Thursday, May 29, 2008

Small Business Marketing Unleashed is Back! (And six months early!)

I gotta admit, when I arrived in Houston last month for the first Small Business Marketing Unleashed, I wasn't sure what to expect. I was just weeks removed from attending my first SXSW, and only a couple of weeks past attending the jaw-droppingly amazing Blogger Social. And I was coming to Houston to speak with a group of people that I mainly had never met, and barely knew.

But 3 days later, I had left Houston having made dozens of great friends, attended sessions that SXSW couldn't touch, and had heard over 10 amazing speakers. And I had a complete blast! And here's the proof!

It seems that a lot of other people did as well. This was Search Engine Guide's first conference and their hope was that it would do well enough to justify having it again in Houston in the Spring of 2009. After pulling in feedback from attendees and speakers, Jennifer and Robert realized that a show next Spring was a must, but they also decided to add a SECOND SBMU in the fall!

That's right! SBMU will be back this fall, in Sept in Columbus, Ohio! And topping the first SBMU will be a damned tall order, but I think the guys are up to the task.

First, the conference itself is capped at 100 attendees. Second, each session is capped at 25. This was truly the beauty of the first SBMU. It literally created a classroom setting, instead of your typical speaker lecturing to a large audience. The 'class' size was small, and the speakers were great about attending other sessions when they weren't speaking. Not only that, the speakers all attended the entire event, so there was a ton of networking and Q&A time available for attendees and experts to meet up.

And on top of all this, the early-bird price for the next SBMU has been lowered! Yep it seems that not only were the attendees and speakers excited about how well the first SBMU went, but so were the sponsors. Since sponsors have already started signing up for the second SBMU, SEG is able to drop the early-bird price to $750!

Check out all the deets at Jennifer's post here. Seriously, if you are a small business owner that's looking to better improve your search-marketing, your social-marketing, your SEO, copywriting, or blogging, then you owe it to yourself to attend the next Small Business Marketing Unleashed. I seriously cannot think of a better learning environment and I really can't think of anything else I can tell you that could make you want to attend if you don't already. was this ;) One of the things that really surprised me about the first SBMU was how amazing all of the speakers were. Seriously, this was driven home for me when I attended Matt Bailey's session on Site Analytics. It was almost all flying completely over my head, but Matt is such an amazing speaker that he held my attention and it was probably the most informative and entertaining session I attended.

But the speaker lineup for the second SBMU will be even better. How do I know this you ask? Oh because Jennifer has added a certain marketing dynamo by the name of CK to her speaking lineup. Yeah I think a couple of you might have heard of her ;) CK will be speaking on BOTH days, on Day One she'll be riffing on BIG-Impact Branding (for Small Businesses). Day Two she'll have a workshop on Online Brand Reputation Management.

As for me, on Day One I'll be presenting on Blogging for Business, getting into the ways that blogging can help your business grow, and then on Day Two I'll conduct a Blogging Workshop, which will walk your through the process for getting your blog off the ground! And also on Day Two, CK and I will conduct a special Blog Clinic! Attendees will submit their blog, and CK and I will pour over it with a fine-tooth comb, similar to what I do here with the Company Blog Checkup series.

And if ALL this wasn't enough, the gang at SEG have also created several special networking events during the conference including board games and the entire shindig ends with a special Final Scoop where we all get together one last time with an ice cream sundae bar!

Seriously guys you will have an absolute blast if you attend, and we promise to send you back home with actionable plans to help grow your business. Check out what the attendees and speakers had to say about the first SBMU!

UPDATE: SEG has launched a blog just for SBMU, it will give us a 'behind the scenes' look at what they did and are doing to plan the event.

Pic via Flickr user storyspinn and


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing & Social Media Blogs - Week 107

Here's the standings for Week 107:

1 - Seth's Blog - 8,941 (-14)(LW - 1)
2 - CopyBlogger - 6,335 (-39)(LW - 2)
3 - Chris Brogan - 1,825 (-6)(LW - 3)
4 - Search Engine Guide - 1,520 (-19)(LW - 4)
5 - Logic + Emotion - 1,379 (-1)(LW - 5)
6 - Duct Tape Marketing - 1,330(-20)(LW - 6)
7 - Daily Fix - 901 (-13)(LW - 7)
8 - Influential Marketing - 837 (-5)(LW - 8)
9 - Brand Autopsy - 788 (-4)(LW - 9)
10 - Conversation Agent - 682 (No Change)(LW - 12)
11 - Jaffe Juice - 681 (-7)(LW - 11)
12 - Drew's Marketing Minute - 677 (-12)(LW - 10)
13 - Church of the Customer - 661 (No Change)(LW - 13)
14 - Six Pixels of Separation - 640 (-10)(LW - 14)
15 - What's Next - 581 (-7)(LW - 15)
16 - The Viral Garden - 553 (-7)(LW - 16)
17 - Diva Marketing - 510 (-1)(LW - 17)
18 - Converstations - 475 (-8)(LW - 18)
19 - Greg Verdino's Marketing Blog - 456 (-7)(LW - 19)
20 - CK's Blog - 418 (No Change)(LW - 21)
21 - Every Dot Connects - 416 (-6)(LW - 20)
22 - Damn! I Wish I'd Thought of That! - 406 (-2)(LW - 22)
23 - The Social Media Marketing Blog - 399 (No Change)(LW - 24)
24 - Servant of Chaos - 394 (-6)(LW - 23)
25 - Techno Marketer - 388 (-8)(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.

I had to double-check, but yes, every single blog was either down or had no change this week. Yikes! Conversation Agent had no change, and that was good enough to sneak Valeria up 2 spots, and I think this is her debut in the Top 10.

No new blogs this week with The Engaging Brand, Social Media Explorer, Experience Curve, Flooring the Customer and Movie Marketing Madness all barely missing the cut.

Next update is next Wednesday.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Social Media superstars teaming up to help fight cancer

Chris Brogan, Joe Jaffe, Geoff Livingston, Aaron Strout and Greg Verdino have all come together to donate their services to Team in Training, which is the fundraising arm of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The Lukemia and Lymphoma Society funds medical research for blood cancer cures and provides patient and family support programs. Jennifer Leggio (MediaPhyter) is bringing these giants together.

All five have donated some of their services to Team in Training to be auctioned off on eBay. Brogan is offering a speaking engagement, Jaffe is providing a dinner and brainstorming session, Verdino is giving either a 60-minute keynote address, or a 1/2 day workshop. Livingston and Strout are both donating a 2-hour phone consulting/brainstorming session. Here's a link to the eBay auction for each: Brogan, Jaffe, Livingston, Strout, Verdino.

And a HUGE hats off to Jennifer for putting this together, and also for these guys for chipping in their time to help out. I have long been of the opinion that if some of us are lucky enough to have an audience for the content that we create, that we almost have a responsibility to use that influence to help others. Chris, Joe, Geoff, Aaron and Greg are doing just that by helping Team in Training and I salute each of you.

I'd also like to ask any of you that are looking for an extra post to publish this week, then consider doing a write-up on these auctions, and again, here is Jennifer's post telling you what the deal is. Also, a few mentions on Twitter wouldn't hurt either!

Monday, May 26, 2008

How bright is your bulb, and where does your light shine?

Stop worrying about how you can use social sites and tools to draw attention to yourself.

Stop trying to come up with a cool new term, and start focusing on how these concepts can impact others.

Stop worrying about how much you GET from social media, and concentrate on how much you can GIVE AWAY.

Stop navel-gazing. There are much more interesting people than you.

Stop worrying who has the brightest bulb. Your light grows brighter when you shine it on others.

Stop feeling like your efforts aren’t succeeding because someone else has more links/followers/comments than you do.

Stop focusing on metrics, start focusing on people.

Stop thinking that YOUR way is always the RIGHT way (looking for mirror on this one).

Stop thinking ‘What’s in it for me?’ and start thinking about what’s in it for everyone else.

Stop promoting. Start teaching.

Stop thinking you are an ‘expert’. You can always learn more than you know.

Stop taking others for granted. When someone follows you or comments on your blog or subscribes to your feed, THANK them.

Stop trying to control how interactions happen and focus on facilitating them.

Stop thinking it’s about you. It’s about everyone else.

Pic via Flickr user cavepixel


Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing & Social Media Blogs - Week 106

Here's the standings for Week 106:

1 - Seth's Blog - 8,955 (+55)(LW - 1)
2 - CopyBlogger - 6,374 (-17)(LW - 2)
3 - Chris Brogan - 1,831 (+44)(LW - 3)
4 - Search Engine Guide - 1,539 (-17)(LW - 4)
5 - Logic + Emotion - 1,380 (+21)(LW - 5)
6 - Duct Tape Marketing - 1,350(-1)(LW - 6)
7 - Daily Fix - 914 (-14)(LW - 7)
8 - Influential Marketing - 842 (+4)(LW - 8)
9 - Brand Autopsy - 792 (-3)(LW - 9)
10 - Drew's Marketing Minute - 689 (-7)(LW - 11)
11 - Jaffe Juice - 688 (-22)(LW - 10)
12 - Conversation Agent - 682 (-1)(LW - 12)
13 - Church of the Customer - 661 (No Change)(LW - 13)
14 - Six Pixels of Separation - 650 (-3)(LW - 14)
15 - What's Next - 588 (-9)(LW - 15)
16 - The Viral Garden - 560 (No Change)(LW - 16)
17 - Diva Marketing - 511 (No Change)(LW - 17)
18 - Converstations - 483 (No Change)(LW - 18)
19 - Greg Verdino's Marketing Blog - 463 (+1)(LW - 19)
20 - Every Dot Connects - 422 (+1)(LW - 21)
21 - CK's Blog - 418 (-10)(LW - 20)
22 - Damn! I Wish I'd Thought of That! - 408 (+3)(LW - 22)
23 - Servant of Chaos - 400 (+1)(LW - 23)
24 - The Social Media Marketing Blog - 399 (+4)(LW - 24)
25 - Techno Marketer - 396 (+3)(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.

So-so week for the Top 25 with the top half of the list mostly down, and the bottom half of the list surging. Chris Brogan's blog has yet another big week, and Drew's Marketing Minute sneaks past Jaffe to return to the Top 10.

No new blogs this week with The Engaging Brand, Social Media Explorer, Experience Curve, Flooring the Customer and Movie Marketing Madness all barely missing the cut.

Next update is next Wednesday.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Twitter goes down, no one tells us why...

Twitter suffered yet another of its all-too-frequent outages for part of the day on Tuesday. As is usually the case when this happens, we grumbled, and some started the inevitable 'where else can we go?' discussion. Some even decided to spend the day on Friendfeed to 'protest' how Twitter is often down.

For many of us, the occasional Twitter outage has just become part of the territory. But inevitably, the outages always lead to the 'I've had it with Twitter!' complaints from some.

But yesterday, GeekMommy had a great point about the constant outages...where is Twitter at when the problems crop up?

And that's a great point. If Twitter simply had a few people out using the service and educating us about why they are having the constant outages, the mood of the Twitter community would improve dramatically. For example, someone mentioned on Twitter that the outage yesterday appeared to be coming from them adding servers. I have no idea if that's why, but if Twitter WAS down because they were trying to add servers that would increase capacity, that's definitely something that Twitter should be telling its community about.

It's great that Twitter has such a loyal community, but they still need to invest some time interacting with that community. Masi-Guy made the point that we are basically complaining about a free service being down.

Tim's got a good point, but at the same time if Twitter can significantly improve how the community perceives the site by simply interacting with us, why wouldn't they? There's definitely something to be said for leaving a community alone and letting it grow organically, but at the same time, people will eventually leave a community if they feel that their opinions aren't being heard or acted on.

BTW speaking of Twitter, I apologize for the lack of posts recently, and 'I Blame Twitter'. If you aren't already, please follow me on Twitter, and I'll follow you as well.


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Friday, May 16, 2008

The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing & Social Media Blogs - Week 105

Here's the standings for Week 105:

1 - Seth's Blog - 8,900 (+140)(LW - 1)
2 - CopyBlogger - 6,391 (-59)(LW - 2)
3 - Chris Brogan - 1,769 (+121)(LW - 3)
4 - Search Engine Guide - 1,556 (-68)(LW - 4)
5 - Logic + Emotion - 1,359 (-9)(LW - 5)
6 - Duct Tape Marketing - 1,351(+8)(LW - 6)
7 - Daily Fix - 928 (-21)(LW - 7)
8 - Influential Marketing - 838 (+7)(LW - 8)
9 - Brand Autopsy - 795 (+4)(LW - 9)
10 - Jaffe Juice - 710 (-4)(LW - 10)
11 - Drew's Marketing Minute - 696 (+6)(LW - 11)
12 - Conversation Agent - 683 (+9)(LW - 12)
13 - Church of the Customer - 661 (No Change)(LW - 13)
14 - Six Pixels of Separation - 653 (-5)(LW - 14)
15 - What's Next - 597 (-22)(LW - 15)
16 - The Viral Garden - 560 (-8)(LW - 16)
17 - Diva Marketing - 511 (-19)(LW - 17)
18 - Converstations - 483 (-5)(LW - 18)
19 - Greg Verdino's Marketing Blog - 462 (+5)(LW - 19)
20 - CK's Blog - 428 (No Change)(LW - 20)
21 - Every Dot Connects - 421 (-2)(LW - 21)
22 - Damn! I Wish I'd Thought of That! - 405 (+4)(LW - 23)
23 - Servant of Chaos - 399 (-5)(LW - 22)
24 - The Social Media Marketing Blog - 395 (LW - UR)
25 - Techno Marketer - 393 (+4)(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.

Chris Brogan's blog is simply a buzzsaw right now. Creating Passionate Users went on a similar tear in 2007, but that's the only other time I can remember a blog adding links in bunchas like this for several weeks in a row. Influential Marketing and Conversation Agent continue to quietly add links as well. Otherwise, the Top 25 was fairly flat with about half the blogs up and half down.

The Social Media Marketing Blog was the lone new entry, with The Engaging Brand, Social Media Explorer, Experience Curve, Flooring the Customer, Movie Marketing Madness, and The Lonely Marketer all barely missing the cut.

Next update is next Wednesday.

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Monday, May 12, 2008

Open letter to big labels/artists

Dear Gigantic Label Representing Megapopular Artist:

In a few weeks, many of the top artists in the country will begin their big summer concert tours. So now's the perfect time to talk about your social media strategy for promoting your artist's big summer concert tour. What? You say you don't have one?

That's what we need to talk about.

We both know that your revenues are falling like a rock, and at least one of us knows whose fault that is. But regardless, we also both know that concerts and the merchandise sales that come with them, are a big cash cow for the industry.

So why aren't you guys using social media to maximize excitement and bring the experience of live music to as many people as possible? Have something better to do like suing your own fans?

Let's try something different. Let's create a social media strategy for you that will empower your fans to capture and spread the excitement of a live concert, to as many people as possible. Here's a 4-point plan for getting a social media campaign off the ground to promote your blockbuster summer concert tour:

1 - Start up a blog that will run the length of the tour. Get a staffer, or (shudder) a FAN to write the blog for you. Blog about the towns you are going to, the fans you meet. Take pictures of the fans, take pictures of the town, take pictures of the artists backstage, on stage, under the stage, EVERYTHING! Shoot videos of the band rehearsing and post them to the blog. Give us the 'behind the scenes' look at what it means to be a big-time rock star on a huge summer concert tour. And for extra points, actually let the artist write a post. It won't be the worst thing they've ever done while on tour, will it?

2 - Live Twitter the concerts. Give updates on Twitter BEFORE, DURING and AFTER the concerts. Tell your fans to do the same thing in your email newsletter/blog/MySpace page. Give each city its own hashtag, like for a Foo Fighters concert in Asheville, you could make it #ff-asheville, then the next night in Raleigh, it could be #ff-raleigh. Twitter is EXCELLENT for giving real-time updates at events, ask anyone that's read the updates from conferences on Twitter, and has wished they were at the event after reading how everyone was Twittering about it. Start a Twitter name for this and encourage your fans to follow you, and follow them back when they do. If you do this for the length of the tour, the excitement and number of people tweeting about each concert, will only grow.

3 - Take a gazillion pictures of EVERYTHING at EVERY concert, and post them all to Flickr. Also make your fans aware via email (or a blog/MySpace page, etc) that you will be doing this, and encourage them to TAKE PICTURES AND ADD THEM as well.

4 - Give Flip Cameras to fans at the concert and tell them to go crazy! This is your home run waiting to happen. Give Flip Cameras to say 10 fans at every concert, and tell them to record whatever the hell they want. Explain to them that after the concert they'll return the camera and meet the artist/band backstage (So this pacifies the 'But they'll steal the camera!!!!' fear. ). Tell them that you'll give them a copy of everything they record, and do so.

But you can also use all the footage recorded to post to your blog, AND YouTube. Added bonus: You can also use the footage that your fans record to create a concert DVD to sell! When the DVDs are ready to sell, have the band/artist autograph and inscribe a copy to be send to every fan that shot video for you.

End result? You'll excite the hell out of your fans, and will give them the incentive to create videos, take pictures, tweet, and blog about every concert on the tour. All of this additional social media buzz will create a groundswell of excitement for your tour, and the ripple affect will seriously be felt as the tour comes to an end. And you'll also get bloggers like me that don't care about your artist, blogging about you anyway, because it will be so damned cool to see an artist and label that's actually smart enough to embrace their fans to promote them.

But of course the punchline that you are waiting for'll sell a bunch more tickets and merchandise.

Now let's see how many labels and artists are smart enough to actually do this.

Pic of Foo Fighters via Flickr user Lola's Big Adventure!


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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Social Media: Where have we been, where are we going?

I've always enjoyed studying history and seeing how events unfolded, as well as the telltale signs that told us what was coming next. Of course in hindsight, we can see how certain forces were at work to create the future, but rarely can we see and understand the significance of the events as they are happening. As with anything else, it's the same with the varying social media tools that have risen to, and sometimes fallen from, grace.

I've been actively using social media since 2005 when started writing for a then new blog called Beyond Madison Avenue. Here's the tools that have caught fire since that time, and where I see them headed:

2005 - What was hot? Blogs and MySpace. Both blogs and MySpace had been slowly but surely building steam for a few years prior, but I think reached their tipping points due to media coverage of certain events. For blogs, I think that Dell Hell and their coverage of the Tsunamis garnered much mainstream media attention. For MySpace, News Corp purchasing the social networking site for $580 million was a huge news story, and gave the socnet's member base another kick in the pants.

Are they still hot now? Yes but I think both blogs and MySpace have cooled a bit, and will continue to moving forward. Blogs now have competing formats such as microblogging sites (Twitter, Pownce), as well as socnets. I think in 2005, blogs were the big fish in a small social media pond. By now, that pond has grown several times in size, and blogs are a bit smaller than they were. There's now many options for creating and sharing content online. But blogs definitely have their place in the social media space, and I don't see that changing any time soon.

As for MySpace, I think it's gone from being a 'one-size-fits-all' socnet, to seeing more specialized competitors such as Hi5 and BlackPlanet stealing some of its members. I think this will continue, but I also think that MySpace has a very established and 'general' user base that will probably stick with the service. I think MySpace is aimed at the widest market, and will continue to appeal to that group.

2006 - What was hot? YouTube. It was really a great idea waiting to happen, a site that lets you view videos. And a TON of videos, by mid 2006, the site was claiming that 100 million videos were being viewed every day (which of course was a big story with the MSM). And of course when Google bought YouTube for 1.6 million in late 2006 (a story broken by a blog, Tech Crunch), that just brought even more attention to the site.

Is YouTube still hot? Yes but that's a bit surprising to me. I think that YouTube's competitors had a window of opportunity to educate people on the video-creation process, and to make it easier. As late as last year I was hearing from people active in social media that they had no idea how to create a video and get it on YouTube. But I think the Flip Camera's rise in popularity is in great part due to its ability to upload newly created videos straight to YouTube. YouTube just has such a dominant place in the video-sharing realm and is so firmly entrenched with the masses that competitors offering better quality and features (Viddler), can't really compete at this point.

2007 - What was hot? Facebook. Like MySpace, Facebook's user base had been expanding rapidly already. I think the blogosphere really jumped on Facebook hard in 2007, helping to shine a spotlight on the social networking site. The site's core audience is a bit different from MySpace's, being a hit with primarily college students.

Is Facebook still hot? - Yes and no. Facebook's Beacon program in particular has been a big turnoff to many of the bloggers that jumped on board last year. The site seems to be losing popularity, but it's still firmly entrenched with MySpace as one of the Top 2 socnets. But I don't think that Facebook will lose as many members to specialized competitors like MySpace will.

2008 - What is hot? Twitter and LinkedIn. Both sites had been growing modestly but steadily up until around this time last year when both sites began to take off. Twitter's spurt was mainly due to a very smart sponsorship at last year's SXSW, and the site has been expanding its base ever since. And I would be willing to bet that much of LinkedIn's growth can be tied back to hiring Mario Sundar as its Community Evangelist. Since that time, LinkedIn has started blogging, and has placed a priority on adding social elements to the service as well as to better explaining the capabilities of site. As a result, it's morphed into more or less the 'social network for business professionals'.

Will they be hot moving forward? I think so. Twitter has no real or even potential competition at this point in the microblogging space. And Twitter is beginning to expand beyond the early adopters and techsters that have pushed its popularity to this point. Twitter, while it does have a bit of a learning curve, is simple enough to start using for most people. Utility and ease of use are what drives a site/tool to cross over and have mainstream appeal. Twitter's crossover into the mainstream might not come this year, but I think it will eventually.

As for LinkedIn, it's showing no signs of slowing down. I think that many people last year were favoring Facebook as a business networking tool over LinkedIn. But as Facebook continues to fall out of favor with the blogosphere, many are turning to LinkedIn as a networking tool. Ironically, Twitter is also showing great promise for networking, and could be a bit of a threat to LinkedIn down the road as an avenue for online networking.

What sites/technologies will be hot in 2009 and beyond? To me, trying to figure out this question is the fun part. And I think it comes with a big caveat; many people that predict that such and such site will be the 'next big thing', are confusing being big with early adopters, with being big with the mainstream. For example, Friendfeed shows great potential to be super-hot with early adopters, but you can all but forget it ever having mainstream appeal. Friendfeed is working now for early adopters because so many of us are active on multiple sites and with multiple tools. The mainstream isn't.

As for what's next, I'll again go back to the utility and ease of use. I think that podcasting, for example, offers great utility, but the creation/editing process has always been difficult and time-consuming. And by now why would a newbie worry about podcasting, when they can create videos via Qik and instantly stream them to the web? I think if the creation process had been easy for podcasts from the get-go, that podcasting would be firmly entrenched as a widely used social tool now.

One thing that I really think drives social media, is the ability it gives us to connect with each other. I think that moving forward, the focus will turn to doing this on a local level. For example, a tool that takes the locations of your Twitter friends and super-imposes them on a street map to show you who is nearby. Or a mashup that does the same thing with the locations provided by Brightkite users. I think as Twitter grows in popularity, you will see more and more people accessing it on the go with cellphones, and this growth will help drive the possibility of more localized socializing.

All of these social media tools have risen to popularity because they make it easy for people to create and share content. Which leads to these amazing connections. Any social tool and/or site that reaches mainstream appeal in the future will do so because it excels at facilitating connections that lead to relationships.

Social Media pic via Flickr user Jeff Milner, BS08 shot via Flickr user Matt Dickman


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Thursday, May 08, 2008

The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing & Social Media Blogs - Week 104

Here's the standings for Week 104:

1 - Seth's Blog - 8,760 (-45)(LW - 1)
2 - CopyBlogger - 6,450 (-147)(LW - 2)
3 - Chris Brogan - 1,648 (+55)(LW - 4)
4 - Search Engine Guide - 1,624 (-72)(LW - 3)
5 - Logic + Emotion - 1,368 (+1)(LW - 5)
6 - Duct Tape Marketing - 1,343(-6)(LW - 6)
7 - Daily Fix - 949 (-20)(LW - 7)
8 - Influential Marketing - 831 (+2)(LW - 8)
9 - Brand Autopsy - 791 (-18)(LW - 9)
10 - Jaffe Juice - 714 (-4)(LW - 10)
11 - Drew's Marketing Minute - 690 (-8)(LW - 11)
12 - Conversation Agent - 674 (+7)(LW - 12)
13 - Church of the Customer - 661 (No Change)(LW - 13)
14 - Six Pixels of Separation - 658 (+9)(LW - 14)
15 - What's Next - 619 (-30)(LW - 14)
16 - The Viral Garden - 568 (+4)(LW - 16)
17 - Diva Marketing - 530 (-27)(LW - 17)
18 - Converstations - 488 (-2)(LW - 18)
19 - Greg Verdino's Marketing Blog - 457 (+1)(LW - 19)
20 - CK's Blog - 428 (No Change)(LW - 20)
21 - Every Dot Connects - 423 (-4)(LW - 21)
22 - Servant of Chaos - 404 (-4)(LW - 24)
23 - Damn! I Wish I'd Thought of That! - 401 (-8)(LW - 23)
24- The Engaging Brand - 400 (-25)(LW - 22)
25 - Techno Marketer - 389 (+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.

An off week for the Top 25 with only 8 blogs up. But Chris Brogan's blog once again knocked the cover off the ball, moving up to the #3 spot this week after adding a healthy 55 links. Six Pixels of Separation also had a nice week, taking over the #14 spot. And Techno Marketer had a nice 10 link gain, which could cement Matt's place in the Top 25 for now.

No new entries this week, with Social Media Explorer, Experience Curve, Flooring the Customer, Movie Marketing Madness, and The Lonely Marketer all barely missing the cut.

Next update is next Wednesday.

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Monday, May 05, 2008

What is the deal with Friendfeed?

Up till now, I really haven't spent much time with Friendfeed. But some of my friends on Twitter are saying that I need to spend more time with the site, that the payoff is worth it.

What do you think? If you are using Friendfeed now, how do you use it? What are the advantages to using it?

Remembering that this time last year I thought that Twitter was a waste of time, I'm willing to consider the strong possibility that I am wrong about Friendfeed as well. So if you're a fan of Friendfeed, tell me why I should be too!


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Saturday, May 03, 2008

What's on page 123?

Director Tom recently tagged me in an interesting meme where you share what you're reading now and what you'll be reading next. Also, you share the 6th through 8th sentences on page 123.

So here's the passage of Groundswell, the book I am currently reading:

"It's always cheaper to sponsor such a site than to try to build your own, although you give up control. The key is, P&G defined a community around an issue that attracts girls' attention - the problem of growing up. Another generic girl community would have ended up competing with - and losing to - Piczo, Barbie Girls, or other popular sites for young girls."

I'll review Groundswell here soon. After that, I am going to finish up Duct Tape Marketing, and then read Personality Not Included. I'll be reviewing each here.

To further the meme, I'll pass it along to Mario, Jaynie, Cece, Lewis and Maura.


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Friday, May 02, 2008

Sage Rocks on the video review of my SBMU presentation

The energetic dynamo that is Sage Lewis was kind enough to record a video review of my Blogging for Business presentation at Small Business Marketing Unleashed in Houston. Sage hits on the main points of my presentation, and also gives you a glimpse of the venue for the event, an actual replica of The Alamo that was cool as hell. And you gotta love Sage's energy, he could make a presentation about wallpaper paste drying sound exciting!

BTW it seems that the feedback and response from attendees to the Small Business Unleashed Conference has been better than anyone expected. Not surprising as I honestly heard not ONE complaint about the conference from anyone, and everyone raved about the small 'classroom' format.

Could all this be significant? this space ;)


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Thursday, May 01, 2008

Tim 'MasiGuy' Jackson injured in bike accident

Bad news guys, our friend Tim Jackson was in a bad bike accident. He suffered some pretty nasty injuries (including a cracked skull), but is recovering rapidly and according to his friend Blue Squirrel, he may be released from the hospital tomorrow. Jim (Blue Squirrel) thinks that Tim should be fine, but will definitely have some recovery time.

To help with Tim's hospital expenses, Jim has set up a Tim 'Masiguy' Jackson Get Well' fund. You can donate at his blog via Paypal, or if you want, you can contact Jim about sending Tim gift cards. Please make sure that you help out Tim if you can, as he's one of the true stars in our community. Also feel free to leave Tim get-well wishes in the comments of Blue Squirrel's post!


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Company Blog Checkup: Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart is probably the poster child for big companies that have tried to enter the social media waters on their terms, and have taken the backlash for it. From their 'Wal-Marting Across America' blog that was outted as being written by their PR firm Edelman, to not allowing comments on previous blogging attempts, the company has a bad reputation among bloggers. But to their credit, that hasn't stopped the company from trying to incorporate blogging into its marketing efforts, and its Checkout blog is its most recent attempt.

And on first blush, Checkout seems to be a much stronger effort than the company's previous blogging attempts. The content leans heavy toward products that Wal-Mart carries, and not the company itself. Which is fine, as it seems that Wal-Mart is positioning Checkout to mainly cover electronics 'gadgets' and also throw in some 'sustainability' posts. Not sure how those two mix, but hey. I did note that on the 'About This Blog' page, they link to Robert Scoble's Corporate Weblog Manifesto, which is a nice touch.

The content is also heavy on DVD new releases. Which is fine, but a post with little more than the movie titles available for sale next Tuesday isn't the greatest community-building tool I've ever seen. And again, the content HAS to be positioned from the reader's point of view, and a listing of upcoming DVD releases is information that can be gained from thousands of sites on the web. And the mix of 'sustainability' and 'earth-friendly' posts are curious on a blog that seems to otherwise focus mostly on new DVD releases. The cynic in me thinks this is simply an effort by Wal-Mart to tap into the 'Go Green!' movement.

Now let's turn the posting schedule. The first thing I notice when arriving at Checkout is that the latest post is from April 22nd, or 9 days ago. Not good. The month of April saw 7 new blog posts, and March had a much more respectable 15 posts. The blog claims to have 9 writers, so only having 7 posts a month from 9 writers means that someone(s) isn't doing their job(s). This would be somewhat forgivable if the writers were active elsewhere, like on Twitter, but I don't think that's the case. I'd like to see a minimum of 3 new posts a week.

Now let's see how the writers handle comments. First, Wal-Mart clearly outlines its comment policy on it's About Page. Good move. The problem I see is that the blog's authors are missing many chances to engage the readers via comments. This is especially obvious issue for recent posts, especially 'green-friendly' posts which are getting good feedback from readers via multiple comments, but little/no response from the writers. Wal-Mart has a golden opportunity to really develop a community around the Checkout blog by actively engaging and responding to readers in the comment section. So far, it looks like they are blowing this chance.

Finally, let's look at the sidebars, and we'll start off with probably the highlight of the entire blog. Look at the section on Check Out The Authors. There's a picture of EVERY author, and a LINK to their BIO. Absolutely fan-damn-tastic! This is EXACTLY what EVERY company blog should have. The only improvement I would suggest would be to move this section a bit higher up the blog, at least partially above the fold.

All the expected elements are here, the categories, archives, recent entries. There's a small 'Subscribe to RSS' section that I think could be bigger. Also, when you're dealing with a corporate blog, I think it's always a good idea to add a little 'What is RSS?' section to explain the concept to readers.

The blog has an excellent blogroll, with a healthy mix of green, tech, and video-game sites. I didn't spot any Wal-Mart sites on the blogroll, which is good. And it even has a Flickr widget. The sidebars are clearly the strong-point for the blog.

Overall, Wal-Mart's Checkout blog is a fair effort. But at the same time, it's a dramatic improvement over the company's previous blogging attempts. I think a more active posting schedule and more interaction with readers via comments could turn this blog into an exceptional example of company blogging.

Also for this entry, I am going to add a scoring system to the Company Blog Checkup series. This will score the blog on four elements: Content, Comments, Posting Schedule, and Sidebars. Content and Comments will be given priority, with up to 35 points for each possible, and Posting Schedule and Sidebars will be given up to 15 points each, with a total perfect score of all four elements resulting in 100 points. Here's how I grade Wal-Mart's Checkout blog:

Content: 26 (out of a possible 35) - Good but not great. I don't think it's necessary to list all of the new DVD releases, just the 2-3 big names, and include a link to the complete list. Also, I think there's a great opportunity for Wal-Mart to publish 'how-to' posts, like 'What to Look For in Choosing a Home Computer', or 'How to Decide Which Television is Best For You'. Maybe they've done these type of posts in the past, but didn't see any recently. The content still has a bit too much of a 'circular' feel to me.

Comments: 14 (out of a possible 35) - Clearly the weak point of the blog, but by simply being more active about responding to comments, this score could easily jump up.

Posting Schedule: 9 (out of a possible 15) - Not quite enough posts. Another easily correctable problem, just get up a regular number of posts every week, and develop a schedule for when these posts will go up. And again, with 9 writers, there's no excuse for only getting up 7 new posts in a month.

Sidebar Elements: 13 (out of a possible 15) - Again, having pictures of every author and a link to their bios is absolutely perfect. While the blog might be lacking in some areas, its sidebars are pretty stout.

Total Score: 62 (out of a possible 100).

If anyone from Wal-Mart wants to discuss this Company Blog Checkup with me, feel free to leave a comment here, or email me. If your company 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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