More on blog sponsorship/monetization

Jaffe has added a second element to the sponsorship plan for his podcast Across The Sound. Actor/podcaster Tim Coyne has agreed to give Jaffe another iPhone in exchange for sponsoring an episode of Across The Sound.

Jaffe explains:
Tim has a specific goal: leverage this sponsorship to achieve a very specific outcome: to secure an audition on either CSI, Criminal Minds, Shark or House. All four are terrific shows...I watch them all. I absolutely love Criminal Minds (probably one of the most underrated shows) and am a big James Woods fan.

You can hear it all right here..........but it doesn't stop there!

Mack Collier, are you listening? I'm going to pay it forward and give the iPhone right back to the person that is ultimately *most* responsible for helping Tim realize his dream. You see...maybe I do know what I'm doing after all :)

This sponsorship is not about an iPhone (although there is tangential thread about the iPhone becoming a sort of creative currency if you think about it), it's about Tim; it's about the incredible community that is Across the Sound; it's about the power of using new marketing to prove new marketing.

So do it for an iPhone if you must, but more importantly, do it for Tim. It's a great opportunity for us to use new marketing to prove new marketing.

On your marks. Get set. GO!


I applaud Tim for trying to tap into the viral nature of the blogosphere and social media, and I wouldn't be a bit surprised if he does land at least one audition, in fact I'd be surprised if he didn't.

But I also applaud Jaffe for trying to get his community involved in the process as well as the reward. This initiative reminds me of a quote from Jeffrey Kalmikoff during his presentation at Community Next last year on why Threadless doesn't accept advertising:
Instead of taking advertising money from these people, and saying 'Hey we can promote your product because we have 500,000 people', how about you give us something to make it worth our community's time to have your presence be seen through our business?


This is more in line with what I was thinking when I said that any blog monetization should have a built-in benefit for the community. Threadless works with companies on co-branded contests where Threadless community members design t-shirts, with the winners getting additional prizes from the sponsor, above the standard cash prizes that Threadless pays out. Whether you like Jaffe's sponsorship idea or not, I think its important because it's a shift toward getting the community involved in the reward. Some people such as Lewis have questioned if this is the best way, but I think the most important point here is that we are having the discussion.

You can read about the sponsorship and Tim's campaign to make it big in Hollywood here.



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posted by Mack Collier @ 5:49 PM, , View blog reactions




More 'blogging is dying' doom and gloom

Steve Rubel becomes the latest to 'warn' us that blogs could be about to die with this post. And John Whiteside, had a classic comment:


Most people don't read blogs regularly. Most people have no idea what all those "shiny new objects" even are - and they don't actually care. Explain Twitter to most people on the street and the reaction you'll get will often be, "Why would I want that?"

Perhaps one of the symptoms of shiny object syndrome is that when you have it, you think everybody else does too, when actually it affects 0.1% of the population.


Beautiful.


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posted by Mack Collier @ 6:26 PM, , View blog reactions




So what exactly is this 'new marketing' stuff anyway?

Then - Volvo runs print ad hoping to convince customers that its vehicles are safe:








Now - Volvo customer posts pictures on her blog of damage to her car after it flips during wreck. More importantly, she posts a picture of her daughter walking away from the wreck with a few stitches and bandages.







This is what 'new' marketing is all about. It's about company and customer now both having the ability to produce content that can be seen by millions. And as in this example, it's usually about the customer doing a better job than the company can.

I'd invite everyone to go read Ann's story, and also invite Volvo to reach out to Ann and thank her for doing an amazing job of giving all her readers a reason to seriously consider buying a Volvo.


PS: Thanks to Jenna for letting me know I botched the Volvo URL, it's fixed now.



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posted by Mack Collier @ 12:50 AM, , View blog reactions




Viral Community News

The Age of Conversation edition.

1 - Steve Woodruff has gone above and beyond, giving a quick recap of EVERY chapter in the book. He gives you just enough to see what each author is talking about.

2 - Along these same lines, Arun Rajagopal has created a bio for ALL 103 AoC authors!

3 - Drew has a recap on all the media coverage after week one. Drew also emailed us to let us know that over 500 copies of AoC sold in the first week, and so far over $4,000 has been raised for Variety!

4 - Speaking of sales, Lulu is reporting that The Age of Conversation is the #2(Hardcover), #4(Paperback) and #8(e-Book) best sellers for the week! All three versions in the Top 8!

5 - CK, Toby, Arun and Mario are all sending copies of The Age of Conversation to CMOs! Nice!

6 - The good folks at Crayon talk about The Age on Conversation on Crayon Cast #30.

7 - Christine and Michelle at Emerging Customer have generously donated a month's worth of advertising on their blog for The Age of Conversation!

8 - Shouty Lady gets seriously silly about the book's release.

9 - Matt at Techno Marketer has a nice recap of all the associated links, including the Facebook group (created by Mark Goren) and Google Map for the authors!

10 - Gavin has a pic of a couple of gorgeous AoC co-authors holding the limited 'jumbo' edition of The Age of Conversation! He also tells us about Paul offering a free copy of AoC for the best comment from readers about their favorite chapter!

11 - And that brings us to the end of this list. Literally. Sean documents what happened at SpingLobe when the AoC books arrived. Watch it to the 'end'.


Remember that you can order YOUR copy of The Age of Conversation by clicking the photo above, or here.



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posted by Mack Collier @ 10:54 AM, , View blog reactions




Note to companies; blogging isn't a fad, it's a strategy

Last month the blogosphere (at least in marketing circles) buzzed a bit by the news that sandwich chain Which Wich was going to embrace one of its biggest evangelists in its local and then later national marketing. Chris Thomas decided he was going to purchase and review every one of the 51 sandwiches on Which Wich's menu, and blog all of it. Chris' local Which Wich made the incredibly smart move to add Chris' picture to their bags, along with a link to Chris' blog. Brilliant.

Which Wich's founder then flew into Tennessee to have lunch with Chris at his favorite Which Wich, and Chris later announced that Which Wich would be promoting Chris' series nationally. Again, this is great stuff, and a sign that Which Wich understands the power of social media, and especially the value of the blogosphere.

At least, on first blush.

On June 21st, Which Wich's blog posted a recap of the founder having lunch with Chris Thomas, and a picture of the two enjoying a meal at Chris' favorite Which Wich. Again great stuff.

But the problem is, there have been ZERO posts on the blog since this one.

Roughly a month ago, Which Wich was in the rare position of having a rush of positive exposure in the marketing blogosphere, primarily because of the great way that they were utilizing social media to help build exposure for their brand. Then they fell off the face of the earth.

To be fair, Which Wich had a very bad blog when I found them last month. Their 3 sidebar links point to 'Google, Edit Me, and Edit Me'. That's bad. I left a comment on the blog saying that Which Wich should add Chris' blog to their sidebar ASAP. It still isn't there.

But Which Wich had a great chance to get their act together here and continue to get positive exposure. They could have detailed the rollout of the national version of the promotion of Chris' series (which I assume did happen, but the blog says nothing about it). They could have gotten involved in this space, especially with a group that was just discovering the company, and was impressed with their efforts. Instead, they dropped the ball.

This is why when a company decides to start blogging, they have to understand the commitment that's involved. Which Wich's blog has 4 posts in the last 3 months. A good company blog needs that many posts a week. Companies need to understand this going in, and decide upfront if they can match this and other time-commitments associated with maintaining and growing a company blog. If they can't meet these demands, then they should not blog.

Many companies look at blogs, even today, as the 'shiny new toy' that they need to play with. It isn't, blogging is a strategy. It requires a long-term commitment, and companies that can't meet these requirements, should never enter this space.

UPDATE: Stephen Denny makes the case for corporate blogging.

Nother UPDATE: The ever-brilliant Jennifer gives Which Wich an action plan.



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posted by Mack Collier @ 11:01 AM, , View blog reactions




The 'Tagline' Meme

Cam has started an interesting meme where you pick 5 bloggers, and give them a tagline. He picked me, Roger, Lewis, MasiGuy, and Paul. So here's my picks:

David Armano - 'Designing conversations and creating communities'

Ann Handley - 'Forming the connections that hold us all together'

CK - 'Sharing knowledge so we can all advance'

Cam - 'The conversations are bigger in Texas'

Sean Howard - 'So are we going to talk about some marketing bullshit, or what?'

Feel free to add your own here or at your own blog!


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posted by Mack Collier @ 12:31 PM, , View blog reactions




The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing Blogs - Week 66

Here's the standings for Week 66:

1 - Seth's Blog - 10,379 (-16)(LW - 1)
2 - Gaping Void - 3,679 (-85)(LW - 2)
3 - Duct Tape Marketing - 2,682 (-3)(LW - 3)
4 - Logic + Emotion - 1,397 (+1)(LW - 4)
5 - Diva Marketing - 1,139 (No Change)(LW - 5)
6 - Daily Fix - 1,080 (-2)(LW - 6)
7 - What's Next - 1,011 (+4)(LW - 8)
8 - Converstations - 990(-27)(LW - 7)
9 - Church of the Customer - 890 (-5)(LW - 9)
10 - Drew's Marketing Minute - 855 (+5)(LW - 10)
11 - Jaffe Juice - 787 (-5)(LW - 11)
12 - Influential Marketing - 786 (+7)(LW - 12)
13 - Servant of Chaos - 699 (+7)(LW - 14)
14 - The Viral Garden - 643 (-80)(LW - 13)
15 - Brand Autopsy - 632 (-1)(LW - 16)
16 - Hee-Haw Marketing - 617 (-28)(LW - 15)
17 - Branding and Marketing - 594 (-6)(LW - 17)
18 - CrapHammer - 549 (-16)(LW - 18)
18 - Customers Rock! - 549 (+2)(LW - 19)
20 - Marketing Headhunter - 522 (No Change)(LW - 21)
21 - Flooring the Consumer - 520 (-14)(LW - 20)
22 - Coolzor - 518 (No Change)(LW - 22)
23 - CK's Blog - 500 (+1)(LW - 24)
24 - Community Guy - 480 (-20)(LW - 21)
24 - Marketing Hipster - 480 (-7)(LW - 25)



Pretty quiet week for the Top 25. The only significant move in the Top 10 was Converstations and What's Next trading spots for the second straight week.

Other than this blog taking an unexpected header and shedding 80 links, the rest of the Top 25 was equally quiet. Influential Marketing continues to march upward and has Jaffe Juice in its sights. Craphammer and Customers Rock! tied at #18, while Community Guy and Marketing Hipster did the same at #24.

Still plenty of contestants on the verge of joining the party, including Conversation Agent (missed by ONE link), Marketing Roadmaps, Biz Solutions Plus, Greg Verdino's Marketing Blog, Experience Curve, Tell Ten Friends, Marketing Nirvana and Shotgun Marketing.




Next update is next Wednesday.

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posted by Mack Collier @ 12:25 AM, , View blog reactions




What is a 'successful' online community?

Great quotes from Pat Coyle, marketing guru for the Indianapolis Colts, on what a 'successful' online community means to the Colts' new social-networking site, MyColts:
When you look at this site you see what fans are made of. You read stories about how they became fans…how they experience the Colts, and you see there families and their pets and their friends. You get a little window into their lives. Sure, some of the stuff you see is off the wall and even a little sophomoric. But many folks in our community are doing what I hoped they would do. They are CONNECTING with other people and forming new friendships.

It is these friendships that makes the Colts experience more fun. It is these friendships that will cause more and more folks to become connected and make Colts games into rituals, habits that will be hard to break. It’s these friendships that make Sundays the best day of the week. It is these friendships that will help them in other areas of life as well and on other days of the week.

It’s all about community. That’s where the value is for the FANS.


Sites that place an emphasis on attempting to monetize its community are almost always doomed to fail, because they have put THEIR best interests above that of the community they want to create or grow. Look at how MySpace is slowing down. Think the massive amounts of advertising now on the site, and how MySpace is spending more and more effort attempting to dictate the actions of its users (only use widgets from companies that are paying us), has anything to do with that? Contrast that with how Threadless continues to put the community above all else, and still shows no signs of slowing down.

The best online communities are the ones that let users easily connect, as well as create, exchange, and share relevant content. Communities form when users have a sense of ownership in something larger than themselves. Communities do not form around the idea of being monetized.

Pat closes with an interesting question: "Now, how can we get sponsors to invest their TIME as well as their money to engage with our community?"


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posted by Mack Collier @ 2:52 PM, , View blog reactions




Commenters; are you ready to be rated?

Mario blogs about a new service calls SezWho. He explains:
SezWho is a first step in a tool that enable an easier way to monitor conversations generated by your community on blogs, based on the reputation of the commenter. And, what’s interesting is that it takes into account not only the reputation of an individual on your blog, but also takes into consideration their behavior across different blog platforms.

How many community managers have had to deal with trolls? I’m sure most community managers’ hands went up when I asked that question. Here’s a first step in letting your own community decide the reputation of such trolls. It’s democratizing the whole process of tracking user feedback on community blogs (which I’ll get into shortly), based on who said it.


The thing about it is, most trolls don't care about their reputation, which is part of what makes them trolls. But to the bigger point, should commenters be rated and their 'reputation' ranked? Not sure I agree, but then again I'm extremely lucky in that all the readers here leave great comments.

Mario also talks about another possible benefit:
Once these comments based on readers ratings, other readers can then sort the comments based on reputation (assigned by readers). This would be useful when I’m trying to read the “best” comments from a blog like TechCrunch, which has 50 - 100 comments on some posts. However, I’m still not sure how the ratings of the raters works.


I think that's a better benefit to readers, but the problem is, with this you won't have the context of the comment. You won't be able to see the post that prompted the supposedly 'good' comment.

So far it looks like this is only available for WordPress and Movable Type blogs.

But would you guys like the ability to rate every comment here? Would you like to see a widget on the sidebar that ranks say the Top 10 commenters by their 'reputation'?


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posted by Mack Collier @ 9:43 AM, , View blog reactions




Ad Age to acquire/partner with Todd And's Power 150

I'm not exactly sure what it means yet (Ad Age hasn't officially announced the move yet), but apparently Ad Age will begin using, or outright take over Todd And's Top 150 Marketing blogs. The list, which Todd calls the 'Power 150' attempts to rank the top marketing, PR, and advertising blogs, much as I do with The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing Blogs. His method uses I believe 4 different criteria and has become a very popular feature to his site.

I think this is a great move for the blogging community as a whole, and I'm happy for Todd. This helps raise awareness of all marketing, pr, and advertising bloggers. As Karl points out, Technorati should have done something like this a LONG time ago.



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posted by Mack Collier @ 7:05 PM, , View blog reactions




What is the value of the content we create?

I wanted to do a followup on my post about blog monetization, because it's created some amazing conversation, which was what I was hoping for.

But to me, the bigger picture here is that when blogs are properly monetized, everyone wins. Because when that happens, companies and sponsors are viewing the TRUE value of blogs.

A couple of examples: Chris blogs about how he is sick of PR firms or companies emailing him about a campaign/etc. that they are running, asking him to blog about it, and then.....email them a link when he posts about it.

Jaffe mentions getting a recent email from a PR firm alerting him about an AdWeek article, and then encouraging him to contact an AdWeek editor to interview them so he can blog about it. I've received these same emails, and as Jaffe asks, shouldn't it be the other way around?

These are just two examples of how blogs are being taken for granted as little more than promotional vehicles. And I think this is happening in great part, because companies, MSM, PR firms, etc., aren't realizing the true value of blogs. Of course on the other hand, I also think that we bloggers as a whole are doing a poor job of monetizing our blogs.

Which is why Jaffe's iPhone experiment excites me. Whether you agree with monetizing blogs and podcasts or not, doesn't matter. If blogs are properly monetized, then what potential sponsors perceive as their true value, greatly increases. So if you want to monetize your blog, your content is now perceived as being more valuable, and you get more for it. If you do not want to monetize your blog, you are still seen as creating MORE valuable content, and you'll likely get more business/consulting opportunities as a result.

What's the current model for monetizing most blogs? Slapping a few ads on the sidebar, with compensation based on traffic/page views? That's what leads to all these articles about how the only bloggers that are making any money are the ones with millions of page views a month. And when companies and potential sponsors see these articles, they think to themselves that blogs, as a whole, aren't creating much value, else they'd be able to monetize it.

Look at Paul's series this year on 'Hurricane Kohls'. This is a first-hand account of how social media can impact a major retailer. What's the potential value of these posts and the comments to EVERY retailer? What about Paul's Tune in Saturdays series where every Saturday he introduces his audience to a new artist? How much value has this series created for the artists featured?

Remember all the discussion over Nikon's 'Picture This' blogger outreach promotion? Whether you love or hate the idea, consider all the valuable content that has been created by so many bloggers on so many blogs. How much is all that content worth to Nikon or to any company that's considering crafting a similar program?

Take my Company Blog Checkup series. If I had taken on each company as a client, I would have made a pretty penny or two in consulting fees by now. All valuable content that was freely created that will benefit companies that are blogging, or want to start.

My point is, there is real value being created at our blogs, and value that companies and sponsors should be looking to tap into. I also think we do ourselves a disservice when we marry the value of our content strictly to traffic and page views. Because these models don't bring into account the viral nature of the blogosphere. I picked up on Jaffe's post with my own, and introduced a different take on the issue. Then David and Lewis blogged THEIR take on MY take. And now to bring it full-circle, Jaffe has responded to my response to his original iPhone experiment post, via his podcast. Amazing.

I may have been putting the cart in front of the horse a bit with my last post, but to me the big idea wasn't properly monetizing blogs, it was getting the proper value from our content. I think this can begin to happen when companies and potential sponsors SEE our content as being more valuable. This is why I support Jaffe's monetization experiment, because it assigns a 'dollar value' to the content he is creating. He is saying that if you want to be associated with that content, here's what it will cost you. I think anyone that is interested in monetizing their blog should do the same, as I believe it will help raise the perceived value of blogs as a whole.

And when that happens, all bloggers, whether you want to directly monetize your content or not, win.



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posted by Mack Collier @ 9:30 AM, , View blog reactions




Blog monetization; how do we ALL win?

Jaffe has conducted an apparently successful, and very interesting, experiment on his podcast Across the Sound. Jaffe threw out the idea that if a company would give him an iPhone, he'd let them sponsor an episode of Across the Sound. Jaffe said he got an offer within an hour of the show going live, and has already bought his iPhone. The company that agreed to sponsor the episode has even gone in with Jaffe and issued a press release. Jaffe is now hinting that he wants to offer a month-long sponsorship, for a new laptop.

I think this is an interesting idea, and could be a new way of looking at blogger compensation. But the area that concerns me with this, and most forms of blog-monetization, is that while the blogger and company directly benefits, the reader doesn't. What does the average reader of Jaffe Juice or listener to Across the Sound get from Jaffe getting an iPhone? Nothing that I can see.

But should they? I'm not begrudging Jaffe getting an iPhone at all, in fact I think it's a stroke of genius, and I would bet most of his readers/listeners do as well. But I think if we can find a way to talk about blog monetization that benefits the readers as well, then we'll have a winner.

And I'm not sure that blog ads are the way to go. In some cases they can work (I like what Chris has done by running ads for Netflix and movie posters at Movie Marketing Madness), but in most cases it seems that ads are intrusive and don't enhance the reader's experience.

So I'm thinking that maybe content is the way to go. But not the Pay-Per-Post tit-for-tat model. What do you guys think about this idea:

Let's say Target has a blog (do they?) that they want to be profiled in the Company Blog Checkup series. They agree to give me a gift certificate for X amount of dollars (which is of course disclosed by me) if I will profile their blog in the Company Blog Checkup series. Fine, there's the direct benefit for me, and for Target.

So now we need to incorporate a benefit for the community of readers. Let's say that part of the deal with Target also includes that representatives from the blog agree to come here and respond to comments left by readers to the blog checkup post. And after a set amount of time, Target will pick the reader comment that they feel was the most constructive to them, and award that reader a gift certificate as well (which is again, disclosed upfront)!

This way, everyone benefits twice. One reader and myself both get a Target gift certificate. Target's blog gets exposure here. Target also gets a ton of great advice from the community and myself on how to improve its blogging efforts. And myself and the readers also benefit from the great comments making the post more interesting.

I think this is the way to go with blog monetization, so that all three parties benefit. This is just an example, I think the key is to find a way to incorporate a direct benefit to the readers as well.

Speaking of readers, what say you? What are your thoughts on blog-monetization? Does an example like the Target blog work for you, or are you just fine with Jaffe's iPhone deal? Or can you think of other examples that could directly benefit readers as well? I really think this is an interesting topic and that there's probably a way to make it a winning situation for everyone.



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posted by Mack Collier @ 12:35 PM, , View blog reactions




Company Blog Checkup: Patagonia

Patagonia is an outdoor-clothing company that not only sells clothes designed to help you stay comfortable in different environments, but the company is also serious about the issues that affect those environments. This gives Patagonia an excellent opportunity to build its blog, The Cleanest Line, around larger issues than the company itself, issues that appeal to its customers. Let's see how the company does.

I normally like to start by looking at the blog's content first. But with The Cleanest Line, let's instead start with the About section. This section spells out exactly what the purpose of the blog is, details the blog's comment policy (while encouraging readers to contribute), and explains that the blog has a section for Del.icio.us links on the sidebar to articles that the staff believes will be of interest to readers. And saving the best for last, The Cleanest Line also encourages readers to submit their own posts to the blog, and tells readers exactly how to do so. I emailed Patagonia to confirm that they are indeed encouraging readers to contribute posts, and Kasey Kersnowski, The Cleanest Line's editor, explained that they do indeed publish reader submissions, and these are 'introduced' by one of the writers for The Cleanest Line. I've got a VERY good feeling about this...

Now let's move to the content itself. Most posts cover environmental issues or news stories. Which is exactly the type of information that Patagonia's customers would likely be interested in. There is some attention paid to Patagonia's products and stores, but there's definitely a good ratio here, in fact I would think that Patagonia leans toward spending too LITTLE time talking about itself, as opposed to spending too much time on self-promotion.

The Cleanest Line's writers do a decent job with staying on schedule with posts, but there's still some room for improvement. So far this month, the writers have left 12 posts in 18 days. That's pretty damned good. But yesterday the blog posted 2 entries, and none so far today. This should never happen for two reasons: first, visitors will be more likely to become regular readers if there is new content up every time they visit your blog. Also, when you leave the second post in the same day, the lead post will 'bury' the second one, making it less likely to get noticed by future readers. If you are going to post 2 posts over a 2-day period, only post one on each day. Still, The Cleanest Line does a much better job of posting regularly than most of the blogs I've profiled so far.

Now we turn to comments. I immediately notice that of the 12 posts left so far this month, 11 have comments. That bears repeating: 11 out of 12 posts left so far this month, have comments. That's a sign of a blog with a vibrant community of readers. The one problem I have with the comments will carry us over to the sidebar, but at times in reading the comments, I couldn't tell when I was reading a comment from a reader, or one of the blog's writers.

And that brings us to the sidebar. To carryover from the previous point, I'd really like to see a section on the sidebar clearly identifying who the blog's writers are, with pictures. And I'm sure the readers would appreciate it as well, since they are obviously big fans of the blog, based on the number of comments they are leaving.

As mentioned before, the sidebar also contains links to articles on environmental issues and news stories, which is excellent. And The Cleanest Line also has a section highlighting recent comments, categories, archives, and a link to the blog's RSS feed. I do wish they had RSS buttons for Bloglines, Google Reader, etc., but again, this is picking nits, as the blog's sidebar is far better than most.

Overall, The Cleanest Line is a home-run of an effort. There are no major weaknesses, only a few minor ones. The Cleanest Line's focus is clearly on the readers; the content, the sidebar, everything is aimed at meeting their wants and needs. The readers are even openly encouraged to submit their own posts. All in all, The Cleanest Line isn't perfect, but it's damned close, and a true example of the potential of a blog to create a community of excited ambassadors for your company. Well done guys, very well done.

And now let's go to the scoring:

Content: 33 (Out of a possible 35) - Strong focus on the environment and sustainability. The content clearly resonates with the blog's readers.

Comments: 23 (Out of a possible 35) - Most posts get comments, but I'd like to see the writers become more active in replying to existing comments.

Posting Schedule: 12 (Out of a possible 15) - Right at or above a post every other day. Very good for a company blog.

Sidebars: 8 (Out of a possible 15) - Love the recent comments and Delicious links, hate that there's no writer's pics/bios.

Total Score: 76 (Out of a possible 100)

If anyone from Patagonia wants to discuss this Company Blog Checkup with me, feel free to leave a comment here, or email me, or both.

If you're a company that would like to hire me to do an extensive checkup of your blog, you can click here for more information on my blogging and social media consulting services. And if anyone can think of a company blog that they want me to do a checkup on (even if it's your own company's blog), feel free to email me!


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posted by Mack Collier @ 8:40 PM, , View blog reactions




The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing Blogs - Week 65

Here's the standings for Week 65:

1 - Seth's Blog - 10,395 (+123)(LW - 1)
2 - Gaping Void - 3,764 (-115)(LW - 2)
3 - Duct Tape Marketing - 2,685 (+4)(LW - 3)
4 - Logic + Emotion - 1,396 (+42)(LW - 4)
5 - Diva Marketing - 1,139 (+21)(LW - 5)
6 - Daily Fix - 1,082 (+43)(LW - 6)
7 - Converstations - 1,017(+39)(LW - 8)
8 - What's Next - 1,007 (-15)(LW - 7)
9 - Church of the Customer - 895 (-6)(LW - 9)
10 - Drew's Marketing Minute - 860 (+43)(LW - 10)
11 - Jaffe Juice - 792 (-3)(LW - 11)
12 - Influential Marketing - 779 (+24)(LW - 12)
13 - The Viral Garden - 723 (+13)(LW - 13)
14 - Servant of Chaos - 692 (+46)(LW - 14)
15 - Hee-Haw Marketing - 645 (+23)(LW - 16)
16 - Brand Autopsy - 633 (-5)(LW - 15)
17 - Branding and Marketing - 600 (+16)(LW - 17)
18 - CrapHammer - 565 (+37)(LW - 18)
19 - Customers Rock! - 547 (+66)(LW - 23)
20 - Flooring the Consumer - 534 (+37)(LW - 22)
21 - Marketing Headhunter - 522 (No Change)(LW - 19)
22 - Coolzor - 518 (+5)(LW - 20)
23 - Community Guy - 500 (+1)(LW - 21)
24 - CK's Blog - 499 (+41)(LW - 24)
25 - Marketing Hipster - 487 (LW - UR)



It seems like the Z-List is starting to work its way out of the link-counts, as The Age of Conversation is no doubt boosting the totals for the book's authors. The Top 10 was fairly quiet, with Converstations and What's Next trading spots.

Past the Top 10, Influential Marketing has been quietly padding its link count for several weeks now, and could be looking to crack the Top 10 soon. Flooring the Consumer and Customers Rock! had big moves, up 2 and 4 spots respectively.

Marketing Hipster enters the Top 25 at #25, but there are plenty of contestants ready to crash the party, including Biz Solutions Plus, Greg Verdino's Marketing Blog, Experience Curve, Conversation Agent, Tell Ten Friends, Marketing Nirvana and Shotgun Marketing.




Next update is next Wednesday.

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posted by Mack Collier @ 2:18 PM, , View blog reactions




Walking the Social Media utility/hype line

From the Credit Where it's Due Dept: Bryan Person, who wrote the comment policy for Monster's blog, emailed me to let me know that he had read and commented on my post about the site's comment policy that I wrote for Daily Fix. Bryan and his colleague Ryck Lent went out of their way to discuss and explain their comment policy with us in the post's comments, and it's great reading.

Also, Chris from Stormhoek stopped by to comment on my recent Company Blog Checkup on Stormhoek's blog. For those keeping score, representatives from every company profiled so far in the Company Blog Checkup series, except for Wal-Mart and Kleenex, have left feedback.

This further strengthens my opinion that companies are paying attention, now more than ever, to what is being written about them in the blogosphere. And they are moving from simply monitoring blogs, to becoming active participants. Most of this has come about in the last year or so.

The reason? Because companies are starting to finally understand how to utilize blogs, and why they should be paying attention to what we are saying. They are beginning to move from the understanding stage, to next implementing blogs as valuable communication tools to improve their marketing and better understand their customers.

Still, if you listen to some in the blogosphere, it seems that the shine has worn off blogging. Blogs are quickly becoming yesterday's news, as some run off to play with shinier toys with names like 'Facebook', 'Pownce' and 'Spock'. That's because we geeks love to hype stuff (and bloggers know that if they are hyping the hot new toy, they'll get more traffic). Consider the title of the latest post at GapingVoid: "sign up to facebook or consign your career to the dustbin of history etc etc." Of course last summer we were hearing that if we weren't on MySpace or in Second Life, that we were in deep trouble. Earlier this year, we had to be on Twitter, now it seems that Pownce is the hottie of the day.

What does all this mean? Believe the utility, not the hype. Jumping from one 'next big thing' to the next, simply leaves you with tired legs. Any new site/service/medium that offers real value will outlive the initial buzz.


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posted by Mack Collier @ 11:37 AM, , View blog reactions




More press for The Age of Conversation

Both Fast Company and Business Week have picked up on The Age of Conversation project. Bruce Nussbaum writes about the project at his Nussbaum on Design blog for Business Week, and it has led to an amazing series of comments. That's because Bruce asks a great question: "I do have one thought before delving into The Age of Conversation and it is this--are we talking too much? Are we spending too much time on our blogs, facebook pages, second life avatars, friends, relatives, colleagues, whomever? Are we procrastinating? Are we navel gazing at the process of social media rather than using the process to get at something really important?"

At the Fast Company blog, Brian Reich, one of the co-authors of The Age of Conversation, blogs about the book. Also, CK makes her triumphant return to Daily Fix with yesterday's headlining post about AoC. Yesterday morning there were right at 5,000 mentions of AoC according to Google Blog Search. A day later, that number is over 5,300.

UPDATE: Steve gives a quick snippet of several of the entries from the authors of The Age of Conversation. Just from reading these quick hits, you can tell that you're going to get 103 different takes on the same subject!

MAJOR UPDATE: Drew says that in "24 hours, we have sold 317 copies and made $2,563.63 for the charity. Now that's news worth spreading! Our goal for this project is $10,000." That's an average of over $8.00 going to Variety for EACH copy sold! Thanks to everyone that has so far purchased a copy, you guys are amazing! Let's keep the ball rolling!


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posted by Mack Collier @ 9:03 AM, , View blog reactions




The Age of Conversation is here!

Today is the day. The Age of Conversation, a groundbreaking collaboration between over 100 writers across the world, is now available for sale here.

From the store:
In what began as a half dare, the editors, Gavin Heaton and Drew McLellan challenged bloggers around the world to contribute one page — 400 words — on the topic of “conversation”. The resulting book, The Age of Conversation, brings together over 100 of the world’s leading marketers, writers, thinkers and creative innovators in a ground-breaking and unusual publication. And in the spirit of conversation, you can follow-up and extend your interest in the topics covered in the book at the Age of Conversation blog — www.ageofconversation.com.

All the proceeds from the sale of this book (less printing and shipping) go to Variety, the Children’s Charity. We thank you for supporting this initiative with your purchase.


The fact that this book even exists is a testament to the power of social media. Drew and Gavin came up with the idea on a lark in the comments of Drew's blog, and a few weeks later, they had brought on over 100 fellow authors and thought leaders from around the world. And not just writers, but bloggers and marketers and creative thinkers that are actually using these amazing tools and participating in these online communities. People that have leveraged the power of social media to carve out a level of respect and authority for themselves in record time. People that know the power of this Age of Conversation that we have entered, and are going to show you have to master it as well.

Social media is a game-changer. Blogs, podcasts, wikis, and messaging services such as Twitter and Pownce give everyone a much greater ability to find, share, and spread their voices. The flow and control of information has suddenly been shoved violently in the direction of the community. The smart companies are the ones that are today exploring ways that they can join this community, so that they don't face irrelevance tomorrow.

Here is an excerpt from my chapter, entitled 'Breaking Marketing Barriers from the Top of a Harley':
The problem is that in many cases there are two communities; the company, and its customers. Each community has its own wants and needs, and its own way of talking to each other. As a result, neither group really understands or trusts the other.

But when a company makes an effort to join its customers in its space, that barrier begins to fall. The ideas and language of the company begins to seep into the customers’ space. Likewise, the thoughts and opinions of the customers start to become understood by the company, and shape its marketing messages. Slowly, the line that divides a company from its customers begins to disappear.


The Age of Conversation's cover is designed by David Armano, and all proceeds from the book benefit Variety, the Children's Charity. The Age of Conversation is dedicated to the memory of Sandra Johnson Kerley.

Here is some information on Variety:
Variety the Children's Charity is dedicated to promoting and protecting the health and well-being of children around the world. Through our network of 50 Tents (or Chapters) in 14 counties, Variety reaches into communities across the globe to offer financial assistance and services to children and organizations that serve children with special needs. Through hard work, thoughtful stewardship, and single-minded focus on the needs of the young, Variety strives to make a lasting difference in the lives of children, their families, our communities, and the world...one need at a time.


I am extremely touched and honored to be a part of this project, and thank Drew and Gavin for spearheading it. By purchasing The Age of Conversation, you will not only receive invaluable insights from some of the world's top marketing and creative thought leaders, but you'll also know that you are helping to save and better the lives of children worldwide. Again, all proceeds from the sale of The Age of Conversation, minus printing and shipping, go straight to Variety.

Here is the all-star lineup of authors for The Age of Conversation:


Gavin Heaton
Drew McLellan
CK
Valeria Maltoni
Emily Reed
Katie Chatfield
Greg Verdino
Mack Collier
Lewis Green
Sacrum
Ann Handley
Mike Sansone
Paul McEnany
Roger von Oech
Anna Farmery
David Armano
Bob Glaza
Mark Goren
Matt Dickman
Scott Monty
Richard Huntington
Cam Beck
David Reich
Luc Debaisieux
Sean Howard
Tim Jackson
Patrick Schaber
Roberta Rosenberg
Uwe Hook
Tony D. Clark
Todd Andrlik
Toby Bloomberg
Steve Woodruff
Steve Bannister
Steve Roesler
Stanley Johnson
Spike Jones
Nathan Snell
Simon Payn
Ryan Rasmussen
Ron Shevlin
Roger Anderson
Robert Hruzek
Rishi Desai
Phil Gerbyshak
Peter Corbett
Pete Deutschman
Nick Rice
Nick Wright
Michael Morton
Mark Earls
Mark Blair
Mario Vellandi
Lori Magno
Kristin Gorski
Kris Hoet
G. Kofi Annan
Kimberly Dawn Wells
Karl Long
Julie Fleischer
Jordan Behan
John La Grou
Joe Raasch
Jim Kukral
Jessica Hagy
Janet Green
Jamey Shiels
Dr. Graham Hill
Gia Facchini
Geert Desager
Gaurav Mishra
Gary Schoeniger
Gareth Kay
Faris Yakob
Emily Clasper
Ed Cotton
Dustin Jacobsen
Tom Clifford
David Polinchock
David Koopmans
David Brazeal
David Berkowitz
Carolyn Manning
C.B. Whittemore
Craig Wilson
Cord Silverstein
Connie Reece
Colin McKay
Chris Newlan
Chris Corrigan
Cedric Giorgi
Brian Reich
Becky Carroll
Arun Rajagopal
Andy Nulman
Amy Jussel
AJ James
Kim Klaver
Sandy Renshaw
Susan Bird
Ryan Barrett
Troy Worman
S. Neil Vineberg

You can purchase The Age of Conversation here, or by clicking the logo above.

UPDATE: Google Blog Search already has over 5,000 results for the term "Age of Conversation".

Nother UPDATE: MediaPost has an article on the project.

Yet another UPDATE: The Age of Conversation is now TechMeme's top story.

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posted by Mack Collier @ 6:00 AM, , View blog reactions




Ad Age features 'The Age of Conversation'

Ad Age has a full length article up on The Age of Conversation, including how Drew and Gavin came up with the idea. Remember too that the book officially goes on sale on Monday, in eBook, Paperback, and Hardcover formats.

If you're just hearing about this project, The Age of Conversation is the combined thoughts of 103 marketers from around the globe, with the certain theme of how we are entering a new age, The Age of Conversation. Each writer gives us his or her own take on what that means.

All proceeds will be donated to Variety, the Children's Charity, and the project is dedicated to the memory of Sandra Johnson Kerley.

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posted by Mack Collier @ 4:09 PM, , View blog reactions




Viral Community News

1 - Let's start with some movie marketing news. Chris tells us about the 'The Ultimate Search for Bourne' promotion that Google will be launching on Monday where you use Google tools to track Jason Bourne online. Then Chris and Ann both go into the promotion for The Simpsons movie where 7-Eleven is transforming some of their locations into Kwik-E-Marts such as the one where Apu works at on The Simpsons. Ann's post at The Huffington Post wonders if we might come to expect too much of this art imitating life/life imitating art type of entertainment. Chris lets us know that either way, the promotion is paying off so far for 7-Eleven.

2 - Pete has launched the Top Marketer Blogs, which focuses on marketing blogs written from the client side. I think this is a good list and fills a void that the Top 25 Marketing Blogs and other such lists have missed. And I'm very glad to see MasiGuy and Eric Kintz' blogs listed!

3 - And speaking of Eric, make sure you stop by his blog and congratulate him on his new position with HP as Vice President, Marketing for their Digital Photography and Entertainment divisions!

4 - More feedback on the Nikon 'Picture This' blogger outreach promotion for the D80. Jonathan calls me out and says I should be blogging about the D80 since I took it, and Eric compares and contrasts how marketing and political bloggers handle transparency and blogger outreach programs.

5 - Apparently Paul is still as popular as ever with Kohls.

6 - Finally, thanks to the marvelous Natasha of That Girl From Marketing, I have a boatload of Spock invites available. So if you want one, email me with your first and last name and email addy, and I'll hook you up, till they are gone.



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posted by Mack Collier @ 11:30 AM, , View blog reactions




Samsung announces cellphone aimed at bloggers, citizen marketers

Samsung is set to launch a new cellphone in Europe that comes with a pretty interesting feature; the ability to create videos and upload them straight to YouTube.

Samsung Electronics will launch in Europe this month its Mobile Blog 3G Phone (SGH-L760), which allows users to upload content directly to blog sites online such as YouTube, UBlog and Buzzet. Digital Chosunilbo reports.

"The mobile blog function's speedy data transmission will distinguish the phone from other handsets. The phone will debut in Germany and Spain this month and next hit the Southeast Asian market."


Karl follows this up at Experience Curve with an excellent discussion of what features he'd like to see in cellphones to make the blogging/vlogging/podcasting creation process easier.

I think this is a seriously uptapped area of the market. If the Samsung phone, or another later, would allow the creation of videos that can be posted directly to the owner's blog, that would obviously be a huge shot in the arm to the growth of vlogging.

As I commented on Karl's blog, the spread of the use of these social media tools is hinging on how easy it is to create content with them. Podcasting is a perfect example, as I love the medium, but the creation process is horribly complicated and takes far too long, even after you've created a few episodes. In my mind, any product that makes it easier to create content with blogs, podcasts, videos, etc., is going to be a hit. And honestly, I would have thought we'd seen more of these type of products on the market by now.

Afterthought: What if all of your company's managers had cellphones that allowed them to create video and upload it directly to your company's intranet site? How could you see this being utilized?


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posted by Mack Collier @ 11:11 AM, , View blog reactions




Company Blog Checkup: Kleenex

Thanks to Mark Goren for giving me the heads-up about this week's entry in the Company Blog Checkup Series; Kleenex's Let It Out blog. The blog is a bit confusing, because instead of being centered around Kleenex, it's centered around Kleenex's current 'Let It Out' campaign. So that means that the blog's life is likely tied to the length of the current campaign.

As always, let's start with the blog's content. The first problem is obvious; there's no pictures. None of the posts have pictures, and there also isn't a picture of the blog's writer. The subject matter of the posts is designed to start a conversation about sharing stories between the writer and readers. The writer attempts to talk about a subject or tell a story, then she encourages the readers to give their feedback, and 'Let It Out'.

Here's an example in this post about the power of forgiveness: "Have you forgiven or been forgiven? How did it change your life? What has been the impact in your life of this powerful emotion? I hope you’ll share because the power of forgiveness is a lesson worth learning from as many examples as possible."

I see a big problem with this approach, in that strangers don't typically want to 'Let It Out' to people they don't know and trust. Now if Kleenex had taken the time to create and build a vibrate community of readers for the blog first, then it could work. But I don't think that's something they have yet, considering that the 15 posts left since May 1st have garnered a combined 15 comments.

As with many other company blogs, posting is sporadic. Normally there's a new post every 3-4 days, but occasionally there will be a lapse of a week or more between posts. Again, perhaps the best way to grow your blog's readership, is to post regularly. This cannot be stressed enough, but I see so many blogs that don't follow this very simple step.

As for comments, the blog's lone writer, Maria, does a pretty good job of replying to them. For example, this post had 6 comments, and 3 of them came from Maria. Some of the comments are little more than a canned 'Thanks for letting it out', but still, Maria does a better job of addressing comments than most writers have so far in this series.

Finally, let's move to the sidebar. First, there's a very nice section for 'Meet The Writer', which gives a quick bio for the blog's writer, Maria Niles. This is a great touch, and one that I've mentioned other company blogs lacking in the past. But again, there's no photo of Maria. If the idea of the blog is to get readers to 'Let It Out', it helps if they can see who they are 'letting it out' to.

There's a section for 'Blogroll', but then there's no blogs or sites there. Hmmm.....the only thing there is an RSS button, and one for My Yahoo and My AOL. If you click on the RSS button, it takes you to another page that details exactly how to subscribe to the blog's feed. Nice touch!

Overall, Kleenex's 'Let It Out' blog is an average effort suffering from a few very common, and very correctable problems. First, Maria needs to start adding photos to posts, that alone would make the blog much more visually appealing. Then I would get on a regular posting schedule, 3 posts a week minimum, Tuesday-Thursday to start with. And finally, build out the blogroll with links that will interest readers. The big problem I see with the blog is that it is tied to the product's campaign, instead of the product itself. Going this particular route only works if the blog has a vibrant and enthusiastic community that is willing to support the concept. I just don't see that here.

On last thing, maybe it's just me, but I couldn't access the blog directly, I had to first select my country, then click on another link on another page to get to the blog. That's 2 hoops to make your readers jump through, when they were expecting none. Not good.

If Maria or anyone from Kleenex wants to discuss this Company Blog Checkup with me, feel free to leave a comment here, or email me, or both.

If you're a company that would like to hire me to do an extensive checkup of your blog, you can click here for more information on my blogging and social media consulting services.

And if anyone can think of a company blog that they want me to do a checkup on, feel free to email me, or leave a comment here as Mark did!


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posted by Mack Collier @ 4:25 PM, , View blog reactions




The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing Blogs - Week 64

Here's the standings for Week 64:

1 - Seth's Blog - 10,272 (+181)(LW - 1)
2 - Gaping Void - 3,879 (+100)(LW - 3)
3 - Duct Tape Marketing - 2,681 (+155)(LW - 4)
4 - Logic + Emotion - 1,354 (-56)(LW - 5)
5 - Diva Marketing - 1,118 (-20)(LW - 6)
6 - Daily Fix - 1,039 (+8)(LW - 8)
7 - What's Next - 1,022 (-10)(LW - 7)
8 - Converstations - 978 (-10)(LW - 9)
9 - Church of the Customer - 901 (+95)(LW - 11)
10 - Drew's Marketing Minute - 817 (-35)(LW - 10)
11 - Jaffe Juice - 795 (-3)(LW - 12)
12 - Influential Marketing - 755 (+5)(LW - 14)
13 - The Viral Garden - 710 (-74)(LW - 13)
14 - Servant of Chaos - 646 (+8)(LW - 15)
15 - Brand Autopsy - 638 (+15)(LW - 16)
16 - Hee-Haw Marketing - 622 (No Change)(LW - 17)
17 - Branding and Marketing - 584 (-8)(LW - 18)
18 - CrapHammer - 528 (-5)(LW - 20)
19 - Marketing Headhunter - 522 (+4)(LW - 23)
20 - Coolzor - 513 (-66)(LW - 19)
21 - Community Guy - 499 (-26)(LW - 21)
22 - Flooring the Consumer - 497 (-25)(LW - 22)
23 - Customers Rock! - 481 (-24)(LW - 24)
24 - CK's Blog - 458 (LW - UR)
25 - Shotgun Marketing - 445 (-28)(LW - 25)



I'm now a believer, the Z-List is definitely biting back. We're now coming on the 7-month window since the first Z-List was published, so most of the shedding is probably done by now. I also decided to pull Creating Passionate Users from the Top 25. The blog hasn't had a post in months, and for some reason Technorati isn't updating its link count. So if Kathy starts posting again, CPU might make a return. In the Top 10, Daily Fix and The Church of the Customer are the big winners.

Past the Top 10, Marketing Headhunter had a big week to jump 4 spots to #19, and CK's Blog rejoins the Top 25 at #24.

Biz Solutions Plus, Conversation Agent, Tell Ten Friends, Marketing Nirvana, and Own Your Brand! are nipping at the Top 25's heels.




Next update is next Wednesday.

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Company Blog Checkup Series

One of the more popular features of The Viral Garden is the Company Blog Checkup series. In each Checkup post, I cover a different company blog, examining all aspects of the blog to determine how effective it is. I review the blog's content, posting patterns, how the writers deal with comments, and all visual elements. The idea is to give companies feedback on their blog from the reader's point of view. I measure how good of a job the blog does of giving the reader the information s/he will want and need.

I am now also offering extensive blog checkups for companies and small businesses that need an in depth evaluation of its blog. This service is available in two versions:

1. - Remote. A detailed analysis of your blog, judging its content, visual appeal, posting schedule, and the ability of your writers to effectively use comments as a tool to provide and encourage valuable feedback from your blog's readers. All analysis is aimed at positioning your company blog to give the reader the best and most relevant experience as possible. After receiving my detailed report including an analysis of your company blog, I provide you with a one hour phone consultation to completely explain my report so that you understand all of my findings and recommendations. Price for this service is $1,500.00.

2. - On-location. With this service, I provide the same detailed analysis of your blog that I do in my remote service, and then discuss my findings and recommendations with you on-site. The big advantage to this service is that I can work with your writers in person to coach them on how to create content that readers will respond to. And when your readers do respond, I show your writers how to effectively respond to comments your readers leave. I also demonstrate how you can track what others are saying about your company on their blogs and sites, and how to properly respond to posts and comments they leave. Price for this service is $4,000.00 plus travel expenses.

Please keep in mind that with each of these services, the report you're supplied with will be customized, and far more in-depth (typically 15-20 pages) than what you find in a typical Company Blog Checkup post. If either of these services sounds like what you're looking for, or if you need more information, please email me.

A focal point of these reports will be showing you how to grow your blog's readership. I will employ the same tactics and strategies that I have used to grow The Viral Garden's daily readership to its current level of over 3,000 readers. Here is how The Viral Garden's readership has grown over the lifetime of the blog:



Here's a complete list of all the companies and small businesses whose blogs have been profiled in the Company Blog Checkup series so far.

And thanks to the company leaders that have provided their feedback, including:

"...the Dell digital media team would be delighted to brainstorm with you if you have the time. The deeper we get into this new world of ours the more we know we have to learn." - John Pope, Dell Digital Media


"Tremendous post, Mack. You hit all the right notes with this post and your feedback is along the lines of the changes we've planned thus far." - Mario Sundar, LinkedIn's Community Evangelist


"Mack, Thanks for your most excellent post about our blogs at Kodak." - Tom Hoehn, Director of Marketing and Customer Experience/Kodak.com


"I too found your review of the HomeGoods Openhouse site very positive and insightful." - Cathy, one of the authors of the OpenHouse blog


posted by Mack Collier @ 5:01 PM, View blog reactions




Eight Easy Ways to Grow Your Blog

My latest article is up at Marketing Profs, entitled 'Eight Easy Ways to Grow Your Blog'. It's a freebie article (yah!), and is aimed specifically at small businesses/companies that are struggling to get their blogs off the ground. Many such businesses are bootstrapping it already, and they don't have the time or money to hire SEO consultants or web designers to come in and tinker with their blog. They need no-nonsense tips they can easily put into action themselves to make their blogging efforts more successful. That's what this article provides.

Here's a quick overview of the Eight Easy Ways to Grow Your Blog:

1 - Post regularly. Probably the easiest way to grow your blog's readership, but it can be the hardest to follow, especially for a small business/company. Make sure you put your writers on a regular schedule going in. I also talk about which days are best to post, and how to space out your posts.

2 - Develop a comment policy. Decide how you will handle comments, if you will post them automatically, or moderate them. And if you moderate them, you need to develop a plan for approving them as quickly as possible, and during non-business hours.

3 - Reply to comments. Listen to the feedback you are receiving from your readers. Readers want to know that you are paying attention to their comments, and by replying and acknowledging them, you are showing your readers that you appreciate their efforts. And more comments leads to more comments.

4 - Showcase readers who make special contributions. Do everything you can to make sure that readers that frequently comment, or link to your blog, know that you appreciate them. It's just common courtesy, and when you have a reader that's going out of their way to be a faithful community member, you cannot do enough to encourage and reward that behavior.

5 - Build your blogroll with your readers' interests in mind. Remember your blog isn't for you, it's for your community. Treat it as shared space, and tailor your blogroll to the interests of your readers, as well as your own.

6 - Offer unique content aimed at your blog's target audience. The majority of my target audience is fellow bloggers with an interest in marketing and social media topics, and companies that are looking to enter this space. So I first created the Top 25 Marketing Blogs list, which serves as a reference for both bloggers and companies, then I created the Company Blog Checkup series, which serves as a reference for companies on how to improve their own blogging efforts.

7 - Make your blog's feed available for RSS subscribers. Both steps 7 and 8 explore the importance of giving your readers the ability to consume your content in the form(s) that are convenient to them. Feed readers such as Google Reader and Bloglines are becoming increasingly popular, so you should set up a FeedBurner account ASAP and get your feed out there. Then once you have done that, you can add popular chicklets that will make it easier for readers to subscribe to your feed.

8 - Offer email subscriptions to your blog's content. FeedBurner offers this service as well. You have to remember that not everyone has the time to check your blog more than maybe 2-3 times a week. Offering email subscriptions gives these infrequent readers the ability to stay up to date on your postings. I added this option here at the end of April and my number of daily email readers is already equal to 10% of my actual traffic to the blog.


You can view the entire article which includes 'action points' for each step by clicking here. Hope you enjoy it!


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posted by Mack Collier @ 1:35 PM, , View blog reactions




Are you utilizing pictures properly on your blog?

Bloggers, especially company bloggers, can sometimes forget how important pictures can be as a promotional tool. Someone who does an excellent job of utilizing pictures as a promotional device on his blog, is Roger von Oech, creator of the Ball of Whacks.

Roger does a great job taking pictures of people enjoying stimulating their creativity with his Ball of Whacks. These pictures basically serve as a third-party endorsement for the product, which is incredibly powerful. It's one thing for Roger to blog about how everyone loves his product, but when he can marry that claim to pictures from people that ARE enjoying the Ball of Whacks, it's an incredibly powerful selling tool.

And a byproduct of his blogging and pictures, is that now other bloggers want to post their own pictures on their blogs of the Ball of Whacks. Luc of Mindblob fame did that a few days ago, posting about how on a recent trip to NYC, that he made a point to seek out the Ball of Whacks. Cam Beck and Gavin Heaton have also posted their pictures after receiving their Ball of Whacks.

All of this started, because Roger was smart enough to start blogging, and to become a trusted community member. Him developing that equity with the community leads to others wanting to find and help promote his products. And of course, the great pics he has of others enjoying the Ball of Whacks certainly doesn't hurt!

How can you better utilize pictures in your blogging efforts?





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posted by Mack Collier @ 11:03 AM, , View blog reactions




It's time for Burn Notice to go social

In the past I've written about how in certain cases, a character-blog for a TV series can be a great way to build excitement for the show. And with the summer season comes another prime candidate, the USA Network series Burn Notice. The series follows a spy who, in the middle of finalizing a deal on foreign soil, calls in to clear the deal, and discovers that someone has issued a Burn Notice on him, meaning he's been fired. Now being fired when you are a spy is a bit more complicated, since the government immediately wipes out any record of your existance. Our hero, Michael Westin (played by Jeffrey Donovan) has to find a way to try to put his life back together, get some money, figure out who he can trust, and also find out who burned him.

The series so far has basically been your standard private-eye fare. But the ongoing subplot to Burn Notice is Westin trying to figure out who put the Burn Notice on him. The series pilot ends with Westin returning to his apartment in Miami to find the front door open, and the apartment littered with pictures that someone had taken of him at various spots throughout the course of the episode, with a 'Welcome to Miami' brochure sitting in the middle of the pictures.

And this would be the perfect jumping off point for a character-blog for Burn Notice. Between episodes, USA could run a character-blog where Westin details the detective work he is doing to try to find out who got him fired. If the network is smart, they could give the readers just enough to give them an idea of where the plot is headed, without giving it away, or penalizing viewers that don't read the blog. USA does have a writer's blog set up for Burn Notice, but so far it only has one entry, and of course they don't allow comments. They even have a blog for one of the characters, Fiona set up, but it too only has one post, and doesn't allow comments. VERY dumb.

Or if USA wanted to REALLY show they get it, why not create a profile for Westin on Twitter, and have him post his findings 'in real time'?

In the end, a character-blog and/or Twitter page for Burn Notice would be a great way to build excitement about the show, and generate discussion among fans. Which will lead to more excitement, and more viewers.








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posted by Mack Collier @ 12:36 PM, , View blog reactions