Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Is your blog chasing numbers or dollars?

If you think about it, Twitter can get you in trouble sometimes.

You are cranky, it's been a long day, you need to vent. So you write a nice stress-relieving post to your blog. Totally out of character with what you normally write, but you need the release.

And wouldn't you know it, everyone loves the damn post! It gets dozens of RTs on Twitter, and traffic spikes for the day as you are left scratching your head. "So you mean to tell me that every day I am plugging along blogging about my biz, and getting little interaction, but the post where I rant about my day is the one that everyone loves?"

Yep, it happens that way sometimes.

But here is where you have to be VERY careful. While it's great that you got a lot of RTs and a nice bump in traffic from that post, did it make you any money? Or if you are looking for more comments, or more email newsletter signups or whatever metric you track to judge your blog's success. Did that ranty post move that needle?

Because if it didn't, those numbers might be temporarily good for your ego, but long-term it probably won't mean much.

And I see bloggers do this ALL the time. Even 'popular' ones. I have done it myself in the past. This is probably the most popular post I have ever written. It got dozens of comments, hundreds of RTs, and traffic during the day it was published was equal to what I would normally get in two weeks.

But I never had a client tell me they contacted me because of that post. The clients I've gotten have mostly been from writing 'dry' content that didn't get a lot of RTs, but it helped a company solve a social media business problem they were having. It established my expertise, and made them feel comfortable in reaching out to me.

Now that's not to say that the occasional ranty post or one that's completely different from your standard blogging fare isn't a good idea. Because you SHOULD shake things up every once in a while. But in general, if your blog posts aren't reaching your desired audience, how valuable are they?

Chasing numbers is fine, as long as the dollars are following them. Otherwise it's just an ego play.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Want to be a social media expert? Break stuff.

Recently I did something to that I thought I'd never do. For a couple of weeks, I switched the feed for from a full to a partial feed for subscribers. I *hate* reading blogs that publish partial feeds, because it forces me to click over to the blog to read the entire post.

So why would I do this to one of my own sites? Because I didn't *know* what would happen. I didn't know how readers would react. I didn't know if there would be fewer comments, or more. For the record, neither traffic nor comments seemed to be affected, so I switched the feed back to full.

That's the thing about social media, it's still new. For all the '10 Steps to Building a Better Blog/Facebook Fan Page/Twitter Presence' posts, we don't KNOW what all the rules are. And the people that use social media the most efficiently, are often the people that have broken the most stuff. They are the ones that tinker, that experiment. They constantly change their blog's layout, or the content on their Facebook page. One of the reasons why I love Twitter is because the way I use Twitter is constantly evolving. I am always tweaking and changing the way I use the tool to connect with other people.

Want to be a social media expert? Break stuff. Color outside the lines. Write longer posts than you usually do, write shorter ones. Ignore all the rules.

When you think you've mastered one tool, that's probably the best time to mix things up. I remember Kathy Sierra once wrote that experts are often the people that always think 'there must be a better way' to do something, no matter how 'good' they got at it.

Monday, April 26, 2010

How to make a (blogging) name for yourself

When I started blogging in 2005, no one knew who I was. Actually many people still don't, as evidenced by the fact that many people think my name is 'Mark' ;) But over time, a few people did figure out who I was, and I wanted to share with you how I got my name out there, in case it might help you. In short, I did two things:

1 - I was relentless in embracing the people that were commenting on, and linking to my blog. I started reading, linking to, and commenting on any blog that linked here, or if the blogger commented here. I even started a post series called 'Viral Community News' that only focused on posts/articles from people that were commenting here, and linking here. These days I've moved my linking and commenting mostly to Twitter. This created a vibrant community here, and these bloggers helped promote me to their readers and contacts as well.

And as the individual bloggers that I embraced developed their own communities, that meant I was being exposed to an even larger audience. No reason why this can't work for you as well.

2 - I challenged bloggers when I thought they were wrong. More importantly, I challenged the so-called 'A-Lister' bloggers. Now there's a difference between disagreeing, and being disagreeable. I didn't purposely LOOK for name bloggers to disagree with, but if a big name blogger said something I didn't buy, I would leave a comment saying so.

And sometimes I was dead wrong. But in the end, I expressed my opinion, and I think that sometimes stood out if no one else was disagreeing with the points raised by the blogger. This is big because I don't think we see enough of this on blogs today. And when we do see someone challenging a blogger, they often go overboard, usually writing a post that outright attacks the blogger, in an apparent effort to draw attention to themselves.

The ironic part is that most bloggers WANT their readers to voice disagreement with them sometimes. Because if someone here raises an opposing point, that then opens up the door for OTHERS to agree with that blogger, and suddenly the chances of getting more comments and a richer conversation, greatly increases.

So in closing, if you are a newish blogger looking to make a name for yourself, try going out of your way to comment/link to the bloggers that do the same for you, and don't be afraid to voice your opinions. What other tips can you offer for new bloggers looking to make a name for themselves?

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Guide to Leveraging #blogchat For Your Own Personal Gain

As #blogchat has continued to become more popular on Twitter, it means that more people are discovering the chat for the first time, which is awesome. I'm seeing new participants every week.

However, I'm also seeing a few people that are trying to capitalize on the popularity of #blogchat, by trying to bring extra exposure to their own efforts. Since most of these efforts seem to be mostly irritating the #blogchat community instead of exciting them, I decided to create the Guide to Leveraging #Blogchat For Your Own Personal Gain. This guide can easily be applied to any other twitter chat. The end result is that I *want* you to be able to leverage #blogchat as a channel to bring more exposure to your blogging efforts. I really do...but it won't happen unless you follow these guidelines:

1 - Understand that you have to make deposits before you can make withdrawals. What this means is that if you expect the #blogchat community to pay attention to your site, you need to first pay attention to the #blogchat community. You need to 'earn' the right to our attention. How do you do this? One good way is to first PARTICIPATE in a few #blogchats. Give us a chance to get to know you, who you are, and why we should care about what you are doing on your blog.

And an important clarification needs to be made here. By 'participating', I don't mean that you simply start linking to your blog posts DURING #blogchat. No, I mean that you join in the DISCUSSION happening during #blogchat.

2 - Stay on topic. If next week we decide to discuss ways to analyze your blog's stats to optimize content and YOU link to your latest post on choosing a Wordpress template AND you add the #blogchat hashtag to your tweet, then you are spamming the #blogchat channel on Twitter. Period.

3 - Promote other people. Let's say in the above example you clearly haven't written a post associated with that #blogchat topic, but you know that Jake has. Link to his post and add the #blogchat hashtag. By doing this you are creating value for the #blogchat followers and participants. This GREATLY improves the chance that we will click your next link.

4 - Use common sense. This isn't rocket science people, it's just social media. If you never participate in #blogchats and the only time we see you use the #blogchat hashtag is when you are tweeting a link to your newest blog post (that has nothing to do with the current #blogchat topic), then you are spamming us. And you know you are, so stop. It's not providing any value for us, and as a result, it's not helping you either.

So in closing, here is how to leverage #blogchat correctly for your own personal gain:

1 - Participate and join in on #blogchat discussions.
2 - Only promote your links if they are relevant and add to #blogchat discussion.
3 - Promote the work of other #blogchat participants.
4 - Use common sense. If it even smells like spam, it probably is.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The problem with case studies

When I speak at social media events and conferences, my presentations are usually very well received and the audience typically finds great value in them. The main reason why (I think), is because I tell stories. My presentations always include a lot of case studies from companies that are successfully leveraging social media to grow their businesses.

But case studies alone aren't that significant, and many companies misuse them. Because too many companies want to hear successful case studies, then replicate what those companies did.

The key isn't copying another company, the key is to understand what worked, and why. Then take the lesson learned from that case study, and apply it to your own efforts.

Graco launched a blog and saw amazing results. But just because blogging has worked for Graco doesn't mean it will work for your company. The success didn't lie with the blog, it was in how Graco created and executed its blogging strategy.

Is your competitor seeing Twitter drive sales to its store? Awesome. Does that mean that you need to get on Twitter too, or that you need to understand how your competitor is leveraging social media to grow its business?

Social media case studies are incredibly valuable IF you can learn how and why social media worked in that particular instance, and apply that lesson to your own efforts. Otherwise you'll always be chasing the 'next big thing', and never quite catch it.

Monday, April 12, 2010

How conversational are Twitter's power users in the social media space?

Stefano alerted me to a Twitter screenshot that suggests that a Twitter homepage redesign is coming. An interesting element of this redesign would include showing what percentage of the user's recent tweets were replies to other users. I've always been interested in how people use Twitter, especially as a conversation platform.

So Stefano's screenshot got me to wondering how some of Twitter's 'power' users are using Twitter, and what percentage of their tweets are replies. So I went to TweetStats, and pulled up the stats for a few dozen of Twitter's power users, and found the following. First you'll see their Twitter name (with link to their TweetStats), and then the percentage of their tweets that include a '@'. Now it should be noted that if a user leaves a tweet like "@bethharte just wrote this great post on SM ROI -", that would still be factored in the percentage, even though it obviously is someone mentioning Beth in a link, not replying to her. Still, the percentages give you a good idea of which power users and 'influentials' in the social media space are using Twitter as a conversational tool, and which aren't:

  1. ComcastCares - 95.34%
  2. AmberCadabra - 83.01%
  3. LizStrauss - 82.21%
  4. BethHarte - 78.04%
  5. JeffPulver - 74.94%
  6. KrisColvin - 72.84%
  7. MackCollier - 72.27%
  8. TheBrandBuilder - 71.96%
  9. JSPepper - 71.07%
  10. ShannonPaul - 69.79%
  11. GeekMommy - 69.32%
  12. MariSmith - 69.26%
  13. ConnieReece - 69.01%
  14. MediaPhyter - 67.87%
  15. MarketingProfs - 67.67%
  16. ConversationAge - 67.52%
  17. Armano - 64.09%
  18. ChrisBrogan - 61.2%
  19. ShelIsrael - 59.96%
  20. BeckyMcCray - 59.18%
  21. GaryVee - 58.28%
  22. MarshaCollier - 55.51%
  23. ServantofChaos - 54.81%
  24. CSPenn - 49.15%
  25. Loic - 48.17%
  26. Scobleizer - 47.67%
  27. JasonFalls - 46.51%
  28. PRSarahEvans - 45.55%
  29. ProBlogger - 44.85%
  30. CopyBlogger - 44.03%
  31. MissRogue - 40.24%
  32. GapingVoid - 39.93%
  33. GuyKawasaki - 29.04%
  34. BrianSolis - 28.48%
  35. Pistachio - 28.16%
  36. JOwyang - 26.09%
  37. SteveRubel - 25.05%
  38. MitchJoel - 17.4%
  39. SkyDiver - 11.99%
  40. Mashable - 3.77%

Now there are obviously a few caveats here. Some users, like Comcastcares and AmberCadabra, are using Twitter to provide customer service support as part of their jobs. So that partly accounts for their high reply percentages. On the flipside, some users like Mashable are using Twitter to mostly promote their own stories, so they have few replies. What I think would be interesting would be to see for each user what percentage of their tweets are promoting themselves, and what percentage are promoting someone else.

Still, I think it's an interesting list, take from it what you will ;)

PS: You can check your own Twitter stats by going here -

Monday, April 05, 2010

Upcoming Social Media Conferences for 2010

Recently I was doing some research putting together a list of upcoming social media conferences, and since so many of you are looking for the same information, I thought I'd share my list with you here. I'll keep this updated as I find/hear about new conferences, and if you know of a social media conference that's coming up, please leave a comment so I can add it to the list!

Arizona -
Oct 17-20 BOLO 2010 - Scottsdale, AZ

California -
April 19+ Emerging Communications (eComm) America - Burlingame, CA

April 20-23 NewComm Forum 2010 San Mateo, CA

April 22–23 Forrester’s Marketing Forum 2010 Los Angeles, CA

April 27 Social Business - Mountain View, CA

April 30+ Wisdom 2.0 Conference Mountain View, CA

May 28+ Lightning in a Bottle Irvine, CA

June 9-11 Social Media Summit @ Cisco Headquarters - San Jose, CA

June 14-15 Agency Side - San Diego, CA:

June 16-18 Social Media Conference - Beverly Hills, CA

Florida -
May 03 2010 Search & Social Spring Summit Tampa, FL

Illinois -
April 28 Social Media Bootcamp - Chicago, IL

April 30-May 2 SOBCon - Chicago, IL

May 12-13 Employee Engagement, Social Media and HR 2010 - Chicago, IL

May 14-17 The 2010 NARM Music Business Convention - Chicago, IL

Kansas -
April 29-30 The Free State Social - Lawrence KS

June 4-6 Small Business Social Media Summit - Hutchinson, KS

Massachusetts -
April 8 Social Media Marketing (SMM) | Central Massachusetts
- Natick, MA

May 3 Social Media & Community 2.0 Strategies - Boston, MA:

May 4-5 MarketingProfs B2B Forum - Boston, MA

Michigan -
April 16-17 FutureMidwest Royal Oak, MI

Missouri -
April 19 Social Fresh - St. Louis, MO

Nevada -
July 16-17 Versus Conference - Las Vegas, NV

October 14-16 Blog World Expo - Las Vegas, NV

New York -
April 17 Seven on Seven - New York, NY

July 26-28 Strategic Social Media for Healthcare - NYC

December 8-10 Sm@rt Social Media - Reno, NV

North Carolina -
May 17-19 Search Exchange - Charlotte, NC

Pennsylvania -
May 25 Social Media Plus - Philadelphia, PA

Tennessee -
August 13 At Big South Social Media Summit - Nashville, TN:

Texas -
Sept. 16-17 Social Media Optimization Summit - Dallas, TX

Washington -
June 8-9 Search Marketing Expo – SMX Advanced Seattle - Seattle, WA:

Wisconsin -
May 13-15 unGeeked Elite - Milwaukee, WI:

Online -
May 4-25 Social Media Success Summit 2010