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Taking Charge of Your Online Experience

Every few months I get what I call “twitter block.” I read, lurk and can’t think of a thing to say. If you know me, the idea of me not having something to say is pretty foreign. My most recent twitter block has been caused by some disenchantment on my part. Twitter lost some of its luster to me.

I have been on Twitter for 3+ years. At times I long for the “good ole days” of more intimate conversations, many of which have now switched to the Facebook platform. Many days I log on to Twitter to see the same group of people talking to the same group of people, mostly about themselves. I am so tired of the self-promotional mumbo jumbo. There are many days where I open my twitter stream and close it in frustration.

I want to learn something! I want to have conversations! I want to connect with real people!

Mentally, I have blamed “them” for doing it wrong. “They aren’t doing it right! Twitter is about connections.” I have been begging for “them” to be quiet. Yet, I continued to follow “them” because I felt I had to. Would it be political suicide not to?

Last week I had the privilege of spending the afternoon with Gahlord Dewald and Andy Kaufman. Yes, I am a lucky girl. It was fun and games (we rode a roller coaster and played in a video arcade) but we also had great conversation about Twitter experiences and Twitter strategy that really got me thinking.

What Twitter (or any other social network) means to me, may not be the same to you. Some people may choose to use Twitter as a broadcasting platform. Old school marketing, new tool. While I don’t think it the most effective, that doesn’t mean broadcasting doesn’t work. It’s working for some people and some organizations.

For me personally, social networks are about experiences, meeting new people, developing stronger connections, and learning new things. As cliché as it sounds, it is about the relationships. Almost all of my successes in my life have been about relationships. If I am looking for connections and not finding them, nobody else can make that happen… except me.

My frustration is my fault. I have a choice of whom I follow and whom I listen to. I haven’t been exercising that choice enough.

We are all in charge of our experiences. Thinking about what is important to you and plan your strategy accordingly. If you are looking for conversation, I am all ears.

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Blogging for PR-Webinar With Blog Pro Dan Green

Facebook, Twitter, and Quora get the hype but I refuse to believe blogging is dead. Social networks are a fantastic way to communicate and engage but having a site you own with your own living, breathing content can still be the foundation of a strong marketing strategy.

In SMMI’s free webinar today, Amy Chorew interviews Dan Green, a six year blogging veteran and author of The Mortgage Reports, a leading U.S. consumer mortgage blog. For as long as I’ve known him, Dan has been someone I have turned to time and again for blogging advice. Dan blogs five days a week, every week, without fail and because of it, the majority of his new business comes directly from his blog. Dan produced $38 million in loan business in 2010.

Dan is also one of the nation’s most recognized mortgage experts.  His mortgage market analysis regularly appears in the Wall Street Journal, MarketWatch, HSH Associates, and on Bankrate.com. He is a regular guest on the First Business television program and has appeared on NPR.

Regardless of your particular industry or line of business, if you have an interest in blogging for business, this “Creating PR Opportunities with your Blog” webinar will be invaluable for you.

Webinar Details:
When: January 20, 2011 at 3 p.m. EST
Topic: Creating PR Opportunities With Your Blog

Register Now

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Master Your Business Instead of Your Tools

At a recent presentation, I was considering doing a “Ten Tech Tools in Twenty Minutes” style of presentation. When I first started to prep for the presentation I had 15 tools I wanted to showcase, which I could never accomplish in my allotted 20 minute time frame. I sat back and analyzed the fifteen tools on the list in an attempt to cut them down and realized that I didn’t personally use all fifteen tools I planned to teach. As a matter of fact, I only used five of them. My presentation was starting to look like “Twenty Tech Tools to Overwhelm Your Audience and Lose Business. ”

We have tools for everything. I just reorganized my iPad apps and discovered I have 7 different applications to take notes in. They are all perfectly good applications but six of them are unnecessary. Shiny tools are being put in our face every day. Oh, cool! Another photo application for my iPhone, it’s only $0.99! The application we were using last month has quickly been replaced by something shiny, often before we have developed mastery of the previous tool.

This creates a vicious cycle that can eventually lead to what I will call “Traumatic Tool Syndrome“. We have applications to help us manage our applications to manage our other applications because we are buying tools for the sake of having the latest shiny object without understanding how that tool is going to help us do what we want to do. I am guilty as charged.

“I don’t have enough time”
Well, that is because we are trying to use seven different tools just for the sake of using the tools. At the end of the day, we need to identify what our business goal is, then figure out a tool that we can use to accomplish that. For that presentation I was giving, I ended up revising it completely, focusing only on 5 simple tools that could be used to reach the goal of the audience.

Simply put, a tool is a just a tool. For the majority of people I meet, reviewing tools is not going to get them paid. Doing their business well is. Identify what you need to accomplish, who you need to reach and consider simplifying your systems down so that you focus on mastering your business instead of your tools.

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The Field of Dreams of Blogging- Comments and Conversation

Visualize this scenario:
You spend hours crafting the perfect blog post.  You have researched it, edited it, found the perfect graphic to demonstrate your message and finally… you publish your masterpiece, knowing it is a profound post that will surely generate hundreds of comments from your readers.

You share your new post on Twitter and Facebook and are prepared to watch the comments flow in.

Refresh and wait.  Refresh and wait.

If you blog it, they will come!!   It’s the field of dreams of blogging.

Field of endless dreams

Photo Courtesy of Lifecreations on Flickr

I have been blogging for almost four years and I can’t begin to count how often I have lived this scenario.  If you are a blogger, you understand the frusatration of waiting for comments. You think you have written the best post in the entire world.  You have bloggged it, and yet,  not one single person writes a comment.

Earlier today, I ran across this blog post “Why the Real Value of a Blog Does Not Lie in the Comments Alone” by Grant Griffiths. It is an absolute must read if you blog for business.

Grant says:

For a business blog, comments can be a luxury.  In other words, business blogs sometimes get very few if any comments. And if you are blogging to promote and market a professional service firm, you may not get any comments at all.  It is not because your content does not warrant comments. This is just a general fact when it comes to blogging and a business blog.

From my own experience, it is not that people find your content unappealing. Nor they found it boring or anything else.  It is simply because people who read business blogs are mostly looking for information.  They are looking for a reason to contact you for more information.  Or they are looking for answers to their questions and solutions to their problems.

Grant goes on to say that the conversation had better not stop at the comments because at the the end of the day, you want to get them into your store or have them pick up the phone to do what- to complete the deal.  You want them to buy from you.  Read his entire post, it is well worth it.

When I read Grant’s post, I pounded my hands downs on the table and said YES!  It has been what I have experienced for years.   If a conversation stops at the comments, you probably haven’t accomplished your goal.  I have had sales that resulted from conversations but in all cases, they moved off the blog and off the social network.  In most cases, the blog generated interest.  It captured their attention and was the catalyst for continued conversations through a variety of channels off the blog. They pick up they phone and call you, they email you, send you text messages, and more recently send private messages on Facebook and Twitter.  In most of those instances, I never even received a blog comment.  Today I received two phone calls that started like this, ” I saw your blog this morning and….”  They didn’t comment on the internet.  They commenting by doing something better- calling me. I couldn’t care less that my blog post only generated one comment.  That comment wasn’t even from someone who will ever hire me.  The phone call was.

If you blog for business, don’t get discouraged if you blog doesn’t generate comments.  I have looked at thousands of business blogs and very few generate a large number of comments.  Guess what- conversations don’t just happen in blog comments.  The best conversation I can have is when someone tells me voice to voice or face to face that my blog post caused them to take XY or Z action.

If you can’t see your success happening in the comments, how will you know it is successful?
1) Use google analytics .  Over time you will be able to identify trends.   Things to look at:

  • Number of visits
  • Number of pageviews
  • Average time on site
  • Bounce rates to see who jumps off immediately
  • Keywords- to analyze how peole are finding your site in search engines.  Are the keywords relevant to your product or service?  If your bounce rate is high, you may rank well in search engines for content that is necessarily the focus of your blog.
  • View Popular Posts to see what is capturing your readers attention
  • Look at traffic sources to see where your blog viewers are coming from

When you initially start using Google Analytics, it will look like a foreign language.  By tracking your stats over time, you will start to notice patterns on your blog.  Those patterns are an excellent way to gage the reaction of your viewers.  Is your blog readership increasing?  What types of posts and content generate reactions such as higher click throughs or longer time on the page.

2) Make clear calls to action and monitor the results.  Did they generate an email registration?  Did they subscribe to your blog updates?  If you aren’t getting results, adjust your calls to action and see what does generate results.

3) Most importantly,  track the offline contacts. I am shocked to find out how many people I have worked with in the past read my blog.  I am shocked at how often I go to events and have people recite back blog posts I wrote a year ago.  I have had people approach me at the grocery store, the drycleaners, the coffee shop and at my children’s schools saying “Are you that blogger?”  None of them ever wrote a comment on my site but they still started a conversation. On many occasions, my blog has been the catalyst for people I already know to call me.   It has been the catalyst to get people referred to me by others to actually pick up the phone.  Forget the field of dreams, that is the home run! Ask people why they called you, don’t assume it.  Ask people what reminded them to email you.    If you aren’t getting phone calls, then you probably need to adjust your blog content.

*Make sure your phone number is easily accessible on EVERY page on your site.  If your viewers have to click a button to get your contact information, they are likely to click off your site.  Make it easy for them to start a conversation by calling you.

Conversations are crucial to success in the social web but those conversations are happening everywhere we are – online and offline.  Many times a conversation starts in one communication venue and moves on to another.  The most important conversations may never hit your comments section of your blog.

Personally, I would take a phone call over a comment any day of the week.  Come on business bloggers, what’s your experience?

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