Archive - April, 2007

Why Blogs are like TV Programming

Even before cable took off, there was a variety of different television programming: News; Sports; Variety; Instructional; Talk; Drama; Comedy; Game Shows… different uses for different audiences.

I doubt if anyone brushed off buying a TV because they didn’t want to watch soap operas. That would have been limited thinking. In some ways, blogging – at least business blogging – is facing some of that limited thinking.

One business owner I’ve been working with says he doesn’t write to a "bloggy" audience. What he doesn’t know (and refuses to see) is that his industry (and audience) is abundantly present in the blogosphere. Where is he getting his "bloggy" perception from? And is he getting a nose bleed sitting that far above ground?

Television programming is constantly changing and re-inventing itself. Each audience is unique and special. Yours is too. Don’t try to be Boing Boing, Wallstrip or even ConverStations.

Be yourself. Engage with your audience.

Get Out From Behind the Counter

The retail sales counter. An accountant’s desk. A pulpit. Your static (cob)web site?

Potential barriers to congenial conversation.

When I was in retail management, I coached our sales staff to spend most of their time on the customer side of the counter.  Subliminally, there tends to be an Us vs Them mentality when a barrier stands between you and your customer.

Wbarrier_2

Notice the changes in restaurant service. Wait staff used to stand behind their ticket book. Now they sit down at your table.

Last year, I met a man opening a coffee shop in the Des Moines Skywalk. As people walked by, he’d smile or nod…but for the most part, he was ignored. Soon, he began ignoring the passersby and worked on behind-the-counter busy work.

I suggested he get out from behind the counter and engage with people. The common ground was on the other side. Unfortunately, he stayed behind his ‘protective’ barrier and soon lost his business.

Wobarrier

In some ways, adding a blog component to your web presence gets you out from behind the counter.

Just Dive In

So what do you do when you haven’t posted in a while?

Bellyflop_2

Photo on Flickr by Aaron Webb

Do You Sound Like Your Blog?

We talk a lot about how building a web presence with blog software can extend the reach of your voice. Like singing into a can and communicating to the masses at the same time.

It’s important to think of blogging more in terms of a conversation than a marketing or public relations piece. Compelling conversation will make for a compelling marketing tool, not the other way around.

Write Like You Talk: Writing in a conversational tone (yours) can will be more attractive to readers than marketing-speak or prize-winning prose. Sometimes, it can be as simple as replacing a comma (,) with an ellipses (…). One of the best compliments you’ll hear is when people say they can ‘hear you talking’ in your posts.

Keep it Short: We’re all busy people. If you want your posts read (especially in feed readers), be considerate of your readers’ time. A goal of 200-300 words is a good start. Short posts are good. Longer posts can be broken up into parts or with well-placed bullet points.

Links are Resourceful: Be generous with relevant hyperlinks to other sites, blogs and of course…your own web pages. If your blog has no links (or only links to your own stuff), you’ll look like a dead-end. They call it ‘surfing’ for a reason. A dead-end blog will end up a dead blog.

Post Frequently: Every post becomes an individual page in your site (a permalink). This creates page depth. Search engines favor relevance, depth and frequency.

Synchronize Your Communication: If you find yourself talking or emailing about a certain topic multiple times in a short period – blog it. You’ll find it expands the conversation outward and cuts down on your email and telephone time.

Don’t let blogging be a hurdle to extending your voice (and your ears). We overcame fax machines, email, cell phones, having a dot.com…it’s just a matter of time and effort.

From the Archives: Phew! or Ut-Oh?

While preparing for a class I’m speaking with tonight, I recalled this post from almost a year ago:

Phew! or Ut-Oh?

Patrick Dodd at ShadowBox Studios brings up a great point in his example of the Durham Business School. No one in the blogosphere was talking about their MBA program.

Phew! or Ut-Oh?

Do you search the blogoshphere
with trepidation that someone may be talking negatively about your
company? Do you give yourself a high-five when there are no results?

How Now, Brown Cow, wouldn’t you prefer the color Purple?

Patrick suggests using blogs as a marketing barometer and joining the conversation,
and I agree. Even if you don’t publish a blog, engage with your
customers. If they talk about your company, comment on the post, link
back to your site, send them an email…something.

  • Reward the Positive
  • Respond to the Negative
  • Indecision is a Decision
  • Not replying sends a message too.

Nobody’s talking about you? Search the blogosphere for sites that focus on your keywords (Technorati’s Blog Finder is great for this type of search). Find some commonality, comment on a post. Don’t talk about your business (your comment can be the link back to your site).

Dear Average: #$&@ Mediocrity

Had a white board with that plastered in big letters up until a few days ago.

Then I read this post at Simplenomics:Mediocrity is a Sin. Thanks for the reminder, Mr. Sigers.

Solution? Here’s a memo from Seth

Want more? From Creating Passionate Users

Loveandhate_10_2 

What is the Purpose of my Business?

Using blogs, RSS feeds and various social media tools, I coach business leaders and owners how to connect with customers and prospects, and amplify their business relationships.

It’s on my website. On my business card. In my business playbook (aka business plan).

Still, I occasionally find myself faced with a business who wants to have a blog – but without the effort or engagement I believe is a necessary component. When I try to dissuade them, I do so caring for them…and for their customer.

When I prescribe full feeds, shorter posts or outbound links – I do so with their business health in mind. They don’t have to take the medicine – but it could be costly in the long run.

I’m always on the lookout for brick-and-mortar business blogs. Many I find have become cob-web sites (no posts in months). The message they deliver? Either they’re no longer in business or they don’t want to converse.

It’s okay for a business not to have a blog (though I think we’re entering an age when it will be expected by the customer – we may be already there).

But – if you’re going to blog (i.e., have a conversation)…be an active particpant.

2W2B: Inspiration Overture

This is part of an ongoing series as I journal my way through Lisa Haneberg‘s book, Two Weeks to a Breakthrough. Today’s entry is Lisa’s video on her book, her mission, and her tour…

Lisa has put together an inspiration video, really an overture of her book.  Two things I’ve noticed while savoruing the material in the book:

  1. The breakthrough process begins right away. One reason to savor the material rather than speed through
  2. I didn’t notice the word ‘consecutive’ in the subtitle – so I’m taking the time the book (and I) deserve.

At the end of the video, you’ll see the dates and cities of Lisa’s motorcycle tour. If she’s coming to a city near you, hook up. We look forward to her arrival in Des Moines.

How to Remove NoFollow in Typepad Comments

Ifolloworange
For the past few weeks, Andy Beard and Dawud Miracle (among others) have led a charge to elimnate nofollow from comments.

I’ve agreed all along and believe I’ve conquered the TypePad barrier to the nofollow format. Up until tonight, if you’ve left a comment (and I thank you), there has been a redirect page and a nofollow link. This means that search engines ignore your link (not good).

As part of Reader Appreciation Week, I wanted to invest the time in finding the fix so that comments on this site will be found by search engines.

If you’re a customer of mine and want this done – email me. If you’re not a customer and want this done, email me (and you’ll soon become a customer:-)). If you want to DIY, the instructions follow.

First, you need to have a Typepad Pro account and Advanced Templates. The first change is to the module "comment-list"

Old comment-list module
:
<!– comment list –>
<MTComments>
    <a id="comment-<$MTCommentID$>"></a>
    <div class="comment" id="comment-<$MTCommentID$>">
        <div class="comment-content">
            <$MTCommentBody$>
        </div>
        <p class="comment-footer">
            <$MTTrans phrase="Posted by:"$>
            <$MTCommentAuthorLink spam_protect="1"$> |
            <a href="<$MTEntryPermalink$>#comment-<$MTCommentID$>"><$MTCommentDate$></a>

        </p>
    </div>
</MTComments>


New comment-list module:

Update: Added spam_protect attribute and tested

Then modify your entry-individual module from <$MTWeblogIncludeModule module=”comment-list”$> to <$MTInclude module=”comment-list”$>.

If you’re not using Advanced Templates, you probably don’t have the entry-indivual module set-up.  If you want to learn more about Advanced Templates and Default Modules, refer to Typepad’s Knowledge Base

Iowa Business Blog Workshop – Starter Course

Blogwrkshp_11_1 I’ve written several times why and how I recommend business folks take a 30-day test drive of blogging before we get started. While that works for some, others prefer more support.

With the latter folks in mind, I’ll be offering a starter course in May. The basics of setting up a blog and engaging in the global conversation. We’re also going to be reigniting the complimentary morning workshops in May.

Get Started Blogging: Wednesdays, 4:00pm – 5:30pm (Limited Seating, $250)
If you’re interested in starting a blog for your business or yourself, this course will offer the basics of blogging. A four-week course that will help you discover the power, the purpose, and the practices of blogging (from both writer and reader perspectives).

Location: 1430 Locust St. Des Moines
Time: 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM
Cost: $250 for the 4-week course.
Next session: May 2 – May 23 (RSVP by email) Seating is limited to four!

Also, for those who enjoyed our complimentary workshops, we’ll be starting those up again in May:

Blogging Workshop Q & A: Thursdays, 7:30am – 8:30am (15-20 seats, Free)
Each session we’ll cover a plot of the social media landscape and how to use some of the tools or strategies for business. The session is 30 minutes, then we open the floor for 30 minutes to answer your questions – anything blogging or social media related.

Location: 1430 Locust St. Des Moines
Time: 7:30 AM – 8:30 AM
Cost: Free – ongoing discussions.
Next session: May 2 3rd (No RSVP necessary)

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