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May 2011

32 Brilliant Bloggers Talk About BlogWorld New York 2011

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Today, I have a very special edition of Brilliant Bloggers for you – instead of our normally scheduled list of links, I wanted to collect links to posts from people who attended our inaugural New York event last week. Some of it is good. Some of it is not good. It all matters to us. If you haven’t yet written a post, I hope you will (and link it here). Knowing what you found valuable and where BlogWorld missed the mark helps the conference grow, evolve, and get better! Not everyone agrees, but your voice is important. I would also like to point out that a lot of the value of these posts comes from the comments made by the community at the end as well, so definitely take time to read them!

So, without further ado, here are all the Brilliant Bloggers talking about BlogWorld. If I missed you, please add your link as a comment. We’ll return to regularly scheduled Brilliant Bloggers next week!

Also, this list is alphabetized, not in order of importance or any other kind of order.

Thanks again to all of the Brilliant Bloggers who attended our conference. We’re looking forward to meeting you again (or for the first time) in LA!

Email Marketing: The KISS Rule Applies

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nathalie_lussier

As Nathalie Lussier taught us at her BlogWorld New York 2011 session, the downside to new tech like Twitter and Foursquare and whatnot is that you lose sight of what works. Just because a technology is 50+ years old doesn’t mean you should abandon it if your readers respond well to it.

So what is this ancient technology that you can use to tap into your readers’ wallets? Email! Yes, email really is over 50 years old, and with the right emails, you can brand yourself and make money at the same time.

Nathalie covered a lot of points in her presentation, but what I wanted to focus on today were her tips for writing a great email. It’s all about the KISS rule (Keep It Simple Stupid). I’m going to go over them one by one and give you my own thoughts on these topics.

  • Make emails digestible.

Everyone out there likely gets several emails every day (or maybe even every hour if you’re like me). If you write long, text-heavy emails, they simply won’t get read by most of your subscribers, and some might even unsubscribe. Format your emails and keep them short and simple, reflecting what your readers want of course (some groups like longer emails than others). I personally like to write blog posts that I can link in my emails if I have a lot to say on a topic but don’t want to overwhelm readers.

  • Write for one person.

Obviously, you’re not actually going to write for one person (unless you’re brand new and the only person on your list is your mom). However, you have to make the email as personable as possible, reaching out to your dream reader with your email. This may mean that some readers don’t connect with your emails, but the ones that do will really connect. This actually seems to be a point that many readers drove home this year – be yourself and get 20% of your readers raving about you rather than being generic and having 100% of the people being “meh, he/she is okay” about you.

  • Stick to about 80% content and 20% pitch.

If you pitch too much, your readers will unsubscribe. Unless your readers specifically sign up for a pitch-based email (and really, very few people to that), Nathalie recommends you have 80% of your emails be valuable, free content. This could mean sending eight content-based emails for every two pitch emails or it could mean writing about 20% pitch within every email. I would actually go a step farther and say that you need to do what works for your readers. Some readers don’t like pitches that often. Do what works for you.

  • Make it doable for yourself.

This last tip is a big one, and I completely agree with Nathalie. You have to make your email commitment doable for your own schedule. If you don’t, you’ll struggle to send out the volume of email that you promise, and your readers won’t be as connected with you – they may even unsubscribe, since you aren’t delivering as promised. Make sure you don’t over-commit.

Thanks for speaking at BlogWorld New York 2011, Nathalie. Reaers, you can follow her on Twitter at @NathLussier and check out her various projects at her website.

Are We Hypocrites, Tasteless Smut Peddlers or Just Plain Dumb?

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Play

If you haven’t heard there was quite a reaction to our closing keynote at BlogWorld New York. From some very heartfelt honest posts with valid complaints from people like Marcus Sheridan and Jennifer Fong to the typical peanut gallery who like to use every social media controversy as a way to promote their own agendas.

While Dave and I were watching the closing keynote Thursday we were both cringing. The videos were too long, they weren’t being played at the right times, the band wasn’t able to rehearse with the guests beforehand so they weren’t right on cue, the mics were feeding back when they worked at all. The Rhythm was completely off. What we thought could have been our best closing keynote ever was falling apart before our eyes.  We felt terrible for Chris Brogan who had agreed to host the show and kept trying to get it back on track.

Then we saw the reactions. People weren’t complaining about the production, they were complaining about the content.  Andrew Breitbart was too political for some, Shauna Glenn’s video was demeaning to women in technology said others, How could we allow Sara Benincasa to perform a very adult stand-up routine where she eviscerated literally everyone and everything we had been talking about for the last three days after we had asked Danny Brown and Gini Dietrich to change the original title of their blog post from “Doucheblogs and Spin Doctors” to something else?

After reading some of the posts and comments, we were relieved. This was something we could defend. Dave, Deb, Patti and I were all talking to each other in a series of phone calls and I asked Dave to just record the conversation we were having.

I think this better explains why we chose the format and the guests we did so please listen to that at the bottom of this post.

We do need to apologize to anyone who was offended by the humor and who felt like they were not warned sufficiently ahead of time. We thought we had made this clear in the show directory, in our email newsletter, on our blog and the online schedule but we obviously completely failed.

Please accept my personal apology for that. I promise you it will not happen again. People will know full well going in what to expect.

We would also like to apologize to our panelists and our host Chris Brogan for any negative reactions they may have received because of their participation. We wanted this to be fun for everyone. Dave and I are responsible for this, not anyone else.

That being said even with the complaints we still believe there is a place for this type of content at BlogWorld.

Our industry is made up of millions of communities and content creators and hundreds of thousands of genres. We believe we have a responsibility to represent as diverse a group of these communities and styles of digital content creation as possible.  We owe it to all of you. We owe it to each other.

In his segment Andrew Breitbart told the story of how when Bill Maher said some very offensive things on his old TV show Politically Incorrect it was Shawn Hannity and Rush Limbaugh who came to his defense. Bill Maher wrote a personal letter to Limbaugh to thank him. The men couldn’t be further apart in their world views and throw hammers at each other daily over the airwaves but at the end of the day, they are all part of the same community of content creators.

This is a lesson we in new media can learn from some in the old media.

We would love to hear your feedback as well. How do you suggest we present this type of content in the future?

Are we completely off base?

How to be a Funny Blogger…Even if You aren’t Funny

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“Everyone is funny. Trust me.”

Against my better judgment, I actually do trust Jordan Cooper. I was lucky enough to meet him at BlogWorld 2010 and was stoked to see him on the speaker list for our inaugural BlogWorld New York. His session on how to write funny blog post was one of the first at the conference; here are the main points he covered:

  • You don’t have to be hilarious to be a funny blogger. People expect stand-ups to be funny, so they have to be REALLY good. If no one expects you to be funny, it’s just an added little bonus if there’s a little humor.
  • Humor works so well online because sharing a joke is as rewarding as coming up with the joke yourself. Think about what you share online – I bet many of the links are humor-based.
  • There are two parts to a joke: surprise and context. You want to catch your readers off guard with the punch line, but they have to have working knowledge of the subject matter or they won’t understand why it’s funny.
  • Start by brainstorming all the things that are stereotypically part of your topic. Then spiral out from there – what else is related to those topics? How can you make a comparison?
  • “No matter what you do someone will be offended. If no one’s offended, it’s not funny.” (best quote of the sessions, in my opinion)
  • Every joke has a target (the person or thing you’re making fun of). Don’t make the target a sympathetic character or you’ll look like a jerk. The person has to be “above” the audience.
  • If you want to make a joke about the audience, make it self-deprecating. You’re the one who is the fish out of water, who doesn’t understand.
  • You only have to be a 20% comedian to be successful. There will be lots of people out there who don’t like you, but the 20% of people who do will be crazy fans, buying anything you do and promoting any post you write. If 100% of the people like you, you’re too generic – they won’t hate you, but they won’t like you enough to pass on your stuff or buy something from you.

I realize that a post about a session I took on humor should probably be funny. Better luck next time, I guess. (I’m pretty sure this has more to do with the student than the teacher, by the way. Man, I suck as a testimonial.)

Thanks, Jordan, for a great BlogWorld session. Readers, you can follow Jordan on Twitter @notaproblog, or check out his site at www.notaproblog.com.

How to Market to the “Untouchables”

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One of the BlogWorld presentations I caught was Maggie Fox‘s “Marketing to the Untouchables.” Who are the so-called “untouchables”? They aren’t people who aren’t affected by marketing. They aren’t people who don’t get online. In fact, they are extremely affected by marketing and spend as much time as possible online.

Maybe I shouldn’t say as much time as possible…they spend as much time online as their parents allow.

That’s right – the untouchables are kids – those under 13 who log online and use sites like Webkinz, Lego.com, and Disney’s Club Penguin. There are very strong FTC regulations about how you market to these users, and as Maggie pointed out, the discussion about marketing to children is extremely uncomfortable. Here are some of the key points from her presentation:

  • Kids’ experiences online are like honeycombs. There’s not a lot of social sharing possible, so while they’re online doing cool things, they’re in little walled spaces.
  • This is a long game. Kids have a lot of buying power by influencing their parents, but by building brand loyalty, a business can sell to them 10+ years down the road.
  • They don’t care about things that we care about like taglines, consistency in design, and brand messaging.
  • Everything has to be fun, their friends have to be doing it, and they have to get their parents’ okay.

Maggie also went into details about the three important aspects of marketing to kids:

  • “The Build” – an activity where you build something
  • The Reward – points, prizes, etc. that you get for logging online and participating
  • Integration – some kind of social object that’s taken offline and can be shared with friends in the real world (like a stuffed animal)

Again, this is an uncomfortable topic, but as long as you follow the rules, you can ethically market to kids and build your business.

Thank you, Maggie, for a wonderful presentation! Readers, check out more from Maggie at Social Media Group.

Make Better Videos, Part 2: Keep Your Objectivity… Kill Your Darlings!

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Over the years as a working video professional, I have gotten a lot of sage advice from fellow filmmakers on how to make better videos: “Befriend the person in charge of craft services,” “never date the lead actress,” and my personal favorite, “don’t fall in love with a shot, scene, or line of dialogue unless you’re willing to kill your darlings and leave them on the cutting room floor.” While the first two pieces of advice technically have nothing to do with the final product, the third piece of advice is crucial in maintaining overall objectivity and remaining true to your story and the audience..

“Seeing Around The Edge Of The Frame” – Walter Murch

A lot of time, energy, ego and money goes into making videos and films. Pre-production and production generate an enormous amount of work for a lot of people. Emotions get involved, decisions are hastily made, and the story begins to unfold. Dailies are produced and sent to an editor, who begins to watch them, make notes and construct a rough edit based on the script.

Ideally, there is distance between the production process and the editor, primarily for the purpose of maintaining objectivity. This distance allows the editor to see the story within each shot, and not be clouded by things that happened on set.

In film editor Walter Murch’s book on film editing perspectives, “In The Blink Of An Eye,” he extols the need for an editor to see only what is on the screen. He writes, “The editor, on the other hand, should try to see only what’s on the screen, as the audience will. Only in this way can the images be freed from the context of their creation. By focusing on the screen, the editor will, hopefully, use the moments that should be used, even if they may have been shot under duress, and reject moments that should be rejected, even though they cost a terrible amount of money and pain.”

Murch is known for editing films such as “The English Patient,” “Apocalypse Now,” a re-edit of Orson Welles, “Touch of Evil,” among many other films. “In The Blink Of An Eye” and “Conversations” are two books that every budding and working filmmaker should have in their library as they are jam-packed with nuggets of truth that speak to this idea of storytelling objectivity.

How To Maintain Objectivity In A One-Person Crew

But what about the one-person crew making videos? How can objectivity be maintained when everything is known from start to finish? The answer? Practice!

As a filmmaker, I love making short 5-10 minute documentaries for the purpose of practicing my craft and meeting interesting people. Each video is an attempt to learn how to tell a better story, and in many ways is a lesson in maintaining objectivity. I have learned to let the story breathe and unfold in each stage of creation.

When I get the initial spark of an idea, I think of who the subject will be, the questions I would like to ask them, what kind of B-roll will serve the story, along with technical questions related to production. I may have some shots that I want to try, but I am willing to cut anything that will make the final video weak. From there, I shoot everything that I think that I’ll need. Typically, I shoot roughly 2 to 4 hours of raw video including interviews and B-roll, which I then edit down to the final length of 5-10 minutes.

During the editing process, while I edit to the story that I have constructed through pre-production and production, I also think about issues of pacing and clarity, as well as educational and entertainment value. If one section is dragging, it is often because something that I thought would work, isn’t. By removing a line of dialogue, or even trimming 1-2 seconds, pacing can be improved.

I then think about clarity. Is there a clear message throughout the video? Are the interview clips telling a clear and concise story? Should the B-roll be introduced sooner or later? How long do I hold on the shot of the interview subject talking?

Finally, I think about educational and entertainment value. Did I learn something by watching the final video? Was I entertained? Did other people finish the video with a feeling that they wanted more? Or was there general disappointment in the story told?

Objectivity Is About The Audience

A lot of questions to ask. The truth is that whether you are working in a large crew or by yourself, the final video does not exist in a vacuum. There is an audience that interacts and watches your video, hopefully sharing it with others.

Keeping your audience in mind is the final way to maintain a sense of objectivity. By treating them with respect and telling the story that needs to be told, you will be able to kill your darlings.

After all, you can still release your darlings that were cut on YouTube, or alternatively, as Deleted Scenes on a DVD release.

With that, get out there and practice. Happy filmmaking!

BlogWorld NY 2011 Keynote: Mega LBS or Mega BS

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Location has been hot on the minds of marketer and technologists. Some have even been so bold as to call the ability to know a person’s exact location the holy grail (not really – OK – maybe a piece of the grail). At BlogWorld NY 2011, Mike Schneider, Aaron Strout, Josh Karpf, Tom Aronson, and David Wolf sat down with attendees to talk about this new piece of personal marketing. Mike and Aaron, keynote moderator, started with fie rules for location-based marketing:

  1. Have an established presence. Even if you don’t yet use it, you want to claim your names and make sure you’re ready in case some of today’s minor players  become major players in the future.
  2. Reach out to influencers. You want to get on their radars.
  3. Create a great offer. A great offer from businesses has three components: 1) It’s awesome, 2) it’s easy to use, and 3) there’s a competitive aspect to it.
  4. Test, learn, and optimize.
  5. Make sure your company is ready on the operational level (the staff needs to be trained) and make sure people know – this should be a part of your marketing material.

Here are some of the best quotes from the keynote:

“We are closing the loop, finally.” – David Wolf

“Our core values as a company is not changing in this changing time. We just have to adapt.” – David Wolf

“We need to know now how to understand this before it becomes mass media.” – Josh Karpf

“For us, it’s much more about the engagement.” – Tom Aronson

About the Speakers

Mike Schneider (@SchneiderMike) is vice president, director digital incubator for Allen & Gerritsen, ranked by Advertising Age as one of the Top 50 Independent advertising agencies in the US. He is responsible for building products rooted in ROI that enable richer user experiences while defining “what’s next.” Recently named to Boston Business Journal’s “40 Under 40,” Mike has crafted owned and earned media strategies, built award-winning communities, segmentation strategies, content management, and customer relationship management solutions.

Aaron Strout (@AaronStrout) is the head of location based marketing at WCG, a global agency offering integrated creative, interactive, and marketing communications services to clients in healthcare, consumer products, and technology. In addition to his knowledge of the interactive and social media landscape, Aaron has more than 17 years of online marketing and advertising experience, with a strong backgroun in integrated and online marketing. Aaron is a founding member and former president of BIMA and a member and former board member of MITX. Aaron is also on the advisory board of the prestigious Social Media Club.

Josh Karpf (@jkarpf) is currently a member of the social media team at PepsiCo, where they are working to develop a conversational communications strategy across our brands that involves bringing the outside in, building transparency and connections with consumers.

Tom Aronson (@taronson) is the director of digital marketing for The Walk Disney Company’s Disney Parks.

David Wolf’s team is focused on delivering integrated Amex experiences within 3rd party applications.

#BWEcares at BlogWorld Expo

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The Midwest has been absolutely devastated by tornadoes this week, and BlogWorld attendees, speakers, exhibitors, and friends have been affected. To help support these communities in the coming months as they recover, BlogWorld has teamed up with CauseVox to form #BWEcares. There are three ways you can show that you care too:

1. Donate – Make a tax deductible donation to the US Red Cross for Tornado Victims. Simply head to the #BWEcares page to give.
2. Raise Funds – Set up your own fundraising page and rally your circle of influence, peers, friends and family for Tornado Victims.
3. Share – Help us spread the word through the #BWECares hashtag on Twitter, by writing blog posts and more.

Along with the fact that you’ll be doing something really awesome, the #BWEcares page allows you to post your name as a recent donor, so it’s a great promotional opportunity for your business or blog. (You can donate anonymously as well.)

Thank you so much to everyone who’s already been donating and to Leigh Durst, Rob Wu, and Justin Goldsborough for helping us organize this. I know it means a lot to the bloggers affected.

#BWENY at #BEA11: Views from the Show Floor

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Between the awesome sessions at BlogWorld today, I got a change to check out the Book Expo America show floor. #BEA11 was packed, with tons of author signings, advanced reader copy giveaways, publisher booths, writer sessions, and more. Check out the views from the show floor:

If you’re at #BWENY this year, your BlogWorld pass gets you into the BEA show floor for free – so if you have some free time, check it out!

Building Your Content Bubble: Become a Resource

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One of the first presentations at BlogWorld New York 2011 was Dave Murray’s “Building Your Content Bubble.” There were a lot of valuable take-away tips from Dave’s session, but overall, I think one of the most important points was this: You need to become a resource.

As you start blogging, it makes sense to focus on a very specific core topic, and you can start to expand to include related topics, passionate pieces, and sharing other content. But above all, as you’re planning your posts, make sure that they’re not just hard-selling your product. As Dave put it, there’s a lot of I in content creation, but by turning that into YOU (i.e. reflecting the reader’s wants), you’ll be able to build a blog (and a brand) that resonates with people. Help people. Become they’re go-to resource for your topic.

Think about it this way – if you were a car lover, what would you read: a company’s blog post that was nothing but a press release about new steering wheel covers and a pitch to sell it to you – or a post called “Ten Car Parts You Need – and Might Not Own” with a pitch about your steering wheel covers at the end. Which post would you pass to a fellow car enthusiast? Which post would you tweet? Which post would entice you to leave a comment?

And most importantly: Would you come back?

I thought Dave’s presentation also hit on another key point: the need to stop hiding behind the computer screen, especially for small business bloggers. If someone leaves a great, thought-provoking comment on your blog, it’s great to comment in return, thanking them for their opinions.

But it’s even better to email them and ask for a phone number so you can call to discuss their views or even set up a time to meet face-to-face. BlogWorld proves it – in-person networking is still not only relevant, but necessary. Content creation is communication, and it shouldn’t be a chore. So, talk to your readers and find out how you can help them – and don’t be afraid to pick up the phone.

Thanks to Dave Murray for a great BlogWorld NY 2011 session. Dave works with re:group, an integrated marketing communications company focused on creating and maintaining relevant, powerful brands, which you can follow on Twitter @regroupinc.

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