Blogging

Using Blogs to Build Your Knowledge of Social Media and Digital Marketing

Many people tend to rely on Support guides, tutorials or articles from sites like Mashable and Search Engineland to inform them of new advances to platforms like AdWords, LinkedIn, Twitter and the like. However, a rich source of information can be found on the corporate blogs of companies like these. Product announcements, feature changes, tutorials, case studies and much more can be found on these sites. Updates and news from these sites can be gleaned by following them either though Wordpess subscription or following them on Twitter and Facebook. What you will find is that many of them are using Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook to let others know about their blog articles. Here are a selection of those sites.

Here are some links to Digital and Social Media Marketing Blogs

Google AdWords Blog
Google Analytics Blog
Google Webmaster Tools Blog
YouTube Blog
Facebook Blog
Twitter Blog
Instagram Blog
LinkedIn Blog
Flipboard Blog
Pinterest Blog
Google Blog (including Google+)
WordPress Blog


How Social Media Adds Value To News Articles

Like me, I'm sure you have seen many examples of where newspapers, news sites and news magazines have used social media to add an extra dimension to their news reporting. Quite often social media is used to offer an audio or video element that text can't; other times yo may find tweets appearing to give another viewpoint and quite often we find blog or tweet widgets appearing in the sidebars of sites to report news from related social media sites. I've got to say that, as long as it is relevant, I think these can be a welcome addition to news articles and help broaden, even reinforce, some of the points that a writer is trying to get across.

Here are some examples that I have picked up today. Please let me know what you think of this use of social media.

Tweets appearing in news article. This article from the BBC about the scramble to get season tickets for Swansea City.

Embedded audio files used in articles. I like this use of AudioBoo by the Guardian (link to AudioBoo recording) to discuss Ratko Mladic's first appearance at the Hague war rimes tribunal.

Use of YouTube videos. Papers like the Daily Mail quite frequently add YouTube clips to articles - especially if those people tend to be celebrities.

Widgets. Papers like the Guardian embed blog or Twitter widegets,  from either jouranlists or 'trusted'sources in the righ-hand side of their web pages. Here is a Guardian blog widget:

And a Twitter widget from the same paper:


Why, Who, What and How to Blog

If you have a blog, you know that you need to update it. You need to feed it every so often. It can be laborious and there are days when you sit in front of the screen and nothing comes into your mind to write. If you look back over my blog articles you will see that there are time when I write frequently and other times you will see the larder is bare for days on end.

Why Blog?

This is an interesting question. From my own perspective I have a few objectives. The first is that I run a digital and social media company and I feel that people expect me as a 'tutor', 'consultant', 'expert' to use the tools that I bang on that others should use! To not blog (tweet, Facebook, etc) would probably be a dereliction of duties. For those who have been on my courses it offers me a way to give them more value out of the service and to update them as to what new courses, clients, technologies, platforms, issues may be of relevance to them.

Another reason is that it offers me more coverage. My website is divided into two parts: the business side and the thought/opinion side. The first part consists of, let's say, 20 pages which are about the consultancy, training, and in-house courses. The second consists of blog posts that cover all angles of social and digital marketing. They amount to just around 700 articles and also provide a source of top-quality referrers from Google searches. This means that there are a number of routes to my services:

Google Search (with service keyword) » Service Pages

Google Search (digital/social keyword) » Blog Article » Service Pages

Twitter Search » Blog Article » Service Pages

Twitter Follower » Blog Article » Service Page

Twitter Follower » Service Page

Facebook Page » Service Page

Facebook Page » Blog Article » Service Page

Blog Articles » Blog Article » Service Page

Blog Articles » Service Page

(and the list goes on)

Who to blog to?

You need to carefully consider who are the people who are going to land on your site or who are those you will direct to your site. I write for clients, potentials clients, collaborators and people generally interested in social media. These people in my mind are marketing managers and directors, pr managers, owners of SME's, customer service people (with an interest in social media), web developers/designers, social media practitioners and trainers. I also write articles that students - graduates, Masters and Ph.D - may find of  interest. Sometimes I will consider the people who make decisions on behalf of staff - HR managers. If you're going to blog, work out who your audience is and then you can start sxcripting your blog articles.

What to blog about?

Wow! The number of times that I have sat here scratching my head about what to blog about, would probably turn into days! I pretty much know where the boundary fence or permiter of what I can write about is. It's important that you know, based on your target audience, what is of relevance to them and what will interest them. What works for Innocent Drinks doesn't work for GM and what excites Scoble's audience may not have the same impact as Seth Godin's. I may like watching rugby but I never (well, rarely) blog about it; I like Question Time but Dimbleby never features on this site; I have a passion for Spain but I keep these thoughts away from this site. The exceptions are when my passions fuse with the core areas of this site.

So, back to what I blog about. Broadly speaking I tend to write about SEO, PPC, Twitter, Facebook, new technologies, Analytics and the stuff you can see categorized on the right-hand side.  More specifically I will wirte about new changes to AdWords, Twitter and Facebook apps, I write about stats, about the key players, events that go on in the industry, intresting uses of apps like Twitter my thoughts on how the industry is developing, the way I use the apps and much more. I often find that I need triggers to get me started and look to digital/social media news sites like Mashable, Techcrunch and Tech Radar or at the industry gurus like Robert Scoble, Danny Sullivan and Jermiah Owyang. I listen in (through Tweetdeck usually)  to what people are tweeting about. I subscribe to MarketingProfs and Clickz and read their newsletters daily.

From a business perspective I am aware that I need to push my core services and periodically notify people about new courses that I have to offer or about the results that people have achieved on the CAM Diploma. I let them know about government schemes that can give them money off courses and invite them to let me know how I can change my site. For you as a business you need to explore, if you think it's necessary, how you can go about teaching people about your business - the way it works, the people who work for you, the products you sell, the events you go to, your thoughts on the industry and much more.

How to save time time blogging?

For those, like myself, who do falter and find they can't think of anything to blog about, here are some ideas to save time blogging:

  • Find a relevant (to your subject area) video on YouTube and embed it into your site,
  • Ask industry experts to answer a few questions for you.
  • Write a book review
  • Find a good presentation on Slideshare and embed it on your site.
  • Let people know of the best conferences in your sphere
  • Add a customer testimonial
  • Notify people of upcoming events
  • Take some pictures of your products or staff and stick them on the site.
  • Find a podcast from the BBC or similar and stick it on the site.

[Caveat: make sure that is completely relevant to your subject]

For a business blogging can be about showing the softer, human side to your organisation and of teaching people about new products and services. It allows your customer to buy into what you're doing and sometimes to participate in the conversation, which leads to a more fruitful relationship. It allows you to show people how your business is changing and to influence the way the buy/work with you. It can help differentiate you (often very clearly) from your competitors. Someone said to me the other day that they would attend my courses and not those of my competitors because they 'got what I was doing'. Do your customers get what you're doing?

Related Course

WordPress Training Course


Gary Vaynerchuk On Blogs

Here's some great advice by Social Media/Wine Blogger, Gary Vaynerchuk on blogs.

Even if you already have an ecommerce website or your focus is B2B, you need to start a blog (though once you see how simple it is to do, you may ditch your website altogether). Think of it this way: your website is for communicating logistics and facilitating sales; your blog is for communicating the essence of your brand. It allows you to expand on your topic in ways that a static website simply can't.

Your blog will be your main home, your central location with a no-exception pen-door policy where anyone can find you. It also serves as storage for all the content you will create, essentially building an archive where people can see how you and your business have evolved and expanded. It is the place where you an talk as loud and as long and as often and as in-depth as you want.


Marketing Tom’s New Website

If you're a regular user of this site, you will by now have probably noticed that the site has been updated. Marketing Tom has been sitting on the TypePad blogging platform for around 6 years and, just before summer, we took the decision to move my site over to a new platform, WordPress. The reasons for this are the following:

  • The old site was too 'bloggy' in style and didn't get over the core objectives of the site: to sell courses and consultancy.
  • The site was looking a little tired and needed a more professional gloss.
  • Increasingly we have become more enamoured by WordPress and just loved the Thesis Theme (on which this site is built)
  • TypePad was starting to add html code to articles which made updating take longer

The company we chose to develop this new site was Pentagon Design, based in Bridgend. We have worked with Derryl and Byron on a number of web projects over the years and knew that they had a great knowledge and passion for WordPress. They are also easy to work with and are willing to listening to your suggestions (as long as they're not too absurd!). The Thesis Theme was chosen mainly because we liked websites built using it (e.g. many SEO and Social Media people) and because it is great in terms of SEO. Here are a couple of the things that we like about this new WordPress site:

  1. The navigation at the top is clean and allows users can easily navigate to sub-sections without leaving the home page.
  2. The three sections at the top of the page allow people to quickly get to the core business areas of Marketing Tom:
    • Training
    • Consulting
    • In-House Courses
  3. We can have as many featured blog articles as we wish on the home page.
  4. All other articles are briefly displayed, quite neatly, under the featured article.
  5. Blog categories list articles as headlines, teasers or full excerpts.

Behind the scenes it so neat that you are able to do some some of the following:

  • override the default Title Tag
  • add in your own meta description and 'force search engines to pull a <meta> description'
  • the ability to add Robots meta tags, like noindex, nofollow and noarchive
  • you can add 301's
  • turn on/off a multimedia box that appears top-right of pages

What was involved in moving the site from a .com to a .co.uk?

For those interested in the aspects of moving the site from www.marketingtom.com to www.marketingtom.co.uk, here's what we had to do. First off, we identified the key web pages and then weblog articles (around 500+) and created 301 redirects for all of them. We had read a few stories of people having all sorts of issues moving their TypePad articles over to WordPress but so far everything seems to have gone according to plan. A quick (and cheap) way to identify the posts listed on Google is to create a sitemap - xml-sitemaps did the trick for us.  It was then a case of exporting to excel and doing find and replace of .com to .co.uk and changing the file names of some pages.

Pentagon created the Google sitemap for us and uploaded the new Google Analytics code.

Under Google's Webmaster Central we added the new site and asked Pentagon to upload a .html file for verification by Google (that it was our site). We have also modified the Google Places listing to correctly display the new Url.

In terms of content we have already made a start to identify and change all internal links, from the .com to the .co.uk. This is also a good time to re-evaluate the keywords that we are using in our page titles and to create more accurate meta descriptions for all key pages. We have also reduced by about 50% the number of blog categories that we had and re-assigned posts to other categories. At the moment we have lost our Google Sitelinks but we have seen that Google is adding more and more pages to its index each day.

We hope you like the site and look forward to reading your comments on articles that are posted here.


Dealing With Blog Spam

Quite often the people who attend my digital marketing and social media marketing workshops believe that blogging and much of social media is that you cannot control spam and unwanted (unneeded) attacks against you or your company or college or council or charity. Whilst it's true that you cannot stop people publishing articles, photos, videos or comments on certain websites, you can still maintain a certain amount of control of social media.

I am not going to discuss all social media but just focus on blogging today. Back when I started blogging (around 6 years' ago) there weren't as many controls as there are today and it was quite easy for a spammer, or someone who just didn't like you, to leave all manner of comments on your blog articles. For the spammers they thought it was a way to generate easy links from high quality or much trafficked sites to their own. This may have been the case. However, things have moved on considerably since then and today, even the most basic blogs have some form of comment moderation which lets bloggers publish those comments that they believe should be on their site.

The image below is a snapshot of the comments dashboard of the platform that I use, TypePad. As you can there is all manner of rubbish in there and most of them have one thought in mind: to get their comments, and accompanying hypertext link, published. Whether they use a spambot or add the comments manually themselves, it doesn't matter - these comments don't go live until I click the "publish" button. The majority of them will either be deleted or reported to the "TypePad Spam Police"!

So, there you have it. Once less reason to worry about the damage that social media could cause your brand or organisation.

ThTypepad-spam


Watch The BBC’s Excellent Virtual Revolution Series

The BBC has recently aired a superb series called the Virtual Revolution. The series, in the words of the BBC, charts

two decades of profound change since the invention of the World Wide Web, weighing up the huge benefits and the unforeseen downsides

It looks at all aspects of the Internet from its humble beginnings, the use of it by states, the growth of ecommerce and collaboration. There are tons of interviews with people like Bill Gates, Eric Schmidt, Jeff Bezos, Clay Shirky, Steve Wozniak, Marissa Meyer, Sir Tim Berners Lee, Stephen Fry, Chad Hurley, John Battelle and many, many more key players. Most episodes cannot be viewed on iPlayer (in the UK) anymore but I have found that 10-15 segments can be found on YouTube. And just to help you out, here is the complete first episode on YouTube.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

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Matt Cutts On WordPress and SEO

If you're interested in SEO, or are seriously looking into the WordPress blogging platform, this video should be of interest to you. It features Google's Search Guru, Matt Cutts, at this summer;s WordCamp in San Francisco. Just for starters here is a quote that he came out with:

 

WordPress takes care of 80-90% of (the mechanics of) Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

 


Hugh Macleod on Why Corporate Blogging Works

why_corporate_blogs_workYesterday, I did a little spring cleaning of this site - basically reducing the number of categories that I have on the site - and came across a number of early blogging articles that I had written. One that caught my eye was a very quick post that I did in May 2005, entitled Why Corporate Blogs Work. It featured this diagram by Hugh Macleod of Gaping Void:

And this is what it represents:

  • 'Y' is your market or The Conversation
  • 'A' represents your company - the suppliers. Hugh calls it the"internal conversation"
  • 'B' represents peopl ein the market who are buying (not making)

He goes on to further say:

"So each market from a corporate point of view has an internal and external conversation. What seperates the two is a membrane, otherwise known as "x".

Hugh identifies that you want 'A' and 'B' to be as closely aligned as possible. An example he gives is of Apple - the staff and people at Apple love the products and so do their customers - this is alignment. When the two elements are saying different things, this is is misalignment.

He concludes by saying:

"The more porous your membrane ("x"), the easier it is for the internal conversation to inform and align with the external conversation, and vice versa."

It was right back in 2005 and holds as much weight in 2009.