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15 Brilliant Bloggers Talk About Managing Forums

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Brilliant Bloggers is a weekly series here at BlogWorld where we look at the best posts from around the web all surrounding a specific topic. Every week, we’ll feature three of the most brilliant bloggers out there, 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: Managing Forums

Back in the day, before social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, I lived on forums. I loved the ability to connect with other people who had similar interests, and some of the people I met on these forums are still people I’m friends with today, several years later. Although they receive less attention than social media platforms, forums are far from dead. In fact, if you have a thriving community, you could benefit from the addition of forums on your blog.

Before you jump into this world, though, take the advice of the below-linked brilliant bloggers. These are people who know a thing or two about managing a forum, and they have some great tips and opinions that could help you on your forum ventures.

Advice from Brilliant Bloggers:

How to Start a Busy Forum in ONE Day by Gary Mccaffrey

In my experience, the biggest challenge of any forum admin is keeping people interested. It’s especially difficult at the beginning, because people are always hesitant to get involved with anything if no one else is involved. In my opinion, it’s why some popular blogs continue to stay popular, even if there is better content at other blogs. People love to be part of something. In this post, Gary talks about how to create an environment where people are encouraged to participate, even from day one. This creates that momentum you need to keep the forum active. Writes Gary,

I developed this method after failing badly when I first attempted to start an online discussion forum.  It’s a pretty much fail proof method for getting a forum started.

If you’ve ever tried or even thought about starting an internet forum before, you will know that it is not easy.

After reading the entire post about starting a new forum, you can find Gary on Twitter @garymccaffrey.

5 Things Not to Do When Starting a Forum by Josh

Sometimes it’s not what you should do, but rather what you should avoid doing. In this post, Josh talks about some of the most common mistakes forum admins make when starting a new forum and managing members for the first time. Whether you’re starting a forum for your own blog or taking a new position with someone else as their new forum mod, these are great tips you can use to avoid killing traffic and participation. From the post:

Creating a successful forum can be a difficult task for any Admin, even though there’s loads of information out there about forum management. But while there is a lot of information about how to build a successful forum, there isn’t much information about some of the causes of failure.

Josh is also a moderator at Chaterrific. You can find him on Twitter @originaljlogan.

Top Ten Lessons I’ve Learned About Managing an Online Forum by pops

I think this post shares some really important experiences about managing an online forum from someone who’s been an admin at two very different kinds of forums. Not every “rule” out there is going to work for every forum, just like not every “rule” out there is going to work for every blog. However, despite differences, a forum is a forum is a forum. So, take a look at the lessons you can learn from this blogger’s experiences to better your own forums. From the post:

Starting a forum is a lot of work and the financial rewards come slowly and irregularly if at all. During the lean times, your passion is what will sustain you. Actually, it doesn’t even have to be YOUR passion. Both of my forums were someone else’s idea. Initially I was just along for the ride. It was their commitment that dragged me (and the forums) through the tough times.

This blog also has a really great post called Tips on Promoting Your Forum that I recommend checking out.

Even More Brilliant Advice:

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

Next Week’s Topic: Paper.li

I’d love to include a link to your post next week – 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.

5 Ways to Know if Your Content Is Resonating with Your Audience

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Every few months or so, I like to take a step back and analyze the content on my blog. I want to make sure I’m providing tips, news, entertainment and information that resonates well with my audience. There are both technical and non-technical ways to measure this. Some may seem obvious to you, but you haven’t taken the time to put the tip into practice, and some of these ways might be brand new to you.

Here are five ways to know if your content is resonating well with your audience.

Conduct a Poll

I really enjoy conducting polls both on my blog and on Facebook using their polls feature. I’ve found out some interesting things about what my readers are looking for that I may not be providing for them, things that they absolutely love, or even about content they don’t really care for.

Polls are super easy and quick to put together. I suggest offering no more than five answers to your question. For example, ask the simple question “Why do you enjoy visiting…?” and put the title of your blog there. I’ve done this before and provided answers such as reviews, giveaways, personal videos or deals. Not only do I ask them to participate in the poll, but I also ask if they would leave a comment explaining why they chose the answer they did. I have had great results this way and it has helped me narrow down my content.

For WordPress, I like using the WP-Polls plug-in. On Facebook, simply click on “Ask a Question” for your personal page or “Question” for your business page.

Email Your List of Subscribers

You do have subscribers right? If you answered no to that question because you haven’t added that feature to your blog, stop what you’re doing right now and visit my post “Six Things You Can Focus On Today to Increase Your Blogging Results”. I preach creating a list…yesterday.

This is also something I have personally done. Simply ask your subscribers what they like about your blog content and what they would like to see more of. Offering up a little incentive such as a free download of one of your eBooks or an Amazon gift card usually increases the number of people that will answer. Hey, we all like free stuff, right?

Check Your Social Networks

This might be a no-brainer, but if something you wrote really spoke to your audience and they absolutely loved it, don’t you think they’ll not only share it but say something about it? Don’t just check the number of Tweets and Likes you are receiving, check to see what they’re saying about your content. I would trade five tweets where no one said a thing about my article, for one where someone tweeted it but also said, “This is a must read” or “This is exactly the answer I was looking for.” This speaks loudly to your readers and potential readers.

Use the Power of Facebook Insights

This goes hand in hand with my previous tip, but it digs a little deeper. I won’t get into the nitty gritty of Facebook Insights, because we would be here all day long. You can read the Facebook Insights Guide which they call a “Product Guide for Facebook Page Owners” and get some in-depth information.

If you’re familiar with the new Facebook Insights roll-out, then you know on the left hand sidebar under “Likes” it says “People Talking About This”. This number is a great way to measure if your content is resonating with your audience because it speaks to engagement. This lets you know in a one week period how many people liked your page, posted to your page and mentioned, liked, shared or commented on a post of yours.

Just because a page has thousands of Likes, does not mean there is a good dose of interactions with the readers (engagement).

Facebook Insights is not only a great tool to measure the health of your Facebook page, but your blog content as well.

A Healthy Dose of Comments

It makes me sad when I visit a blog where they have the comments closed. (Does that make it a real blog then? Wait, that’s another discussion.) But when I visit a blog where there is a nice conversation flowing in the comments section, it makes me want to join in.

This tip may seem obvious to most of you, but I think all of us – whether we are brand new to this crazy world of blogging or if we’ve been doing it for ten years – need to take a step back and analyze the interaction. Are we interacting with our readers? Are they finding our content valuable enough to take a few minutes to leave a comment?

You can also get fantastic post ideas from comments your readers have left. Look for questions they asked or statements saying they wish you would write more of a certain type of article. If they are practically begging for more, then by all means, give them more!

How can you tell if your content is resonating well with your audience? Share some of your tips in the comment section below. Also feel free to leave a comment letting me know what you would like to see more of here on the BlogWorld blog. Are we resonating with you?

Top 10 Reasons to Join the BlogWorld Facebook Community

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The BlogWorld community is growing by leaps and bounds. Every day, more people “like” us on Facebook, “follow” us on Twitter and “circle” us on Google+.  Still, our work isn’t done. We enjoy a big, vibrant and lively community of folks interacting and sharing ideas.

Sometimes when we invite folks to join us on one of our social channels, we’re asked why or what’s in it for our community.  It’s one thing to say “join us on Facebook,” but that’s not much enticement. So to cover the “why” part,  I’m going to share the top reasons to join our Facebook community.

 

10. Brag your blog day

Community isn’t us, it’s you. The collective you. We want to know everything about you, who you are, what you do and what you’re about. At the beginning of each month we feature “Brag Your Blog” day when our entire community is allowed to legally spam our Facebook wall.  Let’s face it, there are  a lot of people producing a lot of content  and none of us can possibly know about it all. But on “Brag Your Blog Day,” we can help our community to promote their content to over 6,000 friends.  Hopefully by participating you can gain  some new community members of your own.

9. Picture Day

We love sharing images from the BlogWorld Flickr account and other channels and picture day is our day of doing so. When we post our images, we tag community members who are in the photos whenever possible. We also invite our Facebook community to share their own images from our events. The perks are in the tags and the shares, a great way to see and be seen.

8. Participating is encouraged and rewarded

Facebook isn’t about us. It’s about you. Our goal is to have pages and pages of questions and comments from the members of our community. Still, we have an active community and enjoy lively conversation every day. We even reward our best comments by calling out our community member of the week, month and year. We won’t lie. One of the reasons for building our online community is to help promote our own stuff and we won’t pretend otherwise. However, we really want to hear from you more. Our community pages are places for you to interact and enjoy each others’ company. The more the merrier.

7. Ask questions

Do you have questions about BlogWorld, content creation, or new media? Our Facebook page is a great place to ask those questions. As the person who is leading your community, I’m monitoring all our social networks every day and if I’m not there, another member of the team is on standby. So please feel encouraged to ask questions about our events, content creation and the latest tools and techniques. If we don’t have the answer, someone in our community is sure to help.

6. You never know who will stop by

The BlogWorld Facebook community features a variety of personality types and you never know who is going to stop by on any given day. Some people are quick with a quip and others master the art of intelligent discussion. Plus, many of the influencers and big names in the New Media space stop by on a regular basis. We have an open door policy and you never know who will stop by.

5. Keep the conversation flowing long after BlogWorld is over

All those important connections and conversations don’t have to end because BlogWorld is over.  Keep the good vibe going long after our live events end.  Continue to hang out with our speakers, attendees, and team, as well as those who hope to attend a future BlogWorld event. Just because we’re not at a convention center doesn’t mean we have to stop enjoying each others’ company.

4. Make connections

Members of the BlogWorld community include content creators, business people, influencers and folks from all walks of life.  The connections you make by joining our Facebook page are just as important as the connections one makes in person while attending BlogWorld.  There’s no need to be shy, either. Everyone is participating for the same reason – to make connections, build relationships, and have a conversation about the things that matter most.

3. Promote your brand

Though we discourage spamming, we still offer many ways to build a personal or professional brand. In addition to Brag Your Blog and Picture days, we offer opportunities to share Twitter Handles, Google+ circles, Pinterest boards, blog posts and so much more.  We know our community has so much to offer and we invite you all to share on a regular basis.

2. BlogWorld news and updates

There has to be something in it for us too, right?  Our social networking channels are a terrific opportunity for us to share  news and updates about BlogWorld events.  If there’s a call for speakers, a special date to announce or something interesting happening for us, we’ll make the announcements here. We’ll also take the time to answer any questions you may have and gather feedback to help keep us on the right track.

1. Learn something

The BlogWorld blog is an important resource for content creation tips and news, and we carry the feed on Facebook. We also share informative posts from other content creators.  Also, we invite our community to share tips and ideas on our Facebook page.  We know conversation is important and we want to keep you informed of what’s going on with, but it’s important for us all to learn and share what we learn – and that’s the best reason to stop by the BlogWorld Facebook page.

 

We shared reasons why you should join our Facebook page, now share reasons why we should join yours! Tell us about you, what you do, and what your Facebook page or group is all about.  Invite members of our community into your community and let us all know what rewards membership will bring.

What Howard Stern Can Teach You About Building Community

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A couple of months ago I bought a new Ford Explorer (I love the SYNC system but that’s another post). Anyway it came with a free six month subscription to Sirius/XM radio. I have been a big Howard Stern fan for a couple of decades now but quit listening when he left terrestrial radio in 2006. So I tuned in to see what I had been missing all these years.

Guess what, I hadn’t missed a thing. The same cast of characters were all there. Baba Booey, Robin, Fred, Ronnie the Limo Driver and all the rest of the gang. But that’s just the crew. He has all the same fans too. Jeff The Drunk, Miss Howard Stern, Big Black, King of All Blacks, MaryAnn from Brooklyn, Eric the Midget, Bigfoot and scores of others. Yes new characters have joined the Stern community and some have left, but for the most part it was like stepping back in a time machine. It was like coming home to your crazy family’s house for Christmas.

I never called in, but as a listener to the show I always felt like I was a part of this community. I loved these crazy guys. Sometimes Howard offended me. Usually when he was being mean to someone he used to be friends with for one reason or another. Or some poor sucker who became the butt of his jokes. But like family you get over the things that make you mad and you still love them almost no matter what they do. You can even hear some members of the family trying to mediate disputes between other members from time to time. How many communities have members that are that dedicated to one another?

There are some very important lessons here. You can offend your community from time to time, but you can’t be fake. You have to be you and what they expect you to be. Howard does that like no other. Yes it’s a lot of schtick but that’s what we expect from him and he never fails to deliver.

If people really feel like they belong to a community, then it’s not just your community they are a member of. They are not just loyal to you, but to each other.

But there is more to building a community than that. Other people absolutely hate him. Have tried to ban him, are disgusted by him. Howard Stern knows how to elicit very strong emotional responses from people. I have heard movie stars, rock stars and regular schmoes cry, shout, throw things at each other they are so angry and laugh until their sides hurt.

Guess what, his community loves him all the more and will defend him in some cases to the death against those that hate him. If you were talking about anyone else you would say that last sentence was hyperbole. Not in the case of Howard Stern. No one has actually died yet, but if he asked don’t you think there are those that would?

People have gone to jail for him. Just to pull off a gag. That is a community that very few people can equal.

So this morning I see this story: Howard Stern personally calls Twitter fans on New Year’s Eve. Read the tweets from some of the fans Howard called:

“Howard Stern just called me! This new year rules already!”

OMG! It was like the best thing ever! I started crying after we hung up!”

This wasn’t that difficult to do. But how many celebrities do you know who would drunk dial their fans on New Years Eve?

Howard’s community loves him because they feel loved by him. He shows that love by delivering amazing content. Absolutely make you fall out of your chair laughing funny stuff. He makes people feel like they are part of a family. A family that needs to stick together because the rest of the world is out to get us. It is us against them.

By the way do you notice how many quirky members he has in his family? Do you think that is an accident? Yes he mocks them, makes fun of them, ridicules them he makes racist jokes constantly; but he also accepts them with all their flaws, all their differences. Some of these people are flat out crazy. But Howard accepts them into his community. All you have to do is accept Howard for what he is and you can be a part of this family.

You see anyone can be a part of this community / family. Most communities have some requirement to join, some common interest, some disqualifying factors. Howard’s community does too. Just one; acceptance. Howard Stern is a genius when it comes to creating content and more importantly in building community.

Do you agree or am I just being a fan boy?

The 12 New Media Days of Christmas 2011: 7 Community Managers a-Managing

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During the 12 New Media Days of Christmas, we’re counting down the days until Santa comes by featuring some of the best blog posts of 2011 from awesome writers within the BlogWorld community! Skip to the end to read more posts in this holiday series and don’t forget to leave a comment if you’ve written a post about today’s topic!

Okay, so today’s title doesn’t necessarily roll of the tongue…but I think we need to give it up for the topic: Community Management. Community managers have one of the most difficult jobs in the new media world, in my opinion, and they often go unrecognized for the long hours they put in. If your blog or business is a one-man (or woman) show, you’ll need to wear the community management hat from time to time, and trust me; it isn’t an easy job to do. So today, I’ve collected some posts some helpful posts to get you started.

Oh, and by the way – she’s super modest about it, but our own Deb Ng recently published Online Community Management for Dummies, which you should totally check out!

Post too long? Head to the Quick Links section for just a list of the links included in this post without all the analysis and quotes!

1. What’s a Community Worth? by Ilana Rabinowitz at Social Media Explorer

Before we even start talking about community management, we have to first understand community. Ilana’s post is a great place to start, because she writes about why community is a vital part of your success online. Think your blog/business will be fine without a community? Think again – the community is the powerful, strong backbone of your brand, and when you need them, they’ll be there for you – if you’ve build something worthy of their support. Writes Ilana,

As business people, we tend to think about our connections as an audience, but if we want to be social, that won’t be enough. We need to build a community to assure the long-term health of our business. Businesses, like people, need to nurture relationships in the context of a community. It can make the difference between success and failure when you need it most.

You can find Ilana on Twitter @ilana221. She also blogs about social media at Marketing Without A Net and is the vice president of marketing for Lion Brand Yarn.


 

2. The Anatomy of a Community Manager by Adi Gaskell at AdiGaskell.com

This post goes over all of the important qualities you need to successfully manage a community. Some are common sense (for example, you have to be a good listener, of course), but others might surprise you. Are you able to focus on output over input? Do you have “political” influence? Do you challenge the status quo? These, and other skills Adi lists, are all important to be a successful community manager, whether you’re managing the community of your blog or the community of a multi-million dollar international business. From the post:

Community managers often have to be all things to all people.  They’re required to have good technical skills, strong emotional capabilities with an encyclopedic knowledge of their subject area.

After reading the rest of Adi’s post, you can find him on Twitter @adigaskell. He writes for a number of other social media related blogs, including Social Media Today, Technorati, and Social Business News.


 

3. Engaged Community is a Healthy Community – Best Practices in Internal Social Networking by Maria Ogneva at Social Media Today

Maria is the head of community at Yammer, and her experience in this area shows in this post! If you’re considering building a community from the ground up, this is a great resource of tips to help you get started. I especially love Maria’s WIIFM tip. People always want to know, “What’s In It For Me?” and if you want them to continue being a member of your community, you have to make that question easy to answer. Otherwise, your community runs the risk of simply dying before it even begins. In this post, Maria writes,

“How do I ensure continued engagement in this network? How do I get people to come back and participate?” I think this is a key question to ask yourself, and if you can formulate a plan of action prior to rolling out the community, you will certainly be setting yourself up for success.

In addition to working with Yammer, Maria also runs her own blog at Social Silk. You can find her on Twitter @themaria.


 

4. The Discomfort of Becoming a “Public Person” by Emilie Wapnick at Puttylike

Before we go a step farther talking about community, I think this is an important post to review. Although it’s not about a traditional community management topic, it is a topic that community managers need to consider. When you take on this role, you become a very public online personality, and that’s not something easy to handle, even if you’re an outgoing person. Community managers need to always do what is best for their communities, even if that means being a bit uncomfortable at times. Writes Emilie,

When you’re faced with a choice between preserving your ego and doing what’s best for your cause, choose the latter. Don’t let fear be the thing that decides your actions. Put yourself out there, allow yourself to be momentarily embarrassed, and then move on.

You can find Emilie on Twitter @emiliewapnick and like her blog on Facebook to stay connected. She recently launched Renaissance Business, a book about combining your interests to create a viable business, rather than choosing just one niche.


 

5. Are You Really Talking To Your Prospect? by Francisco Rosales at Social Mouths

Do you know the members of your community? I don’t necessarily mean individually, but do you know the average type of person who is a member of your community? Or, more importantly, do you know the type of person you want to be a member of your community? Until you define your community, it’s hard to connect with them through blog posts, social media, or any other means of communication. In this post, Fransisco talks about how to focus on reaching your community members, why you should ignore some people, and more. He writes,

Put all your knowledge, talent and experience together and deliver it to the people that needs it. If somebody says “I already knew that” then that person is not your target.

Producing content for the wrong audience is very time consuming and leads you to no sales.

You can find Francisco on Twitter @socialmouths and add him to your Google+ circles to read more from him.


 

6. 5 New Year’s Resolutions for the Community Manager by Dave Cayem at Cayem.com

Reading this clever year-end post is a great way to ensure that you start 2012 off on the right foot as a community manager. I especially like Dave’s tip about measurement. Yes, your community efforts can be measured. A lot of community managers avoid measurement tools like the plague, but I think those who do strive to keep track of community data are the best in the business. Dave also gives some other great tips on community management as well. He writes,

2012 is nearly here, and lots of people are thinking about New Year’s resolutions. It’s also a great time for community managers to think about what works, what doesn’t, and how to improve.

You can find Dave on Twitter @DaveCayem, as well as connect with him on Facebook and Google+.


 

7. How to Select Moderators and Staff Members on an Established Online Community by Patrick O’Keefe from Managing Communities

You’ll be hard pressed to find a post on Managing Communities that isn’t worth reading if you’re interested in learning more about online community management. I’m picking this post to highlight because it covers an important topic that isn’t touched on by the other community posts on this list – you’re likely going to need help. As your community grows, it is important to hire the right people to help you manage it, and often these people come from the community itself. This post gives you the step-by-step process to ensure that the people you choose to help you are going to keep the happy community ball rolling. Writes Patrick,

Your staff can be a vital part of your community, can help you to cover more and do a better job of maintaining the standards that you set for your community. The members of your staff will change, just like your friends in high school, your coworkers at an office or the neighbors on your block. From time to time, you will look to bring new members on board.

After checking out Patrick’s tips, you can follow him on Twitter @ifroggy or follow the blog’s Twitter stream @managecommunity. Patrick is the founder of the iFroggy Network and co-hosts the SitePoint Podcast.


BONUS: Free Online Community Management Resources On The Web by Richard Millington at FeverBee

Holy. Cannoli. If you’re looking for online community management advice, this is a one-stop shop. Not only does Richard run a great community management blog with tons of advice to check out, but this post links to dozens of great resources for community managers, including other community management blogs, published papers about community, and ebooks/reports about community management. Oh yeah, and it’s all free. Seriously, check out this blog post now.

(Richard is the founder of The Pillar Summit, an exclusive course in Professional Community Management and the the author of the Online Community Manifesto. You can find him on Twitter @richmillington.)


Quick Links

For those of you short on time, here’s a list of the links covered in this post:

  1. What’s a Community Worth? by Ilana Rabinowitz (@ilana221)
  2. The Anatomy of a Community Manager by Adi Gaskell (@adigaskell)
  3. Engaged Community is a Healthy Community – Best Practices in Internal Social Networking by Maria Ogneva (@themaria)
  4. The Discomfort of Becoming a “Public Person” by Emilie Wapnick (@emiliewapnick)
  5. Are You Really Talking To Your Prospect? by Francisco Rosales (@socialmouths)
  6. 5 New Year’s Resolutions for the Community Manager by Dave Cayem (@DaveCayem)
  7. How to Select Moderators and Staff Members on an Established Online Community by Patrick O’Keefe (@ifroggy)

BONUS: Free Online Community Management Resources On The Web by Richard Millington (@richmillington)

Other posts in the 12 New Media Days of Christmas series will be linked here as they go live:

12 Bloggers Monetizing
11 Emailers List Building
10 Google+ Users a-Sharing
9 Vloggers Recording
8 Links a-Baiting
7 Community Managers a-Managing (this post)
6 Publishers a-Publishing
5 Traffic Tips
4 New Media Case Studies
3 Must-Read New Media Interviews
2 Top New Media News Stories of 2011
And a Partridge in a Pear Tree

You can also check out the all the posts from 2010 and 2011 here , and don’t forget: If you wrote a post in 2011 about today’s topic (community management), PLEASE leave the link in a comment below to share with the community!

It’s Photo Day on the BlogWorld Facebook Page

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We’re trying something new on Facebook today.  In order to share some of the wonderful memories we have of our events, we’re hosting photo day today and we’d love for you to join us.

We’re going to post images throughout the day and we’d like to encourage our Facebook friends to do the same.  If you have images to share of your time at BlogWorld, come by and post them to our wall and don’t forget to tag yourself or any friends you see.

We hope you enjoy photo day, and even if you don’t have an image to share, feel  free to stop by and  join in the conversation.

Stay tuned for announcements on future photo days on both Facebook and Google+.

To see all of our photos from past events, please visit our Flickr page.

 

Increasing Email Subscriber Engagement on Top of Marketers’ Minds for 2012

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As 2011 is coming to a close and we are inching closer and closer to 2012 (I know…I can’t believe it either), it’s time to take a step back and look at your blogs. Ask yourself some questions like what did you do right, what did you do wrong and what would you like to focus more on in 2012.

Building up your email subscriber list might be one New Year’s resolution for you to consider for your business. Allison gave us some fantastic insights and ideas on how she helped increase her client’s mailing list. In fact, she helped triple it in less than 10 minutes.

According to a study done by StrongMail in conjunction with Zoomerang, marketers plan on spending more money and time on their email subscriber list. They want to increase both the number of subscribers, as well as the engagement factor.

When marketers were asked to “Please indicate the programs for which you plan to increase spend”, email marketing won out with 60%. Social media wasn’t far behind with 55%.

When asked what their most important email marketing initiatives were for 2012, subscriber engagement came out on top with 48% and growing opt-in email lists came in with 32%.

Are you a firm believer in building an email subscriber list? If so, how have you used this list for the benefit and growth of your business?

 

 

Rolodexes Haven’t Gone Out of Style – Especially for Bloggers

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Growing up, I would help out in my dad’s office. One of my favorite tasks was updating his Rolodex. He’d arm me with a couple of glue sticks and give me all the business cards he’d collected since the last time I helped out. I’d sit and glue those cards to the funky shaped Rolodex cards. Then I’d alphabetize all of the cards. My dad eventually worked his way up to four full Rolodex containers before he switched to a computer-based alternative. Entering all those contacts by hand became my job as well — and I enjoyed it.

I admit, it’s a little weird for a kid to be so enthralled with Rolodexes and address books, but it’s a fascination that has done well for me. I have a massive contact list — about 11,000 people last time I checked — and it’s the best asset I have for my blog.

Why Your Address Book Matters to Your Blog

We’ve all heard that we need giant mailing lists, scores of Twitter followers and generally a huge network to promote our blogs to. Our address books (and the email, snail mail and face to face connections that they represent) are just as important, if not more so. In the last day, I’ve used my address book to:

  • Find a guest poster for one of my sites that I can’t cover
  • Find the perfect interviewee for an ebook I want to write
  • Line up coverage for the next product launch I’ll be running
  • And plenty more…

Building the Modern Rolodex

As much as it breaks my heart not to get to handle physical cards, my dad’s Rolodexes have gone the way of his slide rule. There are so many better options now, that do a lot more than an eight year old with a glue stick can. You should consider exactly how you use your address book for your blog when choosing the right software.

Make sure you can tag contacts: While not ever single contact in my list is tagged, most are. That means that if I need ten fashion experts to comment on a specific question for a list post, I can just check everyone who is labeled ‘fashion’ to build my list. I can do the same if I’m offering an opportunity to past advertisers or guest posts.

Integrate social media as much as possible: Twitter is just as legitimate a way to reach out to someone these days as email or phone — and it’s often faster. If your address book doesn’t at least offer you a space for adding social media accounts, you need something a little more modern.

Let the software do the heavy lifting: There are tons of tools these days that will automatically build out your address, importing your contacts form different sites and even automatically making new contacts whenever someone emails you. While maintaining my contact list by hand may be something I enjoy, I’m confident that’s rarely true of anyone else, so why not choose a tool that handles most of the work for you?

Image Source: SXC

Lisa Barone on Authenticity

Author:

“Authenticy in marketing is telling a story people want to hear.” – Seth Godin

Lisa Barone’s session at BlogWorld LA 2011, “Creating Your Blogging Superhero,” covered the topic that seems to have become a buzzword in the new media world lately: authenticity. Authentic scares some people because they think it means airing their dirty laundry, but as Lisa teaches, you can be authentic in a really smart way to become a blogging superhero to your readers.

It reminds me of something Brian Clark said at BlogWorld 2010 – I’m paraphrasing, but basically, what he said is that you need to be the best “you” possible online. I think it’s really smart advice. Here are Lisa’s four tips to creating your blogging superhero:

1. Identify your place in the market.

What makes you different? What do you want your audience to know about you – and more importantly, what do you want your audience to remember about you? Says Lisa, “We live in a crowded complex world. Your audience is only going to be able to remember a few things about you.” Before you can create your blogging superhero, you need to identify your place in the reader’s world.

2. Identify the traits and experiences that help you epitomize that.

What traits do you have as a blogger that help you show that you’re perfect for that place in the market? Those are the traits that you’re going to what to show online. According to Lisa, “Being a successful marketer doesn’t mean letting all the nasty bits hang out.” The traits you display should relate back to your core goal as a blogger.

3. Build a story that ties it together, emphasizing the traits that allow you to be the best version of yourself.

“That’s what marketing is – using yourself to show people their desired outcome,” says Lisa

You don’t have to lie to your readers – you just should be selective about how much you want to reveal about yourself. It isn’t inauthentic to want to show your best traits. You act differently around “the boys” or “the girls” than you do around your children, and you act differently around your children than you do around your boss. Tell a story using the pieces of you that make sense for your readers.

4. Lose everything that does not relate back to what you want to show. It’s a distraction.

Lastly, remember that you don’t have to share anything that doesn’t relate back to your goal, even if it isn’t necessarily bad information about yourself. Remember, people can only remember a few things about you, so think about how you want to be known in your niche or industry. Says Lisa, “Too much irrelevant information distracts from your core goal.”

If you missed BlogWorld LA 2011 or were in another session when Lisa talked, check out the virtual ticket. You can listen to her entire presentation there, as well as see sessions with other speakers.

Building Your New Media Empire

Author:

This year, BlogWorld attendees heard from an esteemed panel of online empire builders – host Mitch Joel from Six Pixels of Separation, BlogHer CEO Lisa Stone, Michael Stelzner from Social Media Examiner, and CEO of Federated Media Publishing Deanna Brown. If you want to check out the entire keynote, definitely pick up a virtual ticket. Here were some of my favorite quotes from the panelists:

Deanna Brown

  • “I think it’s less about new empires and more about the fall of empires – the fall of old media.”
  • “The most successful bloggers in our network blog about what they love.”
  • “Avoid anything that puts you in a box.”

Michael Stelzner

  • “If you pick an area where you see a hole…you can build a massive following, and you can turn that into a business.”
  • “Figure out what your customers of prospects are interested in…and then give them what they want.”
  • “I say that I’m a publisher, I don’t say that I’m a blogger. I think that’s how we have to think about it.”

Lisa Stone

  • “Today’s empire of one has to have a diversified business model.”
  • “There is no contest that the most important thing you can do is deliver a fantastic story.”

Again, this is just a small sampling of the awesome empire-building advice these three panelists had to share! Check out the virtual ticket to see the entire presentation and get access to ALL of the sessions from BlogWorld LA 2011.

About the Speakers

Mitch Joel was recently named one of iMedia’s 25 Internet Marketing Leaders. He blogs at Six Pixels of Separation and is the president of Twist Media. You can find him on Twitter @mitchjoel.

Michael Stelzner is the founder and CEO of Social Media Examiner. Technorati and AdAge rank his site as one of the world’s Top 10 business blogs. You can find him on Twitter @Mike_Stelzner.

Lisa Stone is the co-founder and CEO of of BlogHer. Their content hub at BlogHer.com reaches more than 27 million women monthly. She’s on Twitter @lisastone.

Deanna Brown is the CEO of Federated Media Publishing and the co-founder of CondeNet, the digital division of publisher CondeNast. Find her on Twitter @deannabrown.

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