Thursday, October 30, 2008

Trust Agent, Community Managers, Social Media Marketers, Interactive Marketing Strategist.... industry jargon

Bottom line each of these titles does basically the same job. At the end of the day they are just titles, like social media, and people just use these words to try and help explain what they do, why and how they do it. In communication having common terminology and jargon just speeds up the understanding process. In social media we are explorers and scientists in a new field pioneering the murky waters trying to understand what makes the difference between success and failure. The problem is, since all of these buzz words are just new shiny objects that we use and sometimes quickly discard like children in a toy fad, well our customers can't and don't want to keep up. I have hundreds of friends spanning from teens to late 60's who love technology or hate it. Who want to understand it, but don't want to put the time into figuring out even the simplest of terms (or so we like to think).

My guess is that most people reading my blog are in one of the following industries or take a large interest in those industries (correct me if I'm wrong): PR (public relations), Marketing, SEO (search engine optimization), Designers, Web Developers, Social Media, Information architecture, software developers, entrepreneur, traditional media, and every other interactive/advertising agency position -- like account executives etc. Why is this important? Because you know my jargon. Now go out into the real world and meet a friend who works at target, a friend in promotions, a plumber, an engineer, or a handyman. All of these people may or may not be intelligent, but they have their own termonology and do not understand your accronyms. You want a prime example of this? Try reading any military paper work-- or hell just read their monthly newsletter. It is so full of this kind of verbage that if you haven't been in the service their is no way you could even understand the first sentence.

So what am I getting at? Well, think back to when you first joined the industry. Did you know what interactive meant, or how about PR, SEO, the difference between an art director and a creative director, what is a press, who the hell does information architecture or social media? Or hears an easy one, say twitter to a stranger and see if they think your crazy just explaining it. Now those were just the easy ones imagine explaining the difference between search engine marketing and search engine optimization, or brand management, your designs, design testing, design optimization, reputation management, html coding, flash coding, optimizing a press release, what 101001 means, why someone should use or benefit from social media, or what a flight line is. Okay, I just threw in the last one for my pilot friends and to through you off.

Anyway point is we all come from different backgrounds. Even within an agency designers and programmers often have translation troubles. Worse yet is if you don't read blogs, books, magazines, and other industry articles you can quickly fall behind in your own industry. I hate to just call someone out, but for example sake, the PR industry has been a prime example of falling behind. Many don't know very much about social media, seo, optimizing press releases, online press releases...and the list goes on and on. The true victim here would be your clients. So continue to learn, attend industry events, join networking groups, join professional affiliations, volunteer, read, write, and contribute to your industry. You would be surprised at the heights you can reach with a little motivation, networking, and some effort on your part. Oh and when your explaining things to people in other industries, be curtious and remember the old saying: "Keep it simple, Stupid."

If you have anything to add to this feel free to comment below, or contact me on twitter @desaraev. My personal website is if you need an "industry person" to help you out with your marketing, social media, or design needs. As always feel free to take this article and redistribute it as you like, but remember to link back to my blog. It's polite ;)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Spark Some Fun and Creativity with this Inspiration for a Holiday Party Planner

Guest Article by: Lisa Kothari owner of Peppers and Pollywogs, a web-based business All About Kids' Parties.

One of my absolute favorite times of year is Halloween. You can imagine the fun and creativity that a holiday like Halloween sparks in a kids' party planner's mind! Halloween is a perfect holiday to include the entire family in spooks and haunts at your own Monster Mash!

Owning a web-based business in the kids' party industry is excellent for so many reasons, particularly to share Halloween ideas with website visitors, like through my Party Ideas Blog. Answering questions from visitors who have a party-related questions and then adding this content to a library of similar information helps build site content while building a business as a helpful resource. If you offer readers the opportunity to contribute to the party planning ideas they've used for their kid's parties (or ideas for your industry) you both benefit from the new perspective.

Social media tools like Twitter (where I met @desaraev) are also an excellent way to syndicate party ideas beyond your own site. By directly asking the social media community if they could use any Halloween content for a family party, people can directly reach out to people like you and request more information. Syndicating the content will also help you share the information to other sites faster then just promoting yourself on one outlet , like your website, and you can do it on lots of different topics, e.g. spooky snacks, treasure hunt clues, budget-friendly decorations, recycled crafts, etc. people can pick and choose from a variety of topics to showcase to their website visitors. This also spreads the word about your own site and builds up brand reputation and expertise to larger number of people then you would ever reach just leaving information on your own site.

Additionally, it helps to utilize sites like HARO (Help a Reporter Out) to answer any media/press queries on the topic of kids' parties. I am very specific in the way that I respond to a query to give my company the best chance to be featured. Often, these media inquiries are for other on-line publications. Again, being featured in new media press outlets is another way to drive traffic to your website and increase visibility of my expertise.

These strategies don't begin and end with Halloween, however. As an expert in online party planning, I continually utilize my website, press, media relations, and social media tools to drive promotion of my party ideas. It is a great time to have a web-based business because if you utilize these online tools on a consistent basis the cost of promotion is minimal.

Happy Haunting on the web and beyond!

Remember if you have any social media, marketing, or design question you can always find me on twitter @desaraev

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Top 20 Tips for a Successful and Quality Informational Blog

Many marketers will come to companies with a strategy for there marketing, social media, strategy... and so on. In this "strategy" they will include a blog, but a blog is not a means to an end, at least not in itself. You need to know the company's GOAL. Your goal can be to have fresh site content, to inform your readers on a specific topic, to give your customers service tips, to help your potential clients better understand who you are and what you do, or it can be less professional and more personal like a diary.

Who is the company and who will be writing it? Is the company conservative, fun, cynical, corporate, extremely liberal, funny, comical, or just dull and plain? Knowing how they would like to be portrayed will keep you from writing a funny line about the company's services, when you should really be writing an educational piece or a creative how-to. Don't stray from this, you can't one day be snide, the next educational, and five months down the line surprise your readers with a monotone article; well you can do this, but you will likely lose readership.

Do you know why people trust blogs sometimes more then commercials, newspapers, or television? People can begin to trust you and your blog more then traditional media because you are a REAL person. Not that the people behind traditional media outlets are not real, but lets face it when you're writing your opinion it comes across as very personal, passionate, and shows parts of your character. While commercials sometimes feel like people are talking at you and not telling you a story. Newspapers and television will allow you to write in or send them an email, but the editors rarely write back anything that is personalized, if you're luck you could end up in next months editors section for a magazine. With a blog, if anyone writes a comment, I or you can immediately respond to your reader's comments with another comment or a personal email addressing their statement. If the person or company's blog is connected to a personized system of social networks like linkedin, a facebook profile, a twitter account, or has an email address easily available to the readers then they can even privately express themselves to you, the blogger.

Stay focused and be consistent.

Be consistent in your writing and in how often you write. If you know you will be on vacation for a week or a month, write enough posts that you can consistently put out a post a day. If you think a post a day is too hard for you try for at least 2-3 per week. This will keep your readers engaged and wanting more, but they will also understand your not quite their yet to do it daily. Posting regularly will also be good for your search engine optimization (SEO) if your blog is connected to your website or if you link back to your website.

If you have a lot of great things to say, but are like me and could use some (or a lot) of help in the spelling/grammar department; Ask for help. Maybe someone in your company is a journalism major and can proof your posts, always use spell check, do your best to read your work over at least once prior to posting, and if a friendly reader offers you advice or tells you that you made a journalistic or grammatical error, take the advice and edit it. The wonderful thing about a blog versus a newspaper or a book is that once you've posted something it never has to be permanent. So learn from your mistakes and edit them.

Read other peoples blogs. Find the top bloggers, the top bloggers for your industry, and the top bloggers about copywirtting or blogging and READ, READ, READ, and LEARN. It's like a second or third college degree advice FOR FREE. A few good places to find new articles is by sharing articles with friends in google reader, digg, or cullect. You can also find new blogs by asking your friends on twitter, searching technorati, the encyclopedia for social media SNIKI, blog pulse, or just simply by asking your favorite blogger who else you should read.

Do you know why people trust books and newspapers more then bloggers? Because journalists are held to a higher standard of honesty. If they make a mistake and do not take swift action to rectify their mistakes; they can lose public trust, lose their job, or be fined  or sued for things like defimation of character. Show that you have integrity, earn your audience's trust, referance articles or books that helped you write your articles, and if you make a mistake not only correct it, but feel free to write another post or comment on your mistake so that all may learn from it or understand why you made the edit.

If you find a post you like comment on it and link back to any articles that you've written that can referance your points. This could bring you more readers, SEO for your blog (relevant link building), and lets your favorite blogger know that you appreciate their work.

If you have written a great post, make it easy for people to share that information. Adding things like Addthis, feedburner, rss, a subscribe to my blog via email button, or share this on digg button can increase your traffic, let your readers share how much they like you, and overall just makes it easier for them to read your blog in the convenient way THEY want to read it. It's all about them in this case, not you. At least not if you want to keep your readers.

Thank anyone who comments about your posts, or helps you promote it.

Don't just post your articles and hope that they promote themselves. Tell your twitter followers (but don't annoy them with this-- but that's another article on not being self serving). Add your blog to DMOZ, Google, and digg.

Track your blog with google analytics, check how you rank on technorati and blog pulse, if your a company track who is talking about you and your articles using things like techrigy and radian6. If one article or theme gets more readers and comments then another. Obviously write more on this topic, or something similar without beating a dead horse. When a them is definately not working for you, adjust. If you are a plumber obviously don't make your whole blog about landscaping tips. Stay Focused and if you have more then one interest have more then one blog.

Was this article helpful? Did I miss anything you think is important? Let me know if I should add any more tips or just find me on Twitter.
  1. Have a Goal.
  2. Determine the company's voice and you will determine the blogs theme.
  3. Don't bounce around on themes
  4. You are a real person. So act like it.
  5. Make yourself available to your readers and respond to their comments.
  6. Add links to your social media profiles on your blog.
  7. Be consistent and post regularly. For beginners 2-3 times per week. For professionals daily. 
  8. Use a Wordpress blog that is a part of your site, or link back to your site to give your site SEO point for fresh content.
  9. Check your Grammar, Spelling, and edit your mistakes regularly.
  10. Read other people's blogs.
  11. Earn your audience's trust.
  12. Referance books, blogs, newspapers, and articles that you've learned from or have helped you write your article. Try to be as specific as possible.
  13. Search for new blogs or ask a friend what else you should read.
  14. Comment on other people's blogs.
  15. Add buttons so your readers can share your great articles.
  16. Make your articles convenient to subscribe to.
  17. Show your appreciation.
  18. Promote your blog.
  19. Tracking and Analytics are key.
  20. Figure out which themes or articles ar the most successful with your readers and adjust to write about what your readers seem to like the most.
  21. Stay focused on who you are.
  22. Ask for input.

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