December 20, 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.

Anatomy of a Successful Blog Contest

Links are the foundation of Google’s ranking algorithm, and so, link building is a crucial part of SEO. To be really successful at link building you need creativity, because without a great buzzworthy idea, your “link bait” will fall flat. One way to bait for links is a blog contest. If you do it right, even the most un-sexy of products (like stationery) can become sexy.

Consider for example the overnight printer of stationery and business cards OvernightPrints.com. Creating a buzz which drives a torrent of traffic to that type of website could be challenge. We at Netconcepts rose to the challenge, dreaming up a brilliant (if I do say so myself!) and inexpensive contest that involved the Internet celebrity and Technorati Top 100 blogger Jeremy Schoemaker. The contest was: Win business cards for life by designing Jeremy’s new business card. Here’s the winner, which is one sweet business card IMO:

Shoemoney's business card

Let’s take a closer look at what makes a blog contest such as this a successful link building strategy…

  1. Come up with an impressive prize (or at least one that sounds impressive). In the above, the prize was a lifetime supply of business cards. A “lifetime supply” of anything sounds impressive. You can use the fine print to put some limits on it — like OvernightPrints.com did by capping it at 1000 business cards per year for a maximum of 20 years. That adds up to, well, peanuts. ;-)
  2. Get a partner with some name recognition who’s willing to promote your contest. If you’re a blogger, try to land a partner organization that you can piggyback off of their brand recognition. If you’re a brand, get a well-known blogger to partner with you. Jeremy Schoemaker was great; he has a massive following. Ride on the coattails of that partner’s brand by enlisting their help in spreading the word about the contest. They need to be willing to hawk your contest on their blog and in social media. Jeremy posted multiple blog posts (with good keyword-rich links) and a YouTube video and some tweets on Twitter, for example. (Thanks Shoe!)
  3. Promote the heck out of the contest yourself too. Don’t just rely on your partners to do it for you. With the above contest, we reached out to a bunch of design sites. And they took the bait. They loved the contest and promoted it to their community and linked to our contest page. What a great thing to add to your resume if you’re a designer, that you came up with the winning design of the business card for a famous blogger — out of over 400 entries no less!
  4. Make sure the contest entry pages lives on your site. Not on your partner’s. You want the link juice flowing directly to the site you are looking to promote in the search engines. As you might guess, the contest entry page was on OvernightPrints.com, not on Shoemoney.com or anywhere else.
  5. Keep it simple. There are numerous ways to run(ruin) a blog contest. If you want it to be a success, create a contest that is easy for users to participate in. People online are lazy and impatient — even if they aren’t like that in the real world (Something about being in front of the computer triggers it!). So, the more effort a contest requires, the lower the participation level. OvernightPrints.com kept it simple: “Design ShoeMoney’s business card”.. and win a lifetime supply of business cards.
  6. Make it relevant to your business and to your targeted search term. It wouldn’t have made any sense for OvernightPrints.com to run a contest where you write a letter to the President and win a trip to Washington DC. For Overnight Prints, their money term is “business cards”. Being on page 1 in Google for that term is worth big bucks to Overnight Prints. This contest moved them onto page 1, and in fact, onto the top half of page 1.
  7. Involve the community. Jeremy narrowed it down to 7 finalists and then asked his readers to help him decide. The participation factor is huge. It makes the blog’s readers much more invested in the outcome.

A good contest has synergy — it’s a win-win for all parties (blogger, brand, contestants, readers) and having the right partners means that overall the whole is greater than the sum of the parts (i.e. everyone does much better than if they had embarked on it individually). Yes this contest was a huge success for everybody involved. Of course OvernightPrints was the biggest winner of them all: they got relevant exposure, buzz, links, rankings and traffic. Use the above 7 step formula and hopefully you will have similar success yourself.

Secrets to a Faux Blogger’s Success: Fake Steve Jobs

Usually faux blogs get lambasted on the blogosphere for violating the unwritten business blogging rules of transparency, openness, and authenticity. (Remember Raging Cow?) Not so with “Fake Steve Jobs,” aka Forbes columnist Daniel Lyons, who gave a hilarious speech at the Web 2.0 Expo last Friday. The 25-minute video is embedded below:

Lyons’ main points about his successful blog are:

  • It’s material he’s excited about
  • He has fun writing on FSJ
  • He embraces audience participation
  • The mystique behind FSJ’s identity helped build the blog’s readership

Lyons covers three “Whys” behind the Fake Steve Jobs blog: why he got into blogging (fear and boredom), why he chose Steve Jobs (he’s narcissistic, Apple has bad PR, and Apple fans tend to be so, well, fanatic), and why it works (it’s the audience!). When he first learned of successful business blogs like Jonathan Schwartz’ at Sun Microsystems, Lyons thought it was a great idea. But what if one of those blogging CEOs went crazy and posted all kinds of un-photogenic, not-approved-by-PR material? Thus Fake Steve was born, and readers found it interesting. He had 90,000 monthly readers within 6 months of launch.

“I think what’s happening in media is profound and interesting. This thing [Fake Steve Jobs] is all very wrong, obviously very stupid and primitive, right? But it’s a great way to learn about how new media might work. I think the biggest change we’re going to have is the involvement of the audience. Where Internet media is going to get interesting is when we start really exploiting the uniqueness in it rather than paving a cowpath. First generation Forbes.com was, take the print magazine and put it online. Hulu was take TV shows and put them online. But when we start involving the audience, and having people form a group to entertain themselves, I think that’s going to get really interesting.”

Teen Blogger Says “No” to Mowing the Lawn

Recently, at the BlogHer conference in Chicago, my 16-year-old daughter Chloe gave her first conference presentation on “professional blogging.” Chloe got to share her story about “making money while she sleeps,” based off of the popular virtual pets site, Neopets.

Watch some of the highlights from Chloe’s panel at BlogHer:

At 15, Chloe, like many teenagers, was looking for a way to make money. She had decided that she didn’t want to mow lawns in the neighborhood, babysit, or flip burgers–instead she hoped to turn her love for Neopets into dollars, by simply making a few, smart SEO decisions using keyword research tools like Google Suggest and WordTracker, and find trusted sources to build links for her blog. With the success of her blog, Chloe attempted to integrate Google ads, but wasn’t able to because of WordPress.com’s restrictive terms of service that forbids the use of AdSense or other third-party ads. Not long afterward, Chloe moved her entire blog to the domain neopets fanatic.com, which is currently ranking #4 for “neopets” out of 6.2 million results. (I’m so proud of her!!) Currently, her blog produces $20 to $30 per day in AdSense revenue, which totals an average of $700-900 per month for only a few hours worth of work on the site. If Chloe were working a minimum wage job at McDonalds, she’d have to work 25 to 30 hours per week to make that amount of money!

Chloe’s story should not be an unusual one. Anyone can turn SEO common “sense” into “cents,” by using the knowledge and the tools that are available.

Blogs as SEO Tools

Posted by: of Online Marketing Blog on 01/23/07

Can blogs be optimized for search marketing? Absolutely! Blogs are basically content management systems with additional functionality such as comments, trackbacks and RSS. In many ways, blogs are no different than web sites.

If a document can be optimized and that document gets indexed, categorized and ranked by any kind of search engine, it’s an opportunity for search marketing. As such, marketers should be aware of how document optimization within various channels can be used within the overall online marketing mix. Blogs are one of many platforms that benefit from optimization.

At a minimum, using blog software to manage certain kinds of content on a web site such as an online media room, to archive newsletters, post frequently asked questions and to provide product updates can make a site that is otherwise very search engine un-friendly, become a viable source of great rankings. This applies to both regular search engines as well as blog search engines. These are applications for a blog besides the common use as a platform to increase credibility and communicate a more personalized voice for a company.

Blogs are no silver bullet though and require working hard and smart – especially smart. However the payoff can be significant. To prove the point that blogs are effective tools for improving search engine visibility, I can offer that my own blog (Online Marketing Blog) receives the majority of it’s traffic from search engines.

Here are a few Google ranking examples of the top referring search phrases in the past month for Online Marketing Blog:

Even more niche phrases bring in quality search traffic such as:

which are all services our search marketing agency provides. Of course the rules can change slightly over time, but here are a set of benefits I often find myself explaining to people wondering about the search engine optimization benefits of having a blog.

  1. Structured content – Blog software with category features allows the aggregation of content according to themes. This makes it easier to algorithmically categorize content. If you can make it easier for search engines to understand your content, you have a much better chance of ranking well on those topics.
  2. Crawlable URLs – Most blog software offers uncomplicated URL structure, making it fairly easy for search engine spiders to find and crawl blog content.
  3. Internal links – Blogs that post product or service related information can deep link anchor text to product information or purchase pages deep within the web site. This is very beneficial for ranking on long tail phrases.
  4. Inbound link magnet – One of the biggest benefits, blogs link freely to each other – much more than web sites do. Blogs are also a significant source of many posts to social news and social media web sites. Text, audio and video are all easily supported for syndication by blogs. The more media available, the more likely it will attract incoming links. Additionally, there are many widgets and plugins that make it easy to share blog content, thus encouraging links and traffic.
  5. RSS – Links to RSS feed urls that use the blog domain name will assist in building link popularity and when RSS content is syndicated or cited by other blogs, any embedded links will also assist in sending traffic.
  6. Fresh content – Both readers and search engines reward fresh content with repeat visits. From a search engine perspective, that means your site can be crawled more frequently, allowing your new content to become searchable more quickly. Fresh content is also indicative of a more authoritative web site.
  7. Active community – Comments and trackback features in blog software encourage interaction. An active blog community creates the kinds of citations or signals from other sites (annotated and contextually relevant links) that search engines tend to reward in the rankings. Loyal blog readers can boost a site’s visibility through advocacy on other blogs, in forums offline at conferences as well as on their own blogs and within the comments of your blog.
  8. Non-Search traffic – I think the greatest benefit of having an active blog has little to do with improving your search engine rankings though. The best thing about blogs is that they allow you to generate substantial amounts of traffic via RSS and links that have NOTHING to do with search engines. My recommendation to marketers in 2007 is to pursue traffic alternatives to search engines as aggresively as their budgets and marketing programs will allow. The result will be incremental increases in site traffic with search engine referred traffic an added bonus, if not correspondingly enhanced.
  9. Blog & RSS Directories – With a blog and corresponding RSS feed(s), your site can now benefit from visibility within blog and RSS search engines. Web sites without feeds (your competition maybe?) are not included in these kinds of directories and search engines.

Felllow BBC’er Stephan Spencer has also written extensively about optimizing blogs and using blogs as SEO tools.

So there you go. A basic list of practical reasons a blog can be beneficial as a site optimization tool and for improved web site traffic along with practical examples. What SEO benefits have you found from having and promoted a blog?

More Benefits of WordPress for Sites other than Blogs

In speaking last week with friend and colleague Alan Rimm-Kaufman, he told me of his company’s plans to switch their company’s site to WordPress. Very timely that he would mention that to me given my recent post about WordPress for non-blogs. I asked Alan to write these points up, they were so good. He agreed, and blogged it. In summary, Alan says WordPress provides company site owners with:

  • editing without needing to know HTML
  • easy handling of “rolling events” like speaking engagements
  • post-dating of articles so they can automatically “go live” on the scheduled date (as is required with embargoed articles until their print publication date)
  • reader participation through comments
  • organization of the content using tags
  • seamless handling of pre-existing URLs
  • easy addition of new functionality (because it is “open source”)
  • free support by the very responsive developer and user communities

I’ll just piggy-back on Alan’s points a bit:

  • Because WordPress is such a popular blogging platform, it’s easy to find developers to work on it. It also certainly doesn’t hurt that WordPress is written in PHP — the most popular programming language on the planet!
  • WordPress is easily extensible through the use of plugins. Many hundreds of plugins exist already. It’s also pretty easy (if you’re a developer) to write your own plugins. That’s a lot more elegant that directly hacking the WordPress code base.
  • Maintaining inlinks to former URLs can often be accomplished just by making the “post slugs” (filenames) consistent with the old site then adding a rewrite rule to the .htaccess file that maps to the new URL structure. If that’s not possible, you can always create a comprehensive list of 301 (permanent-style) redirects to add to your .htaccess file.

So I made my case for running WordPress on non-blogs, based primarily on the positive impact on SEO that you’ll get out of doing so. This rounds out the reasons for switching to include compelling reasons beyond just search rankings.

Actually, I’ll add one more. WordPress allows you to add cool sidebar widgets, such as the Swicki buzzcloud, with the greatest of ease. I love widgets! (A swicki, by the way, is a custom search engine, like this one, and a buzzcloud is a tagcloud type thing but of popular searches rather than tags, like the one in the right column on my daughter’s Neopets Cheats site.)

For Joe Cipriano, to be a blogger is to be a mentor

Watching the excellent online seminar series by Apple, “The Podcast Recipe“, really inspired me to get serious about podcasting and make produce something really professional. If you want to start podcasting, or if you want to do it better, then this online seminar is essential viewing!

From that seminar, I also got inspired to reach out to one of the presenters, Joe Cipriano, for an interview. Joe is one of the most recognizable voices on TV and film. He does voiceovers for NBC, Fox, CBS, Food Network, and several motion picture studios. As you can imagine, this keeps him very busy. Yet he also manages to blog (his blog can be found here) and to even create video podcasts that give an inside view of his craft. I found his video from the voice over booth at the 58th Primetime Emmy Awards (he was the announcer) particularly fascinating.

For someone who is so highly sought after by the television and motion picture industries, Joe probably doesn’t need to do any marketing. So why does Joe blog? What does he get out of it? I was curious to hear his motivations for blogging and podcasting and any lessons learned along the way. Here’s what Joe had to say…

In what ways has the blog has been helpful to your business?

It’s given me a chance to meet and interact with some of my peers all over the world and and also young talent who are just beginning their voice over careers.

Any lessons learned by doing the blog?

When you start a blog…you’re going to get a LOT of spam :-) I spend the most amount of time deleting spam messages that come in to the blog.

Why did you start blogging?

My web designer suggested it about a year ago and I thought it would be a great way to interact with clients and others with an interest in voice overs.

What’s been the time commitment required to blog? Do you plan on increasing it?

I should spend more time with it, but I do like to come up with different ideas to present on the blog. Most of my blogging deals with entries from voice over hopefuls who have questions about studio equipment, moving their career along and tips on getting started in the business. I started a new entry recently that had nothing to do with the business of voice over with the title, “What’s Your Perfect Weekend.” It has nothing to do with voice overs and I encourage readers to submit their “perfect weekend.”

Where does podcasting fit in for you? And where will it in the future?

I have a couple of video podcasts up on the blog. I’ve gotten the most response to these. People are fascinated to actually see what a voice over session is like. To produce the video podcast, I use my MacBookPro and built in iSight in the bezel of the screen, recording directly into iMovie for these little video tidbits. I take the audio from the studio itself rather than the microphone in the MacBookPro. It gives the effect of the “real” full fidelity sound of the session.

What’s the pay-off been for you of doing podcasts versus regular blog posts?

I guess it’s the difference between reading a magazine and watching a video. Sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words.

So there you have it. Joe’s blogging is a way for him to give something back, to help voice over hopefuls break into the industry and hone their skills. Very cool! Good on ya, Joe!

In these troubled times of flogs (faux blogs) and disingenuity orchestrated by PR firms on behalf of their fat cat clients, bloggers like Joe are a breath of fresh air! They are the reason why I am still so enthusiastic about blogging.

WordPress – Not Just for Blogs

I’ve made the case for WordPress as a CMS (content management system) for corporate sites, using the website of my company, Netconcepts, as the guinea pig. We switched from a home-grown content CMS to WordPress in August and the commensurate traffic increase over the few months since launch was significant. I shared some traffic graphs to illustrate, in a recently published case study. The funny thing is, I doubt many visitors ever guess Netconcepts.com is powered by WordPress just by looking at it.

Now that I’m convinced of the benefits of a search engine optimized, WordPress-powered corporate site, we decided to give WordPress a go on a microsite, one that we just finished for our client, Countrywide. The microsite is Credit Demystified. We’ve equipped the site with all the SEO goodies that I’ve blogged about before, like a tag cloud, tag pages, my SEO Title Tag plugin, Technorati tags, etc. One breakthrough we made with the site was adapting the Ultimate Tag Warrior plugin to handle static pages, and not just posts. More on that here.

I think using WordPress for a CMS on sites other than blogs has a lot of merit, in terms of the SEO benefit. Know of any non-blogs powered by WordPress, particularly ones that are having some success with their search engine rankings? I’d love to hear of them!

Viral Marketing with Blogs

Posted by: of Online Marketing Blog on 11/29/06

On my own blog, I’ve written several times lately on how blogs can be effective tools for viral marketing campaigns. One can look no further than the One Red Paperclip promotion for an example of how these kinds of viral campaigns using blogs can work.

A recent viral campaign using a blog that is under way now is My Super Proposal. This is about a guy, “JP” that is trying to catch the attention of a major advertiser to foot the bill for a commercial where he’ll propose to his girlfriend during the Super Bowl. Doritos and the NFL.com are currently running such contests. He’s staying somewhat anonymous so as not to tip off his girlfriend.

A blogger and search marketing friend of mine, Joe Morin has connected with JP to help him promote the site and get media coverage. More about how that all started here.

The blog started out asking for donations big and small in order to raise $2+ million for a Super Bowl commercial, but those ads are now all sold out. He did manage to raise $74k though, which if not spent on a commercial, will be donated to a children’s hospital.

This Super Bowl Proposal blog has been covered by the likes of AdRants & AdJab already and there’s even an interview with “JP� over at the Nashville City Paper. NPR and USA Today should be running stories soon along with some buzz within the blog and search marketing communities such as this post on the Search Engine Watch blog.

Should JP pull this off, or even get close, it promises to be one of the more creative ways to use a blog for viral marketing and hopefully make a young lady very happy.

Oh for the love of dog!

Fellow Business Blog Consulting contributor Toby Bloomberg alerted me to this MySpacesque site for dogs and dog lovers: Dogster. If you thought a dog having a blog wasn’t out there enough, how about a dog with its own home page where it can share photos, connect with dog friends (a la LinkedIn and MySpace), and chat on forums as well as on its blog!

Dogster are monetizing the site through Google Adsense, banner advertisements and some sponsorship deals, but I think they have only scratched the surface of monetization with paid placement, contextually relevant text link ads and so forth.

I can’t imagine who the heck would actually pretend to be their dog talking and writing up a story from the dog’s perspective and posting it to this site or, worse yet, to maintain an ongoing DOG BLOG from the point of view of their pet. Sheesh! I imagine these are the same people who dress their dogs up in cute little dog outfits, surprise the little pooch with a dog birthday cake, and tuck them in at night into their doggie sofa beds.

The lesson for us business bloggers here is that it might make sense to think bigger picture — i.e. not just about creating a blog for our business or our client’s business, but rather expanding that vision and creating a full-blown social networking community where the blog is just a piece in the overall puzzle. Toby seems to think the concept has merit because she is offering a service to help companies create social networking communities. So give her a shout if you have an interest.

Nikon and eBay Get Hip to Social Media

Are you wondering how large companies can tap into the popularity of social media, Web 2.0, and other contemporary trends in the online world? Well, they could just pay $50,000 and set up a commercial MySpace account (no kidding, that’s the base fee for a fancy professional profile) or they could actually be inspired and tap into the popularity of YouTube or Flickr and do something really cool…

That’s exactly what auction giant eBay did when it created an admittedly cheesy 75 second introductory movie promoting an upcoming course they’re offering to the eBay seller community. They filmed the movie then simply uploaded it to YouTube and mentioned it on the eBay Chatter weblog to help drive more customers to the training course: check it out. Cool!

Nikon did something even more cool, though: it picked out a group of existing Nikon digital SLR photographers from popular photo sharing site Flickr and sent them brand new Nikon D80 camera setups. Their assignments? Take pictures, send us your best. The result? Stunning Nikon. A very savvy marketing effort!

I applaud both companies for experimenting – and succeeding – with social media and look forward to more companies tapping into the wisdom, enthusiasm and verve of popular social media.

An extended version of this article, with samples from Stunning Nikon and the eBay YouTube video, can be found at eBay and Nikon: Examples of New Media Marketing.

A Blog Conversation

Posted by: of One By One Media on 09/12/06

An interesting development transpired here at BBC, a blog conversation broke out.  BBC contributor Stephan Spencer’s post PR Firms Comment Spamming? began a small conversation with the VP of Connors Communications.  Stephan had assumed a comment left on his blog about the long tail was a PR firm touting the latest client’s software program.  Although Stephan was mistaken in his assumption, through the use of blog mining or RSS (now I’m assuming), Mike Levin the person that left the comment, was able to correct his mistake.  In fact Mike was touting the application he had developed for Connors Communications. 

An open conversation was the result, and although Stephan and Mike may disagree on the use of comments on a blog, it is clear that their exchange was civil, and exactly what companies can use a blog to develop, an open commuincation with their customer or clients. 

Sorry Mike, now it’s my turn to provide some feedback.  After going to the Connors website, I wanted to rush to read your blog since you had indicated you were a passionate blogger in your comment.  I looked far and wide and could not seem to locate that blog.  On a whim I decided to check out the hard to find navigational site map link and searched a long time again before I found the link to your company blog.  You are correct by stating in the comments here:

I read many blogs, and sometimes I am compelled to leave comments, just as comments on our blog are welcome. I think if you read a few of my blog posts, you will find me to be sincere and on the level.

I read a few of your blog posts and you are definitely on the level and sincere.  The problem or at least what made it difficult was the navigation to your blog.  If you don’t make it easy to access those blog posts people may never get to find your wisdom.  A simple “Read Our Weblog” button or link in the top left with the rest of the navigation would prove to be beneficial to you and Connors Communications.

Great job gentleman and lets keep up the blogging conversation.

New Social Media Tools

Posted by: of Diva Marketing Blog on 08/31/06

One aspect that gives social media its power punch is the ease in which we can share and link information. Tools are being developed as fast as the growing blogosphere. Just when you finally figured out how to spell del.icio.us up pops a toy box of new fun – from a tool that sounds like a disco dance linkaGo Go to something that you’d find on a dessert bar Raw Sugar.
How to keep track was a nightmare for most people. Offering more than a couple of options to your readers was even more frustrating. Lee Odden, Online Marketing Blog, has developed a couple of nifty social media tools that make all that a snap. In true blogger kindness, has provided them gratis. Of course, what would you expect from one of the Business Blog Consultant site contrbutor bloggers.
The first tool allows you to add a social bookmark menu after each post or on a static web page. The jazzy thing about this tool is the social bookmark links are presented in a drop down menu to save screen space.

The second tool is an RSS Button Maker. By placing your cursor over the orange RSS icon a list of the top RSS readers folds out so you can subscribe using your favorite reader.

Sweet!

Spam Attack!

Posted by: of One By One Media on 08/28/06

You never really know what good something is doing in the blogosphere until it is broken and you don’t have it anymore. Over the weekend, the popular spam assassin Akismet was down and out. I only knew this after logging in to my site and seeing over a 1000 comments. At first I thought I had been the newest news story out there and my popularity had soared through the roof based on something that was said in the land down under. I was far from that fantasy.

With as many as came through the filters in that period of time, I was convinced that Akismet would be worth it even if I had to pay for the service (my site does not make enough money to be paying for the service yet. They require big companies to buy a license fee). I spent most of the day cleaning up the comments and the trackbacks and wasted a better part of my day.

The folks at Akismet had the same thing to say on their blog:

“I’m really sorry about this, when things are working smoothly it’s easy to forget how much vile junk is actually being blocked day to day.”

The better part of this lesson is that the folks at Akismet could talk to me about their problem. I don’t mean to say that they called me up at home while I was cursing all things spam, but when I went to their blog they had the information right there on their site and I was able to know what happened in real time. I knew that the glitch came after an upgrade or some similar technical backend move and it caused the system to fail. I was given the problem, the solution and an apology. Here is a company that understands the power of a blog as a communication tool.

Blogging for the Good of Mankind

You can do search marketing for the good of mankind, so why not blogging for the good of mankind? There are issues-focused blogs like the environmental blog TreeHugger. Now there’s a network of blogs for good, founded by Paul Chaney of Radiant Marketing Group. Way to go, Paul! It’s a brilliant idea; I hope it really turns into something big. Doug Kaye (founder of IT Conversations) is another blogger/podcaster with a social conscience… he’s started the podcast channel Social Innovation Conversations.

I too am inspired to blog for the benefit of mankind and the planet. The way I have decided to make a difference is by starting a blog to give visibility to ideas that I and other bloggers have that will make the world a better place in some way. It could be an idea to improve the environment, to help out a charity, to advance human rights, etc. I’ve just launched this blog, which I am calling Changes for Good. I would love to get some of you bloggers as contributors. Please contact me if you are interested. And of course, any and all links would be greatly appreciated. :-)

How to Blog About Something Other Than Your “Widgets”

Posted by: of BlogWrite for CEOs on 05/3/06

Here’s a truism about corporate blogging: generally, nobody cares about your widgets. What people do care about is stuff related to your widgets – cool things you can do with them, related lifestyles, corresponding industry issues, etc. This is where it gets a bit trickier. Should you be deadly serious? Can you have a bit of fun??

The cleverest tack I’ve seen lately is one taken by the Ethics Crisis blog. It’s the marketing companion to a business called SRF Global Translations. (The blog appears to be the company’s Web site, as well.)

SRF is a family-run business established in 1976 that provides “mindful, nuanced, professional multilanguage translations” of unglamorous materials like corporate codes of ethics and compliance documents.

Not the kind of widgets that make you say “cool” but certainly a very useful service.

So what’s the blog about? Well, there are sections for serious discussions of global ethics. But the fun part is an Ethics Confession page where you can type in — anonymously — the most unethical thing you’ve ever done at work (“we’re not talking about taking home the office pencils,” the blog advises).

After you’ve submitted your 250-word anecdote, readers vote on how egregious your actions were… More

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

Blog Buzz from WOM and CGM

Posted by: of Online Marketing Blog on 03/7/06

With some of the recent attention towards blog relations, there’s no question that buzz marketing through blogs and similar consumer generated media is on the rise. Blogs are many things including marketing tools for business and also voices to be heard – consumer voices that provide insight into a marketplace. Availability and ease of communications along with creative tools make consumer generated media (CGM) a force to be reckoned with.

Recently Al Gore’s Current TV announced that they are looking for consumers to create commercials for its commercial sponsors (AdJab). I think you’ll see more of that as marketers and consumers embrace the medium.

At the Search Engine Strategies conference in New York last week, Rebecca Lieb of ClickZ moderated a session including Dave Balter from BzzAgent, Pete Blackshaw from Nielsen BuzzMetrics (Intelliseek) and Jim Nail of Cymfony who presented on creating and measuring buzz using blogs and word of mouth (WOM).

Some interesting stats and insights from the session:

  • According to a study by McKinsey, two thirds of the U.S. economy is influenced by word of mouth.
  • 50% of negative WOM happens because of a feeling of injustice on behalf on the value of the brand.
  • Blogs are indexed at a faster rate and will enter search results more quickly. Brands have an oppotunity to leverage this to acquire more “shelf space” in the search results.
  • Just because journalists are not writing about an issue or event, doesn’t mean it’s not being talked about.

Overall it was an excellent session. Here are notes on the entire session on CGM and Blog Buzz.

Is BlogBurst a solution for new journalists?

Posted by: of A View from the Isle on 02/20/06

The question this weekend wasn’t if the Americans would win in hockey (the women just earned the bronze), but how BlogBurst (just in beta from Pluck) would compensate bloggers who sign up for their program to re-publish blog posts in MSM newspapers. A comment left on Techcrunch indicates that there will be a revenue share once BlogBurst leaves beta, so that is good news (sorta).

The larger question is, then, what will this mean for the MSM? Can newspapers re-build or reinvigorate their online readership with blog content? Blogs are certainly getting a lot of attention, and blogs, IMHO, are building and enhancing the ideas sparked in the MSM, seems to me that it would be a nice compliment to have blog posts related to a topic supplement online content.

It will remain to be seen, though, what the revenue model will be and how it pans out for bloggers.

More on my blog here

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More on the new Google China Blog and what it means in relation to Google’s cooperating with the Chinese government to censor search results

Posted by: of BlogWrite for CEOs on 02/18/06

I’m quoted in today’s San Jose Mercury News in an article about the new Google China blog: “Google launches China blog a day before China hearing.” The reporter, Elise Ackerman, has just been assigned full-time to “Google” as a beat which she was really excited about. She phoned me late yesterday for an interview. Could hear her madly typing as we spoke, as she was on deadline. The story got a “weird edit” at the last minute, Elise said in an email this morning.

As in a, um, run-on sentence:

“Debbie Weil, author of the forthcoming “The Corporate Blogging Book: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know to Get It Right,” said the idea [of the blog] was sound, but did not bring up the questions Google faced about its dealings with China overshadowed what would otherwise be a chirpy corporate branding effort.

[Update: the run-on has been fixed.]

The point of the article is the rather odd timing of the launch of Google’s chirpy China blog one day before the contentious hearings in the House this week.

BTW, I agreed with Joe Nocera’s provocative column in yesterday’s New York Times about the hearings: Enough Shame to Go Around on China. His point…

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How Prentice-Hall uses blogs and podcasts to improve sales

This is one of those great “some companies really ‘get it’” stories, the kind of thing I love to hear about as someone riding the very tip of the technology rocketship (think Slim Pickens in Dr. Strangelove and you’ll have my mental image exactly). Prentice-Hall Business Publishers have the same challenges that any company today faces, including motivating the sales force, identifying the key message or messages for marketing and making sure that the team stays on message rather than wandering off into pointless information that isn’t going to close any sort of deal.

But unlike most companies, PH decided to tackle the problem with blogs, podcasts and simulation games. It’s darn interesting:

  Blogs, Podcasts and Simulations Improve Sales at Prentice-Hall

What have you done to help your sales team succeed today?

 

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