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Friday, April 17, 2009

Riding the Social Networking Wave



You've finished your blog after months of arduous work. It's clear, concise and easy to navigate. Months go by and no comments appear. Did you throw a rock into an empty pond? Perhaps.Let's review some of the basic techniques to help improve the visibility of your blog. Let's face it, if a bear shits in the woods...? These techniques will include search engines, social networking and corporate email lists.Using Search Engine Optimization, referred to as SEO, is an excellent method to build traffic for your blog. When you first followed the composition template from WordPress or BlogSpot, you were given two or three areas to describe your blog using phrases. These key phrases you selected are picked up by Google’s roving robots that assimilate the content, tags, phrases and assets on the worldwide web for categorization. You can still change them, just look under options.Google then uses multiple complex algorithms to determine a particular site/blog's popularity. A time tested model is to enter your key phrases into Google search and see how many web sites and blogs appear. Use phrases that both relate to your blog and phrases that your intended audience would type in to locate help or additional information on a given subject. If you want to add some power behind your quest for traffic, register for Google ad words: (https://adwords.google.com/select/starter/AdStatus?campaignId=33830588 ) A short note on different search mechanisms. There are multiple search engines such as Google, Yahoo and MSN (Microsoft.) Google currently owns 65% of the search engine market. Most paid search systems use a pay per click model which means that you are charged each time a person locates your site/blog and clicks through to see it. The “pay per click” or PPC model offers the user the ability to determine budget for your marketing. You can also determine how many clicks you are receiving for each specific search phrase. This gives you the ability to continually monitor and modify your contextual efforts. The litmus test is generally a two or three word phrase that best describes your web site YET is typically typed in by your potential audience when they need help or are searching for web assets relevant to your blog. For your blog, let’s continue with an exercise. Go to Google search and type in “building a social networking site” and you’ll see my blog appear on the right or within the first few search results. If I had used “JD’s Special Blog” as a paid Google phrase, the gain would be minimal or even non-existent. Here's a tool to find out how your traffic is buzzing along - http://trends.google.com/websites?q=dell.com&geo=all&date=all or the easy to use "Who's Talking" http://www.whostalkin.com/ The best route to growing your blog is actually “swimming in the waters” of social networking. This simply means that you locate by search, blogs that are similar to yours and cross post in a complimentary mode. Please be aware that there may be a level of competition with some blogs and your comments may not get posted. Continue this exercise frequently.Cross posting places your blog’s URL (uniform resource locator which is simply your address on the web) in multiple places that are relevant. The more you interact with other bloggers and build up your presence, the more successful your attempt at growing blog traffic will be. When you’ve built your blog traffic through social networking interaction, you will see a much higher concentration of commentators, critics and followers than those coming from paid search efforts.If you are an IT marketing manager that has an existing base of customer email names, you are sitting on a potential gold mine. Simply use an email newsletter that targets your best customers/evangelists and inform them that you goal is improvement through their input. Make sure that you have existing blog content that invites opinions or even criticism from this audience and encourage them to comment. Your blog hosting company will have an option that when a comment is made to your blog, you receive an email.Please make sure that you respond thus creating the interaction that forms the nucleus of web 2.0. Keep this blog updated and answer all of the comments. You'll be amazed at the results. The combination of SEO techniques and a heavy dose of social networking interaction will enhance your blog's audience. JD Holzgrefe


Sunday, April 5, 2009

Eight Ways to Not Grow Your Blog



1. 15” Graphic Files
I have a visual epiphany to share with everyone and my graphics are huge. Those big fat images take minutes to load ... everyone knows that anything worth a hoot is worth waiting for, right? If my blog takes forever to load, it assures top notch quality and graphics for the reader, right? Another way to look at long page load benefits is that it keeps a person on your blog for three to five minutes, right? Not!
2. Be covert!
Stop interacting with any other blogs. Most experts will tell you that the practice of reading, commenting, and cross-linking to other people's blogs will bring traffic to yours. Could that be common sense? Why would seeing you hanging out at another bar make anyone think your bar must be great? You need to act like the only bar worth its salt is yours. Forget about working with, reading or even visiting any other blogs/bars. Not!
3. Be dull with your content or better yet, be generic.
Everyone likes to be smart. Why in the world would you want a blog that could spark creative thinking? You run a blog, right? Why fight your strength? Let the readers be "interesting" and you will make many friends and create followers. Spend your valuable time building posts like "Florida is in the Southeast" as that is where you want to focus your efforts. There is no need to break any new ground or buck conventional thinking. Not!
4. Always changing your blog's appearance.
Your followers will absolutely love this. They will quickly grow accustomed to having ancillary RSS feeds shuffled around weekly along with teal backgrounds changing to magenta. Think about Albert Einstein. The man had seven black suits with seven white shirts to make his life easier. Do you leave your home every day wearing the same pants and shirt? We can look at this in another way. People love surprise parties so constantly change your blog's format and color palette. Not! 5. Reposting current events and news.
Listen up bloggers, there is a massive shortage of people who comment on the news of the day. There are hardly any opinions (or opines, for that matter) on the news of the day. You can use daily news topics from Duke basketball to Darfur, keep regurgitating the news and you'll have everyone finding your blog. Not!6. Practice misspelling (see comment #3.)
People really enjoy, trust and want to follow a blogger that makes them feel superior. The additional benefit is that a misspelled blog is e-z to reed. Most people will addmit thit spendeng valuabul time dec-iphher-in words thit are spelt wrung is a fuhn tasque and habbit furming. Not!
7. Go nuts with widgets.
You have to incorporate every new bell, whistle and widget that is available to your blog. You buy the newest in electronics and gadgets and so does everyone else. Unless you load up your blog page with forty or fifty widgets (even a few that the best critics are not familiar with), you are "old school." The drive for enhancement is a full time job and you should spend 50% of your blog entry time tracking down widgets. And do not forget to move them around the page. Not!
8. Never, ever respond to comments
One of the best ways to grow your audience is to ignore your followers. Play hard to get and if you have to respond to a comment, wait six months. We both know that followers or people expect to wait and expeditious interaction is for the birds. Not!
JD Holzgrefe

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

It's About Trust Damn it!




Sitecore is a vendor that provides companies with content management systems for web sites. CMS systems have been around since the early days of mass web marketing. Sitecore had contacted Redmond Media to determine if we could reach (and help sell) the senior IT decision maker. While in the midst of a sales call to Sitecore's Darren Guarnaccia, I decided to ask him how badly social networking had dented his sales. Without missing a beat, Darren went over the rationale of taking your existing web content management system and having the existing architecture contain all of the bells and whistles of the various technologies in current play; The ability to build a wiki, populate a linkedin, the strengths of listening to and monitoring dialogue both internally (site specific) and externally, etc.. It made sense and the logic follows the typical migration of say, an operating system. A newer version comes along and more functionality and efficiency is in play. Darren then explained that in order for a social network to truly succeed, you need "major trust". The entire premise of online social networking is the fact that individuals and their web needs/habits have evolved. We know, as marketers, that the web is now a two-way street. They are less inclined to come over for static controlled content. These individuals want to interact with their peers, listen to a voice of reason, credibility and expertise in a specific field, receive quick response that fosters further communication and also have the ability to give input. Most people are still readers or "inactives" at this point in time but those sideline viewers are spending more time and reading more content in the social network frame than in the traditional web site frame. Rewind chapter four in "Groundswell" and you've got the same premise. Incidentally, SiteCore’s sales are doing very well. Darren wrote an excellent white paper that covers seamless integration of your social networking needs with your current CMS provider (Redmond Media uses Sitecore). This paper also goes into detail about finding that elusive "do or die" trust element with your social networking audience vis-à-vis your best customers or even better, your company's top evangelists. After all, we don’t want to be road kill on the digital highway, do we? The link for the white paper is here - http://www.sitecore.net/en/Products/Resources/whitepapers/Profiting-from-Branded-Communities.aspx
I highly recommend Sitecore.
JD Holzgrefe