Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing & Social Media Blogs - Week 136

Here's the standings for Week 136:

1 - Duct Tape Marketing - 261,000 (+131,000)(LW - 2)
2 - Church of the Customer - 249,000 (No Change)(LW - 1)
3 - CopyBlogger - 50,341 (+1,189)(LW - 3)
4 - Web Strategy by Jeremiah - 19,239 (+535)(LW - 4)
5 - Chris Brogan - 17,781 (+613)(LW - 5)
6 - Search Engine Guide - 12,734 (-33)(LW - 6)
7 - Logic + Emotion - 12,257 (+404)(LW - 7)
8 - Influential Marketing - 8,205 (-79)(LW - 9)
9 - Brand Autopsy - 8,116 (-519)(LW - 8)
10 - Daily Fix - 7,983 (+447)(LW - 10)
11 - Conversation Agent - 4,022 (-21)(LW - 12)
12 - Drew's Marketing Minute - 3,848 (+66)(LW - 13)
13 - The Viral Garden - 3,711 (+46)(LW - 14)
14 - What's Next - 3,561 (+28)(LW - 15)
15 - Social Media Explorer - 3,405 (+193)(LW - 17)
16 - Being Peter Kim - 3,321 (+134)(LW - 18)
17 - Converstations - 3,283 (-177)(LW - 16)
18 - The Social Media Marketing Blog - 3,032 (+64)(LW - 19)
19 - Techipedia - 2,805 (+18)(LW - 20)
20 - Jaffe Juice - 2,532 (-2,519)(LW - 11)
21 - Emergence Marketing - 2,057 (+18)(LW - 21)
22 - Greg Verdino's Marketing Blog - 2,038 (+76)(LW - 22)
23 - Techno Marketer - 1,875 (+13)(LW - 23)
24 - The Social Customer Manifesto - 1,871 (+50)(LW - 25)
25 - Spare Change - 1,476 (LW - UR)

The Top 25 Marketing & Social Media Blogs are ranked by the number of subscribers, according to FeedBurner. The number you see after the blog name is how many subscribers accessed the blog's feed, according to FeedBurner. FeedBurner (and I had to look it up to make sure) tracks the number of times your blog's feed is accessed, and matches it against the IP address of the computer making the request, to approximate the number of subscribers that access your feed, and report this as the number used in the Top 25. After that number is a positive or negative number, and this represents how many readers 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 think it's a bit interesting that three of the Top 10 blogs are down this week. Or could be nothing, but usually the Top 10 is stronger than the rest of the Top 25. Past the Top 10, three other blogs were down, but Jaffe Juice is obviously a Feedburner glitch. In fact that's why I didn't do the Top 25 last week, because about half the blogs' had totally wacky sub counts, I'm assuming due to bloggers moving their FB account to Google.

Spare Change re-enters the Top 25 at #25. Remember if you want to have your blog be considered for inclusion in the Top 25, make sure you add the Feedburner feed count chicklet to your blog. And if you redesign your blog, make sure to keep the FB chicklet on there, or I can't track you for the Top 25.

Next update is next Wednesday.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

How to use Social Media to land your next job

So far this year has been very interesting. Some companies are using these turbulent times to make bold moves, while many are cutting back expenses across the board. An unfortunate side-affect of these cuts is that a lot of very qualified people are losing their jobs.

So that got me to thinking, if I were looking for a job right now, how could I use social media to help my efforts? Here's some ideas:

1 - Join LinkedIn and completely fill out your profile. Add a professional picture and clearly spell out your qualifications. Think of LinkedIn as your online resume, make sure you clearly detail your past experience, as well as what skills and qualifications you can offer potential employers.

2 - Ask your personal contacts to recommend you on LinkedIn. And make sure you let them know which areas you want them to focus on. If you have retail management and brand management experience, which area should my recommendation highlight?

3 - Contribute to LinkedIn's Q&A section. This is a great way to establish your knowledge and expertise, and a great way to help others. Both will get you noticed very quickly. Chris Penn has another great idea, start a group on LinkedIn for your local area and industry, like if you are looking for a marketing job in Wichita, start the Wichita Area Marketers group.

4 - If you are on Twitter, let your network know that you are available for work AND what type of work you are looking for. If there's one thing you can say about Twitter, it's that the users will bend over backwards to help each other. Everyone knows how tough the economy is right now, so if all we have to do is send a RT to help you get connected to a potential employer, almost everyone is more than happy to spread the word.

5 - Get connected to your local network on Twitter. Or the network for the city(s) you want to relocate to. If possible, start attending local tweetups. Social media is great, but offline networking is never going to go away. Use tools like Twellow, Twitter Local and TwellowHood to find people in a certain industry and location.

6 - Pay close attention to what others are doing. When Warren was laid off from his job, he went public with it, and tapped into his social networks for advice and help. Soon after, he was hired by Radian 6 as their Director of Content Marketing. Coincidence?

7 - Use social media to prove your worth. Are you wanting to use social media in your next job? One area where many companies are totally lacking when it comes to social media is in monitoring what customers are saying about them online. Let's say you have targeted Company ABC as one you want to work for. Start monitoring what is being said about them online, especially by bloggers and on Twitter. Then email them and show them what is being said, and advise them on how they should properly respond, and how they can begin monitoring themselves. Many companies are very interested in getting started with social media, but have no idea where to start, or who to approach to help them get started. When you help them solve an online brand management issue by using social media, you are establishing yourself as that person that can help get them up to speed on social media!

The two areas I would try to leverage with social media to help in my job hunt would be establishing my skillset to potential employers, and as a way to announce my availability. And I mentioned LinkedIn and Twitter because those are two sites I am active on. If you are active on Facebook, you can be doing many of these same things to reach out to potential employers AND your network.

How would YOU recommend a job seeker leverage social media to help them land a position? If you've done this, what worked for you? If you've hired someone where their social media usage was a factor, what helped them?

Bonus: Mashable's 7 Secrets to Getting a Job via Social Media

Nother Bonus: Chris Brogan's free ebook on Using the Social Web to Find Work

Spidey heading to work pic via Flickr user Eneas

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Finding and embracing your online evangelists in 5 minutes

Last week I wrote a post for Daily Fix on how many companies are targeting 'influencers', when they should be reaching out to their online evangelists. Happily, the post generated a vibrant discussion, which is great because I really think that companies are short-selling themselves by not approaching their online evangelists.

The biggest objection I often hear is that companies say it's hard to 'find' their evangelists. If you're a small business, you may indeed have problems finding more than a few/any online evangelists for your company. But if you are a large corporation, especially in the B2C space, you likely have many online evangelists that are creating content around and about your brand. But the hitch is, you have to LOOK for them.

Simple search tools like Google, Google Blog Search and Twitter Search can give you incredibly precise results, if you are willing to invest a little time and dig through the haystack.

Let's start out by seeing if we can find any online evangelists for Tropicana Orange Juice. First, let's search for the product, and we get 159,000 Google results. That's way too many, so let's add "i love" to the search, and now we are down to 11,000 or so results. Notice if you search for the exact term "i love tropicana orange juice", you're down to less than 200 results.

Let's do the same with Google Blog Search. The first search for Tropicana Orange Juice yields around 8,000 results. If we add "i love" to the term, we get around 1,100 results. Searching for the exact term "i love tropicana orange juice" gets us down to 10 blog results.

Finally, let's do the same with Twitter Search. Twitter search doesn't tell us the number of results for a search query, but there's plenty of people talking about the juice.

These searches took 5 mins. If I worked for Tropicana, I would subscribe to all of these searches, so that I had new results sent to me every day(Google Alerts is your friend), and I would drill down into the results I did find. And spend some time with more specific search terms.

When you find a blogger that's writing about how much they love Tropicana, email them and thank them. And think about the context of the endorsement. For example, if you find a marketing blogger that's professing their love of your product on their blog, thank them, and offer to put them in touch with someone from Tropicana to discuss how your company is marketing itself. I noticed in just glancing over the results from the above searches that there was plenty of talk about an apparent redesign of the package? The idea is, you WANT your fans talking about your product. Give them the incentive and tools to do just that.

The bottom line is your evangelists are out there, but you have to LOOK for them. You might not find 100, but you don't have to. If you only find 5 people that are excited about your brand, embrace them. Because the great thing about evangelists is....they evangelize. They actively promote your company to others, and WANT to do so. If you reach out to them, it only pours fuel on the fire, and gives them an even greater incentive to sing your praises.

Isn't it worth your time to spend a few minutes a day on your company's biggest fans?

Bonus Link: How to Launch a Successful Blogger-Outreach Program in One Day.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Social Media Conference organizers; Here's what I want to see

I attended and spoke at several social media/marketing conferences in 2008, and already have several trips planned for 2009 (Keep up with where I'll be this year by checking here). Almost every conference had areas where it shined, and some that were lacking. I know that right now many people are planning events for later in the Spring and Summer, so here's some tips on what I'd like to see:

1 - Reliable internet access and plenty of power outlets. Over half the events I attended had problems with spotty internet access, and some had few or no power outlets. Organizers, assume that every attendee will be bringing a laptop and need a power outlet. Make sure the conference center or other venue you contact has the capability to handle this, as well as every attendee trying to access their wifi network at once.

2 - Lengthy breaks between sessions. At least 15 mins, 30 mins is better. What happens when a session ends? Audience members almost always go to ask the speaker(s) questions. If they know they only have a few minutes till the next session starts, they might not ask those questions, and move on to the next session. Give them at least 30 mins, that way even if they all leave and go to the next session, that gives them time to meet each other before the next session starts.

3 - Make sure you have enough room for everyone that wants to attend a session. This was another problem at several conferences, attendees not being able to see a session, because the room was full. I remember at one conference I wanted to stay and talk to the presenters afterward, but I knew I had to leave immediately to go to the next session so I could make sure I got a seat.

4 - Pick a venue with big and open areas, and extra rooms for impromptu meetings. This is where SXSW excels. The best part of SXSW happens in the hallways, and there are plenty of them. Wide open areas are more comfortable and it encourages to meet and form breakout groups to discuss what they have learned. Marketing Profs Digital Marketing Mixer was also at a venue with plenty of area for attendees to break off and meet with each other.

5 - Encourage speakers to attend the entire conference, and as many sessions as possible. Speakers are a key draw for any conference, and you want them to be as accessible as possible to the attendees. And this ties into Point #4, but if your conference has speakers that are accessible, you might see them meeting with a group of attendees after one of the sessions.

6 - Have built-in networking/meetup opportunities. This is a must if your event is more than one day. Make sure you set aside some time (first night is usually the best for a multi-day event) for attendees to get together and mingle with each other, and the speakers. The key to a great social media conference is learning, and that is greatly facilitated by interaction. If you create ways for the people at your event to meet and interact, you'll increase the chances that they'll learn.

7 - Have FUN! I attended and spoke at two Small Business Marketing Unleashed conferences in 2008, and hope to be at two this year. One reason why I love SBMU is because Jennifer and the gang go out of their way to make sure that everyone learns a ton, and has a ton of fun. Whether it was speed networking, an ice cream sundae bar, or playing life-sized Jenga, SBMU does a great job of keeping attendees entertained, laughing, and bonding.

8 - Don't worry about being huge, worry about thrilling your attendees. This is for people that are thinking about launching their first conference this year. Don't be upset if your first event has a smaller crowd than you hoped for. Instead, make it your mission to absolutely thrill the attendees that do show up. I'll reference SBMU again. The Houston show last April was their first event, and the attendance was well under 100, probably closer to 50. But Robert, Vicki and Jennifer went out of their way to make sure that those 50 or 60 attendees had an amazing 2 days. Their goal was to thrill the attendees for the first SBMU, with the hope being that they could justify having it again this April. Instead, the attendees absolutely raved about the April event, so much so that they decided to have another SBMU just 5 months after the first. And that September event was roughly DOUBLE the size of the first SBMU. Jennifer explained that about 40% of the attendees came from Twitter, where attendees from the first SBMU encouraged their followers to come to the second event. So don't worry if your first event has a small crowd, if you can convert that small crowd into an excited group of evangelists for your next conference, then you are set.

At the end of the day, you want to create an event that fosters a learning environment. This space is in a non-stop state of flux, and your attendees are coming to learn. Don't disappoint them, establish an environment where they are encouraged to participate, and where the speakers are encouraged to interact with them. The people that will be attending your event are hungry for knowledge, so make sure that they go back home with a plan of action, and excited about the new possibilities that they uncovered during your conference.

If you have attended social media conferences in the past, what did you like/dislike?

Pic via Flickr user JackieBaker330

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Give yourself permission to be yourself

One of the things I am always saying companies should do when they use social media, is be themselves. Don't be afraid to post a pic of the company picnic, to talk about the work your employees do for a local charity, or pictures of your best customers. These touches help show your humanity, and make it easier for people to connect with you.

Last night, I took a bit of my own advice. I was on Twitter, and at the same time scanning TV channels to find something good to watch. I noticed that Bill Cosby's Himself standup routine from 1983 was on, which is an absolute classic. I started watching and laughing and sharing some of the funnier lines with my followers, many of which agreed it was a hoot, and started adding in their own favorite parts.

Then @krisrevelle made the mistake of saying that she would love if I tweeted the entire thing. So that's what I started doing, and everyone started jumping in and sharing their favorite spots, and we started helping each other flesh out each skit.

It was hilarious. I was laughing nonstop for an hour or so, and loved sharing the tweets and memories with my followers. And I noticed something as this unfolded; most of the people that were replying to me and playing along, were people that I had rarely or never talked to before on Twitter. Bill Cosby is NOT what I usually am talking about on Twitter. But it seems that I had found a topic that some of my followers could connect with me with, and share. And hopefully that will lead to us connecting on other topics in the future.

So the lesson for companies involved in social media? Don't be afraid to occasionally get off-topic. You might find that you suddenly become a lot more interesting to others, and you may make some new connections and friends.

And if you are a Cos fan, here's one of the skits from that show, Cosby goes to the dentist:

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing & Social Media Blogs - Week 135

Here's the standings for Week 135:

1 - Church of the Customer - 249,000 (No Change)(LW - 2)
2 - Duct Tape Marketing - 130,000 (-131,000)(LW - 1)
3 - CopyBlogger - 49,152 (+689)(LW - 3)
4 - Web Strategy by Jeremiah - 18,704 (+390)(LW - 4)
5 - Chris Brogan - 17,168 (+768)(LW - 5)
6 - Search Engine Guide - 12,767 (-335)(LW - 6)
7 - Logic + Emotion - 11,853 (-71)(LW - 7)
8 - Brand Autopsy - 8,635 (-25)(LW - 8)
9 - Influential Marketing - 8,284 (+132)(LW - 9)
10 - Daily Fix - 7,536 (+69)(LW - 10)
11 - Jaffe Juice - 5,051 (+83)(LW - 11)
12 - Conversation Agent - 4,043 (+1,704)(LW - 20)
13 - Drew's Marketing Minute - 3,782(-52)(LW - 12)
14 - The Viral Garden - 3,665 (+58)(LW - 13)
15 - What's Next - 3,533 (+22)(LW - 14)
16 - Converstations - 3,460 (+7)(LW - 15)
17 - Social Media Explorer - 3,212 (+212)(LW - 16)
18 - Being Peter Kim - 3,187 (+187)(LW - 16)
19 - The Social Media Marketing Blog - 2,968 (+73)(LW - 18)
20 - Techipedia - 2,787 (+262)(LW - 19)
21 - Emergence Marketing - 2,039 (+38)(LW - 21)
22 - Greg Verdino's Marketing Blog - 1,962 (-13)(LW - 22)
23 - Techno Marketer - 1,862 (+13)(LW - 23)
24 - Paul Isakson - 1,846 (+55)(LW - 24)
25 - The Social Customer Manifesto - 1,821 (+53)(LW - 25)

The Top 25 Marketing & Social Media Blogs are ranked by the number of subscribers, according to FeedBurner. The number you see after the blog name is how many subscribers accessed the blog's feed, according to FeedBurner. FeedBurner (and I had to look it up to make sure) tracks the number of times your blog's feed is accessed, and matches it against the IP address of the computer making the request, to approximate the number of subscribers that access your feed, and report this as the number used in the Top 25. After that number is a positive or negative number, and this represents how many readers 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.

Apparently Valeria was slightly pissed off at FB for under-reporting her subscriber numbers last week, as Conversation Agent bounces back to gain over 1,700 subscribers, and vaults her blog up to #12. Not to be out-done, Social Media Explorer and Being Peter Kim both padded their totals and have all but caught the pack in front of them. I am assuming that it's John Jantsch's turn in the FB doghouse this week, as Duct Tape Marketing mysteriously shed half its subscribers.

No new blogs this week, and remember if you want to have your blog be considered for inclusion in the Top 25, make sure you add the Feedburner feed count chicklet to your blog.

Next update is next Wednesday.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

When fishbowls duel, does anyone win?

More and more, I am noticing terms like 'social media experts' and 'the social media crowd' being thrown around. These blanket statements are usually claiming that this so-called group is about to get their comeuppance, and will soon find out how little they really know.

Then again, I've seen plenty of references to how traditional marketers are nothing but 'dinosaurs' or 'luddites' that 'just don't get' social media, and 'don't know how to reach today's consumer'.

And more often than not, these two groups are lobbing these blanket statements/labels at each other.

It seems as if some people believe there are two groups making these claims:

1 - Social media evangelists. This group is passionate about social media. Some would offer that their passion outstrips common sense. Others would imply that they know nothing about 'real business', and are nothing more than snakeoil salesmen.

2 - Traditional marketers. This group has a solid background in traditional marketing and business. Some would offer that they made their careers in the 80s and 90s, and their thinking hasn't progressed from that point. Others would imply that they decry the hype over social media simply because they don't understand it or how businesses can use these tools.

Of course, both stereotypes are quite silly, very harmful, and in most cases dead wrong. But the problem is that I am seeing more and more people talking about how someone else 'doesn't get it'. One minute it will be someone with 30 years experience as a marketer claiming that 'social media experts' don't get it, the next minute it will be someone identified as a leader in the social media space, claiming that traditional marketers downplay social media because they 'don't get it'.

To everyone, I have one plea; Can we please stop the insanity?

Just because someone has 30 years experience as a marketing/brand manager for P&G doesn't mean that they can't also be social media experts. Just because someone else is a 30-year old social media evangelist doesn't mean that they don't understand how to create a social media initiative that meshes with a larger communications strategy.

Traditional marketing is NOT about to die, just like social media experts aren't about to 'get their's'. But this space as a whole isn't going to move forward as quickly as it could unless these two camps stop pissing on each other.

Both groups have much to teach the other. Here's hoping we all put aside our jealousy and insecurities and start to learn from one another.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Is the Community Evangelist making a comeback?

The big news in the social media space over the last few days is that Radian 6 has tapped Amber Naslund to be their new Director of Community. This move is absolutely perfect, as Amber has already been working with Radian 6 for a while in her marketing consultancy, and she is an expert at connecting and building relationships with others online. A classic win-win move if ever there was one.

I started paying a lot of attention to this space in late 2005, and one of the first big moves I noticed was Riya hiring Tara Hunt to head up the startup's marketing and build community for Riya. Tara did an absolutely amazing job in building excitement for Riya's launch and connecting with its community. I assumed that this would be the start of companies reaching out to social media/online 'experts' to head up their customer/community evangelism efforts.

But for whatever reason, that really hasn't happened to the degree I thought it would. Sure, some companies have been smart enough to get some of the leaders in this space to oversee their social media efforts, such as Shannon Paul with the Detroit Red Wings, and Scott Monty with Ford Motor Company.

One area where I think social media holds amazing potential is in letting a company find and embrace their online evangelists. I think so many companies are so concerned with doing 'anything' with social media that they miss how these amazing social tools can help you connect with and empower your most passionate customers. This is where I think companies should be looking as they move forward, to bring in people that have proven that they can use these sites/tools to form connections with their customers. People that can bring the voice of the company to its customers, and perhaps more importantly, the voice of the customer back to the company.

Hopefully, Radian 6 hiring Amber as their Director of Community is a sign that companies will begin to look to this space to find their community evangelists. I am obviously biased when it comes to Amber, as I think she is absolutely brilliant and Radian 6 was incredibly smart to bring her on board to direct their community efforts. The big question now is, who's next?

Pic via Flickr user AmberNaslund

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Don't you want to be a rockstar?

A few days ago, Olivier left a comment to Amber's post, and stated:
I am really starting to get concerned that with all this talk of SocMed, many people out there are losing track of its actual value: Creating and growing relationships.

The point is really to help people connect better. From a personal standpoint, it’s about the exchange of ideas opinions and information. It’s about helping people find each other and stay connected. From a business standpoint, the idea is to re-humanize relations between companies and the public at large in such a way that everyone involved benefits (customers gain more value from their relationship with a company - better info, faster service, friendlier touchpoints, etc. - and companies have the opportunity to reach more customers and give them reasons to develop a stronger sense of loyalty, for starters).

I think Olivier raises a good point. Back in 2005 and 2006, the majority of the talk around social media on blogs such as this one was about the theory of how social media could help a company better connect with its customers and build lasting relationships with them. At some point, the tone of the space changed to 'we need to move away from talking about what COULD happen, and give companies case studies so that they will see the benefits of social media'. Thankfully, we started getting case studies in 2007 and 2008, and the discussion shifted in that direction. But I think along the way, we have perhaps gotten a bit too far away from discussing the real benefits of social media.

There's a reason why I constantly talk about certain examples of companies using social media, such as what Fiskars/Brains on Fire are doing with the Fiskateers, and what Tim Jackson is doing with Masi. Because these companies and people are using social media as a channel to connect with their customers, and build relationships with them.

Olivier has nailed it, at its core, social media are communication tools that allow us to connect with one another. Companies should realize this, and leverage these tools as a way to start building relationships with their customers. And remember, the better you understand your customers and they you, the more effective your communication efforts will be, which leads to more efficient marketing. Which means your marketing costs go down.

One of the first posts I left on this blog back in 2006 included this thought, which is still relevant today:
That's the power of being a part of the community. And it goes beyond the obvious; that being a part of the community means you better understand your customers. What happens when you better understand your customers is that you can better serve them by anticipating their wants and needs. And the best part? As we correctly anticipate the consumers' wants and needs, and fill them, a trust is developed, which leads to the consumer lowering their defenses and letting us interact with them on a deeper level. This leads to a greater understanding of their needs, which means we can more quickly and effectively meet these needs, and thus the cycle is created.

Extra point: With that higher level of trust comes the creation of a barrier to entry for your competitors.

Don't focus on using social media to 'create' community, focus on using social media as a way to connect with your customers and join them in THEIR space. Willie Davidson was once asked if Harley Davidson does any market research to better understand their customers. Davidson responded "Oh sure we are in constant contact with our customers, we ride with them all the time".

Forget using social media to sell more stuff. That's small potatoes. Think about the ability that social media affords you to connect with your customers, to build relationships and to create evangelists for your company. People that are so excited by the interactions they have with you, and the direction of your company, that they will go out of their way to promote you to others. These are literally FANS of your company.

Your goal should be to use social media to create as many FANS of your company as possible. Forget being a better marketer, it's time to be a rockstar.

Pic via Flickr user Anirudh Koul

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Want to give your readers a way to tweet your posts?

I have been spending a TON of time on Twitter the past couple of months. And I've noticed that Twitter is an incredibly value channel for letting people discover my blog. In fact, Twitter is now easily the top site for referral traffic to my blog.

In light of this, I started looking for a way to let readers automatically tweet my posts to Twitter. I looked for a plugin, and couldn't really find one. So I started playing around with code from similar plugins for Delicious, etc, and think I've got a crude workaround.

As you can see, each blog post now has a 'Tweet This!' link below the comments section of the post. if you click that link, it will take you to Twitter and let you tweet a link to this post! Like I said it's basic, but gets the job done.

Here's the code I added to the blog's template to make this happen:

<a href="<$BlogItemPermalinkURL$> via @mackcollier's The Viral Garden">Tweet This!</a>

Now there's a couple of caveats. First, notice that I added my Twitter name and blog's name to the code. You'll want to change both to your Twitter name, and blog name. I tried adding the post title as well, but it was too long. I would advise that you make it a bit unique so you can track how often people are tweeting it via your blog. And with the reply, you'll also get notified when someone tweets via your blog post.

Second, this code adds the 'Tweet This!' message at the end of the post. You can also change this to whatever message you want.

Third, you have to be careful to put the code in the right place in your blog's template. Here's a screenshot of where it goes in mine:

Basically, put it right above the End .post portion. You may need to do some trial and error with the code's placement to make sure you get it just right. Remember, Preview is your friend! Check it early and often to make sure you've got the code exactly how you want it before you save it.

So there you go! Like I said I had been looking for a way to add the ability to tweet my posts, and I thought I'd share the code with you. As I said above, it's still very crude, and I'm sure you could add a pic and probably enable URL shortening as well, that's just something that's over my head. If you add it to your Blogger blog, let me know how it goes!

PS: My blog still has the 'old' version of the template, because I couldn't update to the 'new' version and use the blog theme I have now. So if you have the updated version of Blogger, you might not find the same code in your template that I have. Try to put it somewhere near the end of the Post portion of the template code, and it should work!

Social Media excels at making things happen indirectly

Beth had a great post yesterday talking about how social media is not marketing. While I agree with her main point that social media is NOT the same as marketing, I'm not that upset with the use of the term 'social media marketing'. But I think for many companies, they see it as simply using social media as a marketing channel.

And that's where the problems start.

In most cases, marketing channels are utilized cause the direct goal is to sell more stuff. That's fine, nothing wrong with a company wanting to make a profit, in fact there's nothing wrong with trying to make as large a profit as legally possible.

The problem that most companies have with social media is this:

1 - They view social media as being a new marketing channel, when actually they are communication channels

2 - Since they view social media as a marketing channel, they attempt to push marketing messages through these channels

3 - Since they view social media as a marketing channel, and attempt to push marketing messages through these channels, they attempt to directly monetize their social media efforts.

All of these problems conspire to ensure that the company has a totally disastrous result.

Let's back up and start over. First, let's understand that social media is being used by a company's customers to communicate and interact with each other. They aren't using these tools in most/any cases to share marketing messages. So when a company attempts to introduce marketing messages via social media, it's met by the community with all the acceptance of excessive flatulence in church on a Sunday morning.

So if a company wants use social media successfully as a way to 'sell more stuff', they have to understand that they need a new goal. Because social media is a wonderful way to make things happen indirectly. If a company wants to use social media to 'sell more stuff', they need to make that their INdirect goal. The DIRECT goal needs to be something else, so that a byproduct of the company's DIRECT efforts, is that they sell more stuff.

Which means the big question is; What should the DIRECT goal of social media be?

I would suggest that you start by looking for a way to use social media to create VALUE for your customers. Look at what Fiskars has done with blogging. Instead of creating a blog and using it as a way to directly promote its products, it created the Fiskateers blog. Here are the goals that the company had for the Fiskateers movement:

  • Increase awareness and credibility
  • Increase online conversations
  • Create a community of hundreds of empowered, kindred spirits
And yes, an indirect result of this movement is that sales and online brand mentions are up. But note that third goal; to create a community. This is a perfect example of using social media to directly create VALUE for your customers.

Know your customers, and if they are using social media, understand WHY and HOW they are using these tools, and then use them in the SAME way to create VALUE for them. And if you do so in a way that resonates positively with your customers, a byproduct of your efforts will be that you'll sell more stuff.

But the quickest way to fail at 'social media marketing' is to use social media as a way to beam marketing messages at your customers with the goal of these efforts being to sell more stuff.

Pic via Flickr user OiMax

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing & Social Media Blogs - Week 134

Here's the standings for Week 134:

1 - Duct Tape Marketing - 261,000 (+1,000)(LW - 1)
2 - Church of the Customer - 249,000 (+1,000)(LW - 2)
3 - CopyBlogger - 48,503 (+1,611)(LW - 3)
4 - Web Strategy by Jeremiah - 18,314 (+261)(LW - 4)
5 - Chris Brogan - 16,400 (+1,649)(LW - 5)
6 - Search Engine Guide - 13,102 (LW - UR)
7 - Logic + Emotion - 11,924 (+284)(LW - 6)
8 - Brand Autopsy - 8,660 (+361)(LW - 7)
9 - Influential Marketing - 8,152 (+279)(LW - 8)
10 - Daily Fix - 7,467 (+465)(LW - 9)
11- Jaffe Juice - 4,968 (+6)(LW - 10)
12 - Drew's Marketing Minute - 3,833(+149)(LW - 11)
13 - The Viral Garden - 3,607 (+159)(LW - 14)
14 - What's Next - 3,511 (-6)(LW - 12)
15 - Converstations - 3,453 (+41)(LW - 15)
16 - Being Peter Kim - 3,000 (+284)(LW - 17)
16 - Social Media Explorer - 3,000 (+452)(LW - 19)
18 - The Social Media Marketing Blog - 2,895 (+170)(LW - 16)
19 - Techipedia - 2,525 (-79)(LW - 18)
20 - Conversation Agent - 2,339 (-1,146)(LW - 13)
21 - Emergence Marketing - 2,001 (+14)(LW - 20)
22 - Greg Verdino's Marketing Blog - 1,975 (+125)(LW - 21)
23 - Techno Marketer - 1,849 (+99)(LW - 23)
24 - Paul Isakson - 1,791 (+52)(LW - 24)
25 - The Social Customer Manifesto - 1,768 (-34)(LW - 22)

The Top 25 Marketing & Social Media Blogs are ranked according to the number of subscribers, according to FeedBurner. The number you see after the blog name is how many subscribers accessed the blog's feed, according to FeedBurner. FeedBurner (and I had to look it up to make sure) tracks the number of times your blog's feed is accessed, and matches it against the IP address of the computer making the request, to approximate the number of subscribers that access your feed, and report this as the number used in the Top 25. After that number is a positive or negative number, and this represents how many readers 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.

Happy New Year! The Top 25 took a few weeks off, and now is back to start 2009 with 3 weeks of results. Only 4 blogs were down, and that includes Conversation Agent, which was obviously a FB glitch. Being Peter Kim and Social Media Explorer both showed big gains and they could be making runs at the Top 10 in a few weeks if they keep growing at current rates.

Search Engine Guide re-entered the Top 25 after a FeedBurner hiccup knocked them out last time. Spare Change just missed the cut. Remember if you want to have your blog be considered for inclusion in the Top 25, make sure you add the Feedburner feed count chicklet to your blog.

Next update is next Wednesday.

Monday, January 05, 2009


You've heard about blogs and social media. You know that there is 'something' there, but you aren't sure exactly what that 'something' is, or how it can help you grow your business. I understand. In my presentations, seminars, and workshops, I take these seemingly foreign topics and boil them down into simple terms that you can easily understand. I'll walk you through what these social sites and tools are, and help you tie their potential back to your business' bottom line.

My presentations, seminars and workshops can and have been delivered to audiences as small as a few dozen, or as large as a few hundred. Please email me if you are interested in having me speak at your business, company, private event, or conference.

Click here to get more information on:

Workshops and Seminars
1-Day Blog Coaching Sessions
Video Interview with WebProNews
Upcoming Speaking Schedule
Speaker Testimonials

Some of my more popular presentation topics include:

Blogging for Business:
Many businesses are trying to figure out whether they need to integrate blogging into their marketing plans. What will be the ROI from blogging? Will customers be more inclined to buy because you have a blog? These are just some of the questions being tossed around by intrigued marketers. I'll touch on blogging as a component of a greater marketing scheme for your business including engaging content, customer feedback, and sales tools. I will show you how you can position a blog as a tool to grow your business, and also cover if a blog is right for your particular situation.

What is Social Media and How Can it Impact Your Business:
Here, we dive into the social media waters and explain what exactly blogs, social networks, and micro-blogs really are. After covering exactly what these social sites and tools are, I'll walk you through the unique advantages and challenges that are associated with using each one. Finally, we'll wrap up by showing you which tools/sites you should be using, based on your unique business goals.

Monitoring the Blogosphere and Social Media:
Even if your business isn't blogging or actively using social media, you can still benefit from these tools by monitoring what is being said about your business online. In this session, we'll talk about the importance of finding and responding online feedback (both positive and negative) that others are leaving about your business. We'll cover the tools you can use to do this, and how to interact with people that are using these tools to communicate online with each other about your business.

Micro-Blogging 101:
Twitter? Plurk? What are these sites anyway? I'll explain to you how to get started using micro-blogs and sites such as Friendfeed to better connect with, and communicate with current and potential customers. We'll cover how you can use these sites to provide improved customer service, better monitor your industry, and as professional networking vehicles.

In addition, I also offer extensive workshops and seminars that delve deeper into using social media sites and tools to achieve your business goals. Here are a couple of examples of possible topics:

Everything You Need to Know About Creating and Launching a Successful Blog:
In this intensive workshop, we'll show you how to lay the proper groundwork for your blog, and get it off the ground. All elements will be covered, including creating a monitoring system first, then choosing your blog's focus, and how to handle trouble issues that may arise as your blog grows. I'll break down the four elements of a successful blog, and how you can correct any problems you may have with your existing blog. We'll also cover handling blog comments, building your blog's readership, and how you can position your blog to better achieve your larger business goals.

Creating a Social Media Strategy:
This workshop will first give you an overview of each subset of social media, such as blogs, social networks, micro-blogs, and using podcasts/videos. After we cover what these tools are, we'll then break down each tool's strengths and weaknesses in helping you reach your larger business goals. We'll also focus on the time and manpower requirements for each. Finally, we'll talk about which tool is best for you, or if you should incorporate multiple social media sites/tools together to reach your business objectives.

Finally, I also offer extensive 1-day coaching sessions for blogging businesses. I'll meet with your blog's writers on-site, and we'll spend the day dissecting every element of your blog and examine how effective your blogging efforts are in reaching your larger business goals. I'll take the time to coach each of your writers on their writing style, so we make sure that your blog content is positioned with your reader's best interests in mind. We'll also cover what your writers can do to encourage more comments and interaction with visitors on your blog. Additionally, I'll show your writers how to monitor their blog's traffic for patterns that can help them better understand what topics are resonating with your readers. Finally, we'll make sure your business has a solid system in place to monitor the blogosphere and other social sites so that you are aware of all feedback that current and potential customers are leaving about your business.

Please email me for a quote on the price of this service.

I also frequently speak at industry conferences and events. You can see me present at the following events (updated regularly so please check back):

Blogging Fundamentals
Webinar (Marketing Profs) - March 26th, 2009

From Blah to Blockbuster; How You Can Build a Blog that Excites Your Customers Webinar (Marketing Profs) - March 27th, 2009

Online Media Bootcamp - Philadelphia, April 9 2009

Social Media Club Workshops - Birmingham, Alabama, April 27 2009

Marketing Profs B2B Forum - Boston, MA, June 8-9 2009

Small Business Marketing Unleashed - Fall 2009 (Tentative)

Learn About Web - Denver, September 14-15 2009

Here's a short video interview that WebProNews conducted with me after a recent speaking engagement:

Here's what conference organizers and audience members have said about my presentations:

"Mack was hired as a speaker for our first Learn About Web conference. He was a fan favorite. He helped bridge the gap for companies who want to use blogging as a marketing tool in a way they could understand. Highly recommended for your conference, he will speak at more of ours!" - Craig Sutton, Learn About Web

"(your presentation) inspired me to love blogging again" - Li Evans, Search Marketing Gurus

"you rocked the house on your blogging for business session" - Jennifer Laycock, Small Business Marketing Unleashed

Here's what other marketing thought leaders have said about me and my writings:

“When it comes to using technology to bring the community of your customers closer together, there simply isn't a more creative visionary than Mack Collier." - Jordan Behan, Owner Tell Ten Friends Marketing

"If you claim to be interested in where marketing is heading, then you really ought to take a look at Mack Collier and his Viral Garden-which is turning out to be an interesting case study in how to grow your personal brand in record time." - David Armano, VP of Experience Design with Critical Mass

"Mack shares simple truths about building and feeding a blog audience. The piece should be required reading for any blogger, seasoned or just getting started." - John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing

“Mack's ability to focus solely on the community's needs solidifies his reputation as a marketer who practices what he preaches." - Mario Sundar, Community Evangelist at LinkedIn

"Mack Collier is an evangelist's evangelist." - Ben McConnell, author of "Citizen Marketers" and "Creating Customer Evangelists"

"I thought your blog was great, why would I not!!" - Terry McBride, CEO of Nettwerk Music

Pic via Flickr user Storyspinn

Pic of SXSW panel via Flickr user Jeremiah

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Bloggers; Know thy traffic

I absolutely obsess over my blog's traffic. Not so much the actual numbers, but I want to know where the traffic is coming from. Can you name the top referring site to your blog? You should be able to.

By watching my traffic like a hawk, I can get a better idea of what content is resonating with my readers, AND where those readers are coming from. Case in point, here is my monthly Sitemeter traffic for 2008:

Now notice two things. Notice there was a big spike in traffic in June and July, then another in November and December. The first spike happened due to my using Plurk(which I joined in June), and linking to new posts from there. I was heavy into Plurk for a couple of months, then my usage scaled back. Around October or so I started using Twitter much more, and sure enough, there's a traffic spike in November and December. The two most active months ever for me on Twitter? You guessed it, November and December.

But I wouldn't have noticed that Plurk and Twitter were big sources of traffic for my blog if I hadn't closely examined my traffic referrals via SiteMeter and Google Analytics. After seeing which sites were driving traffic to my blog, that helped me change my usage to make better use of my time. Both SiteMeter and Google Analytics are free, so you really should be using one of them, or another free tool such as StatCounter to track your traffic.

Here's another example of why you should keep a very close eye on your blog's traffic. I closely track my feed subscribers with Feedburner. Now on the surface, the overall number is growing steadily as it has for a couple of years now. That's great. But I started digging deeper into the breakdown of my subscriber numbers, and found that my number of email subscribers (which is counted as part of the total subscriber numbers that FB reports) is surging. For example, I now have 275 email subscribers, and added 48 last month alone. For reference, I only added 9 email subscribers in December of 2007.

Now after studying my blog traffic closely, I know that Twitter is currently the top referring site to this blog. And after studying a breakdown of my feed subscribers, I see that email subscriptions are growing at a quicker rate than people that are subscribing to the blog's feed via a feed reader such as Google Reader or Bloglines.

Are the two related? I think they might be, because my number of Twitter followers has also surged in the past couple of months, and more importantly, many of these new followers appear to be people that have recently joined Twitter. So I am picking up a lot of followers that are new to Twitter, and at the same time I am seeing my email subscriptions surge as well. That suggests to me that many of the new followers I am gaining are also subscribing to this blog's feed, but via email.

One big hint that this is happening came a couple of weeks ago when Tom Martin mentioned me in this article he wrote for Ad Age. He posted the Twitter links to myself and several other social media mavens. I picked up over 100 Twitter followers that day, and I noticed that most of them were only following the few people that Tom mentioned in his Ad Age piece. Many of them also hadn't updated their Twitter account yet. So it was obvious that many had read Tom's article, and decided to join Twitter, and follow the people that he mentioned(thanks again, Tom!).

And here's the clincher. That article went out in Ad Age's newsletter on the 17th, and I added 11 email subscribers that same day, out of 49 for the month.

So from all of this analyzing and obsessing over my blog's traffic and analytics, I can assume that my readership is trending more toward those that are new to social media. This suggests to me that the content I create here some begin to move toward being instructional, and more 'Social Media 101'. Or it could also suggest that launching a newsletter aimed at sharing tips for those new to social media, would be a good idea.

But the bottom-line at the end of this long-winded post is that you should always study your traffic very closely. Studying the raw numbers really isn't that important, understanding that those numbers are REAL PEOPLE, and then understanding what's motivating them to read your blog is what matters.