Tag Archives: blogs

Marketing humor from Dilbert

Sometimes humor hurts….

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Social media – put different tools in different buckets

I was following a Twitter discussion tonight – #techchat run by MarketingProfs.  What was interesting was the discussion hinged around what social tools are most leveraged – twitter, facebook, linkedin, slideshare to name a few. What struck me was we need to take a more refined look at these tools. What do I mean by this?

Web sites, Slide Share and Blogs – they are the content buckets. They are the tools that will hold and generate the heavy amounts of content the real meat of your social marketing.These are the destinations for potential visitors to come and have a chance to engage at a deep level with our organization.

Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin – they are the hooks. While the last two sites can clearly contain more content than Twitter but they should all be viewed as hooks, with a little bit of content as the bait to pull visitors back to the heavier content tools mentioned above. Clearly you will need to have unique content to act as the bait to be leveraged via these social tools, but again they needed to be seen as attracting the visitor back to the content buckets.

I realize this is not rocket science, but too often I listen to social media talk where we mix all of these tools into the same discussion rather than thinking which are our hooks and which are our destinations. When putting together your social marketing plan make sure you think about how to use the hooks to get visitors back to your content hubs.

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Ghost writing for a blog – important for content creation or a vile assault on essence of blogging?

Okay maybe not a vile assault…but a very interesting topic. There have been some interesting pieces written on the issue of does ghost writing violate the essence of blogging? At their core, blogs are suppose to allow the author a platform to express his or her ideas to an open audience – the world wide web. The early days of blogging that was exactly what the medium was used for – suddenly individuals, like myself, could leverage tools like WordPress, Blogger or Typepad to put together a simple site that would allow us to type or thoughts and ideas to be broadcast and sent throughout cyberspace. However over the past few years, corporations have woken up to the power of blogging – how it allowed companies or organizations another tool to broadcast their positions, thoughts, ideas, allowed them to react more rapidly to events and brought them that much closer to their customers and prospects. Of course anytime a tool like this gets into the corporate world it also become subject to HR departments, legal, PR, marketing and all the other silos that have the potential to sap the power of the blog.

When I get a press release from Company X and their CEO said “blah blah blah” at no point do I really believe those words came out of the CEO’s mouth let alone that they even saw the press release…well I do know of one large firm where the CEO still edits every press release…not sure you pay a CEO to do that, but I digress. However when it comes to blogs, if that company’s CEO has a blog, it must be his or her hand at the keyboard or via Dragon Naturally Speaking that is composing the posts. I also trust that legal and PR, for the most part, are not mandated to give the blog post a “once over” before it goes live. Of course I understand that there could come a time when certain topics need to be discussed with legal and the PR department to ensure it is worth putting out in public. But for the most part, if an executive of a company is blogging I trust it is because they truly want to, they are the ones creating the content, they are speaking in their words and expressing their thoughts. For this reason I think ghost writing for a company blog that is clearly associated to an individual in the firm is a no no. Otherwise I will just read the corporate brochures and web copy. The whole point of having an executive or individual associated with the company blog about the company or relevant business is to provide the audience with a personal link to that entity…not with more marketing spin.

Having said that, if a company has a blog that is under a corporate umbrella – for example Ariba or Kinaxis who have corporate blogs with multiple authors – they could leverage ghost bloggers. Then again with a corporate blog that provides an umbrella with multiple authors it is about the messaging that comes from the company not an individual within the corporation…otherwise they should have their own branded blog.  So for these corporate branded blogs, feel free to leverage ghost bloggers, I still rather have the person that has their name associated with the ghost blogger write themselves, but it is much less egregious than ghost blogging for an individually branded blog.

Some other blog posts on the topic:

http://stevefarnsworth.wordpress.com/2010/09/08/is-ghost-writing-ethical/

http://www.pr-squared.com/index.php/2010/09/is-ghostblogging-ethical

http://paulrobertspr.blogspot.com/2010/09/is-ghost-blogging-ethical.html

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Filed under Blogs, Social media

How do I write a good blog post?

I have discussed this and read about this for quite a while now, and why not…blogs are everywhere. While there are numerous resources and opinions on how to write that perfect blog post, all you have to do is use your favorite search engine and type in “how to write a blog post” you will find over 140m hits via Google and over 41m hits via Bing (interesting exercise in search engine technology). For the most part, I will admit I have read a handful of articles from the search, the themes are the same:

  • Be passionate
  • Keep it under 250 words
  • Hyperlink
  • Use keywords
  • Make sure they are easy to scan
  • Proof read
  • Use humor
  • and so forth

Okay so do I have some radical new way of thinking about posts? I should since some would recommend to be controversial, well doesn’t that always attract an audience? Look at TMZ….of course bloggers usually write a blog so it gets read. News flash! However I think that blogs need to be viewed more than just attention grabbing pieces of cyber space. If you feel comfortable being controversial, than by all means do so…as long as you are also prepared to handle the potential consequences. In the end, you should blog because the topic you are writing about is something that is of interest to you and that will keep your attention (meaning writing) for more than 6 posts! With that in mind here are my guidelines for being a good blogger and by extension writing good posts:

  1. Write with Passion. I think this is a universal characteristic linked with good blog posts – don’t forget a blog is personal it is about you and your interests. Let that show. Even if you are writing a corporate blog, you need to allow your interest for the topic show. If you do not feel even a drop of passion about the topic, maybe you should not blog about it.
  2. Be yourself. How is this different than writing with passion? It is more to do with style of the writing and the blog. If you are not naturally gifted in stand up comedy, don’t try to be funny in your posts. If you are naturally analytical and like talking numbers…do so! Do not feel like you have to try and be funny or only write posts that are 250 words or less.  I read a blog on the business of footy (soccer) that clearly does not adhere to the less than 250 words rule! Also, do not try to pretend you are persona you are not, it will be quickly sniffed out in cyberspace.
  3. Keep at it. No one said writing a blog was easy! Fun yes, easy no. But keep at it, a large number of blogs go dark shortly after being created. No surprise. Why? With the array of free platforms (Blogger, WordPress, MovableType etc)  it is incredibly easy to start a blog, play with all the cool widgets, add some custom pictures (like this blog), write a post or two (usually blogs are started because someone has a great idea for a post or two but does not realize it takes more than that to sustain) and then reality hits. You hope that your first few posts are so intelligent and thought provoking that you get listed in Technorati’s top 100 and you become rich and famous (well maybe just the latter). However you realize that no one other than your parents and your best friend bother to read your posts…no one other than spammers put any comments on your blog. Ugh this stinks. And you stop writing. Well don’t. If you followed step 1 and 2 the rest will come. Keep writing. Write longer posts, write short posts, comment on other blogs, link to other 3rd party material that relates to your topic, tell more friends about the blog, tweet about it, post it to facebook, linkedin, naymz, plaxo, myspace…as you get a rhythm, a style and a comfort with putting out posts you will also get an audience.
  4. Be professional. Even if you are writing about an irreverent topic make sure you are respectful of your readers, always try to reply to comments on a timely basis, respond in a respectful way and just be nice. You might want to post about controversial topics, by all means, but always debate commentators with respect. While it is frustrating at times to get “anonymous” comments that might flame you, stay above the fray. Respond. But do not get drawn into an online flaming contest. It is your blog after all, treat it properly. Finally always proof read your posts…I realize I do not always practice what I preach, but it is important to make a strong effort to write properly!
  5. Have fun. You are writing a blog to express yourself, so make sure you have fun with it. Even if it is a corporate blog you should look at it as a channel of expression and a means to communicate with an audience in a more casual way…so enjoy it. If and when it gets to not be fun, think about having a guest(s) writers, take some time off from writing. This is especially true when it comes to corporate blogging.  For your personal blog, ask a friend to write a post, for a corporate blog look outside – ask a client to write a post, see if a business partner would be interested or just ask someone from a completely different part of the business to write something. You don’t know unless you ask. You will see if you have someone else write a few posts it will revitalize you and make it fun again…at least I hope.

I think other posts that have been written about good blogging all have things we can learn from, most have the same pieces of advice. Take those and combine them with what I wrote above and I think you will have a long and fruitful career as a blogger!

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Filed under Blogs, Social media

Blogs – great content generator but make sure you have the right posts

I have read and heard many questions about blogs, the main question is always “should I blog or should my company have one.” My answer. Yes and yes. Okay maybe we, as individuals, do not all need to blog. With Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and all the other social media tools we have enough channels as an individual to get our opinions, stories and updates out into cyberspace without a blog.

However, as a corporation, whether a 2 person flower shop or a multi – billion dollar heavy industry company a blog or blogs should be part of your marketing strategy. Much has been written and discussed about why a blog is of value so here are some reasons:

  • Helps your web site’s SEO (search engine optimization). A blog provides fresh and regular content that web crawlers will index. This constant flow of content will raise your profile in the crawlers’ mind therefore helping people find you!
  • Allow for a conversation to be fostered with your audience: clients, prospects, employees, influencers, investors just to name a few.
  • Gives your company an opportunity to share opinions and ideas in a much more personal fashion. Rather than communicating solely via press release, a blog allows your company to put out opinions and thoughts in a much easier and more personal fashion.
  • Tool for rapid communications and response. Used properly your blog will allow you to put out reactions and opinions to fast moving events.

Having said this, your blogging strategy needs to incorporate strategy around the types of posts you will need to create. Think about your blogging topics to fall into a 2×2 matrix:

Timeless – these topics are timeless and are not dependent on a current event.

Time Sensitive – related to current events or are sensitive to industry changes.

Promote – drive sales and action.

Brand – builds your band and thought leadership.

Quadrant 1: Blog posts can tackle topics about your solutions, how you can tackle industry problems, how your process is important to name a few. Example – if you are a recruiting firm: What are 5 common pitfalls to avoid during an interview. These can even be done ahead of time an put in a can – post when you  have a slow topic week!

Quadrant 2: “Big Idea” topics! Blog posts that tackle issues that impact business or your general industry. Demonstrate that you have some interesting thoughts and ideas about business, the world and your industry. Example – if you are software firm: How will mobile impact business and buying patterns?

Quadrant 3: Posts about action items, a call to action post – not necessarily just to purchase. Example – if you are a consulting firm: You can discuss your on campus recruiting calendar and what candidates need to expect.

Quadrant 4: Topics demonstrate thought leadership, nuance with Quadrant 2 is that these posts tend to be tied to a catalyst – a current event. Example – if you are a technology hardware vendor: you post about how the fluctuation in raw materials impact how you plan your sourcing strategy and what this means for manufacturing.

This quadrant system can be adapted to your business but the main concept transcends all businesses. When you start to blog you should think about putting together a blogging calendar  – similar to an editorial calendar. Understand the balance of posts you will need to meet your needs and ensure you have the proper staff in place to support this strategy. Have the discipline and the effort needed to ensure a successful blog and you and your business will reap the rewards.

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