Blogging – Social media business strategies blog Fri, 29 Dec 2017 08:16:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Blog like there’s nobody watching Wed, 10 Apr 2013 12:11:00 +0000 Continue reading ]]> perezhilton
Photo courtesy of Dell (Creative Commons)

Vulnerability reigns supreme in the blogosphere

Chris AbrahamI have been thinking about the posts of the most successful bloggers and social media sharers and I believe one of the things they all have in common is that they reveal of themselves just a little more openly and intimately than anyone else with a marketing agenda and a lot to lose. There’s a fine line between taking your friends, followers, fans, and audience on a beautiful and compelling narrative ride and oversharing, but even over-sharing verging on TMI has been better for the most successful social media artists and content marketers.

Business is personal, work is personal, selling is personal, sales are personal. The most successful business people lead with relationships, friendships, and trust.

It makes me think of the poem by William W. Purkey:

You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.

The most successful social media artists don’t hide their black eyes, they sing them.

Don’t get me wrong, they’re all very aware that they’re being scrutinized and that they must protect the privacy of their children, friends, family, businesses, employers, and brands, but they also know that business is personal, work is personal, selling is personal, sales are personal, and that the most successful business people lead with relationships, friendships, and trust well before anyone ever gets to CVs, resumes, case studies, or client lists.

Photo by

Let me just pull actress Jennifer Lawrence out of a hat as an example. She’s too beautiful, too perfect, on her own, on the red carpet. She’s unapproachable — so gorgeous that envy could quickly turn to resentment.

Falling on her way up the stairs to receive her first Oscar at the Academy Awards was the best thing to ever happen to her, whether or not it was staged by a very savvy publicist.

Her subsequent behavior during interviews, on Saturday Night Live, and in Silver Linings Playbook— the funny, goofy, flawed, self-effacing, girlish gamine — is who people love in spite of her Helen-of-Troy-class beauty.

Mind you, this may or may not be completely intentional, orchestrated, scripted. Whether it is or not, it is a strategy that requires that you become way less self-conscious, spending a lot less time in front of the mirror, and a lot more willing to show good humor and grace when you find yourself on all-fours with your bum in the air on your way up to receive an honor in front of a billion people.

And that’s what it’s about. Social media is a de facto stress test. It’s an opportunity to get a feeling for who you and your brand really are.

This is why, even though you may feel very exposed while under the spotlights of social media you’ve got to blog, tweet, Facebook, Tumbl, and Plus like there’s nobody watching. You should still understand that you shouldn’t share or do anything online that you wouldn’t do during a dinner party with your vicar, priest, rabbi, mum, dad, boss, clients, wife, and kids in attendance.

Share the real you with the world

Dance like there’s nobody watching; go ahead and perform to your full ability, out loud, and with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.

That’s what people want. They want you. They want to get to know you and your staff. They want to see your happy hours and when dogs come into the office.

I am really proud of being part of Unison Agency, as they’re doing such an amazing job of sharing of themselves, the fun they’re having, their creativity, and their creative process.

When I think about all of this, I think of my favorite book by Milan Kundera, Immortality. The book is about great men who are obsessed with their immortality and the absurd paradox that is the result of single-mindedly pursuing one’s own greatness and place in history.

Telling people how you want to be known, respected, feared, and loved is folly; history will make it’s own decisions about you and the best way to be known, respected and trusted is to be knowable, respectable, and trustworthy.

And for all that to happen, you’ve gotta share of yourself like there’s nobody watching!

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Add blogging to your to-do list this year Wed, 16 Jan 2013 13:31:09 +0000 Continue reading ]]> blogging
Photo courtesy of ~C4Chaos (Creative Commons)

Blog to differentiate yourself beyond your credentials & experience

Chris AbrahamEdelman recruited me because I blogged about Wal-MartRosetta Stone invited me to blog for them because I blogged about learning German. AdAge invited me to write for their DigtialNext and Global News blogs. Blogging about social media marketing resulted in being invited by and Biznology to blog for them. In the fervor of the presidential elections, I pursued column inches in The Huffington Post. In large part, I can thank blogging for most of my professional success. There is no more efficient way of expressing passion, what you know, and how you think than writing it out. A blog is the perfect platform.

In many ways, blogging made me. My degree is in English and Creative Writing and not in communications, public relations, public affairs, history, politics, languages, or computer science. However, I am a curious man at heart and am fascinated by the world we live in.

Put the work in and differentiate yourself

In any age other than this one, would I have been able to do any of this? This is a brilliant time as the barriers to entry have been demolished if you’re willing to put the work in. However, if you have no passion, really have nothing to say, aren’t interested in anything in particular, don’t feel self-motivated, and aren’t self-taught, you can always go back to school and get your master’s. And if you’re really self-destructive, continue on to a doctorate.

Isn’t it cheating to just go ahead and write your way into the inner circle instead of acquiring proper credentials by jumping through the traditional hoops? Nope.

And I am not talking about microblogging on Twitter or reblogging on Tumblr, I am talking about writing proper analyses of what’s going on in your business or industry — or the industry in which you aspire to work — in your own words and reflecting your own understanding of the space, plus your interpretation of what it means.

Isn’t it cheating to just go ahead and write your way into the inner circle instead of acquiring proper credentials by jumping through the traditional hoops?

No, it isn’t. Primarily because you need to blog your way into the perfect job even if you’ve done your degree in communications (like my partner here, J.D. Lasica).

You need to blog to differentiate yourself well beyond your credentials and your experience. You need to blog to allow people to get to know who you are and what matters to you. I remember when I onboarded with the digital team at Edelman. HR had me take a writing test on a computer in an embarrassing little room.

What this means is that most companies, agencies, and businesses not only don’t know you at all but generally can’t know you.

The only way you’ll be able to effectively push through all the other thousand recent graduates to grab that ring is by blogging your talk. And you don’t need to wait until you’re mid-career like I am, you can start blogging your way into your first job in high school or as a college undergrad. You can even start moonlighting in your industry of choice while you’re getting that degree.

Boost your blogging in 2013

Nothing prevents you from entering into public discourse and conversation with the topmost influencers online. There’s nothing keeping you from becoming a participant in the AdAge Power 150. There’s no requirement at all, and you’ll only be judged by your words, insight, and persistence.

You can and will be rewarded for not holding your creativity, insight, and passion ransom — and don’t allow your university or boss to bogart your best, smartest work.

So, take this opportunity in the new year to either start a new blog or rekindle the flame you once had. Blogging’s not dead, Twitter’s not enough, Facebook’s a walled garden, and Tumblr’s cheating (you’ll always spend more time being derivative instead of being generative and you’ll never know because you’ll feel terribly clever not on your own wit but rather on the coattails of the charm, creativity, and brilliance of other people’s Tumbls).

Good luck and tell me what you think in the comments section below — I would love to help you out getting started!

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The big secret to getting people to read your blog Tue, 09 Aug 2011 13:00:56 +0000 Continue reading ]]> AbrahamLong blog post short: please be as descriptive as possible when titling your blog posts. In today’s decontextualized world of walls, feeds, RSS, e-mail, diggs, reddits, Stumbles, tweets, and retweets, you need to attract your potential reader based only on the appeal of your title and nothing else, especially if you’re new to blogging and don’t happen to be Seth Godin.

Use up to the 70 characters that Google indexes for each post title but make sure the most important message of the title are nearer the beginning of the title. Don’t bury the lead in the post and don’t bury the lead in the title, either.

Tweetmeme and other sharing services chop off long titles, so while you can go long, keep your essentials right at the beginning.

A good title is a good habit — here’s why

Recently I wrote the post Blog so you can be taken completely out of context in which I discussed how essential it is to make sure each blog post you write needs to be completely self-contained and self-referential. Looking back, I notice I missed the most important part of every blog post: the blog title.

In 2011, with Twitter, Facebook, Google+, retweets, sharing, and RSS via Google Reader, all anyone ever sees is the title of whatever’s shared, especially if you’re not Beth Kanter, Kami Huyse, Seth Godin, CC Chapman, Shel Israel, Geoff Livingston, Richard Laermer, Olivier Blanchard, Christopher Penn, Chris Brogan or Brian Solis. If you’re one of these bloggers, your title is a little less important; however, your name may well be stripped by the confines of a 140-character world, so a good title is a good habit even for our hallowed celebrities since their personal brand doesn’t always move as fast as the share.

So, though we’re all tempted to indulge in puns, in humor, in wordplay, and in breezy cool, please try to keep put your editor hat on every time you post to your blog. Who, what, when, where, why, and how. Five Ws and an H.

Also, remember that the title you choose needs to be both appealing, compelling, accurate, and trustworthy to both your human readers and also to machines: the spiders and bots that Google, Twitter, Yahoo!, Bing, and the other search engines send to visit your blogs and everyone else’s shares.

I hate it that WordPress asks for a title first because the title should be one of the last things you provide. I like to save my summary paragraph and my final title until the last minute and two of my editors — JD Lasica, here, and Mike Moran of Biznology — almost always provide my posts with even more focused titles and summary paragraphs. Of course, these two gems are reformed journalists, so I benefit greatly from their experience.

For this post, I chose “The big secret to getting people to read your blog,” though I would have loved to choose something more cheeky like “All you got is your title” or “You need to have them at hello” or “Bait your blog post with a great title.” But in the end, straightforward wins.

I know how I consume blogs, Twitter, and my Facebook wall, and 70% of my click-throughs are based on the title of the post. Another 20% is based on the person who does the sharing — including the blogger — and the final 10% is the blog it’s on, such a Mashable. That’s my percentage, but an excellent title can draw me to a blog and blogger I have never heard of via a tweeter I don’t know — even to a blog that is obviously a promotional platform.

Coming up with the essence of what your blog post is about

What do you need in your title? Simple: Read your post through and try to summarize it all into a sentence. Don’t concern yourself like I do as to whether your title wraps on the blog when posts (it doesn’t matter) and also please do not bait and switch the content or stuff keywords that are not germane to the post.

And, it bears repeating, Google indexes 70 characters of each title tag, so use as many relevant characters as possible. However, some other services don’t, so while you should use as many characters as you need to finish your thought, make sure your most important concepts are weighted towards the front of the title to make sure that the lead isn’t cut off in a retweet or share.

Do you have other tips and tricks for getting folks to click through to your posts? It’s a competitive blogosphere and mediasphere out there!

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Social businesses: Glimmers of a macro trend Wed, 02 Feb 2011 14:06:34 +0000 Continue reading ]]>
Social Business Design (CC image by Dachis Group)

Annual look at the best strategies, tactics, case studies & insights in the enterprise space

Christopher RollysonCompared to 2009 and 2008, the past year was a relatively calm one because the amplitude of market gyrations clearly diminished and businesses began to find a new floor on which to build stakeholder expectations. Although I watched with high interest the unfolding financial drama in Europe, I didn’t have the time to conduct the research necessary to do a rigorous interpretation, although I published a brief reflection last week. The big story of the past year was this: 2010 marked a turning point in the adoption of social technologies and in the recognition that analysis and strategy are necessary to achieve consistent results with social initiatives.

Macro trends: Moving from broadcast to relationship building

Until recently, being on Facebook was an end in itself, agencies produced vapid content and little interaction occurred because people rarely interact when brands are talking at them instead of listening

Social has been in adolescence until recently — “being on Facebook” was an end in itself, agencies produced vapid content and little interaction happened because people rarely interact when brands are talking at them instead of listening. People feel it when a brand is interested in using social tools to promote itself. They also feel it when a brand is interested in building relationship, which is marked by active listening and responding, along with a relative absence of self-promotion. Brands that build relationship learn that they don’t have to try so hard to promote themselves: when they are truly interested in people, people will promote them. However, this approach remains a future state for most companies. Relationships take serious work — thus, a need for a strategy.

The growing use of strategy is also a harbinger for what I call “social business” (a step beyond social media), in which leaders use social technologies to transform their businesses by collaborating openly with various outside and inside stakeholders to innovate constantly. Early movers will begin emerging this year: Only a few gutsy players will aggressively adopt social business practices in 2011. I believe they can change markets.

This year, I have five views through which I analyze social business trends. I also selected 12 articles as Must Read. Most important, I invite you to share your thoughts and questions in the comments.

Economy, Enterprise, Strategy and Adoption

In 2010, the world economy slowly improved at a pace of 1.25 steps forward, 1.0 steps back, but enterprises slowly gained confidence that bad news was finite and mostly behind them — unless they were in Greece, Ireland or, to a lesser extent, Portugal and Spain. Their adoption of social business was predictable, steady and slow. Most of the posts highlighted cited below hail from the Social Network Roadmap (SM) because they focus on the drivers and practice of social business. Heavy client work in the past year included a Fortune 50 retailer, a global semiconductor manufacturer and a prominent local government on the U.S. East Coast.

Business executives have begun to realize that they need a more coordinated sense of purpose — a strategy, and strategy began maturing social initiatives. Not long ago, the mantra was, “Throw a couple of interns at it, they know how to do Facebook.” In the past year I helped clients clean up some of those messes: Activity doesn’t equate to business results. I expect the clean-up phase to continue through 2013 at least because success depends on being social in meaningful ways to customers and practical ways to businesses.

From a business perspective, strategy provides the rationale for prolonged focus, which is required because relationships need commitment. Businesses’ commitments must be grounded in business purpose. Being social for its own sake is a short-lived phenomenon. As this section’s “must reads” point out, most businesses don’t know how to “be social” in authentic, meaningful ways. In most cases, it also requires extensive mentoring to learn the tools, processes and behaviors well enough to be natural online. Social knowledge is indeed a key barrier. Also read the “Decade in Review” to understand the context of where we are today.

Social Business for Commercial and Government Enterprises

This year’s posts are jammed with case studies that reflected steady progress with social media by business and government, but most businesses are still at the level of learning the tools; they aren’t yet focused on building durable relationships, which require deeper focus and more sharing. I sponsored a collaborative piece on 2010 predictions, collaborating with 16 executives in my enterprise social networking group on LinkedIn (“17 Visionaries..”). I also shared best practices on social business competency teams, which serve as a virtual PMO to drive enterprise adoption of social business as well as a post on comparing different types of social media consultants. Enterprises are also starting to experiment with geosocial apps and algorithms everywhere, both hallmarks of enterprise 3.0.

Social Networking Platform Review

Most chief marketing officers know the names and logos of the major platforms and like their exploding popularity, MySpace notwithstanding, but the lack of in-depth platform knowledge of social media providers produces mediocre success. I encountered many cases of firms just “doing Facebook” because it was popular and, well, who wouldn’t want to be there? It’s disheartening to encounter agency-produced snappy social media speak on Twitter and Facebook, which is far worse than doing nothing for most brands; people can smell it a mile away — brands are just flushing money down the toilet. Likewise, few organizations understand that the power of blogging is largely built on networking and relationships. Two must reads this year discuss network-oriented approaches to building Facebook Pages and blogs. The mind bender post is on LinkedIn body language, which is key to reaching another level of relating online.

Marketing 2.0 and Customer Experience

In 2010 I guest-blogged on MENG Online, and this section’s must read hails from that. “Rude Awakening” debunks word of mouth marketing as a flawed concept, riffing on Don Peppers’ remarks at the Alterian Social Business Summit. Most of the speakers emphasized how marketing was changing forever, and most meant it. Others shared marketers’ frustrations with trying to drive social initiatives from a legacy marketing viewpoint; the root of their teeth-gnashing was that relationship building doesn’t fit the style of marketing metrics on which they are currently measured.


Although technology enjoys shrinking attention in the ongoing adoption of social technologies, 2010 proved once again that it’s critical to keep one’s ear to the ground because technology enables quantum leaps in capability. I covered the accelerating adoption of Web 3.0, in the particular form of geosocial, a specific type of mobile social networking (Foursquare, et al). Other recommended reads here discuss Facebook Connect and Google FriendConnect, Web 2.0-style single sign-on (with benefits ;^). Make sure to delve into the PopTech coverage, which highlights using social tech for social initiatives. I loved meeting Patrick Meier and listening to his story about using Ushahidi in Haiti and Chile.

From your viewpoint, what was the most important event of the past year for businesses?

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PicApp: Free quality images for your blog Thu, 08 Apr 2010 18:37:12 +0000 Continue reading ]]> PicApp: Quality images for your blog from JD Lasica on Vimeo.


JD LasicaHave you noticed that blogging has been getting more professional lately? Part of it is the wealth of classy-looking templates and widgets available for users of WordPress, TypePad and other blog platforms. But it’s also due to plug-ins like Zemanta (which I now use for many of my posts) and PicApp.

I first heard of PicApp last year at WordCamp when I ran into Niran Amir, PicApp’s director of business development. What surprised me is that this service, which offers high-quality, world-class photography to anyone with a blog, is available not for a subscription but for free.


[picappgallerysingle id=”8457816″]

For bloggers who write about topical subjects, like sports, celebrities, music, theater or the like, PicApp is a must-have. The above image of Katie Holmes, for instance, appears simply by inserting picappgallerysingle id=”8457816″ in brackets, pulled from the PicApp image gallery.

Partnerships with Getty Images, Jupiter and Corbis

PicApp enables bloggers and online publishers to easily embed images into their posts by partnering with top-flight image catalogues like Getty Images, Jupiter Images and Corbis. The service offers access to more than 20 million images, with new images added nearly every minute.

Newbie bloggers are sometimes surprised to learn that you’re not allowed to just grab an image off the Web — or even from Google Image Search — and republish it on your blog. That’s usually a copyright violation, unless the image is in the public domain or comes with a Creative Commons license. But few high-quality CC images are taken at timely events like the Oscars, the NBA playoffs, the Olympics, the front row of a rock concert or a Broadway play.

“As a technology company, we want to provide you, the blogger, with tools that make the usage of images as easy as possible,” Niran. That means bloggers don’t have to deal with licensing or copyrights or any of that legal stuff. PicApp handles it for them as the go-between with the major photo agencies. They make money by driving users to their image galleries and running ads there.

Watch, embed or download the interview on Vimeo (9 minutes, high definition)

Says Niran: “The publisher wins because they get free legal contextual images. The reader wins because they get more engagement with the blogger. The content partners win because they get an environment where images are being used properly and legally.”

PicApp works not only with individual bloggers but with blog platforms like BlogHer that want to offer legal content to their member bloggers. Last year they introduced a slide show and an image mosaic for combining multiple photos.

You can find PicApp as a WordPress plug-in as well as on other blog software.

My one quibble is that the images that are offered in my dashboard as I’m composing a post are often not relevant to the post, whereas Zemanta has grown increasingly sophisticated about matching blog content with relevant outside content. But type a term into the search box, and PicApp usually comes through.

For a young service, PicApp shows a great deal of promise.

OutLoud: A new way to distribute your content Mon, 23 Nov 2009 17:00:23 +0000 Continue reading ]]> outbrainAyelet NoffLast week Eytan Galai, brother of Yaron Galai (founder of Quigo, which was sold to AOL) came to our offices to show us all the latest that’s been happening with Outbrain. For those who don’t know, Outbrain has recently launched its revenue program OutLoud.

For $10 a month, you can submit an interesting article to OutLoud. Outbrain will then take the articles you submitted — ranging from journalism and blog entries to press releases for which you want to get more visibility — and recommend them on relevant pages across thousands of sites using their content recommendation engine, ranging from USA Today, Slate, Fox and Tribune to and the SportingNews.

When I started questioning the high monthly fee, Eytan insisted that I give him any two links I desire, which he will then put into the system and let me see the results for myself. Last Wednesday I sent Outbrain the links, and they were put into the system on Friday. Once I activated my account online I was able to get into the section called “Advertising Report.” There I found and could follow analytics data such as number of impressions and clicks for each link submitted.

From the start of our activity until now, I must say that the number of impressions has been quite high but the number of clicks signifcantly lower than I expected it to be, based on the fact that the links were supposed to be directed at a specific audience who enjoyed similar content. As my friend Eze Vidra from VCCafe put it:

“In essence, OutLoud provides a cost-effective way to target sponsored articles to organic content on leading publisher sites and thousands of blogs. In comparison with ‘normal’ PPC advertising, Outloud catches the users in a ‘reading mode’ rather than a ‘researching’ or ’shopping’ mode, which is often the case with SEM promotion.”

Please note that I was told by Outbrain on Sunday that one of my links was not indexed properly so I should be seeing better results pretty soon. Today, Monday, I must say I do like the fact that there are no limitations on how many impressions I can receive for each link submitted.

So who submits links to OutLoud? According to Outbrain:

  • The excited marketer wanting to drive word-of-mouth by amplifying positive reviews and articles about their company
  • The proud blogger who wants their most brilliant posts to reach a larger audience
  • The innovative PR professional trying to find new ways to distribute press releases and earned media
  • The social media director, trying to build community by exposing larger audiences to a company blog, or to conversations happening on other sites about their products
  • The passionate blog reader who fell in love with an article which perfectly expresses her point-of-view and who wants to make sure others are exposed to it too

The payoff for a subscription

The link(s) that are put in the OutLoud system continuously receive more and more impressions. As Outbrain says on its blog:

“At $10, OutLoud is really a no-brainer. If you analyze the opportunity for more than a few minutes, you’ve already spent more than you would by just trying it. Imagine, thousands of people exposed to your chosen content for less than the cost of a beet salad.”

While this is all true, and I think the idea itself is excellent, $10 is still quite a substantial fee for which I still think I deserve a cool feature like knowing which specific blogs my link appeared on and how many clicks it got in each blog.

Despite the lower than expected click through rate I am experiencing at this point I am more than confident in Outbrain’s capability to deliver at the end due to its strong team. Outbrain is turning out to be an innovative thinker in finding ways to monetize itself and at the same time stick to its philosophy of giving more value to readers.

The question is: Will it be able to monetize and at the same time promise completely relevant content all the time? Time will tell. I have a lot of faith in these guys who I believe have gathered quite a substantial amount of information about blogs until now and will continue to grow the number of sites using their content recommendation engine. Such factors will obviously determine the success of OutLoud and its ability to keep even paid links of top quality and relevant to the content at hand.

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Takeaways from Blogworld Expo Mon, 19 Oct 2009 23:42:43 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Anthony Edwards

Anthony Edwards of “ER” fame did his first tweet — to raise funds for the first children’s pediatric training hospital in Africa.

Bloggers, journalism, celebrities and what the future holds

JD LasicaThere was a little bit of a SXSW vibe at the just-ended Blogworld Expo in Las Vegas — a communal feeling where the goings-on in the sessions (on the whole, consistently engaging) were overshadowed by the face time and first-time encounters between longtime Twitter friends. To be sure, BlogWorld is a smaller affair than SouthBy — one official told me 1,500 people turned out for the Causes/Activism track on Thursday, 5,000 for the next two days — but from my vantage point, it seems that the social media phenomenon has rejuvenated ones of the world’s oldest and largest new media gatherings.

Twitter was front and center throughout the affair, both on screen — where rolling tweets of each session’s hashtags were displayed (though not consistently) — and as a way for conference-goers to figure out evening social plans. And cameras and recorders were everwhere — here’s my Flickr set of BlogWorld.

Below is a recap of the highlights in my field of vision (see after the jump). In addition, I just posted 8 tips for raising funds online — a recap of the Tools for Nonprofits panel that I moderated at Blogworld — over at our sister site,

Journalists vs. bloggers: Can we please move on?

As regular readers know, I’ve been blogging about journalism, blogging, and the need for journalists and bloggers to love each other and use the best elements of both worlds since 2001, when I started this blog (then called New Media Musings). See, for example, Blogs and Journalism Need Each Other in Harvard’s Nieman Reports in Fall 2003.

So it’s now irritating, and not merely tiresome, to attend a new media conference where too many of the sessions veered into hostility toward traditional news organizations. The audience questions to and reaction to CNN weekend anchor Don Lemon (below), was a case in point.

Don Lemon

Why should bloggers want to work with CNN? Lemon should have more artfully worded his reply — “The plain truth is that my platform is bigger than your platform” — but, with the exception of a few outliers like iJustine or cross-over Twitter celebrities, that’s still true. It’s not about CNN, it’s about reach and bringing value to more people.

The notion that crowdsourced amateur journalism can supplant professional journalism, and actually do a better job — which many in the audience truly believe — is not only ludicrous but potentially dangerous to our democratic institutions. Journalism that ferrets out corruption, that takes the pulse of a community, that sheds a light on international events is hard work, something that the crowd tends to avoid. Just ask anyone toiling in overworked, understaffed independent journalism publications like, AliveinBaghdad, Pro Publica, or the just-launched Oakland Local.

Similarly, I’ve finally found a fundamental disagreement with my friend, colleague and fellow Traveling Geek Robert Scoble. I tweeted my dismay at the bottom-line premise of his panel, How Social Media Is Changing the Definition of News: that news sites should pass along rumors and second-hand reports without fact-checking them. “The old world was i fact-checked before I published, in this new world i can correct it after the fact,” Scoble said.

Immediately after the panel, he cited TMZ’s early report on the death of Michael Jackson and the fact that no one remembers who reported it second. “It’s over. It’s over,” he told me, referring to journalism’s authentication function.

Well, no.

A rumor can circle the globe before the truth can put on its pants, and we’ve already seen examples of discredited reports cascading across our social networks (Twitter, Facebook, email) from people who should know better. (Snopes is a good place to start to fact-check rumors.) It’s a trend that will only get progressively worse in the years to come, and readers need a place to go for separating truth from rumor. I’ve long advocated that news organizations implement a widget-like tool to report on what trusted news outlets have reported, what second-hand sources have reported, and what are flat-out lies, so perhaps Robert and I are on the same page on this. But I’ve seen few implementations of this approach.

There is, to be sure, a growing tendency among the Twitterati and young people to embrace all things real-time and dismiss the hard work involved in actually picking up a phone to find out if something is true or not before passing it along. Passing along a rumor isn’t journalism, it’s what Matt Drudge usually does. Vetting a secondary report — picking up that phone — isn’t as sexy or easy as tweeting “Have no idea if this is true or not but …”

Still, fact checking will always remain a fundamental part of news reporting — whether you’re a professional journalist or a blogger looking to maintain your reputation.

Note: At Friendfeed, Robert says I misconstrued his comments.

Highlights from BlogWorld Expo

I haven’t had a chance to sort through my three days of note-taking, but here are a few snippets:

• It was great to meet Anthony Edwards, star of “ER,” after his general session. (I got several nice shots of him in my Flickr set.) We talked for a bit about how we might be able to apply social media to advance his new cause: Shoe For Africa. He did his first-ever tweet on stage — @anthonyedwards4 touting the #shoeforafrica hashtag. (Nicely done, sir!)

• Wisdom from Anthony Edwards: “As we communicate in this medium, let’s do it as if we’re seeing each other face to face. … Don’t do it with just your thumbs. Do it face to face, person to person.” That received a round of applause.

• Wisdom from Chris Brogan: “Amazing difference between building an audience and building a community. An audience will watch you fall on a sword, a community will fall on a sword for you.” I may add that to my Facebook favorite quotes.

• More Brogan, who spoke a lot about finding the heart in social media: “It’s OK to let a blog die. It’s not a kitten.” … “Tell stories. Take your ideas and make them small and compact and portable.” … “Build armies, make superfriends, equip and embed them.”

• Heard from the folks running the Chicago Tribune’s new network of Chicago area bloggers called ChicagoNow. A praiseworthy effort, with 115 local blogs, 10,000 registered users and 3.2 million page views per month. Here’s why the Tribune launched ChicagoNow.

• Cameron Sinclair: “Don’t spend your life running after Ashton Kutcher” for a social media campaign. Any fleeting bump of interest in getting a celebrity endorsement (if it’s not a sustained effort) will quickly fade.

• Hugh Hewitt on the journalism education program at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism: “totally irrelevant.” I suspect he’s right.

• Ted Murphy, founder of Izea (formerly Pay Per Post): “The FTC is saying, Value is value. Whether you’re receiving product or cash, you have to disclose it.”

• Tim Sanders was quoted often: “Love is the killer app.” And good to see the #beatcancer hashtag so prominently featured on Twitter and CNN over the weekend.

• I love everything about Leo Laporte. But a keynote that says “Podcasting is dead” and “We are all now the media, congratulations!” needs some work.

• The Huffington Post surpassed the Washington Post in traffic on Thursday, Robert Scoble reported.

• One word for Thursday night’s dinner at the Italian restaurant Piero with some luminaries from the social good movement: Wow.

• There were some additional outstanding presentations, including SEO/SEM and by Jeremiah Owyang (@jowyang) on where enterprise trends and where social media is taking us. I’ll be referencing and incorporating those into future blog posts here on

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Why corporate blogging is like selling uncut cocaine Fri, 11 Sep 2009 18:47:25 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Or, why your company should tell its own story before letting others cut it up

cokeDavid SparkMy company, Spark Media Solutions, is based on the premise that every business has the capability of being its own media network. Given the endless tools for cheap to free production and distribution of content, there’s absolutely no reason a business must rely on others to tell their story. Yet for some demented reason, it’s still unbelievably difficult trying to convince corporations to do just that. Tell your own story. Businesses ingrained with the culture of “corporate communications” feel far more comfortable going through the traditional channels of PR firms, journalists, and bloggers.

Why would you allow the fate and success of your company to be based only on hoping that someone publishes your story correctly? Why not tell your story yourself? All of the people that companies traditionally rely on to tell their story (e.g., PR pros, journalists, bloggers) are not on the payroll. They have no choice but to hear your company’s story through a chain of communications. The net result is your story is published and distributed second-, third-, or fourth-hand.

You can’t avoid it, traditional corporate communications is cutting up your story

When you go through the “traditional” routes of corporate communications, you dilute your story with every single layer, often delivering a watered-down product. Here’s a standard corporate communications process:

  • Company pursues PR firm to represent company.
  • Company discusses communications strategy with PR firm.
  • Company educates PR firm on their products, services, and customers.
  • While initial press release content may be approved by company, PR firm represents company and pitches journalists and bloggers on company’s products and services.
  • Journalist/Blogger may take that information directly and write a piece on the company or just make a mere mention of the company.
  • OR journalist/blogger requests an interview directly from a company or customer spokesperson and writes a piece. Original unedited interview is not published.

Why do corporations willingly give their audience cut information? For a cocaine dealer it makes perfect sense. The content (cocaine) is the product they’re selling. If they can dilute it, then they can make more and therefore sell more product. But for a company the information they communicate is the tool they use to sell their products and services. Of course they want that information out in as many places as possible, but when you play this telephone game with your company’s information, you’re putting your fate in other people’s hands.

Give your audience the good stuff, uncut

The reason I hear the phrase “We have no time to blog” is because companies think everything else they do is providing more value to the company than blogging could. They don’t realize how much more value blogging could provide than what they’re currently doing. And it doesn’t necessarily require more time. For example, content written in a private email can often be edited to make a valuable blog post. Since you’re writing it anyway, the effort is already being extended. All you have to do is shift the point of publication (email to blog) and distribution (SMTP to web/blog/RSS).

Paul Levy, CEO of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, has made a name for himself and his hospital with his blog “Running a Hospital,” where he talks about improving the operations at the BIDMC, reducing errors, keeping people healthy, and the overall state of health care in the United States.

A video from Paul Levy’s Running a Hospital blog.

I’m often told by C-level employees that they have no time to blog. Yet Levy seems to find the time. When I asked Levy about balancing his CEO duties with blogging, he didn’t think there shouldn’t be a distinction between the two. “If one of your jobs as CEO of an organization is to represent that organization before the public with traditional venues being newspapers, speeches, lectures, and the like, then use of social media is a logical extension of that corporate responsibility of the CEO. The outreach potential is excellent plus you can express your point of view not being filtered by reporters, or editors, or whatever,” Levy said. Read my full article and listen to my audio interview with Levy on how his public blogging presence has brought enormous benefits to the hospital.

Make your company blog the centerpiece of your efforts

This article is not designed as a call to fire your PR firm. Rather I want companies to see the enormous value of having their own channel, such as a blog, for telling your own story. It should be the first and foremost place where you should place your company’s communications efforts and dollars. Press releases don’t tell stories — blogs do. The second avenue for storytelling should be the corporate communications channel of PR firms, journalists, and bloggers. Of course you’ll want to distribute your story to as many people as possible. The point of having that blog first is so that everyone knows where the REAL story is, the uncut one.

“Corporate blogging” is not an evil phrase, as many have stereotyped it to be. Unfortunately, research firms such as Forrester are still promoting that stereotype. Read my article “Social media research is chock full of leading questions.”

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7 questions for the author of ‘Say Everything’ Thu, 06 Aug 2009 16:28:41 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Scott Rosenberg sketches his vision of blogosphere’s impact on our culture

sayeverythingJD LasicaScott Rosenberg, co-founder and longtime managing editor of Salon — and a longtime friend — has a new book out, following Dreaming in Code, called Say Everything: How Blogging Began, What It’s Becoming, and Why It Matters (Crown Publishing Group). It’s a well-written, well-researched, worthwhile read about blogging, its origins, import and where it’s going. He took part this week in a Q&A about blogging’s impact on publishing, journalism and our culture at large.

1Blogging is no longer the shiny new toy, and the cool kids are moving on to social networks and micro-blogging services like Twitter. Tell us why you think blogs have a vibrant future.

SR: Blogs have a great future because the Web has a great future, and blogs are the Web’s single most important native form. The “cool kids” did their part for blogging by embracing it in the early days and helping it evolve into the mature phenomenon that it is today. That’s their role; they’re doing the same thing with Twitter et al. now. But their waning enthusiasm means very little to a form that we can now see is the single most useful vehicle for self-expression online. Once millions take up some activity, you really don’t need the cool kids anymore.

2You’ve been researching and writing your book for some time. What was the single biggest surprise you came across?

SR: I was surprised by how much of everything that would come later was prefigured by the experiences of the earliest bloggers whose tales are contained in Say Everything‘s first section. Any sort of issue that might come up and hit you in the head as a blogger — with the exception of advertising- and money-related matters — turns out to be something these people faced.

3Name a few bloggers who aren’t household names but whose blogs
enrich the public discourse.

SR: I’m not trying to be difficult, but I have to ask, which bloggers are household names? Whose house, exactly, are we living in? Is Anil Dash a household name? He’s been writing some amazing stuff lately. Is Merlin Mann a household name? Nate Silver? Certainly these are all “well known bloggers,” in certain spheres, but none of them really rises to the level of name-recognition of any second-string actor.

I think I have to continue being difficult and challenge the second part of the question, too. “Enriching the public discourse” makes it sound like “the public discourse” is monolithic. There are a million “public discourses” out there, and most bloggers of any level of ambition are contributing to at least one of them. I may not be personally interested in the obsessions of a quilting blogger or a baseball geek, but they are now participating in the public discourse that matters to them.

[JD: This is worth discussing more deeply over a beer some time. While I value all the knitting bloggers, sports bloggers and mommy bloggers out there, we do need vibrant discussions in the blogosphere around public policy issues, especially with the increasing irrelevance of many newspapers and other traditional media voices. We find some of this with Josh Marshall’s Talking Points Memo, Pro Publica, the Politico, Huffington Post, Daily Kos, Power Line and elsewhere, but we need many more blogs, and bloggers, participating in the public discourse about their communities and their nation.]

4My perception is that few of us are blogging about conferences or live events anymore — it’s easier to Tweet. But that makes it harder for readers to get a contextual understanding of what they missed when it comes over in micro-chunks. What’s your impression?

rosenberg_mediumSR: Twitter’s a more efficient channel for “live blogging” an event, in a lot of ways, than a tool like WordPress or Movable Type, so it’s no surprise we’re using it for that. Blog posts are better for providing the context. It would be a shame for the person tweeting a live event to think, gee, my job is done once the Twitter stream ends, and never offer that context. But maybe now we’re more likely to divide this sort of coverage, letting the live-streamers and reflective posters each do what they do best. The only thing that worries me here is that we don’t yet really know how well a Tweet will serve as a reference point in the future (as I wrote a little while back). Blog posts have known persistence and long-term discoverability. It would be a shame to lose the historical record we are creating with Twitter.

5How did you use your blog during your research? Was it a key tool
in uncovering sources or anecdotes?

SR: Not really. When I’m writing a book I find it really hard to blog at any kind of a regular pace. And the nature of this material was such that the challenge lay less in “uncovering” additional material than in figuring out how to define the story — really, deciding what to leave out. And of course I ended up leaving out tons of important and fascinating stuff. But the most important tool was talking to people. I conducted more than 100 interviews for Say Everything; with more time I could easily have done 100 more.

6How do you think blogging is impacting journalism, both from the
outside and inside newsrooms, ow that many news organizations have journalists who blog?

SR: I wish I could say that the now-ancient “Journalists vs. Bloggers” conflict was behind us. But sadly its patterns persist. Old-line media organizations have now widely embraced the format of blogging for their web efforts. But much of newsroom culture remains defiantly opposed (or stubbornly resistant) to some of the basic practices of the blogging world. Aggregation and linking are as natural to bloggers as breathing; but, as the AP’s recent initiatives and the flurry of debate around the Washington Post/Gawker stories this past week both demonstrate, some significant portion of the traditional press has still not come to terms with how the Web works.

As the business model for much of the traditional media continues to decay, it will be important to try to limit the damage the fading incumbents can wreak on the free flow of information and links that blogging thrives on.

7How do you see multimedia and video taking blogs in new
directions in the next few years? And a decade from now, do you think text blogging will look pretty similar to what it looks like today? What’s the long-term impact of the blogging revolution on publishing and on our culture?

SR: Really, my answer to that giant question takes up the final hundred pages or so of Say Everything. I do think text blogging as a form is now mature and likely to change less than people think. The
rapid evolution is still taking place in filtering mechanisms and sharing tools — how we organize and select, how we fish items out of the river.


Thanks, Scott, for taking time out and exploring these issues. Readers can find Say Everything at:
Independent bookstore through IndieBound
and brick-and-mortar bookstores everywhere.

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Survival Guide Chapter 3: RSS feeds & blogs Fri, 24 Jul 2009 20:58:18 +0000 Continue reading ]]> survival-guide-toDeltina Hay Here is part 3 of the series I will post over the next few months based on chapters from my new book, A Survival Guide to Social Media and Web 2.0 Optimization.

This book is meant to be a guide to building an optimized foundation in the Social Web for beginners and advanced users alike.

Chapter 3, the longest chapter in the book, is about RSS feeds and blogs. This chapter is packed with information and useful tips about content preparation, feed readers, optimization, and much more to ensure maximum exposure in the Social Web.

The following excerpts are from A Survival Guide to Social Media and Web 2.0 Optimization:

Chapter 3: RSS Feeds and Blogs

Optimizing Your Blog And RSS Feed

Your RSS feed or blog will do you little good if nobody knows about it or cannot subscribe to it. This section highlights ways for you to optimize and promote your feed. Most of these tips are for both blogs and RSS
feeds, but some of them only apply to blogs. It is made clear if something only applies to blogs….

Your Feed or Blog Content

Edit Your Content
Edit and proofread your feed or blog entries for accuracy every time you post. If you or your staff do not have the time or skills to do so, consider hiring a professional editor. If you write your posts ahead of time as suggested in the previous section, you can save money since editors usually have a minimum charge and can get a lot done in one session.

Always use at least one or two of your best key terms in your blog or feed titles. This gives you better placement in the directories as well as better search engine placement.

Categories and Tags (tags only apply to blogs)
When posting blog entries, you should assign categories and tags to them every time. Most blog indexing sites use categories and tags to index blog entries. Draw from your top level key terms for categories and all of your key terms for tags.

Link to as many other blogs or Websites from within each of your posts as you can and trackback to them whenever possible. When creating links within a post, use key terms as the link text. For example, link “Facebook” to, link “Facebook application” to the Facebook application page,, and so forth.

Each link in the post also contains a key term that is used as a tag and/or category for the post. This tactic gives each of your posts more relevance in directories and search engines.

Attaching a signature at the end of each of your posts can encourage visitors to subscribe to your feed and aid in promoting your other sites or products. This is also a good place for a copyright statement if you need one. It is best to keep your signature clearly separate from the post content. One way to do this is to include three pound signs before the signature.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO For Your Blog (only applies to blogs)
Since WordPress produces PHP as opposed to HTML, posts and pages do not necessarily have the metadata in their source that is required for search engine robots. However, there are ways around this problem. A good SEO plugin for WordPress is The All in One SEO Pack. This plugin lets you assign proper metadata to
each of your posts and WordPress pages so that they get good placement in search engines. You input the metadata from the same interface that you enter the post. The title, description, and keywords entered here
become the metadata for that post.

This plugin also helps you assign metadata for your site as whole.

Permalinks (only applies to blogs)

As discussed in the previous section, permalinks are the direct link to each of your blog entries. You want to use a permalink structure that does not use any special characters (these are often called “pretty” permalinks). Since WordPress is written using PHP, the default permalinks look something like this: Search engines often ignore links that contain characters like the ones in “?p=6.” Choose a permalink structure that does not use them. To change the structure, go to the backend of WordPress; go to Settings/Permalinks. To make your permalinks “pretty,” choose any of the options except the default.

External Links or “Link Baiting”

This is actually an SEO tip you can use for any Website. Use meta keywords in any link text that points back to your Website. These are the meta keywords that are in your site’s header, not just arbitrary key terms. Whenever you can use text as links back to your site, use these terms to do so. As an example, we use the following blurb at the end of each article we submit to e-zines and the like for Social Media Power:

Deltina Hay is the principal of Social Media Power, a Web 2.0 development firm in Austin. Ms. Hay’s graduate education in computer science, applied mathematics, and psychology led her naturally to social media consulting. Find out more about using social media and Web 2.0 tools from her new straight forward, easy-to-follow e-book on social media marketing and Web 2.0.

The term “social media” links to and “social media marketing” links to the e-book page on that site. We are also careful not to clutter these bios with links—two is a good limit. Search engine robots consider external links that are similar to meta keywords very relevant and will increase your page rank accordingly.

Copyright 2009 by Deltina Hay. All rights reserved.


This chapter also includes information about RSS feed and blog promotion using FeedBurner and other RSS Feed and blog directories. The resource CD offers further reading, linkable resources, and seven fillable PDF forms that you can use to prepare and organize your content.

Read more about this social media book at the publisher’s site.

As always, readers also get a special price of $16 (shipping included — retail $24.95) for this book – just click the buy now button.


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