The Digital Vibes


Social Media Marketing Tactics from Mashable
November 3, 2009, 12:23 am
Filed under: Blogs, Online presence, Social Media, Social networks | Tags: , , , ,

This is an article (it’s really too long to be a post!) that is too good not to share in its entirety, from Mashable…

10 Small Business Social Media Marketing Tips

Posted: 28 Oct 2009 01:18 PM PDT

Ross Kimbarovsky is the co-founder of crowdSPRING, a community of 43,000+ graphic designers that helps small businesses from around the world with graphic design needs. You can follow Ross on Twitter @rosskimbarovsky and @crowdSPRING.

Capacity – especially to plan and execute effective marketing strategies – is a big challenge for every small business. In this post, I’ll offer 10 suggestions for how small businesses can supercharge their marketing efforts by leveraging social media. For each suggestion, I will discuss a basic strategy – for those who simply want to get their toes wet, as well as an advanced strategy – for those who want to spend a bit more time and go a bit deeper in their social media marketing efforts. These tips are based on my experience leveraging social media marketing for my company, crowdSPRING.

I suggest you begin by outlining clear goals for your social media marketing efforts and figuring out how you’ll measure success. Once you’ve outlined your goals, let’s look at 10 great ways you can begin to leverage social media for your marketing efforts.


1. Facebook


Facebook offers exceptional, low cost marketing opportunities for small business. Facebook now has over 300 million users, and while that seems like an outrageous number for small businesses to be targeting, Facebook offers a very powerful platform on which to build a presence. If you’re not already active on Facebook; you should get started right away.

Basic Strategy: If you haven’t signed up for Facebook yet, you absolutely should as soon as possible. Once you’ve signed up, you should also consider securing your company’s username. Be aware, however, that if you reserve your company name for your personal account, you won’t be able to use it for your Business Fan Page (more on those in the Advanced Strategy), so you may want to create a Page before registering your company’s name. Fan Pages have special rules regarding usernames, which you can read here.

You should do one other thing: search for your competitors and evaluate their Facebook presence. What types of Pages have they built? How many fans or “friends” do they have? Spend 15 minutes (per competitor) looking at their posts, photos and/or videos to understand how they’re using Facebook.

Advanced Strategy: You may already have a personal Facebook account, but how do you extend that presence for your business? You have several options. You can register a Business Account – which is designed for a very simple presence on Facebook. There are many limitations on such accounts (read the FAQ here), however, so you’ll most likely prefer to have a Business Fan Page. A Business Fan Page lets you create a page where customers or fans of your business can register as a “fan” — expanding the presence of your business (because your updates will also flow to their pages). You might also want to consider running hyper-local ads on Facebook.


2. Twitter


Twitter has grown tremendously over the past year. For some small businesses, it offers an incredible marketing platform. BusinessWeek’s recent profile of 20 ways businesses use Twitter might give you some ideas about how you can leverage Twitter for your business.

Basic Strategy: If you haven’t signed up on Twitter yet, you should sign up today and reserve an account in the name of your business. While you might ultimately tweet in your own name, you’ll want to have the option to tweet from a business account. More importantly, you don’t want your competitors to register your business name. Twitter has put together a simple guide to help you understand what Twitter can do for business. You can also check out Mashable’s Twitter Guide.

Next, you should spend 15-30 minutes on Twitter’s homepage, doing basic searches to become familiar with the type of content available on the service. For example, if you are operating a small gift basket business, do some searches for various terms and phrases such as “gift basket,” “gifts,” “gift basket business,” etc. You should also search for the names of your competitors to see whether they’re on Twitter and if they are, how they’re using it. And don’t forget to search for your small business name – your customers may already be talking about you! Once you become comfortable with the content that’s already available and how your competitors are using Twitter, you can begin thinking about a strategy for how you’ll leverage Twitter for your business.

Advanced Strategy: To truly leverage Twitter, you’ll want to learn and use a few more advanced tools. This includes desktop and mobile Twitter clients like TweetDeck, Seesmic, and Tweetie. Desktop clients give you more flexibility and more control over your Twitter strategy than you’ll have on the Twitter website. Among other things, you’ll be able to pre-define searches (so that you can monitor certain keywords, including your business name) and group people you follow so that you can minimize the noise and focus on the real content. You might also consider using a web tool like Twitterfall, which will allow you to define (and color-code) various custom searches that you can review from time to time, and also to follow trending topics. For example, I use Twitterfall to identify helpful graphic design and industrial design resources to share with the crowdSPRING community.


3. Company Blog


Although there’s more attention focused today on social networks than on company blogs, blogs continue to offer great value for small businesses.

Basic Strategy: At a minimum, you should consider reserving a domain name for your blog – if you don’t already have a custom domain for your business. If you’re comfortable enough to set up your own blog, that’s generally the best way to proceed – although this requires a bit more technical knowledge (many hosting providers offer a 1 step easy setup for blogs that will automatically install WordPress for you). You can also setup a blog directly at WordPress.com (it’s easier to do, but you don’t have full control over everything that you would on your own site).

One easy alternative is to set up a simple blog at Posterous – a place to post stories, photos, videos, MP3s, and files. There are pluses and minuses to all of these options – you should take some time to compare them and do what makes sense for your business. I caution you only about spreading yourself too thin.

Advanced Strategy: Now that you’ve decided to start or improve your small business blog, how do you build an audience for it? It all starts with great content. Decide on a focus for your blog, and write awesome content that people will enjoy. For example, some months ago at my company, we decided that we wanted to write more about small business issues, so we’ve been writing original posts focusing on issues affecting small businesses. Think about your expertise and more importantly, think about the things that you’re interested in writing about. A blog requires a long term investment of time (and resources), and you don’t want to be stuck writing about things that bore you.

You’ll also want to consider how you can make it easier for your readers to help promote your content. For example, install helpful plug-ins, such as a TweetMeme button, which makes it easy for people to retweet your posts on Twitter. Don’t be afraid to experiment with plugins to add to the functionality of your blog, but keep it simple. You want to keep the blog focused, and easy for your readers to use.


4. LinkedIn


LinkedIn is a business oriented social network for professionals, and it’s huge, with nearly 50 million users from over 200 countries.

Basic Strategy: Once again, you’ll want to at least reserve your business name (or your personal name) so that others can’t use it. Similar to the way you might start exploring Facebook and Twitter, you should look around on LinkedIn to see how your competitors are using the service. You might also look up your customers and connect with them.

Advanced Strategy: LinkedIn has some powerful features that most people don’t use. For example, you can encourage your customers, clients or vendors to give you a “recommendation” on your profile. Recommendations are useful because they’ll make you and your business more credible with new customers. If you’re a roofer, for example, ask your customers to recommend you after a successful job. You’ll find such recommendations useful – particularly since your LinkedIn profile will come up high in search engine results. I recommend that you read Chris Brogan’s post from last year discussing the elements of a good LinkedIn recommendation.

Another strategy involves the many subject matter groups on LinkedIn. Find some groups that have a connection to your small business and become involved in the conversations. Answer questions when you can, and help to establish yourself as knowledgeable about specific topics related to your business. There are many small business and general marketing groups that will be very useful resources for you, and if there isn’t a group that interests you, consider starting one.


5. Participate On Other Blogs


It might seem counter-intuitive for you to spend your valuable time by participating in discussions on other people’s blogs, but the payoff can be very valuable. Remember that it takes time to build a reputation and establish your credibility, and you can’t always expect everyone to come to you. Sometimes, you have to go out and build your own credibility and reputation.

Basic Strategy: Identify 2-3 blogs in your industry, or those that focus on small business, and get into the habit of regularly reading the content and participating in the discussions. Whenever you can, try to add value by sharing a personal story about what has/has not worked for you. Get to know the writers – they’ll be valuable contacts for you. One strategy for identifying good blogs is to use Guy Kawasaki’s Alltop, which is a directory of popular blogs across many different subject areas. For example, for blogs focused on crafts, you might follow this page on Alltop. If you want to participate in blogs focusing on small business issues, you might start at Technorati’s list of the Top 100 Small Business blogs.

Advanced Strategy: Once you’ve spent some time on other blogs and have participated in discussions, you’ll find that you’ve built a level of credibility and trust, based on your participation. You should consider reaching out to the blog owners and asking whether they’d allow you to guest post an article on their blog (kind of like this post). This is a nice way for you to get in front of a bigger audience, and many blog owners will invite guests to post from time to time. Agree on a topic in advance and provide a draft of your post sufficiently in advance of the publication date to give them an opportunity to review.

Alternatively, ask if they would consider guest posting on your blog. Since you’re looking to attract more readers (and more potential customers), either option works well for that purpose. Don’t worry so much about going after the A-list blogs right away. There are many excellent blogs and it might take a bit of time to build your reputation to such a level that you’ll have opportunities to post in the top blogs. That doesn’t mean you should wait, though – make opportunities for yourself and offer to guest write whenever you can find a new audience. I recommend you read How To Guest Post To Promote Your Blog from blogging expert Darren Rowse.


6. Mobile Social Networks and other Local Strategies


Yelp publishes millions of reviews about local businesses. Foursquare is a combination city-guide, friend finder and competitive game. It allows users to “check in” by cell phone at a local venue and announce this via other social networks such as Twitter.

Basic Strategy: Yelp, Foursquare, and other mobile social networks can be powerful marketing channels for small businesses. You should at the very least register accounts on the popular services and get to know them. If you have a restaurant or a retail store, for example, you’ll want to get to know Yelp pretty well. You can set up a business account on Yelp (no cost), which will let you answer questions about your business, track how many Yelp users view your business page, add information about your business, and announce special promotions. Similarly, you’ll want to sign up with Foursquare to take advantage of local advertising opportunities. Using Foursquare, you’ll be able to push promotions to potential customers who’re in the vicinity of your business.

You should also consider other local strategies. For example, you can add your business to Google Maps, or update your listing to include additional details. You can do the same on Bing.

Advanced Strategy: If you believe that your business can truly benefit from a presence on Yelp, Foursquare, or similar networks, you’ll want to do more than just register accounts with those services. For example, Yelp allows you to include a website URL for your business. Nearly all sites will let you upload photos to your profile, and photos will make your profile more trustworthy.

You can also proactively use Yelp and other similar services to promote your business. Ask your customers, friends and family who have used your services for a review on Yelp. You can encourage reviews by running promotions or discounts – offering free appetizers, for example, to a customer who will write a review about their meal at your restaurant (or to one who already wrote a review), or a small discount to a customer who hires you for carpentry work and mentions that they found you through Yelp.

Similarly, you can find ways to promote your business using Foursquare and similar networks. If you have a TV display in your store connected to a computer, you can display the people who are checking in. You can offer specials or discounts to the person who visits your location the most (this is similar to frequent buyer cards that many businesses have used for years).

Don’t forget to also consider how you can improve your use of other basic local strategies. For example, many small business websites are optimized for specific keywords or subject areas, but are rarely optimized for local searches. If you have a gift basket business, you’ll want to be sure that users searching for gift baskets in your geographic area will find you.


7. Comments and Conversations About Your Company


Whether or not you are a party to the conversations, people will talk about your company. How do you monitor and, when appropriate, join those discussions?

Basic Strategy: There are five simple steps you can take today to begin paying attention to conversations about your business.

First, set up Google Alerts. Google Alerts are free email updates from Google search results about any topic you’re interested in tracking. For example, I track, among other alerts, the names of our competitors, the name of our company, and certain other terms I believe are important to my business. Anytime Google adds something to its index that mentions my company or the other terms I’m tracking, I receive an immediate email notification with a link to that item. Alerts can be set up for web, blog, news, video, or groups searches.

Second, review the results in your web analytics data. At my company, we use Google Analytics. Google Analytics is a free tool from Google that provides detailed and very useful information about your website traffic and the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. When we run social media campaigns, we’ll often attach tracking tags to those campaigns so that we can properly monitor them in Google Analytics. This is important because without such data it will be nearly impossible for you to evaluate the success of your social media marketing efforts. But analytics are important for another reason: they’ll tell you which sites are sending traffic to your site.

Third, search Facebook. In August, Facebook rolled out a real-time search engine (the search box is on the top right of any Facebook page). One effective way to take advantage of Facebook search is to search for your company’s name to see who is talking about your company and what they’re saying. In several months, you’ll be able to search Facebook updates directly from Bing, which will be integrating Facebook public updates into Bing’s search results.

Fourth, search Twitter. You currently can search Twitter for real-time results (if you’re not logged in, just go to Twitter’s homepage). One easy way to monitor conversations about your company is to search for your company’s name. You can also currently do this on Bing, which is indexing Twitter updates. Very soon, you’ll also be able to search Twitter updates (and other social media content) via Google’s Social Search (Social Search was rolled out to Google Labs recently, as an experimental product). You can also use Twitter clients like TweetDeck or Seesmic to save searches and monitor in real-time whenever someone uses a specific word or phrase in a tweet.

Finally, take advantage of services that will, similar to Google Alerts, push data to you. I use and like BackType, which is a real-time search engine that indexes online conversations in thousands of blogs and social networks. I use BackType primarily to keep up with conversations in blogs. Every day, I receive emails from BackType with links to comments that include the keywords I’m monitoring. Without these alerts, I would be unable to monitor so many blogs, and my ability to respond to posts about my company would be very limited.

Advanced Strategy: If you’re having trouble keeping track of your various search strategies, you should consolidate your efforts and leverage one of the many applications that will help you monitor the social web. I have not personally used these services, but they appear to be held in high esteem by knowledgeable people who have. For example, truVOICE provides keyword monitoring of the social web with an emphasis on blogs and forums, while Radian6 pulls in a lot of information from the social web, analyzes it, and provides consumer sentiment ratings for your brand. A good resource to learn about paid social media monitoring tools is Mashable’s post Top 10 Reputation Tracking Tools Worth Paying For.

In addition to monitoring, you’ll need to decide how, when, and where you’ll engage in conversations. It’ll be very difficult for you to engage in conversations everywhere, so you should spend some time learning the various networks and deciding where you should focus your efforts. Looking at your website analytics data — if you own an online business — will help a great deal because it’ll help you to better understand where your traffic is coming from. If much of your traffic originates from Twitter and Facebook, for example, you’ll want to spend more time on those services.


8. Multimedia


Multimedia (video, photos, audio) is a bit more complicated for many small businesses to execute, but can provide excellent social media marketing opportunities.

Basic Strategy: YouTube has been constantly evolving and adding features that make it an attractive social site for small businesses. Although you don’t have to produce videos to participate on YouTube, you should consider whether simple videos can help your marketing efforts. For example, if you’re already posting videos to your blog, you can upload them to YouTube to reach a broader audience, and embed the video content in your blog posts. YouTube has also been adding more comprehensive activity updates for its users and has made pretty powerful analytics tools available so that you can evaluate the effectiveness of your video content.

Similarly, you could start a Flickr account for your business and post photos of your customers or your products (or both). Flickr offers a place where people can share photos with others, but also has discussion groups, many focused on local markets, that offer additional opportunities for you to market your business. You can also consider setting up your own Internet radio talk show using BlogTalkRadio, which is another way to use multimedia to speak directly to your customers. Get creative with it — own a restaurant? Start a call-in show for people to ask cooking questions. Are you a piano teacher? Perhaps you could start a show to talk about classical music.

Advanced Strategy: Advanced strategies using multimedia are complicated and typically benefit from using experienced consultants. One effective way to leverage video, for example, is to create content that has the potential to become viral. While I don’t believe you can set out to make a viral video (an incredible amount of luck is typically involved), there are a number of things you can typically do to build awareness about your small business using viral video (these strategies are beyond the scope of this post). Once you’ve created good content, you’ll want to distribute it using as many social networks as you can.

When you consider how you can leverage social networks, think about whether each network provides an audience or a technology solution (or both). For example, YouTube provides both a huge audience and a solution for uploading video files. Flickr can also provide both an audience and a technology solution, but not for every business. While your customers might not be on Flickr, you can still use Flickr as a place to store and tag your photos, and then distribute those photos to other social networks where you prefer to invest more time and effort.


9. Maintain Brand Consistency


We’ve discussed only a small handful of social networks. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of others, and new ones spring up every day. That means that your customers will have many different ways to find you. But they won’t find you if your brand is scattered across social networks using different usernames and profiles. Let’s review some strategies for making sure that your brand is consistent across social networks.

Basic Strategy: Usernames and user profiles are already showing up in search results. Do a search for your company’s name on Google right now — if you also have a Twitter account with the same name, odds are pretty good that the Twitter account will appear very high in the search results. This means that having a consistent username across the various social networks is very important. At a minimum, if you haven’t registered your company name on the major networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.), you should do that today. For many small businesses, their user accounts on social networks will be the highest ranked pages in search results.

You should also evaluate your email and web presence strategies. For example, are you using a Gmail email address when you can very easily be using a custom email address with your company name as your domain? Compare: restaurantname@gmail.com with john@restaurantname.com — which looks more professional? Similarly, are you hosting your blog at WordPress.com instead of on your own custom domain? Little details can make a difference.

Advanced Strategy: Things get a bit more complicated when you consider that there are many different social networks, and it’s tough to predict which of them will become popular and which will fail. Use a service such as namechk or KnowEm to see whether your username is available on dozens of popular social networks and if it’s not, to see which username could be registered across all social networks.

Maintaining name consistency is important, but isn’t enough by itself. You’ll also want to make sure that your brand speaks with a common “voice” across the social networks. This may be easier said than done. Social networks differ in significant ways from one another and present unique challenges for interacting with customers and potential customers on those networks.

Speaking with a common “voice” doesn’t mean that only one person should execute your company’s social media marketing strategy, but it does mean that everyone who speaks on behalf of your company in social media reflects your brand in a consistent way. I recommend you read Shel Israel’s recently published book “Twitterville,” for excellent tips and stories focusing on how large and small businesses can develop a consistent voice in social media.


10. Leverage Combinations of Social Media Tools


One of the best ways for small businesses to leverage social media marketing is to use various social networks in combination with each other.

Basic Strategy: At a minimum, you should do several things today to cross-market across the various social networks you’re most likely already using. Here are three suggestions:

First, connect your Twitter account to Facebook so that your tweets will appear in your public updates on Facebook. This will let you leverage your time on Twitter to also update your Facebook fans.

Second, connect your LinkedIn profile to your WordPress blog. LinkedIn allows you to publish, in your profile, synopses of the most recent blog posts on your blog. This application will automatically update your LinkedIn profile with your most recent blog posts.

Third, integrate Twitter tools into your blog. I like and use the TweetMeme retweet button on my blogs to make it easier for users to tweet about the blog posts. I also use the ShareThis tool to enable readers to quickly share content on multiple social networks.

Advanced Strategy: Advanced strategies require careful planning/execution and appropriate tools. In nearly all cases, your goal is to maximize the value of your content. For example, if you’re posting videos on YouTube or Vimeo, you can blog about those videos on your company’s blog. Then, you can tweet about the blog posts on Twitter (which I assume is integrated with your Facebook account). This way, you’ve taken one piece of content and found a way to leverage it across multiple social networks.

You’ll also want to consider ways that you can optimize the distribution to multiple social networks at the same time. Leverage tools to help you do this. For example, Ping.fm lets you update multiple social networks all in one go. Keep in mind that not all social networks will make sense for every business. Learn which networks are best for your business and find ways to leverage combinations of those networks to make your marketing more effective.


Conclusion


Social media marketing can be a phenomenal marketing channel for small businesses. I hope that the strategies I’ve outlined above provide a starting point for you to explore how you can leverage social media marketing for your small business.

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What’s really elevating new media – passion
October 12, 2009, 12:04 am
Filed under: Blogs, Social Media | Tags: , , , ,

New media is something we often talk about. Over the past couple of years, we’ve talked and talked about the rise of blogs and citizen journalism, and divided into three camps of believing new media will overtake traditional media, that traditional media will always triumph over new media in terms of credibility, that there will be co-existence.

I’ve taken turns in all three camps and like most of the world have taken up permanent residency in the last. But what really jolted me into realizing just how significant new media is and will be, was an event that I worked on about a fortnight ago.

The Grand Prix was in town, and my client being a significant team sponsor, invested in an unusual campaign that involved sponsoring the team motorhome, transforming it into the swankiest one on the paddock that gave the team a homely respite in the blistering heat.

I had the opportunity organize media and blogger visits and what really struck me, very deeply, was the sparkle I saw in the eyes of two bloggers who are passionate about F1. It’s often said that your eyes are the windows to your soul. The windows of these two people touched me at a very deep level when I saw how much they appreciated the visits. It made me remember that my job had a purpose, somehow.

This epiphany was in stark contrast to the jaded responses of traditional journalists, understandably battered by the constant tsunami of pesky PR assaults. I realized then, what exactly would tip the scale towards new media – passion. It’s easy to ask what your passion is but terribly difficult to answer.

It’s funny how even the World Business Forum addressed this issue. Robit Bhargava, one of the bloggers invited to the event, couldn’t have said it better:

In the surround-sound media environment of today, there is no shortage of places you can go to see an expert’s view of business and where it is headed. What I took from the first day of the World Business Forum, however, was just how important passion is as a common thread in the people (and their organizations) who are accomplishing something. The future of business isn’t about leveraging Twitter or weathering the storm, or even finding the next great groundbreaking product. The ones who really change our world for the better will be the ones most passionate about doing it.

Check out his post here.



Top 20 Ways to Share a Great Blog Post
April 6, 2009, 10:39 pm
Filed under: Blogs, Online presence | Tags: , ,
Great post on how to  generate online publicity for your blog post, from Mashable:

March 29th, 2009 | by Ben Parr

One of the best things about the web and social media is how much great information is written and produced every single day. If you’re a regular reader of blogs, you probably come across great articles that you just want everyone to know about. But what’s the best way to share these posts?

Luckily, there’s no shortage of ways to spread the word. Blogs, social networks, instant messenger, and mobile phones are some of the many ways to let others know about the best content on the web. Here are our 20 favorite ways to share a great blog post:


Sharing Via Social Media:


Mashable Twitter Image1. Using Twitter to Tweet and Share: Perhaps the fastest and most effective way to share a great blog post is through Twitter. Sharing or retweeting a link in Twitter can spread like wildfire. Use a URL shortener such as tinyurl or bit.ly to shorten links to fit within 140 characters.2. Posting to Facebook: Sharing a blog post on the world’s largest social network is as simple as going to the Facebook homepage and posting a link.

3. Digg it: Not only will you help bring that blog post one step closer to reaching the front page of the news site Digg (which will spread it even further), but all of your Digg friends will see it as well.

4. Post on MySpace Profile: Don’t forget about the world’s second largest social network when sharing your favorite articles. Post the link to your MySpace profile so your friends can enjoy it too.

5. Posting to LinkedIn: Some blog posts are worthy of being shared by your business network on LinkedIn . Post a link to the Network Updates area in the homepage.

6. Stumbling on StumbleUpon Stumble the post! StumbleUpon is a favorite network for discovering fun websites and useful information, so make sure that you give the post a thumbs up. The StumbleUpon Toolbar is the easiest way to Stumble.

7. Bookmarking to Delicious: Delicious is great for not only sharing posts, but for helping categorize blog posts for others to find. In addition, you can import your delicious bookmarks to Facebook, FriendFeed , and other social media websites.

8. Sharing on FriendFeed: The social media aggregator FriendFeed has a vibrant community who love to share videos, links, and pictures. Use the FriendFeed bookmarklet to quickly share a good blog post to FriendFeed.

9. Adding to Reddit: Reddit is another great social media site for sharing and voting on articles. It’s quick and easy to submit a link


Sharing Via Blogs:


10. Reblogging Great Posts: Blogging about a great article is one of the best ways to engage with the topics being discussed. Post a link, write some commentary, and share it with all of your readers. And don’t forget to share your own blog post as well!11. Sharing via Google Reader: Google Reader has a great feature for sharing blog posts. If you use Google Reader as your news reader of choice, all you have to do is click the “share” button at the bottom of blog posts to share it with all of your Google friends. You can also add notes and comment as well.

12. Posting on Tumblr or Posterous: If you want to share something via a blog, but don’t want to write a full blog post about it, there are great options for that as well, primarily Tumblr and Posterous . They are the quick and easy versions of full-fledged blogs, ideal for posting about pictures and blog posts.


Useful Tools for Sharing


Shareaholic Image13. TwitThat: TwitThat is one of the quickest and easiest tools for sharing blog posts. It will post to your Twitter quickly and easily. Just add the bookmarklet to your browser toolbar and click it whenever you come across a great post.14. Shareaholic Firefox Extension: There are a lot of great social networks where you can share a great post, but who wants to visit Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and LinkedIn to share a post? If you are a Firefox user, then install Shareaholic, an extension that goes on your toolbar. It provides quick links for sharing to all of the major social networks.

15. Ping.fm: If you’re a busy person, you might not have time to share on all of these social media websites. Isn’t there an easy way to share a blog post everywhere, all at once? Ping.fm links to all of your social networks and sends your updates to LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, to any other website you wish to link to it. You can even update from your instant messenger. It’s the perfect solution for those who like to share content all over the web.


Other Ways to Share:


ShareThis Image
16. Emailing: Email has always been a good way to share articles, especially with close friends and family. Although it may not reach as many people as Twitter, it will definitely reach anyone who isn’t as deep into social media as you are.
17. Texting: Did you know you that many blogs, including Mashable, support sharing an article via text message? Look out for the ShareThis button (three green dots connected by lines) under blog posts and select the “text” option. iPhones and mobile browsers have made it easy to read links sent by texts.

18. Changing IM Statuses: You probably have dozens, if not hundreds of IM contacts. Share great posts with all of them by changing your IM status to a great post you just read or wrote.

19. IMing a friend: If changing an IM status seems too impersonal, then just IM your friends the link. You can then have a fun chat about the blog post.

20. Talking to Friends: If you don’t have a computer handy, then don’t forget about the analog approach – call a friend or tell him or her over coffee about a great blog post you read. You can always send the link later if necessary.


How Do You Share Blog Posts?


This post only scratches the surface of sharing in social media. There are hundreds of tools and resources at your disposal. If you have another great way to share blog posts, please add it in the comments.



Online publishing and blogging
March 27, 2009, 1:11 am
Filed under: Blogs, Online publishing, Social Media | Tags: , , , , ,

The same, but not quite? Is blogging a subset of online publishing? Or should online publishing follow the concept of blogging as a best practice? We all have our takes on this, but March has given me this little conundrum to ponder on.

Three weeks ago, I attended Blogout! 2009 organised by The Digital Movement. You can check out Claudia‘s post-event write-up on TDM. The vibe was casual and fun. The event was organised and attended by some of the most dedicated enthusiasts in the local blogosphere and social media scene. What was truly admirable was how well the bottom-up grassroots event was organised, and how passion shone through in every aspect of the event. Kudos to the team behind it!

The event covered the following topics (I shamelessly culled from the TDM post – description and links – but check them out!):

The best part about Blogout!… I got the opportunity to meet – a blogger who blogs about a traditional form of pottery fired in dragon kilns, and a blogger who blogs about Cosplay and literary arts. Imagine that!

And now my experience at Blogout is juxtaposed against a three-day seminar led by US-based Mequoda Group in Singapore, that I am currently attending. Organised by the Magazine Publishers’ Association, this online publishing and marketing  workshop covers information on how to attract, convert, engage and monetize online traffic to create a more robust and profitable web presence.

Being a professional seminar, the vibes were at the other end of the spectrum from what I felt at Blogout. Yet the deep dive into the strategies so well explained by Don Nicholas, really expounded the methodology behind successful online publishing.

My 3 key takeaways, among many other things, by the end of Day 2 are:

  • Keywords
  • Driving traffic to your site
  • End users are loyal, advertisers are fickle

The topics of driving traffic and monetising by selling to your end users were addressed at Blogout, but explained in great detail at the online publishing seminar. Yet the subject of keywords is something I have never heard being addressed by a blogger, but heavily emphasized at the seminar. Keywords… something for bloggers to think about.

All in all, two very different events, yet equally insightful for me. An eventful March with lots to think about.



It’s the community not the tools
October 8, 2008, 12:37 am
Filed under: Online presence, Social Media | Tags: , , , ,

Like everyone who’s excited about the web2.0 space, I’m excited by all the tools and apps that really aid communication.

However, over the past week, I can’t help but start thinking about how it’s the community and where they are that matters. If your target audience are not social bookmarking fans of Digg and Stumbleupon, nor on Twitter or Plurk, nor any other niche social network that’s the flavour du jour, leveraging these tools in your PR campaign may make you appear a web2.0 native, but not yield the results you need.

How timely that Steve Rubel spoke about this, along with the future of PR and press releases, in an article on iMedia:

Published: October 07 2008
Steve Rubel on how blogs are changing the face of PR
Edelman’s director of insights explores the current evolution of the marketing and public relations landscape and explains why digital marketers need to focus on integration, not the latest technology fad.
If marketers want to succeed in this Web 2.0 world, they need to follow their audiences, not the technologies, says Steve Rubel. That might sound like surprising advice, coming from someone who spends at least two hours a day sifting through and digesting news regarding the latest in digital marketing platforms. But if there’s one thing Rubel has learned in tracking more than 500 RSS feeds related to digital marketing, it’s this: It’s not about the channel. It’s about how you use it.


Steve Rubel is senior vice president and director of insights for Edelman Digital.

Rubel should know. As a digital marketer with more than 15 years of experience, he’s seen a lot of platforms come and go. And as senior vice president and director of insights for Edelman Digital, it’s his job to identify emerging digital marketing platforms and gauge which ones are worth his clients’ investment.

In an industry where a shiny new application seems to be born every minute, it can be easy to get lost in the minutia — a tendency, Rubel notes, that can hurt a brand’s overall marketing campaign.

“A lot of marketers focus on individual sites and technologies,” he says. “They focus on Facebook strategies, they focus on Twitter strategies. And it’s very easy to get caught up in that and be very tactical and not think about how all these different genres integrate into a holistic system. I think that’s the biggest disappointment today. A lot of people are doing a lot of great work — very tactical work — but not thinking about how all this comes together and how it works together.”

The changing face of PR
As an executive at the world’s largest independent PR firm, Rubel has a keen sense of how public relations interacts with traditional and digital marketing platforms to form the basis of a company’s outward persona. He also recognizes that new digital platforms have greatly changed — and will continue to influence — the role of public relations in the overall marketing mix.

In July, when the SEC announced that it would recognize corporate blogs as public disclosure, some industry observers predicted the imminent death of the press release as we know it. But according to Rubel, rumors of the press release’s death have been greatly exaggerated.

“I see press releases having an important role in a few areas,” he says. “First of all, they communicate a message very quickly to the press, which is something that a blog or a feed really can’t do. And they reach a large number of people, particularly investors. Also, they can have a high impact on search engines, and I think that’s important to look at.”

That said, Rubel notes that companies’ dependence on press releases may decrease going forward. But, as with many traditional communication vehicles, the press release is more likely to respond to emerging digital platforms with adaptation rather than extinction.

Blogging into the future
Beyond providing a new channel through which to distribute company disclosures, blogs and bloggers are changing the face of public relations and marketing in many ways. And, daunting though it may be to consider that there are 25 million bloggers in the U.S. alone, Rubel says marketers and PR professionals need to embrace the blogger community as an opportunity rather than a challenge.

“There are a lot more places we can now go with smaller stories than we could before, more micro-niche audiences and more targeted outlets that focus on a unique segment of the market,” he says.

Rubel notes that in order to effectively communicate with the blogosphere, PR professionals and marketers need to bring their A games. “We can’t be spamming bloggers, and I think a lot of that is still continuing,” he says. “I’m disappointed in the industry in that regard, and I think we have a ways to go.”

Taking advantage of the huge opportunity presented by the blogging world requires PR professionals to think differently and leave behind some of their traditional tactics, Rubel says.

“PR people have typically been behind-the-scenes people, and I think that has to change,” he says. “The people who participate online the most and do that regularly are the ones who are most trusted. It’s easier for them to build relationships with the community.” Going forward, he notes, PR professionals must be prepared to build relationships with journalists and bloggers in a very transparent way.

If anyone can attest to the supreme importance of transparency within the blogosphere, it’s the folks at Edelman. Back in 2006, the firm received a virtual flogging when it was revealed that it had spearheaded a less-than-forthright campaign for client Wal-Mart. The campaign — in which Rubel played no personal role — involved a blog called “Wal-Marting Across America,” which was presented as the tale of a couple that was traveling the country in an RV, spending each night parked in a different Wal-Mart parking lot. But, as it turned out, Wal-Mart was underwriting the bloggers, one of whom was a Washington Post photographer.

Following an outpouring of outrage among bloggers, Edelman quickly stepped up to the plate and acknowledged its error in failing to be transparent about the identity of the two bloggers from the outset. And as Rubel reiterated in his immensely popular Micro Persuasion blog, the firm is committed to the transparency guidelines that it helped the Word of Mouth Marketing Association develop. Since the 2006 episode, Wal-Mart has continued to tap into the power of blogging — but with a much more upfront approach, evidenced in the company’s Check Out blog.

The need for transparency extends to all facets of marketing, particularly in Web 2.0, Rubel says. He notes that, on occasion, he’s had to talk his clients out of creating and posting their own articles to online resources such as Wikipedia. “Sometimes they really can’t quite understand why at first,” he says. “But I’ve found most times they’re often very receptive once I point to evidence that really underscores the ethics of the community. It’s pretty hard to dispute that.”

Digital best practices
Overall, Rubel says that online social networks present significant opportunities for marketers — if they know how to put this medium to work for their brands. Interactions and campaigns on sites such as Facebook and MySpace should develop naturally, he says.

“When a company can determine what it wants — and that overlaps with what a consumer wants — and you participate in a meaningful way in a social network to make that happen, I think that’s very credible,” he says.

As an example, he points to a program that Edelman Digital is running for Brita called Filter for Good. Tapping into consumers’ concerns over the impact that their bottled water habits are having on the environment, Edelman worked with the filtration giant to develop FilterForGood.com, a website where consumers who pledge to give up their bottled water can enter a contest and vie for prizes. “We activated that inside Facebook and helped execute an engagement program among people who are very green within Facebook and enthusiastic for these topics,” Rubel says. He notes that the campaign is a perfect example of a win-win situation in which a social networking tool helped to align a company’s interests with existing consumer interests.

In conclusion, Rubel reiterates his overall philosophy when it comes to interactive marketing. “Talk to consumers,” he says. “Study your audience and know how they interact with the web and what they like to do.” In the end, after all, it won’t be marketers who determine how media look and act it in the future — it will be the consumers.

“At this point, no medium has really replaced another, but I think that’s not an infinite loop,” Rubel says. “That has to stop at some point because people are so time pressed.” Rubel doesn’t claim to know which technologies and platforms will ultimately flourish and which will fade into oblivion, but he does know this: “Everything has to adapt in some way.”



Live Blogging Tools
July 6, 2008, 2:20 pm
Filed under: Blogs, Social Media | Tags: , , , , , ,

There are also web apps available to help bloggers with their live blogging endeavours, incuding CoverItLive reviewed by Mashable as an interactive widget which borrows tactics from video blogging tools, instant messaging and user-engaged chat, that users can place on their blogs or websites.

The blogger interacts with this widget that acts like a one-way chat tool while readers can send in questions and leave comments, which will be moderated by the blogger. The widget also allows the sharing of images and videos.

An alternative to blogging is the use of Twitter (for those who are lost here, it’s a microblogging service with a 140-word limit for each post or what it calls “tweets”), for bloggers to join a conversation about the event on Twitter. You can find out if there is an existing hashtag for the event. A hashtag is an event tag or title that attendees use on Twitter for their updates related to that specific event.

For bloggers and event organizers alike, it’s a good idea to check out Summize to know what’s the buzz (if any) surrounding the event. Summize is essentially a search engine for tweets so Twitter fans know what other Twitter fans are saying about their common topic, and organizers can find out what the tech-savvy are saying about their event.



Live Blogging @ Events
July 5, 2008, 2:16 pm
Filed under: Blogs, Social Media | Tags: , ,

I spent 4 years in the exhibition and conference industry, at a time when bloggers were still considered poseurs who were trying to get press privileges, without actually being members of the press. Embarrassingly I was a gatekeeper then, denying bloggers of press passes and free food in the media center, ironically at a technology show.

Fast forward to today, my past has caught up with me as I advocate the importance of bloggers to resistant PR folks and management, explaining that bloggers are not only legitimate media, they are actually stronger influencers than traditional media with more sustained impact on their followers.

It was therefore very interesting to read Mashable’s take on How to Live Blog a Conference, filled with tips for bloggers to plan their schedule at an event. The message to event organizers from me today, is for you to recognize how bloggers can increase the visibility and credibility of your event, build buzz surrounding your event, and engage a community with your event.

In order to help bloggers help you, it is important to cater to their needs by providing wireless Internet access at your event and to provide them with an event schedule so they can plan their editorial lineup. Show organizers, especially tech show organizers, are you listening?