From the category archives:

Public Relations / Marketing / Advertising

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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Reputation Management: Bad Stuff in Google? Forget SEO, Start Blogging

by Steve Broback on February 25, 2008

in the article How Can a Company Protect Its Reputation on Web Sites? Ben Worthen of the Wall Street Journal writes about the realities of expunging negative information posted about your company on the Web. In many ways he gets it right, but in a few aspects, he’s a bit deficient in his coverage.

He implies that there’s not much you can do to demote negative content in Google search results, which is SO not true. We have a client who was involved in a lawsuit several years ago (which they won btw) and their attorney had posted about his efforts on their behalf. The content was not really all that negative, but it was the fifth item from the top when you searched for their name in Google. Our client wanted it sent to as far below the fold as possible, so largely thanks to our efforts, it moved from position 5 to position 65. It went from the first page of search results to the sixth.

How’d we do it? We launched a blog that mentioned them frequently and invoked a blogger engagement campaign that got others mentioning their name as well. It worked like a charm. Worthen references Daniel J. Solove, an associate professor at George Washington University Law School who is also a blogger, so I am guessing he concurs with us on the power of blogging.

Here are a few key quotes from the article and my thoughts.

“Once information finds its way online, it’s almost impossible to get it off.”

If he means that Google won’t forget about it, that’s generally true. Otherwise, pages come and go all the time.

“One thing not to bother with is so-called search-engine optimization, in which you hire consultants or buy software that’s supposed to make good information rise to the top of Google rankings.”
True. We’ve posted many times that most SEO efforts are largely ineffectual voodoo in comparison to spending the same money on content creation.

“A better bet is to confront the accusations head on. If a blogger writes that your company has poor customer service, leave a comment on the site saying you’re trying to fix the problem. Similarly, never ignore false rumors, as these can spread like wildfire on the Internet. Mr. Solove says to address the rumor on your Web site as early as possible.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Want some help pushing the bad stuff down? We’re happy to help.

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American Airlines decides to sue Google over keywords

by Jason Preston on August 17, 2007

Eric Goldman reported yesterday on American Airlines’ decision to sue Google (pdf link) over their keyword advertising practices:

This complaint pleads the usual claims for this type of action, including direct, contributory and vicarious trademark infringement (I don’t know why the vicarious claim was made; it’s deficiently pleaded); a false advertising claim that the “sponsored link” language communicates a false impression of actual sponsorship; dilution; various “soft” state claims (unfair competition; misappropriation and others); and tortious interference with contract because Google allegedly knew that American’s distributors weren’t supposed to buy American’s trademarks as keywords.

Eric’s got a lot more legal chops than I do, but it sounds to me like American Airlines thinks that they’re losing business because Google is allowing other airline services to advertise against the American Airlines trademark. In other words, Google is letting competitors trade on the AA name.

I’m not really sure what they’re trying to accomplish with this suit. The only thing I can think of is those TV commercials where they say “compared to other leading brands” instead of “compared to Coke.”

The idea, I think, is that you can’t use another product’s name in your ad. You can suggest it, but you can’t use it. Advertising on Google against AA is a little bit like using another product name in your ad. I wonder if it’s close enough.

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New Tool for Analyzing Blogger Sentiment(?)

by Steve Broback on August 15, 2007

We’re testing a new tool that is showing promise as an effective engine for measuring the tone of blog posts (but not comments–yet…) as they relate to a specific product or company. We’d love to include some of your data into the research, and would provide you the results free of charge. All we ask is that you take the time to cross-reference the results to your own analysis and tell us how the system performed.

The only data we need is: 1) A list of permalinks to posts that discuss a company or product, and 2) the name of the company or product.

We’ll send you back the list of links with an attached rating to each permalink: positive, negative, or neutral.

If you’re interested, just email me: steve AT blog business summit dot com (no spaces.)

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If You Talked to People the Way Advertising Talked to People…

by Teresa Valdez Klein on August 13, 2007

ifyoutalkedtopeople-thumb.jpg

I effing *love* Hugh Macleod!

[Via Jake McKee with regard to our lovely impromptu chat last week.]

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Lucky There’s a Community Guy: Jake McKee and Community Building Practices

by Teresa Valdez Klein on August 8, 2007

Jake Mckee — a.k.a. the Community Guy — is one of my favorite people I’ve met since I got into this blogging thing. He’s graciously accepted our request that he speak at the conference this September. I had a nice chat with him via AOL Instant Messenger this morning. We talked about how traditional marketers approach communities, how they should approach communities, and why the Web changed everything.

Jake articulates some of the most important ideas in online community building so very well. I’m really looking forward to his sessions at BBS07. Transcript of the conversation after the jump.
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Pay Attention Marketers: The “Facebook Killer” May Be the Web Itself

by Teresa Valdez Klein on August 6, 2007

Wired’s Scott Gilbertson has an excellent point about Facebook: it’s a walled garden. Personal data goes in, and it doesn’t come out.

He’s not the first to complain, nor is he the first person to propose a solution. But I liked the way he articulated the next step in the process of opening the Web:
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Is Second Life a Waste of Time and Money for Marketers?

by Teresa Valdez Klein on July 25, 2007

Wired ran an article yesterday that encapsulates one of the biggest problems with the emerging Web. The money quote:

For people who’ve grown up in analog, Second Life is not that hard to understand,” says Rishad Tobaccowala, CEO of Denuo, a consulting arm of the global ad giant Publicis Groupe. “I have a store in the real world; I have a store in the virtual world.” In contrast, the kind of digital marketing that actually works requires a conceptual leap. Successful online marketing is targeted and specific, like direct mail — but it’s direct mail in a fun house, where the recipients can easily seize control of what the mail says, where it goes next, and how it gets there. You need to know how to buy up keywords to maximize search returns, how to make the most of recommendation engines, how to use the viral potential of Web video, how to monitor what’s being said in blogs and message boards, how not to blow it by trying to be deceptive. Building a corporate pavilion in Second Life doesn’t require any of these things. It’s simple and it’s obvious.

The lesson here is pretty straightforward: online community building isn’t about fancy technology or flashy corporate pavilions in 3-D worlds. It’s about enabling people to connect with one another in ways that are meaningful to them. As Liz Strauss told me, you can’t have a community without people.

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Our Facebook Marketing Campaign Yields Exceptional ROI

by Steve Broback on July 23, 2007

Since we launched our BlogTips Facebook application twelve days ago, several trackable conference registrations have been the direct result. I calculate a 43.75% net ROI in approximately 1/30 of a year. If you multiply that out, that’s an annualized 1,300% rate of return on the investment. Not too shabby.

By some metrics, it’s the single most effective marketing campaign I’ve ever been involved in — especially when we’ve only launched a 1.0 widget with limited functionality. Admittedly, we haven’t scaled to a volume where it’s a main driver of revenue (yet,) but it’s clear to us that this is an arena that shows great promise. It’s also a heck of a lot easier than fighting over AdWords terms.
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You Can’t Have a Community Without People: A Chat With Liz Strauss

by Teresa Valdez Klein on July 12, 2007

If I were responsible for giving the Sprit of the Blogosphere Award, I’d give it to Liz Strauss. Our speaker Andy Sernovitz put us in touch. I had a really lovely chat with her yesterday and came away with a renewed vigor for blogging. That’s usually how I know I’ve had a great conversation with someone.

One of the things that struck me during our chat was that “online community building” is becoming a buzz word, kind of like “synergy” or “paradigm.” She told me a story about a corporate marketer who told her that he was going to build a community on his company’s website. She asked him what he would do to get the people to come there and how he would work with them. He kept returning to the “community” angle, and she kept asking, “but what about the people?”

Liz has an astonishing number of comments — tens of thousands, in fact — on her blog. She’s very proud of this. She hosts open comment nights and spends inordinate amounts of time getting to know her readers. She explained to me that the secret to good blogging is understanding that your posts should be conversation starters rather than statements. The only way to really engage with people is to leave your posts unfinished.

About halfway through our conversation, I started feeling guilty. I realized that I didn’t spend nearly enough time engaging with the commenters on any of the blogs I write for. I asked her, “how do I make sure that my commenters understand that I do care about them when there just aren’t enough hours in the day?”

“You just did,” she replied. “You show up. You read what they’ve written and you make sure they know you were there.”

The moral of this story is that the business buzzword of “online community building” doesn’t really cover what needs to happen when a company sets out to build a community around their brand. Many corporate marketers seem to be approaching the issue with an “if you build it, they will come” mentality. But if you want to have a successful online community, you need to step out from behind your role as company spokesperson/spin-doctor and actually talk to people. Talk to them like you talk to your friends. Be yourself.

This mentality — which represents a real paradigm shift, not just a buzzword — will be a subject of renewed focus at the conference this September. We’ll be talking about technology and numbers and ROI to be sure, but we’ll also be talking about the real power of social media: the people that use it.

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