Trio Web Design
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Internet Presence: Having troubles blogging??

posted by Trio Web Design    |   March 2, 2010 12:08

Breakers,

For all of you who currently have a blog or are looking to implement a blog on your website, below are some practical tips to help you in your blogging efforts.

I grabbed these practical tips off of an article I was reading this morning by Mark Suster, who is a partner at GRP Partners, a Venture Capital firm in Los Angeles.  Suster states that he is often asked by entrepreneurs and business owners whether blogging is worth it, and if so, what they should blog about.  He goes on to explain that "you must blog as an entrepreneur."   That blogging in your business is vital to creating a public personae and making your company more accessible; it is a valuable networking tool and it helps the bottom line. 

Although the tips sound easy enough to implement and might look like common sense, my advice would be to seriously consider each point in isolation. 

I have jotted down my own insights after each main point - taking it one step further by adding a strategic element.

On a completely separate note - it is time to clean off the patio!  It looks like we are going to be having some extremely mild weather this week and that equals "time well spent" outside enjoying a cup of coffee.

- CBB

 

Source: Mark Suster - he blogs at Both Sides of the Table and can be found on Twitter at @msuster.

So you know you need to blog, and you're convinced you ought to write about something you're passionate about and that speaks to your customers. How can you create something that people will want to come and read every day?

1. Be authentic

The thing that kills most blogs, in my view, is when you can tell that the writer is just going through the motions. You need to find a "voice" that is authentically yours. People will get used to your style and your style will become your signature.

CBB Insight.  Now establishing a voice is more than just sticking to a particular style of writing.  Firstly, you need to establish what point of view you are writing the blog from; are you an individual representing yourself, are you representing the company as a whole, or are you representing a particular facet of the company?  Secondly, you need to identify the purposes and goals of the blog; what purposes does the blog serve between the company and the reader?   These are two basic questions that are often overlooked and as a result blogging becomes ineffective at achieving results. 

2. Be transparent

The "old school" way of getting media attention was to submit press releases. These were artificially crafted documents that were filled with glowing reviews of your company. In short, they felt fake. The best way to establish your voice is to be transparent.

Be willing to talk like a human being. Be willing to show feelings and a point of view. Let your inner self come out rather than your "inner bullet point." Don't use too much lingo. Don't feel like your writing has to sound like it was crafted by a university professor. Just speak!

CBB Insight.  This is a great tip!  I think this is probably one of the biggest hinderances to entrepreneurs blogging.  Like he said, your writing doesn't have to sound like it was crafted by a university professor!  On the other hand, I would also state that your blog posts shouldn't look like a child wrote them either! Part of your blogging strategy should be to put in place "safe guards or boundaries" to the level of transparency you will work within.  The last thing you want is your blog looking like your personal journal entry.  Determining an appropriate boundary stems from the establishment of the blog's authenticity. 

3. Get inside your readers' minds

I give this advice often and in many scenarios, including public speaking. When people speak to many audiences, they sometimes get into a routine. They give the same presentation no matter which crowd they're addressing. The key is that each time you present, you need to think about who is in the audience and what they want to hear. The same is true for blogging.

On my blog, my audience is made of startup entrepreneurs and probably other VCs. When I write I try to be mindful of who these people are, the knowledge I assume they have, and what I believe they want to know.

CBB Insight.  Do you keep your target audience in mind? This is a big one. My suggestion is this - take out a piece of paper and identify your primary audience by answering these questions - if they were a celebrity who would they be? (male/female), if they were a car what kind of car would they be?, what part of the city would they live in?, what kind of a lifestyle do they have (adventurous, laid-back, spontaneous, strategic, etc...)?, if they were a computer would they be a Mac or a PC?  I know that these questions might sound a bit ridiculous, but the answers to these questions will actually provide you with a greater perspective as to what your audience is attracted to and will help you establish a "style" they can identify with. 

4. Solicit feedback

I ask people what they want to read about. I regularly ask for feedback on what I'm writing. When people give me good suggestions, I try to cover those topics.

When community members write awesome comments, I'll sometimes write a post about what they said to highlight them and their contributions. In my opinion, the best way to build an audience over time is to engage with them and to highlight those that really contribute positively to you.

CBB Insight. If you are going to solicit feedback be prepared to hear the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Soliciting feedback is important, but beware - make sure you aren't gobbling up and swallowing all of the feedback given to you.  The majority of  people providing feedback to you will likely not have a perspective of the blog's purpose and goals.  It is your responsibility to carefully assess feedback and implement it where implementation brings the blog in-line with its overall purpose.  

5. Don't be offensive or take big public risks

I read a blog yesterday where the author was trying to make fun of a negative comment he got on his product. The blogger highlighted him and called him a crude name - which I, and I'm sure many others, find offensive. There's no upside to this type of comment, but there's a big downside. My esteem for him went down.

Further, unless your company revolves around taking stands on controversial issues, it's best to leave your political commentary at home. Statements like these stand to upset or anger half of your potential customers no matter what side you take.

CBB Insight.  Be sure to establish guidelines regarding how you will handle negative comments about your products/services online.  Keep to your strategy for having a blog in the first place.  Remember that the blog is an extension of your brand image and ensure that whatever you blog about won't tarnish it!

6. Have fun

This may be obvious, but if writing a blog becomes a chore for you it will show. Try to make your writing fun and it will be easier to stick to. It will also reflect in your voice.

CBB Insight.  First thing is first - if you aren't the least bit interested in what you are blogging about then I assure you - no one else will be either! Again going back to the foundation - be sure that you are writing about topics that connect to the audience, reflect the business, and are a personal area of interest for yourself.  I advise against simply adding "blogging" to the list of TO DOs each week.  Blogging should be fun and it should be a vehicle for you to share engaging information. If you can't bare to read your blog post a few times after posting - that is a clear indication that you need to start over!

 

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Online Promotional Strategies

Internet Presence: How to avoid brand sabotage

posted by Trio Web Design    |   February 15, 2010 12:04

Coffee friends,

While sitting with a hot steaming cup of pressed coffee this morning,  I decided to pull out the computer and tackle the 167 new emails in my inbox.  I have to be honest, after reading through the first 20 I was tempted to simply press delete and look away until I was prompted by my computer that there was nothing more to delete.  I am sure there have been times where you were tempted to do that very same thing!

Anyway, making the most of my time spent in front of my computer on family day, I decided to get serious.  Email #158 was worth reading.  It was a blog post on "5 ways to avoid sabotaging your personal brand online."  The blog quotes Dan Schawbel, bestselling author of Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success, and explains his take on how to avoid brand sabotage online.  The blog is focused on "personal" brand success, but I believe that these 5 simple cautions are just as applicable for a business as they are for an individual. 

Below is a portion from the original post.  Take a read and consider whether or not you are protecting and fostering a positive brand image online.

- CBB

_____________

There have been countless incidents in which professionals have lost their jobs, been evicted, or even been arrested for things they've done on social networks. There has never been a more important time to discuss the many ways you can sabotage your personal brand, and how you can prevent these mistakes before it's too late.

The following are five ways to avoid sabotaging your personal brand.

1. Don't ignore brand mentions

58% of Americans don't even Google themselves, but employers and potential customers certainly will. It's safe to say that people are already talking about you, either online or offline.

As you create your personal brand on a variety of platforms, your name will start popping up in search engines and on social networks. This can be both beneficial to your brand or harmful depending on the context. The viral nature of social networks, as well as their new ubiquity, should encourage you to start listening in on what people are saying about you.

Negative mentions will spread fast unless you keep your ear close to the web, so I recommend you setup a Google alert for your name, your company's name, key competitors, partners, and industry buzz terms. There are many other free tools that can help you monitor your brand. You can also try Social Mention for a more complete solution to brand mentions on social networks.

CBB Insight.  Google your business and yourself! Set up brand alerts.

2. Don't spread yourself too thin

A future problem, which some might say is a current problem, is the volume of social networks and the amount of status updates and messages you receive each day. If you're active on each and every social network that launches, you will start to spread yourself too thin, which can really hurt your brand. You won't possibly be able to update all of your social profiles, as well as keep track of pictures, profile information, groups, etc. In general, you should only join the largest social networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn), as well as those networks in your industry.

CBB Insight.  Be realistic and pace yourself.
 
3. Know your audience

It's really easy to forgot who you're connected with on social networks as they grow. You might start out with high school and college friends, and then add some co-workers when you start a new job. There will be a point where you're going to have to make a strategic decision, who you accept and who you don't. The second you add your manager or colleagues is the time when you have to rethink what you publish or what you syndicate from other social networks. One mistake could cause you trouble.

On Facebook, you may want to have a profile page for your inner circle of friends and family members and then a Facebook Fan Page for your professional image. This way, you can make your profile private and hide it from search, while having a fan page that you can point your coworkers to. They will know that you are hiding your profile but should respect your privacy, especially since you're giving them the option to follow your fan page.

CBB Insight.  Are you keeping your personal and professional social networks separate? If there is overlap, what are you doing to make sure you are presenting yourself properly?

4. Limit self-promotion

Successful self-promotion only works in moderation, because if you're constantly only promoting yourself, many people will un-follow, un-friend, or block you from their network. The best way to build a strong personal brand is to promote other people, which creates goodwill and a connection, as well as distributing value based on what you have to offer; your expertise. If you're helping people 80 or 90% of the time, then people will be much more accepting of your self-promotional messages. You will also start to notice that other people will promote you and their endorsement is even stronger than your own proclamations.

CBB Insight.  Don't solely use social networks as a way to promote your company's sales or special offers.

5. Be consistent

Consistency is extremely important when it comes to any kind of branding, from personal to corporate. Selecting a unified "picture" and spreading it across all your social media (website, blog, presentations, press kits, business cards, etc.) will build image recognition in the mind of your audience. Consistency is significant for pictures, your name, as well as the fonts, the colors and the overall message that you communicate through your online properties.

There is no question that you already have a personal brand; whether you built it yourself or not. The way to differentiate it from everyone else is through management. By paying attention to mentions of your name online, not spreading yourself too thin, knowing your audience, offering more value than self-promotion, and being consistent, you can be very successful.

CBB Insight.  Do you have an Internet Presence?


Trio Web Design
Trio Web Design