Social media ain’t for the faint hearted

March 7, 2011 at 7:30 am | Posted in social media | 12 Comments
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social media

It takes wisdom to conquer social media.

Recently I was asked to meet an entrepreneur who wanted to ‘do’ social media.

On the phone, it soon became obvious he had BIG expectations of the outcomes, but no understanding of the process.

This was fine: I don’t know how to run multi-million dollar factories. It was wise for him to seek advice.

However, as we’re both very busy people, I didn’t want to waste our time. So I composed the frank (nay, brutal) email below.

To his credit, this man is now working through my documents and preparing the answers I seek.

When I do meet him, I expect we’ll proceed in leaps and bounds.

‘Dear Fred,

Betty tells me you wish to harness the power of social media to promote your new products.

This is doable, but not easy.

In two years of studying social media daily, I’ve learned that it’s a demanding, fickle, content-hungry, slow-burning beast of a strategy.

When it works, it really works.

But you have to put in.

To this end, I must see if you can give me what I need to help you.

If you can deliver, we can do business.

If not, it’s best we don’t waste our precious time.

Here is your mission, should you choose to accept it:

  1. Cast your eye over the following blogs and tell me which one/s (if any) you like and why:
  2. Complete the attached blog post questionnaire.
  3. Read the other attachments and tell me what you think of how I operate.

Being a writer, I need your responses in writing.

I can then review them carefully to ask you intelligent, relevant questions when we meet.

Naturally, refusal won’t offend.

Better a clear NO now than a fuzzy future MAYBE.

I look forward to your frank response.

Best regards,

P.’

Watch this space!

Paul Hassing, Founder and Senior Writer, The Feisty Empire.

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Blog visitor traffic report

December 19, 2010 at 11:02 am | Posted in social media | 4 Comments
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blog visitor traffic spike

Last week we smashed our visitor record by 240%!

A colleague wrote to me today. She’s been blogging her heart out, but not getting many comments. So I offered some advice:

‘You certainly have been faithful with your blogging.

It’s such a slow burn.

But the search engines are going to love you for it in the end.

The number and scope of your posts is amazing.

You deserve a lot more comments.

I can’t find you on Twitter.

I promote each of my posts several times on Twitter.

This has been key to building visitor traffic.

It has also helped to be mentioned in several blog lists:

http://bit.ly/eG9tOh

http://globalcopywriting.com/my-favourite-blogs

We’ve also had some comments from Seth Godin and Penelope Trunk.

These blogging heavyweights add massive cred; just check the traffic spike from Penelope’s last visit! (See above.)

Another way to galvanise your readers is to guest on other blogs.

If you can think of a topic or three that would appeal to our readers:

http://mybrc.myobnet.com/

I could ask MYOB if they’d like to have you as a guest poster.

You’d look jolly good in our Hall of Fame:

http://mybrc.myobnet.com/about/

With best regards and many thanks for your update. P. :)’

Paul Hassing, Founder and Senior Writer, The Feisty Empire.

The better you write, the more you save.

February 16, 2010 at 7:08 am | Posted in social media | Leave a comment
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Use a specialist. But only for the bits you can’t do.

I strive to improve my clients’ writing skills by imparting my expertise where possible.

One client has followed my advice and assembled a team of friends to vet his draft blog posts.

If his posts do start coming to me error free, their upload, tagging, hyperlinking and image sourcing should only take me 15-20 mins per post.

That’s around $30-40 per post.

And if it takes me less time, I’ll pass on the savings (as I only charge for time I actually work).

With this method, everyone’s a winner:

  1. My client improves his writing and saves money.
  2. His friends feel useful.
  3. His readers benefit from regular posts.
  4. His blog moves up Google’s food chain thanks to fresh content updates.
  5. I get regular small fees, instead of just a few (or even no) big ones.

So you see, there’s more than one way to flesh a blog! 🙂

Paul Hassing, Founder and Senior Writer, The Feisty Empire.

14 MORE blog improvement ideas!

January 11, 2010 at 12:50 pm | Posted in social media | 8 Comments
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Pic by ME! 🙂

By Jove, I just did another blog analysis! (Earlier analysis here.)

Once again, many of my ideas were client specific (and of course confidential).

The rest are yours.

  1. ALL CAPITAL LETTERS in the banner is harder to read than Title Case and looks like ‘SHOUTING’ to some readers.
  2. The pic of the tree is pretty, but it doesn’t suggest a benefit for clients or a link to you. How about a pic of your products in action, in situ?
  3. The headers for the articles have varying capitalisation (Title Case and Sentence case). While this is a minor point, highly educated clients may find it distracting.
  4. Australians may prefer a Day/Month/Year format to the current American one.
  5. ‘Comment’ is simpler and shorter than ‘Add Your Comments Here’. The fewer words we use, the more info we impart.
  6. A relevant image at the top of each article would showcase your gear and make the blog much more interesting to readers.
  7. I had trouble understanding your company’s structure due to the varying names. It’d be good to have one long version and one short version and to use them consistently. Failing that, spell out what’s what at the start, so readers like me don’t feel stupid or waste time trying to figure it out instead of reading your content.
  8. Body copy capitalisation is also highly irregular. Unless corrected, this will erode your brand in the minds of some readers.
  9. Clichés kill interest faster than a road train wipes wabbits. Therefore, use your ‘natural voice’ to replace phrases like ‘110% effort’, ‘our dynamic team’ and ‘all this and much much more’. Doing so will make you appear human (and therefore, by implication, reasonable and trustworthy). And if your competitors don’t follow suit, you’ll open up an important point of difference in a homogenous market.
  10. I can’t see any tags, categories or keywords. You said your main site SEO gives you Google Page 1. What about this blog?
  11. A Bolded Subtitle doesn’t need a colon too.
  12. ‘Single quotes’ do the same thing (in less space) as “double quotes”.
  13. The wind energy article is great. This is another point-of-difference opportunity. Especially these days.
  14. YouTube is now massive. Some embedded videos of your products in action would be great. Especially for Gen Y and younger audience members.

Hope you dig. Let me know! 🙂

Paul Hassing, Founder and Senior Writer, The Feisty Empire.

Business Blogs

17 Blog improvement ideas

January 9, 2010 at 1:38 pm | Posted in social media | Leave a comment
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Small changes can make a BIG difference. Photo by rwpeary.

A while ago I was asked to critique a blog. While many of my suggestions were client specific, there were some I thought you might find useful.

This list shows the sort of feedback I can give on your blog.

  1. Changing/rotating banner pics are a nice touch. A small explanatory caption for each would be even better. Especially for first-time visitors.
  2. Once you delve into older posts, it can take time to get back to the start. It’d be nice if clicking the banner pic returned readers to the home page.
  3. Captions on post images would satisfy scanning readers, intrigue deeper readers and generally draw more people into each post.
  4. An avatar (profile) pic of unusual dimensions makes it hard to use in other social media applications (which will crop it).
  5. Clicking your avatar should lead to your bio.
  6. Inconsistent capitalisation may distract some readers from your message.
  7. Responding swiftly to comments can elicit others and build readership and community.
  8. Clicking the post photos makes them much bigger than expected (or needed). This could disadvantage readers with slower internet connections.
  9. Given this blog’s many components, a three-column design like this could work better than a two-column design.
  10. ‘Rollover’ comments (which appear when you put your cursor over a link – see my blogroll on the right of this page) let you know what you’re getting into before clicking through. Some people prefer this.
  11. Are you on Twitter? I couldn’t find a way to follow you. How do you announce new posts to the world?
  12. One post had two hyperlinks. One was embedded, the other wasn’t. The former is neater and should be used consistently.
  13. One photo acknowledgement took two lines, where one would suffice.
  14. Abbreviations (it’s, we’re, don’t) would make the tone friendlier (and the writing shorter and easier to read).
  15. Many of the photos are so beautiful, it’s a shame to have them so small. Putting them above the text would solve this problem.
  16. Some posts contain many passive constructions. The active voice is shorter and more ‘up’.
  17. Bullets are great. If you can left align them, they’ll remain distinct without looking cramped or consuming too much white space.

Was any of that useful? You can probably see I’m bringing my copywriting expertise to bear on the content.

And why not? Blogs are just another vehicle for interesting, relevant messages expressed in perfect English.

Did you want anything explained more fully? Just leave a comment; I’d love to hear from you! 🙂

On a roll

January 1, 2010 at 7:30 am | Posted in social media | 6 Comments
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The nice lady who blogrolled me. I’m on the right, third from the bottom. The listing is alphabetical.

I keep a series of ‘Google Alerts’ (which I’ll describe fully in another post).

One of these alerts lets me know if the phrase The Feisty Empire appears anywhere on the internet.

Last night, in the dying hours of 2009, this alert emailed me.

It said The Feisty Empire been ‘blogrolled’ on the MarketCopywriter Blog.

I clicked the link and there it was: my company name – right next to Seth Godin’s blog!

This was an amazing coincidence, as I’d only recently learned of my inclusion in Seth’s book Purple Cow.

MarketCopywriter Blog’s author, Lorraine Thompson, is a New York Hudson Valley freelance copywriter who writes print and digital copy for corporate, small business and non-profit clients.

I’d ‘known’ her for a few months via Twitter as a smart, kind, switched-on lady who wrote excellent copy and was generous in retweeting my content.

I never suspected she’d put a link to my site on her blog. Especially as we’re technically competitors!

Perhaps Lorraine, like me, believes in making the work ‘pie’ bigger, rather than fighting for pieces.

Apart from the social validation, I knew from reading ProBlogger and Copyblogger that being blogrolled would trigger a fresh stream of visitors to my website.

It’d also improve my online search ranking.

So, with half of Melbourne pouring into town for the fireworks, I dived into WordPress to learn how to blogroll.

I got a bit confused by the blogroll jargon before realising that Links, Add New was where I needed to be. Once I knew what I was doing, it was easy.

I sent Lorraine a direct message (DM) via Twitter, thanking her and letting her know I’d returned the favour.

Then, still possessed by the positive vibe, I set about blogrolling the blogs and websites of my other online ‘friends’ (see below).

I enjoyed blogrolling those I admire and respect. See them at bottom right.

It gave me real pleasure to inform each person – especially when one replied with the same surprise and delight I’d felt.

I’d heard about the Law of Mutual Reciprocity – where you have the urge to help someone who’s helped you. But I’ve seldom felt it so strongly.

Anyway, that’s how I ended 2009. Not a bad note to finish on at all! 🙂

It’ll be fascinating to see what benefits flow to everyone involved in this blogrolling process.

🙂

Brought to you by The Feisty Empire.

How do I measure blog success?

December 29, 2009 at 1:37 am | Posted in social media | 4 Comments
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What gets measured, gets done.

Blogging has yielded some spectacular corporate successes, which are detailed in the seminal book Groundswell.

I strongly recommend you read this book.

I currently use six ways to measure blogging success:

1.  Site statistics.

I check my stats several times every day to see which blogs are sending traffic to which websites. I can even see which blog posts are performing better than others.

2.  Blog ranking.

I register my blogs with a ranking site that shows how well they’re performing relative to other blogs in their topic. This info is updated hourly.

3.  Comments.

When people leave comments, that means they’re visiting and reading. The more comments the better (though I do have to weed out spammers and ravers).

4.  Subscriptions.

Even better than comments are subscribes. When a person says YES to an email or RSS (short for Really Simple Syndication) feed of your blog, you know they’re digging it.

Building a subscriber base is the holy grail of blogging, as you can use it for a host of permission marketing initiatives.

5.  Sales.

Several new clients have approached me saying something like, ‘I found you via your blog, read your stuff for a while and decided you were the sort of person I wanted to do business with.’

For me, this is the acid test of a blog’s success. After all, that’s one of the main reasons we’re writing the damn thing!

6. Vibe.

In a few short months, my horse breeding client has reported a very positive reaction from clients and industry people.

She’s also feeling freer, as she’s getting prospects to read the blog before asking her questions.

She used to have to spend hours repeating herself to each inquirer.

She’s loving the process of decanting her wisdom to a blog that people can read without bothering her.

It’s much easier for her to fill in the gaps once people have some idea of what she’s on about.

And those who don’t like the blog’s style or content can deselect themselves (as they’re not the sort of people she wants handling her beloved horses anyway).

I’m heading up there for another overnighter soon, collecting photos and stories to keep feeding the blog.

🙂

Brought to you by The Feisty Empire.


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