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Does Blogger Engagement Still Matter?

by Jason Preston on January 26, 2009

As we continue to help clients in their social media outreach strategies, I’m starting to notice that more and more people are turning away from blogs and blogger engagement to focus instead on social networking sites. Which begs an interesting question: does blogger engagement still matter?

After all, if you can generate good word of mouth and drive sales from efforts in sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, or MySpace, why bother to court the hard-to-reach and often hard-to-impress blogerati like Scoble, Arrington, or Om?

Here’s why: because they’re hard to reach, and hard to impress, and everybody knows it. These bloggers have spent time building up a brand, and that carries value when they talk about your products or your messages.

Harnessing this trust, this existing relationship, is why it still matters to work with bloggers who have a name and a following, instead of simply trusting in the effectiveness of blind, stranger-to-stranger word-of-digital-mouth marketing.

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Building your audience with analogies

by Jason Preston on January 15, 2009

If you’re a business blogger, building your audience is going to become a little obsession. Really, it’s building the right audience that you want to do.

There are all kinds of tricks, tips, and dirty secrets that you can find on the internet. A quick google search for “more blog traffic” yields somewhere in the nieghborhood of 9 million results. Everyone (with legitimate advice to give) will tell you roughly the same thing: write good content and work like a dog to get inbound links.

The trick is finding ways to consistently write good content. A good trick that I like to use is to write analogies.

Pick something that’s unexpected. Copyblogger today wrote about how you can learn to blog better from Winnie the Pooh. You weren’t expecting that one.

The nice thing about analogies is that once you find one comparison to draw, the others tend come more easily. Before you know it, you’ve found three or four parallels to highlight, and your post is practically written for you.

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Why is Scoble in love with FriendFeed?

by Jason Preston on December 9, 2008

It’s no secret that, as Scoble himself puts it, he is FriendFeed’s “number 1 customer.” What remains elusive to most people is why Scoble is such a big fan of the slightly confusing, lifestreaming service that is FriendFeed.

Dave Winer draws a comparison between Twitter and DOS: it is pre-GUI, command line software. He’s right that there is a gap between the two services, and that gap is defined largely by the complexity of using the tool.

Scoble mocks the small-brained users who can’t handle the FF features. Dave Winer seems to think that it actually is more complex than necessary.

I’m inclined to agree with Dave Winer. FriendFeed is a robust dashboard-like system that does too much. Facebook appears to be creaking under the weight of its own capabilities. Experienced users sometimes find it difficult to find today’s events.

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What the ‘Australia’ film launch shows us about authenticity

by Jason Preston on December 2, 2008

According to Gawker, the “highly anticipated” film Australia is rolling out to a lackluster reception in…Australia. Of course, just because it doesn’t do well down under doesn’t mean that the mass audiences in the United States won’t like it, but I’m willing to bet that most of the time a Bad Movie in Australia = a Bad Movie in the US.

But anyone can tell us if a movie is good or bad. The real golden nugget in the Gawker post is this:

We guess it’s just not possible anymore—people, what with the internet and all, are just too cynical—to manufacture a phenomenon. It has to come much more organically than this.

We’ve been telling people from the early days of blogging that authenticity is of paramount importance. Writing blog posts and engaging with people online is not like writing a press release or making an execuspeak presentation.

The audience is savvy, and they know when you’re laying down astroturf. The more you try to shove things down their throats, the less they’re going to pay attention to what you say, and I think the price you pay in authority for a few more ticket sales is not worth it in the long run.

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Is Dan Lyons right to quit blogging?

by Jason Preston on November 19, 2008

Jordan Golson at The Industry Standard reported yesterday that Dan Lyons is giving up on his personal blog, Real Dan Lyons, after he was forced by Newsweek to pull some of his recent, profane posts.

I can only assume that Newsweek was uneasy about Lyons gunning for Kara Swisher’s reputation and for calling the Yahoo PR team “lying sacks of shit.”

Of course, Golson faithfully reproduces the missing Lyons posts in his own, so you can check them out and make your own opinion.

I’m wondering where the line is on this one. On the one hand, it’s pretty bad form to go around mudslinging at everyone in your industry. On the other hand, an employee forcing a blogger to pull their posts is pretty high up on the evil scale as well.

What do you think?

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Wired’s Paul Boutin joins the “blogs are dead” bandwagon

by Jason Preston on October 23, 2008

And I have to disagree completely. Blogging is far from dead—blogging is thriving. According to Paul, the reasons you should skip the blogosphere are, roughly:

  • There are too many other blogs
  • Writing more than 140 characters is too much work
  • Media companies are now blogging
  • Jason Calacanis isn’t doing it anymore

Blogging has always been a medium. It’s a tool that you can use in many ways, and what’s happened is that this tool has been adopted by a lot of people for a lot of different purposes.

Some of what Paul brings up is actually valid: gone indeed are the days when a wayward blog post about a popular subject like “Barack Obama” could rocket you to the top of Google. But a blog still beats a static web site on SEO hands-down.

And there’s also the way that a blog lets you connect with your niche. The Techmeme leaderboard does not define the blogosphere. It tracks the “broadcast blogosphere” – blogs from people and organizations big enough that they’re essentially going back to broadcast models.

Today is an excellent time to start a blog, either for yourself or for your business. You will undoubtedly find your tribe. OEM Software Shop

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The It Won’t Stay in Vegas Blogger Party is back (with a plane)

by Jason Preston on October 16, 2008

As many of you probably already know, our CES Blogger Party last year was an awesome success, so we’re getting right back into it this year: the It Won’t Stay in Vegas blogger party is back in force, and this time we’re doing a contest to get several gadget bloggers onto a private jet flight.

Yes, you read that right. Yesterday we announced the rules on how to get into the contest and how to increase your odds of winning (and for the record, no, this post doesn’t enter me into the contest).

If you want to come hang out with Gary Vaynerchuk and Robert Scoble at the CES Blogger Party this year, go request an invite to the party.

If you’re a gadget blogger and you want to enter the contest for the blogger jet like Jake Luddington and Beth Blecherman already have, check out the rules and drop your name in the punch bowl.

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Blog sells for $12.4 million after 1 year and 3 months

by Jason Preston on October 2, 2008

Paidcontent and ProBlogger reported this morning that the Bankaholic blog, which launched in July of 2007, was bought today by Bankrate for a cool $12.4 million, and the option to earn another $2.5 million over the next 12 months.

That’s an astounding payout for the amount of time that John Wu (who is the one person behind Bankaholic) has put into the site.

If you look at the Google trends chart, you can see a very convincing argument for building a blog to flip it:

Having been in the blog space for a long time, I sometimes forget that there is an actual market for blogs, but there definitely is.

Some people like Yaro Starek have occasionally suggested that you can make a business out of buying blogs, building them up a little bit, and then reselling them for a profit.

Blogging ain’t dead yet.

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Gary Vaynerchuck’s Tips on Blogging for Money

by Jason Preston on September 30, 2008

Darren Rowse (of Problogger, in case you don’t know) is such a prolific blogger that even though I’m pointing you to a September 30th blog post, it’s already the fourth headline on his home page.

Darren does a nice job of summarizing Gary’s points, but the real gem is the 30-minute video attached to the end of the post, where you can watch Gary interact with the audience.

Between this video and his presentation at Web 2.0 Expo, it’s clear what Gary’s advice is all about—and it’s really good advice: do what you do best, do it loudly, and do it all the time.

Below is the Web 2.0 Expo video, but I’d also check out the video on Darren’s post, it’s much longer and more informal.

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Three proven strategies for building your blog authority

by Jason Preston on August 26, 2008


Image under CC license from MacWagen on FlickR.

I learn a lot by example. As Darren Rowse from ProBlogger noted recently, there’s a big difference between the “right” blogging advice and the “real” blogging advice, and it’s important to know the “real” strategies.

“Do as I say, not as I do,” is a great phrase for parenting, but it’s a lousy line for bloggers. If you see a successful blogger telling you to do something they’re not doing, or more importantly to not do something they are doing, red flags should start popping up.

One of the best examples of a successful and authoritative blog that regularly eats its own dog food is Copyblogger. Here are three great strategies for building authority gleaned from careful observation:

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