Blogger outreach – Socialmedia.biz http://socialmedia.biz Social media business strategies blog Fri, 29 Dec 2017 08:16:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Why promoting a brand takes perseverance http://socialmedia.biz/2014/03/26/why-promoting-a-brand-takes-perseverance/ Wed, 26 Mar 2014 12:01:42 +0000 http://socialmedia.biz/?p=27204 Continue reading ]]> persistence

Target audience: Marketing professionals, PR pros, brand managers, SEO specialists, businesses.

Chris AbrahamIf you want to be heard above the din of the Internet, you need to speak clearly and with persistence. It’s not uncommon for someone at a loud bar not to hear you the first time, or even twice. If you assume someone isn’t interested in getting to know you better just because they don’t hear you the first or second time, then you’re doomed. The Internet is the busiest, loudest, most distracting place ever created. It’s global and impersonal and often anonymous. Plus, there’s no accountability.

At least in a bar, you can sit right next to the someone you want to meet and then just bide your time until there’s a lull in the noise or you can catch an eye. The Internet’s just not like that. Social media is loud and tends to be an insider’s club. We resonate with people we already know, be it in our in-boxes, our rivers of news, or our walls, we tend to tune out unknowns. And, in social media marketing, most of us are unknowns, most brands are unknown, and most services, too.

not_your_type_mainIn order to score the digits in content marketing, you need three things: confidence, conviction, and stay-with-it-ness. One of the reasons why people are so coy online when it comes to engaging folks online about brands, promotions, events, products, and services is because they feel like they’re in some way doing something that’s dodgy. That selling is an ignoble pursuit. That what you’re doing – engaging people online in order to have them read, share, write, review, and buy – is sleazy and that what you’re pushing is snake oil.

When singles talk about being attracted to confidence, what they’re saying is that they’re attracted to transparency and authenticity. Confidence conveys a deep belief that what you’re pitching has integrity, be it yourself, when it comes to the art of seduction, or your brand, when it comes to the art of content marketing. Like the dweeb approaching the supermodel, it’s not that nice guys finish last, it’s that folks who don’t really believe they belong doing what they’re doing, pitching what they’re pitching, saying what they’re saying, and being what they purport to be, finish last.

women-in-bar-rejecting-a-manWhat separates winning content marketing campaigns from the losers? Persistence. From my experience, too many new media marketing campaigns lack bravery, boldness, confidence, and persistence. They do the messaging equivalent of “ahem, excuse me, if you would be so kind, ahem, I don’t mean to bother you or anything, ahem” rather than “hello, my name is Chris Abraham, damned glad to meet you.”

It’s understandable, really. Brands are afraid of the online world, especially earned media, where anything that a brand says and does can be used against it. So, over time, shell-shocked from seeing everyone around them being shot down and rejected; and, after repeatedly being warned by the media and by social media gurus as to how much of a mine field blogger outreach is, once-bitten, twice shy.

If you want to be successful in search marketing, earned media marketing, and content marketing, you’ll need to reach out not once, twice, but three times. We have learned this from direct mail and email marketing, especially when it came to Obama’s 2008 presidential campaigns: if you’re aggressive and email your core demographic repeatedly, you may make a few enemies and suffer a few humiliations – but you’ll probably also raise

Earn that respect a little bit at a time

170100012_homeAccording to Jose Antonio Vargas of the Washington Post, “3 million donors made a total of 6.5 million donations online adding up to more than $500 million. Of those 6.5 million donations, 6 million were in increments of $100 or less. The average online donation was $80, and the average Obama donor gave more than once.” Also, according to Joshua Green in his Bloomberg Business Week article, The Science Behind Those Obama Campaign E-Mails, “Most of the $690 million Obama raised online came from fundraising e-mails.”

It’s true. Bloggers are generally more libertarian rugged individualist than sycophantic people pleasers. And, most brands aren’t used to being challenged. “How dare they, those pissants, they’re merely bloggers.” I personally thought that this belief perished by 2010; however, the fear, indignity, and confusion persists. What it’s turned into in many ways, is the world of sponsored posts, native advertising, and guest blogging schemes. These are considered much safer as these bloggers are surely sycophantic people pleasers and are much more predictable than bloggers and journalists who may be willing to be engaged by you, informed by you, and then converted by you to become bona fide brand ambassadors through earned respect.

Go well beyond the A-listers

When it comes to my strategy for blogger outreach, I am committed to reach out to as many bloggers as possible, from the rarefied air the A-listers and celebrities breathe all the way down the long tail to the hobbyists, the passion-players, and committed content nerds and geeks. What I do is collect lists of thousand of bloggers who meet a minimum requirement for interest in whatever I am promoting.

When I promoted Mizuno running shoes, my minimum requirement was that the blogger had, at some point, discussed running, jogging, fitness, or getting in shape. Very broad. This resulted in 100 A-list bloggers, all of whom my associate, Sally Falkow, and I engaged by hand; and then around eight-thousand bloggers who received a mail-merge-personalized email offering them first access to Mizuno’s Mezamashii project as well as lots of opportunities to test Mizuno shoes, to be considered for Mizuno sponsorship, and to be taken into the Mizuno communications and marketing fold. In many ways, it was a corporate olly-olly-oxen-free; and, it was an easy sell: top-quality product, sleeper brand, and who doesn’t like to try out new shoes, eh? It was funny, though, as many of the A-listers were already contractually sponsored by other shoe brands. It was the long tail that really paid off as many of them “had never been kissed” before by brands, though they all winsomely hoped that some day their prince would come, bearing cool shoes and athletic gear for them to try out and review. And, for many of them that day had come.

Even with the deck stacked, we still needed to be persistent. Upon receipt of the first email offer pitch, many of the bloggers assumed it was spam. It rang the “too good to be true” and “who, me?” buttons. It wasn’t until the second outreach when a flood of responses came in with, “yes, please.” And, to make sure we had herded all of the strays, we did a final outreach, a third, to make certain every one of those 8,000 bloggers had an opportunity for first refusal. Mizuno earned hundreds of earned-media-mentions and thousands of registrations for their Mezamashii Running Community – and all of that activation in the space of four weeks.

In the Internet age, it’s no longer enough to be the best looking or most interesting, you really must be the most brave. You need to get your pretty self up off of that bar stool and get right over and start meeting people. The world has become flat, thanks to the Internet, and if you just wait until your Prince Charming comes to you on his palomino horse, then you’ll really only get what you get, and that might be nothing.

(Special Thanks to DC Robbery Lawyer Jason Kalafat for his contributions to this site)

]]>
An automated solution for blogger outreach research http://socialmedia.biz/2014/01/22/automated-solution-for-blogger-outreach-research/ http://socialmedia.biz/2014/01/22/automated-solution-for-blogger-outreach-research/#comments Wed, 22 Jan 2014 13:01:44 +0000 http://socialmedia.biz/?p=26585 Continue reading ]]> grouphigh
Want to make outreach marketing more successful? One option is GroupHigh, which offers blogger intelligence software to help you identify influential blogs, automate research, and measure engagement.

Chris AbrahamI am hereby making the jump from humans to robots for all my blogger research. In the last decade I have seen social media marketing and digital PR mature as a practice, I have seen social media metrics and analytics evolve by leaps-and-bounds.

When it came to the tools being offered for prospecting, managing, and tracking online engagement and outreach, the quality had been dubious, the licensing too expensive, and of limited value.

In many cases, it came down to whether the cost, learning curve, and value of each particular product actually made sense to the process and bottom line of my agency.

And what was I comparing all of these social CRMs, influencer-identification services, and blogger databases to? I was comparing them to the cost of hiring a team of people to do all of the work by hand.

Reaching out to armies of bloggers

What I do is a little different than the garden variety influencer outreach. I don’t reach out to 40 bloggers over time, I reach out to upward of 2,000 bloggers all at once. What I need is I need painfully-fresh and large lists of bloggers, each blog needing to be perfectly targeted to the clients’ products, services, news, location, restrictions, and needs.

For military bloggers, I need lists that are both American and also pro-military and pro-soldier. Tricky. And I need a lot of them. I need brains and discernment. I also need blog names, formatted-correctly, and blogger names, spelled right, and I need to make sure the blog is current, and active. What I need more than anything else, however, is the blogger’s correct email address as I pitch via email.

I have been searching in earnest for a software solution that would be affordable enough to make sense.

In the beginning, my time was free so it made sense to identify blogs, prospect bloggers, engage communities, pitch influencers, and write reports all on my own, allowing me to make every dollar billed.

Then, as my company scaled and I couldn’t do it all on my own, I had teammates do it — but they hated it. Then I found an offshore team that worked when — and only when — I needed them and offered me an affordable solution in enough of a timely manner that I could easily work it into the campaign plan.

The majority of the solutions out there are focused not on list-building or email-acquisition but they’re focused on the persistent engagement and long-term intimacy required by what I call A-list blogger outreach.

This sort of high-influencer outreach generally is limited to 25-100 hyper-targeted and super-influential bloggers, tweeters, Facebookers, YouTubers, SoundClouders, Instagramers, Viners, and I guess Google Plussers.

What social media publicists need

What these social media publicists need is a CRM for bloggers instead of business clients and prospects.

They need to maintain a current and details-oriented dossier on each and every person with whom they communicate, noting history, preferred method of contact, preferences, boundaries, and even marital status, number of children, vacations, political leaning, etc. Like spycraft, like sales, like the best hotels and condominiums.

That said, for me, it was always easier to just task my overseas team a couple-few weeks before I needed my topical lists, give them a very strict parameter based on what I needed (US-only or pro-this or anti-this, etc., each parameter costing a little more as records are harder to collect), give them a very detailed keywords list, and let them dig, dig, dig.

Anyway, that’s why it’s so important for me to make sure I have the following sorted out before I choose the right tool family to marry into. It needs:

  • Hundreds and thousands of blogs collected over a wide swatch of topics, verticals, demographics, and geographics.
  • All the blogs need to have contact info because the bloggers’ names, titles, and email addresses are essential to me
  • All the blogs and bloggers need to be pre-QA‘d, quality-controlled, and vetted as bloggers who aren’t hiding their contact info
  • All the contact info for all the blogs need to be constantly-scraped and constantly-updated.
  • The ability to export everything I need into an Excel or CSV file that I can use in my own systems
  • And, it would be really amazing to be able to track the bloggers who end up being the most keen and promote them to the A-list
  • Traffic stats, reach, penetration, popularity, and clout of the blogs and bloggers would be ideal
  • The ability to upload long lists of blog URLs to create lists or social media handles or emails to find blogs would be perfect.

Am I asking too much?

An unexpected secret weapon: GroupHigh

I didn’t think it was possible to find all of these services, a way to free me from needing to do extensive personal blogger research myself or all the front-end and back end setup and quality control. And, if I were able to find a service like this, I was afraid that it would be a limited database of moldering contact info, collected only and never purged.

So, I would query the service, get a whole lot of blogs and bloggers back, and suffer from the fact that most of the blogs, bloggers, and emails addresses are not only stale but possibly toxic. But then recently, over coffee, friend of mine in the same business told me about his secret weapon: GroupHigh.

Skeptical, I got a demo exploration and was pleasantly surprised: but it really seems perfect for my needs. I’m going to start using it, and let you know how it works for me, how I use it, the sort of benefits and value-add that I can then pass to my clients through access, continuity, persistence, social media as well as accurate reporting.

This is going to be a bit of a John Henry experience: men versus automation. I will be sure to report in on how things are going. We’re engaged with some pretty high profile companies for serious blogger outreach — so I will be able periodically report on how GroupHigh performs compared to my team of researchers.

Let me know if you have any questions or queries in the comments — I am very interested in learning more about your process, the services you use, and how you initiation, manage, maintain, and deepen your online influencer outreach and engagement campaigns.

]]>
http://socialmedia.biz/2014/01/22/automated-solution-for-blogger-outreach-research/feed/ 2
You must get over your fear of being annoying http://socialmedia.biz/2013/07/09/persistence-counts-in-digital-marketing/ http://socialmedia.biz/2013/07/09/persistence-counts-in-digital-marketing/#comments Tue, 09 Jul 2013 12:00:47 +0000 http://socialmedia.biz/?p=25282 Continue reading ]]> persistence
Photo courtesy of albarber3 (Creative Commons)

In digital marketing, persistence is paramount

Chris AbrahamAccording to Jonathan Alter‘s new book, The Center Holds, it was Barack Obama’s young geek volunteers who crushed Mitt Romney‘s “Mad Men” campaign out of the 1960s in the 2012 election. And while much of their success had to do with their collective beautiful mind, it also had to do with something that Alter said as a matter of fact: They got “over the fear of being annoying.”

The whole quote from the below interview on the Colbert Show is, “You’ve got to get over your fear of being annoying” (minute 4:30):

So not only did the president’s merry band of geeks learn how best to microtarget and activate 2 million volunteers, they also learned how to push past their fear of rejection to ultimately realize the truth. According to Alter:

“The emails were annoying as hell … they studied this … they had all kinds of tests…the biggest conceptual breakthrough in the campaign, as the guy running the digital team said, was you’ve got to get over your fear of being annoying … and once they did, they found that the number of people who unsubscribed was much lower than the extra money they were getting by sending out more appeals.”

thecenterholdsThe result of this aggressiveness (maybe inspired by being headquartered in Chicago, known for being tough) was growing the revenue from online donations from $15 million per month to over $150 million per month and, ultimately, beating the Romney campaign by over 5 million votes.

As you may well know from my blog posts (see below), I am fully on board with pushing a little hard. With my blogger outreach campaigns, I reach out to bloggers three times instead of once or twice. People are busy so not only do you need to get your message out there (especially if you’re not the president or a presidential hopeful) but you also need to keep on asking until all the stars align and you get them at the perfect moment when they’re free, their wallet’s close, they’ve deposited their paycheck, they’ve had a change of heart, or they just have the right moment.

Nobody’s going to go into their Google archive and look for that one tentative appeal you made months ago. You’ll always need to remind, repeat, and follow up. And don’t be a wuss — don’t forget that if you can’t prove an ROI to your boss or to yourself, you’ll soon give up on content marketing or be fired, if that’s what you were hired to do.

The level of messaging that the president engaged in was aggressive enough that it became a national joke. Stephen ColbertJon Stewart, and all your friends probably mentioned the deluge of fundraising email from Michelle, from Barack, from celebrities, from senators — from everyone! We as a nation talked about the intimate subject lines, the insulting “Hey!” and any number of other attempts at getting our attention.

hey

And, I am sure that loads and loads of people unsubscribed. But not enough people unsubcribed, blocked, spam-boxed, reported, or filtered out the fundraising appeals to change the fact that this sort of supposedly unforgivable behavior resulted in a 10x growth in month’s donations: $15M to $150M. Between you and me, isn’t that worth it?

Yes, do A/B testing. Yes, write the perfect appeal, tweet, Facebook post, or ad copy. However, if you’re not willing to take a little heat with the understanding that there will always be complainers, unsubscribers, haters, the forgetful (dude, this is an opt-in list, you subscribed to me!), and the general grumpy by nature, what’re you going to do?

heyEmail

Does being annoying bother you? Are you going to be polite or effective?

Related by Chris Abraham on Socialmedia.biz
]]>
http://socialmedia.biz/2013/07/09/persistence-counts-in-digital-marketing/feed/ 7
Blogger outreach is more PR than social media http://socialmedia.biz/2013/05/06/blogger-outreach-is-more-pr-than-social-media/ Mon, 06 May 2013 12:11:18 +0000 http://socialmedia.biz/?p=24861 Continue reading ]]> blogger-outreach-large

Discover and engage your allies with long-tail blogger outreach

Chris AbrahamThe current catch-all these days for what I do is ‘social media’. Unfortunately, when what you do is described as such, people tend to think FacebookTwitterPinterest, and maybe Google+. My expertise, however, is online community outreach and engagement. Back in 2006, I developed a strategy of blogger outreach that allowed me to reach out to more than just 25 top-tier bloggers by hand but to 2,500-5,000 bloggers.

I have always called this long-tail blogger outreach — though I would love your help with choosing a new name for it — because it focuses on the B-Z-list bloggers, the online influencers who are often overlooked by most social media teams at digital agencies.

While I agree that the top-25-50 bloggers do deserve deep, long-term, and personal engagement, spending that sort of time, over time, on “everyone else” would take all the time in the universe. So, what my team and I developed is the equivalent of blogger-brand speed dating.

The ins and outs of mass outreach

blog3

After identifying 2,000-4,000 blogs that are topically, geographically, or demographically on target, preparing a content-laden microsite and penning a very short-and-sweet email message pitch, then I send out those 2K-4K emails, each and every one a speed date, and wait at the inbox.

Before long, hundreds of email replies stream in. Some aren’t interested, some are game, and others are curious but need more information. Like speed dating, we’re not interested in the no’s but we’re interested in the yeses.

Of course, we’re courteous and we’re present and we’re always kind — “hugs not horns” I always remind my team — and we’re never anything but earnest and polite — “be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle” — but if they’re not interested, we don’t contact them again. And if they’re very unhappy, we’ll beg their pardon and put them into a Do Not Contact list; otherwise, everyone who replies is taken off the campaign list.

After identifying 2,000-4,000 blogs, preparing a microsite and penning a short email pitch, I send out 2K-4K emails, each and every one a speed date, and wait at the inbox

The secret sauce, however, is that this form of speed dating requires email — and email is unreliable. And people are suspicious and busy. And email sometimes doesn’t quite make its way to the Inbox.

So, a week after the initial email outreach, I send a reminder email, but only to those bloggers who didn’t reply at all. No reply results in a follow-up email.

And it works. Too many practitioners of blogger outreach, email marketing, email outreaches, or even triple-, double-, and single-opt-in mailing lists are just too shy, too feeble in their messaging, for fear that they’ll get hundreds or thousands drinks-in-the-face. Nope, not if you do it right.

If you do it right, you’ll get twice the response you did from your first email. So, for instance, let’s say we emailed 4,000 bloggers and a 1,000 bloggers responded. 250 would have responded to the first email outreach, 500 would have responded to the second outreach, and then 250 would have responded to the final outreach.

Yes, a week after we mail the first follow-up email, we send out a final follow-up and thank you, thanking the blogger (who has yet to email us or reply at all — pretty much radio silent) for his or her time, apologizing for the inconvenience, and also to let the blogger know that he or she is welcome to take advantage of the opportunity when and if he or she gets around to reading and responding to the campaign pitch.

Be respectful and gracious

Our rule is to always be friendly, loving, generous, happy, kind, and even respectfully playful with each and every blogger, even the Grumpy Cats. Never rise to the bait, never fight fire with fire, never engage in snark/irony/sarcasm because the only person who is allowed to be anything but completely charming and gracious is the blogger.

Again, “be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle” — our mantra.

And you know what? If we do everything right, we’ll generally earn a couple of hundred earned media mentions directly shared on the bloggers’ blogs. We’ll also earn secondary mentions through Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Pinterest, Tumblr, Google+, digg, and reddit.

If you want to learn more, feel free to take a look at this blogger outreach deck I created for my friends at Sage over on Slideshare.

Blogger engagement as a strategy to reach new influencers

Blogger outreach and engagement is much more than social media. It could be seen as content marketing, yes, but it could and should be a communications strategy toward discovering and prospecting new and future influencers.

BloggerIf you can identify a passion player — someone who is already talking about you, your products and services — and you can woo them into becoming citizen brand ambassadors, then you’ll be able to develop a very large pack of proponents and passion players who will be loyal and will have safely imprinted on your attention, your acknowledgement, and your generosity. To be sure, it’s much easier to prospect for new fans when these fans haven’t been wooed by another than it is to woo them away from a secure brand attachment.

And, to be honest, every single blogger anywhere close to the top-50 has already been spoken for in a big way. Generally-speaking, their brand sugardaddies probably have deeper-pockets and are internationally more prestigious that you may well be so it behooves you to play blogger moneyball. Find a large number of very talented bloggers who can personally assist you in your branding goals and bottom-line rather than spending your time and money on a few outrageously-compensated stars, most of whom are too busy and too distracted by an embarrassment of riches to actually give you all the time, attention, and coverage that you, your brand, your products, and your services deserve.

And remember, if you do all of this right, it’ll all be an earned media campaign, meaning you won’t have to pay each and every one of these bloggers to post, to cover, to review, or to promote. That’s not to say this’ll all be free to you — all of this can be expensive, both in terms of client service agency hours as well as in terms of the give, the gift you pitch the blogger with, be it informational, a product, or a service. And you need to make it good. Unless it’s an offer that can’t be refused — give till it hurts — and you just expect a blogger to blog about you “just because,” then you’ll always be disappointed.

Remember: The blogger is always right

As you can tell from my mantra, the blogger is always right. The bloggers have all the leverage. If you don’t make good on your generous offer, each and every blogger has recourse — and we knew they did — and it’s their blog! Plus, their tweets and Facebook posts and their Tumblr and Pinterest and reddit and everywhere else.

Long-tail blogger outreach is an amazing platform to both discover and engage with a multitude of natural allies and the people who are already talking about you

So, long-tail blogger outreach is an amazing platform to both discover and engage with a multitude of natural allies and the people who are already talking about you, and giving them all the tools, the copy, the content, the gifts, and the impetus to share information about you all over the Internet (an entire campaign only takes around six-weeks, total). It also allows you to harvest all of the bloggers game enough to mention you and your goodies into your inner-most where you can personally grow your relationship with them now and groom them into the future.

Clearly I had a lot to share. Do you consider what I am doing with blogger outreach to be “social media”? What do you think about the discipline? What about the concept of flirting with bloggers en masse and engaging with them in a very quick “yes/no” speed-dating scenario? Do you think it is worthwhile to reach out to thousands of bloggers — all the way down to “nobody” — instead or in addition to the top blogger celebrities? Let me know what you think in the comments. I am very curious to hear from you and would love to tweak my methods. Thanks in advance!

Related

Here are some links to additional posts I have made about blogger outreach in the past:

]]>
Turn your website into your social media brand HQ http://socialmedia.biz/2012/12/17/turn-your-website-into-your-social-media-brand-hq/ http://socialmedia.biz/2012/12/17/turn-your-website-into-your-social-media-brand-hq/#comments Mon, 17 Dec 2012 13:31:26 +0000 http://socialmedia.biz/?p=23590 Continue reading ]]>
Image by elycefeliz on Flickr

Make your website your communications hub

Target audience: Businesses, brands, developers, marketing professionals, SEO specialists, geeks, general public.

Chris AbrahamAt the end of the day, none of us owns anything we do on Facebook, Twitter, PinterestGoogle Plus. What we do own is our personal properties.

No matter how many hours I spend at the Java Shack or Peregrine Espresso, I am just a customer. Social media and its social networks may feel like a home to some of us, but they’re really just private public spaces, similar to coffee shops, the Politics & Prose reading area, or the ballroom at the Rosslyn Marriott.

At the end of the day, none of this is yours. These places, while filled with amazing opportunities for connection and growth, mean nothing if you can’t bring it all home, be it sales, self-promotion, networking, creativity, marketing, education or brand building.

Ultimately, your home is your business and yourself

What is home? Well, in a practical sense, your online home is your web site; maybe your blog. More philosophically, your home is your business and yourself.

I was installing a new personal consulting website over the weekend and I was reminded of this. I chose to use Drupal, a content management system (CMS) that is similar to WordPress, though known less for being a blogging platform than a content platform. I chose a database-backed Web application instead of a Flash-based or flat file site for several reasons, all of which had to do with making my online brand identity work as hard for me as possible.

Some of the core functionality that drew me to Drupal is how well it connects to Cron, sort of like a server’s timekeeper. It keeps my website primed not just when I am available, it can also work on my behalf even when I am on a plane or asleep.

What do I mean by this? Well, Drupal is open source software, so there’s not only a lot of useful functionality built in but also thousands of modules and plug-ins that easily and readily extend the functionality of my site out the wazoo.

So, there’s a built-in aggregator that I can set up to suck in all the RSS feeds of all the blogs to which I contribute, including Twitter. This allows me to write for Tumblr, other blogs, and Twitter and have as much or as little of the content brought back into my business home site, and shoved into my own database for my own posterity.

Sharing doesn’t happen by happenstance

Another thing it lets me to do is add a plug-in that easily allows me to offer all my visitors the ability to effortlessly share my content to Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and more. This makes it easy to add and remove different buttons as social networks go away (good bye, Google Buzz!) and add them as they’re introduced (hello Google+, for now).

And remember, it’s always better when other people share your stuff. Just like compliments, it’s always better when other people say how pretty and smart you are. Also, by design every share will include a link to your content, to your brand, and to your contact info. It’s genius! You’re also not prohibited from sharing from your own site as well — nobody said not to.

Another reason why I chose Drupal is because Google gets Drupal and Drupal gets Google. Unfortunately, too many people roll their own sites. Generally speaking, these are some flat file sites, some bizarre proprietary solution some Web guy peddled you, or a pretty minimal WordPress install, designed by a graphic designer instead of a coder.

The flat file and the proprietary solution are alien to Google, at least for a little while. While Google has seen a bazillion Drupal, WordPress and Joomla installs, it might take a while for Google to suss out what you’re about on your proprietary or brochureware site, if ever. This is especially true if you’ve also designed the entire site in Flash or a sliced-up Photoshop file.

On the other hand, Drupal is very aware of classifications, user-readable URLs, customizable title, keyword and description tags. I have already installed a module that connects to Google Webmaster Tools via a dynamic XML Sitemap, to Google Analytics, and to all the Ping Servers (do people even use those anymore?). What more, I’ve installed an SEO module that will help me further explain myself and every page I make to Google.

Drupal can prevent you from being Sandboxed or De-Listed

And since the Drupal community is so Bright White Hat, they make several modules that audit your site to make sure you didn’t do something evil that might be perceived by Google as being Black Hat, resulting in your site getting either Sandboxed (pretty darn bad) or De-Listed (devastating).

All the work you’ve ever done on social media is likely to vanish unless you spend time capturing your work, words & creativity

Since I have my own server, I have access to server logs, which are great ways to look deeper into how people are interacting with my site than even Google Analytics can go. That said, Drupal does a pretty good job of being able to actively and dynamically promote similar and popular content to my visitors so that anyone who comes in looking for Blogger Outreach Services because of one search will be offered all the pages that are similar to the topic that are available on the site, hopefully keeping folks on the site until they’re convinced that they want to hire me.

I believe that Drupal also offers the ability to auto link text in its core or as an extension. I can write my copy with abandon without having to worry about linking text or whether those links will go dead or change over time. Every time my article explicitly says “Blogger Outreach” the server will turn that phrase into a hyperlink and that link will go to the page on Blogger Outreach. If I change things up, I can change the point-to link to somewhere else and it will change every instance instantly.

Drupal also offers dynamic meta-tag titles, descriptions, and keywords; it can connect directly with other web applications via XML, RSS, or ATM, both read or write, if you set it up correctly. It can also cross-post whenever you post something on your site — be it news, something bloggish, something sales or hiring, or something PR — out and about, automatically: to Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, or wherever.

And, if there’s anything you can imagine that you might want to do, there’s probably an app for that (well, a module, really). Now that Drupal has been accepted widely and has matured over time, anything that may well be missing can be created for you by extending an application that already exists (by either joining the team and adding features or by forking the code into your own thing) or by hiring a Drupal developer to do it for you. Since it’s “just scripting” (PHP and MySQL, really), you won’t be stuck behind that proprietary wall of opacity. There are lots of options and developers of all levels of talent, skill, and experience (back when I started, PHP-coders were rare and Drupal developers were like unicorns).

Make your website your communications platform

OK, I am a total geek and I am so psyched to be elbow deep in Secure Shell (PuTTY), FTP (FileZILLA), vichmodwget, and tar xvf that I would like you to forgive me for this article (I should be talking about social media marketing and digital PR, after all). However, I have been in the PR world now for 10 years and most PR websites really suck. Your own personal web site should be more than just a landing page for decision makers. It’s also your own personal platform for communication, engagement, sharing, and for square-dancing with lovely spiders and bots of Google, Bing and the gang.

Take some time to become better than yourself. You make not be a geek like me, but you really need to take advantage of all the cool stuff I can do. The setting up of all the back-end stuff only took me one dedicated Sunday, so it’s not rocket science.

Good luck and remember that all the work that you do and have ever done on social media in support of your brand is ephemeral and likely to vanish into thin air unless you spend some time capturing your work, your words, and your creativity somewhere you can keep it and keep on using it.

It might as well be in your own online home, your website.

Enhanced by Zemanta
]]>
http://socialmedia.biz/2012/12/17/turn-your-website-into-your-social-media-brand-hq/feed/ 1
Are you using updated keywords for your business? http://socialmedia.biz/2012/11/06/are-you-using-updated-keywords-for-your-business/ http://socialmedia.biz/2012/11/06/are-you-using-updated-keywords-for-your-business/#comments Tue, 06 Nov 2012 13:31:39 +0000 http://socialmedia.biz/?p=23172 Continue reading ]]>

Or, why your keywords suck and are outdated

Chris AbrahamYou probably built your website years ago. You’ve probably never updated your CV, just added your latest jobs and clients to the top. Your corporate bio, what you do, your products and services were probably written back either when your company opened, when you ported your brochures to the web, or the last time you did a major revision. Like I said, probably years ago.

Why does this matter?

If you don’t add the exact, literal titles, subjects, hashtags, and keywords people are using to find you and your services, then you won’t be found at all

Language evolves very rapidly, and how it evolves has little or nothing to do with what you call yourself, how you describe your products and services, or the keywords you have locked and loaded into your tweets, your websites, your hashtags, your textual links, your Google AdWords contextual ad campaigns, your Facebook ad programs and Twitter promoted tweets.

If you don’t refer to your services in the same way that others do, you’ll be surprisingly invisible when it comes to your prospects finding you on the Internet. If you don’t add the exact, literal titles, subjects, hashtags, and keywords that people are using to find you and your valuable services, then you won’t be found at all.

As I have said, Google may well be the most sophisticated, intuitive, and relevant search engine going, but there’s a terrible secret that even Google doesn’t want you to know about when it comes to folks searching for and finding you:

Google plays dumb until it needs to be smart.

Literal is quicker & simpler, so know your buzzwords

Google is amazingly, painfully literal and only gets smarter when — and if — it can’t find relevant results that satisfy its customers immediately and easily. When it can’t find what you’re looking for, Google will search its databases for name variation, for light synonyms, and the like. If Google Search doesn’t need to be ingenious, however, then it’ll just be useful, serving only results that explicitly mention the exact keyword strings that the customer shoehorns into search.

Why, you may ask, does it play dumb? Well, being smart is very resource-intensive so if Google is literal, all it has to do is find a match in it’s cached-and-prepped index. Literal is quicker, simpler, and mostly a better result than when Google tries too hard to be clever. It’s win-win until it doesn’t result in you or your business anywhere to be found. And that’s your fault, man — own up!

When I started in digital, what I did was called new media marketing. Then it became social media marketing, then blogger outreach, then digital PR and digital marketing. Another example is a service I offered which helped balance bad search engine results on Google. I called it defensive SEO then defensive search. Now it’s part of Online Reputation Management (ORM).

Who knows what digital PR and ORM will be called in the future? It’s always evolving and one needs to not only keep up with what the professional wordsmiths and copywriters are calling what we do; we also need to know what sticks, what people adopt, and finally, what the general public calls what you and I do. Knowing the terms that people that are not part of our acronym-loving digital Internet cabal are using is important — we’re very often way too clever for our own good.

So, have you brainstormed recently? Have you interviewed your friends, clients, Mom, Dad, high school mates, wife, husband, kids, and colleagues? Ask them what they would search for if they were involved in a particular situation needing services like yours.

How do I clean bad search results from Google?

Folks don’t often get onto Google with a set of keywords or a professional industry style guide to help them choose the la phrase juste. They’re just writing words into Google as though asking the netherworld for answers via their handy Ouija board or Magic Eight Ball.

Look. Even dumb people have money, have businesses, and have things they need from you.

And it’s not so much about dumbing down or becoming a simpleton, it’s about covering all your bases. Dude, even dumb people have money, have businesses, and have things they need from you. It would be foolish to only avail yourself to a clientele who thinks exactly like you do.

So, give it a go and make a schedule. Keep your ear to the ground and be sure to interview prospects to find out what the cutting edge of your industry’s language is, as well as what the long tail of your prospects’ language is. Then make sure that this language is constantly rolled into the already-rich dough that is your businesses Internet and web assets: bios, social media profiles, social network platforms, websites, micro-sites, personal sites, promotional pages, your blog, and Tumblr — everything you can.

And if you do maintain the keyword-based advertising campaigns for yourself and your clients, you need to work on updating your keyword list as well. These strings go stale surprisingly quickly. In fact, I don’t want to waste any more of your time — get going right now!

Good luck and happy hunting!

(Disclosure: I am a former employee of Reputation.com and they continue to sponsor my work)

]]>
http://socialmedia.biz/2012/11/06/are-you-using-updated-keywords-for-your-business/feed/ 1
Detailed analysis of the perfect blogger pitch http://socialmedia.biz/2011/11/29/line-by-line-analysis-of-the-perfect-email-blogger-pitch/ http://socialmedia.biz/2011/11/29/line-by-line-analysis-of-the-perfect-email-blogger-pitch/#comments Wed, 30 Nov 2011 04:50:21 +0000 http://www.socialmedia.biz/?p=20759 Continue reading ]]> email

Image by Sean MacEntee via Flickr

Chris AbrahamOver the last five years that Abraham Harrison has been pitching bloggers on behalf of clients, we have learned a thing or two about how best to reach bloggers, how to engage them, how to get them to carry our client’s message to their readership. Whether we’re doing an outreach to the bloggers of mainstream media and celebrity blogs or to someone who has just set up a blog for the first time, it all begins with the message model.

Below is an example of a message model we developed for Miriam’s Kitchen for National Homelessness Month. We didn’t use it because we focused on Give to the Max Day instead, but I think it is an example of our best work and I’ll put it aside and we’ll use it next year for sure. I will share the entire email pitch in total below but then I will go through a line-by-line explanation as to what we did and why we did it:

From: Chris Abraham <cjabraham@miriamskitchennews.org>
Subject: November is National Homelessness Month

Hi <<First Name>>

November is National Homelessness Month and I’m reaching out to you to discuss the issue of homelessness in America. I’m also hoping that you’ll discuss this issue with the readers of <<Blog Name>>. I am a volunteer at a small kitchen for the homeless in DC and while working there it occurred to me that this issue affects every town, village, and city in America.

I have put together a microsite that puts the issue of homelessness in perspective and also uses Miriam’s Kitchen, the kitchen where I volunteer, as a model for addressing homelessness and untreated mental illness in the US capital city. There are a multitude of news, facts, videos, photos, and banners so please feel free to repost any of it:

www.miriamskitchennews.org

If you are able to post about this issue in any form, it would really help spread the message of homelessness in its many diverse forms and maybe suggest ways to help improve many lives. Please let me know if you have any questions and if you are able to help. Thank you so much.

Chris


Chris Abraham,
On behalf of Miriam’s Kitchen
www.miriamskitchen.org

OK, now I will go into more detail, section by section.

From: Chris Abraham <cjabraham@miriamskitchennews.org>

The first thing you’ll notice is that I am doing the outreach in this example. Though not the norm, I personally volunteer and donate to Miriam’s Kitchen and people know that, so I decided to reach out as me because that’s the most authentic relationship. In other cases, the names of Abraham Harrison team members fit the bill. The next thing you’ll notice is that the email doesn’t come from either miriamskitchen.org or abrahamharrison.com domains. Instead, we virtually always reserve a completely new and unique domain name for each campaign, in this case miriamskitchennews.org. Why? Three reasons:

  1. Clients protect their domains. Most companies and organizations have very restrictive IT policies that limit the use of their domain and the allocation of email addresses. This makes it almost impossible to place social media news release content on their site, so we reserve our own because it gets around any of those issues.
  2. Bloggers don’t trust PR firms. We prefer to reach out to bloggers as the client instead of as Abraham Harrison on behalf of our clients. Why? Not to be deceptive but because a strong majority of all the bloggers we reach out to are not trained in public relations processes and don’t generally feel comfortable being communicated to via a broker, so we always try to communicate as clearly and as simply as possible, so choosing something in-between the two is best, in this case cjabraham@miriamskitchennews.org.
  3. Spam detectors are always a risk. Because we reach out cold to upwards of five-thousand bloggers at a time, it is essential that we don’t put ever put mission-critical domain names in jeopardy of being black-listed as spam or being taken away by a fickle registrar such as GoDaddy.com. While we’re exceedingly careful when we target and how we engage each blogger, it is amazing how few email recipients need to report a single email as unwanted before the gray-bearded email wizards can ban and block an entire domain from being deliverable–we never want to put ourselves or our clients in that precarious position. While this has never actually happened to us or our clients, we have felt enough saber-rattling and there have been enough shots over our bow that we make sure we never put anyone into a defensive position. Ultimately, protecting our clients’ brands as well as our own is of top priority.

Let’s move on to the all-important subject line.

Subject: November is National Homelessness Month

The first, and sometimes only, thing a blogger sees when she receives our email pitch is the email subject line and the sender. Choosing a title is super-hard because we want to be as neutral and as informational as possible. Teasing or tricking a blogger into opening by being cute, mysterious, or clever in the subject line has almost always blown up in our faces. The simpler the better, especially when you realize that we follow up a couple times after the first outreach–something I will go into more in a future post. But first, the salutation.

Hi <<First Name>>

When we research bloggers to pitch, we always do our very best to discover the full name of the blog, the first name of the blogger, and the best address possible. We also make sure the name is correct because it isn’t always clear. I can’t tell you how many pitches my blog, Because the Medium is the Message, and my corporate blog, Marketing Conversation, get from marketers who address us wrong, mostly as Abraham. “Dear Abraham.” Those go straight into the trash. Next, our mailer, nicknamed “The Cloud,” has a mail merge feature, allowing us to personalize our email a little bit, within reason, and appropriately.

What’s behind that first paragraph?

November is National Homelessness Month and I’m reaching out to you to discuss the issue of homelessness in America. I’m also hoping that you’ll discuss this issue with the readers of <<Blog Name>>. I am a volunteer at a small kitchen for the homeless in DC and while working there it occurred to me that this issue affects every town, village, and city in America.

The most important thing is to make sure the first paragraph of every pitch is simple, clear, concise, and immediately addresses why you’re emailing. Yes, answer who, what, when, where, why, and how–but in very short order, so get to it! Who? Miriam’s Kitchen. What? Homelessness in America, an issue that affects every town, village, and city in America. When? November. Where? On your blog. Why? To share the issue with your readers How? Posting to your blog. I added the last sentence to proactively address why I was the person to be writing at all–because I am personally invested and this is meaningful to me, for real.

I am lucky enough to have Dan Krueger and Phillip Rhoades on my team. They’re both excellent BS detectors and masters of minimalism. For a pitch like this, Dan or I generally create a first draft. Then, the other two of us go through the draft line-by-line. As if it were poetry. We cut to the bone. This process is a direct result of three things:

One, you only have a blogger for a few seconds–if she opens it at all–so you must cut to the chase.

Two, we have all received enough pitches ourselves to know who does and doesn’t read our blogs, so the entire “I am a real fan of your blog and have been reading you a long time” are generally lies. So, after you write your first draft, cut out all the inauthentic praise. Truth be told, if your targeting is good and you have a great offer and are clear as to what you want, you’re effectively doing the blogger the favor of providing good content that they can easily and quickly pop onto her blog–and you really don’t need to flatter. I am not saying that you should be short, rude, or curt, but surely be very clear as to who you are, what you are, what you want, and what you need.

Yes, I do volunteer at Miriam’s–many times-a-month. If I didn’t–or if I sent the email out as someone else in the company, an online analyst, and that person hadn’t ever graced Miriam’s, I would never make that up. Everything in the email must be honest and true. This isn’t a con job, this isn’t a cheesy 11pm pick up, this is the sharing of relevant information–don’t feel like you have to sell to someone or fool someone to cover you. Also, be very careful about playing the heart strings too loudly when you’re doing an outreach on behalf of a charity. To be honest, the less said the better–allow the blogger to come up with her own conclusions–you really don’t have to tell the blogger what to think. Not only isn’t that necessary but it can be downright insulting to bloggers, who are by their very nature free spirits.

Now, on to the meat of the pitch.

I have put together a microsite that puts the issue of homelessness in perspective and also uses Miriam’s Kitchen, the kitchen where I volunteer, as a model for addressing homelessness and untreated mental illness in the US capital city. There are a multitude of news, facts, videos, photos, and banners so please feel free to repost any of it:

www.miriamskitchennews.org

One of the results of making the email pitch so efficient and tight is that there’s a lot left behind. Most folks who pitch to bloggers still include the kitchen sink in their email pitches: PDF or MS Word attachments are still very common. The majority paste their rich-text traditional press release inline in the email, along with inline images, logos, and graphics. We refuse for three reasons.

  1. Our email pitches are all about starting a conversation. We’re more interested in getting an email reply that we can respond to than we are in firing and forgetting.
  2. We always send plain text emails. We do not include anything that might result in spam-boxing. We don’t even include any “http://” prefixes in our links, assuming that the webmail or email client will activate the link when the blogger opens up their email and views the content.
  3. We don’t take the blogger’s interest in our pitch for granted. The email, to me, is a speed date. We don’t want to waste anybody’s time or good will, so we allow the blogger to decide whether she wants to go on a second date. We like it best when the chemistry is so intense that our client and the blogger drive to Vegas immediately and get hitched–by which I mean we reach out, the blogger immediately likes our pitch, immediately posting to their blog as well as Facebook and Twitter–but we don’t want to assume any of that. We like to play it cool because a heavy sell never works, especially in an earned-media PR campaign.

On to the end of the email:

If you are able to post about this issue in any form, it would really help spread the message of homelessness in its many diverse forms and maybe suggest ways to help improve many lives. Please let me know if you have any questions and if you are able to help. Thank you so much.

Chris

As I said before, being clear as to why we’re writing is essential. Being clear what you want and what you expect is essential, too. Too many pitches I receive simply share their message but are never bold, brave, or courageous enough to make an ask: please post it anywhere, anyhow, to help spread the message of homelessness in America.

The most essential thing, however, is that this is really just a speed date. If we pass muster but the blogger just isn’t sure who we are or why I am emailing her, we need to be painfully clear that this email is not a fire-and-forget. That this email is the beginning of a connection and that simply hitting reply will result in swift answers. Also, accountability. We end just about every email with a direct request to the blogger to please let us know if she ends up helping and sharing–and that we’re appreciative either way. At the very least because she’s spent some of her time opening and reading our email.

Finally, the signature.


Chris Abraham,
On behalf of Miriam’s Kitchen
www.miriamskitchen.org

If you’ll notice, we don’t misrepresent ourselves–or myself–as being on the staff of Miriam’s Kitchen; however, we also don’t want to confuse the purity of the message by bringing a second brand into the brief message model, such as would be the case if I included Abraham Harrison LLC in the signature. So, we chose to split the middle.

What you’re thinking right now is “how in the heck could you blog so much about such a short email?” Well, it is because we spend a lot of time, many revisions, and three or more staff cutting, editing, re-ordering, and BS-detecting each message model. We’re very intentional, very formulaic, and also very careful. We don’t want to tell bloggers what to think. We don’t want to put words in their mouths, and we surely don’t want to alienate a blogger because we color the copy in such a way that they reject our pitch based on style instead of content and mission.

It is like a first date, especially for a man like me: it is more important for me to remember to be a good listener and not to spend the entire meal making it all about me. The longer my message model and email pitch is the more likely the blogger will feel like I might have sent them an email in error. I want each email pitch to be as neutral and factual as possible. All dogma, passion, color, interpretation, and story should be provided by the blogger–and don’t forget that everything that you cut out of the email message model can possibly find a happy home in your Social Media News Release.

While the email might seem very casual and conversational, winging it is not an option when you’re officially reaching out on behalf of your brand. This is doubly so when you’re reaching out on behalf of a client. The message model is a getting-to-know-you process and not simply a product. Before I explain what goes into an email blogger pitch, I need to explain this process and the philosophy that we have developed through trial and error since the Fall of 2006.

Being completely familiar with the client, the brand, the product, and the services, before moving forward with the pitch is essential. Anything we don’t use in our message model and email pitch we aggregate it into a social media, multimedia, social media profiles, news release.

This process of collecting all of the client’s assets and collateral material, including videos, photos, ads, bios, history, background, context, interviews, case studies, testimonials, and media mentions, help us then decide if there are any missing pieces that we need to request from the client or create ourselves.

Then we can interview the client to discuss what the subject of the pitch should be, what the ask is, and then which blogs and bloggers should be included–or excluded–and who to exclude is often more important than who to bring into the pitch.

My next blog post will focus on what I am all sure you’re curious about: the social media news release (SMNR), that “kitchen sink” catch-all supporting document that provides all the details, content, media, images, and greater story that has been pruned from the initial pitch but surely deserves being told.

A future post will be about the value of following up a couple times with any bloggers who don’t reply or post. We have evolved a process that does not email just once but also sends two follow-up emails to those bloggers who don’t reply at all. Funny thing is, we get only 25% of all posts from the first email. We get 50% of all our total earned media posts from the first follow-up email and another 25% from the final outreach, so I really want to go into the why and how of that–and how we handle something that might very well be scary to some of you and and might feel like we’re being a pest to others–and I will address all of those fears and perceptions.

Please feel free to ask any questions or make any comments you might have on your mind after reading this blog post and I will do my best to respond.

(Via Biznology)

Enhanced by Zemanta
]]>
http://socialmedia.biz/2011/11/29/line-by-line-analysis-of-the-perfect-email-blogger-pitch/feed/ 8
Why are you so afraid of engaging bloggers? http://socialmedia.biz/2011/09/15/why-are-you-so-afraid-of-engaging-bloggers/ http://socialmedia.biz/2011/09/15/why-are-you-so-afraid-of-engaging-bloggers/#comments Thu, 15 Sep 2011 13:00:18 +0000 http://www.socialmedia.biz/?p=20518 Continue reading ]]> Tips for how your agency or firm should do outreach the right way

http://milkandcuddles.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Rosie_The_Blogger.jpgChris AbrahamUnlike a few years ago, today everyone at least pays lip service to reaching out to bloggers, the same way that PR people have always reached out to mainstream media. That’s what my company, Abraham-Harrison, does and lots of other companies try to do it, too. But I am still surprised that many companies don’t do blogger outreach, even today. My conclusion is that what is holding them back is fear. Simply put, blogger outreach is scary.

And it’s not a completely irrational fear. It is true that bloggers are unpredictable and we all know, thanks to posts by the Consumerist and the Bad Pitch Blog, that one false move and you’re public mincemeat. Publicly shamed, drawn, quartered and, finally, drummed out of the corps.

We all know this, except that it isn’t so. The biggest faux pas that most agencies commit when they test the waters with blogger outreach has less to do with the natural meanness of the bloggers  and more to do with the behavior of the agencies. In many cases, the bad experiences that many agencies blame on the rudeness of the blogger is square on the agency’s shoulders.

It is a case of the abuser blaming the victim, the blogger.

In truth, the blogger often has no context for a PR outreach, has never been part of the publicity machine, and often doesn’t know what’s expected, what proper and improper behavior is, and most often is just behaving naturally and not part of some insidious cabal aimed at defaming you or your brand or your personal reputation.

Consider your pitch from the blogger’s point of view

What’s happening is that a blogger has been blogging for a while, and eventually assumes that nobody’s really reading or paying attention at all. At that point that blogger drops the affectation that this blog is actually for mainstream consumption, develops a small coterie of passionate readers, they become an ad hoc community (maybe a few blogs are part of this evolving tightly knit emergent family), and then, uninvited, someone who is not part of this close-knit family elbows in and makes a big fuss.

This, often coming across to the bloggers, as “Do you know who I am?” is very rarely taken well, especially after that blogger probably has had to fight insidious attacks from trackback and  comment spam only to receive an email that is poorly-targeted, insensitive, lies about the nature of the reason why he is emailing (“I love your blog and have been reading you for a long time,” when obviously that is not true because the blogger knows most people who read his blog), or he even just gets the name wrong, which means that the person who’s doing the outreach isn’t taking the time or attention required to at least give a good college try.

It’s not that the blogger is out to shame and embarrass PR agencies. Most vindictive bloggers are already in the top of the blogosphere and receive tons of bad pitches a week. No, the typical blogger would really love to help. It really took a great heap of combined insult to get your client’s and agency’s shame and ineptitude raised up the flag pole for everyone to salute.

Blogger outreach can be scary, but only if you aren’t thinking about it from the blogger’s point of view. If you stop and consider how to make good use of the blogger’s time, you might get what you are looking for with nothing to fear.

Via Biznology

]]>
http://socialmedia.biz/2011/09/15/why-are-you-so-afraid-of-engaging-bloggers/feed/ 3
Forex Trading & social media: A case study of easy-forex http://socialmedia.biz/2010/08/04/forex-trading-and-social-media-a-case-study-of-easy-forex/ http://socialmedia.biz/2010/08/04/forex-trading-and-social-media-a-case-study-of-easy-forex/#comments Wed, 04 Aug 2010 14:11:30 +0000 http://www.socialmedia.biz/?p=16543 Continue reading ]]>
From easy-forex’s fantasy team campaign

Ayelet NoffWe began working with easy-forex to combine their forex trading and social media activity back in February 2010. We knew right away that teaming easy-forex’s expertise, vibrancy, and fresh approach to FX with our knowledge of the nuts and bolts of social media would invariably produce a winning combination.

When we first took stock of easy-forex’s social media efforts, it was clear they had already recognized the value of social profiles and had already laid the groundwork for us on Twitter and YouTube. We knew too, though, that easy-forex’s full potential was only beginning to be actualized, and so we set out to create a home for their traders, a place where they could come and chat with one another regarding their trading habits, methods, tips and strategies — basically, anything and everything related to forex.

easy-forex has always made an effort to be on the cutting edge of trading innovation, and we made sure that bloggers were made aware of this fact by letting them know all about easy-forex’s great customer service and any releases of new products, all through our blogger outreach campaign. This consisted of an extensive search and mapping effort to find the most relevant and high-profile blogs read by the target market. We created a blogger kit detailing easy-forex’s most promising products/services and set our sights on the top 90 bloggers in the tech and forex industry. Our efforts paid off and we received coverage in such tier 1 blogs as VentureBeat, as well as GoMo News and Currency Trading. We were able to reach over 500,000 unique readers with easy-forex’s compelling story of how their unique approach was impacting online trading. Our story was also heavily retweeted and shared by others, furthering its overall social ROI.

Speaking of Twitter, we worked closely with easy-forex to procure real time actionable trading data, directly from their dealing room, to send out as tweets. This close relationship added industry relevant substance to our tweets which set us apart from the average FX tweeters and contributed to a spike in easy-forex’s Twitter following by 25% in just two months.

Leveraging Facebook and other channels

Taking off in all these various directions simultaneously, with each venue showing an exponential growth rate, we created an easy-forex Facebook page to act as a central hub for all our forex trading and social media efforts. We use the social network as a coalescing tool with which to announce and trackback any and all forex trading and social media collateral including blog posts, videos, tweets, news feeds, and discussions, keeping the page active and alive.

Our easy-forex FB page also served to replace the typical forex forum pages traditionally used as a place where traders can come to share their thoughts. By replacing the traditional forums with a Facebook style setting, the discussion is made more real and more personal. It also serves as a barrier preventing any anonymous person/competitor from writing whatever they like without taking responsibility for their words. On social networks, where one has their picture posted, their information written and is connected to friends and family, one feels a responsibility for their actions and words, and will think twice before posting something.

Since launching the easy-forex page at the tail end of February 2010, we managed to go from zilch to over 5,000 fans. An easy-forex YouTube channel features easy-forex’s Emma Andreou’s engaging and informative daily dose of FX happenings and has built a growing loyal audience. In three minutes these forex trading daily videos cover the top 10 market reports, saving hours of research for individual traders. A LinkedIn group was also opened with the same daily diligence for sparking group interaction and information sharing, within and among all easy-forex’s members.

We also built a blog for easy-forex where we publish forex related news and market views. Here too easy-forex became an active partner in helping us to build their brand by encouraging their own FX specialist to write and participate in the blog. Their keen insights and bold predictions have led to the blog becoming a weekly must read amongst the easy-forex community and beyond.

One of the main goals of our social media activities has been to create full transparency between easy-forex and traders via our discussions on all our social channels as well as the information we provide on our blog. This massive online presence within social networks as well as blogs, not to mention the sharing of our content by others, has had the added effect of helping easy-forex’s SEO efforts.

It’s important to note that across all our platforms, members are by no means passive assets. easy-forex’s campaigns are highly interactive with broad open channels being kept for our various online communities on a daily basis. After all, happy members are the best ambassadors your company could ever ask for, a fact whose full reach and value is beyond measurability.

Fantasy Team campaign’s payoff

Take our first easy-forex Facebook campaign, for example. The campaign was called easy-forex’s Fantasy Team. It began June 8, designed to coincide with and build off the internationally popular World Cup soccer games. The campaign content consisted of asking our Facebook members to create their own fantasy soccer team, using as random and as outrageous a selection of personalities that they could think of. Participants were encouraged to get even more creative by presenting their selection in the form of doctored photographs with superimposed heads, or upload video versions, or any wacky way that their imaginations could conjure up.

The results beat all expectations. During the three-week campaign, easy-forex’s FB member count increased by a staggering 2,600 people, approximately 50 submissions were entered, and easy-forex received over 800 lead applications requesting more information about their company. All in all, a super successful and highly interactive campaign combing forex trading and social media efforts.

We’ve only begun to scratch the surface of the great potential waiting to be uncovered in the realm of forex trading and social media. We are hard at work thinking up new creative ideas and campaigns that can help take us to the next level of our social media activity with easy-forex. Stay tuned for what comes next — we promise to keep things interesting.

]]>
http://socialmedia.biz/2010/08/04/forex-trading-and-social-media-a-case-study-of-easy-forex/feed/ 1
Is email marketing still relevant in a 2.0 world? http://socialmedia.biz/2009/02/26/is-email-marketing-still-relevant-in-a-20-world/ http://socialmedia.biz/2009/02/26/is-email-marketing-still-relevant-in-a-20-world/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2009 13:09:31 +0000 http://www.socialmedia.biz/?p=11332 Continue reading ]]> Chris AbrahamWhen I realized that I could download the OPML file from the Power 150 site and then hack it around into a contact list of over 900 of the top advertising, marketing, PR, and SEO bloggers on the planet, I did so.

Ever since, I have been scheduling calls with all of the folks I have been admiring on a daily basis. Two days ago I spent an hour on the horn with Lee Hopkins, “one of Australia’s leading thinkers on communication strategy in an online environment,” who is, in fact, one of the World’s leading thinkers on communication strategy in an online environment.  We had a great chat — and amazing talk!

At the end, Lee asked me if he could blog the conversation and I jumped at the opportunity and late last night Lee published Is email marketing still relevant in a 2.0 world? which is not only the most complete description of what we at Abraham Harrison LLC do on a daily basis but it is said in a better, more comprehensive, way than I could even conceive of doing myself.  Here it is, in full.  Be sure to visit (and subscribe to) Better Communication Results, Lee Hopkin’s blog.

Is email marketing still relevant in a 2.0 world?

G’day – thanks for returning!

 

I just finished a fantastic conversation with Chris Abraham, the President and COO of AbrahamHarrison.

If you’ve been around the internet for a while, especially in the ‘marcoms’ (marketing communications) space, you would certainly have heard of Chris; if not of the man himself then certainly of one of his marketing and outreach programs.

Chris is one of those select few online marketers who’s text doesn’t read like a traditional online direct mail piece – you know, with LOTS OF CAPITALS and heaps of bold text and yellow highlighting and italics and

  • bullet
  • points
  • a-
  • plenty

and testimonials by the kazillion…

I could point you to a zillion of those sites – which is not to say that the style of marketing they use is not successful; it is, otherwise they wouldn’t keep doing it. But you know as soon as you see the huge, bold, bright red and often in CAPS headline what to expect for the rest of the (very) long toilet roll of a page.

Chris takes a much softer approach, always has done, and it seems to work for him and his style of copywriting.

Video, the radio star and plain ol’ bandwagon idjuts

With the advent of Web2.0/Social Media there were many ill-informed and just plain ‘bandwagon’ pundits who hailed the death of traditional communication tools such as email, web1.0 sites and – gasp – newspaper, magazine, radio and television.

Much as television didn’t kill radio as force it to rethink its place and find its niche, so too with Social Media. Every new technology platform or societal change brings with it a change in how all that came before it must view themselves and continue to offer relevancy.

Radio didn’t die, newspapers haven’t been killed off, I can still pick up plenty of magazines that appeal to all demographics and both genders from my local newsagent, and email hasn’t disappeared off the radar (if my bulging inbox every morning is anything to go by).

So it was fantastic to finally chat with someone who, like me, believes that email is STILL a fundamental part of the marketing toolkit.

In talking with Chris today, he was genuinely flattered that a fellow copywriter would find his material engaging; I thought it was brilliant reading and his deployment strategies for his clients brilliantly executed.

You see, Chris, like me, believes that email won’t go away, but WILL have to change in order to survive in the new communication landscape. Our shared view is that it will have to evolve in a couple of ways:

  1. Shorter emails will be the best way of getting people’s attention
  2. Long-form emails are best saved for newsletters; trying to ‘sell’ via email will become even harder to excel at.

If you’ve ever received one of Chris’ emails, you will be stunned by several things:

  1. They are short – only 2-3 paragraphs
  2. They link off to a SMNR (Social Media News Release) that gives a far more in-depth level of information (and all the material you might need to help you spread the word or get involved)
  3. If you email Chris or anyone of his team back you WILL get a response, usually within 24 hours (Chris says they try to get back within the hour, but time zones can sometime defeat them)
  4. The emails ‘read’ like they were written by a human being, not by a ‘PR’ flack or a ex-journalist hack; they aren’t full of ‘me, me, me’ stuff telling you how wonderful I (the company) am, but neither do they ‘strip-tease tantalise’ you so that when you do click on the link you end up feeling cheated
  5. You get the very real feeling that there’s someone real at the end of the email.

Here’s an example (taken from my post about the Fresh Air Fund):

Hello again, Lee

On Sunday I asked if you would kindly help me spread the word about 200 inner-city children I have yet to place with host families in August. I apologize for following up so soon, but time is of the essence and you know how funny email can be. To make things simple, everything is collected into an online resource page http://freshair.smnr.us

This appeal comes straight from the top, so please do not hesitate to contact me directly.

Yours sincerely,

Sara


Sara Wilson
Fresh Air Fund
sara@freshair.org
www.freshair.org

Sara is a real person, not a ‘fake’ character. I sent her an email yesterday, wondering if her ears were burning, because Chris and I were talking about her:

G’day Sara,
Just finished the phone call with Chris — oh boy! Were your ears burning? They should have been!!!
Kindests,
Lee

From: Sara Wilson [mailto:swilson@abrahamharrison.com]
Sent: Tuesday, 24 February 2009 2:02 AM
To: Lee@leehopkins.com
Subject: Re: Fellow Power 150 blogger

Hello Lee,
Just a quick note to re-confirm that Chris will be calling you at 10 am, your time, tomorrow (Tuesday).
No need to reply unless something has come up on your end, otherwise he will speak to you in about 7.5 hours!
Best,
Sara

In reply, Sara said,

Lee,
And I thought it was just hot where I was last night …  :)
It’s very kind of you to mention it, thanks.   Chris is a great guy to work for, and generous with compliments, but it’s always nice to know that someone appreciates you, isn’t it?
Cheers,
Sara

Controversy

Because Chris and his team start any campaign with an email-based blogger outreach, some of the ‘holier than thou’ social media purists occasionally give him ‘stick’, or snicker behind his back and call him a ‘spammer’. Not true – the team are very hot on ensuring only a good taste remains in the mouth of any blogger they contact, and of only offering bloggers something of actual value to the blogger.

Which is a behaviour totally unlike the hapless, clueless and insulting PR flacks who regularly show up on The Bad Pitch Blog and who attempt to fill my inbox with material about electronics, or sanitary napkins, or (ahem) extension kits, or pharmaceuticals shipped from Canada. Thank goodness I have SpamArrest to filter them out before they hit my inbox!

Chris and his team have painstakingly built up a list of nearly 35,000 bloggers across several different demographics and topic areas of interest. Visiting their blogs, they harvest their email address. They then politely email them once to offer them something of interest – if the blogger likes it, they very often blog about it; it they don’t then they don’t. What is fascinating is the response rate Chris gets for his clients.

Word of mouth and gossip-sharing amongst internet marketers has the average rate of sales of anything (be it a blog post or an ebook or a ‘course you cannot live without’) as around 0.01-0.05% from an initial mailing, with the follow-up mailings increasing that to, perhaps, 1.0-2.0%…

Chris and his team regularly get a takeup in the order of 5%, which is phenomenal. In addition, once you start developing an email relationship with anyone in their team (as I have with Sara Wilson) then all future mailings will receive much more attention than would otherwise be the case. A case in point is my own, later, post on the illegal cluster bombing being carried out in South Ossetia and The Survivor Corps run by activist and author of the very powerful book,  I Will Not Be Broken, Jerry White. It is only because Sara had taken the time to develop a relationship with me over previous months that I read and responded to the material from Jerry White. Without that relationship I would never have bothered with a topic outside of my normal areas of interest.

It is the classic ‘relationship marketing’ that Social Media Marketing pundits claim to aim for but rarely achieve.

Goodness, if I could have a dollar for every new ‘expert’ that’s popped up in the Social Media space I would retire a very rich trillionaire (and at the same time wondering how you could be a trillionaire and not be very rich – I guess if you were living in Zimbabwe you wouldn’t be…).

You wouldn’t believe the number of ‘leading social networking and social media marketing experts’ who have suddenly come out of the woodwork and set up communities in places like LinkedIn, Plaxo, Facebook, etc. Curiously, I’ve never heard of these folks before. Most of them don’t even have blogs, or if they do those blogs have only been around for less than a year. Curious, hey?

But Chris, on the other hand, has been around for a long time, has figured out what works and what doesn’t, and as evidence offers the following case studies:

If you want to see the sort of posts that are associated with Chris’ kind of blogger PR pitch outreach, here are some examples:

Here are some examples of client SMNRs from Chris and his team that I especially like:

So what???

The whole point of this post is NOT to fawn at the feet of someone who clearly knows what he is doing.

The whole point IS to let you know that you don’t need to throw out your baby with the bathwater:

  • Don’t jump on the Social Media bandwagon without educated advice
  • Don’t take advice from a pimply 17 year old fresh out of high school
  • Don’t take advice from a less-pimply 23 year old fresh out of university
  • Don’t ditch all of your understanding of how ‘people’ and networks work
  • Don’t take advice from someone who doesn’t even blog themselves, or Twitter, or Facebook… (see my post about Social Media Gurus)
  • Don’t take advice from someone who has been blogging less than 24 months

Instead:

  1. Download Todd Defren’s absolutely superb ‘Brink’ guide to Social Media and Richard Meyer’s great presentation, ‘Social Media : What you’re afraid to admit you didn’t know’ (he also has a great pharma and biotech-focused pdf presentation). Download and read Trevor Cook’s and my ‘Social Media Report’.
  2. Talk to someone who actually knows what they are doing – in Australia that means folks like Stephen Collins, Laurel Papworth, Trevor Cook, Darren Rowse, Gavin Heaton and, humbly, yours truly. If WE can’t help you, we can certainly put you in touch with someone who can. Unlike the USA, where there seems to be a spirit of “You’ll prize my rolodex out of my frozen dead fingers!”, there is no fierce spirit of competition here in Australia – we have  ‘co-opertition’ wherein we all help each other out if the ‘fit’ seems better for the client.
  3. Stick to reading the seasoned ‘pros’ of the online marketing and/or business communication space: you cannot go wrong if you start at folks like any of the above, or Shel Holtz, Neville Hobson, Chris Brogan, Darren Rowse, Mitch Joel, Joe Jaffe , Laura Fitton and Chris Abraham himself; see who they link to. Follow your nose from them – all the way along the path you will be reading ‘the good oil’ as we say here in Australia
  4. Examine Chris’ examples above and see for yourself how simple but effective your online marketing can be if you do it with the right intention – of helping out the blogger, not flogging stuff for your client. Get the relationship right and you will flog stuff for your client anyway, trust me!

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Currently listening to ‘Next’ by The Necks from the album ‘Next’. Superb jazz funk from one of Australia’s great cult bands.

Via Marketing ConversationChris Abraham & Lee Hopkins

Enhanced by Zemanta
]]>
http://socialmedia.biz/2009/02/26/is-email-marketing-still-relevant-in-a-20-world/feed/ 3