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November 2010

Got 99 Problems But a Blog Ain’t One


It never fails to amaze me how many bloggers hate blogging. I’m not talking about getting burned out. Frankly, we all need a little vacation from blogging now and again. I’m talking about actually disliking blogging to the point where you get that feeling of dread when turning on your computer. It’s almost as bad as getting up every morning to go to an office job you hate.

Yes, some bloggers really feel that way. Of course, you aren’t one of them. Or are you?

Don’t be ashamed if you find yourself falling into this category. Few people get into blogging knowing that they’ll hate it. Most people just try it out and although they like blogging related perks, like working from home or being your own boss. Those perks might be enough to keep you from going back to a typical office job, but what about the hatred you have for the act of blogging itself? In actuality, there are things you can do to enjoy blogging more. It’s just about having a different approach!

  • Step One: Identify what it is that you hate.

Before you can fix the problem, you have to know what’s broken. If there wasn’t anything you liked about blogging, you’d be working that regular day job instead, so let’s separate the good from the bad. Maybe you hate writing posts. Maybe you hate social networking. Maybe you hate the technical side of blogging. Whatever it may be, figuring out exactly what you hate is the first step.

If you find yourself unable to pin-point what you hate, maybe you’re just burned out. Line up a few guest posts and go on vacation from your blog for a week – feel better? Good. Sometimes that’s all it takes to stop hating blogging so much.

  • Step Two: Identify what it is that you enjoy.

As you’re listing off what you hate about blogging, also list the things you enjoy. Ok, so you hate actually writing posts, but you love getting your message hear. Or maybe you hate using Twitter, but you love participating in community forums. What are the good things that keep you blogging instead of going back to the corporate world?

Can’t think of anything you enjoy? Ouch. If you’re in a particularly bad mood at the moment, you might just be frustrated. Sleep on it and come back to this question tomorrow. But if you honestly can’t think of a single blogging task that you enjoy, maybe it’s time to start doing some research on other jobs that would allow you the same freedoms you get with blogging, but with tasks you’d enjoy more. I know there’s a lot of crap to wade through, but legitimate work-at-home jobs do exist!

  • Step Three: Make your own blogging rules.

The great thing about blogs is that the bloggers get to make the rules. What works for one blogger doesn’t have to be the way you approach blogging. If you hate writing posts, for example, maybe the key is to only post once or twice per week instead of every day. Or, maybe the key is to switch to podcasting or video blogs instead of writing. Maybe you love writing, but you hate social media. Maybe the key is to hire a virtual worker to handle promotion for you. Or, maybe the key is to do less social media and instead focus on building community in other ways. Just because an expert does things one way doesn’t mean that you have to on your blog.

Is it time to rethink your blog’s purpose?

After you’ve gone through the above three steps, if your action plan isn’t clear, maybe it’s time to do a little soul searching. Why does your blog exist? If you say, “I need an outlet to rant about things,” that’s not really a monetizable blog. I mean, it can work for some people, but if that’s the only reason you’re blogging, exploring non-blog job options might be for the best. For most of us, our professional blogs have a purpose. For example, on After Graduation, my blog’s purpose is to give new graduates career advice. Or here are this blog, the purpose is to teach other how to be better bloggers and comment on new media news, while also promoting BlogWorld Expo. What is your blog’s purpose? And now, the most important question: Do you feel passionate about that purpose?

Every so often, I get into a debate with someone about whether or not you need to be passionate about your niche to be a good blogger. No. If you’re a good professional writer, you can write about nearly anything. But we’re not talking about can you do it here. We’re talking about should you do it. And if you want to stop hating blogging, no, you shouldn’t blog in a niche where you aren’t passionate.

Because if you are passionate, those things you hate will melt away. Sure, you’ll still find that you love some tasks more than others, but if you’re super passionate about what you have to share, it will seem less like a burden to perform all the tasks necessary to get your blog noticed. For example, I hate adding photos to posts, doing photo editing, etc. I even hate the process of finding a good picture to use. But I do it because I know it helps my posts become more appealing to readers, and that’s exciting to me. I’m passionate about reading as many new readers as possible, so if pictures make that happen, I’m just going to bite the bullet and do it.

Passion or not, blogging isn’t for everyone, and that’s something super important to take away from this post. If you’ve tried blogging and really do hate it, there’s no shame in walking away. It doesn’t make you a failure or a quitter. It just means that you weren’t suited for this job. If you tried accounting, hated it, and left to pursue a different field, no one would call you a failure. People would applaud you for giving it a try and knowing when to walk away. Know when to walk away from blogging. Which brings me to the title of this post – if blogging is a problem for you, don’t blog. Life throws us enough crap already. Don’t do something you hate on top of it.

I Don’t Like Your Stinkin’ Blog!


Fun fact: Once, an ex-roommate of mine and I got into a shouting match. It was over something stupid of course. I don’t even remember what our issue was. Some guy. What I do remember is yelling, “I don’t care about your stinkin’ relationship advice!” She was in a successful long-term relationship, and I was not, so I got earfuls from her fairly often about what I was doing wrong. Often, I didn’t agree, but I would listen anyway. After all, she had a relationship that was quickly heading to marriage. I was all over the map.

Later, when we could laugh about it, we giggled at the passion at which I yelled about her “stinkin’ advice.” Whenever we would disagree from that point forth, one of us would always say something about not liking the others’ stinkin’ attitude, and we’d devolve into giggles. Still, my message was a good one to remember.

Originally, I used Bloglines as my feed reader, so when that service announced they’ve be closing a few months ago, I switched over to Google. When I made the move, I decided to purge my feeds. That was a tougher task than I thought it would be. I realized that there were a few blogs on my list that I dreaded reading every day.

I felt like I had to read them because they were well-respected blogs in one of the niches I covered. Every post, the blogs in question would double or even triple the number of comments I’d get on my top posts. They must be doing something right. I have to learn from these bloggers. I have to figure out what they’re doing that I’m not. I have to…I have to…I have to…

No. No, I don’t have to do anything. You might be a super popular blogger, but I don’t like your stinkin’ blog.

I think we have a lot to learn from one another. I certainly have a lot to learn from bloggers that are better than me. At the same time, I think that we sometimes fall into a trap of trying to emulate bloggers who are popular in our niches, even though we don’t personally like what they are doing. We want to find the success that they’ve found, and in striving for excellence (which is a good thing), we begin to doubt our personal tastes (which is a bad thing).

You may want to learn from other bloggers, but you don’t want their readers. If you have the exact same target market as another blog out there, maybe it’s time to reconsider what you’re writing. You want your own readers. This doesn’t always mean that you have to have drastically different content. Sometimes, it’s just about having a different voice. Learn from the people who have come before you and who are people in your niche…but learning from them doesn’t mean you have to support them or be a part of their community. If you don’t like someone’s stinkin’ blog, don’t subscribe to their stinkin’ blog.

Something interesting to note: My roommate and her almost-fiance boyfriend had a horrible break up a few years later. Apparently he had never been happy with her, but had stayed with her for a bunch of bad reasons. So apparently my instincts were right, and I’m glad I trusted them. Learn to trust yours.

Sneak Peek of SmartBrief’s The State of Social Media For Business 2010


In June 2010, more than 6,000 SmartBrief readers participated in a benchmarking study of social-media usage by business.

The results revealed a portrait of how these new tools and platforms are changing the way companies do business and how they are integrating social media into their business models.

The full State of Social Media for Business 2010 is available for sale from SmartBrief. But they’ve also shared with us their eight select themes and data points from the survey (purchase the full brief for more in-depth details):

About half of the companies in the sample have been using social media for only the past year, with nearly 20% starting in the past 13 to 18 months.

The concentration on “the big 5” hints at companies being able to find their customers on these sites. With lower awareness and/or usage of other sites, including platforms such as Flickr with large numbers of users, companies might be missing out on more niche groups.

More than 25% of companies with two-plus years of social-media activity state that those tools and platforms have been fully integrated into their companies’ business models. In addition, more than 50% have a well-developed or fully developed social- media strategy, which is further evidenced by the use of multiple platforms.

Despite the primary goals of increasing brand awareness and building communities for customers and fans, the majority of companies surveyed use social media to broadcast information instead of creating two-way conversations.

Communications and PR agencies recognized the potential behind social media earlier than most industries. Likewise, advertising and marketing firms have realized the potential of identifying and reaching target audiences relatively early as compared with other industries.

One-third of the respondents note they are not decision makers. Combined with the 14.7% citing management resistance, this indicates an overall lack of management support. In addition, 33.1% cite confidentiality issues as a primary obstacle. Taken together with the prohibition of social-network use at work, the data show that many companies are concerned about how their staff would use these sites.

Connecting social media efforts to bottom-line results is a skill that escapes most businesses that are using social media. Less than 15% of the businesses in the sample using social media reported that they are measuring their return on investment while over 33% are not measuring return on investment at all.

Companies are critical of their social-media strategies, with only 14.2% describing their strategies as “very effective” and only 7.3% describing them as “very revenue generating” on average.

Want to Make More Money as a Blogger? Step One: Stop Blogging.


One of the presentations that I made a point to attend while at BlogWorld Expo 2010 was “Treating Your Blog Like a Business” with David Risley, Lisa Morosky, and Nathan Hangen (and moderated by Jordan Cooper). This topic is especially important in my opinion and where a lot of bloggers seem to fall short. You can blog and blog and blog until your fingers are bloody little stubs and not see a dime from it. If your business model is “blog as much as possible,” you’re not going to be able to afford groceries. Why? Because you’re running a blog, not a business.

“You can’t feed yourself on comments and retweets.” – Nathan Hangen

As these four made abundantly clear at their panel, step one of making more money from you blog is to stop blogging.

Ok, so I’m not suggesting that you never write another post – I don’t think that’s what they meant. However, have you ever noticed that the most successful bloggers don’t post more than once or twice a week? Sure, some have built empires on frequent updating, but I think it’s been more than proven that you don’t need to blog your butt off to have an audience. It’s about quality over quantity.

You need to get away from blogging as a business model and instead think of your blog as just a part of the package. If you blog, you can build a community, but if you have no call to action, does it really matter? Not if you’re trying to pay your rent this way.

So what’s your call to action?

  • Support my sponsors
  • Buy my product
  • Join my private membership community
  • Buy stuff through my affiliate links
  • Sign up for my mailing list

Or maybe a combination of the above…or something else entirely. The point is this: if your blog is just a blog, not a marketing tool, I’m not sure how you expect to make money. Great, free content is just the first step to making this a viable business. There’s nothing wrong with blogging for the love of writing, blogging to get your ideas heard, etc…but if you want to make money with your blog, realize there’s a lot you need to do beyond writing great posts to make that possible.

Thanks to Jordan, Nathan, Lisa, and David for a great BlogWorld session!

Beware of Free Blog Themes


I’ve created several blogs over the years. My go-to theme is now Genesis, but not-so-long-ago I used to search out free WordPress themes to implement. There are several stunning ones out there – with great designs and interesting details – themes I could never recreate because I’m an HTML girl, not a Photoshop girl!

So, what’s the problem with the free themes? Well, first off, they’re typically clunky. I’d end up doing a lot of edits to the code just to make it work as a functional blog with the items I wanted to include. Just as I’m an HTML girl, I think some of these theme creators don’t know much about coding at all!

But, most important – free themes aren’t always free. No, they won’t cost you money – but several of them contain affiliate links in the footer of the blog, linking back to a website that provides a product or puts money in the coder’s pocket. In essence, this isn’t a bad thing. But because you have no control over the links, it’s definitely something to be wary of.

  • Affiliate links can contain content that doesn’t match your website’s content – especially if it contains links to adult material. Because you lack control over the content, you never know what’s going to show up. And you never know who’s going to click on a link, and then never come back to your sight.
  • Affiliate links can lead to a lower Google rank if you are inadvertently “punished” for being part of a backlinking ring – pushing links to someone’s website.

One way around this is to go into your theme files and edit the file that contains the link (typically the footer). Another option is to buy a well-code, easily-manipulated, legitimate theme!

Image Source: SXC

Overheard on #Blogchat: Writing Well (@mkrigsman)


Do you participate in #blogchat? Every week, this weekly discussion on Twitter focuses on a specific topic and bloggers everywhere are invited to join in. Because I often have more to say than what will fit in 140 characters, every Sunday night (or Monday morning), I post about some of the most interesting #blogchat tweets. Join the conversation by commenting below.

(Still confused? Read more about #blogchat here.)

This week’s theme: Monetizaton with Darren Rowse (@problogger)

I’m a writer, so blogging was something that I fell into naturally. Originally, this was a field that was only filled with people who enjoyed writing, simply because blogs weren’t monetized so the only reason to do it was for the love of writing. As more and more people begin to see blogging as a way to make money or build a brand, however, writers aren’t the only ones starting blogs. Monetization means that blogs are being run by people who don’t have a background in writing and, in many cases, don’t even like writing. Someone at #blogchat brought up an interesting point in regards to this:

@mkrigsman: If you don’t write well, then you cannot blog expertly. Great content requires skill created by devotion. No shortcuts.

First, let me talk about what I think people will take away from this tweet – then why I wholeheartedly believe it’s wrong.

When most people read this tweet, what they’ll read is, “if you aren’t a writer, your blog is going to suck.” I actually know quite a few people who have told me that they have a great blog idea, but they don’t like to write or don’t think they can write well, so they never do anything with their ideas. That makes me sad.

Frankly, you don’ t have to be good writer to be a good blogger in most cases. If you are blogging for entertainment purposes (such as posting short stories or creative non-fiction), being a good writer is necessary. But really, if you don’t like to write, why the heck would you start a blog using your writing to entertain others? That doesn’t make a lot of sense. No, most bloggers blog to share information about their niche. To do that, you don’t have to be a good writer.

To be a blogger, you have to learn to share you ideas clearly in a way that connects with your readers. Those are skills you can learn, not inherent talents. Becoming a good blogger is all about perfecting your craft, just like you do with any other job tasks. Someone working at Subway doesn’t have to enjoy making sandwiches to create a really taste lunch for me! You can’t teach talent, but you don’t need to be a talented writer to be an amazing blogger. I think that’s what @mkrigsman was trying to say, and what people should take away from this tweet.

If you aren’t a good writer or hate writing, you do have other choices. For example, you could record a weekly (or even daily) podcast to post on your blog or become a video blogger. You could also create a photo-centric blog if it fits your niche. Not everyone needs 500-word posts every single day. You have other options! You can even hire a virtual worker who is a good writer and do interviews with them so they can create your blog posts (or have them rewrite your work so it is easier to read).

Writing does get easier as you work on improving your skills. While a blog post may take you three hours now, in the future, you’ll start to learn how to write faster in a way that better connects to your audience. Even if you aren’t a writer, don’t give up! Your blog can be awesome.

I’m curious, readers/bloggers – were you a writer in any way before you started blogging? If not, what are your biggest writing-related challenges?

Getting Your Blog Noticed by the Pros


During BlogWorld 2010, travel PR professionals John Forest Ales and Terri Maruca sat down with moderator Stafford Kendall to talk about how to get noticed by the travel pros. While I didn’t get to attend this session live, I’m loving my virtual BlogWorld ticket right now because in listening to the panel, this is relevant for bloggers from every niche who are interested in working with companies to do reviews.

Getting noticed by professionals, whether it be the PR company for a hotel that can give you free accommodations or a publisher that can send you a free book relevant to your blog, comes down to one thing: Build a relationship so you both give and take.

It's not about what they can give you - it's about what you can give them!

You might have a million readers a month, but a lot of bloggers are popular. Unless you have a relationship with a company, the PR person you contact may not know who you are. Or, they might know who you are, but 99% of the time, a PR rep can’t give you free stuff to review. They have to take your request and go through multiple levels to get it approved. A busy restaurant owner probably doesn’t have time to read blogs. They have no idea that you’re a respected expert within your community…yet. If you start to build a relationship, it doesn’t matter if you have ten readers or ten million readers – if you connect to the company, you can show them what you can do for them in terms of promoting their brand. Sometimes, having a small dedicated group of fans looking for something extremely specific is just as good for a company as having a larger community.

When building a relationship, something that is super important is considering what is right for your blog, not just what you can get for free. John and Terri noted that bloggers can sometimes come off as demanding and unprofessional, and often it’s hard to see through the noise of people who don’t actually care about the brand, but rather just want something for free. Let me tell you a bit about my own experiences with doing promotion and reviews while at BlogWorld.

I knew I would be in Las Vegas a day before most people, so I decided to contact some PR agencies with the hopes of doing a few restaurant reviews here on the BlogWorld blog. My thought process was that by highlighting a few places to eat, more BlogWorld attendees would go to those places specifically. The perk for me was getting to eat at some awesome restaurants. The perk for the restaurants was reaching a few thousand people in town for the weekend. Ultimately, I worked with Kirvin Doak Communications to review Border Grill for lunch, Tender for dinner, and Mix for drinks at night. Some of that worked. Some of that didn’t work. All of it was about audience.

First, let me tell you want did work – Border Grill. The food and drinks at all three locations was fabulous, and Border Grill was no exception. But it wasn’t just about my good experience that made this work for a BlogWorld review. Other things that came into play that made this an awesome option:

  • Border Grill was right by the conference location, so most people had to walk past it on their way back to their room. Convenience is the name of the game. They had been seeing it every day and possibly wondering about it, so a review solidified for them the need to stop in and check it out. Tender and Mix were both more out of the way, so if readers wanted to take my recommendation, they had to do a little hunting.
  • The price was right. Bloggers have McDonald’s budgets, so while Border Grill might be a justifiable price for a professional,at $20 – $30 minimum for a meal, this is a splurge for the average BlogWorld reader.  Tender and Mix, while being adequately priced for the quality and service, were just not possible for many people. Had my food not been comped, I would not have been able to afford either of these locations, and I know a lot of other bloggers were in the same boat.
  • Border Grill fit a range of readers’ needs. The atmosphere made it comfortable for readers wearing jeans or readers wearing suits – which was important, considering that some groups had both types of people. The food was also palatable to a wide range of people. It was Mexican, but not in a Taco Bell type of way. I felt comfortable recommending it to everyone I met, without a disclaimer of any kind.

While at BlogWorld, I know that my personal recommendation of Border Grill was responsible for at least three parties of 6+ people eating there or ordering food there, and since BlogWorld, I’ve gotten a few emails from people who traveled to Las Vegas for other conferences but remembered my review and checked out the restaurant. For every person who tells me they ate there after reading my review, there are probably ten people who also did, but just didn’t let me know. Did the restaurant get their money out of offering me a meal there? Absolutely. Tender and Mix? Probably not so much, unfortunately.

Border Grill met the readers’ needs here at BlogWorld extremely well in terms of convenience, price, and range. Again, this extends to non-travel reviewing as well. Will your readers ultimately take action due to your review? Is the product convenient for them? Is the price right? Does it meet the needs of a range of your readers, not just a small fraction of them?

That’s how you get the pros to work with you. Should I review restaurants again next year for BlogWorld, my approach will be different. No matter how much I want a free meal at Tender, it just isn’t a good option for BlogWorld readers. A less expensive burger joint makes more sense. And showing that you’ve done that kind of thinking about your request is what makes a PR rep want to work with you. You’ve not just in it for free stuff. You actually want to promote what they’re doing. Free stuff is just a perk.

When you approach PR companies with any kin of review request, work to build a relationship. Don’t ask what they can do for you. Ask what you can do for them. Be receptive to their ideas, but be prepared with a proposal of your own – and one that has the ultimate potential to show them the biggest return on investment possible for the company. If you deliver for a company, they’ll want to work with you again and again, which is awesome not just for you, but also for your readers.

Thanks to John, Terri, and Stafford for a great panel!

Gap’s Giving Away Free Jeans For Checking In As Part of Facebook Deals Launch


I’ve seen it everywhere on Twitter today. Gap is giving away 10,000 pairs of jeans to those who check in using Facebook Places as part of the new Facebook Deals feature. Just hop into any men’s or women’s Gap U.S. retail location, check in and then show your phone to a Gap employee to enter for the chance to win a free pair!

Too bad I’m not near a mall today. But, as a coupon collector, I did further investiation into Deals, a new feature within Facebook’s iPhone app that enables businesses to offer deals to consumers who check in through the Facebook Places.

Already the following companies have offered deals:

  • Macy’s Inc. offered 20% discounts off most apparel, accessories and jewelry and some houseware items, and 10% off consumer electronics, furniture and mattresses.
  • 24 Hour Fitness is donating $1 to Kaboom to support children’s health for everyone who checks in to its fitness clubs.
  • American Eagle Outfitters offered 20% off;
  • REI is donating $1 to a local conservation non-profit when a consumer visits a store.
  • JCPenney is giving $10 off any $50 purchase.
  • Chipotle locations will offer a buy-one-get-one deal for any entree for customers who check-in on November 13, 14, 20, and 21.
  • Check out more deals!

Facebook Deals has four types of deals – Independent (discounts, products, rewards, etc), Friend (a friend has to check-in and receives discounts), Charity (allows consumers to donate by checking in), and Loyalty (frequent shoppers). To find a deal, just look for a yellow icon when you check in via Facebook Places. You’ll see the offer and can claim it by showing your phone to the cashier. Facebook then broadcasts your deal to your News Feed (I hope this is an option and not mandatory. I don’t need people to know where I’m shopping at all times!)

So will you be searching for deals using Facebook Places?

BlogWorld Virtual Conference: 50% Off Sale


If you wanted to attend BlogWorld but it was either not the right time or not the right price, we have a solution. As you may be aware, we’re offering a virtual conference featuring recordings from BlogWorld ’10 and our Social Media Business Summit, plus slides for most sessions. Also included is membership into our online community where you’ll chat with other bloggers and social media professionals, experts such as Chris Garrett and the BlogWorld team.

When you subscribe, you have access to our community and the virtual conference for a whole year so you can listen in at your leisure. This is important content. This year’s speakers included Darren Rowse, Brian Clark, Sonia Simone, Brian Solis, Maggie Fox, Nathalie Lussier, Andy Hayes, John Hewitt, Brandon Eley, Jay Baer, Amber Naslund, Liz Strauss, Terry Starbucker, Becky McCray, Sheila Scarborough, Leo Babauta,  and so many more experts in their field.

For the next week we’re offering a 50% discount for anyone wishing to subscribe to our virtual conference and private membership community. If you act right away, you can receive 24/7 access to all this good stuff at half the price.

Intrigued? Sound good? Check out the Virtual Conference site for more details.

A Look Into the Farmers Insurance Facebook Success


I recently had a chance to chat with Ryon Harms, head of social media at Farmers Insurance, to talk about the success of their Facebook campaign. As of this post, they have almost 100k fans – and their wall is full of comments, likes, and interaction. How did they get there, and how do they sustain it?

The magic question that often comes from the C-level in large enterprise environments…What’s the ROI on your Facebook campaign? How do you demonstrate this to the top brass at Farmers, and what are the various valuable measurements you’re looking for as determinants of success?

I am very lucky to be working at Farmers. They have been committed to community involvement for almost 100 years. What we are doing now as a company is taking that same tradition of building deep ties within local communities through our agents and applying it to the digital world. As a company, we believe that giving and engaging with communities (both real world and digital) results in greater awareness for our brand and allows us to give back in meaningful ways. With that said, one of the great advantages of working with digital communities is that we have several metrics that give us insights into how much engagement we are actually getting from our efforts. For instance, by measuring how often a Facebook post gets liked, we know that we are creating content that people are compelled to share with their friends.

How do you position yourself to gain Facebook followers?

To be honest, we are less focused on positioning to gain followers and more interested in engaging the followers that we have. We feel like if we can have high levels of engagement with a small group of people, that will be enough for us to attract new followers. We just want to make sure that we are communicating to the community that we have, rather than the community that we wish we had. By that I mean, that as our community on Facebook has evolved, we’ve created content that meets the needs of that specific demographic. Everything else takes care of itself.

Everyone likes to talk about their social media successes, what about examples of failures? What went wrong, how did you react and what were the lessons learned?

Luckily, we haven’t had any major failures. In the beginning, our posts looked more like traditional marketing messages. That obviously doesn’t work in the social space. What we’ve improved on recently is on creating messages that drive engagement, whether that be polls, sweepstakes, or asking for feedback directly. Now that we’ve built a community of nearly 100,000 fans we are more at risk of messing things up, but we hope we can avoid that. If we do end up failing at something, we plan to leverage that as yet another way to build deeper ties with our community.

Social media affords a unique opportunity to personify the corporate brand, so how has the online community interacting with Farmers on Facebook, gotten to know Farmers; what do you think their perception of Farmers is now versus the time prior to Farmers on Facebook?

Well, the perception of any big insurance company is that we are a big unthinking, uncaring machine that just wants to collect money. That may be true of some insurance companies, but we really feel like social media is going to afford us with some great opportunities to express the fun and passionate culture that we’ve had here for decades. Being a big company just means that we have a ton of people that are passionate and committed to what they do. My job will be to tap into those passions and tell a coherent story about who we are and why we wake up in the morning.

Farmers Facebook presence has been a huge success, but what other social media interactions have proven to be important and effective?

We are focusing the majority of our efforts on Facebook for now. We feel like if we can do one network really well, that will make it easier for us to move into others.

I’ve seen the Farmers blimp on Farmville – how did that idea come about? Is that an example of a campaign that you may continue to pursue in the future?

The idea to place the Farmers Airship on FarmVille originated from our VP of eBusiness, Marc Zeitlin. Marc has a knack for thinking big and being awesome. Our CMO Kevin Kelso then came up with the brilliant idea to tie in a sweepstakes to ride on the real Airship to drive FarmVille players to our Facebook Page. That combination turned out to be a home run for us. We definitely plan to continue working Zynga and with other social gaming properties to integrate our brand in a fun and meaningful way.

Can you describe your social media team? Is someone dedicated to Facebook and interacting with followers?

I am the head of social media. As you saw with FarmVille, we have executive interest in social media as well so they also participate in the process. We also work with a great social media agency called 15Miles. They were instrumental in the execution of the FarmVille campaign and I don’t think we could have done it without them.

Do you have any other tips to share with companies looking to launch a successful Facebook campaign?

Yes. As we approached the FarmVille campaign we had a strategic plan in place. However, as soon as the Airship appeared on FarmVille, we were overwhelmed with the an amazing response we could not have predicted, and our original plan went out the window. We did a great job of working in real time and responding to the wants of our new fans. My take away was that if we would have executed on our original plan all the way through, that would have meant that the campaign was a failure.

Thanks for chatting with us Ryan! We look forward to continuing to follow the Farmers Facebook success

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