Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing & Social Media Blogs - Week 103

Here's the standings for Week 103:

1 - Seth's Blog - 8,805 (-19)(LW - 1)
2 - CopyBlogger - 6,597 (-112)(LW - 2)
3 - Search Engine Guide - 1,696 (-74)(LW - 3)
4 - Chris Brogan - 1,593 (+32)(LW - 4)
5 - Logic + Emotion - 1,367 (+6)(LW - 5)
6 - Duct Tape Marketing - 1,349(-9)(LW - 6)
7 - Daily Fix - 969 (-13)(LW - 7)
8 - Influential Marketing - 829 (-2)(LW - 8)
9 - Brand Autopsy - 809 (No Change)(LW - 9)
10 - Jaffe Juice - 718 (+6)(LW - 10)
11 - Drew's Marketing Minute - 698 (-9)(LW - 11)
12 - Conversation Agent - 667 (+5)(LW - 12)
13 - Church of the Customer - 661 (No Change)(LW - 13)
14 - What's Next - 649 (-4)(LW - 14)
14 - Six Pixels of Separation - 649 (+3)(LW - 15)
16 - The Viral Garden - 564 (No Change)(LW - 16)
17 - Diva Marketing - 557 (-7)(LW - 16)
18 - Converstations - 490 (No Change)(LW - 18)
19 - Greg Verdino's Marketing Blog - 456 (+6)(LW - 19)
20 - CK's Blog - 428 (No Change)(LW - 21)
21 - Every Dot Connects - 427 (-3)(LW - 22)
22 - The Engaging Brand - 425 (-9)(LW - 20)
23 - Damn! I Wish I'd Thought of That! - 409 (+2)(LW - 24)
24 - Servant of Chaos - 408 (-4)(LW - 23)
25 - Techno Marketer - 379 (LW - UR)

A reminder that the Top 25 Marketing & Social Media 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.

Another pretty flat week for the Top 25 with mostly small moves up or down. Chris Brogan's blog had the only really big move upward this week, while 6 other blogs had smaller gains.

Techno Marketer is the lone new blog this week, with Social Media Explorer, Experience Curve, Flooring the Customer, Customers Rock!, Movie Marketing Madness, and The Lonely Marketer all barely missing the cut.

Next update is next Wednesday.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Cluetrain Manifesto at 10

Dell's Richard Binhammer was kind enough to ping me in a meme going around about The Cluetrain Manifesto as it approaches its 10th anniversary. Unfortunately, I got this as I was planning/packing for Houston at SBMU, so I had to wait till now to post my thoughts.

Here's the five questions Richard passed along:

1) What does the cluetrain manifesto mean to you? How has the book and theses influenced or not influenced you?

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with The Cluetrain Manifesto. I love the core ideas and hate the way they are presented. I found three central themes from TCM:

  1. - Markets are conversations
  2. - Almost all marketing and marketers are evil, or at least very bad
  3. - Almost all big businesses have no clue how to satisfy their customers

These themes are then beaten into our skulls for the next 200 or so pages. I think the problem with the book is, the authors had some pretty revolutionary ideas they were tossing about, but instead decided to devote most of their time to ranting about how big companies have no clue and how empowered markets are. The book ends up being very short on examples of how companies can apply these new ideas to improve their business processes, and very long on explaining how we(the customers) are right, and they(the companies) are wrong.

For example, if the book had devoted time to expanding on the 'markets are conversations' idea to its logical conclusion (good marketing then must involve engaging in a conversation with your customers), then the book's value would have been immense. But it seems that the authors weren't interested in creating a work that could help companies improve their marketing, so much so as they were wanting to thumb their nose at them for being 'clueless'.

And to be fair, much of what the authors rant about, is dead on the money. Most marketing in 1999 was horrible, and most companies were totally out of touch with their customers. And still are today. But instead of giving us 'this is what's wrong, you suck', I wish the authors had given us 'this is what's wrong, here's how we can fix it moving forward'.

Now having said all that, the book has definitely influenced my writing here. I make a point to offer up examples of how companies can tap into their markets and better improve their marketing. One of the first posts I left here in early 2006 was on the idea of companies 'joining their community' of customers. I think it's fine to call out companies that aren't getting it, but in general people tend to put up a wall when they hear ideas wrapped up in a rant.

2) Which companies have best implemented the cluetrain manifesto in your opinion and how were they effective?

Of course Richard pinged me on this cause he knew I'd mention Dell here ;) But seriously, Dell does a great job of tapping into the conversation that's happening among their customers, and even joining that conversation. I think in general that tech companies and startups have done a bit better with social media and tools that connect them with customers. Probably because of the high 'geek' factor among that industry, which makes many more likely to be familiar and comfortable with these tools. Moving forward it will be interesting to see how well Starbucks does with MyStarBucksIdea. I think in many ways this initiative will be a case study for corporations on the viability of social media as a marketing tool. Or at least that will be how it's being viewed among other big companies.

3) In thesis 57, the cluetrain manifesto states, "smart companies will get out of the way and help the inevitable to happen sooner." In light of that thesis, is encouraging employees to use social media and blogging a good idea? Is it really effective, when an employee is encouraged but not directed?

See I think we need to move away from the idea that companies MUST blog, or at least TRY to. Companies do NOT have to blog. But they MUST monitor the blogosphere and anywhere that their customers are, like Twitter, etc. The monitoring is what we need to focus on as being the must, not the blogging.

When companies begin to monitor, then they can begin to engage and interact with bloggers at their own pace, and this helps them decide if blogging is a viable option for their circumstances. But it starts with monitoring, not blogging.

4) How can a company encourage employees to use social media, and empower them to answer customer questions and learn from customers?

See above. It starts with understanding how we are using the tools, and what are motivations are. Observe/monitor, collect feedback, then respond. The biggest thing holding companies back with social media is a lack of understanding. Case in point, many companies think 'social media' and 'blogging' are the same thing.

5) Do all employees want to talk with customers? If not what percentage want to internetwork and converse?

Impossible to answer, but I'm sure that many employees do NOT want to talk with their customers, and many of them probably shouldn't be anyway ;)

Thanks to Richard for asking me about this!

Pic via Flickr user SqueakyMarmot


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Monday, April 28, 2008

Twitter isn't mainstream yet, but it will be

Kara Swisher took a swipe at Twitter today, claiming that no one outside the 'Silicon Valley echo chamber' knew of the service. She apparently bases this assumption on polling attendees of a wedding where no one had heard of the site.

First, let me say that the blogosphere/twittersphere is notorious for going apeshit over the 'shiny new toy'. Anyone that's been on Twitter in the last 24 hours is likely already sick of hearing the word 'brightkite'. And I'll agree with her that FriendFeed will likely never appeal to anyone outside the 1 percenters.

But I think Twitter has legs. Last week at SBMU, I saw many attendees that had never heard of Twitter, or that were skeptical of its utility, pick up the service and dive in. By the end of the conference, it seemed that about half the people at the event were on Twitter, and I would bet only about 15% were prior. A few friends I met there have since joined in the last few days.

I think the reason why is its simplicity. It's basically a chat room, with some filters built in. You only follow the people you want to follow, and they only follow the ones they want to follow.

IOW, it's not that complex. And it excels at real-time communication. If there is breaking news, you will find out about it on Twitter first, before the blogs and definitely before the mainstream news catches up. As the SBMU attendees found out first-hand, it's also excellent for sharing information at conferences.

Twitter's biggest hurdle is probably its own scaling issues. TwitDir is claiming that Twitter has now crossed the 1 million user mark. Still, that's obviously not mainstream. Twitter is making new hires and getting more rounds of funding, so hopefully the API issues will be addressed soon.

But the next time there is a major news story that affects the majority of the country, it will be broke/discussed first on Twitter. That will suddenly make the mainstream media seriously take notice, which will make the service relevant to a lot more people.

I say Twitter has 5 million users by this time next year. What say you?


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A few more notes from SBMU

A couple of final notes on Small Business Marketing Unleashed:

First, Abby and Kamilla at WebProNews did a pair of video interviews with me in Houston, and here's the first one. I'll post the second as soon as it goes live on their site:

Second, here's my slides from my Blogging For Business presentation at SBMU. I know they aren't the prettiest you've ever seen, but I mentioned several resources and bloggers during the presentation that I wanted to link to here:

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Bloggers do it again, SxDS is ON!

What (I think) started out as a rant, is now reality. Earlier this year, Ike Pigott was on Twitter lamenting the fact that he was sick of hearing everyone talking about all these cool events like SXSW and Blogger Social, that he couldn't attend. He started talking about how we needed to have 'a South by Deep South'.

And he got a LOT of people's attention. So much so that the interest level reached the point where the only viable option was to actually have the damned thing.

So that's exactly what's going to happen.

On September the 26th-28th, the city of Birmingham, Alabama will be home to the first ever SxDS festival. And the event will also feature what is thought to be the South's first ever WordCamp. Ike says the festival will feature three main tracks: Social Media/PR/marketing, Web Development, and WordCamp. I've already told him I want to speak, and if you are also interested in speaking or being on a panel, or simply want to help with organizing the event, make SURE you get in contact with Ike. He also needs speakers for WordCamp, check out this post. He's also already had multiple businesses step up about sponsorship opps, if you are interested in this, make sure you get in touch with him.

BTW how can you not LOVE the spirit of bloggers? It's this sort of 'Let's do it!' mentality that led to Blogger Social, and now it seems it's also going to give us a kick-ass conference in the fall! Gotta love it!

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Three for three; Small Business Marketing Unleashed was a blast!

After SXSW, Blogger Social and now Small Business Marketing Unleashed, I am seriously getting spoiled on great conferences. I told Jennifer on Tuesday that I don't think I will be able to find a more 'fun' event than Blogger Social, and that I don't think I'll be able to top the quality of the sessions at Small Business Marketing Unleashed.

And it wasn't just the sessions, it was that EVERY speaker was great. I saw two of Jennifer's presentations, and where Jen excels is that she is able to take ideas that are no doubt complex to small business owners, and reduce them to terms that anyone can understand. And guys, during one session she literally spent 15 mins walking the attendees through the proper way to pitch a blogger. It was absolutely perfect!

On Day One I saw Wendy Piersall present on building a community, and what I loved about her session was that you could just see how excited she got as she talked about her community. It was great to see her passion for people, and she also evangelized several people that I am friends and fans of, including everyone at Dell, Pistachio, and Shel Israel. She also mentioned how Pistachio was using Twitter to grow her business, which I thought was a great point that resonated with an audience that came in skeptical of Twitter (though that changed after we all evangelized the site for 3 days!).

Later that day I saw Matt Bailey speak on website analytics. Now I have to admit that almost everything Matt was saying was flying completely over my head (Spiders? Cookies, persistant and session, wha the hell?!?). But Matt was such a good speaker that he held my attention. And about halfway through his session, I noticed that the other attendees started putting 'STAR TREK!' on Twitter. They wanted to start chanting it and I had absolutely no idea what they were talking about. Then Matt suddenly mentioned 'The Red Shirt Phenomenon' on Star Trek. And he pointed out how Red Shirts almost always die on Star Trek, UNLESS Kirk also encounters a green female alien, in which case their survival rate shoots up to over 80%. It was hilarious and perfectly drove home his point to know what is happening with your website's analytics, and more importantly, what affects it. BTW Matt has an excellent post on Twitter from the speaker's point of view up at his blog.

Tuesday brought the first hard choice of the conference; Do I attend Jennifer's Viral Marketing Workshop, or Sage Lewis' Creating a Community workshop. I opted for Jen's Viral Marketing Workshop, and was totally rewarded with a great session. And again, this was where Jen took the time to literally hold the audience's hand and walk them through how to properly pitch a blogger. Pure gold. But during her session, I could hear loud cheering coming from Sage's session and everyone on Twitter was going crazy talking about how infectious Sage's energy was. And this was the only 'complaint' I heard about Small Business Marketing Unleashed; that there were too many great sessions, and not enough time to see them all.

And finally, there was my session on Blogging for Business. I was a bit worried about my presentation because I knew that the audience would want to see how they could use blogs to grow their business, but I also knew that the point I wanted to drive home was that it wasn't about making money, it was about making connections with your readers and customers. The money will be a byproduct, but the focus HAS to be on the readers.

I knew my message would either miss the mark and tick off the crowd, or it would resonate and excite the audience. I wasn't sure how it had gone, till I saw this tweet from Li, who live-blogged the session:

Mission accomplished. That was exactly what I told the audience, that I *wanted* them to be excited because I was excited for them! They suddenly have all these amazing tools that allow them to connect with their customers and develop relationships. And that's the focus, it's not about the tools, but the connections and conversations that these tools help facilitate.

And perhaps my favorite part of the session was the Q&A portion. After I made a point during my session to say that you have to approach your blog as a place where you co-create content with your readers, the audience helped co-create the value of the session with some amazing questions and feedback. Several people in the audience such as Jen and Erica O'Grady helped bring up excellent points that reinforced points that either myself or someone in the audience had made. The community co-created the value of the session, just like you do here.

Small Business Marketing Unleashed was Search Engine Guide's first conference, and I have to say, it was a home run. I honestly heard not one negative comment about the conference. And it was also great how the speakers went to all the sessions and contributed from the audience, which made the sessions even better. Everyone had fun, everyone learned a ton, and everyone walked away happy. Jen and Robert and everyone at SEG can hold their heads high on a job well done, and I am honored that they allowed me to participate!

Pics via Flickr users storyspinn and Jennifer Laycock


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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing & Social Media Blogs - Week 102

Here's the standings for Week 102:

1 - Seth's Blog - 8,824 (-63)(LW - 1)
2 - CopyBlogger - 6,709 (-169)(LW - 2)
3 - Search Engine Guide - 1,770 (-65)(LW - 3)
4 - Chris Brogan - 1,561 (+18)(LW - 4)
5 - Logic + Emotion - 1,361 (+13)(LW - 6)
6 - Duct Tape Marketing - 1,358(-11)(LW - 5)
7 - Daily Fix - 982 (-33)(LW - 7)
8 - Influential Marketing - 831 (-15)(LW - 8)
9 - Brand Autopsy - 809 (+19)(LW - 9)
10 - Jaffe Juice - 712 (-7)(LW - 11)
11 - Drew's Marketing Minute - 707 (-13)(LW - 10)
12 - Conversation Agent - 662 (+7)(LW - 14)
13 - Church of the Customer - 661 (No Change)(LW - 13)
14 - What's Next - 653 (-15)(LW - 12)
15 - Six Pixels of Separation - 646 (-2)(LW - 15)
16 - The Viral Garden - 564 (-4)(LW - 16)
16 - Diva Marketing - 564 (-4)(LW - 16)
18 - Converstations - 490 (-6)(LW - 18)
19 - Greg Verdino's Marketing Blog - 450 (-6)(LW - 19)
20 - The Engaging Brand - 434 (-21)(LW - 20)
21 - CK's Blog - 428 (No Change)(LW - 22)
22 - Every Dot Connects - 427 (-3)(LW - 21)
23 - Servant of Chaos - 412 (-2)(LW - 23)
24 - Damn! I Wish I'd Thought of That! - 407 (+16)(LW - 24)
25 - Social Media Explorer - 346 (+10)(LW - 25)

A reminder that the Top 25 Marketing & Social Media 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.

Pretty flat week for the Top 25 with mostly small moves up or down. Oddly, the exception to this was the top 3 blogs, which all were down sharply. Three of last week's new additions were up. Church of the Customer and CK's Blog are apparently in the Technorati Penalty Box, as neither blog's 'authority' has been consistently updated in months.

Experience Curve, Flooring the Customer, Customers Rock!, Movie Marketing Madness, and The Lonely Marketer all barely missed the cut.

Next update is next Wednesday.

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Friday, April 18, 2008

Hello Houston!

UPDATE: Here is the exhaustively excellent live-blogging of my Blogging for Business session by Search Engine Guide.

Also, here is WebProNews' recap of my presentation.

Li said that my presentation 'inspired me to love blogging again'. Wow.

UPDATE: I've been told that Search Engine Guide will be live-blogging Small Business Marketing Unleashed on Monday and Tuesday. Also, I believe all presentations/panels will be video-recorded, will update when I find out for sure.

ALSO: I am Twittering the sessions this morning, you can follow me at

I'll be presenting on Blogging for Business next Monday at the Small Business Marketing Unleashed conference in Houston. During my presentation, I am going to bring up a TON of ideas and concepts that I would really like to devote far more time to than I'll have. So I decided to make a list of resources here that conference attendees (as well as my readers) can use to help them better understand the topics I'll be discussing. Below you'll find links to many articles, including How-Tos, and I'll also include links to many of my favorite blogs, ranked by subject. Some of these articles are premium Marketing Profs articles, but you can sign up for a free trial and view them that way (But Marketing Profs is well worth the $50 premium yearly membership. And full disclosure, I write for MP's blog Daily Fix, and frequently write premium articles for MP.)

Monitoring the blogosphere:

Monitoring the Blogosphere using Google Blog Search
Tweetscan (tool to monitor Twitter)
Google Blog Search
Technorati (Type your blog's URL in the 'Search' box to see your blog's links)
Why I Like Twitter

Getting started and improving your blog:

Ten Steps to Starting a Company Blog (Premium article)
Eight Ideas for Revitalizing Your Company Blog
Eight Easy Ways to Grow Your Blog
Want More Comments on Your Blog?
How to Get More Comments on Your Blog, By Leaving It
10 Ways You Can Use Feedburner to Improve Your Blog

Elements of a Great Blog:

Posting Schedule
Sidebar Elements

Company Blog Checkups:

Kodak's 1000 Words
Patagonia's The Cleanest Line
Innocent Drinks' Daily Thoughts
The Fiskateers Blog
Corner Violin Shop

MasiGuy Blog
Stormhoek's Blog
Gaping Void

Jennifer Laycock's series on using Twitter:
Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five

Great Blogs(organized by subject):

Marketing and Branding:
Daily Fix
Seth's Blog
Brand Autopsy
The Origin of Brands
Servant of Chaos
Conversation Agent

Social Media Best Practices:
Chris Brogan
Social Media Explorer

Customer/Community Empowerment:
The Church of the Customer
Customers Rock!
CK's Blog
Deborah Schultz

Small Business Marketing:
Search Engine Guide
Drew's Marketing Minute
Duct Tape Marketing

Design / User Experience:
Logic + Emotion

Marketing for Good:
Spare Change
Get Shouty

I'll no doubt come across blogs and articles I want to add to this list, so expect frequent updates in the next couple of days. I'll leave this post up as the top post till probably next Wednesday.

BTW to make this a true community project, if you know of any great articles that you, or someone else has written about how to get started blogging, or how to improve your blogging efforts, feel free to leave a link in the comments. Also feel free to add a link to your blog in the comments if it covers any of the topics I mentioned above. Thanks!


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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing & Social Media Blogs - Week 101

Here's the standings for Week 101:

1 - Seth's Blog - 8,887 (+44)(LW - 1)
2 - CopyBlogger - 6,878 (LW - UR)
3 - Search Engine Guide - 1,835 (-48)(LW - 2)
4 - Chris Brogan - 1,543 (LW - UR)
5 - Duct Tape Marketing - 1,369 (+93)(LW - 4)
6 - Logic + Emotion - 1,348 (+57)(LW - 3)
7 - Daily Fix - 1,015 (-78)(LW - 5)
8 - Influential Marketing - 846 (+95)(LW - 7)
9 - Brand Autopsy - 790 (-24)(LW - 6)
10 - Drew's Marketing Minute - 720 (+52)(LW - 9)
11 - Jaffe Juice - 719 (-1)(LW - 8)
12 - What's Next - 668 (+19)(LW - 11)
13 - Church of the Customer - 661 (No Change)(LW - 10)
14 - Conversation Agent - 655 (+52)(LW - 12)
15 - Six Pixels of Separation - 648 (+90)(LW - 14)
16 - The Viral Garden - 568 (-12)(LW - 13)
16 - Diva Marketing - 568 (+43)(LW - 15)
18 - Converstations - 496 (+61)(LW - 17)
19 - Greg Verdino's Marketing Blog - 456 (+40)(LW - 18)
20 - The Engaging Brand - 455 (-26)(LW - 16)
21 - Every Dot Connects - 430 (+66)(LW - 21)
22 - CK's Blog - 428 (+53)(LW - 19)
23 - Servant of Chaos - 414 (+40)(LW - 20)
24 - Damn! I Wish I'd Thought of That! - 391 (LW - UR)
25 - Social Media Explorer - 336 (LW - UR)

A reminder that the Top 25 Marketing & Social Media 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.

First, thanks to everyone that gave me their opinion of what the direction of the Top 25 Marketing Blogs should be, both here, via email, and in person at Blogger Social. Thanks especially to Andy Sernovitz and Sean Howard for their ideas.

Based on what everyone said, it was obvious that most bloggers either didn't want the list to continue, or wanted it changed to include social media blogs. Most of my regular readers wanted the list to continue as is, or add in social media blogs.

Since this list was always intended to be a resource for my readers, and since there's an increasing interest in how social media can effectively be incorporated into marketing plans, I've decided to continue the list, adding in social media blogs. This means that some excellent new blogs focusing on social media have been added, such as Chris Brogan's blog along with Social Media Explorer. I've also added a couple of blogs that cover both marketing and social media, including CopyBlogger and Damn! I Wish I'd Thought of That!

Adding Chris Brogan's blog and Copyblogger has instantly shuffled the top of the list, and for the first time ever, Seth's Blog has some semi-competition for the top spot, even though Copyblogger still trails by 2,000 links.

Several of the blogs in the Top 25 saw big gains this week (remember that it's been 3 weeks since the last list). At first I thought this was mostly due to bumps for Blogger Social attendees, but not everyone that attended (Hi!) saw their blog go up.

Experience Curve, Flooring the Customer, Customers Rock!, Movie Marketing Madness, and The Lonely Marketer all barely missed the cut.

Next update is next Wednesday.

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Gonna be in Houston next Sunday?

It's about time for me to hit the road again as next week I'll be speaking on 'Blogging for Business' at the Small Business Marketing Unleashed conference in Houston on next monday, the 21st. But next Sunday night there will be a special networking event that's open to the public! For $10 admission you can get in the door and meet myself and the other speakers at the event as well as fellow small business owners. And all proceeds from the event will benefit the Youth Development Center of Houston!

The speed-networking event will run from 6pm-9pm. Hope to see you there!


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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Company Blog Checkup: Innocent Drinks

Innocent Drinks is a UK-based company that sells smoothies and flavored water to retail outlets. Innocent Drink's selling point is the use of its 'fresh' ingredients in its products, and this has helped the company become the dominant player in the UK smoothie market. But how does the company's blog, Daily Thoughts shape up? Let's find out.

As always, let's start with the content, which is probably the biggest stumbling block for many company blogs. Far too many companies make the mistake of trying to shine the spotlight on themselves with their blog, and turn the space into a promotional vehicle. But look at what Innocent Drinks has done with Daily Thoughts. There is almost zero direct promotion. But when the company is promoting itself, it finds a way to involve its customers. For example, the company has been promoting its AGM (Annual General Meeting), but is encouraging the blog's readers to use it as a mechanism to give them feedback on the company's direction. Also, they are encouraging customers to attend the meeting, and are posting pictures of customers that will attend!

The company also posts about recent efforts to plant trees to help the environment, and numerous updates on what the employees themselves are doing. But what strikes you as you read Daily Thoughts is that this is a FUN blog! The employees are having fun, the customers appear to love the brand, and a good time is being had by all. Again, very little promotion of the company's products, plenty of promotion of the customers, the employees, and stories that relate to the issues that are core to the brand. Daily Thoughts has hit a home run on the content front.

The posting pattern for the blog is pretty solid. They don't appear to have a set schedule, but still seem to be churning out about 4 posts a week, a very good amount for a company blog.

Now let's move to comments. I think the comment section is another area that there's a bit of a misconception among companies that blog. I believe they feel that if their posts are getting comments, then don't touch anything. Most of the posts on Daily Thoughts are getting comments, but I think the blog's writers could be replying more than they are. It's a tricky line to walk because you don't want to monopolize the conversation, but at the same time you want your readers to know that you are reading their comments, and will reply as you can. If I were Innocent Drinks, I would turn up the volume on replying to comments just a tad.

But as for the number of comments, many of the posts are getting comments, and some are getting several. It seems that Innocent Drinks has a blog that's resonating with its readers, and making them feel comfortable commenting. A VERY good sign.

Finally, let's look at the sidebars. The blog itself features a very handsome 3-column layout with the wider column being in the center where the posts are published. This gives Innocent Drinks the ability to put much more content on two sidebars, instead of one.

The sidebars feature all the main elements you'd like to see; categories, archives, links to other blogs, as well as subscriber buttons. Also, there are tons of links to Flickr pics, YouTube videos, the company's Facebook page, and areas for photos that customers have submitted. One glaring omission is, I don't see the section on the blog's writers. I need to see at minimum a link to where I can view a picture and the bio for EVERY one of the blog's writers. This SHOULD be on the front page of the blog, but if not a link should be there. Yes it's great to have links to Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and all that, but your readers want to see YOU. This is a key element of a company blog that is often overlooked.

I think that more than any other blog I've reviewed in the Company Blog Checkup series so far, Daily Thoughts really captures the 'fun' element. As soon as you visit the blog, it just seems like a fun place that you'd like to visit again. I think this is partly due to the fact that is probably looks more like a personal blog than your average company blog. The content is very low on self-promotion, and high on customers and employees.

And now for the scoring:

Content: 35 (Out of a possible 35) - The blog is fun, it focuses on the customers, it's fun, it focuses on the healthy aspects of the product, it's fun, and it's fun. Did I mention that this blog is really fun?

Comments: 29 (Out of a possible 35) - Not every post gets comments, but many do, and the Innocent Drinks team is usually good about replying and being active in the comments section. And note that this post currently has 432 comments. That's a sign that the blog is doing something right!

Posting Schedule: 14 (Out of a possible 15) - The blog is averaging almost a post a day (which is exceptional), but there are still some gaps. For example, there was only 1 post during the first 4 days of August, then FIVE on August 5th! Eliminating the few gaps by spreading out the posts would give the blog a perfect score here.

Sidebars: 9 (Out of a possible 15) - Very nice, and I love the addition of the company's presence on social sites like Facebook and YouTube, but no writer pics or bios is a big no-no.

Total Score: 87 (Out of a possible 100)

If anyone from Innocent Drinks wants to discuss this Company Blog Checkup with me, feel free to leave a comment here, or email me. 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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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Marketing + People + Participation = :)

One of the things that impressed me at SXSW was how some companies, such as Dell, were finding ways to participate in the event, rather than simply sponsoring events and slapping banners up everywhere. I was happy to say that I saw several instances of this type of 'Marketing Without Fingerprints' at Blogger Social as well. Here's a few of the ways I noticed companies and individuals doing some smart marketing not by promoting, but rather by participating:

1 - Ann Handley was at Blogger Social representing Marketing Profs on Friday night. Now MP did give away a ton of swag to everyone, probably over $6,000 worth total. But the majority of that came in the form of free premium memberships to everyone that attended the Sat night dance, which Ann did NOT attend. Ann wasn't there to promote Marketing Profs, she was there to form deeper relationships with everyone in attendance. She was the 'face' of Marketing Profs. MP didn't sponsor the event, they just donated memberships, and gave away I believe six of the super-duper $250 memberships. As well as tee-shirts!

But Ann and Marketing Profs were smart enough to know that they could best benefit by looking at this event as a way to meet online friends, and make new ones. The marketing was completely hands-off, and that's why it worked so well. Everyone that attended the Friday night event was no doubt impressed with meeting Ann, and that reflects well on Marketing Profs. The free shirts and memberships were great, but the connections that were formed and deepened was the real prize.

2 - Several members of Ogilvy's 360 team were in attendance at Blogger Social, including Virginia Miracle, Kaitlyn Wilkins, Rohit Bhargava, and John Bell. I unfortunately didn't get to spend much time with Rohit and John, but did get the chance to meet and talk with both Virginia and Kaitlyn. All of them seemed to be great people, and as a result that made my opinion of Ogilvy go up. In fact when Kaitlyn mentioned that Ogilvy was hiring, I didn't hesitate in suggesting that a friend contact them, since I made such a good connection with each of them at Blogger Social.

I saw a lot of this at SXSW too when I noticed how incredibly popular Lionel Menchaca and Mario Sundar were with everyone. Simply being at events like SXSW and Blogger Social and meeting these people and forming the relationships is extremely beneficial to these companies. The feelings I have for these people are naturally going to translate into positive attitudes toward their employers.

3 - And speaking of Rohit, he of course has a new book out called Personality Not Included. He saw attending Blogger Social as a great way to drum up excitement for his book. So first, he gave everyone that attended a signed copy. Perfect. Already he's put the book in the hands of many of the most influential business and marketing bloggers on the planet.

Then he did something else that I thought was brilliant. The framework of the events for Blogger Social were organized so that attendees had plenty of free time inbetween to create their OWN meetups. Rohit took advantage of this to host a breakfast/book launch for Personality Not Included. As an extra bonus, he was offering a prize of $200 and 25 free copies of PNI to the person that could come up with the best idea for promoting the book if they had a budget of $200 and 25 copies.

So Rohit, for the cost of the breakfast and $200 and 25 copies of PNI, got to pick the brains of some of the smartest business bloggers on the internet about ways he can market his book. The attendees got free food, prizes, and another chance to get social. A win-win for everyone.
And remember that these are examples of good marketing coming from an event that was designed around the idea that it was NOT a conference, it was a SOCIAL. But Marketing Profs, Ogilvy and Rohit all found a way to do some killer marketing by involving people and participating in ways that resonated with the community of attendees.

UPDATE: Rohit posts the winning idea for his book launch at the book's blog.

Pic via Flickr user Shashibellamkonda


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Monday, April 07, 2008

"I wish they could see the magic happening in this room"

If you've been reading this blog for longer than a month, you know how I absolutely gushed about my first trip to SXSW last month. I was simply blown away by the people I met and how everyone was so open and brilliant. I was literally stunned at the experience and the community that existed there. Now I say all this to remind everyone what an impression my first trip to SXSW made on me, so that this next statement might have some context:

SXSW cannot hold a candle to the magic that happened last weekend at Blogger Social.

The tone was set early when I arrived at The Perfect Pint on Friday night and tried to introduce myself to Lori Magno. I told her who I was and tried to shake her hand and she said "Mack what is this handshake shit?!?", then she hugged me. And there you go.

What still boggles my mind is how so many people that have never actually met, are able to meet for the first time and carry on as if they were life-long best friends, based on online communication.

And that's what it was all about, CK and Drew created an event that let us take the online relationships offline. That's what was so beautiful about Blogger Social, and as someone told me Sat night (I think it was Director Tom?), "I just wish we had a way to let everyone that isn't here see the magic that is happening in this room right now!"

Because unless you were there, it's really hard to understand. CK had the quote of the weekend on Sat when she said that "The world isn't getting flatter, it's getting smaller. And this room proves it."

Did it ever. Several bloggers came from Europe. Arun came from Oman. Katie and Gavin came from Australia. There was a very moving moment on Sat night when CK was announcing the state/countries that everyone came from, and had them stand as their location was called. As the Washington DC group rose and we had 90 or so people standing she said 'Look around you, the world is in this room'.

And it really was, at least for me. The majority of the bloggers I know, admire, and even love, were in that room. That's what makes writing this post so difficult because I *want* everyone that wasn't there to understand how amazing it all was, but it's an impossible task. I want you to know how incredible these people are and what happened when you got 90 or so of them together in this small of a space. But you simply had to be there. It literally moves me to tears to think about how incredible these people were. And again, you have to remember that there were only 4 or 5 people in attendance that I had actually met prior to Friday. But everyone was treated as if they were family. Because we are.

I told CK and Drew this privately, but they literally created a life-changing event this weekend. I hope they are so proud of what they did, because they created magic this weekend. And their motives were the most noble of all, they simply wanted to bring together the people that they cared about for a weekend of being social(and they went to IMPOSSIBLE lengths to make sure that happened, trust me). This was NOT a conference, and that was by design. CK and Drew had a lot of help (most notably Lori Magno), but they drove this. This was their baby and I just hope they know how much it meant to myself and so many others.

If there is a Blogger Social 09, and I pray there is, then you have to come. No matter what it takes. And when you get there, even if we barely know each other, expect a hug from me. Cause as Lori taught me, I'm done with this handshake shit.

That's all I've got. I've pilfered a ton of pictures that so many people took, including Matt Dickman, Kris Hoet, Steve Woodruff, Marilyn Pratt, Cathleen Rittereiser, Shashi Bellakonda, Chris Kieff, Doug Meacham, Jason Falls, and of course the Blogger Social Flickr set. Also check out some of the tweets on Twitter during and after the event.

UPDATE: Check out CK's post about Blogger Social, and more importantly, look at the pure emotional joy on her face when she realizes Arun has made it halfway around the world to be at Blogger Social. THAT one pic is what Blogger Social was all about.

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Scoble has figured out Twitter

Scoble says that he's figured out the secret to Twitter, and that it's how many people you are following. Peter Kim calls bullshit:
You just have to read a post from an hour earlier where Scoble tells a great story about microblogging and starting a great impromptu party at a California vineyard. What made that situation work? People were following his messages, not the other way around. In fact, the more followers one has, the more difficult it becomes to filter signal vs. noise.
Sorry Peter, but I'm gonna side with Scoble here, at least in his case.

What Scoble is doing is following everyone, so he can see where everyone is going. Scoble listens to everyone because that way, he can tell where people are moving before anyone else. That way when the next socnet or app starts to catch fire, Scoble is usually among the very first ones to know about it, and can follow the very early adopters. Then he starts participating and building his network just as the crowd is arriving, and he's in on the ground floor.

That's why we hear about the next FriendFeed from Scoble, who hears about it a few weeks earlier from the 16K+ people he is following. So we all start following Scoble, since he knows about the shiny new toys first, which of course makes him more influential. And when we follow Scoble, he follows us back, giving him an even larger Twitter network.

Of course most Twitter users have no desire to follow 16K people. But to Scoble's credit, he's found a way to do it, and is using Twitter to build his influence online.

Just depends on your goals. Scoble wants to know what the 'next big thing' in social media/tools is before anyone else, and has found a way to use Twitter to that end. He needs to see more messages coming in, so it's easier to spot trends and patterns. So he needs to follow more people.

Hey Scoble's found a way to use Twitter that works for him, so more power to him.


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