Monday, February 23, 2009

Keep Your Blog Posts Short

Blog posts don't have to be long to be powerful. In fact, some of the best posts are the ones that are short and get right to the point.

Reasons to keep posts short:
- People have more to do all day than read blogs
- If a post seems too long, I may just skip it
- It keeps you as the writer focused on the subject
- People like things that are easily consumable
- People have short attention spans

If you do have a long post, break it up into two or three separate posts and share them over a few days. It will keep readers coming back, rather than getting bored and leaving.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

You Can't Buy Influence

Today I came across a post about Gary Vaynerchuk Using Adwords Ads to Buy Twitter Followers?. The author, Jacob Morgan - a social media consultant, asked the question is it ethical? Gary is being very transparent about what he is doing, so I am not sure that its an ethical question. I think the bigger issue here is whether or not Gary has influence over the people that follow him through Adwords.

Gary has gained a lot of followers with this tactic but I doubt that he has much influence over them. Influence is about earning trust. Its a relationship and a relationship that starts with money, is bound to fail. As soon as the money runs out, the relationship is often over.

Plus this tactic just smells funny. It may not be as bad as Belkin paying people for good reviews on, but it feels like it belongs in that same category, along with buying links for SEO and paying people to Digg your story.

True social media is about trust, and it can't be bought. Key things we should learn from this:
  1. Social media takes time and effort
  2. Be authentic
  3. Don't force it (You can't buy it)
  4. Avoid tactics that "smell" funny

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Economy Needs To Be Re-Branded

Although President Obama is trying his hardest to help our struggling economy, he is looking for advice from the wrong experts. Like most people, he is thinking, this is an economic problem so lets ask the economists. But this isn't a problem about money, its about dealing with human emotion and right now those emotions are fear and confidence.

Companies are scared of the recession and are laying off employees. The people who still have jobs fear losing their jobs so they spend less money. Because consumers spend less, companies fears are validated, and so they lay off more people. And Banks don't trust anyone with their money. Its a vicious cycle and unless we can restore confidence, we won't get out of it soon.

It won't matter how much money we pump into the economy if at the end of the day people's confidence isn't restored. Many surveys show that lots of people don't think the economic stimulus package (800 + Billion$) will have any effect on the economy. And if they don't think it will, then it won't. Its kind of like a reverse placebo effect where you don't think a drug will help you get better, so it doesn't.

And the media doesn't help at all. They continuously tell us how bad it is and give us minute to minute updates on the total jobs lost. I admit, its bad, but all the media does is scare us and make a bad situation worse. All in the name of better ratings, they are willing to help us into the hole and cover us with dirt. Sadly, the only way to get the media to stop spreading mass economic chaos is to get them to focus on something else that would bring them bigger ratings. I don't even want to think about what that would be.

We need something that inspires confidence, trust and optimism. The current stimulus plan does just the opposite. Its too big. Happened to quick. Its highly debated. People already don't trust the government with money. And all the fighting in Washington between the two parties only makes it worse.

So how do we fix it? We approach this from a marketing point of view and re-brand the economy. We start from scratch, get rid of the old, throw out the stimulus package and work on developing strategies to gain consumer confidence. A good marketing plan will go further than all the money in the world.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Communities, You are just a Guest

In an effort to market their products, I often see companies wanting to run out and form a community around their brand or product. But unless you are a brand like Nike or Apple, you can forget about it. No matter how great you think your product is, it just isn't cool enough to support a community. And until you come to grips with that, you won't be successful in social media.

So what is cool enough to bring a group of people together and form a community. The key is common interests. Common interest is what brings people from all walks of life together and is the glue that holds social media together.

People have connected and formed communities long before your product arrived in social media. So rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, why not find a community that already shares a common interest with your brand and participate.

But before you run in there and announce your arrival to the party, take a step back and listen. Listen, watch and get a feel for the community. Figure out the rules, the ins and outs, and the etiquette of the community. And then develop a strategy to participate. And if your strategy for participating involves telling the community how much they need your product, then you need to start over and go back and do some more listening.

Communities are powerful and a great way to engage your audience. Just make sure you play by their rules and not yours. After all its their community and you are just a guest.