Tag Archives: Blogging

5 reasons to put blogging at the heart of your content marketing strategy

Do you blog at your company?  If not why not?

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Blogging – even though it’s considered ‘old’ amongst all of the other new shiny tools is still the best way to win hearts and minds amongst your audience.  Blogging is not dead. You can demonstrate your credibility, showcase your skills and experience and really connect with your customers.

If your organisation supports social media communication, and is open to community conversations then you should be blogging on behalf of the company.  You can have great conversations with your readers which will help you develop the next version of the product, streamline customer processes and change perception about the brand.

Why?  Here are some stats…

Blogs on company sites result in 55% more visitors

Blogs are 63% more likely to influence purchase decisions than magazines

Companies with blogs get 97% more inbound links than others

37% of marketers say blogs are the most valuable content type for marketing

Blogs give sites 434% more indexed pages and 97% more indexed links

Blogging should be a key part of your content strategy. The top 3 reasons why people follow brands on social media is to down to interesting content. Blogging gives you the vehicle to write compelling and interesting content for your audience.  As 70% of consumers say that they prefer getting to know a company via articles rather than ads, blogging seems a natural choice.

60% of consumers feel more positive about a company after reading custom content on its site.  It’s hard for them to feel more positive about you if all they have to go on is your standard site with dated web pages.

It helps with your marketing efforts too. 63% of companies said that posting content on social media has increased their marketing effectiveness.  They have gone beyond the campaign with conversational content. 

If you’re still not sure, have a look at the most social companies report from Netprospex.  all of these companies have a great presence online,  Most of them blog (in fact the New York Times has dramatically changed its business model as it recognised the shift to online activities.

Blogging works.  Honestly.  You need to be a good blogger, remembering to post your blogging update at the right time of day.  you need to have the ability to tell great stories.  If you’re stuck for content there are many ways to avoid bloggers block.

As a company, you need to encourage your employees to blog, either to benefit other staff by blogging on the intranet.  Give your employees time to blog

If you want a better way to engage your fans, then blogging should be top of your content strategy plan…

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

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Credit: Annie Mole

Blogging in 2011.. Year in Review

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Looking back over my posts this year have made me reflect on some of my posts.  I’ve posted to this blog 236 times which is quite impressive.  I’ve obviously got a lot to say.

I’ve uncovered some interesting pointers with the things people search for too.  Sweet kittens, kitteh and funny hamsters all appear on my search stats.  But there are valid posts too.  For example:

Phone scamming is still pervasive se people search for Logmein123.com scammers and other calls claiming that your computer has malware

How to cope in corporate environments also seems to be a key topic, with posts on corporate culture and how to change corporate culture

Several social media posts popped up on the list too, such as crisis management, writing your social media strategy and understanding your social ROI

It’s not only posts written this year that are discovered by searches.  Posts I’d written when I was at Microsoft, such as the missing Drafts folder in Outlook 2007 found with MFCMAPI (from January 2009) and importing Outlook into Windows Live Calendar (from April 2007) still turn up in my weekly stats report.

And on the personal side, my post about Johari Windows, written over 2 years ago now, still gets its fair share of views amongst the posts about leadership, social business, and cool technology features.

Reflecting on 2011 has given me some great ideas what to talk about for 2012.  I’m fired up and ready for 2012 to get going

I hope that you all have a very happy, and successful New Year with no bloggers block in sight!  Smile

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Image credit: Cristamos

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Do you really own your online profile?

imageThere have been some interesting issues recently over Intellectual property, privacy, profiles and blog styles.  Who really owns the content you produce on Twitter and your blog?   Who really owns your Twitter account? Who really owns the content you write on your blog? Why does it matter so much?

Blogs can bring big rewards for business.

Successful bloggers pull in hundreds of thousands of readers onto the blog.  A great blog can improve perception about a company. They bring awareness and reach for the blog site owner.  They bring new views to pages with associated advertising.  They bring revenue.  So by protecting their revenue streams its understandable that companies also want to protect their investment in maintaining their strong brand.

Bloggers with a strong personal brand can cost businesses dearly if the blogger decides to move on to another job..

The York Times sued AOL over Trademark infringement claiming that blogger Lisa Belkin had taken her Motherlode blog over to the Huffington post when she moved.  The Motherlode blog was actually still being published by the New York Times but Lisa had called her new blog ‘Parentlode’ to incorporate male and female parenting. The New York Times claimed that it would ‘confuse’ readers

Some companies have clauses in their employee guidelines which talk about IP ownership of content whilst you work for them.  If you have a multi million idea whilst you work for a company you could develop that idea and bring it to production.  This idea could turn into a thriving business and make you millions.  If the idea was somehow related to what your job was, then the company could have a claim on your potential fortune.

But what about followers and friends that you’ve built up over your time at the company?  What about your LinkedIn connections?  If you make connections in the normal course of your job, and add those connections to your LinkedIn profile, are they your connections – or are they part of the CRM database at your employer?

Your Twitter account is yours – isn’t it?

Laura Kuenssberg built up a strong following whilst at the BBC and took her personal Twitter account – and her followers with her when she joined ITV.  Phonedog sued Noah Kravitz when he left Phonedog and changed his Twitter username to noahkravitz, keeping his followers on his personal account.  Phonedog  sued Noah for “(1) misappropriation of trade secrets, (2) interference with economic advantage; and (3) conversion”  This ‘land grabbing’ by corporates over Twitter accounts raises an interesting point for those of you who use your personal online Twitter brand to communicate on behalf of a company.

If you register something on behalf of a company, or maintain a list of passwords and other data, then that data belongs to the company and should be returned when requested.  Similarly, any credentials should be returned to the company – who should already know the usernames and passwords used to access the account.

But is a company Twitter account really a trade secret?

It’s easy to see all followers and all that you’re following, your favourites are for everyone to see, as are your images and public Tweets.  A simple call to the api can track conversations and trends.  Is it really all that secret at all?  The only thing that is secret are Direct messages – and the logon password.  Techdirt sums the argument up well..

If you want him to Tweet as the company, give him the company account.  If you want to him to Tweet as himself, let him do so.  Suing for the account just seems silly and petty.

Rick Sanchez took his personal Twitter account with him when he was fired from CNN taking almost 150,000 Twitter followers with him too.  He tweeted about CNN as a business- but probably mixed in his personal Tweets in his main stream.  Most of us do this – even with corporate Twitter accounts.  Many people Tweeting about a company from a personal have a disclaimer on their Twitter account.  They usually state that their tweets are their own opinions and do not reflect the views of the company.  So why do some companies get so bothered about the loss of followers if they have allowed employees to blog as themselves.  The spam notes blog has some interesting points on how CNN could have incorporated some appropriate clauses into their social media guidelines:

If they had built in contractual protection, it could provide that upon termination:

(1) Sanchez would stop using the account immediately; (2) CNN would have access to Sanchez’s password at all times; (3) Sanchez would not post any public statements without CNN’s approval; and (4) Sanchez would turn over the account to CNN.

Who owns the brand?

If you want to ‘own’ the brand name such as @BTCare, @Bing, @Starbucks, @Ford and @Microsoft Twitter accounts then it’s better to create a corporate brand name and get members of the team to use the corporate account to broadcast on your behalf.  Then, when a team changes, a simple change in password will ensure that corporate identity is maintained.

If your internal staff have ‘personality’ Twitter accounts, be prepared to lose the followers if your employee leaves the company.  Make sure you have great guidelines and policies in place and make sure your measurements reflect the brand not the individual.  Taking staff to court in order to reclaim followers may rebound adversely on the brand.

If you followed a personality, and they left the company and their Twitter account remained with the brand, what would you do?  Would you stay with the brand or would you continue to follow the personality?

Who ‘owns’ the online brand, who ‘owns’ the ‘personality’?

The answer to one seems simple, the answer to the other could be argued in court for some time yet.   Make sure you’re very clear about who you really think you are – before you touch that keyboard…

Eileen is a social business strategist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Image credit: Flickr

9 ways to avoid bloggers block

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It’s difficult coming up with good blog entries but if you blog for a company, blogging might be written into your objectives.  If the company is moving forward in its efforts to become more transparent in business and demonstrate its commitment to its customers, its staff or the environment, then it will be looking towards the corporate bloggers inside the company to spread its message to a broader audience.

But what if you’ve hit that wall of bloggers block?

What if even writing 140 characters in Twitter is a bit of a struggle?  How do you get past that wall

Creating good content for your blog is hard – but it’s even harder if you don’t have any inspiration about what to blog about.  Fortunately there are many ways around bloggers block when it hits.

 

Here are ideas that I use from time to time when inspiration deserts me.

    1. Search the forums.  If you blog about technology then look at the technical forums for the topics that come up time and time again.  These are usually submitted by people who don’t know how to use the forum search feature.  Create a ‘how to’ blog and link to it from the forum.  My post from 2008 on Importing Outlook to windows Live Calendar still gets several hits each day.
    2. Save interesting Tweets as Favourites.  If you see a Tweet talking about something that might be useful as a blog post, save it as a favourite.  You can always come back to the list of favourites later and use the content as a basis for your blog post.
    3. Use Live Writer or Word to save drafts.  I use Live Writer to save snippets of blog posts that need more research, more information, or more content.  I then add to them and publish them when they’re ready.
    4. Use OneNote to save web snips.  I use OneNote extensively to store information that i haven’t got time to read.  My OneNote notebook holds interesting snippets and I use the right mouse button to “Send to OneNote” when I don’t have time to read the whole pdf online.  The great thing about OneNote is its searchable so I can quickly find what I need
    5. Watch the news feeds.  There’s always something to blog about in the news feeds via Twitter and LinkedIn.  Find an interesting topic and talk about
    6. Span social sites for information.  Browse Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google + to see themes that are appearing across the social platforms.  They’ll be sure to give you enough information to start you off with a topic
    7. Write something.  Even if you save it as a draft and don’t go back to it in a while, you’ve started a blog post.  Next time you visit it, you’ll edit it and refine it into something amazing
    8. Don’t focus on Twitter and Google+  They might be the  easy to use, simple, shiny and new, but you can’t demonstrate your professional credibility, ability and knowledge in quite the same way
    9. Don’t give up.  Who knows, one day, blogging could bring your the reach and profile you’ve been searching for.

And tip number 10?  I don’t have ALL the answers Smile What’s your best tip to avoid bloggers block?

 

Eileen is a social business strategist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Image credit: Flickr

Blogging Generosity: Tips to be a good blogger

I like this post on how to be a good blogger.  You can be a good blogger by being a generous blogger.

I particularly like these points:

    • Writes posts that are of service to her reader.
    • Uses her blog stats to figure out how she can create more posts of value for her reader.
    • Reads other blogs as often as she would like to be read.
    • Is grateful for her readers no matter how many, or few there are.
    • Makes it easy for readers to subscribe to her blog.

imageI often have a look back at older posts that are still getting clicks and turn up in searches regularly.  I’m surprised that some of my really old posts, written when I was still at Microsoft, still get queried every week.  These are often the basis of my new blog posts and I’m often surprised at what topics people want to know about.

But repetition isn’t too much of a bad thing.

Posts can be revised and revisited, improved and enhanced.

Blogging is still a great way to get your message out and demonstrate your credibility.  It can lead to an increase in sales leads and it can help your customers review information you’ve told them in the past.

There are a few fundamental blogging tips that span the test of time and are still very valid blogging tips:

Tell great stories to keep the reader coming back to your blog

Blogs are not dead.  Keep your blog alive by regularly posting, blogging effectively and responding to comments.  Don’t lose focus because the next new shiny thing has appeared in social networking circles.

Make time to blog.  Keep your credibility going.  The new shiny thing might not be there forever…

If you want to increase your connections using social blogging then make sure you are in listening mode.  Stop broadcasting.  comment on other blogs, engage and interact.

Be generous with your blog links.  Trackbacks and pingbacks are powerful blogging features that will improve your blogging reach and visibility.

It’s not always about the shiny new thing.  Sometimes traditional ways of working still stand the test of time…

Eileen is a social business strategist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Image Credit: Flickr

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Encouraging your Employees to Blog

It’s quite sad that about 80% of corporate bloggers stop blogging after about 5 blog posts.  Internal blogs are really useful tools that help employees interact.  Blogs enable sharing of knowledge, and connecting effectively with your audience.

The problem is that often bloggers run out of things to say.  They suffer from bloggers block, which was, incidentally, the topic of my very first blog post way back in 2004!  IBM even researched and developed a tool called blog muse, which suggested topics for bloggers to write about – if you can’t find anything interesting to say.

There are several ways to encourage employees to blog whether on internal or externally facing blogs:

Small incentives could be offered each month to bloggers who are considered to have created and published quality content. These incentives don’t need to be financial. Praise and recognition for their efforts is often sufficient.

Great blog posts could be voted on and the “blog post of the month” could be highlighted in wider corporate email communications. Signup using RSS should be encouraged so that users can subscribe to and receive new posts when they are published to the site.

An auto-signature could be added to your blog which points to other relevant social sites such as Yammer for internal communications so that people who subscribe to the blog can easily be made aware of other social channels.

To avoid low numbers of postings from blogs try getting guests to blog for you. Encourage submission of articles from people in other parts of the business. Guest blogs give people confidence to see their work shown online without the overhead of having a specified blog feed for the individual which might not be regularly updated. Guest blogs from different members of the community help to keep the community active. Additionally, they raise the profile of the blogger and encourage further participation.

If you blog about topics that are interesting to a particular interest group, for example. technology look at the forums.  The forums often have repeating threads of questions that go unanswered.  Some are ranked by popularity.  Write a blog post solving one of the most common thread questions, and post a link to the blog post on the forum

Tip of the day posts are always useful.  From personal development to  simple ‘How to’s’ , tips are devoured by readers who look forward to new productivity enhancements.

imageThe benefits of employee blogging can’t be overstated.   If your blogs are not for public use, blogging can benefit the business.  Your company becomes more transparent in its processes and messaging. 

If your corporate bloggers tend to use their blogs to share information outside the company, then you can be perceived as more social and more caring.

A little encouragement can go a long way. Transparent, candour, honest, empathy, trusted and authoritative.  Words that lots of brands aspire to…

Image credit: Flickr

Eileen is a social media consultant and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

 

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When to post your social media update

I’ve often seen data that points to repeating your social updates to catch all time zones.  Guy Kawasaki mentioned that he rebroadcasts on Twitter 3 times per day 8 hours apart to catch the correct audience around the globe.

If you’re following a large amount of people, you might miss their updates – even if they are rebroadcasted.  your messages might also get lost in the spam and other messages in your stream.

But what is the ‘right’ time to post an update like a blog?  Well it depends on the audience you want to attract.

Dan Zarella did some research – covering the US only, which indicates that 80% of your intended audience are online on Eastern and Central time (GMT – 5 and GMT – 6).  If this is your intended market, then this is when you should be broadcasting. 

But when Eastern or Central?

Well if you’re broadcasting information linking to your blog, its best to do this at mid day eastern time, or 6pm:

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Spikes when people are at lunch or home from work.

There’s more data contained in this infographic from kissmetrics which has the data for other types of click through behaviour on the blog.

Some interesting information if your target audience is in the US.  Shame its not worldwide…

Eileen is a social media consultant and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business.

Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Telling great stories

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Image credit: Flickr

 

I talked about ways of measuring your online brand on Friday and ways that you can be discovered online.  There are many ways  to discover your online influence score using online grading tools.  Tools like Twitter grader, Squaregrader etc. and give you an idea how transient this score can be.  Klout seems to be the current darling of influence out there at the moment and Allister has a great write up on how to get the best out of the online analysis service, Klout

Whilst it’s all very well and good flooding the networks with your musings, often a huge amount of traffic can also damage your reputation.  See this post by social media today on how Tweeting too much can adversely affect your reputation – especially if you’re someone who tweets a lot. Your brand might become diluted.

So how do you improve your message, increase your visibility and enhance your brand without spamming?

You need to learn to craft compelling stories. 

 

  • Stories have amazing ‘stickiness’ They can be remembered and repeated spreading the word about your brand.  Think of something one of your teachers told you that has stayed in your mind.  How long ago did they tell you that story?
  • Stories, well told can be compelling and engaging.  They can create an emotional connection with the customer which could lead to several things. Once an emotional connections is made, people could be inspired to do something completely different.  They could take up running for example.  Several of my friends have actually started running after watching me struggle to train for the London 10k a couple of years ago.  It can even persuade customers to buy your product or service if you can make this connections
  • Stories can add to company information.  Scorecards, statistics and data are incredibly dull.  Adding stories around the data – human stories can bring that data to life and enhance the experience for anyone listening
  • With a great story you can change peoples lives.  You can change the way that others feel with a kind word or two.  You can change the way that people think with a compelling story.  You can change the way the people behave with a salutary example.  You can change the way that people act towards each other.  A great story can get people mobilised to action.  Think about Churchill’s ‘We shall fight on the beaches’  speech at the start of World War two when you want to think about a compelling orator
  • Stories advertise your brand.  Whether that’s a personal brand or a corporate brand, a good story can get the message out to your readers in a compelling way.

There are a few things to consider when creating your message:

  • Create your story, work at it, craft it, enhance the facts.  Weave a thread through the tale and give it a beginning, middle and end.
  • Create your desired end goal.  Do you want to inspire action?  Do you want to encourage feedback?  Do you want to make people really think?  Start the story with the aim of driving people to your end goal
  • Find the right way to deliver your story?  Can you write well?  If so, tell your story on a blog, book or other printed medium.  If you want to turn your story into a best practice, report, or set of findings, then publishing it online as a white paper or a pdf on something like scribd would be a good idea.  Are you visual?  Craft images for your story, create a slide deck composed of images only and post it to Slide share.  Have you got a great voice? Record yourself and upload the video
  • Prepare your story, rehearse it and measure its effectiveness. Practice practice, practice. 
  • Listen to other storytellers.  Watch the techniques that make them so compelling to you.  Adapt them and adopt their best habits in your own stories.
  • Listen to feedback.  incorporate it and improve your story for the next time. You will never be perfect.  There is always room to improve.

And bring your audience alive.  Make them change their lives / actions / behaviour / purchasing decision.  make them buy your story, your idea, your book, your services.

Make them buy in to you – and your brand…

Happy storytelling…

 

The blog is not dead

 

Image credit:  Flickr

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The topic of blogging comes up again and again – it’s been coming up for years too.  How to get readers on your blog, how to grow your blog, how to get noticed on your blog.  I’ve been talking about this for ages, when I was at Microsoft, online and at in person events.

We’d spend ages speculating about what made a good blog, what made a great blog, who we wanted to read our blogs, what if Steve Ballmer or Bill Gates read our blog.  How we got traffic, how we’d manage negativity, trolls, comments, links, leaks etc.

I was reading the social media examiner post which shares tips from bloggers about growing your blog traffic.  So I’ve found  one of my old posts with my  to tips for my own blogging best practices and here they are:

 

  • Blog regularly.  Find your blogging frequency and try to stick to it (see tip below)
  • Be patient –building up a blog readership takes time
  • Answer every comment is a timely way.  Don’t keep your audience waiting
  • Don’t sell – you will soon turn readers away
  • It’s not about the numbers – it’s about your influence
  • Be Authentic – and true to yourself
  • Expect criticism – and be humble – no Egos please
  • Don’t blog when you’re  miserable or angry – or drunk!
  • Be generous to others and Link to them in every post
  • Apologise readily.  You will not be right all the time

 

 

Here are a few more tips for blogging effectively.  I originally wrote this post 3 years ago – but most of the points are just as valid now:

 

  • Decide what you want to talk about.  Get a blog “voice”.  The scatter gun approach, covering every topic you can makes readers wonder what you’re all about.  If it’s a technical blog, choose a few topics and stick to them.  You’ll get loyal readers who are interested in what you’re interested in too.
  • Blog regularly.  Whether that’s daily, weekly or monthly, don’t let your blog readers think you’ve stopped blogging, or flood them with 20 posts in a day and then nothing.
  • Don’t blog excessively long posts.  It’s a blog, not a novel.  Use a shorter post to link to the longer article.

My section on “How not to get fired” is still important too:

  • Stay grounded.  This is important.  The extra exposure can easily go to your head (it’s like being catapulted onto the front page of the tabloids, being top of all the search engines and talked about by everyone).  Remember you’re still the same person (but with a blog).  Don’t become an EGO.  Remember, as Andy Warhol said.  Everyone gets their 15 minutes of fame.  You can fall into obscurity as fast as you have risen into fame.

With our growing dependence on Twitter – and the time we spend creating microblog messages, blogging is often forgotten.  We don’t have time, we don’t have the content – we’re too busy gathering content from everyone else, sharing links and interacting that we tend to forget just how important blogs are for our credibility…  Your credibility, my credibility…  You are NOT TOO BUSY TO BLOG!

Anyone who has ever used Twitter search knows how easy it is to find tweets from people who are talking about a topic at the moment – but as a knowledge repository??  Think again…

And put your thoughts down on a blog instead Smile

 

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