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…

No One Cares, You Are Doing It Wrong, And That Is Awesome

August 7, 2008 at 6:27 am | Posted in Advertising, Blogging, Boomers, Business, Communication, Generation X, Generations, Leadership, Marketing, Net gens, Online marketing, Public Relations, Social Media, Web 2.0 | 5 Comments
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Courtesy of jbhill via Flickr

Courtesy of jbhill via Flickr

Marketers are confused these days. The things that have worked for decades aren’t working anymore. Can you imagine if you worked for 30 years in your given vocation and then, almost over night, all the rules changed?

In truth, marketing is only now becoming what it truly should have been – a conversation. Less lies, less spin. Marketers have been shoveling marshmallow fluff down the mouths of Americans and telling them it’s broccoli. And suddenly, as quick as you can confuse metaphors, we find that the emperor has no clothes.

I admit I’ve been frustrated with the old-school marketers. “What is with these guys, and why can’t they get it together?” But that’s not fair. Their whole world has shifted beneath them. I came to a better understanding watching a recent Robert Scoble interview with IBM engineer Mike Moran. (I highly encourage you to check it out: Robert Scoble’s interview with Mike Moran. It’s only 12 minutes long and well worth your time.)

Moran gives a cogent explanation of why marketers are having such a difficult time in the new web 2.0 environment. Here is a small sample:

“The change that’s really happening is you have to learn how to attract people to your message rather than pushing it at them. You have to figure out how you’re going to listen when they talk back. And you also have to watch what they do. Those three things are really critical because once you do them, you have to figure out how to respond.

Those three things are really critical because once you do them, you have to figure out how to respond. When I say ‘Do it wrong quickly,’ it’s not you trying to do it wrong, it’s that you kind of admit that what you’re doing is probably wrong because it usually is. And then you have to look back at the feedback from your target market to see how far off it is so that you know what to do next. And that’s really a tough change for a lot of marketers.

That seems really simple, but think of it: a whole industry has changed in a matter of what, less than a decade? That is pretty outstanding. It’s going from monologue to dialogue, from lecture to conversation, from directing to caring, from crossed fingers to metrics.

Continue Reading No One Cares, You Are Doing It Wrong, And That Is Awesome…

Handy Hints For Fixing Your Confusing Information Architecture

August 5, 2008 at 6:39 am | Posted in Barlow, Janelle and Claus Moller - A Complaint Is A Gif, Books, Business, Communication, Marketing, Online marketing, Usability | 4 Comments
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Courtesy of recursion_see_recursion via Flickr

Courtesy of recursion_see_recursion via Flickr

Information architecture isn’t sexy. In fact, good information architecture (or “IA”) shouldn’t be something your website visitors even notice.

Information architecture is basically how your site is designed. We’ve all seen site maps – those are basically outlines of your IA. It’s the organization of your website, how things are arranged, and it needs to make sense to your visitors.

Unfortunately, not enough businesses focus on their IA or they assume their customers use their site in the same way they would. This blog post explains why you must pay attention to your IA and includes some handy hints to figure out if it’s working.

I Can See Clearly Now

The non-profit Institute for Dynamic Educational Advancement (IDEA) recently released a study called Finding Information: Factors that improve online experiences. One of the main findings was that visitors are looking for “simple, accurate, fast, and easily navigable web sites.” Visitors to websites reported feeling lost on websites or not knowing where their desired information was in much higher percentages than the designers of the websites.

Your designers may have the best of intentions and be highly creative, but it’s up to you to ensure your customers can find the information they need and know where they are on your site at all times.

Website navigation starts with your IA. Here are some handy hints to help you determine whether your website is easily navigable and, if not, how to start fixing it.

Continue Reading Handy Hints For Fixing Your Confusing Information Architecture…

Marketing Is Dead; Long Live Anthropology

August 1, 2008 at 6:15 am | Posted in Business, Communication, Forrester, Li, Charlene and Josh Bernoff - Groundswell: Winning in, Marketing, Online marketing, Research, Social Media, Web 2.0 | 6 Comments
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Courtesy of jbhill via Flickr

Courtesy of jbhill via Flickr

I’ve had a little case of writer’s block this week, so I started with the basics: I read the definition of “marketing” in Wikipedia.

The impetus of this was a comment I wrote on a recent Brazen Careerist article in which I boiled down marketing to selling stuff. Really? That’s the business I’m in? I get up at 5am to write because I love making crap fly off the shelves?

Listen to Wikipedia’s definition: “Essentially, marketing is the process of creating or directing an organization to be successful in selling a product or service that people not only desire, but are willing to buy.”

Bleh! Sure, there’s creation and desire (positive), but there is also directing and willingness to consume (negative). It’s almost like it’s not enough for them to buy it; you gotta make them want to buy it. Make ’em beg.

Frankly, this doesn’t sound like the business I’m in at all. I find marketing these days to be customer based – where are they and what do they want? – and less, well, skeezy. Ideally, marketing these days isn’t invasive or worthless or annoying. In fact, marketing these days sounds a lot more like anthropology than marketing.

What do you think? Are web 2.0 marketers really anthropologists of the present time? Don’t we study why certain people behave a certain way (and how to influence that behavior)?

Continue Reading Marketing Is Dead; Long Live Anthropology…

5 Essential Tips To Jumpstart Your Marketing Career

July 25, 2008 at 6:12 am | Posted in Business, Communication, Generation X, Marketing, Net gens, Online marketing, Social Media, Tweens | 3 Comments
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Courtesy of jbhill via Flickr

Courtesy of jbhill via Flickr

My syndication through BrazenCareerist has made me think a lot more about my career path. In part, my vocation (online marketing) did not even exist when I was in college.

How did I get here? And how can I help others find success in their marketing careers?

I posed the following question to my friends in the WordPress Marketing Bloggers Network (WMBN): “What was the most important lesson that prepared you for your marketing career?” Their replies were insightful, honest, and practical. Here are 5 essential tips to help you on your way to a career in marketing.

I guess I would boil it down to two words: Don’t Stop. Don’t stop writing, thinking, learning, meeting people, whatever. Once you stop, you’re done. Try something new or different and if it doesn’t quite work, don’t stop, just try it a different way. Marketing is about constantly tweaking, even when it’s working.

-Rick Liebling, eyecube

As a creative guy (copywriter), it was sometimes frustrating to see the client change something that I’d worked really hard on. But then a creative director sat me down, explained that my passion was admirable, but it was their money. It’s important to state the argument, but if they don’t agree, it’s their money.

Then, we went for a beer.

-Matt Hames, Share Marketing

Continue Reading 5 Essential Tips To Jumpstart Your Marketing Career…

21 Considerations Before Your Business Starts A Social Network

July 22, 2008 at 7:20 am | Posted in Blogging, Business, Communication, Forrester, Marketing, Online marketing, Research, Social Media, User generated content, Web 2.0 | 9 Comments
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Courtesy of jbhill via Flickr

Courtesy of jbhill via Flickr

Social networks are all the rage and many of my posts at OnlineMarketerBlog recommend social tools for businesses. However, there are potential pitfalls to consider before you facilitate interaction between customers and your business.

Here are 21 things your business should consider before starting a social network:

Internal (Your Business Capabilities)

1. Can you invest the necessary resources to run a social network properly? Can you afford the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars it takes to properly create and staff this resource?

2. What is the role of marketing, sales, IT, customer service, advertising, HR, etc.? Social networks often delve into all of these departments and more. Make sure all of your teams are engaged, enthused, and prepared.

3. While the potential ROI of a social network is proven, is this the best investment of your time? If you don’t have a unique product or your customers aren’t enthused (or your product isn’t any good), don’t look to a social network to solve your problems.

4. What are your expectations – number of members, amount of content, etc – on a weekly, monthly, and yearly basis? Create little benchmarks to ensure you do not go far off course.

5. Will your employees have their own voice on the network? Will they use their full names? This transparency can be daunting, but it can also provide high emotional buy-in from employees.

6. Is the correct employee in charge of the social network? This is often not the highest paid or the most experienced.

7. Which came first: customer need, company strategy, or cool technology? If it’s anything besides customer need, reconsider everything.

Continue Reading 21 Considerations Before Your Business Starts A Social Network…

5 Copywriter Lessons From AC/DC

July 16, 2008 at 5:41 am | Posted in Business, Communication, Decision making, Marketing, Online marketing, Social Media, Web 2.0 | 3 Comments
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Courtesy of t.klick via Flickr

Courtesy of t.klick via Flickr

For many of us, AC/DC evokes memories of homecoming dance soundtracks and warm summer nights in a teenager’s Camaro. However, the bad schoolboys of rock have some valuable lessons to impart to copywriters as well.

1: “I’m just making my play. Don’t try to push your luck, just get out of my way…I’m back, back in black”

“A degree in English means you’ll be a high school teacher the rest of your life.” “I guess you don’t ever want to earn enough money to support your family.”

These very statements were told to me as I was contemplating a writing career. And they are bold-faced lies.

If your guidance counselor or girl/boyfriend or parents are trying to dissuade you from the career in writing you want, it is your responsibility to prove them wrong. Make your play in the world and then go back and tell them all about it.

2: “She wanted no applause, just another course…the earth was quaking, my mind was aching…and you shook me all night long”

There are generally two types of writers portrayed on television. You either have the Ginsberg-esque beatnik or the Mad Men type of highball swilling hack.

Like so many other things, the real world is not like that. Being a copywriter is fun, but plan to be on the roller coaster.

Copywriting is not a 9 to 5 job. It takes a lot of effort. You might actually sweat. It is mental activity that takes a physical toll. And it is truly spectacular. But be prepared to work all night long if you have to.

3: “I shoot from the hip. I was born with a stiff, a stiff upper lip”

You don’t want to go off half-cocked (groan), but as with any creative endeavor, you are going to face criticism of your work. Sometimes you will agree with the subjective assessment, and sometimes you won’t.

The best copywriters absorb the critique, compartmentalize it into the professional (not personal) part of their brains, and use it next time if it has any value. (Hint: it usually does.)

However, do not let any evaluation to permanently scar your confidence. Besides a good brain, a stiff upper lip is the most useful part of a writer’s anatomy.

Continue Reading 5 Copywriter Lessons From AC/DC…

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!…

Is Marketing Work Making Us Stupid?

July 11, 2008 at 6:27 am | Posted in Books, Business, Communication, General, Gladwell, Malcolm - Blink, Marketing, Online marketing, Social Media, Web 2.0 | 11 Comments
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Photo curtesy of jbhill via Flickr

Photo courtesy of jbhill via Flickr

I would like to do something a little different on this lovely Friday. Instead of presenting an argument or commenting on a piece of news, I would like to throw out a question to you. (Yes, you!) I need your help, so dip your figurative quills in the ink well and read on.

Here’s something you probably don’t know about me: I have a terrible memory. That’s what people tell me anyway. I forget birthdays and I was never good at remembering phone numbers (ah, the days before cell phones).

I’m the type of person who walks into a store and, when they come out, can’t figure out which direction they came from. (Malls were especially difficult as I recall.) It’s not because I’m stupid – it’s because I’m analyzing the advertisement they posted in the window, the customer service of the employees, and whether the discount rate of the sale was more or less than was offered online.

And then I noticed a passage in Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Blink (page 186 for those of you following along at home). Gladwell describes giving a group of his Manhattan friends the Pepsi challenge – figure out which drink is Coke and which is Pepsi while blindfolded. And yet none of his urban friends, pinkies presumably high in the air, could tell the difference. “They may drink a lot of cola, but they don’t ever really think about colas.”

But marketers must think deeply about these experiences. In whatever field you work, do you have an extraordinary sensitivity? Do you have a Spidey-sense about messaging?

And this leads back to my original problem with memory. I’m working on the theory that marketers focus so much on both the big-picture issues (think branding) and small details (think bounce rate) that they may lose some of the information in the middle. Is this the case for you? Or is this just a bunch of baloney?

Continue Reading Is Marketing Work Making Us Stupid?…

Book Review: Toy Box Leadership

July 8, 2008 at 7:13 am | Posted in Books, Business, Communication, General, Hunter, Ron Jr. and Michael Waddell - Toy Box Leadershi, Leadership, Marketing, Online marketing, Social Media, Web 2.0 | 5 Comments
Tags: , , , ,

TBL1

I was recently asked by co-author Michael Waddell to review Toy Box Leadership. This new book is definitely worth picking up and I will explain why. (This post contains no affiliate links and I received no compensation of any kind except for a free review copy of the book.)

The premise of the book by Waddell and Ron Hunter, Jr., is that childhood toys taught or exemplified many of the skills necessary to lead well. Some examples are direct correlations (a rocking horse describing lots of work without actually achieving anything) and others are more figurative (LEGOs describing relationships that start with connecting).

Seriously? Toys And Leadership?

The connection between childhood toys and leadership lesson fluctuates from poignant to cheesy to fondly familiar. But the important thing to remember is that this is not the point. The connection between the toy and the particular lesson is secondary to your ability to absorb and recall the idea.

The toys simply provide an easily recognized and easily remembered framework of leadership strategy. The metaphors are certainly stronger than, say, a purple cow or square apple.

Let’s Just Say It

We need to own up to a basic fact: every book on leadership will contain some similar fundamental truths. Communicating goals to your employees, for instance, will universally be a positive thing while emotional rages around the office will be regarded as uncouth. Stating this universality is not a knock on this or any other business book – it simply is.

If we admit to some similarity, then one of the differentiators becomes the book’s ability to be memorable and to find a place in the reader’s life. This is ultimately what makes Toy Box Leadership successful. Toys fit with the intended audience (Lite-Brites rather than Xbox 360s) and flow smoothly into the each particular subject on leadership.

Continue Reading Book Review: Toy Box Leadership…

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