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Creative Blogging with a Persona: An Artist, Journalist, and Reviewer Walk into a Blog…

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We’re all guilty of going on auto-pilot with our blog once in a while: maybe we missed our deadline and need to whip up something quick, or we have to churn out a piece on a hot topic everyone else has done already, or worse yet, our eyes glaze over at the same old format on a blank screen. Such is the life of a blogger and time-crunched small business owner.

But what if you had someone else writing your posts occasionally? No, I’m not talking about a guest blogger, ghostwriter, or God forbid copying and pasting content from elsewhere…It’s You. Take on a new persona and “profession” for your next post. Who knows? By being creative, you could end up enjoying it, learn a new skill, and best of all, attract new readers and shares.

The Amazing Artiste

We hear over and over that visual web content—be it graphics, video, or presentations, is much more likely to be looked at, engaged with, and shared than its less sexy but equally important counterpart, text. Our brains are wired to pretty, shiny things. It’s no wonder Pinterest and Instagram have grown by leaps and bounds.

Graphic content also helps us digest information quicker: In fact, 40% of people will respond better to visual information than to plain text. And with all the choices on the Internet, our attention spans have shrunken to ADD proportions, so we are instantly attracted to snackable web moments. In other words, serve up imagery to tell your story quickly instead of relying on numerous keystrokes.

When it comes to visual storytelling, pretty much anything you can say with words will work with images. Find that challenging? For starters, you can keep it simple with brief commentary on an animated gif, a baffling series of Tweets from a major brand, one stark photo, or slideshow.

If you’re feeling more ambitious, go the data visualization route and combine data and graphic elements that blend well as an information shortcut. Create graphical representations of content with Infographics, the fastest growing way to display facts. There are many free resources to help. Or consider Mind Maps to explain big and small concepts alike.

More interested in videos to show your artisitc prowess? Photobucket, Vine, and Instagram Video are a few that can help. Or grab an existing video and write a few choice sentences about it. Some examples include: How a TED Talk inspires your work or makes a point about your industry, or an educational video for your readers. The only barrier is your  imagination. Either way you’ll be pulling double-duty delivering pre-packaged content that is already validated, while reinforcing your brand.

Reminder: Before you post content on your blog that is not yours, always check content usage guidelines.

The Rugged Reporter

Add instant color and flavor with interviews and quotes to your post by playing the enterprising journalist. Whether it’s a tech celebrity, industry luminary, or the chef at the hottest restaurant in town, get the words directly from the source to breathe new life into your blog. Also, the Q&A format of the interview is easily digestible and ready-made for readers to scan.

When interviewing someone “famous” or better known than yourself (which happens often), it can be intimidating. Believe it or not, though, by virtue of the fact that you have a blog, you’ll be granted instant credibility (even more so if you’re a published writer).

Truth be told, most people love to talk about themselves no matter who they are, and will happily promote their latest book, or whatever is most important to them at that time. For instance, in my post about bogus cosmetics claims, I located, researched, and interviewed the lead FDA attorney on a related and well-known case as an expert without any red tape (impressive for the government!). Or do a straight up interview. Posting a conversation with web-famous people also helps to build your SEO and traffic.

The Rogue Reviewer

Or take the opposite approach: Give your opinion, no holds barred. But let me clear about “reviewing.” We’re not talking about pay-for-play: I’m not advocating sponsored and/or paid reviews (unless they are clearly disclosed as such), but rather  expressing your opinion, and sharing your knowledge.

Do your homework before you try this style, and research the type of review you are doing. For instance, if you are doing a book review, take a look at popular review sites, or, if you’re doing a roundup on the latest phone apps, note the style and soak up some inspiration for what works (and what doesn’t) in that circle. Your readers will appreciate that you are doing the work for them, from product reviews to industry trends.

Be Everyone You Want to Be, Anytime

If you’re getting bored with your blog, chances are so is your audience. Why not shake things up for yourself and your readers?

Make an NMX Infographic

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At NMX this month, many conference go-ers filled out fun infographics about their NMX experience. The fine folks at Lemon.ly created these for attendees to color in at its booth and at our infographics session led by John Meyer. We loved this idea and thought we’d share photos of some of the finished products.

Want to create your own NMX infographic as you reflect on your conference experience? Just download the updated infographic below, fill it in, and send it to our Community Manager Deb Ng at deb@nmxevents.com. She’ll share them on our Facebook page!

The “Art” of Storytelling

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Most don’t have it; a fortunate few do. Only a handful of very talented “naturals” have the ability to engage an audience through their brilliantly-crafted stories. Not only are they able to use their charisma and emotional intelligence to captivate and charm, they’re able to ignite and convince their audience to take action through the use of their story. These are the people you love being around. They enthuse, entertain and inspire!

The practice of using stories to motivate is an extremely effective leadership tool and has been used throughout history. Think of some of the great biblical leaders and how they leveraged parables and narratives to inspire their audience. Look at how George Washington, Henry Ford and Martin Luther King and many other thought leaders incorporated stories into their speeches.

Stories in business

“Today, I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal, just three stories.” – Steve Jobs

The leaders that employees follow and admire most are those that tell meaningful stories rather than reciting boring and useless statistics. Consider the now famous speech that Steve Jobs gave at Stanford graduation. Within the first 30 seconds of his address, he says “Today, I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal, just three stories.” He immediately engaged his audience and then goes on to deliver one of the most inspiring commencement speeches in history through the effective use of his stories.

In Telling Tales, Stephen Denning writes, “Analysis might excite the mind, but it hardly offers a route to the heart. And the heart is where we must go if we want to not only motivate people to take action, but do so with energy and enthusiasm. Even the most logical arguments or well-crafted PowerPoint slide deck won’t do the trick. Story telling can translate those dry and abstract numbers into compelling pictures of leaders’ goals.”

The heart is where we must go in marketing! This is especially true in content marketing. However, the challenge of reaching the heart through text heavy content lies in the lack of emotional hooks a writer can place as they convey their message. Without being able to see, gauge and interpret the audience, only the most talented writers capture their reader’s attention. In addition, readers today are inundated with information and if an emotional hook isn’t set within the first few seconds, the reader is gone.

A better way to tell your story

This is where the data visualization can more effectively tell your story and “translate those dry and abstract numbers into compelling pictures.” With the right infographic, a writer is still able to tell their story, but the likelihood of setting an emotional hook and catering to the reader’s attention span increases significantly.

Imagine that it’s Monday morning and you’ve just jumped online to read about the release of Apple’s iPhone 5. As usual, you’re pressed for time and are looking for some quick content before you make your buying decision. You come across two “stories” that are essentially the same thing; a breakdown of what it will cost to own the new device. The only difference is one is an infographic and the other is an article. Which are you most likely to spend your time on?

If you’re like majority, you’ll favor the graphic over the written. The reasons:

  • You’re visual
  • You’re short on time
  • You’re accustomed to “dashboards” and want the story quick and concise

Avalaunch Media‘s Favorite Stories Using Infographics

Why Utah Has the Greatest Snow on Earth - SkiUtah.com The True Cost of an iPhone 5 - Mashable.com The Life of a Salvaged Tree From Forest to Tree - NationalGeographic.com History of Marketing Channels - AvalaunchMedia.com History of Mickey Mouse - Goin2Travel.com

“The Merger”

This is where the two worlds collide. You put the art in the story and your audience engages on two levels; with the story AND the visualization. For this reason, infographics have become a quintessential marketing tool that:

  • Increase brand awareness, authority, trust and credibility
  • Increase social proof and signals that are important for optimization
  • Build critical links from legitimate sites that boosts SEO
  • Generate new forms of traffic flow to your domain

An infographic that’s well designed and promoted through the right channels can tell a story in such a compelling way that it’ll inspire your audience to take action. Stories told visually should be considered a key component of any corporate communication and marketing strategy.

2012 Social Sharing Trends [Infographic]

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With each passing year, we share more, invest in new tech toys, and the way we get the news of the day evolves. Information is everywhere and all of us are a part of shaping the social sphere around us. As we get ready to wrap up 2012, what will the year be known for? Who was the most talked about athlete this year? What country had the biggest growth in social? What was the most shared event? See what AddThis has to say about the trends from 2012 in this infographic.

 

 

The Top 20 Most Social CMOs in the Fortune 100

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This fall, Mark Fidelman, our Conference Director of BusinessNext Social, set out to find the most socially active group of CMOs in the Fortune 100.  Surprisingly, the group is overall not on the early adopter end of the social media spectrum. Only one in five CMOs or top-level marketing / communications executives from the Fortune 100 list have an active public presence on social networks. In our experience, having a large digital network is a significant advantage for anyone in positions where communication and influence are key ingredients to success.

The study revealed that the following individuals have social influence which distinguishes them from their peers. Mark said, “These visionaries have demonstrated their ability to sustain an adaptive social business by implementing new strategies, embracing cutting-edge mobile and social technologies and developing engaging content.”

20121109-BusinessNext-Speakers

Note: Only the highest ranking marketing executives were considered in each of the companies.

Methodology

While CMOs may apply different methodologies for engaging digital communities on an array of social platforms, these few rank highly on a formula pioneered by Mark Fidelman that considers metrics such as Twitter followers, retweet frequency, social engagement frequency, social mentions, KRED scores, and Klout scores. Weights are assigned to each factor to determine the final rankings of each CMO’s social impact.

Why Is This Important?

There is obviously a major discrepancy between the low social rankings of most CMOs and the significant focus placed on the impact of social media in business and the evolving role that marketers are taking in social media activities. A recent CMOSurvey.org study predicts that social media spending as a percent of rising marketing budgets is expected to increase from 7.6 to 18.8 percent over the next 5 years, while Gartner Research predicts the CMO will spend more on IT than the CIO by 2017.

Ironically, these 100 CMOs are charged with leading social initiatives for the world’s largest enterprises, yet our analysis shows that the majority have relatively little experience building influencer communities. “That is a major stumbling block,” says Mark.  “The consensus among the people who top our list is that CMOs need first-hand experience building online communities to connect with customers and foster loyalty, trust and engagements.”

“An adaptive business is the only business that will survive the new challenges ahead, challenges caused by a massive shift of power from corporations and traditional media to customers and influencers. Companies that don’t make the transition to adaptive, social business will face overwhelming challenges that they are ill-prepared to overcome. Too often, we’ve witnessed organizations fail to understand and act on these shifts, and surrender to their competitors and creditors.

 We want to change that. 

 At BusinessNext Social, we’re giving business leaders the opportunity to learn how the most successful companies remain relevant, sustainable and profitable. What’s the secret? Combining new social and mobile technologies with smart content. When produced in the right culture, this creates a powerful growth machine that can automatically adjust to changes in market conditions.” 

– Mark Fidelman, Conference Director, BusinessNext Social

If Mark’s vision for social business sounds too good to be true, then we have to recognize that the transition to social business is incredibly difficult.  And, effective change needs to start at the top.  Only by “walking the talk’’ can CMOs and other C-level executives demonstrate credibility and set the example for fellow workers.  Clearly, some CMOs already “get it.” Dozens will be speaking at the upcoming conference and hundreds more will join. But what about Fortune 100 executives leading some of the most prominent brands that touch our everyday lives? How many of them are leveraging the power of social as a best business practice?

What do you think? Does the future belong to those who know how to grow and influence their own digital networks?  Are CMOs and other C-level executives equipped to drive social inside the organization and out?

Solving Crime with Social Media [Infographic]

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Planning on organizing a big heist today? Well, be sure not to announce it on Twitter or Facebook! Ok, sure, that sounds silly. But, you’d be amazed at how effectively law enforcement is able to use social media to gather evidence, establish probable cause, or identify suspects. This nifty infographic from Backgroundcheck.org sheds some light on how the law is tapping into the social web.

Solving Crime with Social Media
Compiled By: BackgroundCheck.org

A Glimpse of the Future Internet [Infographic]

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Earlier this week, I wrote about choosing an extension for your website, and .com remains the most popular option for a variety of reasons, other extensions (.net, .ly, .me, etc.) might also make sense depending on your specific needs.

The Internet is about to get a lot more complicated, though. The new global program to expand your choices is going to start rolling out as early as next year and there were nearly two thousand applications for vanity names submitted. Some major companies, like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft actually submitted multiple applications. Other companies, like Facebook, eBay, and Disney, were notably missing from the list of applicants.

So here’s a look at what is coming in an inforgraphic from Visual.ly. When new extensions are introduced, will you be on board or will you stick to buying .com addresses?

 

Infographic: What is Google AdWords?

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Google Adwords

I’ve experimented with Google AdWords over the 8+ years I’ve been working online and it has definitely seemed like a little bit of a mystery to me. I remember receiving a bill a time or two and thinking “Wow, did this help my ranking or web traffic at all?”

If you’re new to the world of AdWords (or even if you’ve been around for awhile), you might be wondering how it all works and how you can get the best bang for your buck.

WordStream has put together an infographic titled “What Is Google AdWords? How the AdWords Auction Works”. It’s a good resource for companies who would like to know how to cut costs and get better rankings.

It walks you through how Google decides what ads to show and how much you pay, as well as some alternative bidding methods. (Click on the picture to see it in its entirety.)

What is Google AdWords? [ infographic ]

© 2011 WordStream – a certified AdWords partner.

Have you used Google AdWords successfully before? If yes, what’s your secret?

Twacked: When Good Twitter Accounts Go Bad [Infographic]

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Twacked

Veracode, a cloud-based application risk management platform, released a new infographic today – “Twacked: When Good Twitter Accounts Go Bad.” I’m sure you heard about USA Today’s Twitter account being hacked over the weekend, so this new report is definitely timely, as well as interesting.

The infographic gives details on the most recent and famous Twitter hacks, as well as passwords Twitter has banned (12345, naked, password – just to name a few). They also share interesting bits of Twitter news like the one time Justin Bieber posted his hacker’s phone number to his followers and his hacker received 26,000 text messages. Oops! Lesson learned?

They also included when a hack isn’t a hack. Meaning when you try to Tweet racy photos to a follower and end up posting it to all of your Twitter followers (a.k.a. #Weinergate).

As for those who have yet to be hacked like singers Taylor Swift and Shakira, they might want to beef up their passwords!

Here’s the Twacked: When Good Twitter Accounts Go Bad Infographic.

Twitter Infographic

Infographic by Veracode Application Security

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