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April 16, 2009

Now Even The Whales Are Twittering

Twitter is fast becoming a place where you can let your fictional characters (and brands) come to life, with minimal effort should be noted. The latest to join in is Shamu, the killer whale of SeaWorld fame.

Bio I live at SeaWorld. I’m a large, athletic, black and white marine mammal. I’m not THE star of SeaWorld, I’m A star of SeaWorld

Follow @RealShamu if you like. Personally, I think the concept is more interesting than the tweets this time around.

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March 10, 2009

Chitika risks Twitter marketing noise for sake of a competition

Filed as News with 12 comments

Online advertising service Chitika is risking the wrath of the Twitter community by launching a competition that encourages its users to tweet the same daily message to its followers in order to gain credits for a new competition.

The upcoming SearchAppalooza competition will be held at the Search Engine Strategies (SES) conference in New York on 24th March, where five finalists will present their search applications to a board of judges including those from Microsoft and Yahoo! read more

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February 10, 2009

Is Twitter considering charging business users?

Filed as News with 19 comments

Twitter’s ongoing search for ways to monetise the service and generate an income may include charging corporate users for the privilege of sending out their tweets.

That’s according to co-founder Biz Stone, speaking recently to Marketing magazine. “We are noticing more companies using Twitter and individuals following them. We can identify ways to make this experience even more valuable and charge for commercial accounts,” he said.

A small sample of companies au fait with Twitter gave mixed feedback to the proposal. While LoveFilm said that it would depend on “price, demand and what else is around”, MD of We Are Social, Robin Grant, said that Twitter could charge for display ads or to access customer information for marketing purposes, while the VP of Dell, Bob Pearson, suggested that the company would look elsewhere if things became “complicated and costly”. read more

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November 11, 2008

Exploring Social Media: It Starts With One

social media - one to one relationship is better than one to manyA lot of early web adopters understood community right away. It’s the chance to reach hundreds, thousands, no – millions.

Unfortunately, most got it wrong. A web page isn’t like a television ad, reaching out to million of viewers at one time. A web page speaks to the one, a single representative of a community.

A community doesn’t start with millions. It starts with one. If you serve the one, the one will tell one, who will tell two, who will tell six, and so on and so on. If you don’t serve the one… and each one after… bye bye, community.

Social media is about the social as well as the community. This means that you have to service the individual’s needs for them to come together as a whole.

Today’s businesses have to do a total rethink. It no longer is about serving their market, it’s about serving the like-minded individuals as a collective. read more

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November 4, 2008

Exploring Social Media Series

One of the Anderson Historical Family Farms in Wisconsin - copyright Lorelle VanFossenHanging on the wall in a family friend’s home is a quilt bearing the name of our grandmothers. Surrounding their names are the names of men and women from their community. Funds were needed for a community project so a quilt raffle was developed. Each participant embroidered their names onto flour sacks in this once agricultural community now lost to the time and the metropolitan expansion of Marysville, Washington, USA. All the flour sack squares were sewn together to create a simple and colorful bed quilt, padded with a left over blanket and backed by a bed sheet.

The quilt was displayed in the community center of the now lost village while community members spent what little money they had on raffle tickets, knowing it was going for a worthy cause. Her grandmother won the raffle and the quilt comforted the beds and the spirits of their family’s sick and cold children for decades, finally finding its way to her wall in honor of the past and community spirit that once thrived in a place covered with housing subdivisions where no one knows their neighbors.

For the village of Sunnyside and others around the world, community quilts were their social media tools and resources. Neighbors would get together in between long days of planting, harvesting, and familial responsibilities to chat and share stories and news over pieces of fabric.

Local bars served the same purpose, along with food and drink, to create a family away from family where people could be “themselves” and share their thoughts with others, often encouraged by the spirits. read more

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October 12, 2008

How Two Guys and a Cement Mixer Changed How Bloggers Think

On , I just published “The Real Benefits of Sponsoring a WordCamp” which highlighted one of the most talked about exhibitors at Blog World Expo in Las Vegas a few weeks ago: Bruce Christensen and Tom Vail of Cart-Away Concrete.

While most of the exhibitors at Blog World Expo were there to promote their products and services to the mass of bloggers in attendance, Tom and Bruce were there for a different reason. They were there to learn.

So many events and conferences bring together a lot of people with a marketing agenda. They want to sell products and services and make money. Tom and Bruce of Cart-Away Concrete showed up at this blogging conference with their portable cement mixer and said, “We don’t have anything for you to buy. We came here to learn.”

That’s right. They just came to learn from everyone who walked through the Las Vegas Convention Center Exhibition Hall over the course of the three day event. They aren’t bloggers, they aren’t web hosts, they aren’t marketers, or guys with cool blog gadgets. They are construction experts in equipment and concrete. How many bloggers have a huge commercial construction project underway and would need them? Hmmm?

No, they were there to learn. They could hire someone to teach them what to do and set up their blogs and social media services to promote their franchise and contractor business, but that’s not what they wanted. They wanted to learn from everyone in this new online social media business.

And they did. read more

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August 25, 2008

Several years later, the Washington Posts notices that blogs are being used for Marketing

Filed as Features with 2 comments

I’d say that the Washington Post has been living under a rock, since they are just now writing about how marketing is moving to the blogosphere in an article for today’s edition:

Bethesda’s Honest Tea launched its blog in late 2005 as a way to get close to customers. With a name like Honest Tea, chief executive Seth Goldman said, “we’re trying to be as open and disclose as much information as we can.” When the company announced that Coca-Cola would acquire a 40 percent interest in the brand, many of Honest Tea’s customers who opposed the agreement took their complaints to the blog.

“We gave a very loud voice to the people who said they weren’t happy about this decision,” Goldman said.

Goldman then took one of the most thoughtful, detailed customer criticisms and responded to each point. Even if readers still didn’t agree, “The blog at least helps people see how we think about it,” Goldman said.

All that said, many companies are just now beginning to utilize the power of the internet through blogs in order to have a real dialogue – or conversation – with their customers. read more

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July 25, 2008

WTF Blog Clutter: Pictures of Our Bloggy Friends

If you are a member of a social networking service, it’s natural that you want to put the HTML code in your sidebar that shows off the faces or avatars of your buddies. After all, that’s what these social networking sites are all about. Your face on their blog and their face on your blog.

Is it? What good it is? How does it help your blog?

As part of this going series on WTF Blog Design Clutter, let’s look at the visual social clutter that clogs our blogs.

If your blog is a social blog, and the pictures of the folks participating on your blog might be helpful. People like seeing their faces or avatars on other blogs. Besides, it should be good link juice, right?

Maybe. read more

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July 24, 2008

Blog Design: WTF Is That Doing There?

Remember the old adage that you never get a second chance to make a first impression? You personally may get a second chance to sway that first impress, but your blog doesn’t. If you don’t grab them within the first micro-seconds of a visit, they won’t subscribe and they won’t be back.

Digging through a lot of blogs recently to research an upcoming article, I found myself thinking “WTF” as I looked at the designs. I was constantly distracted from the content I was eager to read through and quote towards things that blinked, flashed, or listed irrelevant stuff. My eyes had to work overtime to stay focused on the information I was there to glean.
read more

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June 27, 2008

Are you a Marathon Blogger or a Sprinter?

Blogging has probably matured a great deal since you started. Part of it is that it has reached critical mass, or tipping point, as it may be. The more people have blogs, the more blogs out there contending for everyone’s time and attention. Part of it is that thanks to all the great advice out there, many have learned about the ins and outs of:

- attracting readers
- getting comments
- writing better content
- having cleaner designs
- increasing subscribers
- finding post ideas
- staying the course

Social media and marketing have become so ubiquitous, that one of the things we rarely think about is the way in which we approach publishing and how that feeds back into our self esteem and brand. If you feel well conditioned and ready for a rush of activity, good for you. If instead, you feel that you are in a race that never ends, you may need to take inventory of why that is. It could be that:

You’re overextended – too much distance in too many terrains

When your creativity is being scattered over too many sites, even if you consider yourself remarkably creative, your concentration suffers. So does your writing. In addition, your brand will become diluted.

It works just like it works with products and services. You need to pick a focus, a home base site, and develop that well. If you have multiple sites, you may want to pull back some of that work and put it on your main site.

Being overextended also means being tired and tired people’s nerves fray more easily. That is when you are likely to make a bad judgment call, or react to a comment instead of responding. That’s when things rip apart.

You are getting tired of the language of social media – too crowded

The words “conversation” “anything 2.0 or social media” even “blog” are being rendered less valuable by their mass appropriation. There’s just a lot of it out there, and some folks are busy pounding the terminology flat. The general solution here is to start looking past those words as your central point of reference.

Chances are your brand and business are much more than those terms. You need to get past them and focus on where you are going next, vs. where you are now. Words are very powerful and they can change how you think about what you do – and help others do the same.

Do you need to broaden your horizons, change your pace? Maybe you need to get out of the race altogether.

You may just not enjoy what you are doing anymore – you need rest

If you’re having a hard time coming up with fresh ideas regularly and just do not look forward to writing, you may suffer from burn out. It colors everything you do. Even when you’re writing well, you’re not appreciating your own success.

It’s a sign that it’s time for a change.

Blogging is also changing – bursts of activity scattered in more places

Discussion is migrating elsewhere. A lot of the smart people are migrating to things like Friendfeed — which is an important service — Facebook, and all the other stuff like Twitter and Plurk.

You might be able to restrict your availability on these outside discussions, driving conversation back to your site. Or maybe participating in off-site stuff increases your influence and drives the site. No one knows how that will play, yet.

It may be that you have to shift your expectations of a good post or a good week at your blog. It’s a time of flux in this area — it’s tough to say now. Maybe you’ll know in a year you’ll see what evolves in this area. The technology is still changing, too.

In the future, discussion may become very portable — very decentralized. But there will be software hooks back into websites. So you’ll comment where you wish, but the comments will get hooked wherever the publisher wants them.

Friendfeed, for instance, could be hooked to your site. When people comment on FF, the discussion is a sort of trackback. Friendfeed-like services may become social networks that get anchored where you want them. All hooked together. It will be easy when it’s ready. You’ll add a widget: done.

Content will propagate through these tools, eventually. Nets on top of nets. Communities will become more like flash mobs as these tools get adopted. More like butterflies, actually. People will see a bright flower, visit, and move on. They’ll be back.

Like any activity, business can be approached with a view to the long haul or in a very focused, and temporary manner. Are you in it for the long run, or is this just a sprint to your next destination? Are you a marathon blogger or a sprinter? There is no right or wrong, just make sure it is what you want.

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