Friday, September 28, 2007

What I want to see....

* Any tool/widget/site that helps transform a blog's readership from anonymous numbers and IP addresses, into real people with real faces and real lives.

* More great blog series like Tune in Saturdays, Blogger Stories and Buzz Friday.

* Seth allow comments.

* Kathy Sierra start blogging again.

* PR firms stop emailing bloggers asking us to interview writers for magazines so that we can post about their latest article. Instead, I want to see those magazines reach out to bloggers to use them as sources so they can create BETTER articles.

* Every reader of this blog to get as much from what I write here as I get from you.

* Music companies allow bloggers to put a widget on their blog or Facebook page that allows them to play ANY MP3, and SELL that MP3, with the blogger getting a percentage of the sale. If I go to a friend's blog and like the song they are playing, I should be able to buy it right there, and my friend should get a cut of the sale. Terry? Erin?

* AdAge actually do something with the Power150.

* More readers realize that the comments they leave here are usually more interesting than the post they are commenting on.

* A marketing/social media conference with Laura Ries, David Armano, Mike Wagner, Jackie Huba, Joseph Jaffe, Ann Handley, Jordan Behan, CK, Josh Hallett and Karl Long as speakers/panelists.

* Every blogger be as good at creating value and a sense of community in one post as Arun does here.

* More bloggers that are willing to let it all hang out.

* Every reader of The Viral Garden that doesn't have a blog, start one today.

What do you want to see?

Cloud shot via WxMom


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Thursday, September 27, 2007

This is why companies should care about social media

Karl at Experience Curve recently left a detailed commentary and overview of Amazon's service that allows you to buy and download DRM-free MP3s.

Then Karl went a step further and downloaded the program necessary to download MP3s, and walked his readers through the buying process.

UPDATE: I just bought my first album via Amazon MP3 and i’m pleased to say even on a Mac it was pretty painless and more importantly nothing unexpected happened. I bought the album using 1 click ordering. It gave me a screen telling me I needed to download the Amazon Downloader

Karl even included screenshots showing Amazon prompting him to download the MP3 downloader, and then a screenshot showing him downloading an Amy Winehouse album via the service.

Posts such as this are frequent on blogs, and truly demonstrate the power of blogs and other forms of social media as a way for customers to share information and their opinions about products and services that they use. As such, they present enormous opportunities for companies that are smart enough to reach out to bloggers. But it's hard to sell many companies on why the 'reaching out' part is so important, if they can't measure the impact that bloggers can have.

But if you look at Karl's blog, notice that in the top right-hand corner, you see a Feedburner widget that displays the number of daily feed readers he has. For yesterday, Experience Curve had 2,007 feed readers. And that's just feed readers, and doesn't include physical traffic to the blog, or email subscribers.

Since Karl had mentioned downloading an Amy Winehouse album with Amazon's AmazonMp3 service, that got me to wondering how Experience Curve's traffic compared to The picture below from Alexa tells the story:

The graph is a bit small, but it shows that according to Alexa, Experience Curve's traffic is roughly double the traffic to

One of the biggest reasons why companies claim to be weary of blogs and other forms of social media is that they feel it's difficult to accurately measure the size of the audience. Even that excuse is losing steam, as more and more blogs are adding widgets such as the one from Feedburner that displays your blog's readership number.

If you found a blogger evangelizing your company, and noticed that blogger has a larger audience than your website, would you reach out to that blogger? Could you afford not to?

If I were Amazon, I would thanking Karl for the post, and offering to set up a time to discuss with Karl the online seller's plans for AmazonMP3 moving forward.

And if I were with Universal or Amy Winehouse's management, I'd be talking to Karl about getting some advice on how to build an online audience, since it appears that Karl is doing a better job of this at his blog, than Amy is at her website.

Bonus Link: A good discussion about 'getting' social media over at Da Fix.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing Blogs - Week 75

Here's the standings for Week 75:

1 - Seth's Blog - 9,676 (No Change)(LW - 1)
2 - Duct Tape Marketing - 2,507 (No Change)(LW - 2)
3 - Logic + Emotion - 1,205 (-11)(LW - 3)
4 - Search Engine Guide - 1,175 (+73)(LW - 4)
5 - Diva Marketing - 1,048 (No Change)(LW - 5)
6 - Daily Fix - 1,027 (-4)(LW - 7)
7 - What's Next - 1,013 (-33)(LW - 6)
8 - Brand Autopsy - 793 (No Change)(LW - 8)
9 - Drew's Marketing Minute - 768 (No Change)(LW - 10)
10 - Influential Marketing - 759 (-16)(LW - 9)
11 - Converstations - 730(-24)(LW - 11)
12 - Church of the Customer - 725 (No Change)(LW - 12)
13 - Jaffe Juice - 621 (-30)(LW - 13)
14 - The Viral Garden - 601 (-24)(LW - 14)
15 - Marketing Roadmaps - 564 (No Change)(LW - 15)
16 - Branding and Marketing - 546 (-16)(LW - 16)
17 - Conversation Agent - 533 (+1)(LW - 17)
18 - Marketing Headhunter - 521 (No Change)(LW - 20)
19 - Coolzor - 495 (No Change)(LW - 21)
20 - Servant of Chaos - 493 (-15)(LW - 18)
21 - Customers Rock! - 483 (-10)(LW - 19)
22 - CK's Blog - 452 (No Change)(LW - 22)
23 - Experience Curve - 427 (+2)(LW - 23)
24 - Hee-Haw Marketing - 420 (No Change)(LW - 24)
25 - Greg Verdino's Marketing Blog - 395 (-4)(LW - 25)

A reminder that the Top 25 Marketing Blogs are ranked according to the number of sites/blogs linking to each, according to Technorati. The number you see after the blog name is how many sites/blogs Technorati claims have linked to the blog in the last 6 months. After that number is a positive or negative number, and this represents how many links the blog gained or lost from last week's Top 25. The final stat tells you what position the blog held in the Top 25 Last Week (LW). If you see this; (LW - UR), it means the blog wasn't ranked last week.

Technorati is still lagging on updating several blogs, although it's not quite as bad as it was last week. Perhaps the biggest move was Search Engine Guide gaining 75 to make a hard run at Logic + Emotion for the #3 spot. In the Top 10, Daily Fix and What's Next flip-flop positions, as do Drew's Marketing Minute and Influential Marketing.

Next update is next Wednesday.

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Monday, September 24, 2007

Facebook worth $10 billion?

Microsoft seems to think so. The Wall-Street Journal is reporting that Microsoft is negotiating for a 5% stake in the social site, and is rumored to be offering $300-$500 million for the investment. Google has also expressed interest in an investment in Facebook.

Zuckerberg looked crazy last year when he turned down a $1 billion acquisition offer from Yahoo. He's looking like a visionary genius now.

In other news, there's talk that this 'social networking' thingie might have legs...

UPDATE: TechCrunch picks up the story.

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Blog sponsorships, SXSW, and more interviews

Jaffe posts that blogger Dan Klass of The Bitterest Pill has also acquired an iPhone in return for B-Movie Books sponsoring his blog. Here's the offer that Dan made on his blog:
Yes, if you sponsor “The Bitterest Pill” by sending Dan an Apple iPhone, here’s what you get:

* Your prerecorded sponsorship message (up to one minute, produced by Dan himself) in one month’s worth of new episodes of The Bitterest Pill (at least four shows), plus inserted into all the episodes from #102 on for that same one month period!

* Dan will pretend to like you, your company, even your parents!

* Your photo or company logo on The Bitterest Pill web site.

Offer ends September 17th, 2007

Congrats to Dan, and judging by the comments, his readers seem to be excited about this as well. I also like the idea of a monthly blog sponsorship because it lets both the company and blogger experiment with the idea. Try it for a month, if it works then do it again, if not drop it. But again, notice the ancillary effect: bloggers such as myself that aren't directly benefitting from the sponsorships that Jaffe and Dan are having, are still blogging about them, and indirectly promoting the sponsors. This is another example of how companies reaching out to bloggers creates a story in and of itself. I also wrote about this today at Daily Fix.

BTW I should also add that Jaffe, after getting a pair of iPhones via sponsorships with Across the Sound, then made a call to potential sponsors to offer him a Macbook Pro for a month's sponsorship. Richard@Dell saw this invitation and offered Jaffe a loaded Dell laptop instead. Great example of a company monitoring the blogosphere and engaging with bloggers, and in this case, a podcaster.

Speaking of Dell, we are down to the final hours of voting at SXSW's Panel Picker. I blogged about this last month, but here's the deal once again: Dell has submitted several panel ideas to SXSW, one of which is a panel entitled Future of Corporate Blogs: What's New and Next. The panel is tentatively set to include Dell's chief blogger and Digital Media Manager Lionel Menchaca, along with another corporate blogger, a non-corporate blogger, and myself moderating the panel. I think this will be a great discussion because we have finally reached the point where there are enough companies either blogging or considering blogging, that we can intelligently discuss where the space is, and where it's heading.

If this sounds like a panel you would like to see at next year's SXSW, please click here and vote on the panel and if inclined, leave a comment. You'll need to register first, which is free, quick, and relatively painless. If you are planning on voting, please make sure you do so ASAP, as voting closes Friday at 11:59 pm CST. Thanks so much, and I hope to see as many of you as possible in Austin next March!

Bonus Link: My interview with copywriting guru Jonathan Kranz is up at Marketing Profs.

Bonus Question: If you were willing to have a company sponsor your blog, what would be your desired terms?

Edit: Forgot to add the link to the post where Dan stated his terms. I added that in after CK noticed I didn't add it. Here's the post again.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing Blogs - Week 74

Here's the standings for Week 74:

1 - Seth's Blog - 9,676 (No Change)(LW - 1)
2 - Duct Tape Marketing - 2,507 (No Change)(LW - 3)
3 - Logic + Emotion - 1,216 (No Change)(LW - 4)
4 - Search Engine Guide - 1,102 (No Change)(LW - 5)
5 - Diva Marketing - 1,048 (No Change)(LW - 6)
6 - What's Next - 1,046 (+1)(LW - 7)
7 - Daily Fix - 1,031 (+8)(LW - 8)
8 - Brand Autopsy - 793 (+254)(LW - 17)
9 - Influential Marketing - 775 (+18)(LW - 10)
10 - Drew's Marketing Minute - 768 (No Change)(LW - 9)
11 - Converstations - 754(+16)(LW - 11)
12 - Church of the Customer - 725 (No Change)(LW - 12)
13 - Jaffe Juice - 651 (-14)(LW - 13)
14 - The Viral Garden - 625 (-17)(LW - 14)
15 - Marketing Roadmaps - 564 (No Change)(LW - 15)
16 - Branding and Marketing - 562 (+3)(LW - 16)
17 - Conversation Agent - 532 (+4)(LW - 18)
18 - Servant of Chaos - 508 (-19)(LW - 19)
19 - Customers Rock! - 493 (-29)(LW - 20)
20 - Marketing Headhunter - 521 (No Change)(LW - 21)
21 - Coolzor - 495 (No Change)(LW - 22)
22 - CK's Blog - 452 (No Change)(LW - 23)
23 - Experience Curve - 425 (+3)(LW - 24)
24 - Hee-Haw Marketing - 420 (No Change)(LW - 25)
25 - Greg Verdino's Marketing Blog - 399 (LW - UR)

A reminder that the Top 25 Marketing Blogs are ranked according to the number of sites/blogs linking to each, according to Technorati. The number you see after the blog name is how many sites/blogs Technorati claims have linked to the blog in the last 6 months. After that number is a positive or negative number, and this represents how many links the blog gained or lost from last week's Top 25. The final stat tells you what position the blog held in the Top 25 Last Week (LW). If you see this; (LW - UR), it means the blog wasn't ranked last week.

A couple of major changes this week. First, I've decided to drop Gaping Void from the rankings. I am a big fan of Hugh's marketing-related posts, especially those concerning how Stormhoek is using social media to reach its customers. But there's just not enough of these type of marketing-related posts to justify keeping it in the countdown any longer.

The second change involves Brand Autopsy. As with the other Typepad blogs, Technorati has had difficulty accurately counting BA's links, somehow assigning two different URLs to the blog. John alerted me last week that Technorati had apparently fixed this issue with his blog, and that's why BR gained over 250 links this week, and vaults into the Top 10.

And speaking of Technorati, you'll notice that again this week, several blogs have (No Change) next to them. This is, I'm assuming, because Technorati hasn't updated the blog's link count in the last week. I think Marketing Headhunter has had the same link count for about a month, according to Technorati. Karl at Experience Curve was recently asking what Technorati could do to regain its foothold with bloggers. Fixing the glitches and actually doing what they claim to do (track the number of incoming blog links), would be a good start.

Thus its hard to get a feel for how the Top 25 is moving, since half the blogs have been in a Technorati-induced standstill since last week. Greg Verdino's Marketing Blog re-enters the Top 25 at #25.

Next update is next Wednesday.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

How to launch a successful blogger-outreach program in one day

For any company that is looking to leverage the blogosphere in its marketing communications efforts, here's all you need to do:

9:00 am - 11:00 am: Go to Technorati and Google Blog Search and search for bloggers that are talking about your company. Make a list of at least 20 bloggers that have blogged about your company within the last 2 weeks. Concentrate on bloggers that appear to be evangelizing your company, but also add some bloggers that are critical of your efforts.

11:00 am - 2:00 pm: After you have your list of at least 20 bloggers that are talking about your company, go back to every blog and respond to the blog post where your company is mentioned. Clearly identify yourself, and your position with the company. Address only the topics presented, and any relevant information. Invite replies from readers. Thank the blogger for the comment, and then go back and email them thanking them for their comments, and let them know that you are available for a short phone discussion or interview, if they are interested.

2:00 pm - 3:00 pm: Subscribe to the feeds from all the blogs you commented on, as well as their comment feeds, if available. If your company has a blog, add links to any bloggers that are evangelizing your company on your company blog's sidebar.

3:00 pm - 4:00 pm: Visit your list of blogs again, and read any new posts, and also reply to any comments that were addressed to you, or relevant comments that other readers have left.

4:00 pm - 5:00 pm: Answer any emails from bloggers, and if possible, schedule times to discuss topics raised with blogger on the phone, or via interview.

This will get your blogger-outreach program off the ground. From this point, every day you should read the blogs via your feedreader. Also, at least twice a week, you should again check Technorati and Google Blog Search for new mentions about your company, and repeat the process.

Why this will benefit your company:

1 - It will get you noticed in the blogosphere. This is a coordinated effort to reach out to bloggers and to engage them in their space. What you are basically saying is that 'I respect you enough to take the time to respond.' That's HUGE!

2 - It will show bloggers that you are serious about starting a conversation with them. This is why you can't do this once, you have to make it a habit to read blogs from your evangelists (and even detractors). This wins even more respect among bloggers.

3 - It will get bloggers talking about your company. It is still rare for companies to make a sincere effort to monitor and respond to bloggers as part of a marketing strategy. It also encourages bloggers to evangelize your company, AND, just as importantly, it encourages OTHER bloggers to evangelize your company. As we saw with Saturn replying to Chris, the story became Kyle taking the time to respond to Chris. That led several other blogs to link to Saturn and applaud their efforts, that otherwise would have never mentioned the company. You are literally creating a network of bloggers that will be more likely to promote and evangelize your company.

4 - It will greatly improve your social media and marketing efforts. Simply talking to your customers and potential customers in their space in the blogosphere is a wonderful way to better understand them, but also to better understand how social media works. It's one thing to hear about how quickly ideas spread in the blogosphere, it's quite another to spend a few hours talking to bloggers on their blogs, and then to see how quickly other bloggers link to your actions.

5 - It means you stop wasting time on lame-ass mass email pitches to bloggers. These almost never work, and frequently backfire. Actually taking the time to talk to us in OUR space is MUCH more effective.

6 - It shows bloggers that 'you get it'. This makes bloggers much more likely to pay attention to your company, and blog about you, your products, and marketing efforts. Which means the network of bloggers that are talking about your company is further expanded. Which doesn't hurt your company's Google Juice either.

Again, this program can be launched in a day, for free. Why not give it a whirl tomorrow?


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Friday, September 14, 2007

What will the future of blogging look like?

Travis at Young Go Getter recently asked some 'thought leaders' what they thought the future of blogging would look like.

According to Travis, Seth wrote back "I have no clue. I’m sorry, Travis."

Classic. Maybe accurately predicting the future isn't what counts, but rather being able to take advantage of it when it arrives?


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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Companies reaching out to bloggers and the viral effect

Chris proudly proclaims in this post that he's a Saturn Evangelist.
If there were a Saturn Lovers Facebook group, I’d join it. If GM had a community evangelist in that group, asking for YouTube videos ranting about my Saturn, I’d go out and make one. If they wanted to do meetups, I’d probably go.

Chris is talking about how big companies can leverage social media in their marketing efforts, but if you work for Saturn and happen to read this post, it screams "please contact me, because I want to promote you".

And that's just what Kyle Johnson, Saturns' Communication Director, did. Kyle left several comments to Chris' post, giving Chris a heads up about online forums for Saturn fans, and inviting Chris to contact him at any time. Many companies are beginning to understand why it's important to reach out to bloggers, and monitor what they are saying about their company.

But look at this post and take Chris out of the equation for a minute. Notice that as soon as Kyle commented, almost every comment from that point on (including Chris') were to Kyle. Chris' readers were obviously excited by having a rep from Saturn stop by, and they instantly responded to the chance to interact with him. And to Kyle's credit, he came back and left a few more comments after his original one.

Then we have the viral element to Kyle's comments on Chris' blog coming into play. I found out about Chris' post because I saw a post on it at Greg Verdino's blog. Greg explains:
But either way, this is exactly the kind of thing more brands should be doing -- not once and not just when something goes horribly wrong, but every single day. If customers, fans and haters are talking about you every day (and they are), you need to be listening and talking back. Mostly listening, but there's a lot to be said for joining the conversation when you have something meaningful to add.....And for anyone who isn't monitoring online conversations and joining in as appropriate, you're missing a huge opportunity to market smarter and build better consumer relationships.

I decided to check, and according to Technorati, there are currently 10 links to Chris' post about Saturn (this will be #11). This is what many companies aren't realizing, there is frequently a viral effect to reaching out to bloggers. Even today, a company taking the time to try to talk to bloggers on their blog in their space is still a bit of a rarity. The simple act of a company rep taking the time to interact with bloggers becomes the story. It creates a buzz among bloggers, as it's doing here.

Look at the companies that are spending these millions trying to create ads and videos that will 'go viral', when all they have to do is spend some time reaching out to bloggers and having a conversation with us. That's the quickest way to get bloggers talking about you.

And it's free.

UPDATE: Socially Adept and MarketingBlurb have already linked to this post. Susan mentions how she's now reading about Chris' post because I wrote about it after seeing Greg write about it. And so it spreads, hope you companies are taking notes.

Nother UPDATE: Jennifer at Search Engine Guide has also written an article about Saturn reaching out to Chris. Notice that not only are bloggers responding to Chris' post, but also to the fact that Kyle was smart enough to respond on Saturn's behalf. One comment on one blog has now spread out to reach readers on about 15 blogs. As I told Jennifer, isn't this what Jaffe calls 'using New Marketing to prove that New Marketing works'?


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The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing Blogs - Week 73

Here's the standings for Week 73:

1 - Seth's Blog - 9,676 (No Change)(LW - 1)
2 - Gaping Void - 3,532 (-75)(LW - 2)
3 - Duct Tape Marketing - 2,507 (No Change)(LW - 3)
4 - Logic + Emotion - 1,216 (-9)(LW - 4)
5 - Search Engine Guide - 1,102 (-4)(LW - 5)
6 - Diva Marketing - 1,048 (-6)(LW - 6)
7 - What's Next - 1,045 (-4)(LW - 6)
8 - Daily Fix - 1,023 (+7)(LW - 8)
9 - Drew's Marketing Minute - 768 (-1)(LW - 9)
10 - Influential Marketing - 757 (-5)(LW - 10)
11 - Converstations - 738(-3)(LW - 11)
12 - Church of the Customer - 725 (No Change)(LW - 12)
13 - Jaffe Juice - 662 (-24)(LW - 13)
14 - The Viral Garden - 642 (-4)(LW - 14)
15 - Marketing Roadmaps - 564 (No Change)(LW - 17)
16 - Branding and Marketing - 559 (+2)(LW - 16)
17 - Brand Autopsy - 539 (-20)(LW - 15)
18 - Conversation Agent - 528 (+5)(LW - 20)
19 - Servant of Chaos - 527 (No Change)(LW - 18)
20 - Customers Rock! - 522 (No Change)(LW - 19)
21 - Marketing Headhunter - 521 (No Change)(LW - 21)
22 - Coolzor - 495 (No Change)(LW - 22)
23 - CK's Blog - 452 (No Change)(LW - 23)
24 - Experience Curve - 422 (-15)(LW - UR)
25 - Hee-Haw Marketing - 420 (No Change)(LW - 24)

A reminder that the Top 25 Marketing Blogs are ranked according to the number of sites/blogs linking to each, according to Technorati. The number you see after the blog name is how many sites/blogs Technorati claims have linked to the blog in the last 6 months. After that number is a positive or negative number, and this represents how many links the blog gained or lost from last week's Top 25. The final stat tells you what position the blog held in the Top 25 Last Week (LW). If you see this; (LW - UR), it means the blog wasn't ranked last week.

Technorati was acting really flaky this week, and it resulted in several blogs apparently not having their counts updated. But for the ones that were updated, other than Gaping Void and Jaffe Juice, the moves both up and down were very small. My guess is that we are starting to shed the 'summer lag' a bit.

No new blogs this week, and hopefully TRati can get the kinks worked out for next week.

Next update is next Wednesday.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Interviews, interviews, interviews

I have two more interviews up at Marketing Profs. The first is one I did with Karen Breen Vogel, CEO of Clear Gauge. Karen walks us through how to optimize web-sites, with a focus on giving visitors that arrive via search results relevant content, and how to organize your site so that content is easily found when visitors arrive at your site.

The second interview
, which went live today on the site, is with B2B marketing expert Paul Dunay, who talks about how companies can get 'good old-fashioned buzz' by using these new social media tools. Both Dunay and Vogel will be speaking at Marketing Profs B2B Conference next month, and the schedule for the festivities can be found here.

Finally, go check out the great interview that Young Go Getter did with Ann recently.


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Monday, September 10, 2007

The Age of Conversation hits $10,000 milestone

According to Drew, (And Gavin via comments) it looks like The Age of Conversation has officially raised over $10,000 so far for Variety, the Children's Charity! This was the goal for the project as far as the amount we hoped to raise, and thanks to all of you that bought the book, we've hit that mark in less than 2 months!

If you haven't yet ordered your copy, just click on the picture to the right, and you can get yours in ebook, hardcover, or paperbook. And remember that all proceeds minus printing costs are donated to Variety, the Children's Charity!

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Sunday, September 09, 2007

Nettwerk / Vancouver Sun team up to give away music downloads

I've definitely got to start paying more attention to my Facebook account. Nettwerk's Erin Kinghorn left me a message a few days ago there about a 48-hour promotion that Nettwerk and the Vancouver Sun are teaming up on to give everyone a free download of an 'album' worth of music from several Netttwerk artists. The album features tracks from Sarah McLachlan, Barenaked Ladies, Leigh Nash, The Be Good Tanyas, and several others, 15 tracks in all.

They have a video explaining what they are doing, and they say that you can download the music and listen to it as much as you like, make as many copies as you want to give to your friends. Terry McBride explains that they are doing this because 'you're going to do it anyway, we'd just rather make it legal for you to do'.

Now here's the bad news...the promotion is only good for 48 hours and that 48 hours started at 12:01 am Saturday. So you've got till midnight tonight (Pacific Standard Time) to download the album, and I highly recommend doing so.

If you want to get the album, click here.


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Thursday, September 06, 2007

Company Blog Checkup: Stacks and Stacks

Stacks and Stacks is a retailer that focuses primarily on products that help customers get organized and deal with storage issues. So naturally, their newly-launched blog is called the Clutter Control Freak Blog.

First, let's quickly cover the authors. Normally I like to give a company blog at least 2 months before I cover it here in the Company Blog Checkup Series. But I will make an exception for the Clutter Control Freak Blog (which has been live for about 5 weeks), because the blog boasts several prominent bloggers among its writers, including BL Ochman and Monica Ricci. Having several seasoned bloggers writing for the blog is a huge plus, and has resulted in the Clutter Control Freak Blog hitting the ground running.

Now let's move to the blog's content. Since we are dealing with the blog for a company that sells storage and organization products, there's obviously two different paths the writers can take with the content. The writers can focus on the products themselves, or the benefits that customers can get from becoming more organized. Thankfully, the blog's writers lean toward discussing the benefits to the customers. While some posts are direct promotions for products, such as a recent post that talks about a shelving unit from Stacks and Stacks, many posts offer advice on getting organized and reducing clutter, without ever mentioning or suggesting a product. Which is really unnecessary, because if the reader is getting value from the content on a company blog, they are going to want to 'reward' that company by investigating their products. Stacks and Stacks seems to realize this, and I again think this goes back to having several bloggers as writers that understand how to position the blog's content so it appeals to readers.

One of the most common problems that a company blog has is an inconsistent and lax posting schedule. This is definitely not a problem for the Clutter Control Freak Blog, as the blog's writers seem to be not only posting every weekday, but often 2 and even 3 times a day! There also seems to be a good mix with most of the writers contributing. The blog also reaches out to readers for their contributions, encouraging them to submit photos, stories, product reviews, or to even post on the blog! They have even created a widget that you can add to your blog/site/profile page that:
Every day, it’ll feature the Clutter Hack of the Day: ideas, advice, and news about how to organize your home, office, garden and life.

Great stuff, and this is no doubt another byproduct of having several knowledgable bloggers serving as writers. Also a quick note that all the posts have pictures. This tends to get overlooked sometimes, but readers respond to visual cues, and it's always best to try to have a photo for every post. The writers for the Clutter Control Freak Blog are all over this.

Now let's move to comments. One byproduct of posting more than once a day is that the number of comments per post can be lower. This obviously happens because most readers will only focus on the newest posts, and if the writers are posting constantly, the top posts are being quickly pushed down the blog by newer posts. And again, the blog is only 5 weeks old, and no matter how many expert bloggers you have serving as writers, it still takes time to establish a community of readers. The writers do seem to do a good job of responding to comments and adding their own. I would suspect that the number of comments will only increase over time.

Finally, let's tackle the sidebar. At the top are the dropdown menus you see to the right. The About section is right there at the top and features an explanation of the blog, and a picture and bio for each writer. I normally like to have at least the pictures of the writers on the sidebar, but with 15+ writers, that would take up too much room in this case. Many of the 'greatest hits' are here moving down the sidebar, such as search, most popular posts, and links to subscribe to the blog's feed and newsletter. I would like to see more RSS buttons and an explanation of what RSS is, but that's minor.

Moving down, we have recent posts, and a link to each writer's posts. There is also a nice section of links, all focused on storage and organizing tips, many of which are blogs from the writers. But no link to Lifehacker? After the links we have categories, but we do not have a section for the archives! I had to spend about 10 mins trying to figure out how long the blog had been live when I first arrived.

Overall, the Clutter Control Freak Blog is a very solid effort that should only improve as time goes by. The one area that seemed a bit weak was the number of comments per post, but given that the blog is only 5 weeks old, and that the writers average 2-3 new posts a day, I'm not worried about that. Over time as the blog's readership grows (which will be aided by leaving 2-3 posts a day), the number of comments will as well. Their are also several elements that are obviously influenced by having several seasoned bloggers as writers, such as the Clutter Hack of the Day widget, plenty of pictures, even YouTube videos being embedded in posts. This just goes back to bringing in people that are already familiar with social media and blogging, and Stacks and Stacks deserves a pat on the back for doing this, as it's resulted in a blog that's likely much better than it would have been if the company had tackled the project alone.

And now for the scoring:

Content: 27 (Out of a possible 35) - Love the focus on 'decluttering' instead of 'how Stacks and Stacks products can help you declutter'. But hate that posts are truncated. Why make reader hit another button to read the entire post?

Comments: 26 (Out of a possible 35) - Not every post gets comments, but the writers do a very good job of responding to commenters.

Posting Schedule: 12 (Out of a possible 15) - Blog averages a post every 2 days or so, which is very good.

Sidebars: 12 (Out of a possible 15) - Love the blogroll and the writers posts being made available. And there's a VERY nice page for the writers' bios and pics, but I'd like to at least see that have its own link on the sidebar, or add pics of the writers with links to their bios/posts from there.

Total Score: 77 (Out of a possible 100)

If anyone from Stacks and Stacks wants to discuss this Company Blog Checkup with me, feel free to leave a comment here, or email me, or both. If you're a company that would like to hire me to do an extensive checkup of your blog, you can click here for more information on my blogging and social media consulting services. And if anyone can think of a company blog that they want me to do a checkup on, feel free to email me!

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

What's the best way to get bloggers to promote your content?

I've received an almost identical email pitch about 5 times in the last 2 months. It involves telling me about an article that's running on, and then tells me that:
A Brandweek editor is available to discuss:

Peltz’s track record as a turnaround artist and his marketing strategies
Peltz’s revamping of Snapple
Peltz’s future plans for Heinz

Read the complete article at

To learn more about these articles or to schedule an interview with an AdweekMedia edtior, please contact me at XXX-XXX-XXXX

Basically, this pr agency wants me to contact them so I can interview a Brandweek editor to aid in my preparation of a post that I will leave here, promoting a Brandweek article.

Now contrast Brandweek's attempt to boost their awareness among bloggers with what Chris from Movie Marketing Madness says that Newsweek did in reaching out to him:
There have been a number of stories written in the last few days about Owen Wilson and how the rough times he’s going through personally are affecting the movie’s that are either coming out shortly or had planned to have a role in. I was asked for my thoughts on this issue, specifically as it relates to the marketing of The Darjeeling Limited, for a piece in Newsweek and you can read that story, complete with a quote from me, right here.

Note the difference?

First, Newsweek made sure that there is a direct benefit to Chris. If he agrees to the interview, then his comments will appear in a Newsweek article, which increases his exposure.

Second, by talking to Chris, Newsweek ends up with a better article. Which also benefits Newsweek's readers.

Third, Chris has a vested interest in promoting the article on Movie Marketing Madness.

Fourth, by talking to and referencing Chris' comments in an article, Newsweek has suddenly become relevant to me. They have just shown me that they 'get' the blogosphere, and now I want to read their articles.

This is also a great example of the power of being second.

A chance to be interviewed as a source for an article, or the chance to interview an editor about their article. Which approach would make you more likely to promote that article on your blog?


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The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing Blogs - Week 72

Here's the standings for Week 72:

1 - Seth's Blog - 9,676 (-81)(LW - 1)
2 - Gaping Void - 3,607 (-29)(LW - 2)
3 - Duct Tape Marketing - 2,507 (-17)(LW - 3)
4 - Logic + Emotion - 1,225 (-3)(LW - 4)
5 - Search Engine Guide - 1,106 (-45)(LW - 5)
6 - Diva Marketing - 1,054 (-4)(LW - 6)
7 - What's Next - 1,049 (-9)(LW - 6)
8 - Daily Fix - 1,016 (-10)(LW - 8)
9 - Drew's Marketing Minute - 769 (-14)(LW - 9)
10 - Influential Marketing - 762 (-15)(LW - 10)
11 - Converstations - 741(-21)(LW - 11)
12 - Church of the Customer - 725 (-1)(LW - 12)
13 - Jaffe Juice - 687 (-9)(LW - 13)
14 - The Viral Garden - 646 (-11)(LW - 14)
15 - Marketing Roadmaps - 564 (+2)(LW - 17)
16 - Brand Autopsy - 559 (-37)(LW - 15)
17 - Branding and Marketing - 557 (-20)(LW - 16)
18 - Servant of Chaos - 527 (-16)(LW - 18)
19 - Conversation Agent - 523 (-7)(LW - 20)
20 - Customers Rock! - 522 (-9)(LW - 19)
21 - Marketing Headhunter - 521 (No Change)(LW - 21)
22 - Coolzor - 495 (No Change)(LW - 22)
23 - CK's Blog - 452 (-14)(LW - 23)
24 - Experience Curve - 437 (LW - UR)
25 - Hee-Haw Marketing - 420 (-17)(LW - 24)

A reminder that the Top 25 Marketing Blogs are ranked according to the number of sites/blogs linking to each, according to Technorati. The number you see after the blog name is how many sites/blogs Technorati claims have linked to the blog in the last 6 months. After that number is a positive or negative number, and this represents how many links the blog gained or lost from last week's Top 25. The final stat tells you what position the blog held in the Top 25 Last Week (LW). If you see this; (LW - UR), it means the blog wasn't ranked last week.

Marketing Roadmaps continues a herculean comeback in the Top 25 this week. After being a charter member of the Top 25, the blog spent over a year out of the countdown, but now has rocketed all the way up to the Top 15, and shows no signs of slowing down. Other than Marketing Roadmaps, most of the other blogs were again down this week, although it seems that the number of links each blog is shedding is getting smaller.

Experience Curve was the lone new entry in this week's Top 25.

Next update is next Wednesday.

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Companies continue to embrace blogging

I recently saw a couple of examples of how companies are becoming more familiar and comfortable with blogging and the blogosphere.

First, Peter tipped us to Delta Airlines new blog that launched late last month. Now this isn't the best company blog I have ever seen, but for a large company, this is a very strong initial effort and I'll be reviewing Under the Wing in the Company Blog Checkup Series in a few weeks. I think this is also a sign that companies, even those as large as Delta, are not only wanting to blog, but are taking the blogosphere seriously enough to do their homework so that they enter this space with a solid effort.

Also, I noticed that after I featured Annie's Homegrown's company blog Bernie's Blog in my Company Blog Checkup a few weeks ago, that the company took my review of its blog as an opportunity to get feedback from its customers:
I was thrilled to see Bernie’s Blog reviewed by the good folks at The Viral Garden and it got me to thinking:
What do you, as a Bernie’s Blog reader, want to see more of?
What am I doing right, or wrong? You can tell me. I can take it.

Do you like hearing the point of view of me, a rabbit? Are there others you’d like to hear from within the Annie’s family? Topics you’d like to see us hop into?

If you would be so kind as to write us here with your thoughts, I would be grateful and I will pass your comments along to Annie. Plus, take our short poll. Your answers will help me decide what next to write about in Bernie’s Blog.

Great example of how Annie's Homegrown is not only monitoring the blogosphere to see what bloggers are saying about its blog, but also how they are reaching out to their readers to give them a sense of ownership in Bernie's Blog.

Exciting times as more and more companies are beginning to understand and realize the possibilities that can come from blogging.

Bonus Link: Great quote from CopyBlogger on how one software company was able to achieve remarkable growth in the blog's readership:
In other words, the blog is designed not to sell software directly, but to offer value to existing and prospective customers of Articulate.

This is a great point, because too many companies make the mistake of viewing a blog as a DIRECT selling tool. It isn't.

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