February 23, 2008

Don’t Blog Like Fidel Castro

Filed as News with 4 comments

Times Online has an interesting take on blogging, specifically when it comes to the personal Weblog of the soon-to-be-retired “president” of Cuba, Fidel Castro.

Bloggers know that one of the risks is inadvertently to expose too much about themselves. And Fidel was not immune: he too revealed a lot in his postings, often through omission. Indeed, his postings are as informative for what they skip as for what they include.

That is a question that all bloggers should be asking themselves: Are the things I’m leaving out of my blog more revealing than what I am including?

This particularly applies to corporate bloggers and niche bloggers who conveniently leave out references to their competitors – even when they are making international waves.

Reading a Pepsi blog without the mention of something good or bad about Coke is just silly. If the goal is greater transparency through a blog, actions speak louder than words. And sometimes the words you edit out are the ones that speak the loudest.

Don’t blog like Castro. Take a second look at your blog posts and make sure you’re sharing the whole story.

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February 22, 2008

Web Design Critique: Blog Herald Blog Layout

Kaspars over on Konstruktors.com, has put up a very interesting and informative post looking at the user experience of the Blog Herald. I really enjoyed that he put up images of previous versions of the Blog Herald.

Even more interesting, he ripped apart the current design, and even more interesting to me, he came up with a suggestion on how it can improve, at least in the header area.

I have always enjoyed the designs of the Blog Herald, but with the interesting themes being created now for WordPress, the bar seems to be raised, and continues to be so. Should the Blog Herald continue to try to redesign in hopes of pushing the envelope, or do people in general hate change, and enjoy our current look.

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The Dangers of Relying on Online Tools and Services

Bloggers aren’t exactly shy when it comes to adapting online tools and services, it’s one of the strengths of the blogosphere I’d say. Social networking and things like that are quickly integrated, and put to good use (i.e. pushing traffic to your projects), as they come along and fill a void. We all know there’s a bunch of online video services that wants to be the next YouTube, some of them even letting you share a buck on their ad sales going with your uploaded clip. Very nice of them. And then there’s Flickr and friends, giving you the opportunity to not worry about image bandwidth.

Why host yourself when you can upload to an online service, and embed? Why should you take the bandwidth costs from your hot viral video?

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Celebrating Blog Birthday Parties

Have you given much thought to your blog anniversary this year? Some don’t celebrate the passing starting dates of their blogs, but for many, blog anniversary celebrations are getting bigger and wilder every year.

Some have hosted huge contests with a lot of giveaways. Many review their previous year with lessons learned and goals set for the next blogging year. Others have gone quietly into their second and third years of blogging with a post reminiscing about the year that has past.
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Add a Customized Signature to Your Blog Posts

Filed as News with 2 comments

Add a personal touch to your blog posts with My Live Signature, a Web app that allows you to customize an embedded signature.

Simply type your name, choose from over 120 fonts, pick your size, color and slope, and you are in business.

There is no need to login or register, upon completion you will be issued a signature ID if you’d like to access it again in the future. Unfortunately, this code is a million digits long:

54486-86-FA0958872343234A26199E188BB42C74

Grab the HTML snippet or BB Code and you can embed the signature on any e-mail, blog or Website.

There are several pay features too. The company will prepare an animated signature or recreate a paper scan for a fee.

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In Conversational Marketing, Comments Matter

Do you respond to comments to your posts? Do you spend time making comments on other blogs? Have you set comment guidelines for yourself? It may be worth revisiting how you think about comments, both in terms of how you deal with the comments to your posts and those you make in other blogs.

In this age of conversational marketing, responding to comments helps you show your readers that you are listening and participating. That’s important especially if you are in the service business. The action of referring to the content readers share with you and addressing any further questions will set you apart. It shows your commitment.

As well, it will buy you additional permission to engage with your readers and tell them about the work you do. That is no small feat in an increasingly crowded marketplace where doing what you say you do counts more every day.

I’m sure you’ve noticed that many blog posts often gather the “great post” and “‘atta boy/girl” in the comments. That is when you are fortunate enough to get comments to your posts. If you are leaving comments like those in other blogs, I encourage you to reconsider. You may be depriving yourself of opportunities to develop relationships – and relationships are key in conversational marketing.

The main reasons why comments are by and large left out of a full social media marketing strategy are:

- being time starved. Social media and the wealth of projects these activities can generate are filling your days. That is good. There is only so much time you can dedicate to writing at other people’s bogs. You need to care for your own.

- testing the waters. When you don’t know someone, you are inclined to stay general in what you say. You are not familiar with who else is reading and commenting and are still getting to know the author. Will they respond? Bottom line: is this going to be a waste of time?

- being afraid of not sounding knowledgeable. The more popular the blogger, the easier it is for a new blogger to feel intimidated. After all, they are successful because they know so much more, right? Actually some of the kindest and most unassuming people I met are the folks who’ve succeeded beyond imagination.

There is also the issue of negative comments, which others have addressed extensively here. Let’s focus for a moment on the reasons I listed here and any other that you might have. Leave me a comment to begin the conversation on why it is a good idea to have a comments strategy.

Next post, we will talk about the tactical part.

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Why I Don’t Check Rankings

As I said in a previous post, I am considering selling one of my blogs. It is only now that I have looked to see which search terms it ranks for. Surprisingly it is doing quite well. I rarely check my rankings, and I will tell you why.
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February 21, 2008

Google! Clean Up Blogger! Now!

I know that lately, there continues to be a lot of kvetching about Google, Page Rank, and spam blog issues. This are legitimate concerns, but I have a bigger bitch with Google. Clean up Blogger, NOW!

I was contacted today by a newspaper reporter from Charlotte, North Carolina, to comment on the death of a local blogger, part of a pair of women who have taken Charlotte by storm with their social commentary blog. I wanted to research this myself to write about it here, so I headed to Google, the search engine of choice, and entered in death, social, bloggers, charlotte, north carolina and clicked over to Blog Search when Web and News came up empty. I expected to get a few hits as the reporter said the death of this young woman was the “talk of the town” and the community was turning out to support the surviving blogger.

What I got were ten search results all from Google Blogger/Blogspot sites.

My first reaction? Google must now give priority to their own bloggers in the search results. It’s a good assumption based upon the evidence.
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Genuine Site Rank Tool for Bloggers

Filed as News with 13 comments

Chris Garrett and several other bloggers recently begged Google for mercy after a PageRank slaughter that left many successful blogs reeling.

While many bloggers include the extinction of PageRank in their nightly prayers, it appears that the little green bar is here to stay – for now.

IDK.in, a global Web Directory (IDK stands for “I Don’t Know), hopes that their new “Genuine Site Rank report” will help bloggers get a realistic idea of their blog’s worth.

The sources from which the site pulls data are not new, but viewing them all in one place is convenient.

No registration is required. Just enter your URL and information will populate. A quick scan of Blog Herald’s stats reveal that we’re almost 5 years old; have close to half a million inbound links; and are linked from Wikipedia once.

The site puts BlogHerald at 73%, valued at over $100,000 – a number that is definitely debatable.

Excellent work; your site is very popular, reaching a status that few other sites will achieve. Leverage your site’s visibility and traffic to reach the 75th SiteRank percentile.

I’m sure mom is proud of us.

Let us know how your results fare.

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TrafficJam finally launches, but will you use it?

Filed as News with 8 comments

Very few products and services are safe from the blogosphere, particularly when they’re targeted directly at bloggers, promise much, fail to deliver, have problems, and are then shot to pieces by ‘the mob”.

So it was with Blogrush, John Reese’s brainchild. It promised to do much, but many bloggers felt hard done by, being thrown out without much explanation due to “quality control”, having to put up with ugly widgets, and with other bloggers who tried to game the system by not including the widget on their own site.

Oh, and TrafficJam, the “Phase 2″ part which would help to drive even more traffic to member sites by marrying the “digg / techmeme” effect with the widget.

It never came. It was due last year, and stalled. John’s blog stayed pretty much silent (apart from telling us what a wonderful holiday he had over Christmas).

Now it’s finally launched, but at what cost?

Unsurprisingly, Mr Reese has launched it with both a fanfare and a call for help. His announcement email (which you’d only get if you hadn’t already junked Blogrush last year) begins:

We’re excited to announce that we finally released TrafficJam.com in public beta — it’s using LIVE DATA from the BlogRush Network. In fact, some of your blog posts may be ranked on TrafficJam.com right now!

We’d appreciate your helping in getting the word out about TrafficJam.com’s release. The more exposure the site gets the more it benefits YOU and other users of BlogRush — because it will drive traffic to members’ blogs along with the widget itself.

I wonder how many current Blogrush members will do that? To be fair, I don’t know how far the backlash against BR went — it certainly hit the tech sector very hard, but then that’s the sector that often spends a lot more time looking at the technicalities of blogging. I’m not convinced there’ll be many ex-members queueing up to get back in, either — even if they get past “quality control”.

The email continues:

The site will update every 24 hours initially and then move towards hourly updates; we want to find the right balance of frequency so visitors don’t miss too many new posts if they keep coming back to the site.

This is just one addition of many we have planned to help drive more traffic to your blog!

Then come some reasons why TrafficJam is important:

  • “Ultimate research tool” for marketers
  • Never run out of ideas for blog posts
  • Identify untapped keywords and other opportunities
  • “This site is essentially a LIVE HEADLINE TESTING MACHINE”
  • Find relevant posts in your niche
  • “TrafficJam.com can save you TONS of your time and constantly ’show you’ what your target market is most interested in at any given time.”

Addressing the issue of poor traffic levels which drove many bloggers away:

Some people were disappointed by the traffic results they received when testing BlogRush, and it’s completely understandable…

And as promised, we’re working hard to improve things.

TrafficJam.com is just one of many services we have planned to help our users drive more free traffic to their blogs. And we’re not done yet.

So what do you think? Are you a current or ex-BlogRiush user? Would you be tempted back into the network? Or is TrafficJam too little, too late?

Share your thoughts in the comments below.

TrafficJam.com

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