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2010

Happy New Year’s Eve!

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We at BlogWorld would like to wish all of you a happy and healthy New Year.

Thanks for giving us some of your valuable time, input, ideas, and comments throughout the past year. We have a wealth of items in the works for 2011, so stay tuned for news on upcoming BlogWorld events and new series on our blog (a la Alli’s 12 Days of Blogging). In fact, starting tomorrow I’m launching a “30 Days to a Better Blog” with tips and tricks to get your blog healthy and up to speed.

It’s a perfect New Year’s resolution, so join us on January 1st. (And if you’re itching to get working on your blog today – check out Deb’s BlogWorld’s Top Posts of 2010 for a great launching point.)

See you tomorrow (if you don’t party too hard tonight)!

Image Source: SXC

How to Turn Twitter into a Feed Reader

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I hate feed readers. Always have. Frankly, I just don’t have time to read every single post by every single blogger I like, not even close, so I only log into my feed reader once every day or two. Because I follow so many people, that means that every time I log in, my feed reader shows a billion unread posts. Some days, it looks so daunting to clear ‘em all out, that I just close my browser without reading anything.

I keep TweetDeck running all day though. I thought to myself recently, “Wouldn’t it be great if I could combine Twitter and feeds to make a column just for people’s new blog posts.

I mean, I know a lot  of bloggers out there tweet their links, but they often get lost in the shuffle of conversation. And not everyone has their Twitter account tied to Twitterfeed (or a related service). And some people tweet links to multiple sites, both their own and others, or tweet links from the archives, etc.

It gets confusing. Yet, somehow I don’t think it will work to contact every blogger I like and saying, “Hey, will you create a separate Twitter account JUST for your feed so I can follow that account and put it into a group just for feeds?”

But, duh…I can do this myself. Kind of. With a little hacking (and I use that term losely, because this involves no actual hacking, just ingenuity), you can turn Twitter into a Feed Reader!

STEP ONE: Create a new Twitter account. I’m using @allisonsreading, for example. If you don’t want people to see what you’re reading, set this account to private. If you make it public, I also recommend putting your real Twitter ID in the profile with a message that you won’t be replying/tweeting from this account – that it is purely links. DO NOT follow anyone from this account or you’ll be missing the entire point of setting up this account.

This is seriously how this idea makes me feel. I hate feed readers that much.

STEP TWO: Sign up for Twitterfeed, or sign in if you already have an account.

STEP THREE: Authenticate your new Twitter account with Twitterfeed.

STEP FOUR: Add a new feed by going to a site you like to read, clicking on the RSS button, and copy/pasting that URL into Twitterfeed. For most sites, the blog URL, followed by /feed works too.

STEP FIVE: Click on the advanced options link in Twitterfeed and add the site’s name or blogger’s name to the prefix box. This will make it easier to see who wrote the link that’s being posted. Personally, I also change the settings so it only tweets the title, not the title and description, but you can do whatever you want. You could also put the blogger’s Twitter ID in the prefix or suffix box so it pings the author, but that’s totally up to you.

STEP SIX: Repeat this for all the blogs you’d normally add to your feed reader of choice. Manually doing this is a total bitch. Someone out there who is smarter than me should totally run with this idea and automate the service, as I bet it would make a lot of money if marketed correctly.

STEP SEVEN: Open TweetDeck or whatever you use and add your new Twitter account. Create a new column for “all followers.” Since you aren’t actually following anyone, it will only show your tweets. AND GUESS WHAT? Your tweets are ONLY the feeds you want to read!

Voilà! Your very own feed reader directly within Twitter. I’m currently in the “add all my feeds to Twitterfeed” stage. Seriously, someone should create a service to automate this process and thread it through feedburner (so as to not mess up bloggers’ feed counts).

If there are certain blogs that you love so much you HAVE to read every single post or you like categories, you could easily make more than one extra Twitter account and have multiple columns going on TweetDeck.

There are definitely some downsides to this kind of feed reader. Definitely the manual input is a drag. Beyond that, you’re also likely going to miss posts as they fly by if you add more than a handful of feeds. This is more for someone like me who just wants a non-intimidating way to look at what was recently posted by my favorite bloggers when I have a moment or two to read something.

Fun Possibility: You could add this account to your blog’s sidebar instead of a traditional blogroll! I hate blogrolls because they get outdated to quickly and tend to grow at an alarming rate. This way, you don’t have to keep track of broken links and you’re still promoting the sites that you like to read. It also takes up less real estate on your sidebar and is constantly changing, so people are more likely to quit. I would LOVE to be on someone’s “blogroll” this way instead of being on a traditional blogroll.

Also…income stream possibility? Create an account just for Sponsored Feeds and place the widget on your sidebar (clearly marked as “sponsored” of course). People would pay for their feed to show up on your sidebar this way. This is just a really just a random thought I had – I haven’t looked into it at all to see if this would break any sort of Twitter rules or be a no-no with Google. Look into it before you run with that idea.

Will someone please pay me to just sit around and think of ideas? :-p In all honesty, I’m sure that some smart cookies out there are already doing this, but I haven’t seen anyone talking about it, so I wanted to pass on the idea! Hope it helps some of you – RT this post if it does (feel free to cc: @allison_boyer – I’d love to know who is using this idea!).

BlogWorld’s Top Posts of 2010

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The BlogWorld blog truly came into it’s own in 2010. We always had good content (if I do say so myself) but we’re showing incredible growth now thanks to our new Editor in Chief, Nikki Katz, plus our blogger extraordinaire Alli Boyer and many amazing guest bloggers.

Now, many of you have been reading this blog for years, and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. But there are also so many newcomers to the BlogWorld community, and we’d like to offer you a hearty welcome. In the spirit of the season, I’d like to list this blog’s top posts of 2010 so newcomers can catch up on what they missed and our community vets can re-read some older gems. Enjoy!

BlogWorld ’10

  1. Watch the BlogWorld Keynotes LIVE!
  2. Toonblog: Opening Keynote – Scott Stratten and Unmarketing
  3. What is Your Social Media Conference Attending Personality?
  4. And Now…the BlogWorld 2010 Schedule
  5. Why You Should Come To BlogWorld If You Are A Content Creator
  6. Live Streaming: The How, The Why and The Future
  7. On Getting Women to Speak at BlogWorld
  8. Toonblog: Seven harsh realities of blogging for bucks
  9. BlogWorld Keynotes Announced: It’s Looking Good!’
  10. Creating a Media Kit Before BlogWorld Expo
  11. BlogWorld’s Over, Now What?
  12. Now You Can Attend BlogWorld from the Comfort of Your Own Home!
  13. The Most Important BlogWorld “Tip” You’ll Ever Get
  14. The Faces of BlogWorld Expo 2010
  15. 5 Things Learned While Working at BlogWorld ’10
  16. Scott Stratten at BlogWorld: People Spread Awesome
  17. A Complete Suck-Up’s Guide To Conference Networking
  18. 130 Women Speaking at BlogWorld? Those Are Pretty Good Odds
  19. How a Geek Gets Organized for BlogWorld Expo
  20. BlogWorld Attendees: The Importance of Filling Out Feedback Forms

BlogWorld ’11

  1. Tips for Proposing a Panel for BlogWorld 2011

Twitter

  1. Twitter Chats: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly
  2. Why You’re Not Going to Find Conference Sponsorship on Twitter
  3. 9 Ways to Use Twitter for Your Business
  4. 12 Days of Blogging 2010: 11 Tweeters Tweeting
  5. New Twitter: Features and Functionality
  6. 23 People Who Can Design Your Twitter Background
  7. Networked non-profits: changing the world with Twitter

Facebook

  1. Why Changing Your Profile Picture Means Nothing
  2. Why Changing Your Profile Photo DOES Help
  3. A Look Into the Farmers Insurance Facebook Success
  4. Facebook is Not Your Blog
  5. Facebook’s New Groups Feature: Is Opting In Really the Problem?
  6. Why Facebook May Not Be King Forever
  7. Promote Your Company on Facebook Like a Superstar
  8. New Facebook Profile Page – I Kind of Don’t Like It!
  9. 12 Days of Blogging 2010: 7 Facebook Users Updating

Social Media & Social Networking

  1. Social Networking Fail: Price Chopper Lashes Out about Negative Tweet
  2. Plixi Bringing Collective Photo Event Stream to Blog World
  3. Musicians: How To Rock Up Your Social Media Presence
  4. Introverted Networking: Party Crashing, Group Subversion, Social Survival Skills and TALKING TO GIRLS
  5. Foursquare Check-In Campaigns: Worthwhile for Consumers?
  6. Scott Stratten Doesn’t Know Who You Are
  7. Effectively Interacting With Fans Through Social Media
  8. Is Social Networking Killing Search Engines?
  9. The Ten Most Useful Things I’ve Discovered While Working with Social Media

Monetization

  1. Not Using AdSense? You Could Be Leaving Money on The Table
  2. “Merchandising” – It’s Not Just for Retail Anymore
  3. Want to Make More Money as a Blogger? Step One: Stop Blogging.
  4. Why Big Advertisers Avoid Your Blog … (The Ugly Truth)
  5. Are You Tracking Your Monetization Efforts?
  6. Monetization and the Parenting Blogger

Content

  1. 12 Days of Blogging 2010: 12 Writers Writing
  2. 27 Bloggers Talk about Writing Better Headlines
  3. How To Write a How To For Your Blog
  4. 12 Days of Blogging 2010: 10 Guests a-Posting
  5. Is Your Blog a Drunken Sorority Sister?

Digital Broadcasting

  1. The Halo Moment (Or, How I Learned To Get Over My Video Fears)
  2. Top 10 YouTube Videos of 2010 & Tips For You to Go Viral!
  3. Tips From A First Time Podcaster
  4. Finding Podcast Sponsors: What NOT to Do

Community

  1. BlackBerry & Social Customer Service
  2. Improve Your Blog in One Easy Step
  3. Darren Rowse on building community on your blog

Tools and Technology

  1. WebDevStudios Talks About Rebranding Your Blog & The Business of Website Design
  2. Interview With Media Pass: Adding Subscriptions To Your Blog
  3. 55+ Ways to Bedazzle Your Blog
  4. Top Gadgets & Tools For Blogging While Traveling
  5. More Than Words: Better Blogging with Photos

Business

  1. Transitioning Your Blog From Hobby To Business: When Is It Time To Get Serious?
  2. Five Tired Tactics for Blogger Outreach

What Businesses and Bloggers can Learn from Mayor’s Use of Social Media

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Want to see a great use of social media? Check out Cory Booker, who is the major of Newark, New Jersey. While other cities in the east were crippled by snow this weekend, he took to Twitter for a unique approach to snow response. Using social media, he was able to reach out to the people of the city, sending plows and salt trucks to streets that had been missed, helping to dig out disabled residents and senior citizens, and even delivering diapers to someone in need.

There’s a real lesson here.

The snow? That was something was completely out of Booker’s control. Mistakes in the response were inevitable, as is often the case when businesses and bloggers deal with a problem. But because he listened to residents, not only was he able to correct problems, but he was able to keep almost everyone happy, even in a really crappy situation. What did he do right?

  • He responded instead of just listening or talking.

A lot of businesse owners and bloggers I see on Twitter talk. A lot. They tweet their links. They talk about their lives. They make announcements. A lot have learned to listen too. They gauge reactions to changes they make, and they respond to things their followers tweet. But a very small number actually respond to individuals. Listening benefits you, since you are able to make chances on your blog or with your products and connect with people, but responding means that you’re actually helping people with their problems. In my opinion, you need to talk, listen, and respond.

  • He let people know he was trying.

When there’s a major event going on, no one expects you to be perfect. They do expect you to try. If your audience or customer base is complaining about you on Twitter (or Facebook or whatever) and you are completely silent, it doesn’t matter what you’re doing to remedy the situation. All people remember is that they were angry and being kept in the dark. As a resident of NJ, let’s say you had to wait 24 hours for a snow plow. You’d be mad, right? What if you had to wait 24 hours, but during hour 2 of your wait, the mayor personally responded to your angry tweet and said when they were coming and that they were sorry it was taking so long? I don’t know about you, but I’d be less angry. The original Tweeter, @NEAKO, went on to sing Booker’s praises he responded and eventually showed up to help.

  • He didn’t try to make excuses. He just fixed problems as best he could.

It’s a mistake if someone’s street gets missed, for example. Booker could have gotten defensive at people who were upset. It’s certainly true that mistakes are going to happen and the city was doing the best they could. But instead, he focused on fixing problems, not making excuses. If you mess up, apologize and correct mistakes. Making excuses in that kind of situation just pisses people off.

  • He gave people updates.

Like I said, people don’t like to be kept in the dark. If there’s a situation going on, don’t just respond to those having problems. Remember that for every person who speaks up, there are hundreds of people who are silent, but also unhappy. Give people as many updates as possible. If you’re working on the problem, people need to know that. Otherwise, it looks like you’re not doing anything and don’t care that people are mad.

  • He gave credit where credit is due.

Rather than pointing fingers of blame when things went wrong, he instead focused on thanking people who helped. Reading tweets like that would make me want to grab a shovel and chip in too if I was in Newark!

Thank you, Mayor Booker, for showing us how to use Twitter the right way! Best of luck in continue to deal with the snow!

Overheard on #Blogchat: Domain Ownership (@bworthey)

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Do you participate in #blogchat? Every week, this weekly discussion on Twitter focuses on a specific topic and bloggers everywhere are invited to join in. Because I often have more to say than what will fit in 140 characters, every Sunday night (or Monday morning), I post about some of the most interesting #blogchat tweets. Join the conversation by commenting below.

(Still confused? Read more about #blogchat here.)

This week’s theme: Open Mic! (It was also a day later this week, due to the holidays)

A question I’ve been asked often from new bloggers is this: do I need to purchase my own domain name? This week, one of the #blogchat tweeters wondered the same thing:

bworthey: So do you think one can “make it” with just the freebie blogs or does one need their own domain, etc.?

I’ll ask you one question, which sums up my feelings on this topic before discussing it more. Of all the blogs you read and enjoy, of all the blogs out there make six figures for their owners, of all the blogs you admire – how many of them have a free domain name?

I’ll let you think for a moment.

Personally, I can only think of one that is super successful – Seth Godin’s blog, which is on Typepad. Maybe soe of you can name a few others, but in all honesty, 99.999999%* of successful blogs have their own domain names.

Of course, that also depends on your definition of successful.

Not everyone needs a domain name. I recommend a WordPress.com, Blogger.com, etc. domain name to people who are brand new to blogging, since it gives you an absolutely free way to see if you’re going to stick with it. You can grow an audience on a freebie blog. You can even make some money. It’s a great way to test the waters.

But on the flip side, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • It’s hard to get the respect of other bloggers if you use a free site.

It’s not like other bloggers are trying to be snobby. It just says that you aren’t really serious about blogging as a profession as much as your own domain does. The cost is next to nothing – seriously, I’ve seen hosting deals for like, $3 per month, and domain names cost less than $10 per year. It’s hard for me to believe that you’re serious about earning money with your blog if you can’t invest $45 into a business…for the entire year. That’s $3.75 a month.

  • You get lumped in with “diary bloggers.”

There’s nothing wrong with using your blog as a personal diary. That’s how I got bitten by the blogging bug in the first place, after all, and I know some people who still really enjoy journaling online. That said, if you want to take a more serious approach, it’s hard to be successful with a blog that’s just you talking about your life. Unless your life is crazy for some reason, it doesn’t really work because people don’t find it entertaining unless they know you. But I digress. Diary bloggers, as I’ve taken to calling this group of people, generally use free sites, since they aren’t concerned with building their blog – they just want a place to vent. Whenever I see a free site URL, I immediately think that it is likely this kind of blog. Sometimes I’m surprised with a well-designed, interesting, informative professional blog, but that’s not the first thing that comes to mind. So, you’re starting from behind.

  • Your URL is harder to remember.

It’s just bad branding to have a free-site domain name. People will forget to add that little bit to the end and be confused when looking for your site. Sure, the hope is that they’ll subscribe to your RSS redd or bookmark your homepage or something, but that doesn’t typically happen on someone’s first visit. With your own domain name, the URL is more memorable.

  • You’re bound by TOS.

TOS – the dreaded Terms of Service. Whatever free service you use has something that you have to agree to when you sign up. They can really limit what you do, from the themes you can use to the ability to put ads on your site to the type of content you post. Lack of freedom stinks, especially as you grow. And yes, they can and will shut you down if you don’t obey the rules. I’ve seen it happen.

  • You can’t control downtime.

Every blog has downtime. Every blog. If you own the domain name and pay for hosting, you’re more in control of when that happens. Sometime hosting gets spotty (especially with a $3 plan), but you can do upgrades and such when you traffic numbers are low, and you can also put up a message to let your visitors know when you’ll be back. Early this month, Tumblr went down for several hours – and by several, I mean like 18. In a row. And what if they didn’t come back? Or what if some of your posts were gone when they did? You’re using a free service, so it’s not like you can demand your money back or something.

  • Your own domain name is better for SEO.

I’m not a pro at search engine optimization, but I do know that if I’m searching for my name, AllisonBoyer.com will win over AllisonBoyer.worpress.com. Sure, you can work on building links and using keywords to boost your search engine rating with a freebie blog, but think to yourself – when you search on google, how often does the result you click on happen to be one of these blogs. It’s rare, right? I know it is for me, anyway.

  • You own domain name is more attractive for advertisers, buyers, and partners.

You just don’t seem as legitimate with a free site. Advertisers are less likely to approach you and even less likely to say yes  if you approach them. I think twice before buying a product from a blog that’s hosted on a free site. Other bloggers are less likely to want to JV with you. People are less likely to want guest posts from you or to do guest posts for you.

Bottom line: Can you be successful if your site is on a free host? Sure. But is it likely? I’ll leave you to answer that for yourself.

*That’s an official stat. That I made up.

BlogWorld & Social Media Examiner Present the Blogging Success Summit

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The most trusted names in online and offline conferences have partnered up to present the most important blogging event of 2011. BlogWorld & New Media Expo and Social Media Examiner are proud to present the Blogging Success Summit.

Before we get into discounts and dates, let’s talk about why you want to attend.

Perhaps you’ve wanted to go to a conference such as BlogWorld but it’s difficult for you to travel, or you had a calendar conflict. The Blogging Success Summit will enable you to learn from some of the best in the blogosphere in the comfort of your own home. In fact, you don’t even need to be there on time. If you can’t show up for a live session, you’ll be able to listen to the recordings and view the transcripts at your convenience.

What will you learn?…

  • Learn how to generate new traffic and sales leads through blogging.
  • Learn how to use a blog to grow your company brand.
  • Learn how to cultivate a growing audience for your blog.
  • Learn how to integrate social media with your blog to nurture new conversations.
  • Learn how to strengthen customer relationships with your blog, and create new ones!

Whether you’re representing a business or your own personal brand, you’re sure to benefit.

Go here for all details and a 50%-off discount which is expiring soon.

You’ll even be able to interact with the presenters during the event. Who are these presenters, you ask?

  • Darren Rowse
  • Chris Garrett
  • Jay Baer
  • Mari Smith
  • Denise Wakeman
  • Rich  Brooks
  • Scott Monty
  • Douglas Karr
  • Brian Clark
  • Debbie Weil
  • Michael Stelzner
  • Rick Calvert
  • Social media professionals from SouthWest Air, Cisco, Sony and More.

All in all there will be 23 presenters over 22 days.

Now, for the nitty gritty. The Blogging Success Summit will begin on February 1st and last through the 23rd. If you get in on the early bird price, you’ll receive half-off on your ticket — a savings of $300. You’ll also receive cool perks such as access to the Linked In group, free bonuses and a certificate of achievement.

Interested? Go here for easy online sign-up for Blogging Success Summit and get ready to take your blogging to a whole new level.

And a Partridge in a Pear Tree

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A partridge. A pear tree. These two seemingly random items have become as synonymous with the holidays as Christmas trees and Santa. Well almost. Nothing beats Santa.

I decided to do a little research to find out exactly why these gifts were chosen, since they don’t exactly scream romance. What I’ve found is that there was an old tradition where a  young girl should walk backward around a pear tree three times and then gaze into the branches. There, she would see her true love and future husband. In Europe, partridges commonly sat in fruit trees, so combined with their symbolism of fertility (they apparently breed like rabbits), this is a pretty romantic gift choice after all. A gift like that would go to someone you completely adore.

Of course, with any tradition, there are other possible meanings behind “partridge in a pear tree” – but that’s the one I like best!

Anyway, to me, this is a fitting way to end the 12 Days of Blogging. Today, like many of you, I’m sure, I spent the day celebrating with my family. While I did grow up Christian, for us, the day is not so much religious as it is a day where we celebrate one another. In fact, we have this silly and wonderful Christmas tradition where someone in the family gets a gold star necklace, then the next year they pick who gets the necklace (usually for an accomplishment, such as graduating high school or surviving a heart attack or getting a promotion), and then that persons picks the recipient the next year so on and so on – it just keeps getting passed around the family. Christmas is a day for us to spend time together as a family and be thankful we have one another.

As I was opening gifts and eating waaaaay too many Christmas cookies, my phone kept chirping from Twitter DMs and pinging because I was getting new emails and text messages. I realized something; you all are my family too.

I have met the most amazing, understanding, supportive, friendly, giving people through blogging and social media. Some of you, I’ve only met in real life once or twice – or not at all. But you have become my family.

And isn’t that really what blogging is all about? Sure, we can talk about post writing and SEO and podcasting and everything else I’ve covered in the 12 Days of Blogging…but why do we do what we do? There are certainly easier ways to make money. There are certainly many avenues for getting our voices heard. Why do we choose blogging?

I think for most of us, it is the community. When I look into the branches of the virtual pear tree, I see all of your avatars smiling back at me. Blogging and connecting through new media gives me this awesome family living around the world. This network, this community, this is why I do what I do. Both here and at After Graduation, connecting with readers, one person at a time, has meant the world to me.

To show my appreciation, I’d like to give you a partridge in a pear tree. No, I’m not sending fruit and pheasants your way. This week, I’ll be releasing A Partridge in a Pear Tree: The 12 Days of Blogging 2010 right here on the BlogWorld blog. This will be a complete compilation of the 12 Days of Blogging, from 12 Writers Writing to 2 Ethics Debates. That way, if you missed a day or two or didn’t have time for the series at all, you can download the ebook and read it at your leisure without clicking around to all the links.

A Partridge in a Pear Tree will be completely free with no email sign-up necessary. BlogWorld isn’t paying me to do this, nor will I be accepting donations (some people have actually emailed me to ask about that – y’all are super flattering!!). I just want to make it available to you, if you want it, as a holiday gift with no strings attached.

The ebook will be ready this coming week, before New Years, so check back to grab your copy! If you’re worried about remembering, follow me on Twitter (@allison_boyer) – I’ll be tweeting about it as soon as it is released. You can also subscribe to the BlogWorld RSS feed or newsletter, of course, to receive a reminder!

Thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for reading here at BlogWorld and on After Graduation. Thank you for all the retweets, all the Facebook likes, all the comments. Thank you for coming to BlogWorld Expo and meeting me, the amazing BlogWorld staff, and one another. Thank you for submitting speaker proposals. Thank you for helping mold this industry into something amazing. Thank you.

12 Days of Blogging 2010: 2 Ethics Debates

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In blogging and new media, not everything is black or white. That’s partially because the industry is still brand new so we don’t have the kinks worked out yet…and partially because life is shades of gray, my friends. It always will be. Today, for the 12 Days of Blogging, I wanted to highlight two important ethics conundrums in the blogging and new media world. I’m definitely interested to hear your opinions on both! Like with the rest of this series, I’m featuring two bloggers who have written on these topics as a starting point for talking about these debates.

1. Do Hoaxes and Fear Tactics have a Place in Social Media? by Dave Kramer at The Writer’s Bloc

This first post chronicles the story of an alleged publicity stunt by Good Old Games (GOG), a company that allows you to purchase and play classic video games on your PC. Someone from GOG tweeted about the difficulties in running their type of business, and while this tweet went largely unnoticed, two days later, the store front on the site was gone. When people checked Twitter for an explanation, this was of course one of the last tweets they saw from the company. The company used careful wording in their statements to make it sound like like they were shutting down, and people were really upset (it’s a beloved service for gamers). Turns out, the “business and technical reasons” that shut them down were really them moving the site out of beta for a full launch. They just wanted to generate buzz. From Dave’s post:

GOG.com seems to have generated the buzz it wanted and even earned back some customers’ trust with the addition of two popular classic games and a large sale on “favorites.” Time will tell if the stunt hurts them or served its intended purpose.

But as a social media manager who aims to understand customer needs and perspectives and strives for transparency in communications, I have to wonder if hoaxes and stunts that anger customers are ever a good risk.

I don’t like that they deceived their users (paying users, not even just readers) in order to generate buzz. At the same time…it worked. They reported 20 times their normal traffic when they brought the site back up. So, although they lost some fans, they also made sales.

In addition, some people liked the stunt. A lot of people were upset, but when the stunt was revealed, a lot of people applauded them for doing something unique.

Is it ever okay to deceive your audience? More importantly, is it ok to do it for the sake of sales?

Check out The Writer’s Bloc to read the full story and follow the site on Twitter @TheWritersBloc.

2. My heart grew three sizes and now I have an enlarged heart. WORTH IT by Jenny Lawson at The Bloggess

I’m highlighting this post not because I think there’s anything in it to debate, but because it does bring up a few questions about what could (and does) happen when it comes to blogging and charity. I don’t think there’s any debating that what happened this weekend at The Bloggess was anything less than amazing. She offered to donate some gift cards to the first 20 people who were having a hard time paying for gifts for their kids this year. Over 20 people replied, and she realized that she couldn’t allow those comments to go unanswered…but at the same time, that had the potential to snowball really quickly into a free-for-all.

An amazing thing happened. Strangers began stepping up, offering to help as well. Soon, in a donor-matching frenzy, small gifts of cash, gift cards, and items were being sent all over the world. At final count, 698 strangers stepped up to send money to 450 people in need totaling over $40,000. Forty. Thousand. Dollars. From the post:

No large corporations got involved.  No one only offered to donate if they got something out of it themselves.  With no sponsorships, no ulterior motives and with only a simple need to reach out and help a perfect stranger, 689 everyday, normal people (Jewish, Christians, Atheists, Muslims and more) sent out over $40,000 worth of donations to make sure Christmas came.

You did this.

I am completely overwhelmed by everyone in the blogging community. That was awesome.

So where does the debate part come in?

What Jenny did at her site was amazing, but I’ve seen “charity posts” that are…less than amazing. In fact, I see posts that rub me the wrong way sometimes.

Back before BlogWorld, I had a family emergency that drained my finances, and I couldn’t have made it to Vegas if not for the generosity of some awesome people who contributed to replenish that source of money. Writing that post was humbling. It’s never fun to ask for money for others, let alone for ourselves.

Some bloggers go overboard.

If you constantly have to ask your readership for donations, perhaps you should rethink the way you monotize or your monthly budget. Worse yet, I’ve seen people ask for donations for frivolous things, such as wanting to purchase a new iPad. If your computer crashes and you don’t know how you’ll keep your blog up and running without the support of your community, please ask us for help. If you want to vacation in the Caribbean this winter…how about you do something about it instead of asking for donations? Yes, I will purchase consulting or your ebook to add to your vacation fund – but “donation” implies need, in my mind. Do you really need to fly first class instead of coach?

I talked about this with my roommate a few months ago, and he brought up an interesting point, however. If that blogger’s community is willing to support them, then who am I to say that they shouldn’t ask for donations? I suppose that’s a good argument. Its not as though they’re asking for donations for the needy and then pocketing the cash or pretending to be in need when they really just don’t want to dip into their savings account. If you’re upfront with your readers, is it okay to ask for frivolous things?I don’t know that I have an answer to this debate either.

Let me reiterate again that I don’t think there’s anything at all wrong with what happened at The Bloggess this past week. That’s an example of everything right in the world. I just wonder about the legitimacy when you take need out of the equation and request money for yourself instead.

Oh, and back to the original post I highlighted – check out more from ever-awesome Jenny Lawson at The Bloggess and follow her on Twitter @TheBloggess.

Check out the rest of the 12 Days of Blogging:

12 Writers Writing
11 Tweeters Tweeting
10 Guests a-Posting
9 SEOers Optimizing
8 Affiliates Selling
7 Facebook Users Updating
6 Launchers Launching
5 Golden Rules
4 Podcasting Hosts
3 Ebook Tips
2 Ethics Debates
And a Partridge in a Pear Tree (ebook coming soon!)

Blogs Make Better Dads

Author:

… by Brad Powell

Blogs make me a better Dad. I’m not kidding. Reading and writing about the journey of fatherhood helps me be more thoughtful about the ride. It’s much like a family dinner at the end of a long day of vacation. It’s a time to discover and process what’s important. The entire clan gathered around a table at a greasy spoon in a small town and I hear “I loved the rock candy we got from the Cracker Barrel” and “the bird that pooped on Myers’ head when we stopped on that hill was awesome” and “I want to go swimming at the hotel pool after dinner.” These tiny snippets of our day, the truly memorable ones, would be completely lost on me if we had not stopped to enjoy soggy chicken fried steak.  Rock candy and bird poop dropped with precision on an infant’s head trumps a $28 per ticket train ride through the most beautiful landscape in America? If I’m listening, I realize that it does.

The conversation time awakens my attention to what matters. That is exactly what new media offers me as a parent: a virtual conversation.

I am jolted awake by PERSPECTIVE.

Most morons I know are not bad people they just lack perspective. Myopically positioned, these folks can’t get over themselves or the way they see the world. Please don’t let me be one of these folks. Give me broadband access. Give me interesting people talking about life.

My sweet wife offers the following insight as to how new media has enhanced her life as a parent. She touts three distinct benefits: anonymity, convenience and community. The ability to anonymously (at least initially) seek out information that you might find embarrassing is key: “Thank goodness some one else’s child does that.” Then there’s the ability to interact at times conducive to a busy parent’s schedule:  “2 a.m. is a great time to discuss developmental milestones.” And lastly the greatest benefit is finding a community of like minded individuals that understand the struggles of a working parent of three; “Many of my still single girlfriends just don’t get why I’m too tired to go out syndrome“ syndrome!

Having been in the content creation business for 5 years the opportunity to look at parenting from many different angles has been rewarding. You can check out some of our work at DadLabs. And I’m not just a creator of content; I’m a consumer, too. These three dad-bloggers really make me think.

Jason Avant over at Dadcentric. He is hard nosed, no nonsense and sometimes edgy. When he thinks you are full of it he will tell you. If he does, you probably need to hear it because this dude is honest, sincere and as devoted to fatherhood as any I know.

Craig Heimbuch from Man of the House. Craig is a wonderful writer, funny and wicked smart. He is all of that and willing to talk about the insecurities of fatherhood that keep us all awake at night wondering if we are doing enough as dads.

And CC Chapman head honcho over at  Digital Dads.
C.C. is the nicest guy in the world but yet a total badass.  He is the epitome of a kind and caring father who sacrifices none of his masculinity to be so.

These are just some of the gents who make me ponder how I’m doing as a dad?

Thanks for the perspective guys.

Brad Powell is founder and Chief Operating Officer of DadLabs.com an Internet television network dedicated to all things dad.  He serves as co-host for DadLabs weekly web shows and is an avid parenting blogger and speaker. Brad is co-author of DadLabs Guide To Fatherhood, Pregnancy and Year One and can be heard weekly on the Cast of Dads pod cast on Blog Talk Radio. You can follow him on Twitter @daddybrad.

The Importance of Filling Out Your BlogWorld Survey

Author:

If you attended BlogWorld ’10, you probably received a survey in your in box this week. This survey is asking some general questions about what you thought about the event, your likes and dislikes, and general overall experience.

In the next few weeks, we’re also going to be sending out surveys for individual sessions you attended. Though you might be inclined to ignore the survey, especially during this busy time, I’d like to encourage you to take five minutes to fill out the form. I promise, it won’t take long.

  • The survey tells us what we’re doing right. We want to continue to do stuff right so you’ll continue to come to Blogorld.
  • The survey tells us what we’re doing wrong. We want to know what came off as a negative experience so we can correct it and make BlogWorld ’11 even better.
  • The survey offers a chance for you to share your opinions, thoughts and ideas. We want to tap your brains ans you’re the most creative, resourceful and influential people in the world.

Your feedback is incredibly valuable and we would love to hear from as many attendees as possible. We won’t share or sell any information and if you allow us to contact you for more feedback, all your details will be kept confidential.

BlogWorld is the top social media event because of you. Without you, there would be no us and we take that responsibility seriously. Please fill out this survey and subsequent surveys about speakers and sessions. We’re so grateful for your feedback.

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