Conversational Marketing in the Age of Social Media
I came across Jon Wuebben’s book Content Rich: Writing Your Way to Wealth on the Web recently, and found myself immediately captivated by his tips for writing search engine optimized copy. Eighteen chapters later, and a journey through an extraordinary appendix of online resources, I became a full-fledged fan.
Impressions through Media and Weber Media Partners are honored to have author Jon Wuebben join us as a special guest in a Q & A.
In the introduction to your book, Content Rich, you mention that you started doing pro bono work for non-profits as you were getting grounded in the world of SEO copywriting. From your experiences, is there–or should there be–anything distinctive about the way non-profits vs. for-profit businesses write their online content?
Good question. I would say, first, that non profits should focus on using the names of the communities they serve in the copy and in the meta tags so they come up in local searches. So, if they are a women’s shelter in Springfield, Illinois, be sure to use this phrase and others like it so they can be found online. The other thing I would say is they should focus on a key constituency – donors – by having a page dedicated to this group on their site. Fundraising is the life blood of most nonprofits, so this is important.
Marketing Sherpa’s recent report “2009 Social Media Marketing and PR: Benchmarks and Best Practices” indicates that of the companies they surveyed, businesses say social media and emailing to house lists are the two tactics they’ll spend their marketing dollars on this year–essentially leaving behind nine other tactics they used; paid search, telemarketing, online display advertising, mobile marketing, direct mail, event marketing, radio/tv ads, emailing to rented lists and print advertising. Does this surprise you?
No, because both of these activities are low cost and can have a high return. It’s a no brainer. The problem is that most companies don’t do either right. The important sites in the social media arena for businesses would be StumbleUpon, , and . In terms of email marketing, make sure you have a good list, great email creative and a good landing page. And then have a simple form on that landing page in order to get their contact information.
In the same Marketing Sherpa report, businesses who aren’t using social media say the key reason why they’re not using social media is due to staffers “Lack of Knowledge.” What do you think about that?
It’s not as intimidating as one would think. The critical thing is for these executives and companies to remember is that they need to take off their “selling” and “corporate” hats and put on their “let’s build a community” hat. That’s what it’s all about. Also, no need to use MySpace or Digg. I would focus on the ones I mentioned above. Yes, the social media space can be a bit confusing at first, but it’s certainly not just for the younger generation anymore. And if staffers say they “don’t know it”, well then I, as the CEO, would say, “learn it”. Its too important not to get in the game.
In your recent email newsletter you wrote that there are “too many blogs out there, and many aren’t very good.” You suggest that one of the problems is there aren’t “blog standards.” Here’s your opportunity, we’re interested: what would you include as standards for good blogging?
That’s a tough one. I’m not sure what the standards would be, but in terms of how you do it, I think the best and easiest way would be for someone out there to start an organization or association that judges the quality of a site and works with Google (and probably others) to place a small icon on each site that shows the grade. It would be a huge undertaking, and yes, Google already lets the “cream rise to the top” with the way they rank sites, but if I was able to see a quick grade for a site as soon as I landed on a page, I would know immediately to click away. It would be hard to enforce and people would game the system, but that’s true with anything. I just want a better way to weed out the garbage.
Do you have a regular routine for writing?
No, inspiration can strike at any time. When it does, or I’m feeling particularly creative at a certain point in the day, I know its “go time”. Mornings and late at night do seem to work out best however, when we all are closer to the subconscious mind. Interesting how that works.
You’ve written that we’re in the middle of a “Twitter Revolution.” What do you tweet about? What qualities or type of content do you appreciate about others business tweets?
I tweet about blog posts I read that I liked, events that I’m speaking at, a particularly interesting client project, etc..In others Tweets I like to read specific examples of tips, tricks, ideas and suggestions that may be new. And also to get a “pulse” on what’s going on out there in the industry.
You’ve been writing online copy for a long time. How do you stay passionate about your work?
I am a creative person. It took me a while to discover that. Most of the time, I am simply channeling the words I write. But any artist would tell you it can be a burden as much as it is a benefit. When I’m not writing copy or managing my business, I’m writing songs. Exchanging one type of creative activity for another can be very beneficial…it can re-charge the batteries for both!
The other way I stay passionate is because I love helping other businesses succeed. It’s a total rush.
Thank you, Jon, for joining us, and for sharing more of your rich content!
Blogging takes commitment, planning, and follow-through. Some bloggers write every day, some a few times a week, others once a week, and some use a team approach. Regardless of how often you write, chances are good, the time will come when you’ll be looking for just the right tool to get the job done.
Writing Tools ★★★★
by Roy Peter Clark
Clark is described as a “writer who teaches and a teacher who writes,” which becomes immediately evident. The book contains 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer which are categorized into four parts:
Nuts and Bolts: strategies for making meaning at the word, sentence, and paragraph levels
Special Effects: tools of economy, clarity, originality, and persuasion
Blueprints: ways of organizing and building stories and reports
Useful Habits: routines for living a life of productive writing
Each tool is not only instructive but also readable and engaging. Clark provides samples from more than two hundred well-known writers, and gives us a look into their use of language, syntax, rhetoric, and critical thinking. He also culls advice from some of the best American writing teachers, and from conversations he’s had with professional writers and editors.
I read this book from front to back, and applied many of the tools this past week while I was working on a ten page essay. It was as if I had a friendly editor looking over my shoulder. You can obtain information about Clark’s tools online, and while it’s a good start, I think you’ll find it well worth the investment to buy the book, and keep it within arm’s reach on your desk, or wherever you write.
Writers Toolbox: 35 Best Tools for Writing Online ★★★★
by Paul Glazowski
Glazowski provides a great list of tools in eight different categories, for you to pick and choose from.
Blogging Toolbox: 120 +Resources for Bloggers ★★★★
by Mashable Team
The Mashable Team provides a list of great technical resources:
Brand and Social Media Monitoring with Free Widgets ★★★★
by Dave Caruso
Caruso provides a list of free tools to help monitor and track blogs, forum comments, search engine placement, live hits to your site (including origin) and more. These free tools for both Mac and PC’s replicate features available through most high-price monitoring packages. Great resources to know about and use!
The Describer’s Dictionary ★★★★
by David Grambs
If you’ve ever found yourself trying to find a stronger more visual description then the first one which pops into your head, then this book is for you. The more you write, the more descriptive you need to be. Detailed description is what makes writing sing. Take a look at some of your favorite books, essays, and blog posts, and notice what draws you in, and makes you want to keep reading. Often it’s more then just the “facts”, it’s the way the writer has carefully chosen the words, made you see the plot, focus of the story.
It’s taken me a few days to think about how to respond to Wired’s piece, “Twitter, Flickr, Facebook Make Blogs Look So 2004 Paul Boutin’s call to action not to launch a blog, or to pull one you may already have up and running. I’ve read the essay several times, put it down, and haven’t stopped thinking about it.
A week ago, I was praising Andrew Sullivan’s piece “Why I Blog.” If you haven’t read it yet, do yourself a favor and check it out. Many blogs out there contain vital voices which shouldn’t be eliminated or retired; and so what troubles me about Wired’s advice to “pull the plug” is that its a big sweeping statement, and one which should be qualified.
I agree that blogging shouldn’t be done just for the sake of blogging, mindlessly checking-it off on your marketing to-do list. Blogs should have clearly defined goals and purposes, with an intended audience in mind. They can be educational and inspirational, and can help you connect to like-minded individuals, businesses and organizations of all shapes and sizes. And if you’re so inclined, you can still follow the people you’d like on Twitter, Flickr and Facebook no one says you can’t! It doesn’t have to be an either or situation.
To live in a complex world as we do today, good communication is needed now more then ever. Newspapers are continuing to report a decline in circulation, many are eliminating and combining sections trying to get the most bang for their buck. The Audit Bureau of Circulations, reports that readers are migrating to the Internet, where news is typically free.
CMS Watch Analyst, Tony Byrne, has a great piece “In Defense of Blogging” in response to Wired’s essay where he writes, “… if you want to seriously develop an idea rather than share what your pet cat just did or pass along a single hyperlink… this requires a narrative… blogging in the business context has more relevance than ever, in a world where customers want to be able to understand and connect with the firms they patronize.”
Writers Bryan Alexander and Alan Levine describe the advances in “telling of stories using web 2.0 tools, technologies and strategies” in their piece “Web 2.0 Storytelling: Emergence of a New Genre.”
I beg to differ with the “pulling the plug on blogs” frame of mind. I think, if you have a niche audience, are providing valuable content, and joining in the conversation, by all means don’t stop now. The convergence of these great web 2.0 tools are making the user/reader experience that much more worthwhile and are so 2008.
Andrew Sullivan has published a wonderful new essay, “Why I Blog” in the November 2008 issue of The Atlantic. Sullivan a seasoned online writer for Slate, print editor for The New Republic, columnist for The Atlantic, and blogger for The Daily Dish, describes bloggings evolution as a literary form. Sullivan writes, “Unlike any single piece of print journalism, its borders are extremely porous and its truth inherently transitory. The consequences of this for the act of writing are still sinking in.”
Sullivan relates the “log” part of the word “blog” to a ship’s log, which tracked the progression of the ship’s voyage before radio, radar, satellites or sonar. “As you read a log, you have the curious sense of moving backward in time as you move forward in pages–the opposite of a book…it is [blogging], in many ways, writing out loud.”
Sullivan says, “Blogging is about brevity and immediacy.” He reminds us, “the key to understanding a blog is to realize that it’s a broadcast, not a publication. If it stops moving, it dies. If it stops paddling, it sinks.”
I LOVE this essay. What I love probably more then anything else is seeing blogs given recognition and respect as a literary form. Personally, I’ve become attached to writing weekly posts. The discipline of blogging have also had the extra perk of being great narrative calisthenics for writing creative nonfiction essays and poetry. I love how Andrew Sullivan validates and gives shape and meaning to the blog, which at times feels like a forgotten step-child.
“The blogosphere has added a whole new idiom to the act of writing and has introduced an entirely new generation to nonfiction. It has enabled writers to write out loud in ways never seen or understood before.”
Sullivan’s essay makes the reasons why I blog, easier to explain.
Our first blog post appeared a year ago this week. Even though we started with a mission, objectives and a carefully crafted plan—like many new endeavors, sometimes you don’t know what to expect.
Years back I’d been a fan of old Bette Davis movies, and to this day I can still hear her say (in All About Eve), “Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.”
Blogging is a GREAT ride, and here at Impressions through Media, we’ve become passionate bloggers.
Thank you to our loyal readers, new visitors, guest bloggers—and to the vast blogosphere where we continue to learn and exchange information, and stumbleupon new blogs (literally and figurately.)
If you’re on the fence about starting a business blog, believe me, take the leap—it’s a great way to be part of the conversation, and well worth your time and energy!
If you’re already a blogger, we’d love to hear about your experiences!
Tech tips for the Basic Computer User on Pogue’s Post, The Latest in Technology from David Pogue has some excellent tips. Well worth the time to read through the post and all of the comments people have been posting with their own user tips.
Check this out– at the time of this writing, there were 883 comments since post was published three days ago! (**Addendum, as of 10/6/08, 1049 comments…way to go!)
Who says people don’t read blogs?
Technorati’s 2008 State of the Blogosphere Report, is now available. In their Weekly News Digest, Information Today, Inc. reports:
“For the 2008 study, [Technorati] wanted to go beyond the numbers to deliver insights into bloggers and the state of blogging today. In addition to analyzing the data from the Technorati Index, for the first time, it surveyed bloggers to understand the role of blogging in their lives; tools, time, and resources used for their blogs; and how blogging has impacted them personally, professionally, and financially.”
Technorati reports in the section, The How of Blogging, a variety of technologies to attract visitors. “Top audience-building strategies include: listing their blog on Technorati and Google, commenting or linking to other blogs, and tagging blog posts so that they are more easily searchable. All of this hard work has paid off — half of active blogs attract more than 1000 monthly visitors.”
Check out the full report. As Technorati indicates, “Blogs are a global phenomenon that has hit the maintream…blogs are here to stay.”
If you’re already a blogger, we’re interested in hearing about the the role of blogging in your life, and how its impacted you personally and professionally. If you’re not already blogging, this is a great report for you to read–let us know your impressions.
August 31st was the 4th BlogDay– a day when bloggers were encouraged to find 5 new blogs they find interesting, and to notify the 5 bloggers that you’re recommending them as part of BlogDay 2008. So, I’m sending these belated wishes and to express my gratitude to the countless bloggers from around the world, who I read, communicate with in one way or another, and to the ones I haven’t yet discovered.
I’ve been blogging for almost a year now, and my education in social media wouldn’t have happened as rapidly as it has, if not for all the bloggers who’ve come before me– who’ve shared their knowledge, two cents, and recommended valuable links and resources. Special thanks to all the bloggers who create unique content, those who put their own unique spin on it–and all of the folks who’ve been out there conversing, even when they aren’t sure if anyone is listening.
I remember the first time I saw the words “hello world” on my clunky ms-dos based PC in the late 80’s. Then a few years later, I saw those words again on the trail-blazing websites I visited through the browser, Netscape Navigator.
The world has become much smaller as a result of the internet, our wireless connections and mobile devices. Every person who publishes content can have their own voice and niche perspective–can say “hello world” as often as they like. But just because we can communicate in a flash, across oceans and languages, doesn’t necessarily mean everyone should.
As Geoff Livingston and Brian Solis write in their book, Now is Gone:
The Internet’s littered with failed corporate blogs and discontinued social media initiatives. Many simply can’t think of new, interesting content to post, and with the time necessary to commit to a blog, many simply decide to stop. Content creators must diligently engage the community with appealing content for the life of the new media initiative, not just for the first few months. Having a unique look helps catch the reader’s eye. Keeping them there requires a constant creation of appealing content that only comes with a significant time and thought commitment.
In the spirit of BlogDay, I’d also like to thank all of the bloggers whose posts we’ve included on our delicious list, blogroll, and others who we’ve linked to– and those who have linked to us. Special thanks to Merlyn Sanchez for the honorable mention on her insightful blog, Smart Business Owners.
Content creation doesn’t happen in a vacuum, we need one another.
If you missed out on BlogDay, it’s not too late–you can tell us about bloggers you’d like to acknowledge!
I love summer for many reasons- the long hours of daylight, change in routine, warm weather—to name just a few. And as the famous song, “Summertime” from Porgy & Bess so aptly put it, “… the time when the living is easy.”
And so, it’s no wonder why late August brings up a lot of feelings. After all, I’m still coming back to reality after a wonderful week of vacation. I’m finding the back-to-school supplies lining store shelves haunting, and frankly, the approach to Labor Day weekend is a bit unnerving. Not to mention it feels like all the forces in the world are converging, trying their hardest to shake me back into high gear.
I’ve decided to take the bull by the horn. I’ve decided over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to take a proactive approach to help get back into the groove. It’s kind of the summer version of new year’s resolutions. Here they are:
1. Utilize Reports for Unearthing Data: Thoroughly review the google analytic reports of our company website, analyze the WordPress reports for the Impressions through Media blog. In particular, I’m going to take notice of the keywords our visitors used to find the site, where the traffic comes from, average time a visitor spends on the site, which are our most popular posts, what are our inbound/outbound links. Based on what I discover, I’m going make any necessary tweaks to our editorial focus and calendar to ensure our blog is meeting the needs and expectations of our returning and new visitors.
2. Catch-up on RSS feeds I didn’t read while on vacation. Since I follow many feeds, there are a lot of them. I’m planning to dedicate 30-60 minutes a day until I’m all caught up!
3. Assess Google Alerts: I receive multiple google alerts on a daily basis which help me to keep up in the social media world. I plan to re-evaluate and see whether these topics are continuing to serve me, whether they can/should be replaced with others. I receive them all daily, and it may be that some would work just as well or even better weekly (freeing up my inbox a little.)
4. Re-visit Blogroll: There are several authors for the Impressions blog, and over the past year our blogroll has gotten significantly larger. I plan to check the links to make sure everything is working properly, and determine with my colleagues if these are our current favorites or if we want to make any changes.
5. Sign Up for a Webinar, or in-person conference to help get the juices flowing. I’ve already signed up for Social Media Marketing: An effective way to engage your customers and stimulate your prospects!
6. Maintain the summertime “living is easy” attitude as long as I possibly can. When I find it beginning to slip away, I’m going to start thinking about where I’d like to go with my family next summer.
What’s on your list for getting back into the groove?
Late last month, Marketing Sherpa featured a case study on How to Use Wikipedia Entries for Lead Gen. A company named Attensa submitted the case and boasted about the 4% increase in their website traffic and 18% higher conversion rate.
Shortly thereafter, Attensa’s page was removed from Wikipedia for abusing Wikipedia’s Conflict of Interest policy and their Neutral Point of View Policy. Both the company and their media agency defended their contributions as valuable content that is not unlike other content existing on the site. Unfortunately, by posting their approach on Marketing Sherpa, they got burned.
To find other examples of infringement of these policies, I searched on a current release movie, Wall E, and found an in depth promotion of the flix. This post is a clear promotion of the movie and Pixar. Additional searches turn up Microsoft and IBM, with detailed pages featuring their logos and links to their websites. Hmmm. Am I missing something here? Is this about who posts the information? I am not sure that it’s realistic to analyze the motivations of every poster to this giant content site.
Perhaps Wikipedia yanked their content because the company admitted it was marketing strategy and their motivation for increasing their site traffic. How does one distinguish Attensa’s approach from the likes of IBM? The folks at Marketing Sherpa admit that there is ongoing confusion about how marketers can participate at Wikipedia and promise to report on developments as they happen.
In another story , Paul Gillin reported on a Forrester report in B-to-B Magazine last month that the misuse of blogs as a press release library is causing a backlash for corporate blogging. If the key goal of a blog were solely to raise your position in the search engines, this approach would be effective.
But blogs are about community discussion. No one is going to discuss your press release. They probably aren’t even going to read it. Alternatively, the corporate blog is a great place to open discussion about a customer service issue, in straight language, by real people. Gillin gives kudos to HP, General Motors and Marriott for having figured out how to use blogging to engage customers in honest and open dialog.
We Are Still Learning
The point of these stories is that we are still learning to use these new media tools successfully, and with new frontiers, there will be pioneers who learn the hard way what doesn’t work. These are the challenges and adventures of new media marketing. At the risk of sounding promotional, this blog is a good starting place to learn what some of those things are. Our blog roll provides you with many more.
As always, keep your ears open and enjoy the ride.