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April 2010

5 Ways to Encourage Blog Comments

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You’ve been blogging for months, but no one’s responding. It’s as though all of your great writings are wasted.

Shirley George Frazier of SoloBusinessMarketing.com Years ago, I found myself with the same problem, but readers started responding with blog comments when I tested ideas shared by BlogWorld Expo attendees.

So, before you ditch that blog, follow these five tips to get people talking.

  • Ask a question.

    Do you end posts with a summary statement or a method that encourages reader interaction? Questions get people thinking, and that makes their fingers type a response.

    All of my posts donít end with a question, but most do, and it’s almost guaranteed that someone will share their views or experience. Forming a question in the last sentence is just as easy as writing a statement. Try it in your next post.

  • Tell a story.

    There’s a reason why great stories are passed down through generations. People enjoy putting themselves in the storyteller’s shoes to virtually re-live the experience. This works best when describing a situation that relates to your readers.

    One of my highest-commented posts occurred because of my rant about running a business and sharing a car. The advice poured in. When readers relate to your story, they happily get involved.

  • Offer a prize.

    You’re thinking “this is bribery,” right? Not really. Prizes are linked to contests, and contests are a blog favorite to such a degree that the event can deliver huge notoriety through tweets and other social media postings.

    Ask readers to submit a comment or video about your blog’s topic, and add the prizeís value so that more people participate.

  • Critique another person’s post.

    One way to get people to visit your blog is to comment about a topic featured on someone else’s blog. Most bloggers allow this soft-siphoning technique as long as your feedback relates to the original post and doesn’t resemble a spam comment.

    This is one of the methods I trusted to bring readers to my blog, resulting in more comments and RSS feed subscribers.

  • Expose the truth.

    For years, I’ve encouraged my sister to start a blog about her expertise, which is the sweet-and-gentle craft business. “Everyone’s blog talks about how fun crafts are,” I told her. “Let your readers know what it’s really like to deal with unruly customers, horrible booth neighbors, and overnight security that helps themselves to merchandise.”

    There’s another side to every topic. If you uncover it, your blog will become a hot spot.

Which of these tips will you try right away to get blog comments?

Shirley George Frazier is chief marketer at SoloBusinessMarketing.com and author of Marketing Strategies for the Home-Based Business: Solutions You Can Use Today. Read Shirley’s Solo Business Marketing blog, and follow her on Twitter @ShirleyFrazier or Email info@solobusinessmarketing.com.

Making Money With Twitter Ads

Author:

I remember about two years ago when advertising via your Twitter account became a BIG DEAL. Within a couple day span, several people hooked into Magpie and began incorporating paid tweets into their stream. The result? A huge backlash. People began unfollowing users who incorporated Magpie, while others thought it was a great revenue source.

I admit to trying it out for a day, but then figured it wasn’t worth the possibility of losing my followers to make a couple bucks. Shortly thereafter Ilooked into Twittad, which lets you pimp out your Twitter profile for businesses. I signed up, but never even once got an offer. And I haven’t thought about either of these sites much since, until today – when I got an email for the invite-only program, MyLikes.

So, I headed over to check it out and I also stopped by Magpie to see what they’ve been up to. I was amazed at all the changes they’ve implemented. You can edit the sponsored Tweets, and you now have to disclose every Tweet due to the new FTC regulations! Wow.

Here’s the low down on each one:

MyLikes:

  • Invitation only
  • Become an Influencer
  • Earn money or help your favorite charity by recommending what you like
  • Create Sponsored Likes for advertisers/sponsors that you Like
  • Post on Twitter or your blog
  • Get paid per click

  • Your cost-per-click is set and constantly adjusted based on how influential you are and how relevant your Likes are

Magpie:

  • Enroll and connect with advertisers via Magpie’s matching algorithm

  • The system inserts posts or you can manually tweet
  • You set the frequency of tweets
  • Must include full disclosure, including payout amounts
  • Different compensation models: Pay-per-view, Pay-per-click, Pay-per-lead and Pay-per-sale

Twittad:

  • Sign up and wait for advertisers/sponsors

  • Accept or deny the proposed ad
  • Get paid for the length of time your ad is displayed on your profile

So what do you think? Have you tried out any of these services, or a different one altogether? If so, has it generated income and how have your followers responded?

Nikki Katz is the Managing Editor for the BlogWorld Blog. Feel free to follow her Twitter @nikki_blogworld and @katzni

Empowering Women in Their Public Appearances

Author:

Power and Presence for Women from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

“I’ve always felt speaking is crucial in terms of strengthening relationships and ideas you might have online, offline. BlogWorld has definitely helped bridge that gap, bringing together prominent personalities and creators I might already know or haven’t had the ability to meet.” – Shira Lazar (past BlogWorld Speaker)

I’ve been amazed by how many of my friends and colleagues have thrust themselves into the public eye by writing books, appearing on panels or going full tilt into public speaking. I’ve even detected an uptick (finally!) in the number of women appearing on stage at tech conferences.

I’ve spoken at my fair share of public events, and what we often have in common is an uncertainty of how to engage the audience with command and assurance. That’s especially true of many women, who’ve been taught by the culture to prize “false power archetypes” rather than being true to their own voices, says Bronwyn Saglimbeni, a public presence coach in Silicon Valley.

“As women, we need to come up with our new power archtetypes,” she said at a recent Girls in Tech retreat in Santa Cruz, Calif. “Unfortunately we’ve been fed a steady diet of false power archtetypes — aggression, intimation, or leaning too heavily on our sexuality, or hiding behind our sexuality.”

Saglimbeni offers coaching on speaking, presenting and how to attain “true power.” “It happens when personality aligns with purpose to serve the greater good,” she says. “Where does the purpose of our work life and personal life intersect? During public speaking, what are the elements of our personality that need to be brought forward? Every time we have an opportunity to get up and speak, we have to really cherish that time and nail it.”

Watch, download or embed the video on Vimeo, or Watch the video on YouTube

Common mistakes in public appearances

Body language and posture often an issue for speakers. “Often we’ll hold our hands in front of our bodies, or we hold them behind our backs, or in front of our mouths — and the problem is those are not powerful positions,” she says. “The other thing I see is that people tend to get very serious when they take the stage. … We need to let go a little bit and have fun!”

Women often find themselves perplexed on how to behave in a largely male corporate setting. Says Saglimbeni: “If it’s a very serious board room filled with male executives, you can meet them there. But you can also establish credibility and start injecting a little bit more of yourself. Room reading skills are very important. It helps you tailor your message, know when you’re losing people, and know when you’re got ‘em.”

Her firm Bronwyn Communications works with corporate clients to improve their public speaking and media relations skills. But any Blogworld Expo speaker can pick up a few tips by watching the video at top.

JD Lasica, a blogger since 2001, is founder of Socialmedia.biz, a leading social media consultancy, and Socialbrite.org, social tools for social change. Follow him on Twitter at @jdlasica, or contact him at jd@socialmedia.biz.

5 Essential Smart Phone Apps to Take to BlogWorld

Author:

At the past few conferences I attended I realize that if not for catching up on some work, I could have left the laptop off completely and just lived off my smart phone. I checked in my email and even tended to some obligations.

After the last conference I realized there were some apps I counted on more than others, and they’re “must haves” in my aresenal, especially when attending conferences. I thought I might share them with you here today.

5 Smart Phone Apps to Take to BlogWorld

1. Twitter

My Twitter smartphone client of choice (for my Droid) is Seesmic. However, any app allowing access to Twitter is number one for several reasons:

  • It’s the best way to follow what fellow attendees are doing and view upcoming events via the conference hashtag. (#bwe10 )
  • Twitter DM’s are the best way to keep in touch, especially for our overseas guests who can’t always find free WiFi. I rarely call or text the people I’m meeting up with because it’s quick and easy to catch them on Twitter.
  • Allows non-attendees to see what is going on at sessions, parties, and more.

For me though, Twitter is the best way to keep in touch and make plans with my friends. It’s my absolute, most important app.

2. FourSquare

I was a FourSquare skeptic before attendng SXSW in March. If I didn’t have plans, FourSquare enabled me to see what my friends were doing so I could join them. FourSquare also allows us to find restaurants, clubs, shops and more when we’re in unfamiliar locations.  I’m no longer a skeptic, and while I’m not someone who posts all my FourSquare updates to Facebook and Twitter, I can tell you conference checkins are essential.

3. WordPress to Go

Do I really need to explain this one?

4. Business Card Scanner

There are a variety of apps available allowing each different smart phone to scan business cards. If you’re like me, you come home with a mound of business cards to sort through. Having a scanner app eliminates the big stack o’cards and allows for better organization.

5. Text Plus

Don’t spend an hour trying to organize a dinner party or Tweetup. TextPlus allows you to text up to 20 people at once, saving time – and your sanity. That  it’s free is the gravy on the proverbial potatoes.

Using your smartphone to change the world:

Also, I used my Droid to check in to my flights so I didn’t have to worry about printing a boarding pass, and ditto event tickets. Thanks to bar code scanners, we can eliminate some of that paper. Check it out if you can, it makes life easier for all involved.

What are your favorite apps for conferences? Drop them in the comments and we’ll get a master list together.

Are you part of the conversation? Join us at the BlogWorld Facebook Page.

Deb Ng is a professional blogger, Founder of the Freelance Writing Jobs Network and Conference Director for BlogWorld. Feel free to follow her on Twitter @debng.

Tips for Improving Your Blog’s Google PageRank

Author:

Do you know your blog’s Google PageRank? If not, take a moment to check it out. That little number (between 1 and 10) is very important to the traffic and growth of your blog.

Why? Well Google is one of the most popular Web search engines and the higher your blog’s Google PageRank, the higher you land in the Google search results! Unfortunately there are no defined parameters to improving your ranking because the number is determined by a variety of factors. Google says, “PageRank reflects our view of the importance of web pages by considering more than 500 million variables and 2 billion terms. Pages that we believe are important pages receive a higher PageRank and are more likely to appear at the top of the search results. PageRank also considers the importance of each page that casts a vote, as votes from some pages are considered to have greater value, thus giving the linked page greater value.”

There you have it. The more pages with high PageRanks linking to your site, the better! But there are also other tips for improving your blog’s PageRank. These are best practices for any website to follow, but Google approves of them as well.

  • Make a site with a clear hierarchy and text links. You want every page to be reachable from somewhere on your site. This is easy to do in a blog because you will assign every page one or more categories and tags.

  • Create a useful, information-rich site.
  • Use appropriate keywords. Think about the words that readers would search, and make sure that your Title and first paragraph includes those words/phrases. You may need to go into your blog software and edit your Title tags to pull in the name of the blog AND the title of your post.
  • Crosslink your keywords. If you have an appropriate category, tag, or previous post – crosslink to that within your keywords. This helps SEO and your PageRank.
  • Use text to display your important content, instead of an image. Some blogs like to use header images to add visual appeal, which is fine as long as it isn’t the title of your post! In any case, it’s best to use the ALT tag in your images to increase your use of keywords.
  • Make sure your links and HTML are correct. Google doesn’t like broken links!
  • Keep your linking sparse. It’s good to link out to other sites, but keep it to less than 100.

From what I’ve heard, a good PageRank is 4 or higher. So when you’re looking to obtain inbound links, you’ll want to first check a website or blog to see if they have a rank of at least 4.

Nikki Katz is the Managing Editor for the BlogWorld Blog. Feel free to follow her Twitter @nikki_blogworld and @katzni

Tips for Improving Your Blog’s Google PageRank

Author:

Do you know your blog’s Google PageRank? If not, take a moment to check it out. That little number (between 1 and 10) is very important to the traffic and growth of your blog.

Why? Well Google is one of the most popular Web search engines and the higher your blog’s Google PageRank, the higher you land in the Google search results! Unfortunately there are no defined parameters to improving your ranking because the number is determined by a variety of factors. Google says, “PageRank reflects our view of the importance of web pages by considering more than 500 million variables and 2 billion terms. Pages that we believe are important pages receive a higher PageRank and are more likely to appear at the top of the search results. PageRank also considers the importance of each page that casts a vote, as votes from some pages are considered to have greater value, thus giving the linked page greater value.”

There you have it. The more pages with high PageRanks linking to your site, the better! But there are also other tips for improving your blog’s PageRank. These are best practices for any website to follow, but Google approves of them as well.

  • Make a site with a clear hierarchy and text links. You want every page to be reachable from somewhere on your site. This is easy to do in a blog because you will assign every page one or more categories and tags.

  • Create a useful, information-rich site.
  • Use appropriate keywords. Think about the words that readers would search, and make sure that your Title and first paragraph includes those words/phrases. You may need to go into your blog software and edit your Title tags to pull in the name of the blog AND the title of your post.
  • Crosslink your keywords. If you have an appropriate category, tag, or previous post – crosslink to that within your keywords. This helps SEO and your PageRank.
  • Use text to display your important content, instead of an image. Some blogs like to use header images to add visual appeal, which is fine as long as it isn’t the title of your post! In any case, it’s best to use the ALT tag in your images to increase your use of keywords.
  • Make sure your links and HTML are correct. Google doesn’t like broken links!
  • Keep your linking sparse. It’s good to link out to other sites, but keep it to less than 100.

From what I’ve heard, a good PageRank is 4 or higher. So when you’re looking to obtain inbound links, you’ll want to first check a website or blog to see if they have a rank of at least 4.

Nikki Katz is the Managing Editor for the BlogWorld Blog. Feel free to follow her Twitter @nikki_blogworld and @katzni

What is Your Definition of Blog?

Author:

My daughter had to do an oral share report for her first grade class this week and the topic was “Your Parents’ Occupations.” I helped her write her report but it wasn’t an easy task. How do you explain what a blogger does? Or even what a blog is?

This isn’t the first time I’ve had to come with an explanation. I tell someone I’m a blogger and she goes cross-eyed. “You mean you write your diary online?

Um. No.

But that’s what the definition of blog is, right? Dictionary.com says a blog is “an online diary; a personal chronological log of thoughts published on a Web page; also called Weblog, Web log” – while Princeton defines blog as “a shared on-line journal where people can post diary entries about their personal experiences and hobbies”.

To me this screams oudated. Sure, blogs started out that way. My first blog is my personal one where I wrote about my writing and family. But then I became an entertainment blogger, and I certainly wasn’t talking about my life or writing a journal about my latest movie details! The only time I talked about myself was when I tweeted about being sardine-packed onto the press side of a red carpet in Los Angeles when it was 90 degrees out. Fun stuff, but I digress.

So what is MY definition of a blog? How about this? A blog is a portion (or all) of a website, written by one or more people who update regularly and write on a defined topic. And so, by nature, a blogger is someone who writes for a blog.

Let’s break up my definition into parts:

  • Portion (or all) of a website: I say this because sometimes the main URL of a site IS the blog. Sometimes it’s not. It depends on the person/product/company and their goal.

  • Written by one or more people: Some blogs are personal in nature and written by a single person. Some blogs are written by a wealth of contributors.
  • Updated regularly: I think this is the key part of the definition of a blog. Most blogs are updated on a regular basis. And the posts are almost always in chronological order. There may be a top post that is forward dated to always remain at the forefront, but otherwise blogs go backwards in time.
  • Defined topic: This may be wide or narrow in scope, but the topic should be defined (and articulated somewhere on the blog).

That’s my definition (although it didn’t make it any more clear to my first grader). What’s yours?

Nikki Katz is the Managing Editor for the BlogWorld Blog. Feel free to follow her Twitter @nikki_blogworld and @katzni

Image Credit: SXC

The Tricks of Twitter Trending

Author:

I’ve always been intrigued by the Twitter trending topics, although I rarely participate in them. I’m not really in the demographic for #bieberfan but I do like a good #FF!

After participating in a recent online Twitter chat, with what seemed like a ton of users tweeting at once, I wondered exactly how many tweets is does it take to get to the center of a Twitter trend?

It’s not as easy as you’d think. You can’t just post a hashtag repeatedly in your own tweets every second and hope that it trends. The trend depends on a vast number of people tweeting at the same time – not just you and your friends.

Buzzgain did some analysis about the number of users and tweets during various times and came to this conclusion (times in PST):

  • From 12:00 am – 6:00 am you need approximately 1200 tweets and about 500 users to be trending.

  • From 6:00 am to 12:00 pm you need approximately 1700 tweets and about 733 users to be trending.
  • From 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm you need approximately 1500 tweets and about 812 users to be trending.
  • From 6:00 pm to 12:00 am you need approximately 1900 tweets and about 922 users to be trending.

What items tend to trend faster?

  • Topics pushed by users with a ton of followers. This makes the topic easier to distribute.

  • Topics based on breaking news. This doesn’t have to be a national disaster – it could be a new technology release or a celebrity break up.
  • Topics that are expected. #musicmonday, #followfriday, etc.

Did you know that BlogWorld helped set a Twitter record and trending topic?

During the BlogWorld & New Media Expo 2009, there was an effort to tweet #BeatCancer as a fundraiser for four cancer-related organizations — Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, Bright Pink, Spirit Jump, and Stand Up for Cancer.

The effort took off quickly, showing up as the #1 trending topic. During the 24-hour period from October 16 to October 17, the phrase was mentioned more than 209,000 times (verified and documented by Guinness!) And over $70,000 was raised.

Want to see past trends? Visit trendistic for a cool chart view!

Nikki Katz is the Managing Editor for the BlogWorld Blog. Feel free to follow her Twitter @nikki_blogworld and @katzni

Not a Mommy (Blogger That Is)

Author:

I’m not a mommy (blogger that is ’cause I do actually have kids).

Guest Blogger: Amy Phillips

I have accepted that labels are unavoidable. I accept that they are a part of life, that they are how people file you in their head. Some of the labels that are stuck to me include: Mom, daughter, sister, divorcee, geek, nerd, Ruler of All, and badass. Ok, the last two are wishful thinking, but you get the idea. But there is one label that vehemently, absolutely, reject: MommyBlogger.

Now, don’t worry. This isn’t an article to bash MommyBloggers, there are sites out there totally devoted to doing that and I think that’s just plain mean and uncalled for. No, this about women getting a pat on the head and stuck in a category that (for some) can feel like their contributions are cheapened. When I started my blog a couple of months ago, I was struck by how supportive and awesome other online (women) bloggers were. The other men bloggers out there could learn a lesson from this. But I started getting the feeling that it was assumed that because I was a mother and blogger- I was instantly a MommyBlogger. I disavowed everyone of that notion through a couple of controversial posts, posts that probably cost me quite a few followers, but I stand by every word.

Why does this label bother me?

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Meet BlogWorld10's Music Man

Author:

What’s good, everyone? My name’s Hadji Williams. I’m a long-time blogger and social media junkie; I’ve been online since Netscape 2.0 was fresh and 3.5-inch floppies were cool. Additionally, I’m a veteran of the advertising, marketing worlds. (but don’t hold that against me.)

And last but not least, I’m the Arts/Entertainment Track Coordinator for the 2010 BlogWorld & New Media Expo. In that capacity, I’m working with Rick Calvert, Dave Cynkin, Patty Hoskin and the BWE crew to bring some really cool music artists, forward-looking label execs and other entertainment insiders to come to #BWE10 and not only discuss the nexus between social media and the music/entertainment industries but also put on some great performances.

That’s right y’all. If all goes according to plan—and so far, so good—there will be music plus more than a little mayhem at Mandalay Bay this October.

Now, I don’t want to give too much away at this point; mainly because I’m a tease. Secondly, because we need to finalize a few things yet. But I can disclose the following for now:

(1) The Arts/Entertainment Track will be 4-6 panels packed with people who are actually doing things in this space, not talking heads and wannabe gurus spewing buzzwords and pointing out the obvious.

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