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June 2011

Is “Blog Every Day” Overrated Blogging Advice?


When you started out blogging, whether it was 5 years ago or last week, were you told to “blog every day”? Did you read that blogging every day was the only way to grow your numbers and make more money?

In a guest post on Daily Blog Tips, Ali Luke says that is the most overrated advice she’s received. She gives a few reason why this might not be the best piece of advice for you to follow. Some of the reasons include:

  • You’re wasting your time – When you first start out, you have virtually no readers
  • Readers don’t necessarily like it – Is information overload causing some of your readers to unsubscribe?

She has a few more reasons why you should consider not blogging every day, which you can read here. She also points out that there are cases when blogging every day does work.

For example, if you write a newsy or entertainment type blog, you’re obviously going to blog every day to keep your audience up to date. She also mentions if you do short and to the point posts, like Seth Godin, then readers may not have a problem with the daily posts.

Do you think the advice to “blog every day” is overrated?

Image Source: SXC

E-Reader Ownership Continues to Dominate Over Tablets


According to a recent study by Pew Internet, adults in the United States are buying e-readers at a much faster rate than tablets. The number of adults who own an e-book reader doubled to 12%, compared to only 8% who own a tablet.

Both numbers have seen growth over the past six months, but the e-reader owners jumped by a much larger percentage. Adults owning an e-book reader were at 6% in November 2010 and tablet owners were at 5%.

E-Readers Over Tablets

Other interesting growth statistics from the last six months include:

  • E-reader ownership among parents has grown more rapidly than it has among-non-parents.
  • E-reader ownership grew at a faster pace among Hispanic adults over white or African-American adults.
  • Ownership among adults ages 18-49 grew more rapidly than any other age group.

The study also tracked how many people owned both an e-reader and a tablet. 5% say they own a tablet but not an e-reader. I’m assuming they mean a physical Kindle or Nook. But … why would they when they can just download the app for free?

There’s definitely still a debate brewing over whether to purchase an e-reader or a tablet. While I personally would rather own a tablet with the Kindle app, I think it ultimately depends on what you plan to use it for, what you’re looking for, and how much you’re willing to spend. CNET has a great article that discusses the pros and cons of both.

So, tell us – do you own an e-reader, a tablet, or both?

Does Audi’s Social Media Plan Result in More Car Sales?


There’s a lot of talk out in the social media world about ROI (Return On Investment). The question being asked is, is there an ROI when it comes to a company’s social media plan? Can they tell that interacting with fans on Facebook and Twitter followers results in more sales?

The short answer is “No”, according to Audi. “Today the equation to measure that doesn’t exist,” says Doug Clark, Audi of America’s general manager for social media and customer engagement.

Audi has done quite a bit when it comes to spending dollars on their Social Media campaign. They promoted a Twitter hashtag for a TV commercial, as well as purchased a Promoted Trend ad. They’ve also hired Klout to help find the most influential people on Facebook and Twitter. And then there was the Twitter contest where the winner won a trip to California to test drive some Audis and chose a charity for Audi to donate $25,000 to.

Whether or not these efforts turn into sales doesn’t really bother them that much.

Clark said that Facebook and Twitter “are places where we know tech-minded consumers are active, where they’re seeking to engage with the brand.” He went on to say, “But can I say that a fan is more likely to buy an Audi? No.

Have you seen an ROI with your social media efforts? If so, how do you measure it?

Source: Fox Business

Athletes for the 2012 Olympic Games are Free to Tweet


The Olympic Committee has officially ruled that the athletes competing in the 2012 Olympic Games in London will be allowed to tweet and blog, as long as they follow the set guidelines.

They are allowed to write “first-person, diary-type” tweets and post, but may not act as reporters.

The Olympic website explains that they “actively encourage and supports athletes… to take part in ‘social media’ and to post, blog and tweet their experiences,” but caution that athletes “may be withdrawn without notice” if they breach the guidelines.

Athletes are also allowed to upload personal photos, which was banned during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, as long as they do not sell or distribute them in any way.

You can read the entire document put out by the IOC here. Do you like this new ruling?

How Southwest Airlines Made Their Money Back From Sponsoring BlogWorld


… by Walt Ribeiro

Disclosure: I am not affiliated with BlogWorld or Southwest.

Back in 2009 I was asked to speak at BlogWorld, and I was immediately excited to present to other artists and entrepreneurs about how they can apply what I learned from growing my online presence. BlogWorld has a rich and well-informed online community, so I was speaking to a savvy and interested audience – a presenters dream.

But I live in New York City, and BlogWorld was in Las Vegas. So Southwest offered vouchers to presenters, and although I was unsure about flying a new airline, I wasn’t going to say no. As Southwest would find out, they made their money back ten-fold.

Bloggers – what Blogworld has that no other conference has:
Bloggers read a lot of blogs, podcaster listen to a lot of podcasters. And ultimately, the attendees at Blogworld have a collective audience of millions of followers.

If I promote a product in a newspaper, it gets seen by 20,000 people, and then the next day it’s as if it never existed. But if I promote my company through Blogworld, then it lives online – forever. That, and the fact that Bloggers will share, talk, tweet, blog, facebook, and praise the company to their community is huge, and creates a sharing ripple effect that traditional media can’t replicate.

Case in point – not only has Southwest made back their money on my purchases alone, but I tweeted about it and documented the entire experience for my followers.

Loss Leaders create new customers:
You can taste test a beer at a bar before you buy it, and you can testdrive a car before purchasing. But then how come you can’t test ride a plane? Or a train ride?

Loss leaders have been around since commerce has been around. Freemium models are a type of loss leader, where companies give intro features in hopes that you become a paying member for ‘pro’ features. Internships are loss leaders where employees hope to get their foot in the door and become a part of the full-time staff.

So when Southwest was offering me a free flight, it surely was an expensive loss leader. But the upside has been much greater – not only do I now use them exclusively since that day going forward, but I even became a credit card member of theirs.

So what does this mean? Should airlines give away free tickets to new customers? Wouldn’t be a bad idea. It’s the only way I would have ever tried the product before paying. But one thing is for sure, you have to spend money before you make money – the difference is in where you spend that money, and in today’s online world it’s now cheaper, more viral, more fun, and trackable. That’s the power of social media’s biggest conference and of social media itself.

BlogWorld contributor Walt Ribeiro is founder of For Orchestra where he arranges pop and rock songs for orchestra every week – from Lady Gaga, Slayer, and more. He frequents many social media, tech, and music conferences, and spoke at BlogWorld in 2009 and 2010.

Grow Your Blog Now Via Social Media: Wrap-Up


… by Lori Randall Stradtman

Were you able to attend BlogWorld Expo in New York? If not, you missed a wonderful opportunity to meet really cool, savvy people and to learn what they’re best at, complete with tips, tricks, and tutorials. I love the tutorials part.

My session was “Grow Your Blog Now Via Social Media” and I was thrilled to see so many people excited to learn more about integrating Social Media into their blogging activities. These days, one truly supports the other if done well. I shared some of my favorite tips and tricks about Facebook Edgerank. Few people knew that only 1% of status updates make it to the “Top News” wall and that by changing the way you post you can do a lot better than those odds. After all, you can have the goose that lays golden eggs, but if nobody knows about it… It’s not nearly as much fun for all involved.

One of the highlights of the session was to share my Blogging Jump Start Project. It’s a free plan that anybody can use to build their blog much faster and to support their blogging friends. Most of our parents and neighbors don’t understand what it means to have a comment shared on your blog or the excitement you feel when somebody shares a link to it on Facebook or Twitter. Only bloggers really understand. Who better to support each other than other bloggers? I’ll be sharing more about this in my next newsletter, but would be happy to share all on here for those who might have missed this session or those I didn’t get to respond to after we were done. We had to clear out to make room for the next speaker!

It was particularly exciting to see how many women authors responded to my message and have contacted me since then. It’s opened my eyes to where I want to focus in Social Media. Now I’m refining my approach to address their need to build a Social Media platform that will help to sell their books as they publish. It’s a daunting task now that more publishers demand this before they will consider even the most accomplished writers.

Without this uniquely enjoyable BlogWorld speaking experience I would never have met the same people and made the same important refinements in my business plan. THANK YOU!!!

Would you like to know anything else about growing your blog via Social Media? I’m happy to help.

Lori Randall Stradtman designs, speaks professionally, and uses her 8+ years experience in online community and social media to write for Social Media Examiner, Smart Brief, and Enterprise Efficiency. Her company works with clients across North America, the UK, and Australia.

Conquering the Blogger To-Do List


We all have them – those mental to-do lists of things that never seem to get done. How many times have you been having a conversation with another blogger who’s telling you about something they’ve recently done only to respond with, “Yeah, I really need to get around to that.”

Only problem? We rarely actually get around to those things. The real kicker is that a lot of stuff on our to-do lists are actually items that don’t take much time or effort to do. You know, stuff like making sure your blog has a mobile version or adding a mailing list sign-up form on your sidebar. Tasks that only take a few minutes, but that make us want to throw temper tantrums, kind of like when you tell the kids to go brush their teeth. It’s inexplicable, but that’s the sad truth. They never seem to get off the to-do list.

Unless you’re motivated.

Today, I wanted to talk about getting motivated to conquer that list. As your weekend dies down, this is the perfect opportunity to start your Monday off on the right foot. It doesn’t matter how busy your schedule might be – you can kick this list to the curb. Here’s how:

Step One: Write down the tasks  you have to do.

Often, we forget about all the little stuff that we should be doing simply because they’re out of sight, out of mind. Sit down and actually pen a list. I like to actually write it on a piece of paper, but you can also use notepad on your computer or even a note-taking ap on your phone/iPad. Don’t include the daily tasks that you do already, projects you’re working on, etc. Just include all the little crap that you have to do that you usually don’t.

Step Two: Break down the tasks even farther.

Look at each task you have to do and break it down into a bunch of steps. For example, let’s say one of your tasks is creating a mailing list for your blog. Your individual steps for that task could include researching your mailing list options, signing up for one of them, setting up your account, creating a sign-up form, and adding the code to your blog sidebar. Do this for each task on your list so you have a really huge list of really simple steps.

Step Three: Label each step with a time.

How long will it take you to do each step? Most of the time, you’ll find that the answer is 5 – 10 minutes, though for some, your answer may be a little longer. Regardless, write an estimated time beside each task.

Step Four: Every day, do at least one or two steps.

You have five minutes while you’re waiting for something to download. Do a step. Adding ten minutes before you stop working for the day isn’t much. Do a step. You typically waste over an hour on Twitter at night…instead, do a step. Step by step, you’ll finish everything on your list. Just do something that corresponds with how much time you have whenever you’d typically be wasting time.

Of course, the real kick in the bum is that the list never ends. As you cross things off (which is super gratifying), you’ll think of other things to add to your list, so it will keep growing. That’s okay, because you’ll be moving forward. It’s amazing how much you can get done when you just do a few things every day.

How to Review Your Friends’ Products


Right now, I have a bunch of products (mostly ebooks) waiting in the wings, waiting to be reviewed. A little known fact about me is that I absolutely love doing product reviews. I actually review fairly frequently at another blog, under a pen name, and I’ve been known to review everything from restaurants to gummy bears to toilet paper. Because that’s not awkward.

Anyway, by now, I’m sure you’ve seen advice on how to write a good product review, but I’ll be the first to admit that things get a little sticky when the product in question is from a friend. It’s not that you can’t be objective; you can. Reviewing friends’ products just…complicates things.

Not Every Product is a Winner

One of the problems I had when I first started working as a reviewer was that I would chat about everything I tried out as though it was a greatest thing since sliced bread. Of course, things might seem cool when you first use them, but when you really think about it, slice bread is pretty darn handy. Does everything live up to it? Nope.

Authors, manufacturers, etc. (let’s just call them producers from now on) love when you give them gushing reviews online, but it’s really important for you as a reviewer to remember that you aren’t doing them any favors by posting that kind of thing. If all I write about are the good points to your product and how much I loved it, how can you change to create a better product in the future? Critical feedback is part of evolving as a company.

This is even more easily forgotten if the person is your friend, because we want to believe that the person we know is the bee’s knees. Again, though, you aren’t really supporting your friend if you just gush, even if the product is great. I recommend always posting at least one negative comment in every review. Make it something constructive, something the producer can consider changing in the future. Even if it is a little thing, it will make your review more balanced. (Likewise, even if I give a really bad review, I try to pull out one good thing that I can say. People need to know what they’re doing right.)

Bad Review Backlash

If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a bad review, you know how much they hurt. Even if you haven’t, think back to a time when you received a negative comment. When you work hard on something, whether that be a book or a blog post, it makes you feel crummy when someone doesn’t like it.

Most of the time, you can pick yourself up, dust the dirt from your bum, and work hard not to get knocked down next time. There’s an extra little bit of bitterness when it’s a friend who says something bad about you, though.

I’ve never had any bad reviews from friends, but that’s probably because I’ve only ever released one product (and it wasn’t a huge launch or anything). I have, however, had friends really, really disagree with one of my blog posts, to the point where they’ve written their own to talk about how much they disagree with me. I’m someone who values that kind of debate and criticism…but it still hurts sometimes. And not everyone out there places value on the negative. Some people just get hurt.

It’s a fine line you have to walk. When writing something negative about someone’s product, make sure that:

  1. You’re fair.
  2. You’re extremely clear.
  3. You remember the person is…a person.

The last point is most important of all. We all get caught up in writing sometimes, and occasionally attempts to be funny or make a point come off as snarky and petty. The person is going to read what you wrote. If you wouldn’t say those things in a face-to-face conversation, don’t say them on your blog, even if you are right. Giving a negative review isn’t the same as slamming someone.

Some producers are going to have a negative reaction to your review, even if you were 99% positive in what you had to say. People get hurt easily, especially when they’ve worked hard on a product, so they focus on the one negative thing you had to say. If a producer, especially a friend, gets defensive on your blog, take it behind closed doors. Rather than starting a public comment war (even if it is good for traffic), email the person privately. If this person truly is your friend, you can show them that respect.

Branding vs. Friendship

Let’s say that I have a friend who asks me to review a book. I agree, and the book is really, really dull. If my brand is the snarky “bitch” blogger who isn’t afraid to speak her mind, should I follow that formula and review her book as though I didn’t know her? I owe it to my readers, right?!?!

Maybe…but I think you have to look inward and decide if branding is more important than your friendship.

Obviously, you don’t want to confuse your readers. At the same time, losing a strong friendship probably isn’t worth gaining a few fans on your blog. Maybe it is to you. That’s something you have decide for yourself, based on the strength of your friendship and your dedication to your business and brand. It’s okay if the answer changes from person to person – there is no one right answer. But don’t fall into the trap of thinking you have to write a review in a certain way. It’s your blog. You don’t have to do anything.

You can still be honest when writing a review, and you can actually still be true to your brand. We’re writers and this is an art. Don’t forget that. Look at it like a challenge – if its your brand, how can you be the same loud-mouthed, not-afraid-to-be-mean reviewer without hurting your friends’ feelings? You have to get creative, but you can do it.

The Art of Saying No

The final point I wanted to hit on this subject is that you can always refuse to review a product. Sometimes, I’m approached by friends who want me to review things for my blog that aren’t a very good fit. I want to encourage and support them (especially if they’ve encouraged and supported me in the past), but it doesn’t always make sense. When this is the case, ask yourself this question: If I can’t review their product, what can I do?

Maybe you can recommend them to a friend who’s blog would be a better fit. Maybe you can give them a shout-out on Twitter. Maybe you can twist the review into something that would be relevant for your blog.

Point in case – several months ago, some awesome people (Andy Hayes and Nathalie Lussier) launched a new project together about health eating and travel. Andy asked if I could help promote it, and I quickly said yes. I love Andy! But then, I started to wonder what the heck I had gotten myself into. Here at BlogWorld, I blog about new media…not healthy eating OR travel. So instead of just plastering a review on the site that didn’t make sense for the sake of fulfilling a promise to a friend, I twisted it around to make it relevant. You have to get creative, but almost any product can be relevant to almost any niche if you look for the connection.

Don’t be afraid to say no after you’ve tried out the product. Once, I agreed to review a product that, once I tried it, was really, really not something I wanted to recommend to readers. So, I emailed the producer. I simply told him that I’m happy to print the review, but it wasn’t a very good one since I didn’t think my readers would like the product. Instead, I offered to send him the review privately, which would still give him the benefits of my feedback without embarrassing him on my blog. I let him decide.

There is a sense of duty, somewhat, to post a negative review to warn readers. If something is a scam in some way, I won’t hold back, even for a friend. Here’s my feeling though: if you’re going to buy a product, you should do your research and read what others are saying about the product. My negative review of something doesn’t serve to make people aware of the product, like a positive review does. If they weren’t aware of the product, they weren’t going to buy it anyway. Negative reviews are meant to warn people who are already considering buying the product. So, how badly do you feel you have to warn your readers? Are other sites already doing that en force? If so, maybe maintaining a friendship is more important.

The bottom line is this: there are a lot of questions I can’t answer about this topic, a lot of “maybes” that you’re going to have to answer for yourself. It’s a tough situation, which is why this post ended up being so long! I’d love to hear about your experiences and your opinions…leave a comment! Have you ever posted a bad review of a friend’s product?

Friday Findings – June 24, 2011


Friday Findings is a weekly series where I show some link love and bring you interesting stories from around the web. From social media news and viral videos, to news on technology and more.

Friday Findings for June 24, 2011:

Live-blogging the Pottermore Announcement (from the Couch) -Have you heard the news about Harry Potter author JK Rowling’s latest project? It’s called Pottermore and Slate live-blogged (from the couch) the announcement. The site is set to launch in October.

FBI Used Social Media To Search for Fugitive Who Inspired “The Departed” [VIDEO] – After capturing a fugitive with help from  social media, even the FBI are fans. James “Whitey” Bulger has been arrested along with his girlfriend Catherine Greig. The FBI began using social media in 2009.

Why Google Might Beat its Antitrust Case – Google is facing a Federal Trade Commission antitrust investigation concerning its search practices. They’ve responded to the allegations via their blog. Read on to see how they might beat the case.

Hit iOS Game “The Moron Test” Coming To Mac/PC, Will Be Amazon’s First Digital Game Exclusive -Have you taken the moron test? Beware, it’s addicting and draws you in. Get ready. It’s about to make it to your desktop!

Facebook’s longest serving employee is set to leave – and yes, he’s set for life – Kevin Colleran is Facebook’s longest serving employee and news has surfaced that he’s leaving in July. He has no immediate plans after leaving Facebook, except to do some traveling.

Social Media Users Tend to be More Connected in Real Life


One might think that a person who spends a lot of time on Social Media sites doesn’t have a life or any meaningful relationships outside the walls of their home. But a new study done by Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, shows that’s not the case. Those quite active in social media tend to be more connected in real life.

Here are the nuts and bolts of the study.

The study found that around 59% of internet users are also active on Social Networks, most of which are on Facebook.  That number is up 34% from last year. About half of the Facebook users log on daily and have more close relationships with people in real life, than non-Facebook users.

Here are a few more interesting findings from the study:

  • Facebook users are more trusting than others
  • Facebook users get more social support than other people
  • Facebook users are much more politically engaged than most people
  • Facebook revives “dormant” relationships
  • Social networking sites are increasingly used to keep up with close social ties

What do you think? Have your relationships and social life benefited from your Facebook use?

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