How to Make Your Blog Not Suck #SMM2011

Yesterday, I spent the day at the Social Media Masters conference in Atlanta, soaking in ideas and insights from several minds across the industry.

One of the sessions I was most looking forward to was about corporate blogging. I enjoy blogging, mainly because I’m a writer at heart, but also because I believe it is a powerful tool to spread your message.

This session was led by Mark Schaefer, a consultant, professor, and author with a deep knowledge of the blogosphere and how to implement blogging into your brand’s marketing campaign.

Mark’s session revolved around 10 reasons to blog and 10 reasons to make your blog not suck. Anti-suckology, as he says. Write that one down. Every company is different and these rules and reasons may not be implemented in the same manner for all. I would like to share these points from Mark and show how I implement them on the agency side with BFG Communications (and on here as well).

10 Reasons to Blog

1) SEO benefits: Blogs increase your search presence. At BFG, our posts that include key words related to points of interest to our community helps this cause.

2) Differentiation (The holy grail of marketing). We use the blog to showcase our unique interactive work and points of view. It helps us differentiate from other agencies out there.

3) Infinite search life. A blog will last forever (if you keep it up). People searching for topics years from know in which we wrote about may be drawn in to our blog. It provides a lasting online presence.

4) Integrate sales strategy with other channels. At BFG, we use our blog as a sales tool. It helps to show clients that we know what we are talking about. When clients are convinced, that leads to sales.

5) Crisis management. We haven’t had to put out many public fires at BFG that I am aware of, but our blogging presence would be a resource for this if it ever occurred.

6) Focus on strategy and POV. I do this from a personal level all the time. Blogging helps me clarify my opinion and viewpoint on certain topics. It gives you time to think and read for yourself what you sound like. Sometimes I find I sound like an idiot, so I try to change that before I publish.

7) Re-purpose content in newsletters and whitepapers. The content team at BFG is scaling the depths of the Internet all day, Christopher Columbus style. We find and re-purpose a ton of information that we hope others will find interesting.

8 ) Reference library. We have years of posts in the blog hopper at BFG. I have found several instances when I have been asked questions about topics I previously blogged about. No need to reiterate this argument when you have it in place already.

9) Internal communications.

10) PR opportunities / massive reach. Pimpin’ aint easy, but a blog makes it a bit more breezy. Spread that outreach through your blog. I promise that will be my last reference of those sorts.

10 Ways to Make Your Blog Not Suck

1) Get your ducks in a row…first. Think about your content strategy for blogging before hand. On the BFG blog, each team member tries to post at least 1 post per week. This helps to keep the content flowing and retain interest from those reading.

2) Entertain. My personal rule for all of social media is that I have to have at least 1 specific person in mind who I think would enjoy whatever I am about to say. If not, it probably isn’t worth saying. People like fun things. If you don’t like fun, I probably don’t want to be your friend. Unless you are a robot, because I’m OK with non-fun robots.

3) Consider culture. We try to keep it real at BFG, and this is reflected on our blog. I say silly things that may not fly at other companies. It provides a look into how your company operates daily for potential employees and clients.

4) Go ahead and sell. Why not? We post about our successful campaigns at BFG. We are proud of them and want to share that with others. Nothing wrong with that, in fact there is everything right about that. Be confident, not cocky.

5) Social validation. Like it or not, people judge your online blogging presence based on retweets, “Likes”, etc. It is part of life, so roll with it. A good portion ofthe BFGInteractive office is on Twitter and often shares blog posts they find interesting with others to help validate our presence.

6) Engage leadership. We are fortunate at BFG to have a C-team that understands the power of social media (including blogs) and let’s us run with it. Thanks guys.

7) Deputize. Get everyone involved.

8 ) Leverage your content. At BFG, we feel like we have knowledge in several fields related to the interactive and digital space. We have a lot of content related to this already created, which we share through our blog often.

9) 5 steps to a perfect post

  • Compelling headline
  • Original viewpoint (I usually always try and integrate my own thoughts and point of view into a post.)
  • Courage to be imperfect (Everyone messes up. Such is life. Don’t be afraid to take risks.)
  • Don’t write, rewrite
  • Timely

10) Lower expectations. Don’t set goals you know you can’t achieve. Start small and work your way up.

Thanks Mark for sharing this with us. It has certainly made me think a bit more about why I blog and why I should continue to do so.

27. August 2011 by Alex Trevisan
Categories: Interactive, Social Media | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Blink 182’s Fan Montage Video

Let’s take a journey back in time 10 years, when Napster was a hot topic of debate and Blink-182 came blasting through the speakers at my middle school dance as I awkwardly tried to dance to in all my white-boy glory. Copyright infringement as it relates to digital music had just begun to cause a stir, and has been a point of conversation since then.

Flash forward to the present. I don’t use hair gel anymore and my teeth are a lot straighter. Also, Blink-182 is attempting a comeback with their first single in over 8 years. In doing so, they are issuing a bit of a subdued commentary on digital copyright law by thanking fans for using their music without permission.

Partnering with AT&T, Blink-182 searched YouTube for every instance of fans using their music without band permission, and compiled this into a music video for their single “Up All Night”.

It’s always refreshing to see a band or musician thank their fans in a fun matter, even if it crosses touchy lines. It has also made for a cool video and will likely gain additional press for the band. I’d say it’s a win.

Is it fate that I found this video as Blink-182 was playing on my “Music from a time when I was way cooler than I am now” playlist? Yes. Now if only I had a Gap fleece or Old Navy Tech Vest, I’d be set.

04. August 2011 by Alex Trevisan
Categories: Music, Video/Film/TV | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Erase Billboards with Augmented Reality

Ever walk past a billboard or OOH ad that really grinds your gears? Personally, I don’t get too worked up over outdoor advertising in most situations, but there is hope yet for those who do. PublicAdCampaign and The Heavy Projects have partnered together with an augmented reality campaign to erase ugly billboards.

The pair created a feature using augmented reality browser Junaio that washes away unfavorable outdoor ads. When viewing a billboard through the browser on your iPad or iPhone, the image present is replaced with artwork from several indie artists.

Augmented Reality Advertising Takeover in Times Square from Will Sherman on Vimeo.

The feature is currently in beta mode with a limited number of sites around NYC available for use. The end goal for the campaign is to gather enough artwork to be able to cover every piece of unsightly propaganda in the city.

Public Ad Campaign is an activist group that advocates against advertising in the public environment, so this campaign is a good fit for them. I applaud them for utilizing an upcoming technology to spread their cause. Attempting to wipe away outdoor ads in America’s advertising capital city is a whole other battle. Bless their souls. Someone needs to bring these guys to Hilton Head, where zoning laws for outdoor ads are stricter than that second grade teacher that made you read an entire chapter every night. I feel like stress levels would be greatly decreased, and this would be a much better situation for everybody. Can’t we all just get along?

02. August 2011 by Alex Trevisan
Categories: Advertising, Interactive, Mobile | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

The Future is Streaming

Last week, Netflix announced a new subscription plan that ushered in an increase in prices. If you were online for any period of time over the past several days you have likely heard this. After the announcement, Netflix saw a great deal of backlash across social media with those displeased about the changes.

On one hand, a 60% increase in price while offering no extended benefits is quite the change. On the other hand, starting online riots over a luxury item that is in no way a necessity is a bit much. This past week has proven just how much people like their movies, and if you want to get in the way of that you better be backed by a Spartan army.

If you would like to get a recap of sentiment surrounding Netflix’s announcement, head over to their Facebook page. The pricing change post currently has over 75,000 comments, most of which are negative.

The company’s customer service lines have been jam packed with subscribers calling to complain, and many who are outright canceling their service. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say I don’t think this was the reception that Netflix had planned for.

Whether or not this change in price is justifiable at all is one thing. However, an unarguable fact remains that Netflix could have done a much better job explaining the reasoning behind the increases. Instead, consumers were shot with a 60% increase in price bullet, while Netflix has done very little so far to heal the wound.

If I was the CEO of Netflix, I would have taken a cue from the past and approached things quite differently. I also wouldn’t have said that Americans are “self-absorbed”, but that’s old news.

Blockbuster is a perfect example of the path I believe Netflix is partially headed down. Blockbuster collapsed because of their narrow vision and inability to adapt. For whatever reason, they believed that brick-and-mortar stores could carry them into the future. This was obviously not the case.

I think this is the perfect time for Netflix to take a slight change in direction. The future is in streaming. Netflix is arguably the current streaming movie and TV show leader, but no one owns that space. Hulu Plus and Amazon both have somewhat comparable streaming services.

The time is right for Netflix to pump all they have into their streaming service. The most expensive aspect of this move would be licensing rights, which by no means would come cheap. In order to have a massive streaming library, Netflix would have to spend millions, and likely billions, on licensing. However, this would cut down on a ton of overhead. Netflix could sell off their physical DVD collection. They wouldn’t have to purchase storage space to house these DVDs. They would not spend the millions that they do on postage.

Redbox is to Netflix as Netflix is to Blockbuster. Several years ago, Netflix beat out Blockbuster in terms of convenience and price. Today, Redbox has Netflix beat on convenience and price. You can find a Redbox in most areas and get a DVD the same day without having to wait for it to come in the mail. With the new Netflix pricing of $16 for a combined streaming and DVD plan, you can watch 16 Redbox movies a month for the same price. I don’t have numbers on this, but I doubt the average Netflix user goes over this amount per month.

Of course Redbox has limitations, such as a scaled down DVD library, but I would say they have Netflix beat on price and convenience at this point.

If Netflix wants to continue at the top, now is the time to innovate. Innovation doesn’t come in the form of upsetting your fan base while giving back nothing in return.

My prediction for the future is that someone is going to come out on top in terms of video streaming in the next few years. That company is going to make a lot of money. This has already happened in the music world. When was the last time you purchased a physical CD?

So, Mr. Netflix CEO, Americans may be “self-absorbed”, but this one is trying to help you out.

I’m sure there are varying opinions on this topic, so I’d love to get your input and comments.

17. July 2011 by Alex Trevisan
Categories: Deep Thoughts, Technology, Video/Film/TV | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Knitting Up A Storm

At the core of every social network is a common interest of some sort. Facebook is successful because people are interested in the daily occurrences in the lives of their friends and families. Twitter is popular because it caters to your specific interests by allowing you to follow people and brands that you find amusing. As long as there is community, there will be products and technology that target these groups of people.

In the past, people have raised issues with being part of a massive social network, mainly related to privacy. Google+ is attempting to levy some of these concerns with their Circles feature, which enables you to filter the information you share by groups. First we wanted the world, now we want a more private world.

The idea of a closed community based on a single common interest built the framework for social networking site Ravelry. Ravelry is an online community all about knitting. Fans of knitting and crocheting, along with yarn-makers, knitting stores, and clothing designers flood the site. They will never be as big as Facebook, but that isn’t the goal. Keeping the community closed maintains a level of conversation in which every member has an interest in.

Founded in 2007, Ravelry currently has 1.4 million users, and there is still a mass amount of knitting enthusiasts throughout the world that have yet to get on board.

Ravelry users choose a screen name which displays instead of their actual name. The only personal information many users choose to share are their knitting projects. Even with the anonymity factor, trolls are more scarce than on other sites. People take pride in their knitting, and they generally do not want negative comments associated with their work and profile.

Ravelry isn’t the first highly targeted social network by any means, but it is proof that social media is still in its young stage of life. There are many large groups and communities out there that have yet to be tapped into online.

I think exclusive communities are going to be at the forefront of the next social media wave of activity. Facebook, Twitter, and now Google have put everyone in one place. It will be tough for a startup to dethrone any of these companies without a ton of cash and manpower. The next move for startups will be to find a unique niche in the market and build around them. This has begun to happen over the past several years and will continue to do so.

07. July 2011 by Alex Trevisan
Categories: Social Media | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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