5 Ways To Succeed On StumbleUpon

August 12, 2008 at 6:31 am | Posted in Blogging, Business, Communication, Marketing, Online marketing, Social Media, Web 2.0 | 5 Comments
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Let’s talk blog promotion.

I was really glad when Chris Brogan posted this post last week regarding StumbleUpon because I’ve been meaning to write something similar. If you check out the image at the top of this post, you will see a list of top referring sites that have led back to my blog since I began. StumbleUpon is not only at the top of the list, but mentioned several times throughout the list.

(Background: StumbleUpon is a social voting/referral tool. After joining for free, you download the SU toolbar. As you go about your daily business, you have the option of giving a thumbs up or a thumbs down to any page. Likewise, you can connect with friends and “stumble” across sites they have liked.)

Like Chris, I have had lots of traffic thanks to StumbleUpon and highly recommend it. In this blog post, I will give you some helpful advice about using StumbleUpon and then list some other similar sites and why they didn’t work as well for me.

Best Practices For StumbleUpon

You can find some great online resources with SU advice, but here are my personal recommendations:

  • Don’t just vote for your stuff. When I started, I was thumbing up my own work only. This must be a big no-no because I received almost no traffic with this method.
  • Get involved in the community. Duh, I should have known this one. The more friends I made, the better recommended pages were for me and the more eyeballs who would see my posts.
  • At high tide, all ships rise. Like all good web 2.0 tools, this is an “and” economy. Your posts don’t suffer because you thumb up someone else’s. Give thumbs up to authors you trust and SU seems to give you more props for knowing good content.
  • Don’t be a pimp. I don’t stumble all of my posts. I wait until someone else does (which seems to give more stumble-juice) or I only thumb up my best material. This seems to give more “weight” to the ones I do choose.
  • The more you give, you more you get. SU has given me another opportunity to connect with some of the brightest folks I’ve ever met. Don’t try to game the system – you will receive as much or more than you invest into it.

Notice what’s not on that list of referrals at the top? Most of the other social voting/referral sites. Here is my run-down on some of the more prominent ones in this space. (This is just what I have personally observed. If you’ve had success with these, more power to ya.)

Continue Reading 5 Ways To Succeed On StumbleUpon…

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What Is Twitter? A Beginners Guide

August 11, 2008 at 7:04 am | Posted in Blogging, Business, Communication, Marketing, Online marketing, Public Relations, Social Media, Twitter, Web 2.0 | 5 Comments
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Courtesy of aaardvaark via Flickr

Courtesy of aaardvaark via Flickr

You may have heard of Twitter and be a little confused. Early adopters have been playing around with it for a couple of years, but Twitter finally seems to be making it into the mainstream.

This is a brief users guide for those curious about how it works, wondering about its value, and wanting to get the most from the experience.

What Is Twitter?

Twitter is commonly referred to as “micro-blogging.” While this is an accurate description, I’ve found that it confuses some people (non-bloggers especially).

Imagine it is a post-it note. You don’t have a lot of space (140 characters) so brevity is required. When you jot something down on your post-it note, it gets stuck to your refrigerator door, much like you might do at home. However, in this scenario, anyone can see the notes posted on your frig. And you can see anyone else’s.

How Does It Work?

Like most web 2.0 applications, the best advice is to just try it out. (You can’t do it wrong and you won’t break it – just give it a whirl.)

You sign up with a name of your choice. After that, find people you know or are interested in following. Twitter can pull from your email contacts to see if your friends and family already have Twitter accounts.

Twitter accounts are identified with an “at” symbol in front. So when discussing your Twitter account, you would say @YourName. Events use a hash mark. For instance, you can search for all Olympic tweets using #080808.

You can view anyone’s notes (or “tweets”) and anyone can sign up to view yours. Don’t worry – you will get an email letting you know every time someone follows you.

And of course, all of this is free.

Continue Reading What Is Twitter? A Beginners Guide…

Sometimes Breasts Aren’t Enough, Julia Allison

July 28, 2008 at 6:25 am | Posted in Blogging, Business, Communication, Facebook, Marketing, Online marketing, Public Relations, Social Media, Twitter, Web 2.0 | 11 Comments
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Courtesy of jbhill via Flickr

Courtesy of jbhill via Flickr

I have been trying to figure out why WIRED’s cover story on Julia Allison incensed me so much.

You won’t find me bashing Paris Hilton or her ilk on this blog. As someone who barely watches TV, her brand of reality-show insta-celebs barely register on my consciousness. However, I do dwell in the PR world, the internet world, the social media world…and when you screw around in that world, I consider you fair game.

I don’t normally do hit pieces. I am usually positive about how marketing/PR/advertising can make the world a better place (no small task, believe me). But the Julia Allison story deserves some response on this blog because it illustrates:

1. How not to do PR

2. How not to use web 2.0 social media tools

3. How not to run a magazine

Here’s a quick recap of the article: WIRED portrays the piece as a “how-to,” giving advice on the art of online self-promotion. It details how a woman in her mid-20s weaseled into the digital pages of Gawker, Valleywag, and (now) WIRED.

On the splash page before the article, WIRED writes, “She can’t act. She can’t sing. She’s not rich…[S]he’s an internet celebrity.” In case you missed the underlying message, it’s that WIRED just gave a cover story to someone devoid of talent. Here is why Julia Allison is a terrible example of self-promotion, a warning of the missteps of public relations, and why WIRED ought to be ashamed.

Continue Reading Sometimes Breasts Aren’t Enough, Julia Allison…

Make Money Writing A Blog – Guaranteed!

July 14, 2008 at 6:50 am | Posted in Advertising, Blogging, Business, Communication, Marketing, Online marketing, Public Relations, Social Media, Twitter, Web 2.0 | 9 Comments
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Courtesy of jbhill via Flickr

Courtesy of jbhill via Flickr

Please forgive the link-bait title. But I do have a guaranteed way for you to make money from your blog. (Do I sound like a huckster yet? Stay with me.)

Gather ’round, kiddies, because this could change your life. And this secret is free.

The secret to making money through your blog is: Be Amazing.

Surprised? The inconvenient truth of the internet is that it works the same way as the real world. In order to make money, you have to work hard and be good at what you do. The pyramid schemes are bunk and no one gets rich quick.

Believe me? You should. And if you do, I have just freed you from the shackles of mediocrity. Can I hear an AMEN?!

Mitch Joel runs a blog and a weekly podcast, both entitled Six Pixels of Separation. Here’s what he says in SPOS #108:

“Everybody wants to know: How do you make money in this stuff [roughly, the online channel]? …It was really cool to see David [Usher] and Michael McCardy [from EMI] really take a different stance. And they were like, ‘You know what, guys? If you create something really amazing, whether its music…or products or services, people are gonna notice. These channels are gonna enable you to spread these messages far and wide. And because they will, you’re going to get more sales than you could ever imagine possible.'”

In other words, don’t blame the microphone if you have nothing to say. Mitch goes on to explain his reaction:

Continue Reading Make Money Writing A Blog – Guaranteed!…

The Seven Deadly Sins Of Social Media

July 1, 2008 at 5:52 am | Posted in Advertising, Blogging, Communication, Companies, Facebook, Marketing, Online marketing, Public Relations, Social Media, Twitter, Web 2.0 | 18 Comments
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Social media like Facebook, Flickr, and Delicious has been around for a couple of years now and companies are starting to dip a tentative toe into the water. While such courage should be applauded, serious missteps have occurred that embarrass the offending company.

And it is not the courageous steps that have been embarrassing, but the sheer level of assholery with which companies have partaken their social media experiments. Because social media is all about sharing, collaboration, and communication, it is little surprise that folks expressed outrage at the heavy-handed or downright immoral dealings of the companies outlined below.

In this post, I will list five of the deadly sins as outlined by Joseph Jaffe’s speech at the ANA’s Integrated Media Conference and then offer two additional sins of my own.

From Joseph Jaffe:

  • Faking (Sprint): The phone company released ads in which the CEO offered an email address, giving the opportunity for communication. Instead, a corporate shill auto-responder emails back.
  • Manipulating (Sony): The maker of the PSP created a fake blog and attempted to manipulate the conversation. They ended up garnering a deserved “golden poop” award.
  • Controlling (T-Mobile): The phone company sent cease and desist letters to a popular blog for using a color they claim to have trademarked. The blogosphere revolted and T-mobile missed a chance to meaningfully engage with its customers.
  • Dominating (Target): A blogger was ignored by the retail giant because they felt she didn’t have the clout of traditional media outlets. After the blogger gained more and more attention, Target claimed that their continued silence was based on a lack of adequate staff.
  • Avoiding (Starbucks): The coffee giant already felt a squeeze from its consumer base, but avoided a fan’s desire to visit every store was passed on. The only response to the fan was one of suspicion.

In these cases, the sin is not that the company was just stupid (though there’s no shortage of that). The sin is that they failed to engage at a pivotal moment with an active community that supported them with their checkbooks. They refused to join the conversation and felt the ramifications.

Here are my two nominations to round out the deadly sins of social media:

Continue Reading The Seven Deadly Sins Of Social Media…

Pitching To Bloggers Done Wrong

June 18, 2008 at 6:59 am | Posted in Blogging, Communication, Email, Marketing, Online marketing, Public Relations, Social Media, Web 2.0 | 4 Comments
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Last week, I gave an example of the correct way to pitch to bloggers. In this post, I will show the wrong way to pitch to bloggers – learn from this person’s mistakes and do not repeat them.

Bees and Honey

I believe in positive posting – attracting more bees with honey and all that. Anyone can be smarmy and abusive, but if you are going to do a hit piece, I think you need to have a good reason and do your research.

The thing that really grinds my gears is that I laid out a perfect plan for pitching on Thursday. So when I got this email – not 24 hours later – I was shocked at how poorly virtually every element was handled. Click the picture to the right to read the email.

I thought I was clear the first time at the way to successfully pitch bloggers. But I guess some folks can only learn from “Do Not” instructions.

  • No introduction: If she was able to get my email address, she certainly could have gotten my name.
  • Wrong information: My “Clearcast Digital Media blog”? Does she mean “Comcast” or was she referring to these guys? Who knows? But clearly she does not know me.
  • Marketese: If she’d read my white paper, she would have known that marketese is death. But I’m given a full serving in this email, from start to finish.
  • Bad writing: In addition to the marketese, she’s inconsistent with her italics, occasionally writes the authors name’s in capital letters FOR NO APPARENT REASON, and also capitalizes words haphazardly. Here’s a tip: If you are writing to a blogger who writes about writing, know how to write. ‘Nuff said.
  • Continue Reading Pitching To Bloggers Done Wrong…

The First Tweet-Up

June 17, 2008 at 6:18 am | Posted in Blogging, General, Marketing, Online marketing, Social Media, Twitter, Web 2.0 | 3 Comments
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I went to my first tweet-up on Thursday and had a blast. The Colonel from the Chicago Tribune hosted the event and it had a surprisingly large turn-out. I’d like to tell you about my experience and give yet another reason you social media types and marketers need to be poking a toe into the twitter water.

A What?

A tweet-up is a meet-up conceived on Twitter and/or bringing together folks who follow each other through the service. While everyone there used Twitter, the social media capabilities spread far and wide, including Stumblers, Yelpers, and good ol’ bloggers.

Two Chicago Traditions – Talking and Drinking

I didn’t know anyone there, but it was not difficult to discern that the chatty, type-A personalities in the front were my people. @BobbiDigital said it best – “I just looked for the people on their iPhones.” I met some nice folks, including @kvetchingeditor, @BrentDPayne, RodRakic, and @LenKendall.

There weren’t a lot of strictly marketing people there (I didn’t have a chance to say hello to local marketing celebrity @Armano), but it was still useful to hear how other people were using social media. Maybe it was especially advantageous that they didn’t use it for their day job.

Continue Reading The First Tweet-Up…

Pitching To Bloggers Done Right

June 12, 2008 at 6:26 am | Posted in Blogging, Coke, Email, Facebook, Marketing, Online marketing, Public Relations | 9 Comments
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There’s been a lot of hubbub around pitching to bloggers. The Chris Andersons and Gina Trapanis of the world don’t want to be solicited to by PR companies. They have some good points – including explicit warnings not to email them – and I don’t fault them for their actions.

However, PR does serve a valuable purpose in business and it’s certainly not going to disappear in the new media landscape. In this post, I will describe essential elements of a stellar PR pitch to a blogger.

The Right Pitch

I received a great email yesterday from Christina at The Advance Guard for Coke’s new Facebook widget. Here are the good things about it that too many journalists and PR folks forget:

  • Short: The total email was 130 words long. Already, this sends the message that she respects my time.
  • Introduction: In one sentence, she explains who she is, who the client is, and why she’s writing to me.
  • Description: Again in one sentence, she sums up the product with a minimum of the adjectives that decrease believability (“best,” “great,” “unique,” etc).
  • Seduction: I would have made the mistake of describing at least one feature or benefit. Instead, Christina piques my interest just enough and then leaves me two links from which to garner the specs. I had clicked these links before I even finished reading the email.
  • Continue Reading Pitching To Bloggers Done Right…

What Would You Do With An Extra 15 Hours Per Week?

June 7, 2008 at 9:41 am | Posted in Blogging, Communication, General, Marketing, Online marketing, Web 2.0 | Leave a comment
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Just like Ringo, I get by with a little help from my friends. I am happy to be featured as a guest blogger on Drew’s Marketing Minute. Please visit Drew’s blog and read my post.

I recently suggested quite a few media outlets to cover if you hope to be an A-list blogger. In my guest post, I explain how you can create time to do so.

I guarantee that if you follow the guidelines, you will create a minimum of 15 extra hours per week. Imagine using all of this time to research your dream profession, write a blog about it, promote that blog, and achieve the success you want. Heck, maybe that means finally being able to quit your day job.

Don’t expect it to be easy. These are life-changing suggestions and they require effort. But I know they work – I’ve been living by these guidelines myself for almost 8 months. Read more at the guest post: Could you find an extra 15 hours?

Writing Content In A Web 2.0 World

June 4, 2008 at 5:39 am | Posted in Blogging, Communication, Facebook, General, Marketing, MySpace, Online marketing, Search, Second Life, SEM, SEO, Social Media, User generated content, Web 2.0, White paper | 11 Comments
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You’ve heard all the hype about Web 2.0, but what does it all mean? How will it affect your business?

How do you communicate with potential readers and customers in this new era?

My free white paper, Writing Content in a Web 2.0 World, answers these questions and:

  • What exactly is Web 2.0?
  • How should your writing style change?
  • How has online interaction changed and what will this mean for the future of business?
  • What is the secret new currency in this market?

Download the white paper here: Writing Content in a Web 2.0 World

(The white paper is in PDF format. Download the latest version from Adobe here.)

And of course, please join the conversation! Leave comments here with your thoughts and suggestions for this or future white papers.

I considered requiring you to subscribe to my enewsletter to download the white paper. After all, if you were interested in this subject, it’s a sure bet you will be interested in my other content.

However, I’ve decided that this requirement does not fit well with my overall strategy or the community environment found in a Web 2.0 world.

Rather, I would just ask that you consider subscribing via email or RSS. Thanks!

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