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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.