October 31, 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.

Blogging as a Marketing Tool – Ten Strategic Tips

Posted by: of Expansion Plus on 12/11/06

 Richard Nacht, president of Blogging Systems which specializes in blog strategies for the lending and real estate industries, has the following Top Ten strategic benefits of blogging,

  1. Search Engine Marketing
  2. Direct Communications
  3.  Brand Building
  4. Competitive Differentiation
  5. Relational Marketing
  6. Exploit the Niches
  7.  Media & Public Relations
  8. Position You as an Expert
  9. Reputation Management
  10.  Low Cost

Read more at the Daily ‘Dog

2007: What Some Experts Are Saying

Posted by: of One By One Media on 12/6/06

Over at SNCR, some of our fellow blog evangelists and experts are predicting what to expect in the coming year.  Our own Debbie Weil and Sally Falkow are quoted:

From Debbie Weil:

We’re unhooking from our computers and will be getting much more online info via our cell phones, PDAs, etc. Beware the marketer who doesn’t remember this and doesn’t format blog posts, etc. to be read
on a cell phone or Treo!

The corporate blogosphere has gone multi-media. If you’re not including podcasts, embedded video and cool images with your blog, then you’re soooo 2005.

From Sally Falkow:

This has been the year when RSS came into its own. The release of IE 7 with the reader built into the browser has finally made it really simple. Jupiter Research found that 30% of large companies are deploying RSS due to customer demand.

2007 will see an explosion of web content syndication with RSS and the sharing of content on social media sites. Already one in twenty web visits is to one of the top social media sites according to HitWise. And, these sites are driving traffic to search engines and verticals like travel and telecom.

Corporate communications professionals and PR agencies will have to wrap their wits around online PR and social media.

I would be curious what the rest of the group here thinks will be the outcome of 2007?  What are some of your predictions for the Blogging Future?

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Business Blogging Survey Reveals Corporate Disconnects

Posted by: of Expansion Plus on 12/5/06

Peppercom and Bulldog Reporter’s Business Blogging survey certainly turned up some interesting facts about how US and UK corporations see the blogosphere:

  • Almost 89 percent of U.S. respondents and nearly 83 percent of U.K. respondents believe blogs are an important     digital communication
  • More than half of all respondents admitted that no one is blogging on their or their clients’ behalf (U.S.: 64 percent, U.K.: 64 percent)
  • Most respondents (78 percent for U.S. and U.K.) believe that the public relations department should handle fallout from bad news breaking in the blogosphere
  • However, over 80 percent (U.S.: 87 percent, U.K.: 82 percent)Most respondents confess they or their clients don’t have an official blogging policy in place
  • 63 percent have not adapted their communications strategy to include proactive outreach to blogs, message boards, and other forms of digital medium
  • Half of the respondents (49 percent) are not monitoring blogs and online conversations 

 

So the vast majority think blogging is an important communication medium, but they are not monitoring the online conversation and they’re not adapting their corporate communicaiton strategy to include digital and social media. But if things go wrong, PR must handle the flap. 

We’ve seen a few of these examples of PR departments and agencies putting both their traditional PR feet in their social media mouths.  It’s way past time that companies make social media and online PR training a priority.

Business blogging is an important communication medium,  It’s not going away.  Markets are conversations.  Learning to particpate in the conversation effectively is a vital PR skill today.

Listen to the podcast for a full analysis of the survey.  It’s a little slow to load but worth the wait.

 

 

In The Beginning Yahoo Created The Heavens and The Earth

Posted by: of One By One Media on 11/30/06

Yahoo has announced and it’s reported by Marketing Vox that Yahoo is going to produce its own answer to social media and the market place by creating what has been deemed Yahoo’s "Brand Universes".  Marketing Vox reports:

Criticized for missing the social media explosion, Yahoo plans to leverage its social properties, such as Flickr and Del.icio.us, on behalf of advertisers in the hopes of partnering with "passion brands" to generate more ad revenue.

In the coming months, Yahoo will begin rolling out the first set of what it calls "brand universes" – dedicated areas on Yahoo for fans of a movie or product to congregate, share and connect with each other, reports Adweek. Unlike the brand areas on MySpace and YouTube, Yahoo is not asking marketers for ad dollars to build the sites. Instead, it itself has identified a batch of 100 "passion brands" to build dedicated areas for.

This seems like a logical step given the number of niche blogging networks popping up all over the blogosphere.  I have predicted before that a new advertising medium with blogs will be leveraging categories of blogs for specific advertisers.  Be it a category or in their term "universes" with the likes of blogging parents, health bloggers, and in their launch, gaming bloggers, it’s time for targeted advertising in Yahoo’s plans.

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Blogging and the Problem of the Echo Chamber

Posted by: of One By One Media on 11/30/06

As I indicated in a comment in a post  I read today over at Kian’s blog,  I had to make my own sound in the echosphere. Yeah, I called an "echosphere" for a reason because Kian is experiencing something I have also experienced and continue to deal with like the feeling of having my eyes pried open with toothpicks and forced to watch I Love Lucy 24/7. I can only read Scoble’s take on a topic, or Winer’s thoughts about this and that, and what Doc told me today, so many times before I start to think about jumping out my office window.  In this case only 3 feet off the ground but nonetheless, totally whacked.

**Please note that I am completely  hypocritical in that statement 1. because I am envious of their traffic readership, and 2. the reason they are so easy to link to is because all I have to do is Google there last names, or in Doc’s case the word "Doc" and I get a first page search response.  This is a result of the echo chamber I complain of and using blogs to my preached point about SEO.**

With that said, let me explain the blogging echo chamber dilemma.  Blogs are real time.  As fast as something can be typed and the publish button pushed, words can be transmitted to readers all over the world.  When you have people that are gurus as I have mentioned above, everyone is excited to report what exciting thing they read today over at this popular blog.  If they are excited to report it, and you are also excited, and both of you blog it and make me click to go read it, you can see where you get caught up in that echo chamber or the "blogging fissure" (my phrase).

In keeping up with the blogging fissure or echo chamber continue reading this article at Bloggers For Hire.

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.

For many businesses blogs remain a mysterious medium

Posted by: of Expansion Plus on 11/12/06

According to a tally by blog vendor Socialtext, just 40 of the country’s largest 500 companies have blogs. For many businesses, blogs remain a mysterious medium dominated by teenagers and technology geeks, says Information Week.

Most execs “do not read them, they do not understand why people write them,” says Charlene Li of Forrester. that will have to change  if they want to stay current with customers. “It’s a different mind-set that they have to understand,” says Li in the Information Week article

This last week Bulldog Reporter’s PR University held their annual new media and advanced PR technology in practice seminars in New York City and San Francisco. There has been a big shift in the knowledge and attitude of the attendees.  Last year they did indeed find blogs to be a mysterious medium.  This year they are much more up to speed on blogs and why a business would or should blog, but it’s the social media aspect that has them flummoxed.

GM is one blog that gets it. They use consumer-generated content from YouTube and Flickr on their FYI Blog, and  encourage people to lable images in Flickr with the tag GMFYI.

“Social media is a unique thing that’s going on on the Web right now, and it’s important for us to take part in it,” says Bill Betts, manager of Web services for GM communications.

This social aspect tagging and bookmarking content is the next thing companies need to get their heads around. Markets are indeed conversations and people are sharing content with each other and with the rest of the world.  With all the new social media tools available anyone can do it, and they can do it in the blink of an eye.

A political pundit interviewed recently on TV about the John Kerry Iraq statement commented that in today’s world of lightning-fast communications, someone in the audience with a video camera on their cell phone can take a clip of a speech, or a corporate meeting, and it will be on YouTube before the meeting is over.  

How can businesses benefit from all this?  Make your content relevant, authentic and interesting.  Then syndicate it. Make it easy to subscribe to the content and include social media elements that make it easy to share it.

 

Business Blogs and the Sabbath

An interesting post over at Search Engine Roundtable discusses a thread on whether it’s detrimental to cloak your e-commerce site for religious holidays.

The situation is that some orthodox Jews shut down their web site on the Sabbath. So if you go to a site such as B&H from sundown Friday to darkness of Saturday night, you should get a sign that says they are closed.

The problem is that search engine spiders don’t observe the Sabbath, or Rosh Hashanah, or Christmas, or Patriot’s Day (Maine & Massachusetts.)

Whether it’s your Web site or your business blog, should you be able to shutter it during religious holidays without losing your search engine rank?

Shimon Sandler first raised the issue, and now you can follow the thread Cloaking for Religoius Reasons at the SE Roundtable’s forums.

Defining ROI on Business Blogs: HubSpot.com cracks the code and delivers solid answers

Posted by: of andrewbourland on 11/6/06

No doubt about it: the most complex problem business bloggers face is coming up with a clear definition of what ROI their blog has produced.

How many sales did it result in? How many subscriptions did it sell? How many seats to your conference did it fill? How many solid leads did it generate for your sales force?

Brian Halligan, a former VP of Sales at Groove Networks and MIT Sloan graduate launched Hubspot.com to provide solid answers to that very problem. Hubspot tracks visitors at each stage of involvement in your blog’s content, and tracks that visitor as they move down the funnel to an actual sale. Every day and with every post and with every event you can track where you stand with the visitors you have attracted to your website.

Though still in beta mode, Hubspot.com’s solution is definitely worth checking out.

If you would like to hear the full story, watch the video above.

It’s not too long, just under 20 minutes. Time well invested, given the amount of time you would otherwise spend wracking your brain seeking answers to this very complex problem.

Why Businesses Don’t Blog in the UK

Posted by: of Expansion Plus on 11/6/06

An excellent article in E-consultancy about online PR and why businesses are not blogging.

His comments about PR agencies applies as much to the US and it does to the UK

“Ask them to explain how Google works. Ask them about RSS. Ask them about anchor text. Ask them to give you some tips on online copywriting. Ask them why blogging would be a bad move, with all the above in mind  The fact is that most PR agencies are not even vaguely qualified to advise you on blogging, or even about online PR.”

If you are in PR or marketing and you can’t answer these questions,  you should have been at the Advanced PR tech worlshop in New York on Friday. Debbie Weil did a stellar job in the session on blogging. They also got podcasting, video, online news, search and social media. 

There is another one on Friday 10th in San Francisco.  No Debbie this time though – I will be speaking on blogs and social media.

 

In Praise of Our Competitors: BlogBusinessSummit.com shows us how to do it right

Posted by: of andrewbourland on 10/27/06

On the surface, it may not appear that our friends at BlogBusinessSummit.com are our competitors. After all, their site is devoted to promoting the Blog Business Summit, a major event which they host 2-3 times a year.

But in a very real sense, they are our competitors: they compete with us for the mindshare of corporate business bloggers who are seeking to find a way to use blogging as a more effective tool for reaching out to their customers and keeping them informed and happy. So our biggest competitor is a conference company.

Why is that and how could you benefit through knowing about it?

Because unlike most conference sites, they don’t just spring up a few months prior to their event and start banging their drums with the conference message. Instead, they use their conference site as a blog to become thought leaders in this space.

You may not have had the slightest inclination in the middle of June to attend a Blog Business Summit, but when you did a search on Google for “business blogging”, they were listed right up there in the coveted Top Ten listings.

[Do note however, who has the Number One slot in that listing... ]

So chances are good that they are one of the resources you would have turned to, along with Business Blog Consulting, for information and guidance on business blogging. You might have bookmarked us both in your list of RSS feeds you check regularly, and if you haven’t already, you should.

But something may have happened around mid-August or September when you were reading all those great articles that Teresa, Steve, DL and our very own Dave Taylor regularly write: you might have noticed they had a conference coming up.

And then as time progressed, you might have thought you ought to go… and then, if you were one of the smart and fortunate ones who wisely reserved a seat at their conference this past week (I’m jealous: you got to rub shoulders with Jason Calacanis and schmooze with Robert Scoble and John Batelle), you actually forked out the money and went!

Well folks, that was their objective all year long. That’s why they kept blogging away in Seattle through all those miserable rainy days and nights: they wanted you to come to their conference!

So where do you come in?

You may have limited your thinking about business blogging to blogging from your CEO or key executives or just blogging about your company. That’s a good thing, but BlogBusinessSummit.com shows you how you can use effective, high quality blogging to keep your company’s products, services and even events in the forefront of people’s minds all year long… even if you aren’t talking about your company’s products, services or events.

Do it the BBS way and keep strong visual reminders about those products, services and events adjacent to, above and/or below your content. They don’t talk about their conference all year long. They talk about the issues it addresses.

And thus they become a thought leader.

And they sell a whole bunch of seats to their conferences.

And unless I’m unaware of it (always a possibility), that blog is their sole means of marketing that conference.

Amazing, huh?

Oh, one more thing…

Next time you are there, look at the right hand side of the page. They’re plugging their book.

So in your product/service/event blog which addresses the issues surrounding that product/service/event, you can plug not only the focus of the site, but related product/service/events as well!

So add that thinking to your mix. If you’re business isn’t blogging yet, maybe emulating their style would be a great way for you to start. If it is, you aren’t limited to “a” company blog. You can have a bunch of them.

You’ll find business blogging can be a beautiful thing…

What Makes A Good Blog Entry?

Posted by: of Expansion Plus on 10/20/06

It’s refreshing to see the growing interest in Web 2.0 and business blogging in South Africa. Vincent Maher, a professor at Rhodes University recently posted some good guidelines for blogging.

He says a blog is a stub for conversation and you should think about the perspectives of your audience.

Stephen Downes gives his take on these ideas here

While some bloggers may be writing for their own edification, most are in it for the conversation.  And there is merit in knowing your audience.  Not so you can write only what they want to hear, but to facilitate good communication.  

Blogging is a communication.  Business blogging certainly has the purpose of reaching an audience. One of the first things you learn in communication theory is to understand the person who will receive your communication. Maher’s thoughts on blog posts fit in well with the old Seven C’s of Communication written by Cutlip and Center in Effective Pubic Relations:

In a speech given at Ball State University many years ago, Phil Lesly provided these guidelines for effective communication:

1) Approach everything from the view point of the audience’s interest–what’s on their minds; what’s in it for them.

2) Give the audience a sense of involvement in the communication process and in what’s going on. Get them involved and you get their interest.

3) Make the subject matter part of the atmosphere the audience lives with–what they talk about, what they hear from others. That means getting the material adopted in their channels of communication.

4) Communicate with people, not at them. Communication that approaches the audience as a target makes people put their defenses up against it.

5) Localize–getting the message conveyed as close to the individual’s own millieu as possible.

6) Use a number of channels of communication, not just one or two. The impact is far greater when it reaches people in a number of different forms.

7) Maintain consistency–so what’s said on the subject is the same no matter which audience it’s directed to or what the content is.

8) Still, tailor-make each message for the specific audience as much as possible.

9) Not propagandizing but making sure that you make your point.

10) Maintain credibility–which is essential for all of these points to be effective. (Schranz Lecture, 1982)

If you view your blog as a conversation, this is evergreen advice.  Take it to heart when you blog.

What’s Your Blog Juice?

Posted by: of Online Marketing Blog on 10/12/06

A bit of ripe linkbait has been launched by Text Link Ads in the form of a “Blog Juice Calculator“. The tool takes into account 4 metrics when calculating a blog’s popularity: RSS subscribers (Bloglines only), Alexa traffic ranking, Technorati rank, and incoming links

Here’s how the BBC group fared:

http://bloombergmarketing.blogs.com/ 6.3
http://www.bourland.com/ 1.3
http://www.flyteblog.com/ 3.8
http://radiantmarketinggroup.com/ 0.9
http://falkow.blogsite.com/ 2.4
http://www.businessblogconsulting.com 6.1
http://www.pheedo.info/ 3.1
http://hyku.com/ 2.1
http://blog.larixconsulting.com/blog 2.8
http://www.toprankblog.com 7.1
http://www.stephanspencer.com/ 5.8
http://www.intuitive.com/blog/ 6.6
http://www.onebyonemedia.com/ 2.4
http://www.danavan.net/weblog/ 4.3
http://www.thinkinghomebusiness.com/blog 3.1
http://www.debbieweil.com/ 3.2

http://wordbiz.com/.05

http://blogwrite.blogs.com/ 1.6
http://ensight.org/ 4.1

Is a tool like this useful? Even though mine did well, I’m not sure yet. I was expecting higher scores for BBC contributors all around.  TLA uses this kind of data to determine how much a link is worth on a web site or blog, so I guess in some ways it might be. I’m just not 100% convinved yet.

Blog Inside: IT@Intel Joins the Blogosphere

Posted by: of Thinking Home Business on 10/12/06

There is a new arrival on the corporate, indeed Fortune 500, blog scene – the IT@Intel Blog.

The site will probably not appeal to people who want the full array of possible effects – audio, video mashups etc. Because unlike the groovy, dancing main Intel site, the IT@Intel blog is visually and organizationally sparer, along the lines of the related IT@Intel web site.

The blog uses MovableType’s Enterprise 1.3 platform, but again the graphic presentation is quite unlike some other corporate blogs using MT Enterprise, such as the rather jazzy GM FastLane blog.

The appropriateness of the IT@Intel Blog’s very neat design becomes evident when you see that, although this is a public blog, it appears to be aimed not so much at the general public as at the IT community and people with related interests.

And although I am not an IT engineer, and I like my rococo in its place, for me the visual spareness of the blog’s layout reflects a pleasingly elegant clarity of architecture and navigation.

There is a simply stated manifesto of guiding principles:

  • We will provide unique, individual perspectives on what’s going on at Intel and in the world;
  • We will post comments, except for spam and remarks that are off-topic, denigrating or offensive;
  • We will reply to comments promptly, when appropriate;
  • We will respect proprietary information and confidentiality; and
  • We will be respectful when disagreeing with others’ opinions.

For anyone who thinks that’s a bit light on for a corporate blog, never fear. There is a more extended and decidedly heavier statement in the legal page, whose phrasing, with its caveats and warnings, reminds us that this blog is indeed a corporate one.

The neat architecture is expressed in the simplicity of layout. The navigation menu along the top has just five items, so whatever your interest in the blog you can find your way there quickly – no need for head-scratching:

  • Recent Posts
  • About the Blog
  • Meet the Bloggers
  • Archives
  • Contact us

And as indicated above, other than the almost monochrome banner there are no pictures, no audio, no videos.

One other comment on underlying concepts and architecture is that the URL structure, http://blogs.intel.com/it/, allows nicely for any number of additional blogs to be created within the Intel blogs framework. Admittedly that’s not a big revelation from an IT engineering-based company, but it is a handy reminder of the value of thinking through structure and architecture before launching any blog in the business space.

There are four bloggers listed and posting at the IT@Intel blog, enough presumably to spread the load but not so many as to make it a case of “everyone’s responsibility is no one’s”. All have titles that indicate a high, or reasonably high level of seniority in the corporation (I don’t know the corporate structure or Intel’s policy on titles). And all are apparently working in an IT engineering or user experience framework. No one from marketing.

It is noticeable that there are no buttons or icons, not even a modest orange button for XML/RSS.

I like the way they have set up the sidebar with six elements, each in its own text box: Most Popular Tags, Recent Comments, Most Active Posts, Blogroll, Related Links, and Subscribe.

The treatment of the tags is interesting – no cloud in the sidebar, just four tags and a link to All Tags for anyone who really needs a cloud to make their day. There are only seven blogs in the Blogroll (that would have been an interesting discussion to be a fly on the wall for, surely – who’s in, who’s out?), only six Related Links and a simple, linked list of basic feed options in the Subscribe box, including a “What are feeds?” text link to a clear explanation on a separate page.

And content? Style?

Early days, but I liked what I read. Four individuals, each with a different style and each evidently keen to make his (yes, all males) mark as a blogger.

But they might have to up their rate. Four posts on October 9 and, at this posting, none since, is not exactly off to the races, guys. But those four posts have already attracted a number of supportive comments. So I hope the bloggers are encouraged by that and produce more, and more frequent, posts.

Pickedup from a Techwhack story via Google Alerts.

Google Buys YouTube and b5.media Obtains Funding

Posted by: of One By One Media on 10/9/06

According to a recent press release Google has agree to purchase YouTube for $1.65B in stock.

The press release:

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., October 9, 2006 – Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) announced today that it has agreed to acquire YouTube, the consumer media company for people to watch and share original videos through a Web experience, for $1.65 billion in a stock-for-stock transaction.  Following the acquisition, YouTube will operate independently to preserve its successful brand and passionate community.

The acquisition combines one of the largest and fastest growing online video entertainment communities with Google’s expertise in organizing information and creating new models for advertising on the Internet. The combined companies will focus on providing a better, more comprehensive experience for users interested in uploading, watching and sharing videos, and will offer new opportunities for professional content owners to distribute their work to reach a vast new audience.

"The YouTube team has built an exciting and powerful media platform that complements Google’s mission to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful,â€? said Eric Schmidt, Chief Executive Officer of Google.  “Our companies share similar values; we both always put our users first and are committed to innovating to improve their experience. Together, we are natural partners to offer a compelling media entertainment service to users, content owners and advertisers.â€?

“Our community has played a vital role in changing the way that people consume media, creating a new clip culture. By joining forces with Google, we can benefit from its global reach and technology leadership to deliver a more comprehensive entertainment experience for our users and to create new opportunities for our partners,� said Chad Hurley, CEO and Co-Founder of YouTube.  “I’m confident that with this partnership we’ll have the flexibility and resources needed to pursue our goal of building the next-generation platform for serving media worldwide.�

When the acquisition is complete, YouTube will retain its distinct brand identity, strengthening and complementing Google’s own fast-growing video business.  YouTube will continue to be based in San Bruno, CA, and all YouTube employees will remain with the company. With Google’s technology, advertiser relationships and global reach, YouTube will continue to build on its success as one of the world’s most popular services for video entertainment. 

The number of Google shares to be issued in the transaction will be determined based on the 30-day average closing price two trading days prior to the completion of the acquisition. Both companies have approved the transaction, which is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2006.  

In other news, our own contributor here at BBC Jeremy Wright and his group at b5.media have secured financing from Brightspark and Rick Segal’s group at JL Albright Venture Partners for $2M.  This has caused quite the conversation to take place about the funding and Aaron Brazell has a good recap of what is being said about the funding.  Congratulations to Jeremy, Darren, Duncan and Shai on this great news.  I for one am excited for the prospects and I am also excited to see what blogging brings next.

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Blogging And ROI: The Holy Grail?

Posted by: of One By One Media on 10/9/06

Shel Israel has put it eloquently in his post about Charlene Li and her attempt to measure blogging’s return on investment.  This is probably one of the most often asked questions when discussing business blogging.  Many executives today are always wanting to quantify blogs and stack them neatly in the corner and count them with the rest of the widgets to be indexed and categorized and their value put on the bottom line to report in the year end accounting.It’s just not quite that simple. 

Sure we can quantify traffic numbers through the use of site tracking applications, but how can you measure the return you get from communicating your company message to potential customers?  You could ask them how they heard about your service through surveys and questionnaires but is that really accurate?  Charlene discusses this:

One of the hardest things to do with blogs is to quantify the benefits, mainly because there’s a blog for almost everything under the sun. For example, you cant compare the ROI of Direct2Dell.com to Microsoft’s Jobsblog as they have completely different goals. Hence, measuring just traffic to a blog or the number of comments on a post means little unless the traffic or the comments are linked to value creation. This gets at the task of measuring intangibles – what does it mean for an additional visitor to come to the blog or contribute a comment?

Charlene breaks down blogging’s ROI into three different categories;

  • Benefits;
  • Costs; and
  • Risks.

As I began to think of the benefits, costs and risks, I was able to make my own mental list of things that companies should consider in the measurement of success of a blog and its return on investment.

These of course are basic categories but for the most part it is a good model to get started. She raises some good points to consider in these areas, and I am looking forward to seeing the results of her study.  If you have any metrics you can provide to her for her study she is asking for feedback and a discussion.

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RSS, Blogs Head Up Holiday Marketing Plans for Etailers

Posted by: of Expansion Plus on 10/6/06

Nearly two thirds of adults intend to do their holiday shopping online this year. Take a tip from the major eTailers’ marketing playbook:-blogs, RSS feeds and viral marketing are what you need to drive all those eager online shoppers to your site.

Nearly half, 41.6 percent, of retailers will incorporate blogs or RSS feeds into their holiday marketing strategy, and 79.5 percent will use viral marketing at social networking sites, like MySpace and Friendster, says the 2006 eHoliday Mood Survey released Wednesday. The study was conducted by BizRate Research for Shopzilla and Shop.org.

And don’t be misled by the perception that these sites are only for teens. More than half the visitors to MySpace are now 35 or over–up from less than 40 percent last year, reveals new data from comScore Media Metrix. 

Of course they have to find your website – so 97.4 percent of eTailers invest in search engine optimization and marketing.

Since shoppers show signs of starting their holiday spree early in November, now’s the time to get your blog and feeds up and running.  Plan a holiday content strategy and create RSS Feeds that will raise your search rankings and distribute your content into the news aggregator sites, making it easier for the online holiday shopper to find you.

 

 

A Bird? A Plane? A New Kind of Corporate Blog?

Posted by: of BlogWrite for CEOs on 09/29/06

Bento_box_bzzagentDave Balter, author of Grapevine and founder of BzzAgent, is up to something intriguing. He launched a new company blog today called The Bento Box (my favorite thing to have for lunch at a Japanese restaurant).

Take a look. It’s kind of a blog as performance art. (Be sure to click on the image above to listen to the audio segments.) BzzAgent has hired two high profile contributors to create the blog: John Butman, a professional writer and author; and artist Seth Minkin.

What really goes on inside BzzAgent?

For the next 168 days (24 weeks), the writer/artist tag team will “reveal” what really goes on inside Balter’s word-of-mouth-marketing agency. The point, presumably, is to counter criticism that the firm hasn’t been totally transparent about its method of recruiting volunteer BzzAgents to spread the word about a new product or service.

As the blog explains:

“Part Blog, part art show, part essay, part media experience, The Bento Box will allow you to nibble on what’s happening inside an operating company in real time, with the goal of thinking differently about your own business, non-profit or community.”

And the Transparency Guidelines as stated on the blog:

  • Employees must approve any usage of their names or likenesses
  • Clients must approve usage of their names for all information that is not already public
  • We will not disclose
    • the personal information of any BzzAgents
    • BzzAgent financial information
    • Confidential employee information
  • We are learning as we go. These rules may change as people get more comfortable with how this turns out, with the ultimate goal of limiting as many rules as possible.

Thanks to a writer for Entrepreneur Magazine for alerting me to The Bento Box.

New RSS Ad Program Feedvertising

Posted by: of Online Marketing Blog on 09/29/06

Feedvertising

A new blog/RSS advertising option has launched this week from the folks at Text Link Ads called Feedvertising, which is a service that allows you to monetize your RSS feeds with ads. Text Link Ads will sell the ads for you, or as is the case with my blog, I combine links to my an affiliate program with Marketing Sherpa along with a few ads sold by Text Link Ads.

Not only is Feedvertising a potential source of revenue for blogs, but it’s also a clever way to cross promote other areas of your blog, company web site or other web sites that you publish.

Here is a tutorial on Feedvertising over at Tubetorial that explains how it works or you can check out the Feedvertising web site.

Co-founder of Text Link ads Andy Hagans took a few minutes to answer a few questions about Feedvertising for me. Basically Andy says Feedvertising is a way to give RSS feed publishers a lot more control over ads and the market is still very new.

What prompted you to develop this tool?

Advertising via RSS is a small but emerging market. We took a look at existing products and didn’t see anything that was very impressive, from a blogger or advertiser standpoint: pricing was often confusing and inefficient; the ads were often graphical or JavaScript-based, resulting in banner-blindness; and finally, most systems left bloggers without any control over what ads ended up in their feed.

We developed Feedvertising with the idea that bloggers should be able to monetize their RSS feeds while maintaining complete control; i.e., they can manually add their own ads or promotions, or sell space through the TLA system, or do a combination of both.

What kind of earning potential is there for advertisers and what’s the business model for Text Link Ads with this tool?

The business model for TLA is to help monetize those feeds where the blogger chooses to do so through the TLA system. We think the earning potential is great, as reaching the influencers who use RSS is a very important marketing objective for companies who are trying to gain mindshare among early adopters or bloggers. Right now we are testing the price points, so the exact numbers will probably change over time.

What do you think of the RSS advertising market? What are some innovative uses of RSS where advertising might be most productive? ie, advertising on a blog feed is one thing, advertising on a new product RSS feed is another.

Again, this market is pretty immature, but so are all marketing channels in the beginning. Our goal is to stay innovative as this channel evolves and expands. As long as we stay commited to delivering value to both bloggers and advertisers, the feature set should move naturally with that.

What kinds of blogs are best suited for this kind of advertising? What kind of traffic should a blog/RSS feed be getting in terms of hits or subscribers before it makes sense to advertise?

Without getting into numbers, it really comes down to advertiser demand. If your blog has a smaller number of RSS subscribers, but those subscribers are mostly business executives (or any other valuable audience segment), there is still going to be demand from the advertising side.

That said, we think Feedvertising is a great product for ANY blog, even a new one or one with small readership; at the very least, you can use Feedvertising to cross-promote your own feature pages, or other sites.

There are other great reviews of Feedvertising at TechCrunch and Problogger.

The Right Way to Put Keywords in Your URLs

The format of your URLs can impact your rankings either positively or negatively. For example, having some good keywords in the URL of a permalink where each keyword is separated by a hyphen (which is what WordPress does when you turn on URL rewriting in the WordPress Admin), can give you a boost in your rankings. It may not be a big boost, but Google engineer Matt Cutts has stated that: “having keywords from the post title in the URL also can help search engines judge the quality of a page.” He goes on to clarify this statement in the Comments of that post saying: “including the keyword in the URL just gives another chance for that keyword to match the user’s query in another way”.

I take that to mean that Google considers keyword-rich URLs in a blog to be a useful factor to consider in determining where to rank your page in the search results. In other words, it’s a good thing, so do it!

But the different blog platforms do URLs differently. Some blog platforms do not use hyphens to separate the keywords. Movable Type and TypePad separate keywords with underscores. Matt Cutts has stated that underscores are not treated as word separators by Google. As such, in a URL like www.myblog.com/several_relevant_keywords.html, Google sees 1 word “several_relevant_keywords” rather than 3 words “several relevant keywords.” In addition, these “post slugs” are arbitrarily truncated at 15 characters in both TypePad and Movable Type regardless of whether it is in the middle of a word or not, so it’d be more like “several_relevan.html” instead. Instead it really should extend the length and drop off the last word entirely rather than have a word fragment.

Hopefully the folks at Six Apart will read this post and decide to change their errant ways in regards to the way they formulate URLs. :-)

If you are one for making long titles to your posts and you are using WordPress with URL rewriting turned on, then you are probably used to having permalink URLs that are quite long with numerous hyphens in them. i would suggest avoiding too many hyphens in the URL; that can look a bit spammy. Rather than letting WordPress create the file name for you, specify your own, taking the most important keywords from the title and stringing them together — each word separated of course by hyphens. Try to keep it to three or fewer hyphens. The place to specify the file name is in the “Post Slug” field in the “Write Post” page in the Admin. Alternatively you can trim down your file names automatically using the Slug Trimmer plugin for WordPress.

And for those of you who have post ID numbers in your URLs instead of keywords, I would suggest switching to keywords in your URLs. I think this is particularly worth doing if your URLs have a question mark in them — as that signals to the search engines that your page is dynamic. Search engine spiders are wary of dynamic pages because they can get caught in a “spider trap.” So best to adopt a URL structure that makes your pages appear static and spider-friendly.

 

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