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February 2011

What Sessions Do You Want to See At BlogWorld?


Last week, we did a little crowdsourcing and asked who you would like to see present at BlogWorld. We’re pleased to see that we’re pretty much on the same wavelength, but there were some names in there we weren’t familiar with and we will be looking into those speakers. Now that we have a good idea of who you’re interested in seeing, we’re going to reach out once again and ask about the content.

What types of sessions would you like to see at BlogWorld?

See, we know many of you come for the networking, and that’s fine. But if there’s a session that will bring you in from the halls, what would it be? Are there topics we’re not covering or not covering enough? Are there topics that are overkill?

From our surveys we know that many of you would like to see more advanced content, and we’re going to work to make sure there are advanced sessions available for our seasoned vets. If you have some suggestions for advanced topics, please share.

What would you like to learn about? Where do you think we’re missing the mark? Tell us in the comments!

Again, thanks for sharing. Your input is incredibly valuable and we take all recommendations seriously.

Chatter.com Pushes Private Social Networking to Super Bowl Audience


Chatter.com showcased two commercials last night during the Super Bowl … Commercials that left me confused and my husband asking “is this another Twitter?”


The commercials were tailored around the Black Eyed Peas halftime performance and didn’t showcase much of anything about the network. You got that it was some sort of social network (available as a mobile app), and that it seemed to be targeted to businesses, but that’s about it. Businessweek dittos my sentiment. “One of the many things the ad failed to do was determine who exactly Chatter was for. Was it for end users because if it was, I had no idea what Chatter was supposed to do after watching those ads. Heck I know what Chatter is and I didn’t get the message.

Upon visiting the Chatter.com site, you can see that it’s a private social network for businesses and you have to have a confirmed company email before joining a specific network.

And Salesforce seems to be dedicated to making this a pretty functional network. They recently acquired of Heroku (a cloud platform vendor), Etacts (a contact management platform), Dimdim (a collaboration platform), and Manymoon (a service that adds productivity and collaboration tools to Google Apps and LinkedIn)!

Articles have been saying since 2009 (when Salesforce revealed they were setting up Chatter) that competitor Yammer should be worried … Do you think they should be concerned and do you think Chatter is an effective tool for companies?

Overheard on #Blogchat: The Late Edition


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.)

I’m running late with Overheard on #Blogchat this week for two reasons: 1) my email exploded for some reason and I woke up to ten times the usual emails I receive this morning and a bunch demanded immediate replies and 2) woah mama was there some excellent chatting going on last night! I think maybe it was because it was a “slow week” relatively since so many people were watching the Super Bowl instead.

So instead of my usual #blogchat post, where I give you one quote and my opinions about it, I’m going to instead copy and paste a bunch of awesome pieces of advice and some quick notes. Check out these people on Twitter, leave your own comments about these tweets, and please, please, please join us next week!!

Without further ado, some awesome advice from #blogchat:

HoodedMan: I post about ten times a month, if I’m up to it and have something to say, quality before quantity, of course

I think it’s great advice to focus on quality, to always have something to say. Be consistent, but you don’ t have to post every single day to have an awesome blog.

amndaann: I’ve started putting opinion on my blog, instead of staying objective as a result of reader feedback

This is awesome advice. Whether you’re adding opinion, stories, or some other personal touch, having an 100% objective blog doesn’t work in most cases because readers can get information anywhere. If I want to learn…for example…how to program my TV remote, I’ll search on Google and head to the top resource. If your blog is informative, awesome. Thanks for the information, but I’ll never be back. If you’re informative PLUS entertaining in some way, I’ll likely click around to read some more posts and maybe even subscribe.

thetrudz: I keep a running list of things I may be interested in writing. As soon as idea pops in my head it goes in Apple Notes.

Key point: WRITE THINGS DOWN. If you don’t, you’re going to forget. Also, realize that although you might be passionate about a topic at the moment, you don’t have to write about it right now. If you typically post twice a week and just recently updated, save that great idea for later or schedule the post to go up later so that you stay consistent.

_ChelleShock: niche can also be the audience you speak to, not just what you talk about.

LOVE this tweet. It might be my favorite of the night actually. Niche is important, but it goes beyond the topic of your blog.

CatsEyeWriter: I publish one quality guest post a week right now. Make sure it’s outstanding, because your reputation depends on it.

Good point – just because you didn’t write it doesn’t mean that your readers won’t hold you responsible. Once, someone sent a guest post to me that was loosely related to my blog, but not really in my style or super relevant to readers. I said no thank you, and he got upset, saying he doesn’t understand why because it can only help me, not hurt. That’s where he was wrong – a crap guest post (or even a well-written guest post that doesn’t fit your niche or style) can definintely hurt your brand.

bobbyrettew: Found lots of success with certain posts on my Business Facebook page and *SOMETIMES* on personal Facebook page. Depends on topic

That’s important because, after all, Facebook is about connecting with friends, not about pitching crap. You can have a page for promotion, but you’re going to lose real-life friends if your personal page is all about promotion too.

TodaysWomanCo: Remember to be sure and check the licensing on any photo or image you wish to use before using it on your blog.

Seriously, don’t steal pictures from Flickr or other sources. There are tons of places to find free imagines to use legitimately!

ActiveIngreds: dont forget, you set your own standards for your blog

Yes, yes, a million times yes. It’s your blog. You don’t have to take anyone’s advice, not even mine, if you don’t think it will work for your blog. This is a brand new industry, relatively speaking, so it is evolving quickly and different things are working for different people.

On that note, I’ll end this post – but you should check out the full transcript and join us next week for some great chatting!

How Technology Can Help Us Improve Our Health & Fitness


… by Nathalie Lussier

Often we hear about the bad sides of technology: how it causes us to get addicted to social media, how we spend our sedentary lives in front of screens, and how we eat processed food.

But I’d like to remind us of all the ways that technology can actually help us improve our overall well-being. After all, wasn’t the promise of robots and technology to reduce the amount of work we would do so we could enjoy life more? Yes, yes it was.

Blogging for Accountability

Have you ever used accountability to stick to a goal or intention? You know like telling everyone that you were quitting smoking and that if they saw you with a pack of smokes to take it away from you? Or perhaps you’ve teamed up with a friend so that every morning you meet at the gym or on the sidewalk in front of your home to go running.

Accountability has a way of getting us to do the things that we want to do, but that we might not do if we lose motivation. You see we all want to “give face” and appear smarter, cooler, and more motivated to our friends, so we stick to our intentions.

That’s where blogging for accountability comes in: if your goal is to work out 3 times per week, eat a salad every day for lunch, or stop buying junk food… you can announce it to your blog readers, your Facebook friends, or your Twitter buddies. I promise that having to admit to the Internet that you caved and ate a tub of ice cream will keep you on the straight and narrow.

And it will make you healthier.

Planning Your Meals Online

Most of the time we eat badly because we haven’t planned ahead. When hunger hits, you’re a lot more likely to grab the first thing you see than wait it out and cook or prepare something healthy. This in turn sends you on a sugar rollercoaster, with ups and downs, and lots of regretful food choices.

On the other hand if you have a stocked fridge, planned meals, and some prepared snacks you can sail through the week eating stuff you know is good for you. And yes, that will make you healthier, and it will be lighter on your wallet to boot.

Another thing that the Internet allows you to do is research healthy meal options and recipes. There are even programs to help you plan your meals, automatically creating shopping lists for you, doing almost everything except eating the food for you.

Using Apps to Track Progress

If public accountability isn’t quite your thing, you can still track your progress using apps that run on your mobile devices. There are apps to track the number of miles you run, the calories you eat, and lots more.

I think there’s something to be said about being able to look back at your progress as your fitness improves. If you started out huffing and puffing after a 5 minute jog, and now you can run a few miles… you can bet you’ll want to celebrate this achievement!

Human beings are always looking forward to the next thing, so it’ important to have something to remind us of how far we‚Äôve come. And how much healthier we are too.

So there it is, three ways to use technology to better your health. Pick one and start today, and you’ll be reaping the rewards before you know it!

Nathalie Lussier writes about the intersection of technology, business, and wellness at her blog. She’s passionate about eating fresh whole fruits and vegetables and helps people through her Magick Menu program, and can even keep you accountable on Twitter if you need it.

Crowdsourcing to Find Interviewees for Your Blog


Crowdsourcing is a term I’m seeing creep up more and more among bloggers. Basically, it means going to your community to solve a problem or complete a task of some sort, making your job easier. It also allows you to do a better job, in many cases, since you’re drawing from the experiences and opinions of an entire group, rather than yourself.

One of the best ways you can crowdsource is to find people to interview for your blog.

Most people love to be interviewed. It’s human nature to want to give your opinion, and by agreeing to be interviewed, you’re getting free promotion for your own blog or projects. Win-win.

But, as a busy blogger, it can be time-consuming to find people to interview. The most popular bloggers in your niche are often too busy to respond to interview requests and although new bloggers typically readily respond to interview requests, you also want to make sure that the person is actually doing something that is interesting to your readers.

This is where crowdsourcing comes into play. The inspiration for this post was something my friend Andy told me was going on at the Matador Network – a call for nominations for their new series, Breaking Free. It’s an awesome opportunity for people who have quit their 9-to-5 jobs to move overseas and do something new and interesting, and there are certainly tons of people in this world who qualify. But rather than spending hundreds or even thousands of hours looking for these people, Matador turned to there community. Not only are they going to get some awesome nominations, but they’re probably going to find people they would otherwise have never found. (Including you? Go apply!)

The point is that by crowdsourcing, you can find tons of interesting people that you would have never found otherwise – and at least one member of your community is already raising his/her hand and saying “I want to see an interview with this person. I would read it and likely promote the post via social media.” As an added bonus, you spent next to no time finding these interesting people for your blog.

Another great example of crowdsourcing? Recently, right here at the BlogWorld blog, our own Deb Ng wrote a post asking for your BlogWorld 2011 speak recommendations. As of right now, there are over 60 comments on that post, most with 5+ recommendations, and I expect we’ll see even more recommendations in the coming weeks. Of course, BlogWorld goes out there to find people who would make great speakers that may have been missed in the comments session, but just look at all those awesome people! There were people not on BlogWorld’s radar, and it also confirms what the community wants for the people who were.

The moral of the story? Don’t be afraid to ask your community for recommendations. Interviews are an awesome addition not matter what your niche, and crowdsourcing is definitely one of the best ways to find new contacts.

Brilliant Bloggers #1: Contests and Giveaway


Brilliant Bloggers is a brand new series here at the BlogWorld blog, featuring some of the best bloggers from around the world. Every week, we’ll look at a different topic and I’ll feature three bloggers who have covered the topic in interesting, unique, comprehensive, or otherwise awesome ways. But that’s not all: I’ll also give you a list of other blog posts I’ve found about the topic, so if you want to learn even more, you can check out what other people have to say as well!

Want to submit your link so I don’t miss yours? If you wrote about this week’s topic, simply leave a comment below with a direct link to your post. Scroll to the end of the post to read about how to be considered for next week’s Brilliant Blogger post!

This week’s topic: Contests and Giveaways

People love free stuff, and by offering a contest or giveaway of some sort on your blog, you can encourage others to get more deeply involved in your community. The great thing about giveaways is that you can control what your readers have to do to be eligible. This could include leaving a comment, checking out a sponsor’s site, following you on Twitter, subscribing to your newsletter, liking your site on Facebook…the sky really is the limit. So, if you’re trying to reach a certain goal (like 1000 Twitter subscribers), you can use a contest or giveaway to boost your progress toward that goal. An now, without further ado, let’s see what our brilliant bloggers have to say!

Advice from Brilliant Bloggers:

Put Out the Welcome Mat: How to Run a Blog Contest with Panache by Nathalie Lussier

When Nathalie Lussier writes something, you know it’s going to be good. This is a guest post she did on Problogger about running a contest that covers all the ins and outs of making it a successful endeavor. Lot’s of people have written quick how-to guides for running a contest on your blog, but Nathalie’s has some panache of its own. Check it out, then consider following her on Twitter (@NathLussier) and checking out her other projects at Raw Foods Witch, The Magick Menu, the Nathalie Lussier Media blog, and Healthy Travel Lifestyle.

How to Run a Successful Facebook Contest by Grandma Mary

Running a contest on Facebook actually takes some consideration because Facebook has very strict rules about how you can and cannot run a contest using their platform. This post goes over everything you need to know about using Facebook for your contest, and Grandma Mary is much more entertaining than my grandmother. (Oh, and she’s not really a grandma at all, but that’s another story!) You can follow her on Twitter @grandmamaryshow.

Are Blog Contests Worth Your Time? by Jennifer Chait

There’s tons of great content on the Freelance Writing Jobs network, and when it comes to posts about contests, this is one of my favorite. Jennifer talks about why contests aren’t always a good idea for bloggers and how you can decide whether or not to run one on your site. She also links to a number of other great resources from around the network. Don’t forget to follow Jennifer on Twitter @jenniferchait and check out her site at Growing a Green Family.

Even More Brilliant Advice:

If you have a post about running a contest of giveaway, please link it in a comment below! We’d love to learn what you have to say on this topic.

Next Week’s Topic: WordPress versus Other Blogging Platforms

Want your post included? Simple head to Blog Carnival and upload your link. Remember, only posts about this topic will be accepted. If you have another brilliant post, save it for a topic that better fits the post! Submissions will be accepted until February 9, 2011 at noon. Deadline pass already? Head to Blog Carnival and look under “about this edition” to find the current topic!

Authors Using Social Media to Generate Book Buzz


In my “free time” outside of BlogWorld, I’m an author. I’ve written three young adult novels in the past two years and currently have one out on submission to publishers. As you can imagine, I spend a good amount of time networking with other authors, agents, editors, etc. Topics of interest include a variety of items – especially the use of social media to foster buzz for an author and their book.

I’ve seen several authors generate buzz using Twitter and their blogs – but the most successful ones are those that develop and foster their brand and voice with social media (in all age groups and genres). My favorite example is Kiersten White. For the weeks leading up to the launch of her debut novel, Paranormalcy, Kiersten used social media to showcase her humor, wit, and creativity – building an audience and buzz that took her to the New York Times Bestseller list the week that Paranormalcy hit store shelves!

So what are some examples of Kiersten’s social media efforts and writing style? For weeks prior to launch, Kiersten took to Twitter with tweets that centered on a hashtag she created (#everytimeyoupreorderparanormalcy). Here are just a couple (but there were hundreds of them!)

#everytimeyoupreorderparanormalcy a muggle-born kid gets accepted to Hogwarts.

#everytimeyoupreorderparanormalcy Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella grow a spine, save *themselves*, and head to college.

Kiersten also spent time on her blog – writing posts that featured her book, but also showcased her fun and self-deprecating humor (like this one and this one).

But did this voice translate over to Paranormalcy? Absolutely. And that’s why it worked. If Kiersten’s writing was dark and mysterious, her social media audience would’ve been rather stunned to expect humor and read twisted.

Lastly, Kiersten took time to respond to pretty much everyone who engaged in a conversation – whether it was on Twitter or comments on her blog. She was gracious and caring and never made a fan feel uncomfortable for contacting her.

So my tips for authors looking to use social media to generate buzz for their book: Be Honest, Be True to Your Voice, Be Original & Engage in Conversations

In last night’s #yalitchat (a weekly Twitter chat for the young adult writing industry) we also talked about social media and buzz. Some great tips and thoughts include:

  • @veela_valoom: Social media cannot just be used a “promo-media” should always be a conversation #yalitchat
  • @LauraKreitzer: I noticed that when the social media and reviewers went quiet, so did the sales.
  • @LM_PrestonBLOG TOURs Rock! They are powerful in starting buzz! I’ve bought tons of books from blog tours
  • @AlysonCGreene: ARCS might not sell books, but I think reviews & blog recs do. ARCS allow bloggers and reviewers to read and create buzz pre-pub

Other Related Articles:

What’s the State of Your Blogosphere?


Last night, I attended the keynote address for Blogging Success Summit 2011, an online event being organized jointly by BlogWorld and Social Media Examiner founder Michael Stelzner. The speaker was Richard Jalichandra, CEO of Technorati, and his presentation was on the state of the blogosphere. He talked about how blogging has changed since 2008, the trends he sees continuing in 2011, and more – and for me, it was really interesting to see a statistical breakdown of what people read and how people share information.

Technorati publishes a report on the state of the blogosphere every year, and it is definitely recommended reading for anyone hoping to make money online. But I want to suggest that you take it a step farther and do your own annual study. What’s the state of your blogosphere?

See, what makes the Technorati study great is that they poll tons of people from around the world and across every industry to get their results. That’s also its downfall, though. If you’re someone who blogs about social media, your audience might think slightly different from the audience of a blog about fashion, and both of you might have readers who differ from the general public represented in the Technorati study. While few bloggers have the ability to poll thousands of people from across the world in an official, controlled study, that doesn’t mean you can examine your piece of the blogosphere and use the results to increase the effectiveness of your blog.

The Power of Many

You aren’t in this alone. Although every blog has a slightly different audience, there are probably blogs in your niche that have a very similar audience to your own. Team up to do your study! If you send out a survey to your mailing list or post it on your blog you might get, say, 10% to respond. But if 10 bloggers do it and you all get 10% to respond, you’ll have a large group represented. Doing a study of your audience’s habits and needs only benefits you has a blogger, so there’s really no reason for your peers not to jump on board if you approach them with this proposal.


So, ok, it’s a good idea to poll your audience – but what do you ask?

While some of the questions you ask might be specific to your niche, it makes sense to ask a ton of more general questions, like the ones found in the Technorati report (or similar to the ones found in the Technorati report).

  • Do your users use social media? What are their favorite sites?
  • How many of your readers are bloggers themselves?
  • Do your readers feel that blogs are as trustworthy as traditional media like newspapers?
  • How many of your readers use feed readers?
  • How many of your readers subscribe to their favorite blogs via email?
  • Do you readers get email newsletters?
  • How likely are your readers to comment on a blog post they like?

Asking these questions might produce some eye-opening results. For example, maybe over half of your readers prefer Facebook over Twitter, and you don’t even have a Facebook page. Or maybe most of your readers prefer receiving email newsletters, but you don’t offer one. Or maybe very few of your readers use YouTube, yet you’ve been concentrating on making videos. This list is, of course, just a small sampling of the questions you can ask, but by keeping them general, you can adjust what you’re doing as a blogger rather than focusing only on what you’re doing in relation to your niche.

The Dreaded Essay Question

If you want to get people to respond, you have to either 1) offer some kind of prize, discount, or giveaway for those who answer the questions or 2) keep it short and simple. Usually, it pays to do both.

But, at the end, I’m a big fan of having an option essay question. People who are in a hurry can skip it, but your most voal audience members will respond. What should you ask them?

Be pointed (if you just say “Any comments?” people won’t know what to write), but give them the chance to talk without having to be too specific with an answer. Ask what frustrates them about blogs, what they love about blogs, and what they wish to see in the blogs they read. Their answers won’t be something you can chart on graph paper, in most cases, but reading these comments can give you a better understand of what your readers are thinking. Sometimes that’s better than percentages and charts.

Sharing is Caring

After you compile the results, share them! Don’t just share them with the other bloggers who participated. Post them on your blog or create a downloadable report so that others can see the state of your blogosphere. Part of what I loved about the Blogging Success Summit 2011 keynote is that Richard was so open and willing to share the results. Undoubtedly, Technorati does these reports because they benefit their company, but the blogging community is all in this together. Sharing results makes the entire blogosphere stronger.

Will I see you at future Blogging Success Summit 2011 presentations? There’s still time to sign up to participate, and you’ll get recordings of any presentations you may have already missed!

In Which We Discuss Who You Want to Speak at BlogWorld ’11


As the person tasked with stocking BlogWorld with the absolute best educational content possible, I’m very interested in knowing who our attendees enjoy hearing speak. We’re pretty sure we have an idea of what you’re looking for, but we can’t base a successful conference on assumptions, right?

So we asked.

  • Many of your suggestions aren’t surprises. Chris Brogan, Brian Solis, Scott Stratten, Darren Rowse, Sonia Simone, Amber Naslund and Aliza Sherman are popular choices because they’re entertaining, engaging and educational. Their talks at BlogWorld are always well received.
  • Women were well represented. Though there were more recommendations for men than women, it wasn’t a huge, far off difference. This shouldn’t surprise me at all, but because of all the brouhaha over how there are always more men then women speaking, it’s always something I look into.
  • We received multiple recommendations for speakers who are new to BlogWorld including Danny Brown, Erica Douglass, Pace Smith, Pat Flynn  and Tamsen McMahon. Some of these speakers were already on our radar, and others we’re going to look into. We’re always looking for new speakers and content.
  • A few of the commenters asked if we could have more solo sessions over panels. It’s something the BlogWorld team will discuss as we like to have a good balance. Panels are a way of showing more than one side of a story, and, also, showcasing several speakers at once.

So what’s next? We’re  making a list of all the recommendations. When the time comes We’ll invite most to submit a proposal to speak. For those speakers we’re not familiar with, I’m going to research their blogs and books and see if there are any videos up of prior speaking engagements. If I feel they’ll be a good fit I’ll invite them to submit proposals as well.

We’ll reaching out to you with more questions as we plan our content and conference. Your input is extremely valuable to us and we appreciate your taking time out to let us know what you think.

How Bloggers can Use Location-Based Social Media


I’ll be the first to admit that I thought the entire concept behind Foursquare was stupid when I first heard about it. In fact, I remember ranting to a friend of mine that it was creepy to tell people what you were doing and where you were going at every moment of the day, not to mention dangerous, since it means that stalkers can find you and thieves know when you’re not at home.

Maybe those things are still true, at least in some cases, but if you’re smart about it, location-based social media services can help you as a blogger. I think that over the next several months, we’ll continue to see an increase in the options available, as well as the number of users, and I have to admit…the mayorships and badges and such are growing on me. Yes, I am a huge dork and constantly try to overthrow my roommate as mayor of Red Robin.

I’m by no means an expert on location-based services, so I’ll give you the tips I’ve come across with my personal use, and hopefully you all can chime in as well with even more tips on how bloggers can use this kind of new media!

  • Building Your Brand

I’m a fan of the fact that you can link location apps directly to Facebook and Twitter, allowing you to spread the word about what you’re doing, even if people don’t use these services themselves. In fact, because of my paranoia about the creep factor, I don’t actually accept friend requests and the like on Foursquare itself. Maybe that will change in the future, but right now, I like being about to check in privately to earn discounts and free stuff, but publicize it to my Twitter account when and how I want. When you go places that make sense to your brand, it helps build that image on other social media sites. For example, if you’re a parenting blogger, it makes sense to check in when you’re shopping at Gymboree and if you’re a food blogger, it makes sense to check in when you’re out to eat or grocery shopping. Incorporating pictures is even better if you’re able to do so!

  • Earn Free Stuff

Like I said, sometimes, I’ll check in privately, without publicizing to Twitter, because I know that a location offers free stuff to those who check in or become mayors. Although I’m generally a lover of getting crap for free (fact.), this can also help your blog if you’re looking for products to review but don’t have tons of cash on hand to make purchases or the notoriety to get noticed by the big brands yet. For example, a few months ago, Gap was offering free jeans to the first several thousand people to check in at one of their locations, and that would be a perfect review product if you’re a fashion blogger.

  • Conference Connections

When I was at BlogWorld, location-based services were extremely helpful because I could see what my friends were doing and where people were without having to call or text anyone. For example, there was a party one night that I was on the fence about attending because I’m not a fan of huge crowds. I checked out the check-ins for that location on Foursuare and made the decision not to go based on the huge number of people already at that event. Oh, and while I was doing that, one of my friends popped up checking in somewhere else, and it looked like a much smaller event (it was), so I went and had a blast. At conferences, bloggers often don’t personally know tons of other people, so it can be weird to ask for a cell number. Check-ins allow you to find the people you want to meet without being a total creeper.

Ok, those are my favorite three tips for using location-based social networking if you’re a blogger. How do you use this form of new media?

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