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Dec. 29th, 2011 // 5 Ways To Fi ... December 30, 2011  //  0 comments

Dec. 29th, 2011 // 5 Ways To Fire Up Your Blog Audience

Posted in // Social Media Today

Posted by // Yo Naguchi



The current blog audience is more aware of what is available to them in relation to when blogs first surfaced on the cyber scene. In these modern times, it is crucial that a blogger understands the techniques that are necessary to find an audience, but more importantly, the skills that it takes to keep them.



A blog should be just as amusing and entertaining as it is informative and beneficial to an audience. Secure the longevity of your blog by catering to the needs and interests of your clients.



Below are 5 ways to fire up your blog audience.


  1. Quality content
    If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a million times. There is no trade secret or shortcut that will ever effectively maintain the interest of your audience like quality content will.



    Make your content count. Think about the reasons why you visit certain blogs and then, consider what type of content has been popular with your audience in the past. Choose dynamic topics that truly cater to the interests of your audience and take the time to edit your writing.

  2. Relative content
    Always keep in mind that people seek out your blog for specific reasons. Maintain a certain level of consistency and learn to create content that fulfills the expectations of your audience.



    If there are frequent alterations to the theme of your blog, people may become disgruntled or have trouble finding it through search engines. Try not to stray too far from the subject matter.

  3. Personality
    One of the advantages to blogging is that your audience already expects a certain level of intimacy or informality. Your audience not only looks for relative content but also, seeks out bloggers with whom they feel they connect with on a personal level.



    It is important to give your audience the opportunity to get to know you or relate to you in a way that will make them feel they have made a connection. Engage them with your content and keep them coming back for more with your winning personality. You are much more likely to build a loyal audience if they can relate to you.

  4. Throw a party
    The typical image of a blogger is that of a solitary individual but that doesn’t have to be the case. The blogosphere is vast but the good thing is that everyone is looking to establish connections.



    Make friends with other bloggers that have relative content but that don’t compete for the attention of your niche market. Build a symbiotic relationship with other bloggers by allowing guest posts on your page in exchange for a link to your blog on their page.



    Also, make it a point to share any good ideas other bloggers may have on their site but make sure to give credit where credit is due. If your blog creates an inviting feel, people will show. Create a celebration of quality content and they will go out and tell their friends.

  5. Start a fire
    There is one other method that may help conjure up some attention for your blog, an unconventional strategy that calls for caution. That method is controversy.



    No not controversy for controversy’s sake, but something that will play into the grander scheme of your marketing campaign. The most popular blogs use conflict as a means of getting people to talk about important topics.



    There’s no need to be aggressive or ill willed to start a fire but by all means, create some friction. A blog is the last place you have to be timid.



    People respond to loud voices and big ideas. Knowingly use it to your advantage.



    Never let the flame die. Start a fire and ignite the passion the audience has for your blog and effectively enhance your marketing campaign.




Yo Noguchi is a freelance writer and a frequent contributor for a blog hosted by Benchmark Email, a global email marketing provider.

Read the entire post in Social Media Today posted by Yo Naguchi.
Dec. 28th, 2011 // Starting a B ... December 29, 2011  //  0 comments

Dec. 28th, 2011 // Starting a Blog for Your Business in 2012 - Part 1: Early Challenges

Posted in // Social Media Today

Posted by // Chris Vaughn



New years come with many new challenges and adventures. Business, just like people, use the new year as a chance to review the successes and failures of the previous one as well as an opportunity to set new goals and objectives. You might have even already outlined some of your 2012 goals as you get ready to attack the new year.



Here’s one you should add to the list:

In 2012, your business should start a blog.

(And if you already have a blog, then use this year to maximize its reach.)

Why A Blog?



Your goal with a blog is to get found by people you don’t know online. Engaging our clients and fans isn’t easy, but we have access to them. Finding your prospects is a much more challenging task and takes real expertise and hard work.



How do prospects find your business online (mostly)?



SEARCH ENGINES!

The job of a search engine (Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.) is to scan and scan and scan and scan (you get it, they never stop) web pages for content. These search engines use complex algorithms to determine the value of content and page rankings. This ongoing process determines where content appears on SERPs (search engine results pages).


Blogs are most ideal web environment for creating and sharing content for several reasons:


Search Engine Friendly: Search engines aren’t magical; there’s a precise development discipline guiding the ways they scan and index pages. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) experts are trained to research and implement keywords that give your content the authority to help search engines get comfortable returning content to more of the appropriate prospects. Many years ago SEO was a hidden science that created content visible to search engines but invisible to the web visitor. With the advent of blogs, there are now content management systems that house all the most important elements that search engines scan for an a very usable and organized way.
User Friendly: You don’t need a degree from MIT in computer science to understand how to manage a blog. You don’t even need formal web design training. Most blogging software is designed so that the user experience is intuitive, letting the blogger know where the content goes, how to format it, and where to input the important SEO elements (keywords, tags,categories, etc). You may also add plug-ins that will help you share your content across the web. (For example, WordPress has plug-ins that will tweet your new content for you the second you publish it on your blog). Managing a blog is as simple as managing your e-mail.
Great For Customer Support: Blogs have commenting systems that allow the business to interact with its readers and provide top level customer support. Your blogging platform can remind you via e-mail (or even text message in some cases) as to when a prospect or client has left a comment on your content, giving you the opportunity to engage them (prospect) or provide support (client).

Blogging Objectives



I would make zero decisions on the blog (other than deciding to have one for reasons above) before I created and understood a list of its objectives. These objectives will shape the entire scope of the blog and your Internet marketing in general. They will help set guidelines and determine deliverables.


I cannot determine the objectives of your blog as I wouldn’t begin to pretend to understand your business or marketing philosophies, but here are three general objectives I think would apply to most businesses.



  1. Help With Sales

    • Your blog should not only be a source of engaging (and often entertaining) content, but it should provide useful information that help your sales force. The more your prospects and clients know about your industry and your product, the more successful a sales call or visit is likely to go. Creating content to support sales can be done in a variety of ways:


      * Product details and specs
      * FAQs
      * How-To posts and videos
      * Product reviews
      * Photo Galleries

  2. Increasing Social Reach

    • A blog presents a business an excellent opportunity to increase its reach on social networks. Engaging a visitor on your webpage is of the most importance, but many visitors require more than one or two visits before they consider becoming a buyer. Give these prospects the chance to connect with your business on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. They might forget a webpage they visited (people are busy), but chances are they check their social networks daily, and you can grab them again there.

  3. Advertise New Products/Offerings

    • Creating new content to find new prospects is nice and all, but you should give them an opportunity to buy while they are there! While no website or blog should be overly aggressive with advertising, it is important that they understand your service, especially considering all the content that’s being created to get them there. Use space on your blog to host banners or call-to-actions buttons that let visitors know about something you are selling or offering.


There are many other objectives you’ll come up with as you begin. You might be interesting in collecting e-mails for e-mail marketing or gaining YouTube subscribers for your video networks. Whatever your objectives are, list them and make them clear to the people in your business before you begin creating content.


In The Next Installment, ‘Part 2: Getting Started’



  • Defining your blog’s target audience
  • Choosing your bloggers
  • Choosing your blogging software


Read the entire post in Social Media Today posted by Chris Vaughn.

Dec. 27th, 2011 // Social Marke ... December 28, 2011  //  0 comments

Dec. 27th, 2011 // Social Marketing: The Spokes to the ACS Hub -- An Interview with Karen Rose

Posted in // Social Media Today

Posted by // Mike Lewis



I recently connected with Karen Rose, Social Media Strategist for the National Home Office of the American Cancer Society (ACS), based in Atlanta, GA, as part of our interview series on effective use of social media in driving thought leadership, awareness and lead generation. Awareness could not be more excited to be the social media marketing platform partner of choice for ACS – there are a few national brands that have elevated their social media presence and engagement to the ACS levels. It was great to get a deeper perspective on ACS’ approach to Social Reach (read about key social marketing success metrics in our free eBook The Social Funnel: Driving Business Value with Social Marketing), their take on the increasing importance of social marketing, and ACS’ unique ability to listen, engage and educate their passionate followers.



A bit of social media overview for ACS first. Besides their National Home Office, there are 12 regional divisions of ACS, each managing their social marketing independently, with social media agendas and strategies of their own. At the National Home Office level, ACS uses primarily Facebook, with its Fan Page counting close to 250,000 members, and Twitter approaching 200,000 followers. ACS can be found on MySpace and LinkedIn too. The ACS team actively publishes content which includes supporting multiple blogs such as Dr. Len’s Cancer Blog, authored by Dr. Lichtenfeld, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer for the National Office of the ACS, Expert Voices, authored by experts who discuss timely cancer topics, and the Choose You blog, encouraging women to put their own health first.



I started by asking Karen about ACS’ social philosophy and the role social plays in the organization’s overall marketing mix. ACS has embraced the social web as one of their most impactful marketing channels - “we really just need to be where the people are”, Karen put it simply. Karen and her team started to track conversations about cancer in the “early” days of social media. They quickly realized there was a lot of inaccurate information and misconceptions about cancer being published and shared on a daily basis. “Our team had to intervene”, Karen shares with passion, ”we needed to provide sound medical advice and offer ACS’s vetted resources to help patients and their loved one cope with the disease”.



It is not surprising that Karen and her team are maniacally focused on responsiveness. “We use the Awareness social marketing hub and have incorporated our national call center with the Hub now”, comments Karen. ACS monitors discussions on their Facebook and Twitter channels 24/7- yes, including nights, weekends, and holidays. By listening to conversations and responding to people in real time, ACS can influence discussions and direct people to the variety of ACS web resources where information and advice are vetted and clinically sound.



“We want to inform people about the many ACS resources we have so they can stay well and get well ”, continues Karen. ACS’s goal is to inform and educate about screenings, guidelines, support groups, and medical resources. “ACS uses social as the spokes of our hub to pull people back to our web properties”, comments Karen.



It was quite revealing to hear Karen talk about ACS’ selection of social media platforms and their strategy for building presence on social networks such as Facebook. The ACS main Facebook Fan page - American Cancer Society, focuses on cancer, cancer-related topics, survivorship, and care giving, and serves primarily as an information and educational resource. Other nationally managed Facebook Fan pages, such as Making Strides Against Breast Cancer and Relay For Life, are event-based. The Relay For Life Fan page, backed by over 110,000 passionate followers, exists in support of a fun-filled overnight event, celebrating survivorship, and to raise money for research and various programs coordinated by ACS. The ACS More Birthdays Facebook page, with over 300,000 Fans, was created to celebrate birthdays and survivorship. The Choose You Fan page is directed towards women, who want to have their own conversation about prevention. ACS’ approach to building multiple targeted pages on social networks such as Facebook based on users’ needs and passions was validated as a best practice in our recent analysis of over 100 customers using the Awareness social marketing publishing platform. Our analysis showed that best-in-class companies have at least 13 Facebook Fan pages and 10+ Twitter accounts, allowing them to better target the needs of niche communities (you can download our free eBook The Social Funnel: Driving Business Value with Social Marketing for more details).



With such deep and engaging presence, I asked Karen to share some of ACS’ social successes. One of the most impactful campaigns for them is a More Birthdays campaign, which started a few months ago. ACS had several artists and musicians create special art pieces, music and videos, to help ACS followers celebrate birthdays. The artists’ collective body of work was then used to create “Happy Birthday” messages delivered to cell phones and as e-cards. The campaign became so popular that a number of fans responded by submitting their own “Happy Birthday” video responses. “The reaction and sharing of these video messages is phenomenal”, comments Karen. This viral response prompted the More Birthdays team to launch a user-generated artwork contest, including song and video submissions, with the winner to be featured on the More Birthdays Facebook page next to the established artists. At the time of the interview, the contest was still underway, but based on the initial response and number of submissions, I can tell this campaign is off to an amazing start. Karen attributes the success of the campaign to the fact that ACS has given their audience a great outlet to share their stories. “The More Birthdays campaign opened it up for people to allow them to honor a loved one or tell their story”. And in the process, every video and artwork was connected to an aspect of work being done by the American Cancer Society, tying birthday songs to important cancer facts. “In a sense, we have empowered our followers to help us tell our organizational story”, continues Karen. ”This can be truly powerful and long-lasting”.



Karen’s advice to today’s hesitant Chief Marketing Officers who are still not sure social is relevant for their organization? “Do it”, she says,” People are out there, they are talking about your brand, they want to interact with you,” she adds. “It’s important to be there to represent yourself and your organization the way you want to be represented.”



So to any of your marketing skeptics, we join Karen and her team in saying: do it, embrace social to its full potential. Empower your customers to share their stories and see how they weave your own brand DNA into them. And for those of you who actively use social in your marketing – please don’t be shy. Share your successes with us and our community of savvy social marketers by commenting on this blog, on Twitter, Facebook at Social Media Marketing Best Practices and in our LinkedIn Social Media Marketing Mavens Group.



Mike Lewis
@Bostonmike




Read the entire post in Social Media Today posted by Mike Lewis.

Dec. 26th, 2011 // Two Compelli ... December 27, 2011  //  0 comments

Dec. 26th, 2011 // Two Compelling Social Media Trends for 2012

Posted in // Social Media Today

Posted by // John Serpa



A new year is bearing down upon us—YIKES how did it get here so fast?



With holiday festivities in full swing, I’d like to take a swipe at two social media trends I see unfolding with wider breadth in the coming year.



What are they?



'Transmedia' and the 'Micro-Economy'



First, ‘Transmedia’:



As social media goes beyond mere blogging and photo/video/music posts—it’s swiftly moving to become a platform to integrate an “experience” into a marketing schema. Transmedia is essentially a means of telling a story by using surrounding context to determine the meaning for a participant.



Take for example what Coca Cola (in collaboration with E-dologic) did last year. They created an amusement park where guests swiped an RFID (radio frequency identification) wristband at kiosks located with the park that instantly uploaded to Facebook what they were doing, where they were doing it and…(here’s the important part), how they were enjoying it.



E-dologic chief executive Enon Landenberg said: “We’re continuously looking for ways to connect the physical world with the virtual world. The idea behind “The Like machine” is an ultimate solution. It is an innovative and pioneering method, and through it the possibility to involve your Facebook friends in events and experiences that are happening to you around the world becomes a very true reality.”



This brings marketing to a ‘touchy feely’ level not previously attainable. Focus group and survey data, which usually takes weeks to accumulate, decipher, and analyze, can now be reported—in real time. This trend will accelerate. Consider this scenario:



The Acme Company launches a new line of jeans slated for the "tween" market segment. Located in targeted stores are kiosks where customers can immediately swipe their cellphone's QR reader over a device that allows them to input comments, photos, and ratings of the jeans—then, immediately uploads it to the social media platform of their choice (Facebook, Google+, Twitter, etc). In a matter of hours, the marketing staff at the Acme Company can “see” what demographics their product is selling to and where it’s not.



This will span to restaurants, movie theatres—everywhere. The QR invasion and others like it are coming en masse!



Second, the ‘Micro-Economy’:



In 1999, Nobel Peace prizewinner Muhammad Yunnus wrote a compelling book called Banker to The Poor. In this book he told the story of how the Grameen Bank was founded. Grameen was the first bank to issue ‘mirco-loans’ to the impoverished people of India. It revolutionized the world.



In today’s white-water economic rapids, the shift is toward a ‘micro-economy’ where goods and services are brought forth on smaller scales and with a bent towards stratified products.



What’s a stratified product?

It’s where a product is developed based on profiling of a specific taste, feedback message—essentially, personalized. This creates a market for individuals that do not possess the herculean manufacturing and distribution chains of conventional companies. Much like the Grameen bank, it opens up opportunities to individuals once snuffed out by "the big boys."



Social media sites such as Pinterest will bolster this trend. They bring people to products and services via their specificity towards a micro-economy of scale. Pinterest provides a conduit to connect everyone in the world through shared tastes and the “things” they find interesting.



And…social media will play a bigger role in bridging ideas to venture capital. Take for example Kickstarter. This social media venue affords anyone with a brilliant idea to have that project reviewed for funding. Their tagline?



Kickstarter fosters a platform of connecting monetary resources culled from multiple sources and brings them to innovators in a means not previously possible. If you have what you believe is “the next BIG thing” you apply to Kickstarter and your project will be reviewed provided it meets their specific criteria.



George Orwell once quipped: “Advertising is the rattling of a stick inside a swill bucket.” The transmedia and micro-economy thrust will—in my opinion—accelerate in 2012 and rattle the bucket. In a big way. The playing field is being leveled and Madison Avenue will soon become a ghost town…Why? Because the salient truth is that “value” will be determined more from social media experiential exchange than how prestigious your marketing firm is.



Read the entire post in Social Media Today posted by John Serpa.