Wednesday, January 27, 2010

#blogchat update for Feb - Music Marketing and Corporate Blogging!

Big update for February as a couple of super smart co-hosts have agreed to join us for #blogchat.

First, if aren't sure what #blogchat is, it's a chat that happens every Sunday nite on Twitter at 8pm Central. We talk about topics related to personal, professional and business blogging. Occasionally we stray off and talk about broader issues relating to social media, but for the most part we are blog-centric in our discussions.

You can follow #blogchat on the web here or here, and you can get the background on how it came to be here.

Now for the real news; after getting feedback from you guys in the previous post, I've decided to move the first two #blogchats in February to Monday nite, to avoid conflicts with the Super Bowl, and Valentine's Day.

And on the 8th, the fantabulous @MissKatieMo has agreed to join us to discuss music marketing, and how musicians can connect with their fans via social media (especially blogging). Katie is the current Marketing Manager for Ripple6 in NYC, and also handles marketing and promotions for the music label Pressing Issues, dubbed 'The World's First Democratic Dubstep Label'. Plus she has an excellent blog, Candid Katie. Anyone that's read this blog for any amount of time knows that music marketing is one of my absolute favorite topics, so I am seriously looking forward to Katie joining us on the 8th.

The topic for the 15th is still to be determined, but on the 21st we go back to Sunday nites, AND will be joined by none other than Dell's Chief Blogger Lionel Menchaca! Lionel is widely recognized as one of the very best corporate bloggers on the planet, and he'll be joining us to discuss how corporate bloggers craft their content. Thanks to @kseniacoffman for suggesting this topic!

As you can guess, I am seriously pumped about both of these chats, as these are two of my favorite topics and Katie and Lionel are two of my favorite people! BTW a reminder, this Sunday's #blogchat is Open Mic, meaning YOU decide what we talk about!

Oh and to get you in the mood for Katie's #blogchat on the 8th, here's my favorite presentation ever, What Rockstars Can Teach You About Kicking Ass With Social Media!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

#blogchat 1-24 recap; Dealing with and avoiding blogger burnout!

First, if you missed #blogchat, here is the transcript.

Second, if you have no idea what #blogchat is, it's a chat on Twitter that happens every Sunday nite at 8pm Central. We discuss a different topic every week that relates to blogging. EVERYONE is welcome to participate, and here's a good way to keep up with the chat on the web. If you have a Twitter account, you can join by adding the #blogchat hashtag to your tweets.

Our topic this week was dealing with and avoiding blogger burnout. This is something that I've been dealing with from time to time, and from the #blogchat crowd, here are some tips to coping with burnout:

1 - Shift gears and use Twitter more as inspiration for posts - @armano
2 - Set realistic goals and focus on fewer topics on your blog - @mackcollier
3 - Draw inspiration for topics from other blogs and books - @wayneliew
4 - Avoid potential burnout for the reader AND blogger with fewer, higher quality posts - @verilliance
5 - Switch things up and try doing a podcast or video post - @mtlb
6 - Bring in new bloggers or have others do Guest posts - @eric_urbane
7 - Try using an editorial calendar for your blog - @jdebberly
8 - Keep a notebook with you to jot down post ideas - @lorieahuston
9 - Write about topics you are passionate about, not to get traffic - @sarahmaeblogs
10 - Tag posts in Google Reader that can be inspiration for future posts - @tamcdonald
11 - Check out your blog's archives to see if you can find a new take - @amanda_pants
12 - Find connections between two unusual topics - @pcaveney
13 - See what others are talking about, which topics are popular - @eljadaae

Those are some ideas, there are definitely a ton more here in the transcript.

Now, I wanted to talk to you guys about the short-term and long-term future of #blogchat. First, #blogchat is growing like a weed in the Southern summertime. Sunday's #blogchat was our more active yet, with over 1,600 tweets, which I think makes #blogchat the most active chat on Twitter right now. Thanks again to ALL of you that make that possible!

For the next few weeks, the topics and schedule is in a bit of flux. Next Sunday (Jan 31st) is the final Sunday of the month, so it will be Open Mic, meaning there is NO set topic, and everyone can talk about whatever they want. It will be semi-organized chaos and a total blast.

After the 31st is when we run into some problems. Because the Sunday after that is Super Bowl Sunday, and I don't think we want to have a #blogchat opposite the Super Bowl. And the Sunday after that is Valentine's Day, which will also be tough for a lot of people to make.

So here's our options for these two weeks, let me know which one is your favorite:

1 - Cancel #blogchat for both weeks and pick up #blogchat on Feb 21st (definitely NOT my choice)

2 - Cancel #blogchat on Super Bowl Sunday, and pick it back up on Valentine's Day

3 - Move #blogchat from Sunday, Feb 7th, to Monday, Feb 8th, and cancel the #blogchat on Valentine's Day.

4 - Move #blogchat to Monday on Feb 8th and 15th, then back to Sundays starting on the 21st.

Let me know which option is your favorite! BTW we will have a major co-host on the 21st, and possibly one the week before if we can get the schedule worked out.

Now, another question is the long-term schedule for #blogchat. As I said, #blogchat is really starting to take off. But one complaint I consistently hear about the chat is that a lot of people say they have trouble making #blogchat on Sunday nite. So I wanted to throw this out there; How many of you would like to see #blogchat moved to another nite, and if so, which nite? If we do move #blogchat, my choice would be Thursday, since that nite seems to have fewer chats. But let me know what you guys think.

So please let me know what you guys think for the schedule for next month, and long-term which nite you'd like to see #blogchat from now on. If you're gold with it being on Sunday, let me know that as well.

And finally, thank you guys SO much for making #blogchat the success it has become. This REALLY is due to you guys. If I had used #blogchat as my soapbox and had tried to dominate the conversation each week, I promise you that #blogchat wouldn't be nearly as popular as it is. YOU guys are why #blogchat is so popular, and never forget it! Thank you thank you thank you!

UPDATE: Dell's Chief Blogger Lionel Menchaca has been confirmed as co-host for #blogchat on February 21st ;)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Case Study: How MarketingProfs uses Twitter

Over on this week we've had a fabulous discussion about what happens if your company has 1 person that's handling your social media strategy, and then they leave. In the post, I referenced how MarketingProfs does a great job leveraging Twitter to connect with its users.

And then I got to thinking that other companies could definitely learn from what MP is doing with Twitter. So I fired off an email to Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs (and all-round superheroine in the true 70s SuperFriends sense of the word), and she quickly agreed to share with us the following interview. Now I think most of my readers know this, but here are the disclaimers for this post:

1 - I frequently write articles for MarketingProfs, and posts for the company's blog, Daily Fix.

2 - I think Ann Handley is the bee's knees and she's one of my favorite people on the planet.

And I also think that companies, especially startups and virtual companies, can REALLY learn from how MarketingProfs uses Twitter. Here's my interview with Ann:

Mack Collier - Why Twitter? What did you see in the site that made you think that maybe it could work for MarketingProfs?

Ann Handley - Actually, at first... I didn't see anything worthwhile. Twitter makes a terrible first impression: All that senseless chatter about what someone ate for lunch, and what movie someone just saw, and stupid video links, and other inaneness....

And it is persistent! A bunch of people broadcasting their thoughts and feelings all day? Where's the value in that? I created an account for MarketingProfs, then abandoned it promptly.

MC - Was there one 'it' moment that made you realize that Twitter was going to help MarketingProfs? If so, what was it?

AH - But still, people I like and respect were crazy about Twitter. I started to wonder if I wasn't missing out on something.

Then one day, when I popped in to Twitter per chance, I happened to see a New York Times (@nytimes) news tweet. It was a tweet generated automatically from a simple news feed, and it wasn't a particularly big news story, even. But nonetheless, as I was watching, a few other people on Twitter started commenting on it. And some retweeted it. Meanwhile, the story wasn't even yet on the NY Times home page.

That was the a-ha moment for me: when I saw that with Twitter came tremendous opportunity to report, filter, and engage. Later, a plane would land in the Hudson, and there would be wildfires in California, and demonstrating in Iran, and so much more (Obama, Susan Boyle, Motrin Moms, and a thousand moments in between).

Later, we'd really see the power of Twitter first-hand, and Steven Berlin Johnson (@stevenbjohnson) in his Time magazine cover story (June, 2009) would describe it in a way I would immediately grok: "Twitter matters because it's about what matters."
Soon after, I would realize that the potential for business is huge: a platform that allows you to engage, directly, with prospects and customers. A platform that affords a way to humanize your brand. A way to service. A way to deepen and develop relationships (and the art of doing that, which is an interview all to itself....)

But that moment with the forgotten NY Times story was a glimpse.

MC - You are now one of many MP employees on Twitter, but I believe you were the first one, right?

AH - Yes. I was.

MC - Did you have to twist any arms internally to get others from MP on board, or did they see the value as well? How did you sell them on the value of Twitter?

AH - It was an evolution.

One of the great things about working for a small company is that you can often have a lot of autonomy, and an ability to experiment. There's an element of fearlessness in a start-up that I love: A sense of that it's okay to give things a shot, even with the understanding that it might not work out, and you might be wrong. So it was in that spirit that I launched @MarketingProfs on Twitter.

Like a lot of people who thrive in that kind of atmosphere, I have a touch of what my friend Peter Shankman (@skydiver) calls ADOS -- "Attention Deficit... Oooh! Shiny!" Twitter specifically, and social media generally, appealed to me much the way that the Internet itself appealed to me a decade ago: It was a new frontier, and WOW. Wait a sec: Let's see how far we can go....

So I embraced Twitter first, with encouragement from Jeremiah Owyang (@jowyang), who was then still with Podtech (before he went to Forrester). I operated under the radar for a while, both within MarketingProfs and externally. Which was good, as it turns out, because I made plenty of mistakes. I didn't embrace Twitter wholeheartedly. I wasn't transparent and didn't identify that it was me behind the account. I spent some time as a broadcaster: All I did was tweet out MarketingProfs headlines. I didn't discuss (I didn't "at" people). I didn't follow back.

I'm embarrassed by all that now, but at the same time, it was a necessary step in the process.

Gradually, others within MarketingProfs started to embrace Twitter, too. CEO Allen Weiss (@allenweiss) and our seminar den mother, Shelley Ryan (@shelleyryan), were among the first to embrace Twitter as a way to further our brand and connect with customers. Since then, many more have joined -- including our Customer Service "head ninja" Penny Fiederlein (@pennosh), Director of Advertising Sharon Hudson (@sharihudson), President Roy Young (@royprofs), Community Manager Beth Harte (@bethharte), Director of Publications Vahe Habeshian (@habesh) and more.... You can follow the whole MarketingProfs crew (all 21 of us!) here on the "Profs People" list:

I've never pushed the social agenda within MarketingProfs. In a way, MarketingProfs is like any other company: There are those who are suited to social media and those who are not. We encourage those who are suited to it and have a love and passion for it... but we don't mandate participation or even encourage those who do not.

To what end?

MC - In the framework of Marketing Profs' social media strategy, where does Twitter fit in? Is it the centerpiece? Or is Daily Fix? How do you rank the tools in terms of importance for MP?

AH - I see Twitter as key to our social strategy. There isn't anything we find as useful in terms of immediacy for connecting with potential subscribers and readers, or talking to our members, or listening to what marketers care about, or learning what resonates with them, or fixing complaints, or getting feedback, or joking around, or even simply informing those about what we're working on -- about our new Affiliate Program, for example, or new research, or whatever the case.

That said, our blog is key, too. You were a founding contributor to that, so you know how much I value it. But Twitter allows us a breadth and immediacy that's unique. Do I hope that my 50,000+ followers will become subscribers? Absolutely. Do I hope that, even better, that they'll become paid members, and pay us to access our research and seminar and case study collections? Absolutely. But regardless, I'm resolute in my belief that the connections I build there pay off, one way or another, for the business, for me, and for the group of followers themselves.

Maybe not right away. But I'm nothing if not patient.

Thanks Ann! Ok, two things that really stuck out to me from reading Ann's answers:

1 - Love this quote from Ann on why she started using Twitter: "But still, people I like and respect were crazy about Twitter. I started to wonder if I wasn't missing out on something." That is the EXACT reason why I started using Twitter. I couldn't see the value, but I kept seeing smart people like @Armano and @KatieChatfield using Twitter, so I figured if they are using Twitter, there must be something there.

2 - She started out using Twitter as a broadcast tool. Yes that's right, most of the people that NOW use social media very well, got to that point through trial and error. And honestly, I used Twitter in the same way at first (*blush*).

Thanks again Ann, oh and MarketingProfs is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. Congrats!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Is social media growing up?

There's been some big news in the past few weeks concerning some of the top names in the social media and new media space. First, David Armano signed on to join Edelman PR in Chicago. Then Geoff Livingston, Beth Kanter and Kami Huyse pooled their collective genius to start Zoetica Media. Next was Powered acquiring Crayon, and today, BL Ochman announced she was joining Proof Digital Media. In addition, Susan alerted me to the fact that some big names such as McDonalds and IBM are hiring key social media positions.

I think this signals two trends that we'll see more of in 2010;

1 - People that have demonstrated value in the social media space will either have opportunities for advancement, or to strike out in new enterprises.

2 - Companies are getting serious about investing in these people.

But notice too that these aren't people that are well-versed in social media, they are smart marketers that ALSO get social media. This is the key, and it's what companies and clients are looking for. The days of the standalone consultant that only deals with social media tools are all but over. Companies are looking for ways to INTEGRATE social media with other areas of marketing and communications. Beth Harte had a great tweet the other nite during #blogchat, where she said she didn't want to hire a social media consultant, she wanted to hire a marketing consultant that understands social media.

Personally, I'm excited to see my friends doing so well, and I am excited for this space because I think these moves and this shift in focus helps legitimize the entire space. This is also why I've never worried about the so-called 'flood of social media consultants' or the 'scammers'. The market will bear out the people that are doing quality work, from the ones that are not. I don't have time to focus on whether or not someone has the expertise to be a quality social media consultant, I'm too busy building my OWN expertise. The market always corrects itself.

What do you think? Are these moves only the start and will we see more in the coming months? Or are we in for a quiet 2010?

UPDATE: Jake reminded me that two of the smartest people in the space (and two of my heroes), Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba, joined Ant's Eye View about 2 months ago. Another example of smart people coming together in this space.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Pepsi dumps buying Super Bowl ads, will give away money instead

A major story hit the advertising industry over the Christmas holidays as Pepsi announced for the first time since the mid 80s, the soft drink maker will NOT buy advertising during the Super Bowl. Instead, Pepsi will invest $20M in a social media campaign called The Pepsi Refresh Project. This campaign looks to fund community-based projects based on several themes such as Health, Arts and Culture, The Planet, and Education.

Needless to say, this is a pretty big marketing shift for one of the world's biggest brands. And it will be interesting to see if other big brands follow suit. Connie Bensen says this move is a sign of three trends converging:

  • Social media marketing becoming mainstream
  • Community-building taking priority over the 30-second ad
  • Brands leveraging multiple channels rather than just television
But the question remains; Will this campaign ultimately build Pepsi's brand and sell more product?

First, there's the execution. Starting on Wednesday, you can submit your ideas for a project that you want Pepsi to fund. We can then vote on our favorites, and the winners will be selected based on number of votes. You can learn more about the selection process here. It sounds like the process will be similar to how Dell utilizes IdeaStorm to crowdsource ideas.

So the thinking is that people that submit ideas and have them approved for voting, will then utilize social sites and channels to promote their idea, and by extension, the Refresh Project, and Pepsi itself. That will likely happen. So the buzz-building element is there, the question becomes, will the buzz be sustainable and beneficial to Pepsi, or more for the project itself?

I think the best chance for this buzz to grow into sustainable passion for the Pepsi brand will come at the local level, in the communities where these projects will be completed. As a result, I think it would be a very wise move for Pepsi to reach out to its evangelists to help with the selection of the projects, and ultimately, their execution.

Think about it, what better way to promote your brand in a positive light than to invest money in projects that benefit communities AND have your most passionate fans be the people that work to complete these projects? THAT would make this project a huge home run for Pepsi, and it will be interesting to see if Pepsi plans on bring their evangelists into the mix to help them with this campaign.

What do you think of The Pepsi Refresh Project? If you had a $20M budget, would you spend it on this project, or buy about 6 Super Bowl ads?

Monday, January 04, 2010

How should bloggers attempt to monetize their content?

Last nite we had another fabulous #blogchat discussion on how bloggers should attempt to monetize their blogs, and which options would work best for the blogger, and their readers. If you want to catch up, here's where you can read the transcript from last nite's chat.

And the big issue/problem is that the overwhelming majority of blogs are written by an individual, and likely have very low readership numbers. So that means that any monetization effort that hinges on traffic/pageviews probably isn't going to work for these bloggers.

So does that mean that most individual bloggers are left out in the cold when it comes to making money off their blogs? I don't think so, and neither did many of the participants in last nite's #blogchat. Because while many individual bloggers might have low readership numbers, they often seem to have more INFLUENCE over that smaller readership. I know from my own experience both as a blogger and reader that many smaller blogs have more interaction and community on their blogs than blogs with 100X the traffic.

And this is where I think sponsorships could be a better alternative for many of these bloggers, and companies as well. For example, what makes more sense for Jones Soda, to buy ads on a blog devoted to sodas that gets 15,000 visitors a day, or to sponsor Katie's blog for a month, who only gets 150 visitors a day (mostly her friends and family), but who constantly blogs about her love of her favorite soft drink; Jones Soda. The ads on the first blog would probably more expensive, and for Katie's blog, since she loves Jones Soda, it's completely possible that she would be ok with being paid in soda, instead of cash. Or a combination of the two.

By going with Katie, Jones Soda gets a sponsorship on a blog that's already evangelizing their product, versus one that covers the larger industry. And they likely get that sponsorship for less. And for Katie's readers, the sponsorship would like be less intrusive than an ad from a company that Katie doesn't love like she loves Jones Soda.

Sounds like a win-win for both the blogger and the company. So why aren't these sponsorships happening more often? We talked about this as well during #blogchat, and the consensus seems that there's a real opportunity for a company/agency to serve as a facilitator of such sponsorships, especially ones where companies are connected to their blogging evangelists.

But until that go-between presents itself, perhaps both bloggers and companies should be more proactive in seeking out blog sponsorships. As a blogger, if you're interested in having sponsorships on your blog, why not create a page that states this? I have never accepted ads on this blog (I've had affiliate links a couple of times), and have never really wanted to. But I would be interested in a sponsorship if it was with a company I was passionate about. I think many bloggers would as well.

And for companies, it would be a great way to reach out to and embrace your blogging evangelists. But you could also use blog sponsorships as a way to promote your OWN blog. Let's be honest, many company blogs have little to no readership simply because the company's bloggers often don't/can't invest the time and effort necessary to drive interest back to the blog and grow its readership.

But blog sponsorships could be a great way to get a company blog off the ground. Let's say a company that sells a unique environmentally-friendly clothing line launches a company blog. Buying sponsorships on select blogs devoted to the environment and targeting environmental activists could be a great way for this company to reach the exact readership it's looking for its blog (and clothing line) to resonate with. This could be a much better use of the company's time, at least at first.

What do you think? Are blog sponsorships holding great potential that hasn't yet been tapped? Or are there better alternatives for bloggers that want to monetize their content?

BTW if you want to get in on the next #blogchat, it happens every Sunday nite at 8pm CT on Twitter. And if you're new to #blogchat, next week is the perfect time to join in, as next week will be co-hosted by a social media smartie a *few* of you have probably heard of, the amazing Beth Harte! Beth and I will be discussing how social media consultants should use social media themselves. If you want to join us, stop by at 8pm CT next Sunday!