Category Archives: blogging

blogging for businesses

What’s Your Story? Making Your Brand Come Alive

Moths To A FlameI am a storyteller. I tell stories to connect with other people and create memorable interactions. It seems that most people like a good story, as proven by the wildly successful not-for-profit organization, The Moth, where people tell true stories to live audiences all around the country. I participate in these experiences in the Boston area, as a listener and as a performer.

So, why are so many brand stories so dry and uninteresting. How can we tell compelling stories, the kind that people gather around to hear? First, we need to understand what makes a good story. A good story connects us through our commonalities – of our humanness and all that entails. If you Google “elements of a good story”, you will find that dozens of sources claim there are somewhere between 3 and 10 elements to a good story. Memorable, impactful stories often have good guys, bad guys, disaster narrowly averted, surprises, even lives lost and saved. These elements boil down to:
1) An inciting action
2) Conflict
3) Resolution
4) An antagonist
5) A protagonist

While a B2C story is commonly considered easier to tell, I think the B2B story can be as easy if you can get the business lingo out of the way and share information person to person. Does corporate communications share stories about enterprise-wide, best-in-class peer-to-peer something or another, or does one of your top engineers (protagonist, real character) share how he has created software (resolution) that addresses a security threat (inciting action), created by old technology (antagonist) and will save IT managers headaches from system down time (conflict).

If you aren’t sure about your company story, it might be a good time to consider a retelling. Can you find these five elements in your story? Now, tell it in an honest, simple and meaningful way and see the moths gather to your flame.

Trim & Focus: Keep Content Lean and Keep Your Audience

Courtesy of Contentshortcuts.com

Courtesy of Contentshortcuts.com

Information overload is a significant issue for everyone. Of the 200+ emails I receive each day, I delete half without reading. I opted to receive most of them, but I rarely have time to get past the subjects lines. I dedicate a few hours per month to unsubscribe to lists that over-communicate or share frivolous content. In the same vein, I am actively removing Twitter accounts for the same reason. It is my dream to have an efficient and relevant content feed, worthy of the time I allot to reading it.

Isn’t that what we all want?

As marketers, isn’t that our job, to know our audience and deliver the content that will help them, in the appropriate intervals? Through my PR training, I learned to write a press release knowing that a journalist might only get to the headline. Furthermore, sending one release to a specifically targeted journalist will matter far more than blanketing everyone. The same guidelines should be considered for the general public. A few good leads that result in sales are better than hundreds of unqualified ones.

This concern is #1 on Julia McCoy’s list of priorities in The 2014 Social Media Guide, which she wrote for Social Media Today.

There are many more interesting ideas in her article, which, I might add, are nearly all relevant to me, a social media marketing consultant. I will be keeping them in my Twitter feed (@socialmedia2day).

Top 10 Reasons Why I Don’t Like Top 10 Lists

It all started in the 1960′s with Dick Clark and American Bandstand. Every Saturday morning, he would count down the top 10 songs of the week. Then in 1985, Late Night with David Letterman started making fun of People Magazine’s top 10 lists. I have always enjoyed both because they were relevant and, in the case of Letterman, funny.

Top Ten Lists on TwitterList content was created to be easily digested and everyone wanted to know what the top song was, or the the top thing that “almost rhymes with peas”, in the case of Late Night. There was a time when these lists got your attention and maybe they still do, but I have recently come across so many that I have soured. Are you itching to know what my #1 reason I don’t like Top Ten Lists?

I don’t have 10, only 3. Read On.

Drum roll, please. The top 3 reasons I have soured on 10 lists:

#3 10 is too many. Who has that kind of attention span anymore?

#2 The entertainment value of lists has gone way down. I will take quality entertainment over quantity any day of the week.

And the #1 Reason I have soured on Top 10 lists is…

#1 Overuse. When a marketing device becomes so common that it makes a marketer cringe, well then, it’s time for something else.

See today’s recent tweets at the right for some examples. You get what I mean, right?

High Fructose Media: Going on an Information Diet

The information dietAt this time of year, many are thinking about going on a diet. So it seems apropos that I heard an interview on the Bob Edwards Radio Hour with Clay A. Johnson about his new book The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Consumption. I was intrigued with his analogy that our information consumption is like our junk food consumption. We are barraged with information, but so much of it is junk, crafted with bias for Google search results, clicks and advertisers and requires an educated consumer to know what to ingest and how much.

Johnson was one of the architects of the much noted social media campaign for President Obama’s first election and has the likes of Bill O’Reilly and others on an information diet. He does more than tell you about the problem, but how to stop ingesting empty information calories.

While I have not read this book, I plan to in the coming month.  I look forward to learning how to craft my own information diet and would love to hear from others who have adopted thoughtful information strategies.

 

Awkward Silence: Recovering From a Social Media Content Lull

Okay, so it happened. Our blog has been silent for six-months, and despite what we tell our clients about planning and teamwork and the importance of keeping momentum, we blew it. It took a potential client who decided not to talk to us because our social media had “flat-lined” to be hit over the head with it.

If a social media marketing firm can’t keep it going, then who can?  Our reasons (excuses) are the same you might have- lack of resources, clients come first, and always a lack of time. We have no shortage of ideas, and we have always had a sustainable content strategy, but we lost our way.

When we started this blog in 2008, we posted twice/week, then went down to once/week, and finally, maybe more like once/month. I assigned writers from the internal team, I found guest bloggers occasionally, but in the end, it fell to me, the face and voice of the company, to get it done. Today, when I heard that the prospect passed on us, I was truly humbled. Our ability to keep their content going for the long-term is brought into question.  I could only agree with their decision to pass.

Now that I have confessed,  what can I do about it? How can we redeem ourselves and build trust for new clients to see? The only way I know how: own it and make good on it.

So, as I drove back to the office to write this post, I decided to use this learning experience for a series of posts that help marketing professionals keep on track.

I plan to address the following:

  • How can I make sure this doesn’t happen again?
  • What have other companies done and have they regained their position?
  • What are realistic goals for small shops?
  • Why you MUST get back on the horse.

If you have a story to share, contact me. I’d love to hear it.

Now, finally, I am going to push the publish button and finally get back on the horse.

How Social Media Enabled Egypt’s Revolution: Part Three

"Freedom" photo by Gigi IbrahimIn the last of our three-part series on the role of social media in Egypt’s ongoing revolution, we speak directly with Amr Abouelleil, who is one of the growing number of international Egyptian Youth Movement members.

Abouelleil is a 36 year-old Egyptian-American writer and bioinformatics analyst living in Massachusetts with his family. He lived  his early life in Egypt, and  returns every year to visit family, including a female cousin who is active in the revolution. His most recent trip was this past April, where he witnessed the effects of Egypt’s revolutionary activity first-hand.

His take: social media has been the cornerstone of communications during the revolution. Without social media, access to factual information would be limited, and more than likely colored by government spin and propaganda. It has enabled international supporters like Abouelleil to connect first-hand with other Egyptians, and to reach out to a broader audience to both gain support for the revolution and address the misinformation that abounds in traditional media and on the internet.

We hope you find yourself as inspired as we have been by the power of social media, and the strength and passion of those using it to build a better future for their country.

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How Social Media Enabled Egypt’s Revolution: Part Two

Two Can Play at this Game: World Governments’ Responses to Social Media as a Revolutionary Tool

"Mute," photographed by Gigi IbrahimIn the first part of this series, we explored how social media enabled and facilitated Egypt and Tunisia’s revolutions. By using Facebook and Twitter to broadcast their beliefs, find like-minded individuals the world over, and organize protests in near real-time, the revolutionaries were able to stay one step ahead of their governments. But now, it seems, the governments are catching up.

In Egypt, segments of the government and army are now on Facebook, using it as a means to spread their own propaganda and to keep an eye on known activist communities. At one point during the revolution, the Egyptian government even shut down internet access, fully aware of the threat it posed to the government. Amr Abouelleil, an Egyptian-American bioinformatics analyst and writer who is actively involved with the Egyptian Youth Movement at the heart of the revolution, says the government was aware that without the internet, people would have to turn to state television (which is government-censored) for their news. The government used this opportunity to up their ante, broadcasting pro-government programming to the unwired masses, which in many cases, appeared to work. “The government got some people to change their tune in just a matter of days,” Abouelleil says. “It brainwashed them to go back on Facebook in the government’s favor instead.”

Egypt is not the only government in fear of the power social media and the internet provides its people; China recently came under fire when Google reportedly foiled an alleged Chinese attempt at stealing the passwords to hundreds of Google accounts, including those of government officials, Chinese human rights activists, and journalists. The Chinese government has since denied involvement, but is well known for their censorship of the internet and television. Whether or not the government is responsible for the hacking attempt, it’s safe to say that they are well aware of the power of the internet and social media, and doing all they can to control it.

Government reactions to the use of Google and social media have been so extreme in recent months that Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt has said he fears for the safety of Google employees in certain parts of the world. “There are countries where it is illegal to do things that Google encourages. In those countries, there is a real possibility of (employees) being put in prison for reasons which are not their fault,” Schmidt told attendees of Google’s Dublin summit on militant violence this past Monday, June 27.

A prime example of this is Wael Ghonim, the Egyptian Google executive who is now one of TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2011. Ghonim was held captive by the Egyptian government for eleven days in early 2011 due to his involvement in using Facebook to organize protests via a page called “We are all Khaled Saeed,” which exposed and raised awareness of the military’s cruel and inhumane murder of Khaled Saeed.

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Content for People, Not Robots (well, mostly)

Search Engine RobotDianna Huff, DH Communications, presented content marketing at the SEMNE meeting on Wednesday. Her presentation focused on why SEO firms should think like marketers and helping clients create content. See her presentation here.

I was excited to hear another marketing consultant expound on this important issue. The challenge for any business, large or small, with making social media succcessful and keeping it on track is to have a content strategy and have a regular stream of valuable content that speaks to your audience. Some SEO practitioners may be optimizing content, but not actually helping them produce it, when of course, SEO is not just about optimized content, but the continued publishing of optimized content that will actually be useful to your audience. It’s not just about the robots that index your website, it’s about the actual PEOPLE who read it!

We at Weber Media Partners recognized this as the main challenge for SMBs to contend with when they consider doing a social media work- from blogs to twitter to Facebook, if you want to stay in front of you customer, don’t annoy them and don’t be invisible- be helpful and interesting. Companies have the same issues when launching SEO and PPC campaigns.  So, having said this, Dianna gave some great tips, which I agree whole heartedly with: Continue reading

It’s No Secret Why Blogs Fail

This week I’ve had some interesting conversations with clients about their social media strategy.

During a discussion on  blogging, one of our clients pointed out that everything they see on blogs is BORING, longwinded, and is more like stream of consciousness thoughts vs. useful information.

If you Google “Why Blogs Fail”, you will get more than 89 million links to articles, many of them blog posts to this very topic.  The reason blogs fail is not a secret, and some statistics claim  that 95% of them do.

  • Blogs fail because the organization has not made a real commitment to resources
  • Blogs fail because there is no clear content strategy
  • Blogs fail because the author doesn’t know if anyone is listening

What is considered blog success?
If your blog

  • contributes something of value and demonstrates your expertise regularly (at least once per week)
  • set you apart from your competition
  • has visitors who read your content (how many depends on what share of the audience you want)
  • gets comments and starts conversations

you can feel pretty good that your blog is going in the right direction.

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Advice for Bloggers: Write for the World

Internet's universe...

In the new book, The Yahoo! Style Guide, bloggers are advised to “write for the world.” We’re reminded that the web is a worldwide medium and “site visitors probably come from more than one country and more than one culture. Collectively, they probably speak several languages.”

I review the analytics for this site on a regular basis and am often intrigued to see the far-reaching range that posts can have. This past month visits came from 47 countries/territories and 23 languages. (Drilling down a little further I could even see that one recent post was picked up and cited on a blog in Brazil and then viewed most heavily in Sao Paulo.)

So what’s a blogger to do?

• You can start by following five best practices from the style guide: 1) Keep the sentence structure simple, 2) Include “signposts”: words that help readers see how the parts of a sentence relate, 3) Eliminate ambiguity, 4) Avoid uncommon words and non-literal usages, and 5) Rewrite text that doesn’t translate literally.

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