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Monday, January 17, 2011

Growing That Blog of Yours

Let's review six ways to ensure that your blog is "easy on the eyes." Remember that if you have visitors, don't chase them away with horrific content or even worse, bad grammar. Perhaps an ideal posting model is four to five paragraphs. That’s fairly short so spend your time on content and proof reading.

Rule #1 Relevant Good Content

To many bloggers, content is the top goal. Viewers may chose to ignore less than stellar art, templates and blog layouts if your blog delivers high quality posts with strong content. Your posts needs to be concise, correct and thought provoking. Take some time to gather the facts to support your posts and more time to double check your points.

Rule #2 Style and the Good Looking Suit
One's good style of writing comes with practice, practice and the acceptance of creative criticism. An old college professor said to write what you read. The books you enjoy contain a specific style that you can emulate. If you strive to enhance your writing style, results will come with time.

Rule #3 A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
Note the odd pictures that I deploy throughout my blog. They match up with the particular post and, in themselves, can cause one to take a minute to review. If you use a picture related to your post, you're bound to catch the eye of a visitor and perhaps transform them into a blog follower. Graphics are powerful yet can be easily overused. Do not go overboard.

Rule #4 Interact
A successful blogger always responds to comments and this is mandatory. If you provide and encourage interaction, you will make viewers return, possibly convert many and those people will bring friends. Avoid writing a post and not reviewing the previous three or four posts to moderate comments. Blogger and Word Press both have great comment tools to assist you with interaction.

Rule #5 Please Review your Work

Have ya evver ceen thiss? Well now, never hurry yourself when creating a post. One trick to employ after you have finished your post is to hit control A, then control C and paste your post into an Outlook email. You’ll have a new look as well as various spell/grammar tools to avoid mistakes. Another trick is to take a break and come back to review your post one more time before posting. If you post too quickly, mistakes arre bownd 2 happin.

Rule #6 Practice Good English
The use of good English is mandatory for publicizing. People will never take you seriously if your writing is deficient. You're building credibility every time you pick up a pen ... or bang on a keyboard. I keep a thesaurus handy to assist in spicing things up and remember to avoid particular word repetition.
Happy Blogging

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Cranking Up Your Twitter Followers

Seven Ways to Crank Up Your Twitter Followers:

1. (and by a country mile) Understand how to retweet first
Twitter is simply a micro blogging service. Meaning that you can write short updates of 140 characters maximum called "tweets" and send them out to your followers or contacts.

Retweet on the other hand means that When someone re-tweets you, they are giving you the highest compliment you can get on Twitter by sharing your post or what you said with their own followers or contacts.

Now take the action of retweeting by explaining to your followers what retweeting is (see above.) Encourage your followers to retweet your links to your blog posts. Retweeting pushes your @username into brand new social media conversations, resulting in clicks back to your profile. Make sure that you track your retweets using retweetist. This will help you grab data so that you can hone your efforts based on popularity and volume (frequency of posts.)

2. Make sure that you have filled out your profile with extensive information. Your latest tweets and @replies don’t mean much to people who are not following you or have potentially similar common interested (customers.) Your biography is the only place that can inform people about who you are, your common interests and about your goals. Also, your bio is automatically displayed on Twitter’s suggested users page. If you leave your profile blank along with the other sixty-five percent of Twitters users, you do not encourage people to add you.

3. As @VPtweet says, “link it up.” Put numerous links on your Twitter profile and then add even more. Link your profile to your LinkedIn, Facebook, Digg, Delicious, blog, email signature, and everywhere else you frequent online. Also, review the popular feedburner badges from TwitterCounter for your blog.

4. Tweet about your company's main goals and solutions and #hash tag them. Quality content coupled with a simple process to locate never fails. If others enjoy your content, they will add you and also tell friends or peers.

5. Bring your twitter account into the physical world. Every time I consult, speak on a panel, present slides, or hand out business cards, I figure out a way to broadcast or display my twitter account. Did I mention that you need that twitter address on every piece of collatoral such as business cards, email signatures and web postings?

6. Use photgraphs or line drawings. Pictures are worth a thousand words ... even more in Tweet world and they are heavily retweeted. For mobile pics use iPhone apps such as Tweetie or Twitterific, both which support on the fly uploading and are very simple.

7. Make sure that you track your final results. Applications like TwitterCounter will show you how many new users you’re adding per day and Qwitter will email you when someone unfollows you after a tweet. Analyze the data and hone your efforts based on the results.

Good luck and happy Tweet hunting!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A Tip of The Hat to B2B Publishers

My contention is that paid publishing does not work. Publishers that took their legacy paid business model and expected revenue streams to be “simply” amplified through mobile devices were again, proven wrong.

I consult frequently and the core area of refinement for B2B publishers is that the home site must offer a much higher level of peer to peer integration or failure is certain. Interaction with the readers and providing a branded media platform for readers to interact with each other must be the primary goal. From circulation and reader retention all the way over to advertising and new online media refinement, the reinvention of the main web site is paramount.

The astute publisher will expand their offerings through live feeds, mobile frames and strongly encourage editors to provide a steady diet of social media exposure. This includes forums (technical), blogs (current events) and tweets (breaking news) which are all tethers to a living, breathing web site site. No reader wants to leave a lively forum of like minded individuals to endure a stale column of content … not today … not tomorrow.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Two Parts Twitter and One Part Blog?

Twitter is like blogging except that it is condensed. Rather than comments, linkbacks and "likes", we locate new people to follow through @_____ replies. If someone replies to me with an interesting comment, I am likely to follow them. Individuals who would otherwise obtain zero notoriety in blog space have found attention far more efficiently through Twitter. This is where we can insert your company’s blog and step on the gas pedal using Twitter.

Now for your business's blog, the old rule of uniform branding applies. Let's review that rule. Every item that is client forward-facing including; business cards, trade show handouts, signature tags in emails, company web site, Linkedin profiles and posts, blog entries, etc. need to contain a link to your blog's home page. Get a rubber stamp if necessary but apply that fingerprint to every piece of marketing collateral in your arsenal.

The power of Tweet is even more pronounced for your blog when you get noticed by the Twitter elite or super popular Tweeters. As in the blog world where an A-List link can enrich your blog’s audience count, this happens much more often on Twitter.. Tweets are fast and it's not hard to fire off a 140 character message to lead people to your blog. You could tackle this process three times a day - the key is content and relevancy. The right Tweet exchange with a heavyweight Tweetser can drive thousands of potential visitors to your company's blog with very little effort. And be mindful of netiquette which means that you give this special Tweeter the same help they gave you. One example is the “reciprocal follow” where they follow you and you start following them.

Have we reached the demise of the blog feed?
No. The successful blogger uses multiple social media tools to build their base. Additionally, there is much to be said for the blog. Think of the depth and detail just in this post that would not be possible in 140 characters. Tweets provide the marketing manager the ability to send out a well thought out sentence on a relevant subject and the inclusion of the blog URL. With that said, blogs will have to provide much more value than links, quips, aggregate content (see my Rainmaker Media LinkedIn group) and trivialities. Your blog content needs to be up to date, educational and thought provoking. The key here is to have three or four times the content on hand against what you actually post. Also, do a little reading from your peer bloggers to gain inspiration on topics. Example of topic selection; MySpace was relevant in 2008 and now it's just about passé.
Build, refine, be consistent and reach out for your company blog.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Put the key in the ignition

So you have read many articles on social networking, set up your Facebook account and have some network connections on Linkedin. Today the boss stopped by and needs you to build a company blog. Oyyyeee!
Let’s try to help you avoid some common mistakes by reviewing a few best practices.
Blogs need traffic in order to exist and that’s the main goal of building a company blog. Make sure that you tell your boss that it’s going to take some time and departmental cooperation to build a strong and healthy blog. This is not like a static web site in a box that you can design and spit out on the internet. A blog is a two way street of powerful relevant communication (Web 2.0) and it can be a country back road smitten with potholes or an eight lane interstate. Just imagine a chance for your best customers to give you product feedback or help you navigate strategic decisions. With the right traffic, you will achieve an online Nirvana for your business and even a focus group in your cube. But content is the only route to your main goal and very good content makes your blog relevant and an asset to your target audience. Perhaps you have no more than twelve visitors per day and you pick up a few followers via RSS feed (you installed that RSS feed widget on your blog, right?) After few months Google, Yahoo, Technorati search engines kick in and your traffic rises. The relevancy of your site is enhanced by DIGG and Delicious (you installed those buttons as well, right?) Let’s review the basics of Growing Your Blog.

1. Content is King

Keep your blog on subject and deliver the best researched content that you possibly can provide. Add in additional writers with authoritative voices. Content is the glue for your followers and is the most important part of your blog. Do not take a short cut and copy-paste content from other blogs into your own. Write your own content using the style and frequency you mapped out. Over here, that’s once a week.

2. Promotion

The best content in the world is worthless when no one reads it. How do you promote your blog without reaching into your pocket? A good blogger is going to install RSS feed buttons, buttons to mark posts for services such as DIGG, Delicious, Technorati and now Twitter widgets … yes Twitter. The function of these sites is to aggregate the six to seven million blogs in existence into one big subject driven directory by using popularity. A user types in a subject and by virtue of tags, the more popular blogs come up first. Tagging is when a reader or follower is impressed by your blog’s content and pushes a DIGG or Delicious button and you receive a “vote.” If you are not utilizing these mainstream traffic boosters, add them now. A good blogger will also install links to feeds from other blogs that enhance your blog’s content offerings. Here’s an example. Look over to the right and you’ll see that I have Mashable streaming in. Quite a few of those articles are going to help marketing managers understand and embrace social networking so that they can leverage it for promotion. If you want to add a little firepower to your promotional efforts, turn to industry stalwarts Google and Yahoo and add some money behind SEO or search engine optimization - . You choose key words (not too specific and not too general), register these for a fee per click and users can find you through those monster search sites. One other item that is often overlooked is adding you or your company’s blog address to all brochures, web sites, email signatures and marketing collateral.

3. Creative Design

In media, a face paired with a media vehicle is always more successful than an agnostic fortune teller. Get your mug shot up on the blog or photos of key company personnel and relate to your audience. One important fact about blog design that is constantly overlooked is “load times.” Have your blog looking “starched and sharp” in appearance but do not embed widgets and images that take forever to load on a typical browser. This long loading will stop a new visitor in their tracks and you’ll lose opportunity after opportunity to add to your audience.

4. Got Links?

Web 2.0 is a very reciprocal world. You scratch my back and I’ll scratch your back. Reach out to relevant large audience blogs and post positive comments. Make sure that you have your blog’s link in your comment signature. This process of cross linking will assist in building your reputation and impact your blog's traffic flow in a very positive manner. How do you find these blogs? By using the exact same search mechanisms that are listed in part two.

Good luck
JD Holzgrefe

Lift Off

The initial phase of growing your blog is simply getting established. Your efforts here are primarily on your blog's content and setup. Most of your labor will be utilized in creating enough content for a blog launch (3-1 rule). Have three to four times the content you foresee needed and continue to build this surplus out. You may need twenty or thirty articles on your blog's topic or "sweetspot" prior to launch.
Basic blog setup processes like search engine optimization as well as Digg, Facebook Share, Technorati and Twitter plug-ins are vital. Also work on reciprocal links with other bloggers and you'll find another golden key to bring in traffic. These links are also picked up by the search engine (Google, Bing and Yahoo) runs.

This is the basement work but perhaps the most vital step in growing your blog.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Growing Your Blog

Perhaps the top attribute of blogging is the ability for a blogger to go back and look at what they were focused on at a certain point of time. Sometimes a blogger forgets about their posts and after checking Google keyword referrals, they notice some older posts that someone found on a search engine and visited their blog. This process begins to show the blogger key word or title relevancy.
It's cool to be reminded of your own thoughts by another person. One of my recent posts about "growing your blog" has drawn some attention and I receive about fifty weekly visits from Google search to that particular post. There I outlined ten basic ways that you can help grow your blog and improve your website rankings. After reading it over again, I decided to follow up with a post on five additional ways on increasing blog and traffic rankings.
1. Categorization
Perhaps you already have categories on your blog, which is a great step. Again, categorizing is selecting a subject (mine is "growing your blog" and adding those blog descriptive terms to Google, Yahoo, and Technorati. A word of caution: double categorizing your posts dilutes your blog's path to attract bots in a specific area via search due to algorithms. Okay, what the hell is a bot? A bot is a software application that runs automated tasks over the net ... such as searching. So pick one category that is best suited.

2. Cross Linking or Trackbacks
When you read someone else’s blog and like the content don’t feel shy to link their post as that will leave a trackback on their site. Make sure that you have your blog's web address in your posting signature. If it’s a popular blog then chances are that the blog owner and the visitors of that blog will follow through and visit your blog.
3. Concentrate
Create Good Titles – When you write a post title make sure that it makes sense to you, is concise and popular within the context of your blog's main subject. Search engines are intelligent due to the aforementioned "secret" algorithms. Search bot mannerisms like to match a search query with blog post titles. With tens of millions of searches being performed daily, there is ample opportunity that someone will type in a phrase that will relate to your blog post title.

4. Frequency of Posting
If you post one post a day then make sure you write one post a day, everyday. I use a weekly posting frequency. The point is to develop a regular pattern that your readers and followers will understand and expect. My weekly posting doesn't really do my blog any favors with respect to being picked up by RSS feeds (see my other posts.) Don’t leave one day or two week's of postings out because it’s the weekend. You will aggravate your flock.

5 Email Updates
Email is still the dominate platform when it comes to gaining a reader's or follower's attention. Just open your blog's preferences and enable the email alert selection and your followers will receive an update with each new post provided the special widget appears. I happen to be a strong proponent of RSS feed alerts but I live in the technology media world.

So there you have it and I hope these tips help you.
Good Luck,
JD Holzgrefe