Author Archive

A Blog About Blogging: Companies and Org’s Doin’ It Right

As users and lovers of social media, we often get caught up in all of the tools out there–Twitter, Facebook, or as of this week, Google+. But this month’s SMC-DC event was all about the often complex art of blogging. We were honored to be joined by Maggie McGary, Online Community and Social Media Manager at ASHAAmy Ganderson, Associate Director, Digital Marketing at The Nature ConservancySimon Owens, Director of PR at JESS3 and Alejandra Owens, Social Communications/Blog Managing Editor at AARP.
So here I go, attempting to implement some of their great tips…
  1. Create dynamic content. Blogs need to keep people’s attention and serve as a resource for lots of information in not a lot of space. The best way to do this is by including links, pictures, videos, whatever–whenever possible. Along with this, create dynamic content that’s the right fit for each of the outlets you share the blog post through. Or in other (Alejandra’s) words, “auto-feeds are just bad.” Don’t put on your Facebook the same blog teaser you put in a tweet–different audiences connect with different styled language, and when/if those audiences overlap, they’ll think it’s annoying that all your content is cookie-cutter.
  2. Lay some ground rules. Developed a  social media and blogging guidelines for your company. It will not only help later on down the line in terms of logistics, avoiding people saying things they shouldn’t, etc.–but will also help you to figure out what your goal is exactly with the blog and keep you in line with achieving it. If you need inspiration, check out AARP’s social media guidelines.
  3. Keep people coming back by offering them ‘themed’ content. So for example, at Cool Green Science at The Nature Conservancy, they have one post that goes out each morning with the top five must-read articles in environmentalism. They also have a Nature Photo of the Week. These kinds of themes not only make it easier to focus on putting out enough content, they also give people something to look forward to next time if they found that post valuable.
  4. Learn from some of the great’s–but also maintain your own unique voice. Along with the blogs by the panelists themselves, some others mentioned include: Ebay Ink , the OKCupid blog OKTrends, and Treehugger.
  5. Prepare for disappointment by keeping expectations low. Sometimes you can plan and plan, but the end product just isn’t what you were expecting. Expect that it may happen and never expect lots of views to your blog in its infancy. Even if your company possesses enough of a reputation to bring more eyes to your blog doesn’t mean they will stay to hang around and read it if it’s not very good…yet.
Like most things in life, the panelists seemed to always come back to the idea that blogging is about finding a balance. For instance, you’ve got to balance SEO-friendliness with unique, original content. Having blog posts that include the words people would use to find it is important–but you can’t always live on Google Insights, constantly making sure your blog post is SEO-friendly. You have to make sure it’s people-friendly too, and that it’s reflective of the author and interesting enough for the reader. As Simon points out, well-written content is the best SEO you can have, because the better it is, the more it will be shared and the more views it will get, making it rise higher in the search ranking jungle out there. And it is a jungle out there.
What company, nonprofit or agency blogs out there do you think are doin’ it right?

Social Media for Foodies

On Wednesday, the Social Media Club was honored to have Stacey Kane, Director of Marketing for California Tortilla for a special keynote presentation hosted by WhoRunsGov. She spoke to a huge crowd of burrito-and-beer-loving folks at the Washington Post HQ, a group of social media lovers in store for much more than happy bellies by the end of the night. Special thanks to WhoRunsGov from the Washington Post for hosting – it was a great venue!

The event kicked off with a short presentation by Get Spontaneous, who reminded us all, the real world is awesome. Get Spontaneous is a beta website designed to take advantage of just that, offering a sort of “Pandora for Events.” They get to know you and your interests, and they make recommendations about events you should head to. Sounds simple enough and we dig it. Looking forward to seeing how Get Spontaneous evolves over the next few months.

Because Stacey had so many great insights throughout her talk, it makes sense to boil them down to the top takeaways worth keeping in your back pocket, helpful if you work in social media for a consumer brand, especially a restaurant.

  1. Don’t let a negative experience aired on Twitter linger with no response. Respond within 24 hours, take offline, and make it into a positive, even if it means offering free food. Caltort’s number one rule is never lose a customer, and that is something they adhere to. Restaurants and stores should adopt this policy if they have not already.
  2. Don’t treat social media as the solution, treat it as what it is, a conduit for word of mouth marketing.
  3. It isn’t about likes on Facebook or followers on Twitter. As Stacey remarked, it’s about “butts in seats.” Don’t get hung up on metrics that don’t matter–focus on the tactics that get people in stores (coupons/deals, Wifi offering), and actively track those efforts. Caltort has had 13 months of positive sales growth, completely paid-advertising free.
  4. Make your brand easy to talk about. Implement tools and incentives that will make your new products easy and desirable for people to share with their friends.
  5. Make your customers feel smart and and like they are “on the inside.” In my mind, this rule harkens a bit to the book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, which advocates that it isn’t about YOU, it is about the other person. If you make your brand about your customers, they are going to be more responsive and interested. When Caltort was introducing a new vegetarian burrito, they tweeted out to their followers that the restaurant was debating calling the product, “the Vegito.” It got a ton of feedback, mostly negative–and turned into a sort of crowd-sourcing project. Finally, the “No Meato Burrito” was born and it’s creator was publicly recognized for it.

But the best part of the night was an example of Stacey implementing that very last rule of making us feel like we were “on the inside.” Call it a selective intelligence leak or call it a free (intense) focus group for Caltort…the last few minutes were focused on the potential new branding that California Tortilla is considering.

There were certainly a lot of interesting opinons on this new branding concept…so, what do you think of it?