Archive - November, 2006

Dialing 8 – David Armano

I don’t know if this is still the norm, but it used to be that when staying at a hotel, "Dialing 8" was how you started a long-distance phone call. In baseball, "Dialing 8" is a term synonymous with a home run.

In blogging, the folks I work with hear me talk about writing cornerstone posts, or a foundation of your work. Recently, I’ve talked a lot about the timeless aspect of blogging and how your efforts are a living document. What you write today, can still be found and valued this time next year – or later.

One of the reasons I read blogs is the people writing them help me to improve who I am either professionally, physically or spiritually. The posts that I choose as part of the Dialing 8 series are those I feel are their cornerstones – ones that resonate within me, a member of their audience.

We begin with someone who goes the distance often, David Armano at Logic+Emotion

  1. Manifesto Redux
  2. A Simple Philosophy
  3. Creativity 2.E
  4. We Are Not Alone, Life 2.0
  5. Experience Map?
  6. (Not) Staying in the Lines
  7. Contagious Culture
  8. Creating Compassionate Designers
Well, I gotta stop at eight because it’s called Dialing 8 – but if I were to continue, I’d add these:
What’s the Big Execution?

And thanks, Dave. Appreciate your sharing this presentation with us.

Dig in and go deeper into Dave’s work. Which one gets inside your wheelhouse?

In a Blog a da Vida, Honey – It’s Crantastic

I was talking with a conservative business owner recently about…well, you know what it was about.

He said he thought "we" needed to change the word BLOG to something else for it to really stick in business. I disagreed, the word is out there – let’s get over it and move ahead.

Now this guy isn’t just white-collar conservative, he’s tight-collar conservative. But he’s not alone, I hear this a lot. I think it’s a crutch.  A lame reason not to…ahem…blog.

Another super-positive, salesy pro I see occasionally hates the term BLOG. Won’t even say it. Thinks it’s a bunch of jabberwocky. Loves the tool though, thinks it’s crantastic (a brilliant idea? – I dunno).

Frankly, I think we’re singing the same song from 10 years ago, just in a different tempo. Sort of like Eric Clapton’s Layla (both are classics if you ask me). Of course, maybe you think In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida is a classic, which makes sense (or does it?).

Someday we’ll be over the word BLOG and things will be supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

Company Blog: Should You or Should You Not?

I’ve noticed conversations around the blogosphere and offline about whether a company should start a blog. Here are three:

  1. Bruce Prokopets at SocialCaster shares his bottom line on a conversation between Mike Manuel and Jim Turner. Does it make sense for a local pizza company to blog?
  2. Carolyn Manning‘s recent comment here poses the question of whether its more beneficial to form a cooperative effort among like-minded businesses.
  3. An academic, overhearing a conversation I was having yesterday, asked why even have a blog when a website is less expensive and easier to modify (huh?)

Embracing these one-at-a-time:

One solution is Merchant Circle, which provides a lot of tools for a small business to use – including the customer reviews that Mike Manuel talks about. And if you’re searching for a dog groomer in Delmar, DE

Should all companies blog? Nope.

If a company wants to build valuable relationships, engage with their customers, extend their reach, become more findable and improve their bottom line in the process (and in this order) – they will probably find value in blogging.

Reverse the order above, and its probably best not to blog at this time.

Blogarithmics: EFLAP? What Stats Get Included?

Stats
Continuing to think about Blogarithmics and the conversation about it…

As this thought relates to businesses who blog (rather than blogs as a business), we’re searching for a weighted measuring stick. Something we can use as a barometer that might address strengths and weaknesses in our blogging practice.

Keep in mind, this is thinking out loud. Drawing something up on the whiteblog and see what we come up with.

Let’s chunk this out into sections:

  • Engagement
    • Incoming comments; Comments on other sites
  • Frequency
    • Number of Posts per week, Length of posts,
  • Loyalty
    • Page Views, Feed Reach, Clickthrough (depth), Return Visits
  • Audience
    • Feed Subscriptions; Outbound Links; Incoming Links from blogs; Incoming Links from Search
  • Popularity
    • Technorati rank; Page Rank; Alexa Rank

Still much to think about. Can such a measurement be beneficial to the small-town banker or solopreneurial dog groomer? Yes, there are many variables – but is it worth the work to find a measurement?

Tony Gwynn watched video of his swing. Frank Sinatra listened to cuts before the final wax. What of business bloggers?

Elsewhere:
Can Blogging Impact Your Bottom Line?
Blog Audience Measurement
- ROI on Blogs: Resources to Measure
- Will Metrics Matter in Social Media Age?
- Measuring WOMM

Photo on Flickr by alex.talarico

Slideshare: Word of Mouse

Shane Murphy at Word of Mouse offers up this on SlideShare:

Is your company using tools like Slideshare as a marketing tool?

Hey Blog Coach – What’s With the Blogroll?

Blogroll Isn’t it great that blogs, like people, are organic and evolving? After all, there’s only one Immutable Law of Business Blogging, right?

I have had some folks ask why I don’t have a blogroll on my blog. Don’t I think they are important? Yes, yes I do think blogrolls are important. And, there are different ways to use blogrolls. I point out that I have a separate page for my blogroll, and then they ask why I have so many!

Ben Yoskovitz suggests the use of blogrolls may be getting out of hand – by neglect, not usage.

A blogroll can be a list of those who you consider part of the community you’re most active with – as in the case of Joe Thornley.

Jason Preston shares why sites on his blogroll are different than those he reads regularly. I like that idea. Apparently, it works for Jason and his audience.

What about asking permission first? Lorelle VanFossen answers this question in-depth. Ignat Drozdov provides a bit of blogrolling Pro and Con.

We can see that a blogroll can serve in different ways and different audiences. Here’s a way to ACE the blogroll challenge:

  • Association – Blogs listed may be those who you interact with – online or offline.
  • Commonality – Blogs on your list will attract instant commonality. "Hey, if they read Scott Weisbrod, too – they must be alright."
  • Extension – By extending the conversation outward, you become a resource for your readers.

As for reciprocity, I’ll never ask for return links. Bad form. Let your blogroll be a benefit to your audience. If you provide value on your site and add to the conversation on others – you will find yourself appearing on blogrolls.

As for the ConverStations BlogRoll, I hope you find it valuable. Many have shared compliments. It is a tool I use, sharing it with the business people I coach and counsel, giving them a foundation of good blog reading and blogrolling.

I’ve recently added some new, and removed the stagnant (thanks for the reminder, Ben). Note some of the additions (most found via MyBlogLog):

Arts & Inspirations: Carolyn Manning
Blog Strategy: Daniel Scocco, Divya Uttam
Blog News: HitchHikers Guide
Careers and HR: Harry Joiner, Justin Driscoll
Entrepreneurial Spirit: Sherry Heyl, Stefanos Vasdekis
Leadership and Management: Jamie Parks, Kent Blumberg
Marketing: Douglas Karr, Pamela Heywood
Tech & Web 2.0: Ian Delaney, DJ Neawedde
VC & Deal Flow: Howard Lindzon
Writing & Journalism: Robin Seidner

We’ll be making some changes soon to the ConverStations blogroll page. New tracks are being laid for the growing list of businesses that blog.

How do you use your blogroll? Do you find value in the rolls you see on other sites?

Blogumentary: Building the Blog

Previously, we started pondering the purpose for the blog. With over 40 artists contributing to the Blue Frog Arts environment, everyone is chiming in with thoughts. While that brainstorm is forming, we can build out the blog a bit.

Checking with TypePad’s Getting Started page, we find a section on Customize your Design. This is what we had out of the gate:

Original_1

We log in to our TypePad account and find the Design area, which looks like this (for now):

Firstdesign

From here, we can easily change the theme, layout and sidebar content. We begin by choosing Change Theme. We then find this screen:

Custmthm1

Choosing Custom Theme, the page presents several options (each opens in a pop-up window).

We’re going to set up the blog 2-column, sidebar on right and set the page to be 700 pixels wide (500 px content area, 200 px sidebar area). On this site, we’re also going to begin with a blank canvas, if you will. No background color or images — yet.

Beginning with the General Page settings, we set the background color using either the palette or typing in the hex color. We’ll choose a white background for now, and change the colors of the hyperlinks. We also choose the pixel width of the page:

Custmgenpage

Saving the changes, we navigate back one page and then move on to the Page Banner:

Custmbanner

For a banner, we took a few photos of the gallery. We’ll make a banner 670 pixels wide (allowing for the Typepad default of 15 px of padding) We save the image to our computer, check mark the box, "Use this banner instead of…" and upload the image.

Save changes, back one page, moving on to the Weblog Post and Sidebar Items settings. Have fun here, it’s mostly font types, sizes and colors:

Custmposts_2   Custmside

When you’re done here, Save Changes

Custmsave_1 

Republish your Weblog:

Repub

And let’s see what we have:

Blogpart_1 

We’ll eventually move on to an Advanced Template, adding styles and implementing some SEO-type strategies (hyperlinked titles; keywords; description; customized footers) – but we’re still a few steps away from that.

Previously:
- Introduction
- Purpose Driven

Elsewhere:
Get Started with Typepad
Typepad Knowledge Base: Getting Started

Blogarithmics: How Do We Measure Blogs?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how we can measure blog efforts for our customers. I recall a thought shared last year by Mary Hodder on this subject, but did someone find a measurement?

I’d like to analyze the efforts of our customers using the following items in a weighted formula (listed randomly here):

  • Number of posts
  • Number of incoming comments
  • Number of author’s comments elsewhere
  • Technorati rank
  • Alexa Rank
  • Google Page Rank
  • MyBlogLog community additions
  • Outbound Links
  • Outbound Clickthrough
  • Incoming Referral Links from blogs
  • Incoming Referral Links from search engines
  • Feed Subscribers
  • Feed Reach
  • Feed Clickthrough

There are probably other items (del.icio.us history, digg/reddit/stumble/etc. links, what else?). Maybe we need a sabermetrician here.

If there’s a tool or conversation about this, let me know. If not, let’s start one.

Jim Foster Doesn’t Blog – Or Does He?

In Ted Demopoulos’ latest book, What No One Ever Tells You About Blogging and Podcasting, there is a story about Jim Foster – and he doesn’t blog.  Or does he?

As a sales pro, Jim uses search engines and tracks blogs for information about clients, prospects and industry news that matters to their products. Smart thinking.

This reminds me of the story A Single Feed Creates a Lifetime of Loyalty.By using the tools available, smart business people will track the blogosphere with a Search Once and Subscribe approach.

It’s amazing how many business people – leaders in their industry (for now) – say they see no business reason for paying attention to blogs. Get your head out of the sand! Your vision is fuzzy.

Even IF blogs were all about politics, quilting, hobbies and videos – these are the voices of your potential customer. Engage.

Quick Tip: Are you about to propose a business deal with a new company? Check to see if anyone is blogging. Conduct a LinkedIn Search for the company’s name and add the word "blog" to the search. Check to see what the blogosphere is saying about that company using Technorati or Google Blog Search.

So Jim Foster doesn’t blog…or at least he doesn’t publish a blog (yet), By listening to the voices, I submit that Jim is part of the conversation. Blogs are part of his business toolbox.

By the way, Go buy Ted’s book. You’ll find 188 pages of gold and two pages of silver. (Disclousre: My thoughts appear on two of those pages – hence the silver)

Quick Thoughts Heading Out

Lately, I’ve been on the road traveling across rural Iowa and I love it. It’s a peaceful dream I see…today we’re in Centerville, Iowa.

WKRN in Nashville is doing a great job with their blogs. Each personality has their own site, including Neil Orne, John Dwyer, and Jerry Barlar. Think their building a loyal audience?

Sounds like Sandy went to a Horse and Buggy show yesterday…Keep shooting straight and sharing your toys, Mary Schmidt. Your customers love you!

We might be a just a stop along the way here, but Valeria Maltoni is among my favorite conductors, a real Conversation Agent. Yet people still ask me what business good can come from a blog. Thank you Valeria, for being curious and feeding ours.

Off to Centerville…

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