Posts Tagged ‘Blogging’

David Mullen, in the latest of his daily dose of insight, has opened up the discussion on yet another important topic for many of us experimenting with social media and developing campaigns for clients who are more than a little bit skeptical about venturing into a territory with which they are, for the most part, lost.

I strongly urge you to read Mr Mullen’s post – Should Brands Approach Social Media with a “Pilot Program” Mindset?

There are arguments to both sides of the issue. A “Pilot Program” helps ease the client into this scary and unfamiliar terrain. The downside is that you may not see results or ROI if you don’t commit to a thought-out, long term, strategy. Kind of a catch 22. There is, IMHO, a middle ground. A way to create a small scale, but comprehensive social media attack. The key is to develop a strategy that can be narrowly focused, initially, and then expanded and expounded upon, both in terms of goals and means to achieve those goals, as the data from the first phase can be analysed. Those metrics will provide feedback for you as you grow the initiative from a fine, targeted, endeavor, to a more far reaching and all-encompassing social media presence, and with it, your own unique approach and attitude.

I think it’s more about choosing the right channel – Pick one vehicle – facebook, youtube, twitter, a blog, etc…and focus all efforts on that one medium. This way, you’ve got your pilot program mentality in that you’re not trying to tackle the entire social space in one fell swoop. It’s not overwhelming; you have time to manage and monitor one platform, and thus you can develop a system in which consistancy is maintained.

Additionally, Choosing one medium allows for much easier measurement and analytics, to determine if the effort has delivered and if it’s worthwhile to expand.

Of course, to do this, you also have to Define your primary goal – customer service, marketing, branding, PR…etc. – pick one & stick to it – let your goal be the guiding influence in choosing the most effective social platform and your method for measuring results.

This is my “Pilot Program.” It has longevity, a goal, consistency, and it’s measurable. If it’s deemed to be successful, you can adapt this mini-initiative to other social media, or expand your goals, if desired. Either way, limiting yourself or your brand to 1 goal, 1 platform, 1 campaign is the best, IMHO, form of Pilot Program – insofar as that it has all the elements of a traditional and comprehensive campaign, while keeping things simple enough to act as a test of your needs, capabilities, and suitability for the effectively utilizing these media.

What do you think? Remember – My Blog is Your Blog – Share Your Thoughts!

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If you’re reading this blog and not reading Mashable or Techcrunch on the regular…well, thanks – but, come on, seriously? I take it most of you have seen the following information the past few days…so I’m just going to sum it up and offer my thoughts on the situation.

Fortune 100 CEOs:

  • As of September 2006, among Fortune 500 CEOs, Sun Microsystems’ Jonathan Schwartz was the only one who has a blog which he updated regularly.

(Source: http://www.populationstatistic.com/archives/2006/09/17/chief-blogging-officer/)

The top CEOs in the country appear to be mostly absent from the social media community.  That’s the result from research we conducted over the past several weeks.  We looked at Fortune’s 2009 list of the top 100 CEOs to determine how many were using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Wikipedia, or had a blog.  The results show a miserable level of engagement.  Here are the major results:

  • Only two CEOs have Twitter accounts.
  • 13 CEOs have LinkedIn profiles, and of those only three have more than 10 connections.
  • 4 of the CEOs only have 1 connection.
  • No CEO in top 20 has a Linkedin Profile.
  • Most Connected of Top CEOs on Linkedin is Michael Dell with 500.
    • 81% of CEOs don’t have a personal Facebook page. Meaning, only 19% of Fortune 100 CEOs have a Facebook Profile.
    • CEO with the most friends – Kenneth Lewis of Bank of America – 13 Facebook Friends
      • Three quarters of the CEOs have some kind of Wikipedia entry, but nearly a third of those have limited or outdated information.
      • Not one Fortune 100 CEO has a blog.
    • Warren Buffet – Berkshire Hathaway – 7441 Followers – Not Following Anyone – Last Post: February 20th
    • Alan Lafley (Proctor & Gamble) – 33 Followers – No Updates

Topline Results

Twitter was the least used service by Fortune 100 CEOs, despite being one of the fastest growing social media networks. Wikipedia had the highest level of engagement among the Fortune 100 CEOs, yet 28% of those entries had incorrect titles, missing information or lacked sources.

LinkedIn, a site mainly used for professional networking, only attracted 13 Fortune 100 CEOs, five of which had just one connection. Three CEOs stood out from the pack on LinkedIn, each having more than 80 connections. However, they are all from technology companies – Michael Dell (Dell), Gregory Spierkel (Ingram Micro) and John Chambers (Cisco).

While there were slightly more Fortune 100 CEO users on Facebook than on LinkedIn, most of them had limited information on their page and few friends. More surprising is that no Fortune 100 CEO has a public blog that could be easily found.

Source: http://www.uberceo.com/home/2009/6/23/its-official-fortune-100-ceos-are-social-media-slackers.html

Fortune 100 Companies:

As Fortune 100 companies go, Twitter easily takes the top spot, according to a recent study from PR firm Burson-Marsteller.

According to their findings,

  • 54 percent of the Fortune 100 companies have a Twitter presence
  • 46% do not have any twitter presence
  • 32 percent have a blog.
  • 29 percent have an active Facebook Page.
  • 28% have an inactive or outdated Facebook Page
  • 43% have no Facebook page
    • Those with active pages are overwhelmingly consumer and promotionally focused
  • At companies using only one of these tools, at 76 percent of them, the tool of choice is Twitter.

More interesting than these raw numbers, however, are some further insight into how Fortune 100 companies are using social media. Other key findings:

  • Only 17 percent use all three mediums: Twitter, Facebook, and a blog.
    • 40% use no channels
    • 21% use 1 channel
    • 22% use 2 channels
    • Of the Fortune 100 companies on Twitter:
      • 94 percent use it for news/announcements
      • 67 percent for customer service
      • 57 percent for deals and promotions.
      • 11 percent use it for HR and Employee Recruitment
      • The average Fortune 100 Twitter account has 5,234 followers. The median is 674 followers.
      • 69% of those with Twitter accounts post 4 or more times per week

Source: http://mashable.com/2009/08/03/twitter-fortune-100/

So we do we make of this data? Are these CEOs so absent and disengaged because they choose to be? Do they simply not value social media, do they not UNDERSTAND the value of social media. Perhaps it’s simply a time management issue…

Regardless, I don’t see what HARM could possibly result from a Fortune 100 CEO having someone else build out his/her Linked In page and update the Wikipedia entry. I wouldn’t advocate that for actual one-one interaction like on Twitter. But for a static page, why not?

Real Time interaction is a lot to expect from some of the nations top business leaders…But what about blog posts? 5 years ago, no one expected to be privy to the inner musings of a Fortune 100 CEO. At this point, things have changed. Consumers want and demand that brands be personalized and individualized through the voices of those who exist within the company – specifically, the CEO. Apparently, most either CEOs don’t care or just haven’t heard that expectations have changed, and they need to adapt – lest a young up and comer usurp power after finding favor with the public and investors through 1-1 engagement on Twitter or through Blogging.

What do you think – are we expecting too much from these time crunched workaholics? Or are we expecting them to evolve their personal habits in parallel to the brand’s?

IMHO – They should, without a doubt, be using every means necessary to build a relationship with the masses. The CEO is THE spokesman for the organization, trusted by shareholders and investors, and looked to by consumers for the final word about the brand.

We’ve reach a point where Social Media is becoming the primary vehicle by which we learn about an organization and communicate with them. Customer Service, Sales, Branding, Advertising, Marketing, PR – All Funneled into Social Media. And thus – THE VOICE of the company, the authoritative voice whose heard above all else, should CERTAINLY, be using these platforms and making his/her presence felt to the public.

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For those of you, like myself, working in the dangerous intersection of PR Street & Social Media Boulevard (about a block from Media Relations Avenue), one of the most difficult issues with which we contend, on a daily basis, is the struggle to tackle our day’s worth of work while still keeping up-to-date on the latest and greatest industry goings-on. New websites & platforms, case studies & innovative campaigns, new social media tools and monitoring methods…not to mention the plethora of analysis and conjecture the erupts every day, as bloggers, journalists and media personalities speculate as to the possible direction social media is taking, debate the potential of a new social network, scrutinize an intriguing PR/Marketing campaign, or discuss the many ways in which social media and twitter has impacted our lives. And this is all in addition to staying on top of current events and the news cycle, the latest in health and medicine, politics, entertainment and the economy. It’s a grueling, harrowing, task – to keep up with everything.

To some, it’s TMI, but I would venture to guess, that if you’re in PR, Marketing, Advertising, or Social Media, you love it all and there aren’t enough hours in the day to read every interested article and post. You thrive on the information and you’re computer sits on the verge of death as tab after tab after tab opens in your browser, each offering a fresh perspective while pushing your computer closer and closer to crashing. TechCrunch and Mashable. Adage, Adfreak, BrandWeek, and eMarketer. Mediapost & MarketingProfs. Fast Company & ZDNet. Not to mention the infinite universe of professionals and practitioners that blog about their take and daily experiences – arguable of equal or greater value than those simply ‘reporting.’ It’s not TMI – There can never be Too Much Information – It’s more an issue of chaos. I want the info, just cleaner, simpler, easier.

That’s how it is for me, anyway, and apparently, for Sarah Evans, as well. Which is why we’re endeavoring to bring you the best, the edgiest, the most interesting, the most controversial and the most insightful, of these articles and blogs in a new e-recap, “Commentz.”

Commentz – the brainchild of the one and only Sarah Evans – will aim to remedy this overload, bring order to chaos, and structure to your unending desire to learn and know everything there is about the universe…well, about PR, anyway.

In Sarah’s words:

Information overload? I know how you feel. Everyday I scan headlines, check my RSS feeds and head over to see what my favorite bloggers are saying about PR and new media. I already share the majority of what I read via Twitter, but wanted a better way to publicly archive it. Sure, I could list all of the links in my blog each day and invite you to visit. But, it would be even better if I could do all of the work and send it directly to you.

Thus, Commentz was born.

It’s a daily, electronic recap of hot topics and blog posts most likely to generate lots of conversation (or comments).

With the help of David Teicher (@aerocles), we’re going to bring you the best of the best Monday through Friday. There’s no catch. Simply sign up, and get the information without the work.

If you’re a blogger who write about PR or new media, you can send your posts or site for consideration to prsarahevans@gmail.com.

The first edition of Commentz is set to launch Tuesday, August 18. Get signed up now!

So what are you waiting for? Subscribe already! And if you have any interesting articles or blog posts to share – well…tell us!

Today’s Top Posts and Articles – Everything Social Media, PR, Advertising, Marketing, Branding, Twitter, Internet, Media & TV.

If you have any other articles or posts you think should be on the list – email me or @/DM me on Twitter.

Enjoy:

Beer Sales Sputter During Key Fourth of July Holiday – AdAge

‘Family Guy’ abortion episode unlikely to air on Fox – Life Feed

Deloitte network melds expertise, social affinities – Ragan Report

Could this be the end of electric power cords? – Los Angeles Times

Facebook Makes Baby Steps Towards Its Twitter-Like ‘Follow’ Feature – TechCrunch

Three words every PR pro should ban – PR Daily

Lab Watches Web Surfers to See Which Ads Work – New York Times

AOL Webisodes Put Kids in Space – AdWeek

HOW TO: Build Your Personal Brand on LinkedIn – Mashable

CNN’s iReport Vandalized Again With False Report Claiming CEO’s Death, Coke Binge – Business Insider

It Doesn’t Matter if the Client is Ready for Social Media – PR Squared

Grifters defraud artists in twist on ‘Nigerian scam – Portland Press Herald

Facebook loses sizzle for Martha Stewart – CNET

5 More Things You Do To Get Business On Twitter – TwiTip

Top 10 Tasteless Ads – Time

NPR’s Digital Makeover: Can the mainstream media learn anything from National Public Radio’s new look and business plan? – Newsweek

You Know You Have a Communication Problem When… – Little Pink Book

Q&A: Probing the Amazon-Zappos Deal – BrandWeek

Social entrepreneur finds money-making power of Crowdsourcing – Chicago Tribune

Use Your iPhone to Track your Happiness – Fast Company

105 Twitter Applications for PR Professionals – Everything PR

Is ‘kick-ass’ appropriate for a press release? – AdFreak

Yahoo Refines Image Search to Trump Google – eWeek

Bing to Power Yahoo Search? – Mashable

Tappening project takes on the truthiness of bottled-water ads – BrandWeek

19 Guerrilla Social Media Marketing Secrets – Closing Bigger

The Future of Twitter – Time

Full Disclosure: Sponsored Conversations on Twitter Raise Concerns, Prompt Standards – PR 2.0

The 10 New Rules of PR – Jeff Bullas’s Blog

Tweetmeme accuses Retweet.com of stealing its code – TechCrunch UK

How to pitch USA Today’s bloggers – PR Daily

What Social Media Can and Can’t Do for You – Future Now

73 Ways to Become a Better Writer – Copy Blogger

LaunchSquad – Best Time To Be In PR – Silicon Vally Watcher

PayPal Case Study – Social Media Ignorance – Social Media Today

Time.com brings news to BlackBerry – CNET

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Media, in all its forms – new, old, traditional, print, digital, social, etc. – has evolved to the point where the lines once separating production and consumption, brands and their patrons, outlets and readership, are blurred, if not altogether obliterated. Of this, there is little doubt. But it raises a vast multitude questions that plague many of us who reside in this nebulous field that is Public Relations, Advertising, Marketing, Communication, Customer Service, and Social Media.

Question #1: Under Whose Aegis (of the aforementioned disciplines) Does The Realm Of Social Media Fall?

Marketers would argue…well, Marketing, for obvious reasons. To those outside the industry, and thus unfamiliar with its nuances, this is often the first inclination. Others might try to woo you to the side of Customer Service, winning you over with tales of happy customers who have had their problems solved upon textually screaming “Help! My PC Crashed,” unknowingly calling forth a veritable army of Dell’s finest minds who scour twitter in search of such opportunities. As a Publicist & Digital Strategist, I would have posited only weeks ago, and still might, that Social Media and platforms like Twitter & Facebook, should be run, or at the very least, curated and moderated, under the auspices of the Public Relations Department or Agency. Why PR? Because Public Relations is about defining and promoting a brand through said brand’s message, values, and principals. While traditional media was a one way vehicle, social media, by definition, is an open conversation. Public Relations professionals can, and do, continue to take that message and engage consumers and mass audiences, but now on the level of the individual or micro-community, as this degree of interactivity is presently expected of, though not necessarily delivered by, most brands. The popularity of blogging and platforms like Twitter, built on an ongoing public dialogue, allow publicists and digital strategist to identify, interject, and engage those who would be interested in learning about and associating with the brand’s values and core beliefs. Facilitating this discussion, in my opinion, should fall to those who have been doing so until now…publicists.

Question #2: Who Made The New York Times (or WSJ, CNN…) King?

That is to say, we live in an era characterized by the public’s ability and desire to produce and disseminate their own content, whether via Blogging, Tweeting, Facebook, YouTube, FriendFeed…etc. So, why do brands still rely on traditional media outlets to broadcast their message, insisting that these are the more powerful channels? Obviously, most reputable organizations have, at this point, begun reaching out to bloggers and utilizing social sites. In this light, a Daily News article begs the question “Will it matter who you watch anymore?”

My answer would be a resounding NO. In fact, for people and brands alike, I’d go so far as to pose a corollary that may be even more telling of our times, “Why should I watch them, when they should be watching me!?”

I recently attended GasPedal’s Blogwell Conference in Chelsea Piers, at which I was privy to the social media insights and experiments being conducted by some of today’s most recognized national brands, including, Microsoft, GE, Coke, Nokia, and Johnson & Johnson.

GE struck me as really having taken advantage of some of these sentiments, in the creation of their GEReports website, which acts as a hybrid between blog & media outlet. The site is designed to serve as an additional voice for GE and a portal for niche audiences to find relevant, interesting information – an innovative and seemingly effective way to employ social media and capitalize on the public’s unwavering desire to be heard and have their specific interests catered to. Yes – I ended a sentence in a preposition…deal with it.

After fighting my way through the crowd, I was able to catch GE’s Communications & Social Media Specialist, Megan Parker who kindly informed me that one of the foci of the site, and the primary basis for both content and measuring success, were the comments posted by their readership…and I thought “Brilliant.”

I pondered the connection between these questions and concepts for a while, implicitly understanding a significant relationship existed between them, but unable to articulate it, even to myself. That is, until I came across a series of blog posts rallying the PR industry to step up and embrace the evolving landscape of media. Almost simultaneously, though perhaps not coincidently, I stumbled onto a twitter conversation about “People Relations.”

Ari Herzog directed me to a post by David Mullen in which he coins the term (as far as I understand it) People Relations, resultant of a discussion with Shannon Paul. The post, The “P” in PR Should Stand for “People” is an enlightening one and hits on some very interesting and very true points about today’s society.

As Mr. Mullen eloquently puts it,

Shannon Paul suggested that integrating social media into communications strategies was putting the “P” back in PR, renewing a focus on public instead of media. I agree with Shannon a bit, but wanted to up the ante.

Shouldn’t the “P” stand for People? My wife and I aren’t a public. We’re people. I’m willing to bet you’d say you’re people, too.

Yes, I know that “public” refers to groups of people, but that still feels a bit cold to me. This is more about changing our mindset, for those of us who need it. People expect more personal relationships and one-to-one conversations. People want to share their dreams and fears. People want to be heard. People want connections.”

I say, we take this one step further. These once disparate, yet intimately intertwined and overlapping, arenas of PR, Communication, Customer Service, Advertising, Marketing and Social Media, are now coalescing and ‘People Relations’ is the resulting amalgamation. A new industry is developing, borne of necessity & experimentation; Social Media agencies, in order to actualize their eponymous mission, must become People Relations agencies, and they must draw lessons from their predecessors in order to succeed.

The New York Times & CNN are no longer the kings of content and the importance of blogger relations, so recently the epitome of successful digital marketing, is now losing meaning (though not value), as everyone’s voice becomes equally valid. I don’t need to be an avid or established blogger to tweet a scathing, 140 character, early adopter’s review of some new tech gadget that can result in the same damage as a comprehansive, half page analysis David Pogue might give the same product in the New York Times a month later. As soon as I have an opinion on anything, I have a plethora of media vehicles – textual, graphical, audio/visual, even musical – at my disposal by which to express myself.

One does not need to be a veteran video journalist to capture groundbreaking events on a phone and upload it to YouTube (or snap a shot of a plane in the Hudson River and ‘twitpic’ it before major news outlets are aware of what’s (not) flying. Not to mention the ever growing mass of new media celebrities such as lifecaster, Jill Hanner, comedian/musicians Rhett & Link, and the TMI group, whose show was recently picked up by an NBC outlet, all of whom must have ventured to, at some point, ask themselves, whether implicitly or explicitly, “Why rely on Big Media to broadcast our content when we have the means to do so ourselves?”

People Relations means catering to each and every individual – it means that marketers, publicists, customer relations specialists, and advertisers must understand – The single person is no longer a small fish; individual voices rival, or have the potential to rival, even the largest, most authoritative of the old media outfits. This is why & how brands should employ twitter. Not by barraging innocent followers with an endless stream of promotions and marketing propaganda; nor should they limit themselves to mere customer service. They must learn to treat each and every individual, to the extent that it’s feasible and cost effective, as if they were the editors of the Wall Street Journal, the way tech start-ups have come to treat TechCruch’s Michael Arrington.

The sense of entitlement associated with today’s youth and adolescents will only grow with each new generation. Publishing giants will flail and fall, and eventually fail. And while the rest of us wax nostalgic, this ever-growing legion of young producers will simply proclaim “New York Times? I AM the New York Times.”

Please…Feel Free To Share Your Thoughts & Share This Article!

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1. A Prerequisite When Hiring New Talent -Basic Knowledge of HTML & Web Design

Right now, the realm of social media is up for grabs. Marketing and advertising agencies are vying for the rights and for PR to remain in the game, publicists need to do more than develop the ‘creative’ behind digital campaigns. Whether it’s simple HTML coding for helping build out a clients blog, or fully developing website widgets and mobile and Facebook apps, having knowledgeable developers and programmers on staff is essential on claiming the social media territory in the name of PR and wresting the burgeoning landscape from the hands of competing industries.

2. PICK UP THE PHONE (But Don’t Leave a Voice Mail)

The media is shrinking and, as an unavoidable and unfortunately consequence, journalists, sadly, are being laid off in droves. This means fewer reporters covering a greater quantity of topics and beats and receiving more emails and pitches than ever, making it all the more difficult to get noticed/be heard. Thus, placing clients in top tier outlets has become as hypercompetitive as the job market itself – Catching the receptive ear of a friendly journalist, never an easy task, has become a more difficult feat that it was only a year ago. The easiest way around that – PICK UP THE PHONE. That doesn’t mean barrage the media with a never ending stream of emails, follow-up calls, and voice mail. But if you target your reporters and outlets well and understand the deadlines and time constrains of their daily routine, a well place phone call can go a long way. And it seems a lot of PR Pros…myself included…have forgotten this once-popular means of communication in light of the ease of email.

3. Predict & Preact!

Read & React, the old M.O., worked pretty well for a while. Now, however, reactive methods are obsolete as headlines fly in and out of the public’s attention so quickly, by the time you read an article in a mainstream media outlet or see it covered in the news, get your client’s perspective on the issue, and start pitching it, the story is long dead and the masses have shifted their interests to a dozen other fleeting topics. The key is to identify trends and popular stories before they hit the airwaves and papers. A few years ago, one could argue that this is easier said than done, requiring psychic powers. I’d posit that now, with the advent and growing popularity of twitter and news aggregators like digg, spotting the trending topics is easier than ever. If a publicist is good at his/her job, Predictive and Proactive pitching is not only possible, but crucial. If you are familiar with an outlet or a journalist’s goals and interests and with what issues (or gadgets, or causes, etc…) the masses are currently consumed with, this should come naturally. You should be looking for tomorrow’s headlines, not today’s.

This preemptive and instantaneous approach isn’t just essential for publicists to understand, it’s also vital that clients are fully aware of the immediacy and urgency entailed in effectively capitalizing on current, or soon-to-be current, events. A publicist’s best efforts are only as successful as the client will allow. Ensuring that your client ‘gets’ the need for a timely response will allow you to capitalize when you do spot that topic that fits perfectly into his/her area of expertise and is about to break out of the niche into the mainstream.

4. Corporate Blogging/Social Networking Policy

Many PR Pros & employees already are, and should be, utilizing social media in their daily activities. However, when it comes to blogging and engaging the public on open platforms, speaking as the voice of an agency or on behalf of a client can be dangerous, despite all the potential benefits. Thus, policies, procedure and protocol for such engagement are necessary to ensure that both the firm and its clients are accurately represented.

5. Training ALL Employees in Basics of Social Media

Again, if you or your employees aren’t targeting your outreach to bloggers, micro-communities, and the appropriate niche audiences found online, you are missing out on reaching a vast population that want to hear your (client’s) message. Most likely, this isn’t due to apathy or laziness, rather a lack of understanding. The world of social media is evolving so rapidly, it’s difficult for even the youngest and brightest to keep up. Routine training and briefings updating employees on the latest and greatest social and online media is a must.

A Note

As Always…I’m Looking Forward To Your Thoughts & Feedback. Agree with me, Argue with Me, Either Way – The Value of Any Blog, Mine Included, is dependant on the thoughts of its readership and the quality of the commentary…So Please: Share your insights on the matter – How do you think PR Firms & Publicists should Adapt? Can We? Am I Wrong? Is PR Destined for Obsolescence? Is Social Media Fated to fall under the auspices of Marketers and Advertisers? You Tell Me!

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Also, My Boss, Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5W Public Relations has put up a new video on this very topic. You can see it, below (it’s short). You can also subscribe to the 5WPR Youtube Channel Here. Enjoy!

In Keeping With Tradition – Here Are My Recommended Posts & Articles for This Week (So Far). Enjoy! And Feel Free To Suggest Others in the Comments!

The Most Interesting Man in the World: How to Blend Traditional, Online and Social Media Tactics Into One Cohesive Campaign (Identity PR)

Avoid Twitter Disasters (PC Mag)

The Day Facebook Changed Forever: Messages to Become Public By Default (Read Write Web)

Dear People Who Game Twitter For Followers: It’s Over (Tremendous News)

Did Habitat Use Iran Conflict to Attract Twitterers? (AdAge)

Tim Burton’s Beautiful Reboot of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ (Fast Company)

Blogging: the long and short of it (Guardian)

10 Twitter Best Practices for Brands (Mashable)

Chris Anderson, Elizabeth Hasselbeck Both Accused of Plagiarism (BNET)

Retweeting: ‘Followers’ look to ‘leaders’ as social networks grow (CNN)

5 tips for brand marketing on Twitter (Freshbooks)

A Shameless Defense of Journalism (New York Times)

When Does a Social Media Policy Go Too Far? Ask the Associated Press (Mashable)

The Best Kept Secret of Facebook Fan Pages (Social Media Today)

Social Media Advertising: Does It Work… or Doesn’t It? (Marketing Profs)

Is augmented reality a mobile killer app? (eConsultancy)

When Consumers Help, Ads Are Free (New York Times)

Web TV You’ll Need to Pay to See: Time Warner, Comcast Roll Out “Authentication.” Who Else Is In? (All Things Digital)

Facebook movie pinning down director, cast (CNET)

Arrested Development Movie – Examiner.com

What Bing, Twitter, and Facebook Mean for SEO (WebProNews)

Wired editor mired in controversy over parallels between book and Wikipedia (Guardian)

Dear Fast Feeders, Please Keep Your Meat Away From the Ladies (AdAge) [2 Girls 1 Sub All Over Again!]

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By Debra Yemenijian

Marketers need not be baseball savants to recognize the expression, “If you build it, they will come.” For the past 20 years, executives in board rooms across America have proposed countless ventures by utilizing this maxim, which originally emanated from Ray Kinsella’s cornfield in “Field of Dreams.”

The success of a company’s marketing enterprises is only as great as the number of prospects that see them. This is especially true for the corporate blog, notably one of the most challenging marketing ventures for which to attract an audience.

Blogging is a challenge that companies are not handling well, according to a 2008 Forrester Research report. The study, which reviewed 90 business-to-business (B2B) blogs, determined that most blogs are uninspiring, and almost three-quarters of them don’t receive comments because they don’t engage readers. Further, more than 70 percent of B2B bloggers do not imbue any personal insight or experience in what they write.

Those are only the first three strikes against corporate blogs. Fortunately, with the expertise of an outside B2B marketing agency, blogs can hit a homerun.

While a business shouldn’t entirely outsource its blog to an agency, a company can rely on its outside marketing team to play a vital part in developing and maintaining the blog. From strategy and competitive research to feeding content and monitoring results, an agency can recommend the right elements to keep a company’s blog in line with its brand.

Stepping up to the plate

Undoubtedly, blogging is a great means for building a corporate brand online. Devising a format and design for the blog is the first step. Any marketing agency worth its weight in salt will coach business executives to ensure the blog’s design doesn’t depart from the company’s corporate identity and make certain that the blog’s name resonates with the core business, products and services.

With so much free and low-cost blog software and hosting sites available, it’s no wonder B2B blogging is more widespread than it was 10 years ago. But while those pre-existing sites may be easy on the corporate bottom line, they come at the cost of control and design limitations. Companies should not cut corners on blog design if it prevents the blog from reflecting corporate identity or readers from easily navigating the site.

Connecting a blog to the company Web site is a sure way to keep the look and feel of the brand in check. This should not just be a hyperlink to a blog hosted on an outside platform. Marketing experts can recommend a blog platform such as WordPress or TypePad that will allow a company to host its blog alongside its corporate Web site.

The marketing team can customize the page design beyond what the pre-set software templates allow. Tag clouds, about us pages and library archives are just a few custom features an agency can design and create for the blog.

Taking a swing

Creating content that meets the needs of a company’s target market is the next step. Each B2B blog is a venue for showcasing a company’s unique expertise in its industry niche. Blogging builds corporate and personal credibility, positioning a company as having few credible substitutes in the marketplace. Blogs also provide a glimpse of what it may be like to work with a company, which helps reduce perceived risk in the minds of prospective buyers.

At first, breathing life into a blog requires little more than jotting down observations about company life and product innovations, and responding to what’s happening in the marketplace. But that’s not always easy. Busy executives will say that they barely have time to answer e-mails, let alone trawl the Internet for what customers and competitors have to say. The advantage of having an agency dedicated to blog management is that it can aid in reading outside blogs and following trends to provide B2B bloggers with palatable topics.

The agency also can help the company get into the practice of blog-rolling, or creating a list of other valuable Web sites and blogs that relate to the industry. When combined with fresh content, blog-rolling encourages communication between multiple sites. When bloggers ruminate about what others have to say and link back to them, it helps make a bigger splash in the blogosphere.

ERA: Earned Reader Average

Top-notch blogging — the kind that keeps readers coming back — should not just spew marketing jargon. Further, each blogger must present a fresh perspective and not rehash what others in the blogosphere have written. The more compelling and relevant the content, the more likely it is that the blog will support the corporate branding effort.

The Forrester report indicated that more than half of corporate blogs repurpose company news rather than provide thought leadership by company experts who can share their knowledge on a particular topic. Unfortunately, if the blog content isn’t original, no one will care. Nothing will make a reader remove a blog from his or her RSS feed faster than a blog that hasn’t been updated in months.

People who read blogs look to them as a form of daily information, and that means customers and prospects will perceive the blog as a source of industry knowledge. This does not mean the blog requires a daily update; posting at least three entries each week is a good start. Plus, it gives the opportunity to explore different topics and weed out subjects of less interest to readers.

Blogging about relevant topics is paramount to capturing a reader’s attention. In a 2008 article in Slate, Michael Agger had this to say about how people read online: “You, my dear user, pluck the low-hanging fruit. When you arrive on a page, you don’t actually deign to read it. You scan. If you don’t see what you need, you’re gone.”

So, each blog post should be packaged in a way that grabs readers and entices them to read more. (See sidebar.)

The marketing agency can keep track of which entries receive the most attention and direct corporate bloggers to focus on those topics. Along those same lines, the agency can monitor the amount and quality of traffic the blog receives. If Web hits are down, bloggers can vary their subjects to boost interest. They just need to watch out that they don’t stray too far from their expertise or industry niche.

It’s also important to encourage readers to interact with the blog by leaving it open to comments. Leaving the commenting function turned on allows readers to engage in conversation, which is one of the key reasons for creating a business blog. For those worried about collecting spam, the marketing team can help manage comments separate the credible messages from junk messages if the problem arises. Also, blog software can be set to hold comments for review, which further prevents spam messages from appearing online in real-time.

That’s the game

Successful business blogging is not a one player game. The company team should remember to stay focused because the industry isn’t seeking generalities about the marketplace. At the same time, they need to keep an ear to the ground to discover what their blog audience wants to hear.

There is a wealth of information available to customers and prospects online. With the coaching of a knowledgeable marketing team, companies can draw readers to their little corner of the Internet.

So, if you build it, they will come. Just be sure to give visitors what they came to see.

Debra Yemenijian is a public relations executive at Schubert Communications Inc., a full-service business-to-business marketing communications agency in Downingtown, Pa.

SIDEBAR

Homerun Headlines

Eye-catching headlines aren’t just for newspapers anymore. Because Web site visitors have short attention spans, a great title should make someone stop to read a blog. Here are some suggestions to hook readers.

  • How-to: Prospects will want to know for what applications a product is used, and returning customers may be looking for other uses. Draw readers in by telling them in the title that you’ll show them how it’s done.
  • Benefits, benefits, benefits: Any marketer worth his or her weight in salt knows the key to success is showing the benefits or a product or service up front. Corporate blogs can use benefit-driven headlines to attract prospects by determining the most compelling product benefit and using it here.
  • Now we’re curious: Thought-provoking titles are more likely to get readers to click through to the blog than those that state the obvious.
  • Ask a question: Often, posing a question will prompt a reader to answer it in his or her head and then continue reading to see what the blogger has to say.
  • Why ask why?: While clicking through the Web quickly, readers may only stop to read a blog if there’s something in it for them. A headline can simply answer the question, “What’s in it for me?” and get a prospect to engage in blog content.

PULLOUT BOX

Top ways a B2B marketing agency can support corporate blogs

  • Design, name and launch the corporate blog.
  • Work with executives to designate one or more employees as bloggers who will contribute regularly.
  • Educate bloggers about best practices for blogging.
  • Keep abreast of industry trends and provide bloggers with food for thought.
  • Consult on ways to increase blog traffic and search engine optimization.
  • Retain administrative rights and handle deleting spam.

Calling All Bloggers. We All Have Blog Rolls Suggesting Our Counterparts to our Readership. It’s Time to Evolve the Practice – We’re all on Twitter, so Why Not Start A TwittRoll. I’ve Got One! I’d Encourage You To Do The Same. Suggest People On Twitter to Follow…Yes, Kinda Like #FollowFriday, Except this Would Be A Permanent Staple on your Blog. Spread the Word – #TWITTROLL