Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

What Is RSS and How Does It Get Readers to My Blog?

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

The firs and possibly most important step in promoting your blog is having an RSS feed. RSS, which stands  for “really simple syndication,” enables people who want to read your blog in the future to be notified when your blog has a new blog post.

 

When new blog owners find out that RSS is a tool for broadcasting their blog posts across the internet, they get  excited. They think it’s the equivalent of standing on the roof of the tallest building and yelling through a bull horn. They think everybody in hearing distance is getting their message. When it comes to RSS, just because you’re broadcasting doesn’t mean people are receiving your blog posts.

 

Your Blog “Radio Station”

How RSS works on your blogThink of your blog like a radio station. Radio stations send out content via the airwaves . Your blog works the same way.  Each time you publish a new blog post it’s like another radio wave going out into the world. But just because radio waves are out there, doesn’t mean people can hear them. Fortunately, radio waves roll right past us if we’re not tuned into them. Imagine how crazy making that would be if you heard every radio wave out there!

 

In order for listeners to hear what your radio station is broadcasting, they need 2 things. They need a radio AND their radio needs to be tuned to your station. Your blog works the same way.

 

Your Blog “Radio”

In the case of your blog, the “radio” takes one of 2 forms:

How RSS WorksBlog Reader

A blog reader is a place where you can collect all the blogs you want to keep track of. There are many free blog readers out there (Google reader is the most popular) and they work similarly to your email program. You have the equivalent of an inbox where you can view the blogs you’ve subscribed to.

Email
People can also have your latest blog posts show up in their email inbox. This is a good option for you the blog owner because it doesn’t require the subscriber to remember to check their blog reader. Your blog posts show up in their inbox as if they were a regular email.

 

 

Tuning into Your “Signal”

While having a blog reader or email is the equivalent of a radio, subscribing to your feed constitutes tuning into your blog. To sign up for an RSS feed, look for an orange button with a dot and 2 curved lines. It should roughly look like a signal going out. When you click on that button, another page appears with either the raw feed (looks like a bunch of code) or a web page with options for signing up.

 

How Do I Add an RSS Feed Signup to my Website or Blog?

If you know how to do it, RSS sign up capabilities is not difficult and doesn’t take much time. However, unless you’re willing to learn a bit about coding websites, I recommend asking your web designer to add it for you. I’ll give you a quick overview of the process so you know what’s involved.

 

Feedburner is the easiest and most commonly used  tool for adding RSS feed sign up capabilities to your blog.

  1. First, you  need to create a Feedburner account.  but since Feedburner is owned by Google, if you have a Google account that will get you in.
  2. Follow the steps to create the feed URL. It’s easy!
  3. Then add an RSS sign up image to your site and link it to your feed’s URL.

 

That’s it! Now people can sign up for your blog.

 

You’re paying attention to your Analytics, right?

One of the reasons why I like Feedburner is that you can login and see how many people subscribe to your blog and where they found your blog. It’s a valuable metric and helps you not feel like you’re talking to yourself. Put it on your calendar to login in at least once a month and check your progress. When you know how many subscribers you had last month, it motivates you to have more subscribers next month.

 

RSS feeds are a valuable marketing tool. In a future blog post I’ll talk about other uses of RSS for building an online audience.

 

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Facebook Strategy: Friend or Fan?

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

When you “are the business” (i.e. artist, author or consultant), it’s challenging to figure out where you end as a person and where you begin as a “brand.” It’s crucial that you think though this boundary and are aware of it when using Facebook. Far too often individuals who are the business simply set up a Facebook profile and start Friending anybody and everybody.

I have worked with many business owners who have come to regret not thinking through their Facebook strategy before jumping in. This blog post is the result of hard lessons learned.

Facebook Profile vs. Facebook Fan Page

Before I explain the different between a Friend and a Fan, you need to understand the difference between a personal profile and a Fan page. Facebook’s primary purpose is as a personal networking site. They want real people to connect and share information with other real people. That is why you start by setting up a personal profile.

The Facebook terms of service clearly states in several places that you cannot have more than one account. For example, I cannot set up an account as myself, Elgé Premeau, and then set up another account as my business, eMarketing Strategist. If I do this and Facebook finds out, they will shut down both accounts. So, how do I create both a personal and professional presence on Facebook?

This is where Fan pages come in. I start by creating a personal account as Elgé Premeau. From that account, I set up an eMarketing Strategist Fan page. My personal account is the parent account and my Fan page is a sub-account. While you can only have one personal profile, you can have as many Fan pages as you want.

 

Here is a screen shot of the home page of my personal account

 

Keep in mind my feed – the updates from my Friends in the center column – is constantly changing as my Friends post updates.

 

 

 


 

Here is a screen shot of my eMarketing Strategist Fan Page.

 

It’s easy to manage my Fan page from my personal account. All I have to do is go here:

 

Friend vs. Fan

 

 

 

Now let’s get into the distinction between a Friend and a Fan. The people you connect with via your personal account are called Friends and the people you connect with via your Fan page are Fans. In general, you have a two way conversation with Friends and a one way conversation with Fans. Here are some important distinctions between Friends and Fans:

 

 

 

 

Why Set Up a Fan Page?

 

 

 

So why take the extra effort to set up and learn how to use a Fan page? Let me elaborate on the problem with some of the distinctions above:

  1. Privacy – I don’t Friend people I don’t know now in real life largely for privacy concerns. If you don’t know people, you don’t know what they’re doing with your personal profile information.
  2. Number of Connections – If you’re using Facebook to build a platform, you want to have tens or hundreds of thousands of people reading your updates. But if you only have a personal account, you’re limited to 5,000 connections.
  3. Fun and Enjoyment – Friending strangers takes all the fun out of Facebook. If you’ve got hundreds or thousands of “friends” you don’t actually know, your feed is cluttered with updates from people you don’t care about. Also, you can’t be yourself. You’ve got worry about offending somebody or sounding unprofessional. Boring!

 

 

 

 

And the Biggest Problem of All???

You cannot change someone’s status from Friend to Fan.

 

 

 

 

If you blithely Friend everybody who will accept your invitation, there WILL come a day when you decide to do something about it. Many times I’ve had to explain to a frustrated business owner that you cannot change someone from a Friend to a Fan.

 

 

 

And frankly, I have not found a nice way to say,
“I don’t want to be your Friend anymore but you could be my Fan!”

 


 

 

 

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HARO Part II: 5 Not So Well Known Uses for HARO

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

You’ve probably read an article in a magazine or seen a news segment on TV that featured a company similar to yours and wondered “How’d they get that spot?”  They got that spot because they came to the attention of the right journalist.

It used to be that if you wanted to get featured in a national magazine or on TV, you had to spend several thousands of dollars on a public relations firm.  Since the vast majority of small businesses don’t have that kind of marketing budget, it seems like the only way to connect with journalists is to bump into them in line at the grocery store.

That’s where Help a Reporter Out comes in. Help a Reporter out (HARO for short) connects you with journalists writing on your area of expertise. In my last blog post, I described how HARO works. In this blog post, I will show you some of the other ways to use HARO.

1. Forward HARO Requests to Clients and Colleagues

I’m a natural born Connector. I love to put people in touch with other people and resources I think they’d like to know about. So, when I come across a query I think a client or colleague would be a good fit for, I send it to them.  Forwarding HARO queries shows existing people that you are thinking about them and are looking out for their best interest.

2.  Get More Work without Asking for It

Sending HARO requests to non-active client’s has gotten me more work because often their reply is something like “Thanks for sending this. By the way, I meant to contact you about a new project I’ve been thinking about.”

3.  Connect with Experts Who Don’t Have Time for You

I’m a big fan of Jill Konrath and her book “Selling to Big Companies.”  In it she shows you how to sell to people who are so busy they are looking for a reason to blow you off. I don’t know Jill but I recently came across a couple of HARO queries on that topic and forwarded them to her. I got a nice note back from Jill thanking me for them and encouraging me to keep sending them.  You bet I will! And one of these days, I’m going to screw up my nerve and ask her if she would feature my SEO ebook on her blog.

4. Learn Who’s Looking for Content

A marketing strategy  I often recommend to folks is to figure out what experts your customers are paying attention to, read their blog and comment on them. The hard part of that strategy is discovering new  blogs.  Many times, if a HARO source is not a well known TV program or newspaper they will list their URL in the query.  I’ve learned about several business related blogs that I’m now following.  The added benefit of using this strategy  is that you know these blogs are looking for content. Once you get a sense of the content they publish, you could approach them about writing a guest post.

Here’s a list of some of the websites and blogs I’ve recently discovered via HARO:

http://insidesocialmedia.tv/

http://www.shoestringventure.com/

http://www.theladders.com/

http://businessbewareradioshow.com/

http://entreprenette.com/

http://www.writingthatworks.com/

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/

One in particular I think you ought to make note of is Blog Talk Radio which is a website that aggregates hundreds of internet radio shows. I recommend that you search the site for internet radio shows about your areas of expertise and start following them.

5. Hey You’re a journalist too!

Content makes the internet go ’round. But it’s hard to think of something new to say on a regular basis. Interviewing experts or having a guest blogger are a couple of ways to get fresh content and build new relationships. So go ahead a post a query. When you do this, you’ll get a bunch of new visitors to your website so make sure it’s spiffed up before company comes over!

Have you got another use for HARO or a HARO success story? We’d love to hear about it!

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How to Use HARO for Publicity & More! (Part I)

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

Getting mentioned in the right publication can mean the difference between living hand to mouth and having more work than you can handle. But, public relations is expensive.HAROSourcing journalists who write about your industry, figuring out what they want to hear and then pitching them takes a lot of work. An experienced PR firm will cost you thousands of dollars a month which is a higher entry point than most small businesses can afford. But! There is a solution. Helpareporter.com is a publicity resource every small business can use.

Help a Reporter Out, commonly known as HARO, is referral service that puts journalists in touch with sources. HARO was started as a Facebook Group by PR guru Peter Shankman in November, 2007. It has since grown to its own website with almost 30,000 journalists and writers submitting over 200 queries a day to over 100,000 sources. HARO was recently purchased by software company Vocus. On his blog, Peter Shankman assures us that HARO will remain a free service and that “We’ll have a kick-ass infrastructure, which will allow us to grow HARO better than ever before. Different countries. More lists. Breaking news queries! You name it. It’s gonna be an AMAZING ride.”

HARO is free but it does require a time commitment. When you sign up as a news source, you get 3 emails a day with a couple of dozen queries in each one. Although the subject line of each HARO email starts with [HARO] which is designed to make them easy to filter into a separate folder, many of the requests are time sensitive so it’s best read them as soon as possible.

How can HARO afford to be free? Each HARO email starts with a paid advertisement about a product or service. Advertising in the masthead of HARO costs $1500. So at 3 emails a day, $4500 a day for a service that is largely automated is a pretty nice passive income stream.

After the masthead, there is a list of the latest queries by industry including:
Biotech and Healthcare
Business and Finance
Education
General
High Tech
Lifestyle and Fitness
Public Policy and Government
Travel

The title of each query contains a one line description and the media outlet. Media outlets can include major print publications, well known websites and blogs, book authors and lesser known websites, blogs and social networks. If the source says “Anonymous” you’re probably dealing with a major news outlet like the Wall Street Journal or Good Morning America.

When you click on a item in the list, you are taken to the expanded description of the query which includes the journalist’s name (unless anonymous), the publication, the due date and a brief description (50 – 100) words of what they are looking for. The description also included an anonymized email address where you can send your reply.

When you come across a query you think you’d be a good source for (and I’m confident you eventually will), keep in mind they are probably getting dozens of not hundreds of responses. If they don’t get back to you don’t take it personally. Also, keep your replies short and to the point. DO NOT promote your products or services. Focus on what you know and how you can help them. This is definitely one of those situations where self-promotion will blow up in your face.

In my next post about HARO, I will show you some other ways I use HARO to find resources and build relationships online.

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My Two Cents on Twitter

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

I can’t take it anymore. I have to weigh in on Twitter. I thought the “trying to figure out how to make money from it” hype was bad when blogs came along but that had nothing on Twitter.

If your only goal is to “figure out how to make money from it”, please do us all a favor and cancel your Twitter account. You’re not going to make money from Twitter. I don’t care what the self styled internet marketing Gurus are telling you. You might – and that’s a big might – make money because of relationships you’ve nurtured on Twitter but that’s it.

There is no 1:1 relationship between Twitter and your income. And I think that’s a good thing. The internet was originally designed as a way to share information and despite the best efforts of the Gurus, it’s still primarily a way to share information. If sharing of information leads to business, great. But it starts with sharing information!

I only follow people who provide quality information. My time is valuable to me and I’m sure you’re time is valuable to you. It’s one of the few things in life we can’t make more of or get back once it’s gone.

My Twitter Red Flags…

You follow more people than follow you.
It tells me you think Twitter is a numbers game and you expect that if you follow someone they will follow you. I’m sure there are self proclaimed internet marketing gurus who think it’s some great secret they’re sharing when they tell their minions “You can get TONS of traffic (they love the phrase “tons of traffic”) by following everyone you can find because they will follow you back. If they don’t, un-follow them.”

You measure your Twitter success by the number of followers you have.
Me, I graduated from high school. Not just literally but emotionally. Having 9000 followers on Twitter won’t make me feel more confident about the success of my business. Having quality relationships with people I respect and trust makes me feel better about the success of my business.

All your Tweets all start with @friendsname.
If your Twitter stream consists primarily of replies, it tells me you use Twitter as an instant messaging service. I actually take the time to read tweets and I really don’t care to follow your disjointed personal conversations. Sometimes replying to a Tweet can be interesting but please, try to include the rest of us in the conversation.

Most of your Tweets are back to your own content.
Really? You think you’re the only one with something interesting to say? Oh I get it! You’re using Twitter as a “traffic generator.” (Smells like the Gurus again!) You know. You can also get traffic by sharing other people’s content. Not only does it make you look well informed, it makes you look generous. And it makes you interesting.

Phew. Okay. I feel better now.

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Comment SPAM: You Are an Idiot if You (or Someone You Hired) Do It

Saturday, October 18th, 2008

My blog is set up so that I have to approve comments. And like everyone else in the world, I HATE SPAM. So imagine how happy I was to get the following comment on my last blog post which was about copy writing from “

Making the rather questionable assumption that “Justin” is a real person*, as opposed to an outsourced company in India or South America that has no strategy behind internet marketing, Justin has screwed up on so many levels it warrants a blog post from me:
* When you go to the Article Post Robot website, all the glowing recommendations are for “David” not “Justin.”

Here’s why this comment is wrong in so many ways:

  • First of all, you’ve pissed off a D List blogger to the point that she is willing to dedicate a post to your scatter-shot approach to internet marketing. So if you were hoping to get traffic, you’re f’ed. Any traffic from this blog is going to be gawkers looking at the scene of the accident.

 

  • Secondly, the links in your comment won’t help your rankings because Blogger comment links are nofollow links!

 

 

  • Your product has nothing to do with the blog post! So even if I approved the comment so readers could see it, it wouldn’t be appealing to them because it has nothing to do with what they were reading about.

 

Congratulations. Your one size fits all approach to internet marketing has done more damage than good. Was that worth the time savings of automating your internet marketing campaign?

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