November 27, 2014

About Contributor Rich Brooks

Number of posts contributed
68
Website
flyte blog: web marketing for small business
Email
Email Rich
Profile
Rich Brooks is president of flyte new media, a Web design and Internet marketing firm located in Portland, Maine, and on the Web at http://www.flyte.biz.

Posts by Rich:

Plurk: Is This for Business?

With all the recent outages and downtime over at Twitter (no doubt stirred up because of my recent article on How to Use Twitter for Business), many people have been checking out Plurk, a similar but different approach with the same 140 character message limit.

Plurk has some nice add-ons that separates from Twitter. There’s an interactive timeline that shows threads and makes it easier to follow a conversation. There’s karma points for signing up people. You can create “cliques” to better organize friends. It doesn’t constantly crash (so far.)

Plurk

Is this a business tool? Who the hell knows. I doubt the telephone appeared like a good business tool out of the gate. Is it fun to use? Definitely.

There are game-like features to it that make you want to invite more friends, post/plurk more often and get more involved. I’m not giving up my twitter account, dropping Facebook or giving up my blog for plurk, but like an 80′s arcade video game, I’m sure it’s going to get a few more of my quarters.

If you’d like an intelligent, detailed explanation of everything Plurk check out Frank Martin’s post on The Question of Plurk.

And, if you’d like to play around in Plurk, click on this invite or come visit my page on Plurk.

Business Blog Interview

The other day Mike Sigers of Simplenomics interviewed me for his Hot Seat radio show about the benefits of a blog for businesses. The segment ran about 30 minutes. Enjoy!

Hmmm…that didn’t work. I’ll have to ask Stephan about that. Well, you can download the show here.

The Dangers of Anonymous Blogging

BusinessWeek reports on anonymous blogging gone bad in a recent article Busting a Rogue Blogger.

Yes, there’s controversy in the sexy world of patent litigation, as Troll Tracker–formerly anonymous, now outed as Rick Frenkel–a blogger who writes on patent trolling, was outed as a Cisco employee. Why is this relevant? Because Frenkel was blogging about the very issues that Cisco was in court over.

Apparently Cisco didn’t know that they employed the Troll Tracker, but Cisco General Counsel Mark Chandler cited the blog as an “independent source of information” while lobbying for changes in patent laws that would be beneficial to Cisco.

Death threats, bounties on the Troll Tracker’s identity, and litigation followed.

Cisco has since established some blogging policies, but they probably won’t help them in court. Even if these policies had been in place before Frankel started blogging anonymously, they probably wouldn’t save them from litigation.

Perhaps it’s time to start to develop your own business blogging policies for employees? What policies do you currently have in place?

Business Blogs Can Bring You Killer PR

When talking to people about the benefits of business blogs I often mention “establishing your credibility.” This goes hand-in-hand with “getting killer PR.”

Let’s face it, journalists are having to do more with less, so they’re more and more likely to turn to Google and other search engines to track down “experts” in a given field.

As you continue to build your blog over time, creating great content in a specific niche, Google’s more likely to return your blog as a result when a journalist starts researching a column or article. I’ve never hired a PR firm, and I work out of the top right corner of the US us locals call “Maine”, but I’ve gotten quotes in Inc., BusinessWeek Small Biz, and other periodicals and the local evening news because of our Web marketing blog.

In the Independent Street blog over at WSJ.com, Kelly Spors writes on How to Get Killer PR and gives five important tips. Just add “Write a Business Blog” as number six and you’re well on your way.

Do You Need a Blogging Regimen?

As a certified Business Blog Consultant–I’m still awaiting the paperwork, but I’ve been assured it’s on it’s way–I work with a number of businesses on their blog and other Web marketing strategies. Being a blog consultant is tricky; much of our work is up front.

We often design a blog, set it up on either WordPress or TypePad, strategize with the client, identify influential bloggers in their industries, and show them how to work the software.

Often, that’s where our work ends. Some of our clients blog regularly and see the expected, positive results and return on their investment. Others, unfortunately, put up one or two posts and begin the shame spiral of neglect.

Although I’ll sometimes nag a client who’s blog is whithering on the vine, there’s not much I can do–short of ghost blogging–to get their blog back in shape.

Which is why I wrote Jumpstart Your Blog: A Business Blogging Workout Regimen. The article reviews some blogging basics along with the amount of time new bloggers should spent on each activity.

I’m not sure if this is a salvo against abandoned blogs, a wake-up call to companies that have neglected their blog, or a reality check to people who are thinking about a blog but don’t realize the time and passion that needs to be committed to a successful business blog…I guess I’ll leave that up to you to decide.

If you do have a new or lapsed blog, perhaps all you need is a workout strategy. What do you do when it’s been a while since your last blog post?

Is Blogging Recession Proof?

There are two groups of people who apparently make hay during  a recession: journalists and Web marketers.

I’m not sure if this recession is different than previous ones, or if I’m just more aware this time around, but it seems to me that every business magazine and marketer is talking up the recession.

Business magazines run cover stories like “You Can Beat the Bad Economy.” (BusinessWeek Small Biz). Marketers talk about how to sell, market or profit from a recession in ezines, blogs, teleclasses and seminars. (I should know, I’m talking to a fellow marketer about doing a teleseminar on this very subject.)

There is one truism to a recession: market more. Yes, while everyone runs for cover, this is the time for you to ramp up your sales and marketing efforts.  One of the most cost-effective ways businesses can do this is through a blog. And, as every one else scales back on marketing, it makes your life so much easier.

Even with falling advertising costs, your blog still costs less; basically a few dollars a month in hosting fees. And, with a falling economy, there’s plenty of topics to discuss. A quick search of Technorati includes such posts as:

Hmm…maybe that last one hints that even bloggers aren’t immune to the recession…especially those who are reliant on Google Adsense to make a profit.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Business Blogging from a Legal Standpoint

Too many articles about the legal ramifications of corporate blogs focus entirely on the negative side of blogs. This makes sense; corporate lawyers are hired with the intent of keeping the company safe and limiting risk. Marketing, extending your brand, and keeping employees and customers happy are someone else’s responsibilities.

However, As Blogging Grows, So Do Its Do’s and Don’ts, over at Law.com’s Legal Technology is a much more even-handed approach. (In fact, its do’s outnumber its don’ts about 2-to-1.)

There’s advice for public companies (do be mindful of security laws…risks associated with…making material misstatements that could manipulate the stock price and expose the company to liability for securities fraud under Rule 10b-5), companies with trade secrets, and just about anyone else.

The article can be summarized by the final quote:

The key to sticking with the “Do’s” is remembering that corporate blogging is like any other business communication that represents the company: Honesty and common sense go a long way to keeping the company (and its blog) on the right side of the law.

Jumpstart Traffic to Your Blog with these Web 2.0 Steps

I stumbled upon this post about 5 Steps to Jumpstart Your Website [or blog] over at College Startup.

It leans heavily on Web 2.0 sites like Reddit and Digg and some upstart called Netscape. However, if you’re looking to reach a new audience this post has the links you’ll need to try out.

I took the author’s advice and posted Top-Level Domain Survey (or what to do when your .com is taken) to his number one recommendation and got about 30 hits in 30 minutes from the source. Not bad for 2 minutes of work. (Not including the hour or so I put into creating the survey and blogging about it.)

YMMV depending on your audience, post and title.

Extend Your Blog’s Reach with a Blidget

Blidget is a new tool/service/offering from Widgetbox that allows you to create a widget out of your blog. (What is it about Web 2.0 that requires every new tool to have a celebrity couple name?)

By turning your blog into a widget you can make it easier for people to syndicate your content while still maintaining some of your branding. Creating a Blidget only takes a few minutes, and depending on your blog software, installing it may be a one-click affair.

If you’d like to add BBC’s widget to your own blog, click below:

Get this widget from Widgetbox

30 Tips to Increase Traffic at Your Blog

Daniel over at Daily Blog Tips–a blog that focuses on providing daily tips to bloggers to keep those creative juices flowing–has listed 30 results from his reader survey on tips to increase traffic to one’s blog.

They vary from the obvious–create valuable content and comment on related blogs–to ideas on social networking and building community on sites like del.icio.us, Digg and Squidoo.

Chances are you’ll find at least one gem in this list of proven traffic-building techniques.

Much Ado About Pork

I almost have to wonder if the National Pork Board is practicing brilliant, subversive marketing.

If you haven’t heard, the NPB is suing a blogger. (Seems like the best stories always start out that way.) Jennifer Laycock, the blogger behind The Lactivist Breastfeeding Blog, has been threatened with a lawsuit for her t-shirt promoting breastfeeding that reads “The Other White Milk.”

The t-shirt was one of many available at her lactating store at CaféPress including others that read:

  • nip/suck
  • milk jugs, and my personal favorite,
  • that’s my baby’s lunch you’re staring at.

[Snicker.]

I mean, when you go after a blogger, you’re begging for attention. According to her blog, Laycock has only made $8 off the shirt. I can’t imagine that this is a thread to the NPB or their tired advertising campaign.

If there are any global conglomerates out there looking for a little publicity in-and-out of the blogosphere please contact me. I’d be happy to riff on your advertising for a little mutual profiteering.

Blogging Article for Innkeepers

To promote the fact I’ll be speaking at the next Maine Innkeeper’s Conference, the group asked me to write an article on blogging for their newsletter. (PDF, 1.3MB)

There’s also an article in there on podcasting as well.

Want a Traffic Spike? Link to Google’s Blog.

This morning I wrote a post on my blog called “Bush No Longer a Miserable Failure, Claims Google.” It was in reaction to Google’s new algorithm that defuses “Google Bombs.

At the bottom I linked to the post on Google’s blog that goes into more detail about what they did and why. (Whoops! I did it again!)

At the bottom of the post they have a section called “Links to this post” which has…wait for it…links to that post.

About a third of my traffic so far this morning is from that Google post, obviously from the blog’s readers.

Caveats:

  • A spike in traffic is not the same thing as a spike in business.
  • Don’t link to the Google blog unless you’re adding to the conversation.
  • I’m not seeing a hard coded link to my blog from this page, so you’re probably not gaining any PageRank.

This isn’t the first time I’ve gotten this reaction from linking to Google’s blog. To make the most out of it, you probably want to get your link in their early, while there’s still a lot of people coming to that post.

Alternatively, you could link to it late, and hope few people link after you, pushing you down the list.

Like any other technique, this is easily abused. Use it only for good, my young padawan.

Is RSS Good for Your Enterprise?

Good article over at eWeek called “RSS Offers Relief from Enterprise E-Mail Overload.”

It talks about how email has fallen out of favor as a way of distributing information to large groups of people, and how certain businesses are starting to use RSS.

The article also covers some negatives of RSS, including:

  • Problems with adoption and inertia from some users
  • How RSS feeds can reduce page visits, and
  • How RSS can create bandwidth bottlenecks for popular feeds.

This definitely isn’t one of those “email is dead” articles, but instead shows how forward thinking companies are looking to RSS as a new distribution channel.

Complaints About Google’s Blog Search

Chris Richardson at WebProNews has a good article outlining some of the complaints against Google’s Blog Search.

Seems a lot of blogs are scraping content to either redirect visitors to another page or to sell Google Ads on their own blog. Who makes money on Google Ads? Well, Google of course! What’s especially frustrating is that many if not most of the offending blogs are on Blogger, owned by, of course, Google.
By running a Google Alert on “flyte” I’m finding about one blog a day that’s scraping my content to drive traffic to their sites to sell more Google Ads. However, since not all of my posts include the word “flyte” I’m only catching a fraction. (I share a name with a college football coach, so the Google Alert on “Rich Brooks” was not helpful.)

Is it even possible for me to write a paragraph about the Web that doesn’t include the word Google or a product owned by Google? Only time will tell….

RSS and Permission Marketing 2.0

Just wanted to point your attention to another in a great series of posts from Brian Clark of Copyblogger.

This one’s called Permission Marketing 2.0, a riff on Seth Godin’s Permission Marketing and the fact that anything being revisited today needs to have a 2.0 on it to be taken seriously. Kind of like dot com in the late nineties.

One of my favorite lines…

Somewhere along the way, people became overly obsessed with search and forgot everything else. Many businesses today would disappear if their rankings tanked. And that’s no way to run a business.

Too true.

So what is PM2.0? It’s all about RSS my friends. Read on….

Scraped Blog Content and Google Adwords

There’s something rotten in the state of the blogosphere.

Like most neo-narcisists, I have a Google Alert going on my name, or more specifically, the name of my company. Every day, I get reports on posts I’ve done that mention “flyte,” or traffic reports involving people named “Flyte,” or updates on the Brideshead Revisited movie that may or not be made, or, more recently, seeing my work appear without my permission at other blogs.

These blogs have invariably scraped content from a post of mine, sometimes w/credit, sometimes w/o, and used the content w/o comment to sell Google Ads. Of course, anyone coming to the site will invariably click on one of those ads, because the scraped content is often incomplete and thus incoherent. For example:

Although there are several Web sites dedicated to organizing and promoting To start, I?d recommend using a hosting service that specializes in Podcasts. His podcast, flyte: Web strategies for small business, is available at

Yeah, I’d be proud of that.

Each time I find content that’s been scraped selling Adwords I report it to Google. Here’s how:

  1. Click on the link that says “Ads by Goooooogle.”
  2. Scroll down the following page and click on “Send Google your thoughts on the site or the ads you just saw.”
  3. Click on the “Also report a Violation?” link.
  4. Report to Google that this blog/site is scraping content from your blog (assuming they are.)

If it’s a Blogger blog you can also flag it for in appropriate content.

Unfortunately, I’m concerned that Google’s not concerned enough. After all, they make money every time someone clicks on one of these ads. While I like the people at Google, and I think they’re bright and they want to do the right thing, this may be a case of the fox guarding the chicken coop.

Recently, Search Engine Roundable reported that Google had a patent application named “Detecting spam documents in a phrase based information retrieval system,” so maybe they’re taking it seriously.

However, until they do take it seriously bloggers need to be watching that their own content isn’t being scraped and Adwords advertisers should probably require that their ads only appear at Google, and not on 3rd party sites.

How to Subscribe to a Blog Feed

For many of you this may seem basic, but there’s a first time for everything….

Have you ever wondered how us “blogging experts” keep up on dozens or even hundreds of blogs a day? Do we visit dozens or hundreds of Web sites a day hoping that each one has posted new, worthwhile post(s)? Don’t we have lives? Don’t we have businesses to run?!?

The answer is that we subscribe to the feed from these blogs and collect them in one central location. I prefer NetNewsWire (Mac only!) while others prefer the browser-based Bloglines.

Unfortunately, subscribing to a blog feed is counter-intuitive. The very action we’ve been trained to do with Pavlovian perfection–clicking on a link–instead presents us with a page of XML mumbo-jumbo.

To that end, I’ve put together this little movie (at 10.2 MB it’s actually not that little) that walks you through the subscription process. Soon you’ll be able to subscribe to blogs with the best of ‘em, keeping up on important industry information and staying ahead of your competition.

How to Subscribe to a Blog Feed: The Movie!

Employee Blogs and the Law

In an article that’s sure to take the joy out of any blogging enterprise, Internet Business Law Services has posted Internet Law: Employee Blogs Pose Potential Problems for Businesses.

While I’m sure that a number of large businesses have experienced problems with employees’ blogs (the article references a few cases), maybe the first step a company should take when employees complain in their blog is to take their complaints seriously! (Of course, I run a small business; what do I know about keeping peons in their place?)

This article talks specifically about personal blogs that employees work on after hours (or perhaps when the boss isn’t looking.) They look at what happens when the employees blog about work, disparage co-workers, or share company secrets.
If you do run a large business, or you’ve given your employees good reason to despise you, the article does have some helpful hints on new entries for the employee handbook, like making sure employees who blog about work state that these are their own opinions and not that of the company, and not to reveal any trade secrets.

Unfortunately, the article doesn’t give any advice on keeping your employees happy, engaged, or giving them reasons to blog positive.

WordPress Enterprise Edition Built for Big Business

Automattic and KnowNow have partnered to launch a new blog platform that targets big business using the WordPress open source software. The new platform will be called KnowNow WordPress Enterprise Edition.

It appears that the new product will be aimed at the same audience that might be considering Six Apart’s Movable Type software. According to the slightly-over-the-top press release, “this partnership is critical to our Fortune 1000 enterprise customer base.”

Found through the Monkey Bites blog.

 

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