Tuesday, May 24, 2011

How to Captivate New Readers in 5 Seconds or Less (from Copyblogger)

Have you ever been told you can’t judge a book by its cover?
Well, that traditional wisdom isn’t true.
Not only can you make accurate judgements about something from one glance, you almost certainly do it hundreds of times every day without even being aware of it.
It’s not just books we judge based on first impressions. Blogs and other websites are in the firing line as well.
While we all like to think we’re open-minded, every one of us constantly makes instant judgments and decisions. We judge everything from books and businesses to people based on our first impressions.
And it’s only getting worse. The more fragmented our attention gets, the faster we make those snap decisions.
So how’s your site stacking up? Do those critical first few seconds draw new visitors in … or send them running for the door?

Why are first impressions important?

If you’ve ever picked a new magazine off the shelf, it’s because there was something you liked about the cover.
If you’ve ever visited a blog and left five seconds later without reading a word, you used your powers of instant judgment there, too.
Maybe we shouldn’t judge books by their covers, or people by their clothes, or businesses by their websites, or blogs by their design. But we do.
We’re hard-wired to make quick decisions.
Cave men survived on their ability to make fast judgments. Can I eat it? Can it eat me?
You can’t spend long weighing up your options when you’ve got three hungry kids waiting back in the cave, a flimsy spear in your hand, and a woolly mammoth bearing down on you.

Why readers rely on first impressions

Fortunately we’ve moved on past the whole mammoth thing, but we still rely on first impressions to work out what’s important, what’s useful, what’s trustworthy … and what’s not.
We’re constantly bombarded with advertisements, beeping cell phones, animated buttons, and pop-up windows. First impressions help us sort the cool from the crud.
And once that first impression has been made and you’ve decided if someone is an expert or amateur, or if their blog is worth reading or not, it’s hard to change your mind.
First impressions not only count. They last.

What does it take to make a good first impression?

Because you don’t know where people will first meet you online, you need to be consistent. Make sure you look your best everywhere you have an online presence.
Your pictures and profiles don’t all need to be identical, but they should at least convey the same values and image.
Similarly, the content on your blog should make one coherent great impression, whether the reader lands on your latest post or a classic from your archives.
Here’s a five-point checklist to help you create a winning first impression and convert more visitors into loyal readers.

1. Check all your online profiles

That means Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and anywhere else you have an online presence (including your About page).
You never know which page of your site people will see first, and you never know how they’ll first connect with you online.
Successful blogs tend to constantly evolve and change, so your online profiles need to reflect that.
Be clear about the kind of content you offer. They’re web readers, not mind readers. Clear, concise language and benefit-rich headlines help readers know instantly if they’re in the right place.

2. Look at your site with fresh eyes

Imagine you’ve never visited your site before and don’t know what it’s about. What first impression do those new visitors get? Is that the impression you want to leave?
If not it might be time to update your blog design and copy.
Make sure the design is polished and professional. Think about your branding, including the images, colors, and language that will most appeal to your target audience.
If your site looks boring, amateurish, or cheap, that’s how you’ll be perceived.

3. Use your email signature

Your email signature is prime real estate. Consider using a tool like Wisestamp to add a photo of yourself, a special offer, and a link to your latest blog post to all your email.
A text email signature can be powerful too, if you use it to tell people what makes you unique. Keep it fresh and meaningful, don’t just share that quote you liked back in 2007.

4. Have another look at your profile picture

In most cases, you should use a photo of yourself, particularly in social media. People want to interact with other people, not logos.
A professional photo is worth paying for, but if you don’t have the time or budget, make sure your profile picture is clear, visible, and cheerful.
Do you prefer to hang out with and work with happy people? Then make sure your photo makes you look friendly and open. If in doubt, ask a friend for their honest opinion.
Resist the temptation to use photos where you look cool or sexy … you may come across as bored or grumpy instead.
Play it safe and put on a winning smile like CopybloggerProbloggerSonia Simone and me. So even if you’re feeling grumpy, stressed, or worried, you look like the kind of confident, friendly person your customers want to work with.

5. Make sure your site can be scanned

New web visitors don’t have time to read much in the five seconds it takes them to decide if they want to know more or not. They want to scan your site, so make it easy for them.
New blog visitors have three main questions:
  • What’s this blog about?
  • Who writes it?
  • What do I get out of reading it?
A tagline is a quick way to let people find out what your blog is about in less than a second.
A photo of you or will let them know who writes it.
Useful topics, compelling images, and irresistible headlines will let people know why they should read it.
Most sites become cluttered over time. You start off with simple, clean design, then add a few links, a couple of widgets, some banner ads … and suddenly your sleek design has become a confusing mess.
Remember most people will only spend five seconds looking at your site before deciding whether to keep reading or look elsewhere.
They say you only get once chance to create a first impression.
What are you going to do to make it count?
About the Author: Annabel Candy writes about successful blogging for small business owners and writers. If you’d like to learn more about what it really takes to be a successful blogger, subscribe now to get three chapters of her book Successful Blogging in 12 Simple Steps free. Or if you need time out from work, check out her personal writing.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

5 Ways to Quickly Write High-Quality Content (from Copyblogger)

Every blogger wants to write supremely useful and insightful content.
The question is — how do I pull that off consistently without my blog eating up every waking hour of my day?
And if you write for other sites in addition to writing for yourself, there’s even more pressure to keep the quality up. Whether you’re getting paid in cash or traffic, you can bet your host blogs are counting on you for great posts — every time.
They can write crappy posts on their own, thank you.
There was a time when I was on deadline to deliver nearly 60 blog posts per month — mostly for paying clients — so I learned how to do it efficiently.
I didn’t really have a choice, unless I wanted to give up sleep and raising of my children.
Thankfully, there are a few simple, universal habits that will help you do your best writing in less time.
Here are my five tips for becoming a creatively prolific content producer:

1. Always keep a stack of good ideas up your sleeve

Nothing wastes a writer’s time more than sitting down to write and not knowing what you want to say.
If a deadline is looming, you’re just stuck in that chair until inspiration strikes. This is a major time-waster. That pressure to deliver a great post idea — right now — also inhibits creativity for many writers.
Keep a running list of possible content topics — I keep track of mine with the free WordPress Editorial Calendar plugin.
I also keep newsletters and possible headline sources in an email folder together. With my raw idea material organized, it doesn’t usually take more than a half-hour to scan through everything and add enough ideas to my list to hold me for weeks.
By contrast, trolling for ideas one at a time can easily consume countless hours.
Planning ahead with an editorial calendar also helps you consider the whole month’s blogging needs instead of just thinking about your next post. This shift in mindset helps ensure any special events, holidays, or other “time pegs” are on your radar and don’t get missed.
Thinking ahead can help you see how your posts’ topics relate to each other, which can spotlight gaps that additional posts could fill. Presto! New post ideas.
You might also spin related posts into a content series. Grouping topics helps the writing flow faster. If some breaking news crops up you want to write on, you can always move another post idea forward.
Now that’s far preferable to finding yourself with no idea for tomorrow’s post, and little beads of sweat forming on your furrowed brow.

2. Blog in batches

Blogs involve a certain amount of technical grunt work.
You may need to find photos, upload them, enter a photo credit, write your alternate and title tags. And of course you definitely need to write a great headline.
It’ll save a lot of time to sit and do a whole slew of these basic tasks at once.
Now that you’re planning ahead, you could find and upload the next five photos you need all in a batch, instead of hunting them down one by one. Get all those photos installed on their posts, even if you’re not writing those entries today.
Then, when it’s time to write, you’ll feel like your post is already half done. Taming the administrivia frees you up to get into a better flow with your writing, instead of stopping with each post to search for the right image or tinker with the headline.
While you’re thinking in batches, consider writing several posts in a sitting.
Once you’re writing in the style of your blog or your client’s blog, keep rolling with that tone and knock out several entries.
This is far more efficient than writing each post in a separate sitting, and trying to recapture that groove the next day or even a week later.

3. Know your chronobiology

Every human being has a different natural rhythm to their creative life.
Some of us reliably do our best writing before breakfast, while others would find it difficult to write a coherent sentence until after noon.
Scientists call this chronobiology — your natural, internal biological clock.
Simply put, you’re hard-wired to be more naturally creative at certain times of day, and you’re less brilliant at other times.
Whenever possible, don’t fight your biology. Don’t try to write in your least productive time periods. It’ll take you longer to do the same amount of work, and the results probably won’t be as good.
Instead, try to organize your life so that your peak creative time is free of trivial tasks, phone appointments, or twitter.
Then, write like mad.

4. Write ahead

One of the biggest threats to producing quality content is time pressure.
If you’re writing content the same day you need it to go up, you sacrifice one of the most powerful tools for improving your writing: The chance to read it again tomorrow before you click “send.”
Essentially, if you’re writing and immediately posting, you’re posting a first draft. Also known as a rough draft.
This is not your best work.
Instead of writing frantically and having to post right away, back up all your deadlines by at least 48 hours. Now you’ve got time to dash off a first draft today, leave it alone, and revisit it tomorrow.
That fresh perspective will help you spot the weak areas and buff them up (or cut them) quickly, where you could torment yourself all day trying to squeeze out the draft in one go.

5. Keep it simple

Too often, writers let blog posts ramble on too long, or wander off onto multiple trails and tangents.
Good blog posts are concise and stick to a single topic.
Posts that follow one train of thought also take less time to write. Over-thinking it can waste hours, and you’ll end up pruning out the miscellaneous observations in the end anyway.
Got more ideas on a topic? Split them up and create a series. Don’t try to cram it all into one post.
Be on guard against side issues that will end up as deadwood anyway, and send them over to your idea list instead.
Mix a little advance planning with tightly focused topics, and you’ll crank out better content in less time.
Maybe you’ll even get to catch a nap.
How about you? What’s your favorite tip for kicking your writing efficiency into high gear? Let us know about it in the comments.
About the Author: Carol Tice plans ahead to create useful, insightful posts for her blog, Make a Living Writing, which offers practical help for hungry writers. Her next free teleclass is 20 Tips to Rock Your Query Letter.

Social Media and Moms: What They Do and Buy (From Center for Media Research)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Modern Mom More Than "... A Regular Woman"

According to a recent Nielsen Company study, 34% of American households are home to kids under 18, and modern moms wear many hats and play many roles.  These moms are 19% more likely than the general population to engage in social networking, and even more likely to become a fan or follow a brand (31% more likely), become a fan or follow a celebrity (24% more likely) and comment on others postings (27% more likely).  Moms account for one-fourth of all video streams occurring on social networks, and are also more likely to post their own content:
  • 37% more likely to post photos
  • 25% more likely to link articles/videos
  • 33% more likely to give status updates
Using the Internet for personal communication is also very high among mothers, with moms 37% more likely to send/receive invites online, 17% more likely to use instant messaging and 14% more likely to make/receive voice calls online.
Moms make up more than one-fifth of online video viewers and spent an average of 258 minutes viewing online video in March 2011.  Compared to the overall usage in the US, Moms spent 25% more time, about 52 minutes longer on average, viewing online video from Home PCs.
Moms can be hard to reach, says the report. In broadcast primetime, ad recall levels are 8% lower among moms 25-54 than non-moms of the same age and the general population.
The study found that the ads that resonate most with moms are often family- and convenience-oriented with relatable characters/situations, sentimental tonality and good natured humor. A heavy focus on products/services tends to reduce ad effectiveness among moms.  For moms, the 30-second sitcom (or drama) might just snag her much-divided attention.
Though households with kids under 18 make up a third of U.S. households, they are responsible for half of all purchases of cereal, juice, fresh meat and prepared food (dry mixes).  Moms also overindex for shopping for groceries online.
However, when it comes to general shopping online, they are on par with other online adults.
Moms are more likely to shop for media items:
  • Books (11% more likely than the adult online population)
  • Magazines (20%)
  • Digital music (15%)
  • Video games (7%).
On the flipside, they are 53% less likely to do investment shopping.
For the 2010-2011 season, reality TV programs have been the big winners among women ages 25-54 in broadcast primetime.  In fact, the top four broadcast programs women ages 25-54 watched were reality TV as were half of the top 20 shows watched by this audience.
For more information about the Nielsen study, please visit here.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Why I subscribe to ProBlogger -

Because I read great articles like this one. Commenting on other blogs - I know why I do it (although sometimes I don't put it very high up on my to do list) and glad to see this article on the reasons for commenting, besides being part of an online community which is the main reason, yes?

This guest post is by Joe of Web Programming 360.

Monday, May 9, 2011

VERY Comprehensive Post on Twitter Marketing from Copyblogger

I’ve probably approached Twitter marketing in fifty different ways.
And in an attempt to find the best way to go forward with my own marketing efforts on Twitter, I recently realized that I’d collected a fairly valuable list of killer resources along the way.
Would you like to know how to start marketing your business on Twitter?
How about more advanced approaches to getting more retweets, more followers, and more prospects for your business?
If there are secrets and special formulas that can magically unlock the power of social media out there, I don’t know them.
What I do know, is exactly what the experts are doing — day in and day out.
And now, you will too …

What is Twitter?

Twitter in Plain English
Entertaining and easy to follow, this video from Lee and Sachi LeFever of Common Craft show ways of understanding how Twitter works and fits into your daily workflow and lifestyle.
48 Ways to Explain Twitter to Skeptics
David Meerman Scott confronts the inevitable questions from the Twitter skeptics. His family asked him to explain Twitter, grilling him on Christmas. Instead of explaining himself, he tweeted the question and posted his replies.

Setting up your Twitter account

The Beginner’s Guide to Twitter
Michael Hyatt shares a tutorial on how to set up Twitter for your cell phone. He also goes over some basics on how to tweet with third-party tools.
Newbie’s Guide to Twitter
Rafe Needleman shares a step-by-step process of getting started on Twitter. His steps include basics like the initial account set up, getting started on your mobile phone, following and joining friends and even mindset ideas for new Twitter users.
Twitter and Personal Branding: The BIG Mistake I See People Make Every Single Day
David Meerman Scott shares secrets you can use to setup your Twitter profile with your personal brand.
Why You Need a Kick Ass Twitter Background
Marian Schembari shares a few profiles on Twitter and why they represent their brands so well.
It’s OK to Have Multiple Twitter Accounts
In fact, it’s necessary if you have multiple departments in your business. Christian Collard explains how he uses multiple accounts for his business to target followers and build relationships.

New twitter users start here

Social Media Workflows Part 1: Awareness and Capture
Setting goals before jumping on Twitter will get you farther than any other strategy. Chris Brogan discusses how you’re going to use Twitter for your company and how to put a plan in place.
How to Start On Twitter Without Looking Like a Newbie
Marian Schembari created a new Twitter account for sharing her experiences in her new town of Auckland, New Zealand. Instead of throwing any old thing up there and opening the doors for people to interact with her on that account, she walks through what she did before inviting followers.
7 Tips for New Twitter Users
Shel Israel’s evergreen post has some of the best tips for approaching Twitter when you’re a newbie.
Use Twitter for Your Business the Right Way
Aira Bongco’s tips give you a solid basic approach to Twitter. Also, find the one way you can use Twitter to set your business apart.
How to Twitter
Wall Street Journal’s Julia Angwin shares her first few Twitter experiences before she got the hang of it and gained followers. She writes about how to use Twitter’s greatest strength to your advantage.
Moving from Social Media Tactics To Your Social Business Plan
Instead of floundering on social media networks, being tossed from wave to wave, David Armano shares foundation-building steps. When your company is ready to tap social media, David’s post will help you find secure footing.
Twitter Experiment Results — Swapping Person To Brand
Adam Singer makes a case for creating content that is community focused. Find out why creating great content drives traffic from social media networks to your “hub.”

What’s up with the whole #hashtag thing?

The Twitter Hash Tag: What Is It and How Do You Use It?
Tech for Luddites gives a great clarification on what a hashtag is, and how to create one.

Twitter vocabulary

The Ultimate Glossary: 101 Social Media Marketing Terms Explained
Every definition and term you needed to know around social media in one place. How convenient is that?
Can Social Media Buzz-Words Kill Your Profits?
J.P. Micek shares his impressions about buzzwords in new media marketing. In this article, he gives you a different way of looking at the mindset for using social media to gain the most from words likeauthenticity and transparency.
Ten Things You Must Know Before Using Twitter
Ten must-know terms and tools.
25 Social Media Buzzwords … Explained
Jim Tobin put together the top social media buzzwords with thorough definitions so you won’t be in the dark when someone says “social graph” or “mash-ups.”

Why you need to be on Twitter

12 Reasons to Start Twittering
Start with the 12 reasons to start Twittering. Michael Hyatt’s insights are spot on.
How Twitter Will Change the Way We Live
Robyn Twomey of Time Magazine discusses Twitter and conversation. The fact that a conversation in your head can lead to real-life conversations and connections is changing the world. This post brings up questions surrounding the standards of interacting with others — instead of staying in your head or continuing a one-way conversation plan.
Social Media Marketing: 2011 Trends Report
Is Twitter just “too six months ago” for you? Michael Brenner goes over the 2011 Trends Report with his own thoughts about what’s coming next in social media.
5 Reasons I use Twitter – (and you should too)
Jeff Delp, a K-12 administrator, says using Twitter can help you as a personal learning tool in five areas of communication. Using Twitter can improve your current work style and future learning.
Do You Tweet? 3 Reasons Why You Should
This one’s a favorite of mine because Sprike tells you straight up that you shouldn’t expect to land deals or millions of dollars in the first three minutes of being on Twitter. Instead, Sprike shares with you: 1) who you should try to get to follow you, and 2) exactly why.
7 Surprising Statistics About Twitter in America
Jay Baer, co-author of The NOW Revolution, shares the side of Twitter you don’t know, according to an Edison Research Survey. Although this is a 2010 blog post, it still has relevance as to why Twitter is a significant player in social media and still growing like crazy.
35 Ways Social Media Can Make Your Life Easier
Alli from BlogWorld shares how Twitter makes it convenient for you to find valuable, real-time information. Besides using it for business, you’ll get insights into thirty-five other uses for Twitter, making it perfect for the pursuit of #winning.
The Future of Community
Chris Brogan gives an excellent point about the ever-changing nature of web-based community. He shares the evolution of community online, and why Twitter is necessary.
How a Few Tweets Led to a 370% Increase In My Traffic
Tom Meitner shares his Twitter experience with Chris Brogan on Problogger. He says anything is possible if you take action.
Twitter User Statistics Show Stunning Growth
Catharine Smith from The Huffington Post illustrates how much Twitter has grown over the past five years since its launch.
The Ten Ways Twitter Will Permanently Change American Business
Douglas McIntyre from 24/7 Wall Street wrote this evergreen post about how Twitter is evolving into a major marketing tool in ten different areas of media and marketing.

Big companies are doing it …

Coca-Cola VP Talks About the Keys to Social Media Success
Cynthia Boris interviewed Wendy Clark about Coca-Cola’s strategy with Twitter. The tips from this post at Marketing Pilgrim are incredible.
40 of the Best Twitter Brands and the People Behind Them
Jennifer Van Grove interviewed forty major brands on Twitter for Mashable. She came up with the best reasons to be on Twitter and how to create your company’s strategy based on these interviews.

The government is doing it too …

Cornyn: Lawmakers Having to Conquer Fear of Social Media
Michael O’Brien of The Hill’s Twitter Room reports about how Sen. John Cornyn uses social media. In this post, find out the number one reason using Twitter will help your business efforts.
Barack Obama on Twitter
He follows back, or so I’ve heard. I haven’t seen him accept my follow yet ;)

What you need to know

An Insider’s Guide to Social Media Etiquette
Chris Brogan has plenty of etiquette tips for keeping the conversation going, disclosure, promotion, content production, and sharing.
Twitter Etiquette For Agencies/Freelancers
Tony Bloomberg from Diva Marketing Blog shares more than just a few tips for etiquette and Twitter behavior.
The Most Important Twitter Rule of 2011
Diana Adams says down with the “dictatorship mentality” on Twitter. Discover the reigning Twitter rule for 2011 that trumps everything else.
Twitter, Facebook, Groupon, and Social Media – What Online Advertisers Need to Know
Hollis Thomases delivers the real deal on social media. She goes over the cold, hard facts based on research and reports so you don’t have to.
The Easy Button
Tom Webster of Brand Savant shares the “easy button” of the Internet.

What the heck is a retweet and how do I do it?

How to Get More Retweet Action on Twitter
The magic on Twitter happens in the retweets. David Cantone will get you started with several simple but important strategies.
How to Increase Your Retweets, Twitter Followers & Klout
Kristi Hines gives you a few easy steps to getting more retweets now. You want more retweets, right?
How to Get Retweeted
Getting retweeted is one of the ultimate goals for marketers using Twitter. Guy Kawasaki’s plan for ultimate retweet domination is on the other side of this link.
5 Steps to Going Viral on Twitter
Dan Zarrella analyzes the specific language and techniques that create more retweets for your Twitter content.
7 Ways to Thank Someone for a Retweet
Angie Schottmuller shares a simple way to thank those followers who retweet your stuff. This goes beyond the basic, “Thanks for the RT!” and to thanking your followers the right way.

The Twitter mindset

1,000 True Fans
The mindset behind any sustainable business. You can gain popularity, coolness and style, but without 1,000 true fans on your side, all the rest fades. BONUS: We all want an audience, here’s how you can learn to earn yours.
The Four Stages of “Getting” Twitter — Infographic
See, everyone goes through these stages. Cool infographic from The Chris Voss Show.
The Six Twitter Types
Guy Kawasaki posted on the American Express Open Forum about the different types of people that use Twitter and which ones are the most effective. Check out which one resembles you and what each of them do. I’m a Mensch, by the way. If you were wondering.
New Media as Community Theater — All the World’s a Stage
I loved this post by Ann Handley because she explains how new media gives everyone a platform for getting their message out.
An Open Letter to the Social Business Industry
I love Amber Naslund’s message on Brass Tack Thinking. She shares how even though social media is a collective entity, there’s several approaches people take towards it. Not all are the same, but all are part of the same purpose.
My Recommendation About Your Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn
Tim Berry shares the one recommendation every business needs to know about using social media. You don’t have to take it, but it could be a deciding factor for whether you close a sale or not.

How to get Twitter followers

Looking for Mr. Goodtweet: How to Pick Up Followers on Twitter
Guy Kawasaki’s post offers insights on getting more Twitter followers. He uses these strategies himself.
Who You Gonna Follow Now?
Guy Kawasaki shares three sources that will help you decide who to follow.
Writing Killer Content in 140 Characters or Less
Killer content on your blog can get people to stick around. Twitter only has 140 characters. How do you create killer content in 140 characters? Marly shares a complete list on crafting a message in 140 characters or less.
Why 150 Followers is All You Really Need
Do the number of followers really matter? Find out the number one reason why it doesn’t matteraccording to Srinivas Rao and get tips on building your base to 150 in just a few steps.
10 Reasons Why I Follow You on Twitter
Brittany Rubinstein shares why she and a million other people on Twitter might follow you.
How To: Expand Your Twitter Tribe
Seth Godin wrote the book on tribes for businesses.  In this post, your business gains a list of ways to expand your reach on Twitter from Aaron Lee.

Brand management on Twitter

The Evolution of Brands on Twitter
Jeremiah Owyang shows you exactly how to get up and running on social media.
Twitter, Customer Service, and Good Brand Management
So many marketing gurus are predicting social media as the future. Valerie Maltoni shares a list of tools and ways to monitor your brand and respond to conversation in a matter of minutes. By doing this, you increase web presence and provide excellent customer service.

Lean, mean Twitter marketing strategies

62 Ways to Use Twitter for Business
If you think you know everything about Twitter, I challenge you to read this post by Meryl Evans. Even the most die hard Twitter users will find at least one action step in this list to use immediately.
How to Use Twitter as a Twool
Cut through monkey talk running around in your head about Twitter. Go read Guy Kawasaki’s post and get clear on a Twitter strategy you can put in place now. It’s a few years old, but still applies.
TweetWhen: The Science of Timing
Dan Zarella shares three years of research and a free tool that’ll show you exactly when to tweet. Watch his webinar to see customized graphs for getting the most retweets.
10 Ways Brands Can Target Moms by Fusing Online Advertising and Social Media
Hollis Thomases put together a list for businesses to get over the wondering of what to do on Twitter and other social media platforms. Print her list and go do it.
The Only Twitter List a Business User Needs
Mario Sundar shares how to use Twitter and LinkedIn together to maximize and keep track of contacts for your business.
4 Ways Companies Use Twitter for Business
Want to see a new media marketing strategy that big companies use? Here are four from Sarah Perez.
Are Twitter Chats Part of Your Social Media Strategy?
Angela Maiers talks about using Twitter chats to grow your business. Don’t know what a Twitter chat is or how to find one? Angela has your back.
Opportunity for Better B2B Marketing with Social Media & SEO
Lee Odden makes a strong case for B2B marketing using social search and SEO. He backs it up with statistics and the right way to implement a plan.
Stop Trying to Engage Your Audience
Gahlord Dewald shares an extremely useful tip after helping a fellow entrepreneur. Find out the one thing to look for when scanning Twitter feeds.
Social Media, Generosity and the Hockey Stick
Find out how karma can come back to your business through the eyes of Jeff Gibbard. One question will determine whether you’re spinning your wheels in social media, or investing in the future.
How To (Successfully) Break The First Rule of Social Media
Just like grammar, copywriters break the rules (and have fun doing it). So find out the number one rule that will skyrocket your social media experience and send raving fans flocking to you.

Prospecting on Twitter

How to Use Twitter for Sales Prospecting
Use this post as your prospecting tool and mindset helper in one. Short and sweet, it has real value for getting to prospecting on Twitter right away.
Actively Prospecting with Twitter
Geared toward real estate professionals, the Rainmaker Masters Circle blog shares the benefits you’ll receive from prospecting on Twitter and the value you’ll add to potential clients’s lives by providing a needed solution.
Two-Minute Social Media Tips: Local Prospecting with Twitter
(Video) Troy Janisch from Social Meteor shares some quick and easy tips for prospecting locally. Since it’s predicted that all businesses are going to get left behind if they aren’t active in social media, check out these tips to see what you can do right now.

Craft eye-catching Twitter headlines

The Art of Writing Great Twitter Headlines
Brian Clark gives you a must-read recipe for writing headlines that get clicks and retweets.

Managing Twitter

Manage Multiple Accounts Without Medication
If you have quite a few social media accounts to keep up with, Erika Napoletano gives you the full disclosure on how to manage it all.
Top Ten Social Media Tools for Daily Use
Mari Smith shares her faves for making social media manageable across multiple platforms. Besides Twitter, Mari’s website features plenty of posts on Facebook as well.
50 Ideas on Using Twitter for Business
Chris Brogan’s ways to use Twitter for business. It’s a printable list of fifty of the sharpest ways to use Twitter today. If you’re stumped on getting started, read through this list and get to it.
Why There’s Nothing Wrong with Social Media Automation
Twitter purists beware! Danny Brown gives excellent reasons why it’s perfectly fine to use automation tools for Twitter. I mean, geez, you can’t grow eight arms so why not automate where you can? With Danny’s tips, you’re set..
4 Ways to Track Tweets
Patrick Garmoe shares the best tools to track your tweets. Since tracking your online presence is necessary, find out the exact tools you need to do it well.
3 Steps to a Productive Life on Twitter as a Blogger Using Buffer
You may have already seen Leo Widrich or spoke to him on Twitter about Buffer App. Here’s a behind the scenes glance at what it does and how it can help your business.
Top 5 Twitter app alternatives for iPhone
Of course where would we be without Twitter for iPhone. Actually I’m still stuck in the stone age and don’t have a smart phone yet, but for all of you who do, these apps can help you manage Twitter on the go.
How Much Time Does Twittering Really Take?
Do you have to spend 14 hours a day working Twitter like Gary Vaynerchuk? Could you tweet and be effective on Twitter for 20 minutes a day? Find out from Michael Hyatt.
A Review of Triberr and the Spin Sucks Analytics
Gini Dietrich shares why Spin Sucks uses Triberr and how it will help your business with social media. You’ve got to see her hard fact analytics over a two-month span, amazing.

Twitter security

How To Setup HTTPS Better Security on Your Twitter Account
Chris Voss shares how a hacker got into the Twitter accounts of several people in the same coffee shop. He also shares how you can ensure this doesn’t happen to you while tweeting when out and about.

Twitter social proof

What Your Twitter Numbers Say About You, part 1
Marian tells it like it is regarding your Twitter stats. You can get more followers or let people find you, but if you read her post, you’ll find out why she recommends going out and getting more.
What Your Twitter Numbers Say About You, part 2
Marian shares her strategy for managing Twitter through Hootsuite. She makes it look easy!
How do you increase social influence? Don’t think about the score
Not into self-promotion? Brian Solis gives you tangible advice on building a community the human way.
Measuring Social Business Success
Want to know the return on investment (ROI) for social media? Well, Erin Traudt has a few insights on social media gains and social business costs.

Avoid being an annoying twit

Ten Things You Need to Stop Tweeting About
The Oatmeal shares his hilariously true views about what you need to stop tweeting. Don’t say you haven’t done at least one of these if you’re on Twitter. Remember, we can all look up your tweets ;)
The Twitter Test
Mitch Joel cracks me up in this post. Find out how your tweets stack up by taking his Twitter Test.
Don’t Be That Guy
Are you that guy? Shannon Paul can help.
12 Twitter Mistakes You Should Avoid
We all make mistakes. If you can admit them, you’re on your way to improvement. John Paul Aguiar will teach you to avoid some of the biggest Twitter mistakes around.
8 Reasons for Brand Failure on Social Media (Twitter)
Admit it, you’ve wondered … is your brand failing like a whale on Twitter? Charles Mburugu can help you find them and avoid them.
How to Avoid Twitter Cluelessness
Did you see the movie Clueless? Don’t roll with other clueless homies. Get your head on right with these 11 tips from Guy Kawasaki so you can take some action.
Train Wreck! The 3 Types of Self-Destructive Corporate Tweets
Ooh ouch. A few big companies do have some twits at the controls. Check out the tweets Jay Baer listed in this post and what each company did to reconcile with their followers.

Don’t stop there

Twitter Guide Book – How To, Tips and Instructions
Mashable’s HUGE Twitter Guide Book covers the basics as well as more advanced topics. There are also some video tutorials in there.
I Love Marketing – Episode 013: The one with Tim Ferriss
I can’t help it. I love Tim Ferriss. Get into his mindset for Twitter and other social media campaigns through this podcast.
Social Media Cheat Sheet 2011
Drew McLellan put together this great social media cheat sheet. Someone had to create it, right?
Top 20 Twitip Twitter Tips of All Time!
Get all the best Twitips from Lara Kulpa in a single post. If you need action steps to get your business started on Twitter, read, print and follow.
3 Ways to Use Twitter Favorites
It seems many Twitter users don’t understand what favorites on Twitter are or represent. Get the scoop from Ryan Barton so you can use them to your follower’s benefit.
Thanks to my guest blogging coach, Jon Morrow, who kept me on the straight and narrow while working on this post.
Now that you have the knowledge, get out there and market your business on Twitter!
Oh, and please add your best Twitter marketing tips and links in the comments …
About the Author: Gabrielle Conde engineers Mission: Engage -– a company helping businesses grow through content development, article writing, and copywriting.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Applying Journalistic Practice to Content Development (from Media Post Publications)

by Derek Gordon , Monday, May 2, 2011

There is a lot that machines and algorithms can do for us -- the list goes on and on. But one problem the legions of talented engineers at work in Silicon Valley haven't solved is the constant, pressing need for well-written content.

As fellow Search Insider Janet Driscoll Miller recently pointed out, Google's updated algorithm is now focused not just on keywords, links and visits, but whether or not the content is altogether "good": whether it's really relevant to a search query and ultimately useful to an audience. In other words, simply having a keyword strategy isn't enough. Those keywords must be packed inside content that is original, and purposefully written by people with some subject-matter expertise and a vested interest in the goal of informing, educating or entertaining a particular audience.
From Web site copy to blog posts, press releases to white papers, SEO and social strategies depend on good content strategy, and good content strategy relies on good writing.  The people who know this better than anyone are journalists. Without realizing it, they invented the concept of what we now refer to as the keyword -- and their practice formed the basis for how the search engines crawl, index and present information (i.e., headlines, subheads and ledes.) 
So what can journalism teach us about good content development?  As it turns out: everything.

The Headline is All 
Headlines always include the key point of a story, and the best often reflect a rising or sustained meme (a.k.a. keywords) that audiences are actively following. And you'll notice that headlines are rarely complete sentences; this is a remnant from print, where column inches are at a premium, but today enable us to quickly convey only the most essential details in just a few eye-catching words.  While headlines should include your most important keywords or phrases, they must be written honestly and relevantly, naturally referring to the content they promote. Finally, well-written headlines should not only have some heat, they should also include the sizzle. They must catch the reader's attention. Good headline writing takes a lot of practice, so spend time studying headlines at the best news reporting organization and then get to work on your own.   

Always Use the Inverted Pyramid 
Journalism 101 teaches students the best way to organize information is to put the most important stuff at the top and the increasingly less important stuff farther down in the story.  This organizational tactic is called the inverted pyramid. It was originally developed because journalists of yore (that is, the print kind) never knew how many column inches a story might ultimately get because editors routinely cut them to fit the available space. Today, this practice addresses the short attention spans of audiences, many of whom only read the first or second paragraph of something before clicking away.

Don't Bury the Lede
It's not a misspelling: journalists use "lede" instead of "lead" to distinguish how they leverage the leading part of a story to grab a reader's attention from other meanings associated with "lead." And the number-one rule about the lede? Don't bury it.  Everything you write should have a point; you're either breaking a piece of news or advancing a thesis, and you should never, never bury that information. It should be right up front, and written in such a way that it immediately engages readers' attention and pulls them further into the story. 

Use Vivid, Active Prose and Edit, Edit, Edit 
Journalists are simple people. They avoid jargon. They compose simple sentences using standard subject-verb-object construction.  They're highly suspicious of snake-oil salesmen -- or, as we call them today, MBAs. Journalists seek to uncover the truth of any matter and to present facts in a straightforward, unsentimental way. At the same time, they also look to use vivid prose to describe situations so readers can see it in their own mind's eye. 

Most important, journalists edit, edit, edit, avoiding superfluous words and phrases.  And they are constitutionally allergic to anything that looks self-serving (except when covering politics). Adopt these instincts and your own content will be more accessible, more comprehensible and more engaging. 

As usual, there isn't enough space to list all the rules journalists use to produce interesting, engaging and useful content, but these high-level and basic rules should serve you well.  Please leave your own journalistic advice and tricks in the comments section below.  Next week in my content strategy series: what broadcast news can teach us about creating good video content.