April 19, 2014

Business Blogging – The Hub of Your Content Strategy

business blogging - Nutch robots

If anything, business blogging is only becoming more important. There are many changes taking place within the search engines. As HTML5 comes on line, how business blogging data is organized in web page will be more important than ever. Google, Bing and Yahoo are collaborating on what new markup language should look like to help them identify the content they are scraping on a web page.

For years, I have been preaching to customers that there are 2 audiences you are writing to  – readers and search engines. The search engines do not have eyeballs, so they are relying on programming algorithms to assist with identifying content on a site. Problem has been that current HTML content markups are very messy and identifying the real meaning behind content can be difficult.

According to Mike Seidle, Senior User Experience Engineer at Direct Employers, “traditional SEO is an engineering problem today. Our experience is using the new schema offered by Google, Yahoo and Bing, our search results have improved.” One of the problems he sees is that most companies have a weak or nonexistent content strategy.

If you are using old markup language, it is quite possible that your website could be completely ignored.  Google is looking for good content and will give those marking their content up properly a nod over the content that is illegible to them.

On the user front, to quote our good friend Jason Falls, “Just write good shit”. Not more needs to be said there.

 

Business blogging – 3 steps to Internet Marketing Success

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

Business blogging and social media can help attract sales. Before either can help, you need to know how to use it first.  Let’s keep it simple though. Business blogging and social media can be distilled down into 3 easy steps. Not a silver bullett, but an understanding of the work needed to make it happen:

Connect. Converse. Share. 

Connect

The first step with any social media strategy is going to be collecting and connecting. You want to start by attracting prospects, potential customers and contacts and essentially building that base. This one is pretty obvious. You can’t converse or share unless you have someone to converse and share with.

Here’s an example: I run a business and I have a lot of connections. Over the last 15 years, I’ve built up even more online. About a year ago, I connected with a fellow named Doug. I didn’t know him, he just found me on Twitter and started following me. I thought, “okay, Hi Doug,” followed him back and left it at that. We connected.

Converse

The second part is conversing and this is really going to depend on the medium. The tone of conversation on LinkedIn, for example, is drastically different than the tone on Twitter.

So, find a way to talk to this audience that’s both appropriate and engaging. And remember, the verb here is “converse,” not “speak.” Social media is a two-way street.

And what about Doug? Well, a week later, Doug replied to one of my posts with a great question. I retweeted it, responded and we started talking. It turns out that Doug’s a pretty cool guy. And so, we conversed.

Share

Doug was asking about blogging for business, so I referred him to an article on my blog. What do you know? I have some expertise to share.

Let’s say you’re a musician. What should you be doing with social media? Sharing your music. Now, let’s say you’re an accountant, what should you be doing? Sharing your accounting expertise. The point being, you don’t have to be a rock star to share your talents. If you have experience in a field, then start blogging about it and start sharing it. (As an added bonus, the more you share, the more you’ll learn, and the more of an expert you’ll become.)

Sharing is really linked into conversing and it’s also a great way to reach out and attract more connections. Why? Because those connections want your expertise or talent. In the end, this creates a nice feedback loop.

Today, Doug’s both a friend and a client. Not everyone you connect with, converse with or share with is going to become a customer, obviously. But Doug is one of several clients who “found” me this way. So, yes, lead generation and sales can be done online, but you need a strategy

And it doesn’t get much simpler than: Connect. Converse. Share.

Paul is the President of Professional Blog Service. PBS works with clients making strategic investments into business blogging, social media and search engine optimization.

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Does Twitter really help a social media campaign?

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

Twitter is fast becoming an important piece of a social media campaign to have conversations with customers, friends, and colleagues. A business blog is important conduit of information to feed your Twitter campaign. If you need content to feed Twitter, a good blog service could help you.

Twitter isn’t in the Oxford English Dictionary yet, but more than 200 million people have added it to their vocabularies and use its 140 character posts to answer the question “What are you doing?”

Inventing new words may be part of the game with Twitter, as people have adopted a whole new language. Twitter people are Tweeple. A Twitter meetup is a Tweetup. And on and on.

InTwigued? To put Twitter’s 200 million users in perspective, when Facebook was getting similar attention, its ranks numbered 24 million. So is Twitter overrated or as valuable as its fans claim? And will it be around long enough to make it worth our time?

Time is one feature that Twitter boasts. It offers users real time connection, an instant, short glimpse into all the moments between emails and blog posts. Friends could find these momentary updates useful when we’re looking to join the party or running late for lunch, and businesses are beginning to employ Twitter marketing to announce short-term specials, like the deal of the day. Twitter even scooped more traditional media with first news and instant updates of recent earthquakes, rocket attacks, and plane crashes. We all hope catastrophes are few are far between. So do the many people or businesses who have news that’s noteworthy enough to fill the moments between blog posts and e-blasts.

For many, Twitter is truly like a micro-blog, like using only the status section of Facebook. Fans say this feature inspires conversation and connections. It can also provide the curious spark that drives “followers” to blog posts, Facebook pages, and more in-depth web presences. When Barack Obama used Twitter during his presidential campaign, some argued that his tweets got followers to visit more than just web sites. Either way, the voters visited the polls.

And while Twitter users may number just a fraction of other online social networks’ crowds, Facebook tried to bring Twitter into its realm a couple of years ago. It was 500 million reasons that Facebook thought Twitter would stay and grow.

Several Twitterers we know admit to feeling like they were in their own foggy Twitter bubble (Twubble?) when they first joined the network. John H. suggested new users should be warned with a disclaimer, something like, “Warning: During your first 30 days of using Twitter, you will have no idea what the heck is going on. Only after 30 days will you begin to understand its value.”

Several other users confessed to giving up within those first 30 days after tiring of the useless updates and the time wasted. It seems most of us are Twittering and following tweets to be part of the experiment, to learn to tailor the Twitterers we follow to accomplish our own information goals and to enjoy the simplicity of short, quick updates.

So is Twitter overrated? Our opinion is no, it’s got nowhere to go but up. But maybe you think differently. Is Twitter is an endangered species under the pressure of larger social networks? Leave your comments (even with more than 140 characters).

Paul is the President of Professional Blog Service. PBS works with clients making strategic investments into business blogging, social media and search engine optimization.

 

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Freshman Twitter users need to learn how to use it for business blogging

Business blogging should be the focus of any social media campaign. We have spoken to prospects that started their B2B Social Media campaign or B2C Social Media campaign without having the content to back it up. They are on Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook with no content.

When I was in college, you could always tell the freshmen at a party because they’d be the ones hanging around the stairs talking about how cool the party was. Meanwhile, the upper-year students would be heading for the keg and, well, actually enjoying the party.

Twitter can be very similar. You’ve got a rush of new people hanging out, talking about how Twitter is such a great tool and sharing news stories on how many more millions have joined the feed. And then, over there in the back, there are a few people who are actually using it as a tool.

Unlike Diamonds, Twitter Isn’t Forever
The thing is, Twitter won’t be around forever. True, it may seem like everybody’s on it and it’s the place to be, but guess what? So was Friendster. Three years ago, Twitter didn’t exist. Five years ago, Facebook was a burgeoning idea on a Harvard campus and six years ago, everybody had a MySpace. The point is, things move fast and tastes can change even faster.

Which is exactly why though Twitter can be a useful part of a comprehensive marketing plan, it’s not the be all and end all.

So, What’s Next?
If I knew, I’d be calling my broker. Seriously though, if you were to pin me to the mat, I’d have to say niche communities.

Sure there are big providers out there like Facebook and LinkedIn, but there are also a lot of smaller, more niche-focused social networks popping up. For example, Identi.ca, which is a Twitter clone. That particular community is made of predominantly open source software developers and fans and, as a result, has a distinctly technical feel to it along with a great tech sense of humor.

As messageboards and listservs grow up and enter the social realm, you’ll see more niche-focused networks appearing. Then again, maybe not.

twitter birdIn the meantime, party with us on Twitter:

Paul Lorinczi
Erik Deckers

Paul is the President of Professional Blog Service. PBS works with clients making strategic investments into business blogging, social media and search engine optimization.

Has the slow economy pushed more people to social media?

How to use B2B Social Media in a Slow Economy

Despite it being a slow economy, B2B social media and B2B social media play an important role in staying connected to the marketplace. During the great Depression of the 1930s, people still found ways to get together, despite the hard economic times.  Today, people are looking for business blogging sites, Facebook and Linkedin seeking jobs or just connecting with others.

They say a man is rich who has friends. What about a company with fans?

There aren’t many internet users who remember seeing Charlie Chaplin’s movies when they debuted in theaters. Thanks to the internet, though, just about any user can watch Chaplin ham it up as the Tramp who faced many of the same challenges as his original audience.

During the Great Depression, poor folks watched the poor guy do his best to find a job (and keep it), fix up his house (err, shack), and woo the lady of his dreams. The audience had something in common with Chaplin’s characters, so they got the jokes, and the jokes brought them all together.

Of course, the Depression was no joke.

During these modern days we’re slogging through our own recession that doesn’t offer much to laugh about. A lot of Americans are facing those same struggles with work, housing, and even relationships. Just like Chaplin’s films portrayed the angst of those times, more and more people today are sharing the anxiety and worry of these modern times. Only we’re not doing it with slapstick and silent movies. We’re posting on blogs, sharing photos, and twittering.

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According to a recent trend report from Netpop Research LLC, online social networking has almost doubled since 2006 while the economy has only weakened since then. Netpop reports that about 3 out of 4 web users are personally sharing over the internet by contributing to blogs, rating products, uploading photos. etc.

Today about 29% of US broadband users communicate with each other specifically through social networking sites. Tough times do bring people together, and the results of this report point to even more online sharing as these recession days continue.

What This Means For Business
Commiserating with like-minded people can bring relief and comfort, but it can also impact our decisions. We aren’t sheep, blindly following anything willing to lead, but when every penny counts, it’s good to know how friends made similar choices.

While we’re updating microblogs and profile photos, we’re also rating products and declaring ourselves as fans of certain services. While we’re connecting through online chats, we’re also bidding at online auctions and sharing the scoop on great deals.

Netpop’s research revealed that social networkers currently spend more money online than “non-contributors,” and that they are likely to rely ever more heavily on the recommendations of their fellow networking media participants as this recession intensifies.

That’s why business owners need to get involved in social media. Reaching out to their existing customers who are already participating in venues like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.com will bring them into an ever-increasing network of contacts on the same wave length.

Just as Cate Riegner, VP of Research at Netpop Research, LLC, noted, “Brands that experiment in social advertising now will be in the best position to leverage these important media channels when the economy turns the corner.”

And, rest assured, this economy will indeed turn the corner, just like Chaplin always bounced back from that slapstick fall.

Paul is the President of Professional Blog Service. PBS works with clients making strategic investments into business blogging, social media and search engine optimization.

8 Social Bookmarking Services That Work in Any Niche + a Time Saving Tool

Blogging for Business? Social Bookmarking Can Help

Social bookmarking can be an important part of a social media campaign. By sharing your content on social bookmarking sites, blogging for business just got more powerful. Effective business blog marketing requires content to be distributed and shared. Social bookmarking can play an important role in this strategy.

Social bookmarking can help drive relevant and interested traffic to your website – in other words, social bookmarking doesn’t just put random and isolated single links out there, it puts out “targeted feelers”. Instead of casting a line, you’re now casting a carefully baited net. And not only are you pinning down your focus niche of potential readers or customers, you’re also getting some PageRank juice with the search engines.

Social bookmarking sites let users post links or bookmarks, make comments and invite other users to comment. These comments or votes will often increase a link’s value and its visibility. The more votes a page gets, the more perceived value it acquires and the higher it ranks on the search engines. The higher it ranks, the more people who see it and… well you see where I’m going with this…

So, if bookmarks are so great, where do you post them? Try my top 8 social bookmarking services that will work in any niche:

Blinklist

Users can ‘Blink’ their favorite sites and even create a personal ‘blinklist’. The site then allows users to sort, describe and tag their favorite blinks. The community has over 450,000 users who are extremely active.

Faves

Faves lets users save their favorite web pages, videos, news stories and music and then share it with the Faves’ community. Sign up and try the Active Topic Groups tool to see what subjects and links are generating a lot of heat.

Delicious

Del.icio.us was one of the first social bookmarking sites and still my personal favorite. As a result, it has a massive following and an extremely active community. Users can submit and share links with each other, but they can also categorize them across a wide range of interesting categories. Most sites see an improved search engine ranking and massive leaps in traffic after using Delicious with targeted tags and link descriptions.

Diigo

Diigo is like a highlighter in your browser that lets users highlight text online and even add sticky notes. The site is predominantly used for research and it’s a great way to promote web sites that are heavy with factual or research-worthy information.

Mister Wong

With over 4 million visitors every month and a site that serves 6 different languages, Mister Wong is a massive and global social bookmarking site. The site features a Spotlight section and advertises its top topics or tags.

Mixx

Mixx is a social bookmarking site for popular news stories and compelling videos. Users post their favorite videos and comment on popular political, business, entertainment and local news stories. If you’ve got a press release, this is the place to link it.

Multiply

Multiply lets users create personal web pages containing their favorite photos, links, music and videos. It’s extremely popular with families and has over 11 million members. Create a profile for your business or yourself and start adding links.

Netvouz

Netvouz lets its users set both public and private bookmarks using a standard formula of organizing links into folders or topics and tagging them with keywords.

Time Saving Tip for Social Marketing Pros
The core audience for each of these services is a bit different, both by industry and geographic location. So, as a social marketing pro, you’d better be submitting to all of them just to be sure you are sending “targeted feelers” into each nook and cranny of the Net.

Instead of logging into each one individually every time you want to promote a link, try a service like SocialMarker. Social Marker allows you to submit your link to dozens of different bookmarking services in less than five minutes.

Paul is the President of Professional Blog Service. PBS works with clients making strategic investments into business blogging, social media and search engine optimization.

 

What to consider when evaluating social networks for your b2b social media campaign

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Why should you consider a B2B Social Media campaign?

You have heard it over and over again, Generation Y has now surpassed Baby Boomers as the largest population in the United States. This makes b2b social media more important than ever. Business blogging is changing and requires more use of mobile browsing. Twitter has become the primary tool for passive aggressive behavior for b2b social media complaints.

There are literally thousands of social networks out there. You can’t join them all, nor would you want to.

So, which ones should you join?

When you spread yourself too thin over too many networks, you run the risk of being unable to properly maintain your presence on all these channels. You could also find yourself associated with a social network that has a lame image or that disappears as quickly as it appeared.

How do you prioritize? Easy…

Fish where the fish are. Go where the users are. Just like a blog with no comments or a message board with no posts, a social network with no users has little value. This seems obvious but is often ignored because many less experienced marketers decide to place all their chips on a little used “up and comer” hoping to be on top when the masses convert to that social network. Problem is, the conversion rarely happens.

Social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and Twitter have millions of active users. While, many “gurus” might scoff at marketing on these well established social networks, don’t be persuaded. Usually, these guys are trying to [Read more...]

Ghostblogwriter for Hire

carpetbagger

How do you write a blog? Hire a Ghostblogger. That is what we do at Professional Blog Service. For years now, there has been a major debate online regarding the merits of using a ghostblogger. As we have always said, if it is good enough for the President of the United States to use speechwriters, it’s good enough for Presidents of Corporations to use a ghostblogger to write what they don’t have time to do.

Which has me take exception to people who call it Carpetbagging. Ghostbloggers are betting at writing content to be read by readers and also read by search engines. Two audiences that have always been central to any online marketing campaign.

Beth Harte has me thinking because of her “Top 25 Ways to Tell if Your Social Media Expert is a Carpetbagger“.

On Beth’s blog, she posts: “7. Will ghostwrite blog posts and other social content for you.” as an indicator that your social media expert may be a carpetbagger.

At first, I was offended. After stepping back and reading it again, Beth is right. If your social media consultant is being paid to advise you and tells you to have them ghost write your blog, the consultant is a douchebag (with apologies to douchebags).

See, a consultant has a responsibility to disclose conflicts of interest or to avoid them. If that consultant doesn’t than “carpetbagger” is a nice way to describe them. “Snake in the grass” may fit better. You see, there’s no integrity in being paid as an impartial advisor, only to turn advise buying services from your own company. Your client wanted an advisor, not a salesman.

Which leads me to a little clarification about our company – Professional Blog Service:

We are not social media consultants. We are not social media experts for hire who will analyze all kinds of problems and provide impartial advice. We’re downright biased. If you want impartial advice, talk to a non-carpetbagger consultant (there’s maybe 10 in existence).

If you want a blog and social media program and don’t have the time, skill set or just have terminal writer’s block, we are a good fit. We do the work so you don’t have to. You inspire, we perspire. We do the grunt work so you can get the glory.

We happen to believe in business blogging, we believe in social media, and are very, very good at it. Some people might even call us experts. But the truth is we would simply love to have more happy customers that use our service.

Paul is the President of Professional Blog Service. PBS works with clients making strategic investments into business blogging, social media and search engine optimization.

The Secret To Effective Business Blogging

A diet rich in soy and whey protein, found in ...

Image via Wikipedia

Seems like most business blogs are like dieting…

Everyone has made a commitment to get the corporate blog going and the focus is very strong the first month on the business blog. The check off each day that a blog post is written and eagerly await the traffic numbers to see how it is doing. Then, one day, someone leaves a comment on a post like, “Interesting very to me, I thank you for interesting article.” (Little do they know, the person has added linking code to their post to generate back links to their site – that’s another blog post).  Getting that first comment is like losing those first couple of pounds on a diet.

But then something goes terribly wrong:

First, it gets harder and harder for the business to spend time on the blog. And after about a month, everyone wants it to work, but the spark just isn’t there. And so instead of posting daily, the business starts posting every few days, then every few weeks and about 90 days into the relationship, both sides realize they don’t love each other anymore and the relationship is on the rocks. Which begs the question, “What went wrong?”

Usually, what goes wrong with a business blog is that the team of bloggers either runs out of time, energy or ideas to turn into quality blog posts.

Blogging ROI is off the charts, especially if you blog effectively. In other words, you have to have something meaningful to say and do so every day. You see, blogs don’t work like static websites. The more you post, the more reward the blog provides:

1. Search engines add and drop blog articles faster. You go to the top faster, and you go away faster. Consistent, regular posts yield consistent, top rankings on search engines.

2. Other bloggers read your blog for ideas. Then they write posts referencing yours, increasing your blog’s audience. But they don’t see your ideas unless they show up in their RSS reader.

3. Social networks deliver traffic, but only if you have something that changes. No blog posts equals no changes equals no traffic from your social media initiative. More posts means more friends clicking to see what you’ve posted for them.

So, what do you do if you don’t see your blog though soft focus lenses anymore? Don’t give up. Either redouble your efforts to blog effectively or get some help.

See, your relationship with your blog isn’t a human one. Your blog won’t know the difference between you and a stand in ghost writer. Your girlfriend or boyfriend will.

Paul is the President of Professional Blog Service. PBS works with clients making strategic investments into business blogging, social media and search engine optimization.

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Top Five Tag Myths

Quick Tech Primer
If you are going to write a business blog, it is important to learn about Tags and Categories when setting it up. If you are not paying attention to your tags and your categories, you could be missing important benefits of how to use them. Business blogs require an understanding that you are reaching two audiences when writing, they include:

1. The Reader

2. The Search Engines

Tags play important part to reach both, but you have to understand how to use them.

Tag Myths, Tag Facts

Myth: Tags are used for  making blogs easy to navigate.
Fact: Tags are single words (you can do more than one word, but most people don’t because using quotes is a nuisance for Del.icio.us users) for providing hints for social bookmark sites. Tags are used to help users of sites like Del.icio.us or Technorati.com quickly categorize your website. Organizing your site by tag probably is a good way to make the site make little sense.

Myth: Tags and Keywords are the same thing.
Fact: Keywords are used to make your site easier to search. Tags are used as organization hints for social bookmark users. Sometimes your tags and keywords are the same thing. Most of the time, though, keywords tend to make more sense to humans and tags tend to be a collection of words. For example: your keyword is “SARBOX compliance software” your tags should be “software sarbox accounting sarbanes-oxley”. Oh, and long tail tags don’t really work that well.

Myth: You should select tags the same way you select keywords for your website.
Fact: Tags are used to categorize bookmarks on sites like Del.icio.us. People do not use tags the same way as keywords – they use them to indicate broad topics or emotions instead of specifics. Your tags should make it easy for someone to quickly categorize your article in their links, not as some kind of tool for telling Google what your site is about. Take a look at Del.icio.us and look what tags people are assigning to links there – you’ll be amazed how broad the tags are.

Myth: Tags should be part of my search engine optimization strategy.
Fact: Using tags to game Google for higher search position is probably not going to work out for you. Most short single word keywords are incredibly difficult to optimize for and Google has been on to tag stuffing and other third rate SEO trickery for several years. On top of that, users of social bookmarking sites will simply create their own tags if they don’t like yours.

Myth: Tags are a waste of time.
Fact: There are millions of users of sites like Digg.com, Del.icio.us and Technoriati.com. Users of these sites share bookmarks (read, their bookmark of your website) with their friends. And they can have 534,391 friends they share with. On top of that, Google and other search engines seem to smile on sites that come up often in social bookmark sites.

Paul is the President of Professional Blog Service. PBS works with clients making strategic investments into business blogging, social media and search engine optimization.

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