Monday, October 25, 2010

Learning style points for social media

Many thanks to Sam Fiorella, of and sponsors for last week’s "Social Media Squared" seminar in Denver. The long day was chock full o’ tips and techniques. But mostly, I appreciated the changes in mindset being forced upon American business by the wide open social media culture.

I liken the current transition from “old PR” to “new PR” to the difference between learning styles. Consider the difference between room dynamics in a lecture (“I’m the expert. Shut up and listen.”) and a more interactive symposium (a learning environment in which the attendees are expected to share their expertise). In fact, sharing (give and receive) is a cardinal ethic in the social media universe.

At the University Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning, 26 world renown “Nationality Classrooms” depict the different learning styles employed around the world. We are generally familiar with the ornate, forward-facing, “professor knows everything” layout of the Norway classroom.

The beautiful Indian classroom, also ornate, orients the students’ desks facing each other. In this design, a “shared” learning experience is encouraged.

The clock is ticking on hierarchical business structures in the 21st century global economy. Here is a short list of a few of Fiorella’s “new” paradigms of communications in the social media age:

• Note the transition from “one to many” (broadcast) to “one to few” (database, e-blasts) to “one to one” (super niched, highly targeted, almost personal communications).

• Case study: Boston restaurant blogs recipes and videos for foodies, sees 30% rise in sales a year later.

• “You are serving the COMMUNITY – not yourself.”

• “Social media is used to create conversations, not make announcements.” (Even celebrity and PR announcements made on Twitter want to be part of the conversation.)

• In the “Social Media Ecosystem,” healthy organisms feed each other.

• In the era of Web 2.0, work is not a space, it’s an activity. (no more “going in to work.”)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Growing your blog, basically

A client recently asked me “how do I get more people to read my blog?” A great, bottom line question. In fact, an entire industry has been build up around getting one's blog or website noticed. Without going too deeply into the soil, let me keep it simple. Focus on “the 3 C’s.”

Your blog needs a snappy title, and a sub-title that describes your target topic/genre/niche.

Your lead paragraph has to meet the requirements of a good lead, including the key words by which you want to be found.

Facebook raises the value of its posts that contain media (image or video link), or that have comments.

One of many ways to engage your audience is to ask a question at the end of your post. Comments on your blog post are golden.

A Google search of the term SEO (“search engine optimization”) turned up 1.32 BILLION hits just now (the industry I was referring to above). The purpose of SEO is to get as high on the page of search results as possible. As you study those “best practices” (use of keywords, lots of people linking to your site, called “back links”), you will – in theory - develop a higher search result.

A couple of articles I like on the basics of SEO:
  • Stoney deGeyter’s SEO 101.
  • offers a few pages to help you sort through the concepts of SEO, and don’t miss the discussion on ethics of Content SEO and Non-Content SEO.

This is the social part of social media. Your blog entries should include LOL (“lots of links”). There will sometimes be a reciprocal linking to your blog posts, but only if your work truly adds to the conversation.

Good blog pages also have a “blog roll,” a handy list of related blogs that the host likes. In the process of building any social media site (Facebook or Twitter) or blog, if you want friends, be friendly! Check out my previous post on “Blog rollin’.”

If you are a writer, you must write. Not just colorfully, but regularly. It doesn’t have to be long, in fact, keeping your topics focused will keep your blogs short. Try to keep your blog short enough to read between stops on the Metro.

Want to bring in another aspect of the issue? Write another blog. Ongoing, regular content keeps your readers (and search engines) well-fed and happy. There is no other route to growing an audience.

Content.  Connections.  Consistency.  The basics, but there is so much more to say…

Friday, October 8, 2010

Blog rollin'

It took a while for the blog roll to take share on my marketing and communications idea spot, Seismic. But it’s finally here. Thanks to social media maven Sarah Evans and media database Cision’s Heidi Sullivan on a recent social media webcast. Their webcasts are free!

I was convinced by Seth Godin’s post on “Demonstrating strength.” The line “Risking the appearance of weakness takes strength. And the market knows it” was the last straw. I was concerned that with all the truly excellent content on other blogs, my offerings would look pale in comparison. That’s an old-fashioned, defensive view of the open nature of the internet.

A little “self-talk” reminded me of the unique experiences and skill set I offer to my clients, friends and contacts. The last 30 years in radio and international non-profit PR weren’t for nothing’!

My process for building the blog roll began with deciding how many and which blogs to post. I begin with 20 blogs and websites in my “best of.” Probably my years of radio and “Top 20” in my brain somewhere. Sarah Evans only has 15. Cision has 33.

Some of the blogs I settled on I’ve followed for years. I even included a link to the static site for The Cluetrain Manifesto. It’s concepts are essential for late adaptors and reluctant communicators. The rest I investigated from Advertising Age’s “Power 150," solely based on the name of the blog. Yup, the name. The name is the primary and pre-eminent identifier you’ll ever have. Reflecting my Star Trek geekdom, “what is your designation?

I’ll be checking out your blog roll too!