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July 2011

Why You Shouldn’t Blog About “Some People”

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When writing opinion pieces, it is often impossible to completely express your ideas without talking about what other people have said on the subject. Personally, I love that aspect of blogging – debating issues where people have strong opinions.Unfortunately, whenever you’re covering an issue that elicits emotions in others, a debate can turn into an argument can turn into mud slinging.

Feelings can get hurt in a hurry, and I think we can all agree: no matter how much you love voicing your opinion, the goal is not to hurt other people. That doesn’t mean it never happens.

It’s one of the most stressful parts of blogging, in my opinion. Whether you like someone personally or not, it can be a little scary to disagree. Will the other person see it? Maybe. Will they be hurt? Maybe.

Should you still voice your opinion? Again, maybe.

What I don’t believe you should do, however, is blog about “some people.” I understand why it’s done and I’ve even fallen into the trap myself, but I think that, in the end, blogging about “some people” only hurts you.

“Some people” shouldn’t have to remain in the shadows in your blog posts.

Who are “Some People”?

First, let me go over what I mean by “some people.” When you have a strong opinion that is in direct conflict with another person’s opinion, I believe that it is respectful to actually name that person and link to his/her site (with the exception being to truly heinous opinions like racial slurs, which in my opinion don’t deserve the traffic you’ll give them). Instead, what I see lots of bloggers doing is say, “Some people think…” I’m sure you’ve seen it too. Even though the blogger is talking about a specific person, they won’t name that person. They just generalize.

I’m not saying that you always have to call out other bloggers. For example, in this post, I’m writing about “some people.” Obviously not every blogger out there does what I’m writing about, but I haven’t chosen to name names. Why? I don’t have anyone specific in mind. I’ve seen people do it, and if I search long enough I can probably find some great examples. But off the top of my head? I can’t name a specific blogger.

If you can, please name that blogger. Many of your readers will realize the person you mean anyway…so don’t call them “some people.”

I’ll say this as well – it depends on the point of your post. If you’re mentioning a comment in passing or giving an example of a situation, you don’t always have to name names because that’s not really what your post is about. “Some people” could be fine in those instances, simply because you don’t want to take the focus away from your main argument. What I’m proposing in this post is that you shouldn’t use “some people” if you’re writing a post in opposition to what a specific other person (or few other people) have written or what other people are doing.

Respect

In my opinion, naming names is all about respect. We don’t have to agree to be friends. Heck, we don’t even have to agree to both be right. Two people can have valid but different opinions. When you don’t name me, though, it somehow makes it seem like my idea is not as important as yours.

You don’t have to “call someone out.” In my opinion, disagreeing with someone is not the same. Calling someone out, to me, means that you’re attacking the person and their ideas, often relying on gossip and hurt feelings without any foundation in facts. It’s not a good thing. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with respectfully disagreeing with an opinion someone else posts, though – and I think part of showing respect is linking back to them.

Naming names instead of referring to “some people” is respectful to readers as well. Your readers might know the blogger you’re talking about, but this won’t always be the case. If you don’t give them the opportunity to check out the other side of the debate, you’re not presenting the best argument possible. Your readers have the right to make up their own minds, and the best way you can make sure this happens is by presenting the opposing opinion as well, and not just as you choose to summarize it. If you really do have a strong argument, you should feel confident allowing your readers to see the opposing viewpoint as written by someone just as passionate as you.

Credit Where Credit is Due

The blog posts that you write aren’t always inspired by what other bloggers are posting, but sometimes they are…and when that happens, that blogger deserves a little credit.

You can’t copyright an idea, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give someone a little credit if they gave you the idea for a post of your own. That blogger writing about a concept inspired your to write a rebuttal of sorts. In my opinion, it’s just the right thing to do to link back to that initial blogger, citing their post as the reason you’re writing about the topic.

The Coincidental Mistake

In any niche, coincidences happen pretty regularly. Everyone talks about the same news stories, but beyond that, when you’re covering a topic that is more “evergreen,” you might find yourself posting about the same things as other people on the same day. I’ve been accused of copying ideas before, actually, but it was honestly just a matter of happenstance that we both published posts about the same subject with similar messages with a day or so of one another. I just don’t have time to read every blog every day, so sometimes coincidences happen.

The problem is, if you get into a habit of blogging about “some people” without naming names, people start to think that’s just what you do – you talk about people is a very behind-their-back type of way and present one-sided arguments to your readers without giving any type of credit. Then, when it actually is a case of coincidence, it seems like just another cowardly post on your behalf. On the other hand, if you’ve always posted links and have engaged in professional debate with your peers, most readers will give you the benefit of the doubt, not jumping to conclusions right away even if someone else recently posted on the same subject.

Finding the Confidence to Use Names

Without a doubt, naming names in any niche does require confidence. It is much easier to be more ambiguous, speaking your mind without as much risk that there will be any backlash. The truth of the matter, however, is that if everyone just agrees with you all the time, you probably aren’t being the best blogger you can be. Debate is part of what is so great about working online and connecting to people from all over the world.

Reread your post. If you wouldn’t say it to a person’s face, don’t say it online either. There’s no need to be rude. But don’t shy away from voicing your opinion, even if you agree with some pretty popular bloggers. If you do so in a respectful way, any mature blogger out there will appreciate your feedback and the chance for some friendly debate.

Blog What You Know – And What You Don’t Know

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I came to blogging from a writing background, and one of the tips that has been drilled into my head as a writer since I was very young is “write what you know.” In other words, even if you’re writing fiction, use your real-life interests and experiences in your writing to create stories that are believable.

While blogging might be a very different form of writing, I think this advice still has merit – and the opposite approach can help you grow as a blogger too.

Blogging What You Know

As blogging continues to grow in popularity, many writers, marketers, and others start blogs in the hopes of making some easy money. There’s nothing easy about blogging, though, especially if you choose a niche simple based on how much money you think you can make. It’s a clumsy way of starting a blog because you’re missing a prime element: passion.

“Blogging what you know” goes beyond choosing a niche, though. It’s also something to keep in mind each time you write a post. Lots of other bloggers have talked about how storytelling is an effective form of blogging, and I agree. When you talk about your own life in relation to your niche, it’s easier to connect with readers and write posts that are unique, rather than what everyone else out there is already writing. It’s a way to talk about the same information in a new way.

Some great bloggers have talked about storytelling on your blog; here are some of my favorite posts:

Blogging What You Don’t Know

I definitely recommend “blogging what you know” – but at times, blogging what you don’t know can give your blog that extra little “something” it takes to be really great.

I’m not suggesting that you write blog posts about topics that you know nothing about as though you are an expert. When you’re full of BS, people can tell (usually), and it’s a good way to lose readers if you ever had them in the first place. I’m also not suggesting that you start a blog about a topic when you don’t already have knowledge about that topic. With few exceptions, people want the writer to be an authority of sorts. You don’t necessarily have to be an expert, but if you don’t know anything about training monkeys, don’t start a blog about training monkeys.

What I mean about blogging about what you don’t know is this: speak to people about your shortcomings and about your learning process. Even if you do consider yourself to be an expert in your niche, nobody knows everything. It makes your more real to readers, which makes your other advice stronger.

One of the best examples I can give you, which I’ve mentioned before, is Erica Douglass’ The Failure Manifesto, which is one of the most popular posts on her site. Erica is wildly successful at what she does and, in my opinion, one of the smartest business minds out there, but in The Failure Manifesto, she talks about how some days she doesn’t feel that way. She’s made mistakes and has problems just like the rest of us. I think that post is when I became a true fan of hers.

Of course, you should write about how you’re a failure every other post. You want your readers to have confidence in your abilities and advice! But don’t be afraid to show that you’re human. People want to be able to relate, not feel as though they can’t live up to your perfection.

When it comes to content creation, there’ really no one right or wrong approach. I’d love to hear your thoughts about blogging what you know – and what you don’t know.

Bye, Bye “Google Friends”, It’s Time to Get Your Google News Elsewhere

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If you were one of the few remaining subscribers to Google Friends, today is a sad, sad day for you. Google Friends, the 13-year old newsletter is retiring. Because of lack of numbers and all of the many other places to get your Google news (Twitter, the Google Blog), it was time to hang its hat.

The newsletter was created by CEO Larry Page in 1998 and the first issue said, “Welcome to the google-friends mailing list. We wanted to let you know about some new Google features we have been working on before we announce them on the main web page.” The news was items like finding backlinks of a web page and when the next crawl would be.

Oh how fun it was to read the archives.

Here’s a snippet from the very last Google Friends newsletter:

Obviously a lot has happened since then, including changes in how we  communicate updates to all of you. So this will be our last Google  Friends Newsletter. We started the Official Google Blog in 2004 and  joined Twitter in 2009, and we’ve seen dramatic growth on those  channels. Meanwhile, the number of subscribers to this newsletter has remained flat, so we’ve concluded that this format is no longer the best way for us to get the word out about new Google products and
services.

The letter went on to tell you the best ways to get your Google news, which they recommend The Official Google Blog, Twitter and topical blogs.

The letter ends with “We hope you enjoy whichever channels you choose. You’re always a Google friend to us!”

Were you a subscriber? Did you know Google Friends existed?

President Barack Obama and Staff Use Twitter for #Compromise Campaign

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President Barack Obama Comprise Twitter

The negotiations over raising the U.S. debt ceiling continue, as I am sure you are all well aware of. President Barack Obama and his staff are utilizing the power of Twitter to get a clear message out – we need #Compromise.

Earlier in the day, the President tweeted on his official Twitter page “The time for putting party first is over. If you want to see a bipartisan #compromise, let Congress know. Call. Email. Tweet. —BO”

The next tweet said, “You heard the President. So here’s what we’re doing: throughout the day we’ll post the Twitter handles of GOP lawmakers in each state.”

So now his staff is posting Twitter handles of GOP lawmakers in each state, giving Twitter users the opportunity to voice their opinions. Let’s pray Twitter doesn’t blow up, shall we? When the President asked citizens last week to contact their representatives, the capitol’s websites went down.

Are you participating in this historical Twitter event?

Google Wants You to Give Your Friends an “Email Intervention”

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Gmails email intervention

If you use Google‘s email system Gmail, I am sure you have seen the “Email Intervention” video at the bottom of the screen as you logged on yesterday. I did, but I didn’t have time to check it out. Come to find out, it’s a new campaign by Google designed to “Save your friends from outdated email”.

The site Email Intervention, guides you through the steps of “saving” your friends from using archaic email systems. Just below the “Start the Intervention” Button it reads: “You’ve probably already improved the lives of your friends and family members by helping them switch to Gmail, but what about that one friend who still hasn’t made the switch? It’s time to take a stand and stage an intervention. Don’t worry. We’ll help you out.”

In only three simple steps you can come to the rescue of your friends who are using “those other” email companies and help them make the switch.

Here’s the video. Enjoy.

Did you receive or try to give an email intervention?

Groupon & Foursquare Partner Up for Real-Time Deals

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groupon-logo

The rumors are true. Groupon and Foursquare have been in talks to form a partnership, Mashable has learned. Both U.S. and Canada can expect to start seeing daily deals in the explore tab of the Foursquare application. Chicago is the first city to see the Groupon real-time deals and location-based Groupon Now.

All U.S. and Canada Foursquare users can expect to see the Groupon deals along-side Foursquare roll out this Sunday.

This partnership is beneficial for both companies. Groupon will share an undisclosed amount of revenue with Foursquare, while gaining exposure and broadening their audience reach.

A company spokesperson says “Foursquare’s goal is to help people connect in the real world, discover new places, and save money through Specials and Deals. We’re excited that Groupon’s daily deals and real-time deals will now be included in our Deals platform”.

For those of you who use Foursquare, can you see this partnership adding value to the application?

How Travel Bloggers Can Best Use Facebook & Twitter

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… by Jessica Spiegel

Once upon a time, posting high-quality writing or photos or videos on your travel blog was pretty much the first and only step to blogging. Now, unless it’s just your Aunt Jane who’s reading about your trip, there’s all sorts of social media marketing to think about. Whether Google+ (or any other new site popping up in the next three days) is a long-term threat to existing social media platforms remains to be seen, but for now the biggest players are Facebook and Twitter.

Travel bloggers, like bloggers in all genres, are – for the most part – engaged on both Facebook and Twitter, but in different ways and to different degrees. It’s not a science, and can involve quite a bit of trial-and-error, but here are some helpful hints before you dive into the deep end.

How are travel companies using Facebook and Twitter?

It’s not just travel bloggers who use social media – travel companies are, too. Wendy Perrin of Conde Nast Traveler asked a few travel industry pros how their companies use both Facebook and Twitter, and if you’re familiar with the two platforms then the answers aren’t exactly earth-shattering. Still, it’s interesting to hear that big companies like Virgin America and Travelocity not only understand that the platforms are different but also how to use each one in an effective way.

Both Travelocity and Virgin America acknowledge that while Facebook does better with “long-term engagement,” Twitter is better at handling customer service issues, often in real-time. Another perk about the immediacy of Twitter is the ability to generate sharp (albeit brief) peaks of interest, sometimes through promotions like freebies or travel deals. Because Facebook users tend to be on the site longer, that’s where conversations between users of a particular travel brand occur, alongside conversations with the brand itself. It’s a place where hotel or cruise ship guests – self-declared “fans” of a brand or product – can communicate with each other, strengthening brand loyalty and increasing word-of-mouth referrals.

While travel bloggers can learn a bit from the way big travel companies use social media, it’s impossible to keep up with their pace – jetBlue, for instance, has 17 people on staff just to handle the company’s Twitter account. Seventeen people just for Twitter. Can you even imagine what your travel blog’s Twitter account would look like with 17 handlers?

Travel bloggers can, however, engage in personal real-time conversations with readers on Twitter, work toward long-term “fan” cultivation on Facebook, participate in travel chats on Twitter to expand readership/community, and encourage Facebook fans to chat with each other to generate a sense of community. Take your cue from the travel companies – a big part of your time invested in social media is about being responsive.

Which is more valuable for travel bloggers, Facebook or Twitter?

Let’s assume from the outset that you’re going to be on both Facebook and Twitter. Which one deserves more of your time and energy?

As you can probably guess, there’s not a simple answer here. Most people will need to put a certain amount of time and energy into both Twitter and Facebook, but each blog’s readership will help dictate which venue produces the best results and proves most worthwhile. Not only that, the content you post to each platform also has the potential to determine how successful it is. There’s some evidence that Twitter users are more apt to hit the retweet button rather than click through and read something, whereas Facebook users are more likely to click through and read many more posts than they share. Again, tracking traffic will help you figure out what your audience is responding to most so you can adjust your posts accordingly.

Since you probably don’t have a staff of 17 to deal with your Twitter followers, you’ll need to be judicious about how much time you devote to social media. It’s a good idea to try out a few things and see what works for your audience, but here are a few important things to remember:

  • There’s some overlap between Facebook and Twitter users, but it’s far from 100%. When, for instance, you publish something new on your blog, you’d be crazy not to post a link on both Twitter and Facebook. Yes, some people will get the link twice (more times if they subscribe via email), but they voluntarily signed up to receive those updates.
  • Some duplicate posting is fine (see above), but try not to duplicate everything. It can be annoying to think about keeping your blog, your Twitter stream, and your blog’s Facebook page updated on a regular basis without just auto-posting the same thing to each – but it’s a good idea to keep each venue unique. Otherwise, what reason does your audience have to visit? This can be as simple as sharing interesting/related links via Twitter and Facebook to sites other than your own that you think your readers would also enjoy, or doing giveaways that are Twitter- or Facebook-only.
  • There are tools that can make managing multiple social media platforms easier. Heavy Twitter users are likely already familiar with tools like TweetDeck and HootSuite, but did you know you can also update Facebook pages using those tools, too? I’ll confess that I’m a TweetDeck fan but have (as yet) been unable to set up my TweetDeck desktop account to post to my site’s Facebook page (there’s some sort of bug in there I can’t figure out). From HootSuite, however, I’m able to do it easily, including scheduling updates for later times. Having one tool to keep track of both Twitter and Facebook is a huge time-saver.
  • You can’t just be a megaphone – you have to listen and react, too. Posting your links (and other interesting links) to Twitter and Facebook is great, but the critical part of both of these platforms is the “social” part of social media. It’s a conversation, and in order to generate brand loyalty (where your travel blog is the brand) you need to put in the time conversing with your audience – through comments on your blog, Twitter @-replies, and Facebook comments on your page. If you’re not prepared to do that on one or the other of the social media platforms, you might as well not even be there.

You’ve got to go where the community is.

Back in the days of message boards and forums, community was everywhere – and nowhere. These days, the communities on Facebook and Twitter are huge, and any attempt to create a message board now would seem a little silly. The bottom line is that if you want to be in on the conversation, you have to go where the community is – you can’t expect them all to come to you. And for now, that means being involved to some degree with Facebook and Twitter.

>> What are your experiences using Facebook and Twitter to promote your travel blog?

Jessica Spiegel is a Portland-based travel writer with BootsnAll, the RTW travel experts, for whom she writes the WhyGo Italy travel guide. She also writes frequently about things like business travel and finding cheap airfare, and although she participates on both Facebook and Twitter she’s more of a Twitter fan. You’ll find her on WhyGo Italy’s Facebook page and on Twitter as @italylogue.

Image Source: SXC

Doodle with Doodle.ly and Share It with the World

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Doodle.ly

We take pictures and share them on Twitter and Facebook. We update our statuses or timelines to let every one know what we’re up to. We all love to express ourselves. But what if we want to just doodle and share it with the world? Now you can.

Doodle.ly is a new website that lets you doodle anything your heart desires and then share it on Twitter or Facebook. I shared my doodle on Twitter. I also took a screen capture so I could share it with you. I know. That was nice of me.

And no, my 7 year old didn’t draw this. I am fairly certain he would have done a better job than me.

Doodle.ly is very easy to use and quite a lot of fun. Just head over to the website, choose your favorite writing instrument (pencil, sharpie, ink pen) and doodle. Once you’re done, add a title and click “Publish My Doodle”. You can choose to share it on either Twitter or Facebook.

As of now it’s web based, but I read it’s headed to the iPhone and iPad.

Now, go draw me a picture and share it on Twitter!

Twitter Has Begun Rolling Out Promoted Tweets

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twitter logo

Remember when I asked you if you were ready for “Promoted Tweets” to start appearing in your Twitter timeline? Well, it’s happening. Twitter made the announcement today.

They start off the  blog post by saying the reason we follow a brand, business or organization on Twitter, is so we can be in the know and one of the first to hear a special announcement, get access to content or even a great offer. Promoted tweets is Twitter’s way of making sure that you don’t miss these important tweets, by placing them at the top of your timeline.

They say, “These Promoted Tweets will scroll through the timeline like any other Tweet, and like regular Tweets, they will appear in your timeline just once. Promoted Tweets can also be easily dismissed from your timeline with a single click.”

Twitter will begin rolling out these Promoted Tweets over the course of the next several weeks, with a great group of partners already on board like Best Western, Dell, Gatorade, Groupon, Sephora, Starbucks and charities such as charity: water, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Room to Read, The American Red Cross and Water.org.

They are excited about this next step and are looking forward to your feedback. So – we ask, what is your feedback on Promoted Tweets?

Image: Twitter

26 Brilliant Bloggers Talk About Twitter Chats

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Brilliant Bloggers is a weekly series here at BlogWorld where we look at the best posts from around the web all surrounding a specific topic. Every week, we’ll feature three of the most brilliant bloggers out there, along with a huge list of more resources where you can learn about the topic. You can see more Brilliant Blogger posts or learn how to submit your link for an upcoming edition here.

This Week’s Topic: Twitter Chats

Twitter chats seem to be growing in popularity, with new chats popping up every week and regular chats growing in size. Here are BlogWorld, we run #BWEchat where we feature conference speaker, track leaders, and keynotes as well as lead discussions on conference-related topics. Personally, I love Twitter chats and try to participate in as many as I can. If you’re interested in taking part in a Twitter chat (or Twitter party, as they are sometimes called) or even running your own, check out the brilliant advice below!

Advice from Brilliant Bloggers:

What are Twitter Chats and Why Should You Care? by Angela Atkinson

This post by Angela is a great overview of Twitter chats. She writes about the benefits of attending, some of the disadvantages, and tips for participating. She also lists some great chats that you should consider checking out if you’re new to the idea of Twttier chats. After you’re done checking out the post, you can follow Angela on Twitter @angieatkinson.

4 Steps to Launching a Successful Twitter Chat by Steve Woodruff

If you’re considering running a Twitter chat of your own, this is certainly the post you need. Steve Woodruff co-hosts the wildly successful #LeadershipChat with Lisa Petrilli, and this post tells you exactly why their inaugural chat has over 180 participates. Check out the post, consider participating in his chat every Tuesday at 8 PM EST, and follow Steve on Twtter @swoodruff.

How to be a Twitter Chat Champion by Heidi Cohen

You don’t have to start your own Twitter chat to enjoy participating. Heidi’s post is great for people who are new to Twitter chats and maybe feeling a bit apprehensive about jumping into the conversation. If you’re itching to participate, check out Heidi’s post and then follow her on Twitter @heidicohen.

Even More Brilliant Advice:

Did I miss your post or a post by someone you know about Twitter chats? Unintentional! Help me out by leaving a comment below with the link!

Next Week’s Topic: Sales Letters

I’d love to include a link to your post next week – and if you head to the Brilliant Bloggers Schedule, you can see even more upcoming posts. We all have something to learn from one another, so please don’t be shy! Head to the schedule today to learn how to submit your post so I won’t miss it.

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