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September 2012

The Importance Of Planning When Producing Your Podcast

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One of the many fun things about “making a plan” is that once you have your baseline, it’s very easy to go beyond that and find something magical. But recently, I’ve been using the power of planning to do something else. To make sure my podcast went out when I had no idea what I was going to do.

Some background is needed for this one. Firstly about the podcast, and then why the pre-existing plan was so important because of, well, life.

This was my eighth year of covering the Edinburgh Festival Fringe through a daily audio podcast. The Fringe itself is mind-bogglingly huge (42,000 performances by 2,695 shows, almost 280 stages), and many years ago I wondered if one podcaster could cover enough of the Fringe to make a daily show feel comprehensive.

The clue, of course, is that eight years later I’m still doing the show to critical acclaim. This year I put out 26 episodes, each running over 40 minutes, the majority of them having four guests and a musical number (preferably recorded live) to finish the show. It’s not an easy show to put together, as it all needs to be recorded around Edinburgh, between all the shows, and then of course edited and social media’ed every day to succeed.

And I look forward to it every single year.

Except this year. 2012 has seen a little complication. The month or two that I would normally spend researching and prepping for the August run was taken up with far more important matters at home – #BlameVikkisCancer. For anyone keeping track, Vikki’s operation was a success, but with the Fringe approaching, I was facing a blank sheet of paper.

Here’s where the power of planning came in very useful, because I reached back to 2011 for all the planning documents, notes, and diary schedules from last year’s Edinburgh Fringe Show. While the names were different, and the days were a little bit out of sync, this was something that I could simply trust that would let me deliver.

“Follow the plan, and the show will follow,” was my mantra at the end of July as I organized the interviews, reached out to various PR people, booked in shows to review, and sorted out the cross promotion arrangements with other sites. As I followed my diary and reports from 2011, if it happened last year on Wednesday 27th July, it was done on Wednesday 25th July this year.

Would this make for a show with any new ideas for 2012, that would really push the format boundary out? Probably not. But it would deliver a show, which was vitally important as the show is a co-production with The Stage newspaper and I had made the commitment to them many months ago.

It also matches up with one of my philosophies – every show needs a constant. In the case of the Edinburgh Fringe podcast this is myself, as the host. I’m the one conducting the interviews, reading the news, the voice that people would come back for.

The other constant is the structure of the show. It’s no coincidence that the format of the show follows the late night chat show template pioneered by Johnny Carson. That means the show itself was able to use all the same production notes, jingle beds, and interview grid layout as last year.

Because I had a well thought out plan that I could follow, I was able to build the foundations of the 2012 Edinburgh Fringe Podcast while my brain, frankly, was focused elsewhere. Each morning, when I came to produce that day’s show, there were more than enough interviews and musical numbers to choose from, and I could focus on putting together and presenting some great content.

All because I had a pretty comprehensive plan.

Making a plan is essential, not just for a business or starting up a new website, podcast, or blog, but for every project you do. And not just a few headers, really sit down, think through every element, document it, and make sure it’s clear enough for others to read and understand, yes even yourself in twelve months time!

Was I expecting to use the 2011 plan in 2012? Not particularly, but I’m glad I could.

And the results? Why not listen for yourself.

6 Ways to Add the “Show” to Your “Business”

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Imagination. It is the wonderful result of recorded audio. When you listen to the radio, podcasts, audiobooks or other recorded audio, the imagination is in full motion. Your imagination belongs to you and you alone. You have full control. Your imagination is unlike any other.

Your imagination is used for your sole benefit. The characters and scenes created in your “Theater of the Mind” are exactly how you want them to look. The images are created in your mind in a way that gives you the greatest pleasure. It is all to benefit you.

The wonderful details in a story can stir the imagination in magical ways.

Video typically doesn’t stimulate the imagination the way audio does. When you see a car in a video, you know exactly what it looks like. If you and I both see a car in a video, we would both describe it in very similar ways. There is not much left to interpretation.

If I describe a cherry red 1968 Ford Mustang to you, I couldn’t possibly describe every detail. What does the interior look like? Where is it parked, or was it moving? Is there anybody in it? What kind of tires are on it? Hard top or convertible? There are many details to the story left to your interpretation.

Your imagination creates the car in a way that adds the most to your story and vision. That is the magic of recorded audio. Vivid details take your stories to another level of engagement that video cannot.

There are ways to include recorded production elements within your show that will enhance your listener’s imagination and experience. When you add recorded elements, the imagination of your listener will be further stimulated. You will help create elements within your listener’s “Theater of the Mind.”

Here are a few recorded elements you could easily add to your podcast to spice up the listening experience.

1. Intro/Outro

This is show biz. You produce your show to entertain just as much as inform. Your podcast is just as much “show” as it is “business.” Add some sizzle to your show.

A produced “intro” and “outro” for your podcast is an easy first step. The “intro” opens the show, as in “introduction.” The “outro” closes the show, similar to a conclusion. At a minimum, find a great piece of music that will open and close your show. You can find many sites on the internet that sell music clips for less than a few dollars.

 

2. Interviews

Guest interviews are a great way to add depth to your audio. A second voice on the show will stir the imagination. Listeners will wonder what your guest looks like. The stories told during the interview will create visions in the mind of your listener.

Listeners enjoy eavesdropping on other conversations more than listening to a lecture. By adding interviews to your show, you allow your listener this pleasure. Sure, you could provide the information yourself rather than going through all the work to secure, arrange and conduct the interview. If you are hoping to develop a relationship with your listener using content that will be engaging, go the extra step by including interviews within your podcast.

 

3. Listeners

Adding listener audio to your show is another way to juice up your podcast. When you simply read a listener e-mail, the question typically lacks the passion that would come from the listener. The inflection is a little different than the caller would use. The question is also asked in the same cadence, style and voice that you ask every other question.

When you add listener audio, a second dimension is added to the show. Though the caller isn’t actually there, the second voice almost creates a conversation. Your audience is now listening to a conversation rather than a monologue. The question will also be asked in a way unique to the caller.

Similar to the way interviews stimulate the listener’s imagination, callers can add to the “Theater of the Mind.

You don’t need to include the entire phone call. It is show biz. Use the part of the call that will most add to your show. If the call includes a bunch of details not relevant to the question or the show, feel free to edit those parts out of the call. As long as you are not changing the intention of the caller, or making it sound like they are saying something they didn’t say, editing the call is perfectly acceptable.

 

4. Audio Examples

When you make reference to a piece of audio, play a sample. If you are talking about an interview that Jimmy Johnson gave after a race, play a clip of that interview. Your listeners will be further engaged by the additional voice. Audio examples are just another way to add that additional level of production to your show.

Additional audio will take your listener to another place. An interview clip will transport your listener to the interview location. An old television clip with create memories of seeing the show. A sample of a classic speech may elicit visions of the orator. Use audio to enhance the listening experience.

 

5. Celebrity Endorsements

People like to have their decisions validated. That is why many companies hire celebrities to endorse their products. If Michael Jordan wears Hanes, it should be alright for me to wear Hanes as well. I don’t feel like I’m the only one doing it when I see Michael Jordan doing it.

You can use this concept to benefit your podcast. If you can get a well-known name in your area of expertise to record a quick endorsement for your show, that piece of audio will add an element of credibility to your podcast. Your listeners will feel like they are not alone in liking your show. They will be validated.

 

6. Sound Effects

Sound effects can easily enhance the imagination. You need to be careful that you don’t overuse sound effects. Too many effects can make your show sound amateur. However, a well-placed effect here and there can add to the delight of listening.

Adam Carolla has a producer who is responsible for adding sound effects to the show. If you haven’t spent time with Adam’s podcast, listen to one episode simply for the production elements. His content may not be your cup of tea. However, the production of the show must be admired.

The magic of recorded audio comes from the imagination. When you stir wonderful visions in the “Theater of the Mind” of your listener, you will truly begin to engage your audience. You can then begin to build meaningful relationships with your listeners and keep them coming back again and again. Use these ideas to add a little “show biz” to your podcast today.

Photo Credit: Bigstock

38 Brilliant Bloggers Talk About Media Kits

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Brilliant Bloggers is a bi-weekly series here at NMX where we look at the best posts from around the web all surrounding a specific topic. Every other week, we’ll feature a brilliant blogger, 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: Media Kits

One of the most important sections in NMX’s free ebook, The Ultimate Guide to Blog and Podcast Sponsorship, talks about the importance of having a media kit if you want to work with sponsors in any way. A media kit is a document (or set of documents) that talks about your blog, including audience demographics, traffic and other statistics, ad prices, testimonials, and contact information. It can also be handy for press if you’re ever interviewed. With a media kit, it’s much easier to be taken seriously as a member of the media. Today’s list of links gives you all the advice you need to make a media kit for your own blog!

Brilliant Blogger of the Week

Making a Blogger Media Kit by Katy Widrick

If you want a great overview of how to create a simple media kit for your blog, look no farther than this post from Katy Widrick. She goes over the elements you need in your media kit (and resume) so you can be prepared for any potential sponsor who comes a-knocking. You don’t need a long drawn-out document to give sponsors and press the information they need about your blog. Katy’s own media kit is here (pdf), and she followed up this post with a subsequent post highlighting some awesome media kits sent in by readers, so check that one out as well. You can connect with Katy on Twitter at @kwidrick.

Even More Brilliant Advice:

  1. 4 Must Have Items For Your Blogger Media Kit by Karen Moran (@MagnetSocial and  @Ad_Chickadee)
  2. 15 Things You Should Include in Your Media Kit by Sadie Lankford (@sadie_lankford)
  3. Advice to bloggers: Making a Media Kit by Liss (@frillyhills)
  4. Bigger, Better, Bolder: Build Your Media Kit by Taylor Davies
  5. Bloggers: What’s a Media Kit? by Erika Bragdon (@MusingsSAHM)
  6. Blogging 101: How to Write a Media Kit that Gets Noticed! by Jeannette Fender (@JManMillerBug)
  7. Blogging 101: Media Kits & One Sheets by Amy Bellgardt (@momspark)
  8. Build an Attractive Mom Blog Media Kit by Wendy Piersall (@emom)
  9. Business of Blogging: Building A Media Kit by Ashley
  10. Create A Media Kit to Attract Advertisers To Your Blog by Marko Saric (@markosaric)
  11. The Dirt on Blogging Media Kits by Sommer Poquette (@greenmom)
  12. Five Things To Include In Your Blog’s Media Kit by Anna Viele (@abdpbt)
  13. Know Your Numbers: Putting Together a Media Kit by Christina Gleason (@WELLinTHIShouse)
  14. How to Accept Ads on Your Blog: Create a Media Kit by Jennifer James
  15. How to Build a Media Kit for Your Blog by Randa Derkson (@bewitchinkitch)
  16. How to Create a Beauty Blog Media Kit by Jennifer Mathews (@mybeautybunny)
  17. How to Create a Knock Out Media Kit for Your Blog by Keiko Zoll (@KeikoZoll)
  18. How to Create a Media Kit for Your Blog by Barb Likos (@chaotic_barb)
  19. How to Create a Media Kit for Your Blog by Rebecca (@twobecomefour)
  20. How to Create a Media Kit for Your Blog by Naomi Ellis (@sevencherubs)
  21. How to Create a Media Kit for Your Blog by Stephanie McCratic (@evolvedmommy)
  22. How to Create a Media Kit Using PicMonkey by Cecily Kellogg (@Cecilyk)
  23. How to Create a Travel Blog Media Kit by Ethan Gelber (@thetravelword)
  24. How to Create the Ultimate Online Media Kit by Michael Hyatt (@michaelhyatt)
  25. How to Make a Media Kit for a Blog by Sally Whittle (@swhittle)
  26. How to Monetize Your Blog: Creating a Media Kit by Allison (@Alli_n_Son)
  27. How to Put Together a Media Kit for your Blog by Ursula Herrick (@ursulapr)
  28. How to Write a Media Kit by Lisa Stauber
  29. How to Write a Media Kit for Your Blog by Deborah Cruz (@TruthfulMommy)
  30. Media Kit for Blog: How to Create One for Yours by Alyssa Clarke
  31. Media Kits : How to Create and What to Put In Them by Colleen Shibley (@shibleysmiles)
  32. Tips for Creating a Media Kit for Your Blog by Amy Lynn Andrews
  33. Tips to Make your Media Kit Stand Out! by Lindsay Lee (@blackblondeone)
  34. Want To Monetize Your Blog? Create a Media Kit by Ana Flores (@laflowers)
  35. What is a Media Kit and How Do I Make One? by Amy Roberts (@raising_arrows and @hsblogging)
  36. Your Blog’s Media Kit by Melanie Nelson (@chilihead)

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

Media Kit Examples

Usually, I just have the list of Brilliant Bloggers for you, but this week as a special bonus, I’ve also included some examples of media kits I’ve found from bloggers across various niches. As you can see, media kits vary greatly depending on the style of your blog, and you can offer them as PDFs, publish them as a page on your blog, or even upload them to slideshare.

Next Brilliant Blogger Topic: Adwords

I’d love to include a link to your post in our next installment– 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.

Guest Posting isn’t Dead (…Yet)

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Early this month, I was having a conversation about guest posting with a friend of mine. This is a topic I have personally been examining over the last year, so when he asserted that “guest posting is dead,” I had to voice my opposition.

I do, however, think that guest posting expectations bloggers have are sometimes a bit out of whack. Guest posting isn’t dead any more than blogging itself is dead, but the way some bloggers go about guest posting is certainly putting it on life support.

(If you’re new to guest posting, you might want to check out our five-part series on guest posting, which will help you write better posts and place these posts on great blogs, as well as our beginner’s guide to guest posting.)

Guest Posting the Wrong Way

Guest posting started as a simple theory: if you write a free post for another blogger and his/her readers like it, they’ll come back to your blog via the link at the end of your post and become a member of your community as well.

I can tell you from tons of personal experience that this doesn’t usually happen, at least, not at a rate that makes your hard work worthwhile.

Even if you write a guest post for a well-known, popular blogger, that traffic isn’t going to translate. Readers are fans of certain blogs because they like that specific blogger. You’re someone new, unknown, not to be trusted. A small percentage of people who read your post – even if they like it – will actually click the link in your bio, and an even smaller percentage will actually become long-term readers on your blog.

If you go into guest posting with the expectation that you’re going to get tons of traffic and new readers to your own blog, you’re likely going to be sorely disappointed.

Guest Posting = Branding, Not Immediate Traffic

I still recommend guest posting, however, because if you do it properly, you can end up with tons of new readers. It’s about being strategic.

Guest posting is about branding. You want your name to suddenly start popping up everywhere so people start to recognize it. If you write a one-time guest post on another site, you might get a few curious readers coming to your own blog, but if the same readers start to see your name everywhere, they’re going to start to wonder who you are, and if they like your content, they’re going to end up on your blog sooner or later.

So, think about guest posts in terms of groups of posts going out over the course of a week, not just single posts here or there. Immediate traffic shouldn’t be the goal; you’ll see traffic over time as name recognition builds.

Guest Posting for SEO

Guest posts are also great for SEO purposes. You do have to be careful about putting too much stock into a single type of link-building, since Google is constantly changing, but having your link without a post on a popular blog can help your search engine standings. Even better than linking back to your homepage in the bio is to link to specific posts relevant about the topic within the guest post you write. Don’t overdo it or your host will likely turn down the post, but definitely link to posts on your blog when relevant and helpful to the reader.

Relationship Building with Guest Posts

My favorite reason to guest post is to build relationships with other bloggers. If you offer a well-written, interesting guest post for another blogger, you’re giving them free content that they can’t get anywhere else. It’s a great way to get on someone’s radar. Often, I’ve guest posted for someone and they’ve gone on to become a long-term reader of my blog, even though they had previously never heard of me (or just knew me as one of the bajillon commenters on their site). Relationships with other bloggers in your niche are invaluable.

Managing Expectations

At the end of the day, guest posting is simply about managing your expectations. If you are looking for massive traffic numbers, especially right away, this is not an technique worth your time. If you’re taking a more “slow and steady wins the race” approach to blogging and interested in benefits other than traffic, guest posting is definitely a great blog-building technique to add to your promotional activities.

Interested in getting the most out of a guest post – or really any post you write on any blog? Jon Morrow is coming to NMX Las Vegas this January to present a session on the Anatomy of a 100,000 Visitor Post. You don’t want to miss this one!

5 WordPress Plugins to Highlight Past Content

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If you’ve been blogging for a while, you’ve got a hidden goldmine in your archives. All your past months or years of quality posts are just waiting for you to find a way to feature them—amplifying your influence, strengthening your relationship with readers and building your authority in the process.

Experts agree that promoting past content is a key to growing your blog:

“Having a post archive … is an excellent way to draw in more page views and improves the ability of readers to discover content on your site.” Jake Rocheleau, Six Revisions

“The archives can be helpful for a number of different purposes, including attracting new subscribers, building a newsletter list, selling products, promoting your own services, promoting affiliate products, selling advertising, and more.” Steven Snell, Vandeley Design

So instead of letting old content collect dust, use one of these WordPress plugins designed to highlight past posts!

Part 1: DRAW EYES TO PAST CONTENT

These first three plugins bring readers deeper into your blog when they aren’t already looking for it. Either through related-post links at the bottom of entries or automatic promotion on social media, they put your past posts to work for you.

Plugin #1: Yet Another Related Posts Plugin

What It Is:
One of the most popular WordPress plugins for featuring past content is the Yet Another Related Posts plugin. With this feature, you can show a small list of related content at the bottom of every entry.

Why It’s Great:
“One of the more common practices of bloggers to encourage readers to read multiple pages on their blogs is to to highlight related posts at the end of your article,” says Darren Rowse of ProBlogger. The Yet Another Related Posts plugin automatically promotes a small selection of your past content, choosing posts based on a combination of tags, categories, titles and body content so they relate to the entry they’re posted under.

What’s more, the metric for picking the posts to feature is fully customizable. Through a little tweaking, you can set the plugin to only use certain parts of new posts when looking for relevance, whether just tags or titles or so on.

What People Are Saying:

Plugin #2: LinkWithin

What It Is:
LinkWithin is a blog widget, compatible with not only WordPress, but also Blogger and Typepad, which highlights past posts at the bottom of each entry.

Why It’s Great:
This tool does more than pull up a list of links—it includes a thumbnail photo with each one. Visually oriented and appealing, it draws readers deeper into your archives through attractive graphics at the bottom of your posts.

What People Are Saying:

Plugin #3: Tweet Old Post

What It Is:
The Tweet Old Post plugin auto-publishes Twitter updates, on a regular basis, about your old content.

Why It’s Great:
Once installed and customized, the app is fully automatic, so you can passively promote old content without any further effort. The plugin maximizes traffic Twitter can bring to your blog and is fully tweakable—allowing you to exclude certain categories or choose to only feature some, further heightening its value.

What People Are Saying:

PART 2: MAXIMIZE YOUR ARCHIVES PAGE

Most blogs have automatic archives pages that link to past content by month and year. The only problem? They’re boring. Use one of these plugins to spice up your archives page and build more reader interest.

Plugin #4: Smart Archives Reloaded

What It Is:
Smart Archives Reloaded is a plugin that lists out your archived posts, displaying them in lists by year and month.

Why It’s Great:
It lists out each individual post so that readers can click titles to be taken to any post from months or years ago. Plus, you’re able to take your pick of several different attractive formats.

What People Are Saying:

  • Tech Zoom In: “One great feature in this plugin is, it’s very simple in terms of size and it won’t kill your load time.”
  • Jean Galea at WP Mayor: “It is probably the archive plugin which has the most configuration options, and is thus quite flexible.”
  • The Spinning Donut: “[The plugin] allows your blog reader to click once on the Archive page and immediately see your archives titles only with links to each blog post.  This makes it much easier to scan your archives.”

Plugin #5: Snazzy Archives

What It Is:
Snazzy Archives turns your archives page into a highly customizable space that fits your blog’s style. Past posts display as images on calendars, mapping all your content by time.

Why It’s Great:
This plugin is visually oriented, making your archives image-focused in order to draw readers’ attention. It comes with multiple customization options. You take your pick of several different layouts and effects.

What People Are Saying:

  • Yan Susanto, BloggingTip.net: “For people who want fun and unique archives, you should use Snazzy Archives.”
  • WP Queen: “No one has come close to creating an archive plugin, in my opinion, that is so visually appealing as this one.”

What are your favorite plugins to highlight past content? Do you use any of these? If so, what do you like or dislike about them? Do use a plugin that isn’t listed here? If so, tell us what it is and why you like it!

How One Small Gelato Company is Rocking Social Media [Case Study]

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I first learned about Talenti Gelato a few years ago from a blogger friend who just happened to mention it on her blog. At this point, a few grocery stores were carrying three or four flavors, and when I noticed it at my local Giant, I decided to try a pint.

I became an instant fan, so I decided to follow the company on Twitter and Facebook. Their social media presence has made me even more of a fan of their product, and it’s a staple in my shopping cart, despite the fact that it’s more expensive that most other frozen treats.

Let’s take a look at how Talenti is absolutely rocking social media, and their efforts are resulting in more sales for their company.

Social Media Monitoring

I don’t know what system Talenti is using to monitor their social media efforts, but they rock at it. They aren’t just replying to messages they receive directly (a must for any company). They’re also going above and beyond and seeking out people who are talking about them, even if they are linking to the Talenti Facebook page or @ replying to them on Twitter. Check out this screenshot I recently took of their Twitter account:

Not only are most of their messages @ replies and RTs instead of just broadcasts, but they’re talking to everyone and anyone mentioning their brand. To test my theory, I randomly tweeted about Talenti Gelato without using their hashtag or @ replying to them directly. Within a few hours, they had retweeted my message:

As a fan, it makes me feel special that the company noticed me. Most companies don’t.

A Video Presence

I don’t know why more companies aren’t using video to talk about their products. This is the video Talenti is featuring on their homepage:

Now, I’m not knocking the amount of time that certainly went into this video, but it’s nothing amazingly special that other companies couldn’t do as well. Having your founder get on camera for a quick video like this makes me feel much more connected to the company.

They didn’t stop there, though. If you visit the video page on Talenti’s site, you’ll find lots of other videos that highlight specific products, and on their YouTube channel, they’ve even started to post videos about what to do with old Talenti containers, which definitely fits into their eco-friendly company image.

My favorite video of theirs has to be this creative promo where people use Talenti containers to make music. It’s like a real commercial you would see on TV – but on YouTube!

Fun Interaction with Fans (but always with a goal in mind)

Talenti isn’t some stuffy, stuck-up company, despite selling an artisanal food product. They’re fun and they talk to fans like people, which helps to break down that divide between business and consumer. After all, we’re all more likely to buy from people we think of as friends. Here’s a great examples of one of their Facebook status updates:

More importantly than just pointing out their fun communication style, however, is recognizing that Talenti has a goal with their messages. They rarely go off on tangents or talk about topics unrelated to their product. You do want people to feel connected to the culture of your company, but you should also have a goal behind your communications. Talenti definitely does, even if fans may not be conscious of that push to buy more gelato.

EdgeRank Domination

On Facebook, EdgeRank is king, and Talenti is killing it. Their posts are all about interaction to help get readers as involved as possible. For example:

Check out not only the number of people who commented with captions, but also the huge number of likes and shares they got, simply because the image they used was irresistible. Talenti uses images pretty often, actually, which is important for EdgeRank. They also ask questions, run contests, remind users to hit the like button, and more.

Without interaction from readers, it doesn’t matter what you say or how often you update Facebook; no one will see it. EdgeRank is important, and if your company isn’t writing status updates with it in mind, it’s hard to be successful on Facebook.

All About the Product

What Talenti does best, in my opinion, is produce a quality product. If you go to their Facebook page or search for reviews of their product on blogs and other social media sites, it’s hard to find bad comments. People (myself included) just love what they do.

Your social media efforts are only as good as whatever you’re selling. So before you throw money into your online effects or devote any time to social media, fine-tune the product or service you’re offering. That way, your time online won’t be wasted replying to complaints and dealing with bad press.

Want to learn how to use social media better for your business? Join us at BusinessNext Social in Las Vegas this January – it’s going to be an amazing conference!

Why Bad Bloggers are Sometimes Successful

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It can be hard to see “bad” bloggers become successful.

We follow the rules. We monitor our stats and strategically plan our content calendar and engage our community via social media. We write long, from-the-heart posts that are education, inspirational, and grammatically perfect. We spend thousands of dollars on domain names and themes and plugins and all of the other things the experts recommend.

And then some jerk with a brand new blog comes on the scene and just kills it. Within months, they’re surpassing you in traffic and making a livable income while you’re still struggling to get started.

You know it’s true: there are some really bad bloggers, by your standards, who are extremely successful. It can be infuriating.

It’s Time to Stop Caring

First and foremost, because I talk about the “why” behind bad bloggers, I want to make a very important note: it’s easy to get consumed by jealousy of others’ success, especially when we perceive that success to be unfounded.

The reality? In the vast majority of cases, a “bad” blogger that gains success has absolutely no effect on your blog. There are enough readers to go around for everyone. If you’re producing good content, promoting your work well, and really staying true to what you believe, than someone else’s success or failure shouldn’t matter to you.

Jealousy is a difficult emotion. For me, the best thing to do is acknowledge it and do my best to just let it go, remembering that every moment I spend worrying about someone else is a moment I could be putting energy into my own work.

“Bad” is in the Eye of the Beholder

When I’m feeling frustrated by a “bad” blogger’s success, I try to keep in mind, first and foremost, that beauty is in the eye for the beholder. I call it the Justin Bieber effect.

I have never once met anyone who admitted to liking Justin Bieber. Yet, he wouldn’t be famous if some people out there liked him for some reason.

Similarly, there’s a reason why people like the bloggers you don’t like. Maybe these bloggers are doing something completely different and readers find it an attractive break in the monotony of other blogs in the niche. Maybe these bloggers are extremely charismatic and good at building a community. Maybe people are entertained by their “bad” content. I could go on and on. The point is, when you come across a “bad” blogger who is popular, try to understand the reasons why they’ve achieved this success.

We’re All Just Sheep

Sometimes, “bad” bloggers are popular because no one is brave enough to point out that they stink.

When a blogger’s value is validated in a major way, it’s easy for popularity to snowball – even if that popularity isn’t truly earned. It’s hard to stand out from the crowd and say you don’t like someone or their work when it seems like everyone else in your niche is gushing about how awesome they are.

It’s actually kind of funny how easily people will change their tune if you’re honest about your thoughts. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said to friends “I don’t think so-and-so gives very good advice,” and they’ve replied, “Oh, thank god! I thought I was the only one!” even though they’ve just retweeted that so-called expert not moments before.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in someone’s popularity too. When everyone consider someone to be a true thought leader, we start to lie to ourselves, trying to see what everyone else sees. I’m unashamed to say that I’ve been caught up in the hype of someone’s popularity on several occasions. What’s important is that you reexamine your heroes and role models often, constantly learn new things, and try your very best to live above the influence of others in your niche.

Mark Fidelman Joins New Media Expo

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Mark Fidelman has joined New Media Expo as Conference Director of BusinessNext Social (formerly known as our Social Media Business Summit). Mark is a columnist for Forbes, writing its “Socialized and Mobilized” column and is also the author of the book, SOCIALIZED!. For more than 20 years, he has worked in technology sales and marketing with companies such as A.T. Kearney, EDS, CT Space, Autodesk, and strategic partners Microsoft and IBM. He is internationally-recognized for being at the forefront of subjects such as social and mobile business and mobile social networks.

As most of you know, our conference for business leaders takes place over the same three days as our conference for bloggers, podcasters, and Web TV & video producers. However, the content is geared specifically to help small to large businesses leverage social media communication, technology, and marketing. With Mark on the team, the event will be undergoing some exciting changes. “In addition to educational sessions with actionable take-aways, we’ll be adding new features such as Meet the Pros, where attendees will be able to meet with industry professionals in a small group setting for targeted Q&A sessions. We’ll also be hosting icons and influencers from the new media space and conducting on-stage interviews with them.” Another great thing that will be part of BusinessNext Social is a new form of speed dating where business leaders and brands can connect with online influencers and content creators.

BusinessNext Social will take place at the same time as New Media Expo–in Las Vegas at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino on January 6-8, 2013 (confirmed speaker info below). If you’re a marketing exec, CEO, PR pro, community manager, or simply need to learn how to navigate the social web for business, be sure to register early for the best pricing (current discount pricing valid through this Friday, September 28).

You can connect with Mark on Twitter at @markfidelman.

Confirmed Presenters for BusinessNext Social include:

Matthew Michelsen
Twitter – @MCMichelsen
Website – Backplane

Matthew Michelsen, a serial entrepreneur residing in San Diego, California, is the CEO and Founder of The Backplane, an online platform that allows fans to build all-encompassing e-communities. The Backpane is powered, in part, by one of the largest digital footprints on the web, Lady Gaga’s social media community, (www.littlemonsters.com). Matt is creating a new social web corridor to unite people around interests, affinities, and movements. He has been successful scaling companies in finance, retail, and now media. As a former paratrooper in the United States Army Airborne Division, Matthew’s career began after he received his Bachelors of Science degree from the University of Rhode Island.

 

Tyler Winklevoss
Twitter – @tylerwinklevoss
Website – Winklevoss Capital

Tyler Winklevoss is a Founder of Winklevoss Capital, a company that focuses on making investments in disruptive technology start-ups. Winklevoss began his early career while studying at Harvard University as a co-founder of the social network ConnectU, originally known as Harvard Connection. Along with his twin brother Cameron, Tyler was at the beginning of web 2.0. On top of co-founding ConnectU, Tyler and his brother attended the 2008 Beijing Olympics as rowing partners. His story, now immortalized on the silver screen in The Social Network involves a roller-coaster journey in tech that began in a Harvard dorm room in 2003 and continues today as an angel investor.

 

Cameron Winklevoss
Twitter – @winklevoss
Website – Winklevoss Capital

Cameron Winklevoss is a founder of Winklevoss Capital and Olympic athlete that began his early career while attending Harvard University. While at Harvard, Cameron, his twin brother Tyler, and one other student began the popular networking site, ConnectU, previously known as Harvard Connection. This creation put Cameron at the beginning of Web 2.0. In addition to his involvement with ConnectU, Cameron was also a co-founder and the media site publisher of Guest of a Guest, an online media company that covers high society events, people, and places. His newest endeavor as a Venture Capitalist with Winklevoss Capital focuses on early-stage disruptive start-up companies. Cameron became most famous for his depiction in the film, The Social Network.

 

Scott Abel
Twitter – @scottabel
Website – The Content Wrangler

Scott Abel believes content is a business asset that’s worthy of being managed efficiently and effectively. And, he’s not alone. As the man behind the curtain at The Content Wrangler, an internally-renowned content strategy consulting firm, Scott helps organizations think differently about the way they plan, create, manage, and deliver content. All types of content. To all types of people. In many languages. For pretty much any purpose imaginable.

 

Kare Anderson
Twitter – @kareanderson
Website – Say it Better

Emmy-winning former NBC and Wall Street Journal reporter, now Forbes columnist, Huffington Post blogger and speaker on communicating-to-connect, being frequently-quoted, and making consumer-serving places and events more memorable by storyboarding them. Kare helps organizations stand out and build esprit de corps by creating employee-driven ambassador programs that strengthen stakeholder relationships. She is the author of Moving From Me to We.

 

Jacob Morgan
Twitter - @jacobm
Website – Chess Media Group

Jacob is the principal and co-founder of Chess Media Group, a management consulting and strategic advisory firm on employee, customer, and partner collaboration. Jacob is also the author of The Collaborative Organization (McGraw Hill, July 2012) which is the first comprehensive strategy guide to emergent collaboration in the workplace. The book has become a best-seller and is endorsed by leaders such as the former CIO of the USA, CMO of Dell, CEO of Unisys, CIO of ManpowerGroup, CMO of SAP, Chair of the MIT Sloan Management Review, and dozens of others.

Speakers are being added to the presenter roster regularly, so stay tuned for more information.

What Small Businesses Can Learn from the Hospitality Industry

Author:

The world of social media, blogging and podcasting provides an unprecedented opportunity for brands to provide unique, personal experiences for customers past, present and future. The hospitality industry in particular has been able to take advantage of these opportunities to market in innovative ways.

The definition of hospitality is “the friendly reception and treatment of guests or strangers.” For a sector that is distinctly characterized by providing excellent customer service, the incorporation of social media to marketing and branding strategies is a perfect union.

Aside from day-to-day Twitter and Facebook posts, supplemental initiatives like Foursquare check-in perks, Pinterest promotions, Instagram presences and hotel blogs have allowed businesses to stay connected and build relationships with their consumers like never before. Many in the industry are finding unique means of implementing these tools in manners which are universally applicable to any type of business.

The Rise of Visual Content

Pinterest is extremely suitable for travel marketing since there are so many (independent and collaborative) components people consider when planning a vacation.

While many brands are still sorting out the tracking implications of Pinterest and how best to execute promotions there, a few have already emerged with authentic and captivating administration. Aqua Hotels & Resorts in Hawaii asked fans to “Pin Hawaii” – create a bucket list on Pinterest of their ideal Hawaiian vacation.

The process involved having users share at least one of Aqua’s pins (thereby sharing the brand name, along with the link to their website); using the #PinHawaii hashtag (spreading the word of the contest); and submitting their boards to a sign-up page (allowing for more accurate tracking).

Pin Hawaii was successful because it accomplished many things.

  • It got people fantasizing about a Hawaii vacation.
  • It got people spreading the word voluntarily.
  • It got people exploring the website (or partner sites).
  • It got people thinking outside the box.

These are qualities that any company can embrace with the right project, and a little fine tuning to each’s needs.

The Range of Written Content

Blogging is a great way to educate consumers about your brand, and many hotels do a fantastic job of utilizing this multi-layered platform.

First, more broad blogs on overall categories are a great way to provide an umbrella of information about a particular niche.

Hotel Chatter does this for hotels. Their goal is to cover everything related to hotels and lodging around the world, including hotel deals and reviews, which celebrities are staying where, hotel industry news, tips for booking online, the hotels you should stay away from, the hotels you should book, and more.

The site is supplemented by regularly updated Twitter and Facebook pages, allowing followers (over 120K on Twitter and 12K on Facebook) to be consistently updated with the latest information.

To curate content and keep everything as fresh as possible, Hotel Chatter encourages visitors to become members and submit their own stories. This allows not only for a substantial variety of material, but also for users to have a first-hand experience with the brand.

Second, many individual hotels themselves maintain blogs. Hotel blogs can serve many purposes, from being a forum for guest feedback, to being an online concierge, to boosting search engine optimization. They can also provide inside information about happenings in the area or on site, and really allow each property to showcase their distinct personality.

The Hollywood Hotel sets the bar high. Aligning with the hotel’s overall image, their blog does an excellent job providing visitors inside information. The right sidebar contains a calendar and tag cloud, making it easy for future travelers to search for specific items if they so desire, along with a variety of content – everything from upcoming events, to videos, to photos and general weekend happenings.

One thing that is also worth noting is that the blog itself contains very little actual promotion for the property. While the top contains the regular options presented on the website (accommodations, dining, etc.), the blog itself is not situated as a sales tool or advertising piece, making it more naturally alluring to visitors (who are used to be inundated with advertisements on a regular basis).

This is brilliant because not only does it show support for the community and other businesses, but it also depicts WHY the area is worth visiting, and therefore, why a visit to Hollywood Hotel would be worthwhile. When you can attract business without actually having to hard sell, it’s a win/win for all involved.

The Application of Audible Content

With the fast-paced advancing of technology, it’s vital for hotels to stay ahead of the curve in any and all ways possible. Some have even begun tying in podcasting to the online experience.

The Dearborn Inn, a Marriott hotel in Dearborn, MI, provides a podcast allowing listeners to take a tour of the celebrated hotel, learn about its unique history and the people who influenced it. The host, Alan Osborne, reveals the chronicles of the hotel from his 20 years of knowledge. How cool is this? Rather than sift through photos of the hotel, which all hotel websites provide, users can listen in to a passionate insider and hear intimidate details of the environment.

Small businesses could utilize podcasts in the same way. While we are an extremely visual culture and we are used to reading information online on a regular basis, it’s a refreshing shift to be able to ignite an additional sense and listen to someone’s first-hand experience.

These are just a few of the ways the hospitality industry is thinking outside the box when it comes to new media initiatives. What others have caught your attention?

Photo Credit: Bigstock

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