September 2, 2014

How to Restart a Blog When You’ve Been on Hiatus for Three Years

Posted by: of Stephan on 05/14/13

I left my blog dormant for a few years, but I’m finally back in the saddle! I drafted up a post entitled “How to Restart a Blog When You’ve Been on Hiatus for Three Years” because it seemed fitting. Here are my main points to get you started:

1. Jump in and write something. No apologies. Or a lengthy explanation or justification for being off the grid.

2. Get some tools or processes in place that will make it as painless as possible to post. Like Dragon – which incidentally is available as an iPhone/iPad app.

3. Hire a virtual assistant if that will help you. (More on using VA’s in a future post).

4. Roll out a site redesign at the same time to let everybody know you’re reengaged and committed.

5. Don’t try to get all your readers all caught up on your life all in one post. You’ve got plenty of fodder for many blog posts – so save it for later.

6. Finally, silence the perfectionist in you. I have this bad habit of pouring over my blog posts – my articles even more so – trying to make them perfect. I put a dozen hours or more into articles on search engine land. That’s crazy. That’s not good use of your time. Much better to freeze all those great ideas and insights stuck in your head – share them with the world. It’s okay if the sentence structure isn’t always on the mark. It’s a blog post for Pete’s sake.

RSS – Made Simple

Posted by: of Diva Marketing Blog on 03/31/06

I am not a techie, affectionately know to many as a geek. I don’t know how to code. I can barely get Technorati tags to work. I am simply a marketer who loves this new media 2.0 technology because of what it can do: increase awareness, further reach, build relationships, tell the story my way. In other words for the end results.

One of the techniques that I believe will impact new media word of mouth buzz is RSS – Real Simple Syndication. However, I often find it’s not so simple to explain. If you can’t help people get it .. they’re obviously not going to use it.
Deb Franke, e-Marketing Manager at Emerson Process Management faced the same challenge when she wanted to bring blogs and RSS to the company’s emarketing efforts. Deb knew that the RSS adoption rates were low and needed a to find a way to increase those numbers. She told me that her team created an RSS Starter Kit as a way to help customers with the learning curve. By the way count EPM as the newest F100 blog.

“We hope to help the entire process manufacturing community see the value that we see with RSS and be able to immediately work smarter and faster because we believe RSS can short-cut the learning process. We hope one of the ways they use RSS is to more easily fnd the experts around Emerson who can help address some of the challenges they face on a daily basis.”

EPM is making their RSS Starter Kit available to all. The kit includes a how-to subscribe-to an RSS reader video along with all the who-what-whys of RSS. You may have a different favorite reader but the video does show the process of how easy it is to get started and provides clear answers to the basic who-what-why questions.
If you really want to jazz up a news aggregator and use it as a marketing tool – BuzzHop will create a branded reader with the elements of your logo.

Diva Markeing has examples of companies using RSS as a website strategy.

Can You Ever *Stop* Blogging? A-list bloggers Dave Winer and David Allen on Retiring From the Blogosphere…

Posted by: of BlogWrite for CEOs on 03/31/06

It was bound to happen. An A-list blogger or two decides to throw in the towel. Enough blogging is, er, enough. But why? Read on…

Two well-respected bloggers have announced their retirement recently. One is the irascible Dave Winer, creator of the RSS format and a blogger for almost a decade:

On March 13th he wrote in Scripting News:

I can do it, folks, I have already, in some sense, stopped one of my rivers, and soon, probably before the end of 2006, I will put this site in mothballs, in archive mode, and go on to other things, Murphy-willing of course…

Note his “I can do it” assertion, as if he’s already hearing the “No, you can’t!” chorus that did, in fact, spring up from the bloggerati upon his announcement.

Another is David Allen, best-selling author of Getting Things Done. On March 15th he wrote: I’m halting my personal blog for now…

‘Twas a noble experiment, 270 Entries and 1,529 Comments later, and it was great for me to experience this medium from the inside out, in my limited way. I’d probably continue it in some form, if I didn’t have a multitude of other things to do that are taking priority…

Get the inside story of how and why these two A-listers decided to retire from the blogosphere. They cite the time factor and re-ordering priorities as the main reasons. And one talks about wanting more “privacy.

More…

Newest Entrant to Pro Blogging Game: DealBreaker.com

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 03/31/06

For those watching the world of blog publishing ventures, the latest one to watch launched this week, DealBreaker.com. This is first in what promises to be a series of blog sites, a la Gawker Media. And speaking of Gawker, what’s most exciting about DealBreaker, an invective gossip blog about Wall St. and high finance, is that it heralds the return to the blogosphere (in a real way) of the first true It Girl of blogging, Elizabeth Spiers, Gawker.com’s original editor.

The new blog’s introductory post promises:

[H]ere’s what you will find: posts about the precise size of the guitar collection on Paul Allen’s yacht spaceship, posts about the disparity between what Aswath Damodaran thinks is the dark side of valuation and what we think is the dark side of valuation (hint: high-quality cocaine), banker body counts (thank you, John Mack), interviews with people about how much money they make and whether they sometimes buy things just so they can throw them away, sightings of Eliot Spitzer, pitchbook origami, fun with league tables, and so on. And occasionally we’ll break news or do something that’s otherwise useful. Which will be entirely an accident. We apologize in advance.

Just out of beta, the site already appears to have legit ads from the likes of Universal Studios, CFO.com and others.

During her run as editor of Gawker, it would be fair to say that Spiers was overexposed as a media darling postergirl for blog hype. But it was all well deserved, as her genius for short-form snark remains virtually unmatched in the blogosphere before or since. (Full disclosure: she and I are good friends, and I’m secretly in love with her. Oops, too much disclosure…)

After Gawker, she went on to join the staff of New York Magazine, writing for the print magazine and its short-lived blog The Kicker. From there, she ran the editorial department of the journalism resources site MediaBisto for a year or so, including launching a suite of media-watching blogs there. Both jobs honed her journalism and management chops, I’m sure, but they didn’t showcase her preternatural blogging talents to their fullest. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that DealBreaker matches the brilliance of her original (and my favorite) blog, Capital Influx, which, like DealBreaker, obsessed a lot on Wall Street misdeeds (as well as Christopher Hitches, Jonathan Franzen and some other pet interests). Or at least I hope it gives Gawker a run for its money in the industry-niche gossip rags sector.

Investment partners with Spiers in the new ventures (which has a yet-to-be-announced publishing company name) are Justin Smith, president of The Week Magazine, and Carter Burden, CEO of web hosting company Logicworks. Spiers is also at work on a novel And They All Die in the End, a satire about the world of Wall Street, to be published by Riverhead (Penguin) in 2007.

Happy Birthday BusinessBlogConsulting.com

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 03/30/06

I just realized this site recently passed its second anniversary (born sometime in March 2004). Hooray for us!

PR Case Study: How Not to Email a Blogger

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 03/30/06

[Skip to NEW UPDATE]

You want me to write about your stupid company, Greg? Okay, here you go. (Let this be a lesson to the rest of you!)

From: gregs@[mystupidcompany].com
To: Rick Bruner
Date: 30 Mar 2006 15:02:28 -0500
Subject: [mystupidcompany].COM = Restaurant Finder

Well here is my question………I need to get my name out there…I read your Blog it is about websites which is what [mystupidcompany].COM is. I need people that are internet savy to look at my site.

Do your readers eat out? If the answer is yes then why not right a small blurb about [mystupidcompany].com

Let me know how to aproach guys like you in the future…….so that I can better prepare myself.

Thank you for the guidence, also let me know what to put in the title.

Have a great day

Greg

—–Original Message—–
From: Rick Bruner
Sent: Thu, 30 March 2006 19:12:01
To: gregs@[mystupidcompany].com
Subject: Re: *****PLEASE READ****

Not that I want to get into a big thing over this, but you don’t know me, your business has nothing to do with anything I write about, and your subject line is obnoxious. I realize you’re not harvesting addresses and sending out a million emails in a batch, but anyway it’s not what I would call best-practice PR.

On 30 Mar 2006 12:26:57 -0500, gregs@[mystupidcompany].com wrote:
>
> I was not spaming I was asking………….thank you for your time.
>
> Have a great day
>
> Greg S********
>
> By the way I thought it was cool how you give people your email
>
> Rickbruner at gmail dot com
>
> Genious if it is okay with you I will strat doing thesame thing.
>
> Again sory to bother you have a great day
>
> greg
>
> —–Original Message—–
> From: Rick Bruner
> Sent: Thu, 30 March 2006 16:48:01
> To: gregs@[mystupidcompany].com
> Subject: Re: *****PLEASE READ****
>
> No, I won’t, as this has nothing to do with anything I write about,
> and you should have more creative ways of getting PR than spam.
>
> On 30 Mar 2006 11:43:35 -0500, gregs@[mystupidcompany].com wrote:
>
> > Hello Rick my name is Greg S******** was wondering if you would be able to write about [MYSTUPIDCOMPANY].COM
> >
> > http://www.[redacted-url].com/subscribe/
> > http://www.[another-redacted-url].com/article.php?id_articol=134
> >
> > We are going through first round of funding starting June 15.
> >
> > Thank you so much
> > Have a great day
> >
> > Greg S*****
> > 847 – ### – ####
> >
>

You have a great day, too! And do me a favor and lose my email address.

UPDATE:
I just couldn’t leave well enough alone and had to check my email trash folder (I had set up a filter on Greg’s email to auto delete any further emails, but something told me he was going to write again…)

See that the problem with guys like you………you spend time writing something what you wrote……….if you would of wrote something nice I would of given you 100,000 shares of my company.

But you waste your time………doing what you did………………

Have a great day

Greg

—–Original Message—–
From: Rick Bruner
Sent: Thu, 30 March 2006 20:11:21
To: gregs@[mystupidcompany].com
Subject: Re: [MYSTUPIDCOMPANY].COM = Restaurant Finder

http://www.businessblogconsulting.com/2006/03/pr-case-study-how-not-to-email-a-blogger.html

I’ll be blocking your email address now, so please just move on with your life.

All the best,

Rick

I swear I’m not making this shit up!

PS: If anyone wants to take Greg up on his offer for 100,000 shares of his stupid company for a blog post, paypal me $1 at rickbruner at gmail dot com and I’ll send you the name of his firm.

PPS: I think I accidentally saved this post to draft form last night (still getting the hang of WordPress), so sorry it disappeared for 10 hours.

Why Google is still far better than MSN Search

You know what “ego surfing” is, right? It’s when you look for references to yourself on various Web sites, in search engines, etc. What caught my attention today in this regard is that doing a wee bit of ego surfing on both MSN Search and Google really highlights to me the fundamental difference between the two search engines and shows why Google is still the clear market leader in this space.

Wait, don’t run away yet. The issue isn’t the search results, but rather the ability of the search engine to intelligently target advertising on the results page. If you do a random search, which site produces the best, most relevant, most contextually useful advertising and “sponsored links” for you?

I content – and demonstrate – that in this one instance, at least, Google far outshines MSN, with two out of the three matching adverts being very good matches, while MSN has a far worse result, with only two of its seven ads even remotely relevant for the search.

You can read more and see the specific advertisements here: Google still beats MSN on ad targeting.

Blog Search Engine Optimization Article

Recently I wrote a post on optimizing your TypePad blog titles for the search engines. Today I read a well-documented article called Search Engine Optimization for Blogs by Bill Hartzer.

In it he discusses techniques to use if WordPress or Movable Type is your platform of choice. He also has some good information on promoting your blog. (Although, how he forgot Stephan Spencer’s fantastic collection of WordPress plug-ins I’ll never know!)
If you’re using your blog as a lead-generation tool be sure to check this article out.

Business Blog Seminar: PowerPoint Handouts

How to Plan, Build and Promote a Business Blog - PowerPoint Cover

Click image for free report

Last Friday I spoke at the annual conference for NAPO: The National Association of Professional Organizers, on the topic of “How to Plan, Build and Promote a Business Blog.”Since this is a constantly evolving seminar for me, there were significant changes from what I submitted in January and what I presented in March. I posted the handouts to my Web site for any attendees who wanted to download them.

I then decided to open that up to anyone who wanted to download and review the handouts. The target audience for the seminar is entrepreneurs and small business owners, but there’s a lot of information in there for anyone.

The download is free, but an email registration is required. (1MB, PDF.)

Favorite Firefox Extensions

Since my list of WordPress plugins was so well-received, I’ve got another list to share. This time it’s my favorite Firefox extensions…

  • Tab Mix Plus – saves your tabs and windows and will restore them if you quit out of your browser or it crashes, allows you to undo the closing of a tab, and lots more
  • Performancing for Firefox – a blog editor for your WordPress, Movable Type, or Blogger blog that features integration with del.icio.us and Technorati, spellchecking, etc.
  • All-in-One Gestures – execute commands by making certain movements with your mouse without having to use the keyboard, menus or toolbars — like going back a page, closing a tab, etc.
  • User Agent Switcher – masquerade as Googlebot, Yahoo Slurp, or msnbot etc. to see if a site is doing bot detection
  • Web Developer – tool for doing CSS coding, building web forms, etc.
  • Google Toolbar for Firefox – Get query suggestions as you type into the search box, view PageRank scores, etc. Check out my screencast on installing, configuring and using the Google Toolbar.
  • SEO-Links – hover over a link and it displays link popularity and rankings for the anchor text from Google, Yahoo and MSN Search. I’ve got a screencast on using SEO-Links too.
  • Copy Plain Text – copy-and-paste from a web page into Microsoft Word so that the formatting isn’t carried over
  • ChatZilla – IRC (Internet Relay Chat) client
  • Sage – RSS feed reader
  • ViewSourceWith – view the page’s HTML source using an external editor (WordPad, BBEdit, etc.)
  • ShowIP – displays the IP address of the web server in the bottom right corner
  • StumbleUpon – get recommendations of related pages to check out from friends and like–minded individuals
  • Search engines for the Search Bar – add your own favorite search engines to the search box in the top right, such as: MSN Search, Wikipedia, LinkedIn, Technorati, Creative Commons, etc.

Here’s a tip that isn’t quite an extension, but over time it’s a huge time-saver. And it works in IE too.

  • When you want to type in a URL into the address bar, you can leave off the the www. in front and the .com at the end, because, by hitting Ctrl Enter, the browser will automatically add the www. and the .com to the address for you!

This isn’t meant to be a comprehensive list of useful Firefox extensions. Check out the new FirefoxFacts ebook for a bigger list of recommended extensions and tips for Firefox. And if there’s an extension you feel should be added to the above list of favorites, please leave me a comment!

New CEO Blog Delights the Ducatisti

Posted by: of Thinking Home Business on 03/22/06

Ducati Monster bikeWhen I started riding motor bikes some years ago, for commuting and occasional touring, I was made aware by other riders that Ducati owners were a special breed of enthusiasts. And the machines themselves were clearly serious racing bikes, which I usually saw disappearing very quickly out in front of wherever I was.

I don’t know how many Ducati owners are blogging just now, but my hunch is that the number is about to rise with the news that Federico Minoli, the corporate turnaround man who took the reins at the Italian company some nine years ago, is one of the newest CEO bloggers on the block. Two weeks ago, Minoli and his company launched Desmoblog. The company announced at the time that the blog would tell what is happening at Ducati and in the world of its fans, as well as decisions about new products, Ducati events, business strategies, ‘behind the scenes’ news from the race track and more.

In his welcome to the blog, Minoli says:

This new space online gives me a new way to communicate with colleagues, fans and bikers about my life, my experience with Ducati, the company, the motorcycles and of course Ducati Corse (link added).

The blog and the company website design are seamlessly integrated, and the Desmoblog is bi-lingual, in English as well as Italian.

The announcement of the blog on the Ducati website presents the blog as providing for a dialogue directly between blogger and readers and offers the opportunity of sharing ‘the fever for Ducati’, receiving frank comments from fans and replying directly.

Podcasts are also foreshadowed.

The many comments on the Desmoblog site in just two weeks, some in English, some in Italian, suggest that the ‘Ducatisti’ tribe has taken up the challenge with gusto, as for example in the comments on Minoli’s After the race March 11 post from Daytona. 

I acknowledge Diego Rodriguez’s well-named metacool blog for the link and for interesting comments on the Desmoblog and its role in Ducati’s “tribal marketing” strategy.

WordPress.com Is Not WordPress.org

Posted by: of AndyWibbels.com on 03/21/06

Summary: WordPress.com offers free, instant blogging but lacks the full features of the WordPress platform.

A lot of clients are asking me about WordPress and how it stacks up to other blogging platforms like Blogger or Typepad. Only problem is: There are two types of WordPress: WordPress.org and WordPress.com.

If you go to WordPress.org you’ll see the site for the WordPress blogging platform. WordPress is an open source software project. Open source software is developed by a global community of programmers – anyone can contribute to an open source software project.  Further, open source software is free to download, free to install and free to tweak as you see fit (there’s a lot more to open source than that, though). WordPress.org is for information about software – the blogging platform called WordPress.

WordPress.com is a hosted version of the WordPress platform. WordPress.com, like Blogger, offers anybody not just the software to manage their blog, but also the server space to host it. WordPress.com uses a slightly scaled down version of the WordPress platform – a version called WordPress MU, intended for multi-user sites with up to thousands of blogs. WordPress.com is intended to give interested bloggers a place to get started, the software to blog, the space to host and a flavor for the full-scale WordPress software that they could install on their own servers if they so choose.

WordPress.com is an instant solution much like Blogger. There’s no installation and no fees to pay – you simply sign up and start blogging. But WordPress.com lacks the full features of a blogging platform that you’ve had installed on your own server for full control over the functionality and look and feel of your blog. Plus, WordPress.com does not offer domain mapping yet so your WordPress.com blog’s URL is always going to look like something.wordpress.com.

WordPress.org is where you go to download the full-scale WordPress blogging platform that you install on your own web server for full control and functionality. To complicate things further, many webhosts offer 1-Click Install of WordPress so you don’t have to go through too much geeky rigamarole.

In retrospect perhaps they should have called WordPress.com WordPress Lite to help differentiate it. It can be a bit confusing. Usually folks call WordPress.org simply WordPress and then differentiate when they are referring to WordPress.com.

Blogger PR

Posted by: of Online Marketing Blog on 03/20/06

Using blogs for public relations is new territory for most traditional PR practitioners. I recently engaged in a Q/A about blogs and RSS with a PR agency specialist that I thought would be interesting to post here. If you’ve been in the business of blogging for any length of time, you’ll see how telling the questions are as to the perception of RSS/blogs and how much room there is for clarification and education.

What are the most popular news feeds to subscribe to?

The beauty of RSS is that there are so many niche, quality sources. However, the most popular feeds overall may not be the best for any one individual. In other words, it depends on the interests of the user. In terms of overall popularity, here are several lists of popular blogs/feeds:

You can also find feeds using one of the many blog search engines such as: Technorati, Google Blog Search, Feedster or Gada.be.

If a journalist is using an aggregator, which news feeds does it draw from?

Most feed aggregators offer pre-selected feeds to general news sources, but you can add feeds directly from blogs of interest. When you visit a blog, there are often subscription buttons for the various feed readers and aggregators. Clicking on one will subscribe you to that feed. You can also subscribe to feeds from other sources such as search results from Yahoo News, MSN search results or social bookmark sites like del.icio.us.

How can a PR firm submit news to RSS feeds?

When an entry is made to a blog, it automatically places that information to a web page and also as a post to a corresponding RSS feed. It’s possible to create a feed manually using software if a blog is not desired.

Other opportunities to get your news out via RSS include making sure your blog software is configured so that each time a post is made, a “ping� is sent out the the major blog and RSS search engines to notify them you’ve made an update.

If a blogger picks up your release then it will be included in the RSS feed of that blog and all of it’s subscribers. You can also promote a blog through the major blog directories.

Wire services such as PRWeb will automatically offer a form of your press release as part of an RSS feed which can be pinged to RSS search engines.

If your press releases are archived and managed with a blog, then readers (including journalists) can subscribe to the corresponding RSS feed. Increasingly, journalists are prone to pulling news ideas and sources in, rather than relying on the deluge of press releases being pushed to them via email. Making sure the press release RSS feed is added to the main company site in an auto discovery tag enables visitors using a RSS-friendly browser to subscribe without having to navigate to that part of the site with their browser.

Is there any way to find out which news feeds journalists are using (without asking them)?

Sort of. You can gain some insight by visiting journalists blogs and seeing who is listed in their blogroll – which is a list of links to other blogs that they like.

Also, you can see if they have a del.icio.us account. If you could see the sites a journalist has bookmarked it may gain some insight into what’s interesting to them. That’s what viewing their del.icio.us account could do,- if they have one. Here is a screencast by prominent tech journalist, Jon Udell explaining how he uses del.icio.us to track memes and find information for stories. Very insightful for blogger PR.

Tools such as similicious, Alexa and TouchGraph Google Browser are useful for finding similar or related blogs and may prove useful for discovering journalist blogs that focus on particular industries or related topics.

Another useful feature of RSS is to monitor search results as a feed based on a keyword query. If you want to monitor a certain Journalist, publication or topic, you can perform the corresponding keyword query at a Yahoo, Yahoo News, Google News, Google Blog Search, BlogPulse and others and subscribe to the search results in your Feed Reader/Aggregator – sort of like Google Alerts on steriods.

BlogPulse and PubSub offer excellent blog tracking tools and Aaron Wall has an excellent blog post listing trending and tracking tools for the blogosphere and newsosphere.

There’s a lot more to blogger PR than these few questions and answers. But they do provide some insight into what PR firms are thinking and hopefully a few useful tools.

What should be your corporate blog’s URL?

I was asked via email by a reader whether a company’s blog should live at blog.mycompany.com or mycompanyblog.com.

If the blog will get more links by being at an arm’s length from the corporate site, then I’d have it on a totally separate domain.

For example, if a life insurance company had a blog about health and wellness at www.stayinghealthy.com, I would expect that to garner many more links from the blogosphere than one at blog.lifeinsuranceco.com.

This may seem like an oversimplification, since I haven’t discussed the branding implications, but I believe the “link-ability” of the blog is the key ingredient for long-term success with a corporate blog. Everything else to me is peripheral.

Analogies: Making the connection

Posted by: of Blog Business World on 03/17/06

Have you ever had problems explaining an abstract concept to someone in your business or personal life?

Perhaps you were attempting to sell an intangible product or explaining a technique for achieving a personal goal. To your dismay, the person receiving the information was just not getting the point somehow. The explanation you provided made no sense to them.

Enter the analogy.

You have heard of analogies, right? They are a way of comparing an unfamiliar abstract idea with an already known mental image. It’s like painting a picture in the listener’s mind. That’s of course an analogy too, as you may have guessed. I happen to like making analogies; and for more reasons than just explanations.

Analogies are very important in sales and marketing situations. The item or service being offered to the prospect may not fit into their existing knowledge base. The product or service might be entirely new to them. As such, the prospect needs a familiar frame of reference, from which to make the final buying decision.

Let’s take a real life situation.

This morning, I was discussing SEO with a client who was somewhat new to search engines and search engine optimization. Instead of discussing abstract and completely unfamiliar terms such as title tags, keyword phrases, and alt attributes, to name only a few, I used an analogy.

I described SEO as moving furniture into an empty house. The vacant home represented the website as it exists now. Unloaded into the house is the moving van full of furniture and other household items. As with moving house, the heavy lifting has to be completed before you can do anything else. Once the furniture is in the new premises, then curtains, fancy bedspreads, and fine china and silverware can be added. The initial placement is good, but you think that you can make the home even nicer with some changes.

Of course, after examining the results, it’s decided that the sofa would be better suited to another wall, and the kitchen table would be best on the other side of the room. After a number of changes in layout and additions, the final result is much better than before. So too with SEO. As with setting up your home in the best possible manner, SEO takes some experimentation and testing as well.

Sales and marketing aren’t the only way that analogies can be used to aid your business success. Making connections, between seemingly unrelated things, helps to find creative solutions to everyday and long term business problems as well.

What the utilization of analogies and comparisons does is to change the frame of reference and to force thinking in new and interesting ways. If a person is only thinking of the problem in its own terms, the number of possible solutions is very limited. By making analogies, and forced comparisons, the opportunities for new and creative solutions is multiplied many times over.

Use some analogies in your business and everyday life. Not only will your potential and current customers and clients understand your products and services better, so will you. By making comparisons and connections between your business and another known framework, the possibilities for creative thought and ideas increase exponentially.

Let an analogy go to work for you and your business today.

Corporate Blogs Best Practices Survey

Posted by: of Online Marketing Blog on 03/17/06

Analysis firm Cymphony and PR agency Porter Novelli have partnered to conduct research into how companies are executing their corporate blog strategy with a research survey called Corporate Blog – Best Practice. If you’re involved with business or corporate blogging, this survey is for you.

Jim Nail of Cymphony emailed me the details:

“The survey is delving into some of the unglamorous but important questions around corporate blogging: who actually manages the blog? Who actually writes the posts? How often? What tools do they use to monitor blogs? How often? There’s lots of talk about the reasons why companies should have blogs and what types of information they should include, but I haven’t seen anything about these practical day-to-day implementation issues that companies need to work out to effectively manage this channel.”

After you take the survey, you have the option of providing contact information to receive a executive summary of the findings and an invitation to a webinar where the full report will be provided.

After getting Jim’s email, I recalled the Blogger Survey conducted by Technorati and Edelman last year that provided some interesting insights focusing on how bloggers interact with companies and PR firms. The Corporate Blog – Best Practice survey focuses more on how businesses use blogs and it will be interesting to compare the results with previous research.

If the name Jim Nail is familiar, I mentioned him in an earlier post on blog buzz from a panel at the New York Search Engine Strategies conference. Jim was at Forrester for 8 years prior to joining Cymphony.

Favorite WordPress Plugins

What follows below are some of my favorite WordPress plugins and why. Many of them I have in common with Cavemonkey’s excellent Top Ten WordPress Plugins list. Here’s my list, in no particular order:

  • PodPress – makes it super-simple to post podcasts; includes an inline media player
  • Popularity Contest – offer a leaderboard of your Most Popular posts based on views and ratings
  • Google Sitemaps Generator – creates a Google Sitemaps XML file. What’s killer about this is that it uses Popularity Contest’s ratings for the priority scoring that Google uses to determine how frequently to spider your pages
  • Akismet – you’d be a fool to run a blog with comments turned on and not use this plugin to stop the flood of comment spam. ’nuff said!
  • Adhesive – gives you the ability to flag certain posts as “Sticky” so they float to the top of the category page regardless of whether it’s the most recent
  • Ultimate Tag Warrior – creates tag pages and a tag cloud. Great for SEO as I’ve said before.
  • EmailShroud – an email address obfuscator to thwart those evil email harvesters. Scans for email addresses in posts, but won’t work on email addresses hard-coded into your theme.
  • Transpose Email – another email address obfuscator. Doesn’t automatically scan for email addresses, but can be used from within your theme files.
  • WP-EMail – “Email this post to a friend” functionality
  • WP-Print – Printer-friendly version of posts
  • Subscribe2 – let your readers subscribe to your blog updates via email
  • In-Series – link posts together into a series, regardless of dates posted or categories selected
  • Permalink Redirect – fixes the canonicalization problem where the same page loads whether the slash is there or not. Important for SEO.
  • Gravatars – puts the commenter’s “Gravatar” image next to their comment
  • Subscribe to Comments – a commenter can check a box on the comment form so that they get notified of further comments to that post
  • WP-Notable – places a row of buttons alongside your posts so the reader can easily add your post to their favorite social bookmarks service (del.icio.us, digg, etc.)
  • A Different Monthly Archive – a pretty way to display links to archives by month
  • Related Posts – link to related posts automatically based on the content of the post
  • Related Posts for your 404 – your File Not Found error page can now suggest related posts to the misguided user. Cool!

What are your favorites? Did I miss any important ones?

Analytics for Blogs

Posted by: of Online Marketing Blog on 03/14/06

With the growing number of businesses launching blogs, there’s a huge opportunity in the blog metrics and analytics space. Many blogs use free programs with limited functionality and some use the same stats programs as for a regular web site such as Google Analytics.

There is a distinction to be made though, since the measurable outcomes for a content publisher, particularly a blog, are different than for an ecommerce site. Therefore Google Analytics and many other stats programs are not the best fit for blog metrics.

What options for blog focused analytics are out there?

blogbeat is a fairly new hosted blog stats program that caters specifically to the needs of blog content publishers. It plays well with FeedBurner and offers tabs of information separated by: Posts, Visitors, Referrers, Searches and Links. There’s a free trial period and then a small monthly fee.

Google recently purchased Measure Map which also pays more attention to blog-centric information, but they are not adding any new accounts at the moment. I have not been able to try it myself, however Solution Watch offers a rundown and screen shots of Measure Map.

Performancing Metrics stands out as a measurement tool meant for blogs. To get an idea of the features offered, see the post by Ahmed Bilal who reviews Performancing Metrics or the breakdown by Darren Rowse who also includes screen shots.

Performancing Metrics offers ad tracking, real-time blog stats, the ability to track mutiple blogs with one user account, RSS 2.0 feeds of your stats (how cool is that) as well as many other features.

I did a short interview yesterday with the Nick Wilson, co-founder of Performancing where he clarifies the Performancing mission as well as where their blog metrics offering fits within the services being developed for pro bloggers.

Performancing Metrics public beta launched today and is now taking on free accounts.

Wells Fargo Launches a Blog to Observe 100th Anniversary of San Francisco’s 1906 Great Earthquake and Fire

Posted by: of BlogWrite for CEOs on 03/14/06

Wells Fargo is offering a sneak preview of the blog it launches tomorrow as part of the bank’s commemoration of San Francisco’s Great Fire & Earthquake of 1906. Guided By History, as the blog is called, is a group blog. It’s a great idea for an event-specific (and time-limited) blog. And yes, Wells Fargo appears to be the first Fortune 500 financial services company to launch a public blog.

I counted 10 contributors on the About page, including Wells Fargo’s new president and COO, John Stumpf. He’s made one of the first entries, titled A Ride Through History. It’s a bit too polished to qualify as “bloggy” in style but it’s pretty interesting. The 1906 earthquake and fire left half of San Francisco’s residents homeless and destroyed 490 city blocks, including Wells Fargo’s headquarters…

More

Six Apart Acquires SplashBlog

Six Apart, creator of MovableType and TypePad, has rececently acquired SplashBlog, “a mobile photo blogging application and service that allows users to instantly publish photos from a camera phone to a blog.”

According to the Six Apart press release,

The addition of the SplashBlog team and the rich mobile blogging technologies they have developed will help assure that our users will continue to have the best user experience and most advanced features available when they blog from mobile devices and cell phones.

Just going to prove that there’s no run-on sentence like a press release run-on sentence.

Others also weigh in:

Aussie Corporate Blogging with Comments from the Trenches

Posted by: of Thinking Home Business on 03/14/06

Today, less than 48 hours away from doing a presentation about business blogging at an Australian Marketing Institute seminar in Sydney, I am rather pleased to see that the lead story in the national newspaper The Australian’s IT Business segment, is ‘Blogging the Brand’, by Chris Jenkins. Neat: I can expect that a reasonable number of my marketing industry audience tomorrow night will have read or at least skimmed this piece on corporate blogging and will be ready with some good, challenging questions. It helps too, that the article comes close on the heels of a page 3 story last weekend in the Sydney Morning Herald, ‘Online buying frenzy as big business swoops on sites’, by highly respected journalist Tom Burton, about people making money from the web: about half of the article focuses on people making money from blogging.

Back to the article in The Australian. I found it quite informative, not so much for me in terms of  theories and broad observations about corporate blogging, but more because of comments from the trenches. I was particularly interested in the comments from Paul Crisp, ‘new media project leader’, responsible for the blogging operation at our major telco, one of Australia’s biggest corporations, Telstra, through its Now We Are Talking site, which has blogs by staff members as a feature.

Crisp acknowledges that Telstra had no Australian corporate blogging models to draw on, so had to adapt what it could learn from studying what US-based corporations were doing, such as Boeing, Microsoft and General Motors. He observes that Telstra does not need blogs to ‘push out’ information’, but sees blogs as giving the corporation a way to plug into public feedback (interesting, given that probably every Australian over the age of 15 has a Telstra story and they are not all positive!). He also sees blogs as allowing Telstra to put a different face to its message.

‘If you want to hear from the rank and file of the company, to try and put a face to the people that make this big company work and get their perspective and the challenges they face and what turns them on, here’s an opportunity to get it directly from the horse’s mouth.’

I took some time out to check out the blogs at Now We Are Talking. I had honestly expected them to be rather bland. They aren’t, and I’m impressed. I’m especially impressed because employees are writing about potentially contentious issues and there are comments on the blogs from the general public (I am so not a conspiracy theorist that I do believe they are from the general public!).  

The article also quotes Aussie Microsoft blogger, Frank Arrigo, author of the excellent Frankarr blog. On the subject of risk, which is invariably given prominence in the occasional Australian media story about corporate blogging, Frank observes succinctly: 

“There is always a risk, but it’s no different to me being at the pub and bitching about my job and there is a journo next to me,’ he says.

And with eminent good sense, it seems to me, Frank goes on to say that if he doesn’t want to see something appear on the front page of one of the national dailies, he doesn’t blog it.

(Note that the link above to the story in The Australian is a weblink but not a permalink and regrettably there is no link available for the Sydney Morning Herald piece.)

 

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