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September 2012

8th Annual Podcasting Awards to Be Held at New Media Expo (#NMX)

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New Media Expo ’13 is going to be a great time for podcasters. In addition to a stellar podcasting track put together by Cliff Ravenscraft, we’re happy to report that we’ll also be holding the 8th annual Podcasting Awards ceremony at our event.

That’s right. We’re going to feature one night where we celebrate all things podcasting and pay homage to some pretty special people.

To make it easy for all nominees to attend, NMX is offering:

  • A free exhibits pass or 50% off Content Creator pass for every finalist
  • A 50% off or exhibits pass for every nominee
  • Special speaking and live podcasting opportunities

Stay tuned for announcements regarding nominees and the date, time and location of the 8th Annual Podcasting Awards. If you’re interested is sponsoring the podcasting awards, please contact the intrepid Patti Hosking at patti@blogworldexpo.com

NMX ’13 Podcasting Track Lineup

We also think you’ll be pretty pleased with the lineup track leader Cliff Ravenscraft put together to form our Podcasting Track. Check out our speakers:

  • Cesar Abed – The Benefits Of Being The First To Podcast Within Your Niche
  • Darnell Darnell – Tips and Techniques for Building a Successful Fan Podcast
  • Craig Duswalt – How to Create New Content & Think Outside the Box When Podcasting
  • Gordon Firemark – Ten Legal Cases Every Podcaster, Blogger or Media Producer Should Know About
  • Erik Fisher – What You Need To Know To Reach Your Audience On Facebook: Understand Facebook Edgerank For Content Creators
  • Rob Greenlee – Learn About The Largest And Fastest Growing “Must Be On” Distribution Platforms In 2013
  • Karin Hoegh – How To Effectively Podcast To A Global Audience
  • Perry Lawrence – Video Podcasting – What You Need To Know To Get Started
  • Lou Mongello – 7 Ways to Find, Sign and Profit from Sponsors for your Brand
  • Leslie Samuel – How To Podcast Like A Pro And Never Edit – Say Goodbye To Post Production
  • Jonathan Shank – How To Use A Virtual Assistant To Produce Your Podcast
  • Jaime Tardy – How to Create Amazing Interviews for your Podcast
  • Jason Van Orden– Media Money: 5 Action Plans for Profiting from Your Blog, Podcast or WebTV Show
  • Rob Walch – Audio Podcasting – Doing it all from your iPad

Hope to see you in January. And don’t forget – Early bird pricing for New Media Expo ’13 ends this Friday, September 28th. Act quickly to save up to 50% on all pricing. REGISTER NOW!

 

How Finding Ten New Readers Can Lead to a Blog Traffic Explosion

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Want more blog traffic? This post teaches you exactly how to leverage just ten readers to explode your blog traffic.

Finding new readers is the bane of my blogging existence, and I don’t think I’m alone. Without blog traffic, you might as well write in a private journal, because you certainly won’t make money or spread your ideas online. I’m constantly on the lookout for new traffic-building techniques, and today I wanted to share with you one of my favorite traffic-building techniques when your blog is new (and really, this technique can work for established bloggers as well).

Best of all, it only takes ten new readers. You can find ten readers, right?

Finding Ten New Readers

The first step in this process is to find ten new readers. This doesn’t mean convincing people in your current circles to stop by your blog more often. It doesn’t even mean reaching out to friends of friends. These people are already in your extended circle of potential readers. You want to find ten readers who are completely new to your blog.

My favorite way to do this is to find new bloggers in my niche and leave comments. Comments are not going to bring you a wave of traffic, but that doesn’t mean they’re worthless. You don’t need millions of new readers. You just need a handful.

Another way to find brand new readers is to participate in link parties or blog hops. These are especially popular in niches like parenting, DIY, and food. Again, you are likely not going to get thousands or even hundreds of new readers this way, but for this specific technique, you only need ten or so.

The Key to Traffic Explosion

Once you find the new readers—and this is important—you have to treat them like VIPs. Go the extra mile to make them feel welcome on your blog. You want to treat these relationships like they are the most important ones you’ll ever have.

Don’t be inauthentic during this step. Yes, you want to leverage your relationships for traffic, but if that’s all you care about, you’re doing it wrong. Never use people and then ignore them once you’ve reaped the benefits. I’ve seen people do this and I’ve had it done to me, and it is pretty upsetting. So build real friendships. Traffic is just the benefit.

Here are a few ways to treat your new readers like VIPs:

  • Find and follow them on Twitter and other social networks.
  • Interact with them on places other than your blog (social networks, their own blogs, etc.)
  • Reply to every comment they leave on your blog (you should be doing this anyway).
  • Email them thanking them for their comment. You don’t have to do this every time, but with especially good comments, reaching out via email is a nice gesture.
  • Continue to read and comment on their blogs.

Basically, build not just a relationship, but an actual friendship. Some people will be receptive to this, and some won’t. That’s okay. Don’t force it because you want traffic benefits. Just see how friendships form naturally. But the point is you can’t just sit around and wait for it to happen. You have to be proactive in finding new online friends outside of your current circle.

How and Why This Works

Once you start treating your readers like VIPs, your traffic will start to snowball. Why does this happen?

  • Readers will see how you treat your community and they’ll be more encouraged to participate.
  • Treating your newest readers like VIPs increases the chance that they’ll tell their friends about your blog.
  • Even if they opt not to spread the word, the special attention makes them more likely to become fans of your blog rather than just one-time readers.

It all starts as a trickle, but if you continue to roll out the red carpet, you’ll see the effects begin to snowball. Like with most things, this takes time and you have to be consistent. Building a community is hard work. But it all starts with ten readers (and actually, if you want to get technical, it all starts with one reader). Even if you’re brand new, you can use the tiny amount of traffic you get today to build momentum.

If you want even more traffic tips, check out the content we have coming up at NMX. We also have sessions on community, monetization, content creation, and more, so you don’t want to miss this event!

More NMX Speakers Added

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The event team here at NMX has confirmed another group of amazing speakers for our conference in January (our first group of speakers are here)! Remember, NMX is back in Las Vegas next year and will be bringing you the best blogging, podcasting, and webTV/video content out there.

To help you learn more about these speakers (and to find all their social media profiles!), be sure to click on their names below. You can also click on the session titles to learn more about the key takeaways from their presentations.

Here are the speakers who have just been added to the roster:

 

Andy Hayes

Live Website Critiques: When You’re Too Close, You Can’t See It

 

Bennet Kelley

Blog Wars: The Changing Legal Landscape for Bloggers

 

Peter Pollock

How to Improve Your Blog with Tools Your Web Host Already Gives You

 

Debba Haupert

25 Ways to be More Re-Pinnable: Engaging Content and the Power of Pinterest

 

Pat Flynn

Proven Methods to Use Free in Your Business to Get More Traffic, More Subscribers, and More Customers

 

Patrice Williams

5 Things You Can do Now to Move from Blogger to Brand

 

Cesar Abeid

The Benefits Of Being The First To Podcast Within Your Niche

 

Erik Fisher

What You Need To Know To Reach Your Audience On Facebook: Understand Facebook Edgerank For Content Creators

 

Leslie Samuel

How To Podcast Like A Pro And Never Edit – Say Goodbye To Post Production

 

Rob Greenlee

Learn About The Largest And Fastest Growing “Must Be On” Distribution Platforms In 2013

 

Jonathan Shank

How To Use A Virtual Assistant To Produce Your Podcast

 

Gordon Firemark

Ten Legal Cases Every Podcaster, Blogger or Media Producer Should Know About

 

Rachel Gerson

Exploit Google Analytics to Discover the Opportunities You’re Missing

 

Amanda Blain

Advanced Techniques: How To Tie Google Plus And Your Blog Together For Increased Exposure In the Search Engines And More Traffic

 

Craig Jarrow

Productivity Power Panel: Learn the Tools, Tactics, & Workflows of Highly Productive Bloggers

 

Jon Morrow

The Anatomy of a 100,000 Visitor Post: A Step-By-Step Guide to Writing Viral Posts That Get Massive Traffic And Shares

 

Elyse Ellis

Link Parties, Blog Hops And Other Little-Known Techniques To Grow And Promote Your Blog

 

David Risley

Blog Monetization Overview: What Are Your Options To Make Money With A Blog?

 

Phil Hollows

The 7 Deadly Sins of List Building

 

Dr. David Perlmutter

Journalism 101 For Bloggers

 

Jessica Northey

How To Build Your Blog Community: Three Top Bloggers Share Their Secrets

 

Perry Lawrence

Video Podcasting – What You Need to Know

 

Jaime Tardy

How to Create Amazing Interviews for your Podcast

 

Craig Duswalt

How to Create New Content & Think Outside the Box When Podcasting

 

Lou Mongello

7 Ways to Find, Sign and Profit from Sponsors for your Brand

 

Rob Walch

Audio Podcasting – Doing it all from your iPad

 

Darrell Darnell

Tips and Techniques for Building a Successful Fan Podcast

 

Bob Dunn

How to Laser-focus Your WordPress Blog In 60 Minutes

 

Mitch Canter

Advanced Blog Design: The Latest Tools, Trends & Best Practices You Can Implement Today!

 

Aaron Hockley

You’re a Better Photographer Than You Realize: Photography Tips for New Media

 

Gary Arndt

How To Compete Against Billion Dollar Media Empires And Win

 

Remember, the earlier you buy your ticket to NMX in Las Vegas on January 6-8, 2013 – the more you save!  Get your pass this week before prices go up on Saturday, September 22!

REGISTER NOW!

The Top 10 Restaurants Using Social Media [Infographic]

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Who among us wouldn’t love having nearly 31.4 million likes on Facebook or 2.8 million Twitter followers? That’s the kind of social media following Starbucks has–and it’s also dominating Google+ and Pinterest (and they come in second for YouTube and Klout, following Burger King and Taco Bell respectively).

Restaurant Social Media Top 10

Obviously, Starbucks and most of the other restaurants on this list have so many followers not only because they run their social media accounts well, but because people like their products. That’s a great lesson for all restaurant owners interested in boosting their social presence. Just like “content is king” in the blogging world, your content (i.e. your products) is king in the restaurant industry. It doesn’t matter how engaging you are on Facebook or Twitter if your food doesn’t taste good.

Some other observations I have about the above lists:

  • Restaurants are just starting to realize the importance of Pinterest. You don’t have to be a huge chain to break into the top ten list, since there’s not a ton of competition on Pinterest yet. (Check out our five-day series on creating a Pinterest profile from scratch if you don’t yet have an account there.)
  • YouTube is another place you can dominate, even if you aren’t a massive chain. Create interesting video content (not just commercials), and ask people to subscribe to your channel.
  • People aren’t really “checking in” to restaurants, but they are using apps to read about restaurants online. So make sure your restaurant has a presence on Yelp and other mobile apps.

Want to learn more about using social media for your restaurant? Consider grabbing a ticket to NMX’s Social Media Business Summit, which features speakers and sessions for every education level, from those of you new to social media to social media managers who have been using it for years.

How to Make More Money by Writing Killer Content for Clients

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The world of blogging is always changing and as more and more people are looking to outsource their content, it’s more important than ever to make sure those of you who produce posts for other sites, load up articles with as much quality content as possible.

In this post we are going to provide you with some helpful tips to create quality content that will make your clients keep coming back for more. There are plenty of low paying content solutions out there, but if you focus your efforts on quality, you can earn five to ten times more than the average content writer!

Everyone Loves Graphics, Especially Infographics!

There is only so much ongoing text that someone can read. If you are going to be writing on a topic that can be spruced up with some exciting information or stats, be sure to throw them in! Nothing is better than adding a nice numbers chart or some exciting stats to back your statements up. Better yet, why not provide an up sell to your clients by including an infographic with your articles. Through services like Piktochart you can easily create infographics in just minutes for virtually any topic. The only thing better than a killer article is a killer infographic to go with it!

Link Bait Reels in the Readers

Infographics are an excellent example of how to take advantage of viral traffic and getting people to share your stuff, but so is focusing your content on link bait! Link bait is basically writing for the purpose of getting people’s attention and stirring up a commotion. No matter what niche you are in or what you are writing about, you can link to top players and blogs in your space and write content about them, their growth or what they are doing. If you are lucky they might even link back to your or send your content to their social networks. Keep your link bait in good taste your will yield much better long term results!

Include Resources, Quotes and Pictures

As someone who often hires content writers for various sites, it’s honestly a pain when I get an article back from a writer and it’s just a bunch of text blocked together. This is just time consuming and when a reader sees a ton of text, it will probably turn most of them off. Make your articles look better and go further by including pictures, resources and links to other web sites and also some quotes. Once you upload that simple txt file with nothing but text and add in these features, you will have a real work of art!

Perfect English and Grammar is Key!

As mentioned earlier, there are now more content writing services and people looking to do guest blogging than ever before. The problem with having so many people in this space is that the quality is lacking and those who are providing the quality simply cost more money. If you want to be the best in the world of freelance writing, you need to make sure your English (or respective language) is perfect, along with your grammar and how well your articles read. There is nothing worse than having a blog where people are leaving comments and complaining about the quality of your content!

No matter if you are writing for yourself or for a client, it’s all about knowing how to improve your writing style. Not everyone writes the same way, nor should they. This is what makes writers unique and why some writers can earn $5 for an article while others may earn $50-$100. Take the time to write the best content and focus on your high end clients. It’s much easier to write five killer articles at a premium rate than trying to rush through ten articles of low end content for just a few dollars each.

23 Brilliant Bloggers Talk About Podcasting Gear

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Brilliant Bloggers is a bi-weekly series here at NMX where we look at the best posts from around the web all surrounding a specific topic. Every other week, we’ll feature a brilliant blogger, along with a huge list of more resources where you can learn about the topic. You can see more Brilliant Blogger posts or learn how to submit your link for an upcoming edition here.

This Week’s Topic: Podcasting Gear

I guess this week’s edition should be called “Brilliant Podcasters” instead of bloggers.

When it comes to just about anything in life, you’re only as good as your tools. Podcasting is no exception to the rule. If you use high-quality equipment, you’re going to have a better final product. Previously, we compiled a list of Brilliant Bloggers talking about starting a podcast, but today, we’re focusing on the specific gear you can buy to produce the best podcasts.

Podcasters, I hope you’ll also leave your advice in the comments!

Brilliant Blogger of the Week

daniel m clark The Best Podcasting Equipment by Daniel M. Clark

Today’s Brilliant Blogger is probably a familiar name to you if you’ve spent any time reading the NMX blog. Daniel is a regular contributor here, and when it comes to podcasting advice, he really knows his stuff. If you want a simple, great list of equipment to use for your podcast, his site is the place to find it! He goes over everything from hardware and software to WordPress plugins for podcasters on this list.

I also encourage you to check out all of Daniel’s contributions here on the NMX blog if you want to learn more about producing better podcasts. Definitely take a moment to follow him on Twitter at @qaqn after reading all of his great advice.

Even More Brilliant Advice:

  1. Adventures in Podcasting Equipment by Frei Casull (@freicasull)
  2. Best $200 Podcasting Condenser Mics by Matt McGlynn (@recordinghacks)
  3. Choosing the Right Equipment for Your Budget by David Doucette (@residedavid)
  4. Don’t Forget about Shotguns as Podcasting Microphones by Brian Schwartz (@bschwartz)
  5. How I Produce My Podcast by Trent Dyrsmid (@TrentDyrsmid)
  6. How to Start a Podcast – The Gear and Software Needed to Produce Your Own Podcast by Ray Ortega (@podcasthelper)
  7. How to Start a Successful Podcast on a $50 Budget by Jonathan Taylor (@BIBPodcast)
  8. Microphone And Mixer Suggestions For Podcasting And Low-Power Radio by Michael W. Dean (@FreedomFeens)
  9. Microphone Reviews for Podcasting and Video Marketing by Colette Mason (@colettemason)
  10. My Podcasting Gear and the Ms. Ileane Speaks Podcast is Now on iTunes by Ileane Smith (@Ileane)
  11. My Podcasting Gear, Setup, and Process – Lean Blog Podcast by Mark Graban (@MarkGraban)
  12. My Podcasting Equipment by Dan Blank (@DanBlank)
  13. Podcast 101: Session 1: The Basic Gear by Matt Cohen (@cameltoad)
  14. Podcast Equipment by Cliff Ravenscraft (@gspn)
  15. Podcasting Equipment by Ben Curry (@BadDice_Podcast)
  16. Podcasting Equipment: Does size really matter? – Part 1 and Part 2 by Dan Lyons
  17. Podcast Equipment Jim Uses by Jim Harold (@ParanormalPdcst)
  18. Quite Possibly the Best Starter Microphone For Podcasters by David Jackson (@learntopodcast)
  19. Solid Option for Portable Podcasting: iRig Mic and iRig Recorder for iOS by Tris Hussey (@trishussey)
  20. Starting A Podcast: The Best Recording Equipment & Platforms You Should Use by James Bruce (@w0lfiesmith)
  21. The Top Five Most Affordable Podcasting Microphones by Briley Kenney (@BrileyK)
  22. What is the Best USB Microphone for Podcasting? by Jon Buscall (@jonbuscall)

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

Next Brilliant Blogger Topic: Media Kits

I’d love to include a link to your post in our next installment– and if you head to the Brilliant Bloggers Schedule, you can see even more upcoming posts. We all have something to learn from one another, so please don’t be shy! Head to the schedule today to learn how to submit your post so I won’t miss it.

How to Prepare for Your First Recorded Interview

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microphone Blogging allows you to become an authority in your niche, and as you grow in popularity, you may get interview requests. Email interviews are pretty easy. You can go back in and edit your answers until it readers perfectly. Recorded interviews are a completely different game, though. You have to give answers off the cuff, and if you say something silly, you can’t really go back and reword it.

I’m an introvert, so video or podcast interviews make me a little nervous. Okay, a lot nervous! Yet I still jump at the chance to do them because they are fabulous for promoting your blog and getting your name out there. Over the years, I’ve developed a few techniques to help me prepare for interviews so they go as smoothly as possible.

Even if you’re not intimidated by being on camera or recording a podcast with someone, preparing can really help you give a much better interview. If your interviews are scattered and rambling, you’ll be less likely to get invited to do them in the future.

Here are my best tips:

  • Do some research on the person interviewing you.

If you’re the interviewer, you need to do tons of research on the person you’re interviewing in order to ask the right questions. But if you’re the interviewee, you should do some research as well. Get to know the person who will be interviewing you to find out about their style. Will the interview be causal and fun? Will it be more formal? Who have they interviewed in the past? Watch/listen to older interviews when possible so you have a little insight as to what yours will be like.

  • Ask for questions in advance.

You can be best prepared to answer questions when you have some time to think about them. The nature of a recorded interview means that follow-up questions will pop up, but get as many questions as possible in advance.

  • Write down the points you want to cover.

Once you have the questions, go over each one and write down the points you want to cover regarding them. You don’t want to sound scripted, but you also don’t want to forget to mention certain points. It’s easy to get flustered or so excited talking about a certain topic that you forget where you were going with your response. Having a few notes in front of you helps avoid rambling and missed opportunities.

  • Open all links in relevant tabs before the interview.

What are you going to be talking about during the interview? Think about all of the websites, projects, businesses, etc. that you’re going to reference during the interview and have any relevant links open in a new tab. During the interview, it’s easy to forget the name of that cool blogger you wanted to mention or the URL of a certain tool you recommend. Don’t kick yourself for forgetting or being unable to answer follow up questions.

  • Get a good mic.

Bad sound can kill an interview. If the sound quality is poor, people won’t listen to or watch your interview, so having a good mic is important. Luckily, good doesn’t have to mean expensive. If you’re going to do tons of interviews or start your own podcast, go for the highest quality mic you can afford. But if you’re just doing occasional interviews, an inexpensive mic works just fine as long as you don’t sound fuzzy or cut out as you’re giving answers.

  • Make sure you have a secluded, quiet space and a undisturbed block of time set aside for the interview.

Get your kids out of the house for an hour. Shut the windows to block out traffic, dogs, and other noise outside of your control. Turn off your phone. These all seem like simple things, but you’d be amazed how many people don’t do them!

  • Breathe, smile, and speak slowly.

Most people, myself included, have a tendency to speak very quickly when they are nervous. Be conscious of this so you slow down when you’re speaking. It’s okay to say, “Hm…let me think…” and speak slowly if you’re surprised by a follow up question and not sure off the top of your head how to answer it. People don’t need you to rush, and they definitely need to understand you. This is especially important if you have an accent.

If you’re nervous, acknowledge it to yourself and remember that most people won’t notice the little mistakes. You’re being interviewed because you know your stuff and your opinion is respected, so don’t worry too much. You’ll be fine.

After all, if I can do it, anyone can do it!

New Attendee Orientation Announced for NMX

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Last year at the conference formerly known as BlogWorld, members of the NMX team had the honor and pleasure of spending most of our time in the New Media Lounge where we could talk with attendees, answer questions, take comments and even offer tips about getting the most out of one’s conference experience. This got us to thinking…what if we offered our brand new attendees the opportunity to have their questions answered ahead of time? What if we got to show them around a bit so they didn’t feel so  “new” when the conference starts?

What if?

A new attendee orientation is born.

On Sunday, January 6th, 2013, at 9:00 a.m., we will be holding a new attendee orientation in the New Media Lounge.  While there, new attendees will:

  • Learn about NMX from the NMX founders.
  • Receive a description of the different educational content from track leaders and conference directors.
  • Get a map of the show floor, plus tips for making the most of the exhibits from the NMX sales team.
  • Take a tour of the Rio’s conference facility.
  • Receive tips and best practices for making the most of networking, learning and having a positive conference experience from NMX’s community director (Yours Truly).
  • Have questions answered by the NMX team.

Reaching out to new attendees throughout the event

In addition to the orientation, we’d like new attendees to know we’ll have their backs throughout NMX.

Ambassadors: We’re going to be appointing a couple of attendee ambassadors. These ambassadors are long-time alumni who are passionate about NMX and will be available throughout the conference to answer questions and give directions or advice.

Wristbands: New attendees will receive wristbands in addition to their badges. We are going to encourage all attendees, speakers, exhibitors to seek out new attendees to make sure they’re having the best experience possible.

New Media Lounge: Members of the NMX team are going to be keeping office in the New Media Lounge. We’ll be there to answer questions and also to learn more about all our attendees. We’ll be receiving your feedback, hearing your ideas and listing any concerns.

How to attend the new attendee orientation

As space is limited, the orientation is only open to new attendees who are already registered or will be registering to attend NMX. There is no cost to attend but we’ll gladly accepts smiles, handshakes and hugs.

Please sign up for the new attendee orientation by using this form.

Any questions? Comments? What do you hope to learn from a new attendee orientation? Share in the comments. In the meantime, you might be interested in this post by Aaron Hockley with conference tips for introverts.

Turning Your Mission into an Entertaining Web Series

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Constantly I get ideas for videos. Crazy ideas. Funny ideas. Ideas that people have labeled “impossible.” Often they become missions for me to make happen.

In January 2008 I successfully persuaded IKEA to allow me to live and sleep in one of their stores for an entire week. The result was the web series “Mark Lives in IKEA.” It received over 1.8 million views and got IKEA more publicity in the U.S. than in the history of the company.

Another web series, “Mark on AirTran,” featured me staying on a commercial airplane non-stop for a month to get over my fear of flying. I wound up setting a Guinness World Record for most scheduled flights in a month. The airline even put my face on one of their planes, which was quite surreal.

Most recently I launched, “The Bill Murray Show starring Mark Malkoff” on My Damn Channel in which I attempt to get Bill Murray to have dinner with me at my apartment in New York City. It’s a weekly web series that doesn’t end until Bill Murray agrees to have dinner with me at my place.

Here are five tips for turning your mission into a successful web series:

1. Be Authentic

Too many times individuals do videos based on what they “think” will get noticed or be popular. This rarely ever works. My strong advice is to only do work you care deeply about. When content creators do videos on a subject they truly love there’s an authenticity and passion in the work that makes it stand out.

I almost always only pick missions that I’m passionate about. I believe the passion shows up in the work. For a full year I was obsessed that the Apple Store was letting customers to do things that no store would ever allow. Nobodyhad ever fully documented it. “Apple Store Challenge” featured me pulling off outrageous stunts in the Apple Store including me bringing a goat into the store. My genuine
excitement and enthusiasm in the video were evident.

2. Play to your strengths

As web creators we all have different strengths. It’s best to identify what your strengths are and use them to your advantage in your work. One of my main strengths (at least what people tell me) is persistence. I enjoy the challenge of pulling off things that on paper seem nearly impossible to
pull off. The ability to pull off these difficult missions in my videos “171 Starbucks,” “Six Pack Abs Challenge,” “Mark Gets Carried Away,” resulted in me doing a style of video that grabbed attention.

3. Build Momentum

Momentum is huge. Sometimes it’s the little things that slowly build up into something powerful. I had done videos for a long time that while funny didn’t attract media attention or get a huge number of views. Then in July 2007 I released a video called, “171 Starbucks.” It got an enormous about of press coverage. I went on The Today Show, CNN, and Fox News. Jay Leno made a monologue joke about my video.

I used this momentum a few months later when I approached IKEA about “Mark Lives in IKEA.” Luckily IKEA had heard about “171 Starbucks” and were aware of all the media attention surrounding the video. While this certainly didn’t get IKEA to sign off immediately on my idea, it was instrumental in getting my foot in the door. Without “171 Starbucks” being a hit I seriously doubt “Mark Lives in IKEA” would have happened.

4. Call to Action

It’s talked about a lot in social media, but a call to action can be very effective. It engages viewers and makes them feel included. For my Bill Murray web series, my call to action was asking viewers to help get Bill Murray invited to my apartment for dinner. I gave out a tip hotline and also asked viewers to Tweet me.

Another useful call to action was my Netflix Challenge video project in which I set out to watch as many movies as possible on Netflix in a month. The result was over 500 film suggestions from people on Twitter and Facebook.

5. Be Supportive

Countless times when I helped someone out without any thought of getting something in return, I was unexpectedly rewarded.

Many wonderful individuals helped to transform my mission ideas into a successful web series. These include:

  • Being given free equipment to borrow saving me thousands of dollars in rentals
  • Crews working and editing for free if there wasn’t a budget.
  • Comedy writers giving me script feedback

In return, I’ve tried to be equally as supportive and encouraging. It doesn’t have to be much. It can be as simple as sending a Tweet, posting someone’s video on a Facebook wall, or an email of encouragement.

Social Media Automation for Small Businesses: Is It Really For The Birds?

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is social media automation for the birds Is social media automation a good thing for small business owners? How can small business owners use social media quickly without it? This post covers what you need to know about automating your social media presence. It’s not all bad!

Putting social media on auto-pilot is like sending your customer complaint phone calls to voice mail. Sure, it might help some people who just want to vent or have specific questions answered by your recording, but it’s only going to tick off most people.

Yet, mastering social media takes time, and for a small business run by a handful of people, it can seem impossible to keep up with social media. Few small business owners have time to sit on Twitter all day.

I have good news: automation has a negative connotation, but all of your business practices should be automated sometime. You can’t scale if you do everything by hand. It’s just important to automate the right way. You wouldn’t stick a mannequin behind the counter but you also wouldn’t demand that your cashiers calculate everything by hand. With the proper tools, social media automation can help you run your social media accounts, even if you don’t have the money yet to hire a dedicated social media manager.

Things You Should Never Automate

First of all, let’s address the elephant in the room: the dark side of automation. Social media automation has a negative connotation for a reason — lots of people do it incorrectly. There are certain types of automation you should never do.

  • Never create an account and leave it 100% on autopilot. Any platform — Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc. — requires your attention at least some of the time. You can’t just set things up and let them handle themselves.
  • Never automate customer service. You need to address problems and answer questions via social media if you’re going to have a presence there. Never leave customers to fend for themselves when an issue arises.
  • Never automate “from” live events. Bad stuff happens, all the time. If you schedule or otherwise automate tweets to look like you’re at an event, you could end up with mud on your face if things don’t go as planned. Look at this example of a tweet from LiveNation Ontario about a Radiohead concert that was canceled due to a stage collapse tragedy.

Depending on your business, there are other things you should never automate – but those are the big three that go for everyone.

Automation the Right Way

You can, however, automate some parts of the social media process to make things easier for you as a small business owner. The key is to make sure that you don’t bite off more than you can chew. You shouldn’t automate everything. So, start with a single social network, get the process down pat there, and then branch out to the next network. This is a much more streamlined process than trying to start ten profiles at once. (I recommend starting with either Facebook or Twitter, depending on your industry. Go to the network where your customers are most active.)

Let’s look at a few ways you can automate your account:

  • Automate stats tracking.

There’s absolutely no reason to collect and study your data manually. You should track stats, but instead of spending time trying to make heads or tails of Facebook Analytics and other platform-specific reports, go with a single system. Check out this really comprehensive list of social media monitoring tools. Remember, you get what you pay for. I highly recommend opening your wallet and spending a little money on an all-inclusive, detailed monitoring service unless you have the time to analyze free reports.

  • Automate your tweets.

Not all of your tweets should be automated, and some may disagree with me on this point, but I believe that it is fine to schedule some of your tweets in advance, as well as automate the tweeting process if you have a company blog.

Twitterfeed is your friend. If you sign up for this service, you can add your blog’s RSS feed and you’ll automatically tweet every new post as it is published. Unless you can think of a reason why you’d not want to tweet your own links, I highly recommend doing this. It just doesn’t make sense to do it manually.

If you are going to schedule tweets, I have two tips for you:

  1. Don’t schedule too far in advance. You want to keep track of everything you have scheduled so you can cancel the tweets if you want.
  2. Don’t schedule anything that isn’t 100%. Yes, you can cancel scheduled tweets, but don’t rely on this function. Don’t schedule a tweet that you wouldn’t be okay with going out instantly.

I recommend scheduling tweets simply because you want to spread them out over the course of a day and this isn’t always possible, depending on your business. If you do have a business where you can constantly tweet via your phone or computer in real time, that’s usually the better option.

You can schedule updates for Facebook as well, though keep in mind that Facebook uses an algorithm called EdgeRank to determine how many people see your post. (Check out this great article from NMX speaker Rich Brooks about EdgeRank if you’ve never heard of it before.) Be aware that some forms of automation can affect how well your Facebook page performs, so it’s important to do things manually when possible.

  • Get notified! (But don’t rely on notifications.)

There are tons of mobile apps that will buzz every time you get a new mention or message or whatnot on your social media profile. If you’re on the go, this will alert you whenever you need to take care of something, rather than having to manually check you accounts several times per day.

You can also set up your preferences to get an email every time there’s an interaction on one of your social media accounts. I know, I know: no one wants more email. However, what you can do is set up a dummy email account just for your social media sites and sync that to your phone. That way, it doesn’t bog down your regular email and you don’t even have to check it (other than perhaps occasionally cleaning it out to free up some space), but your phone will still buzz whenever something needs your attention.

A word of caution however: don’t rely solely on automatic notifications. You should sign into every social media account you’ve create at least once per day (twice or more is recommended) to make sure nothing falls through the cracks.

The bottom line? Not all social media automation is bad. You just have to learn to do thing the right way. Make sure to test every technique and be present whenever possible. Automation shouldn’t be the norm; it should simply be a way to add to real life presence via social media.

Want to learn more about using social media for your business? Register for the BusinessNext Social conference coming to Las Vegas this January!

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