ready to make the most of it?”

What about you? Is your brand ready to make the most of the opportunities in social media?

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