Tuesday, September 17, 2013
It’s more craft than art.
If you can internalize what’s required to write a solid blog post, you’ll beat out the competition in the same way someone with a black belt will usually win a fight against someone who hasn't trained and internalized fighting principles.
While getting a black belt in blogging doesn't guarantee you’ll become huge, it does significantly increase your chances.
Let’s examine some of the fundamentals you’ll need to master to receive your black belt in the craft of blogging.
1. Use Metaphors and Similes
Using metaphors and similes will increase the quality of your posts in two ways.
It helps your audience to easily understand a concept since you’ll be comparing the new concept with a concept they’re already familiar with.
It paints a picture in the minds of your readers which will engage and please them.
A metaphor I recently used was comparing water to focus. I explained to my audience that focusing on the negative is like randomly pouring water out of your canteen when you’re lost in a jungle and really need that water for survival.
Do you see how the above metaphor not only paints a picture that makes reading more enjoyable, but also instills the lesson with much greater impact than mere plain language does?
2. Be Succinct
Saying everything you want to say in fewer words requires more time than conveying the same message to your audience without concern of how many words you use.
It may seem odd that a shorter post often takes longer to write than a longer one, but it’s not.
When you strive to limit your word count without compromising your message, you have to be methodical in how you express your message. Conversely, when you’re indifferent about word count, you don’t need to make as much an effort in how you convey your message.
Just as a good martial artist strives to make every movement as efficient as possible with no wasted energy, likewise, you should make every post you write as short as possible without your message being compromised.
I have made this letter longer than usual, only because I have not had time to make it shorter. ~Blaise Pascal (1623-1662).
Your readership will love you for being concise.
3. Be Entertaining
As Jon Morrow of Copyblogger has mentioned before, if all people wanted was information they’d buy a textbook.
One primary reason people read blogs is because they’re looking for a diversion from the mundaneness of life.
If you want to compete with the competition, discover and practice as many ways as possible to make your blog entertaining.
Here are some ways to do that:
Use metaphors and similes.
Share interesting experiences and how they relate to your message.
Use quotes from books, music bands, movies and TV shows to help illustrate your points.
4. Be Diligent
Unlike a black belt in the martial arts, once you get your black belt in blogging, it can be taken away from you within a moment’s notice.
In martial arts, once you get your black belt, you don’t necessarily have to spar with anyone from that day forward and you’ll always remain a black belt.
Not so with blogging.
You see, we’re fighting every day. Every day we’re fighting for people’s attention and trying to convince them that we’re worth staying subscribed to and that the competition can’t offer what we do.
There’s really only two ways to keep your black belt and it requires tremendous discipline.
1. Read like your life depends on it
I currently read an hour and a half a day and consider my reading more important than content creation for the simple reason that you can create all day long, but if it doesn’t shine, what good is it?
Reading diligently, blogs and books, will ensure that ideas are constantly coming to you and that they’re the kind of ideas that will keep your readers craving more of what you have to offer.
When I fall short in my reading regiment, fewer ideas come to me and the quality of ideas diminish.
2. Write like your life depends on it
While I definitely think reading is even more important than writing, writing’s a close second.
For starters, if you’re not updating your blog on a regular basis you can hardly be considered a blogging black belt no matter how much talent you have.
Writing is also the best way for you to practice all the techniques you’ve learned. Even in martial arts, any serious black belt never becomes complacent once they get to this exalted level. They just want to keep getting better.
What else do you need to receive your black belt in blogging?
About the Author: Tick Tock Timer is an online timer that helps anyone serious about getting things done be more productive, created by Bamboo Forest.
Monday, September 9, 2013
“Don’t hate on Facebook.” Give it a chance before you decide to curse it to hell as an annoying social site that is a waste of time. If you STILL aren’t using Facebook for yourself, you won’t be able to understand how to use it for anyone else.
Create your “internet marketer” profile. I prefer when people give it their own personal touch. Add some (and only some) albums of cool pictures for me to see what you are like. Myself among many others are dying to judge you. This sounds a lot worse than it actually is.
By now, you probably already know over 200 people on Facebook. Whether they are your actually friends, or authors of the blogs you read. The #1 Simple Step of Social Media Success is to connect with these people, according to Chris Winfield. Facebook makes it really easy for you, and separates these people into networks, and clubs. You already know who you should be conversing with. In most cases, networking professionals will accept your friend request.
Some of these people, you might not have gotten a chance to talk to at the latest convention and now you are looking at mobile uploads of their children. This really is a wonderful tool.
Here are 10 reasons why you should STILL be using Facebook as a Marketing Professional:
1. Join all the groups that relate to you and add connections: Start conversations with people you look up to in the industry. Possibly gain a friend request or two hundred.
2. Promote your blog or other blogs you are promoting on your profile, using BlogFriends. You spent hours perfecting the perfect blog post, now everyone knows.
3. Draw attention to yourself quickly: Upload a new album, post a note, poke people (occasionally), comment on everyone’s stuff. Being popular on Facebook can easily transfer over to real life.
4. Set up real life connections: Introduce yourself to your Facebook friends. Start a relationship. These people are also voters on Social News sites, and blog writers, and good people to know.
5. Research information for clients and Gain Knowledge: Dive head first into groups and read what people are saying about your clients. Excellent for those who are practicing Reputation Management. Read forums, participate, research, and get to work!
6. Network before big events: With SMX West coming up, there are tons of groups to join. See who will be there. Set up a meeting with these people by sending them a message on Facebook, or just simply join the group so people will know you will be there as well. Look at their profile, if they have recent news, you will have a conversation starter at the convention.
7. Update your Status: I hate to say it but those people who tie in their Twitter with their Facebook status are super helpful. If you become a regular status updater, people will always take interest in whatever your doing. It’s like reality TV. *Congratulations to Glen Allsopp who just PASSED HIS DRIVING TEST! 38m ago*
8. Applications Help: It’s true that many applications are annoying. But the Stumble Upon application is awesome! It shows on your profile and news feed what you are Stumbling, so this way everyone else knows, and will also stumble if they are interested.
9. Facebook is Improving: The ever changing controls are sometimes annoying but helpful. You can edit your preferences in the news feeds and see what you want to see. You can also control what people see about you with privacy and security settings.
10. Facebook Profiles Rank- If clients are looking you up, they might like the fact that your profile comes up (but they might not). In this case, it works the same as LinkedIn. So make sure to keep it as Professional as the business you run. *For example: While hiring, I did a search and found a possible employee Facebook page and lets just say they weren’t hired based on the profile picture alone. This could have totally worked in their favor, if I saw a nice clean page with nice comments from Coworkers, friends, a link to their blog, etc.
So… Why Not? It’s totally up to you how you want to use it. If you choose not to use Facebook, then don’t. If you just want to use to it watch what everyone else is doing, that is fine too. You don’t have to add every application, or give drinks to your Top Friends. You can totally make what you want of it.
I hope that this post helps people who are still “Hating” and helps them find success with Facebook conversations, like I have in many ways.
If you have any other reasons or ideas why Marketing Professionals should STILL be using Facebook, please let me know!
Sunday, September 1, 2013
Used well, Twitter can provide good exposure for your business; but you can also damage your brand with social media marketing if you're not careful, so it's worth learning the biggest dos and don'ts before you start using Twitter.
Tip 1: Be yourself and be human
The beauty of Twitter is that it's a huge global community of human beings (mostly; there are spammer accounts but they're easy to spot, block and report). So do show your human side, especially when using your business account. Talk about things that matter to you: funny things your children say, recent achievements, your favourite band or TV show, and so on. Join in with conversations that interest you - be friendly, show emotion, and use smilies if you want to.
On the other hand, don't be too human. Don't share anything you wouldn't share at a real-world business networking event; keep intimate health problems and controversial or potentially offensive opinions to yourself.
Tip 2: Watch how you write
Some people write well, others don't - that's true in all areas of life, not just on Twitter. You don't need to be a bestselling novelist to use Twitter, but it helps if you have basic literacy skills (and if you use Twitter at the website instead of through a client, your Tweets will be spellchecked as you type anyway - which helps).
However good (or bad) your writing skills are, with Twitter's 140-character limit you'll need to be creative with your Tweets. Your Tweets need to be concise yet informative, and often you'll be trying to squeeze in a URL too (URL shortening services like bit.ly and tinyurl.com are lifesavers).
One definite don't is using text speak. Text speak is fine if you're 13, but as a professional adult promoting your business you're just going to look silly, and won't communicate your messages efficiently - unless you're targeting 13 year olds.
Tip 3: Share and share alike
If you have some good news - related to your business or your personal life - share it; everybody loves a good news story.
Do share links - to your website, your blog, your local news service, or anything else that interests your followers - this is a great way to get conversations going. But do remember to explain what the link's about, or your followers will feel less inclined to click it. And don't Tweet the same link over and over; people will quickly become bored and may stop following you.
Do retweet your friends' links, too; they'll be grateful, and so will your followers if the link is interesting and relevant. But here's a very big 'do' - DO make sure you click the link and read the content before sharing it with your followers, or you could end up sharing a page that's irrelevant or offensive, or which contradicts your usual position on the subject.
Tip 4: Be part of the community
Don't treat Twitter as your personal billboard. It's not: it's a community, millions of members strong, and the community as a whole is not very tolerant of users who constantly advertise. Try to stick to the 80-20 rule when you use Twitter for business: no more than 20% of your Tweets should advertise or self-promote, and at least 80% should be non-promotional. If you can get the ratio down to 90-10 or 95-5, even better.
Listen to what people are saying, and join in. Twitter is a network of conversations, so it's good practice to listen and respond to parts of those conversations that interest you; don't just stand in the middle of the room with a megaphone, shouting "I'm fabulous! I'm selling widgets at 20% off this week!" Again - if you wouldn't do it at a business networking event, don't do it on Twitter.
Do retweet your friends' requests for help (for example, charity appeals and sponsorship requests), and do introduce friends that are new to Twitter and could do with some followers. And again - do retweet useful, interesting links from people you follow, but always check links before sending.
Tip 5: Mind your language
Don't use offensive language when representing your business on Twitter; even mild swearwords can put sensitive souls off following you (and besides - cursing in public is hardly professional).
Use Twitter to answer customer questions and solve their problems, by all means; many organisations use Twitter as a customer services tool very effectively. But never, ever use an impolite or impatient tone with a customer. On Twitter, everything you say is out there for everyone to see, so leave your followers with the best possible impression of your brand at all times... the Internet has a very long memory!
Finally - consider this a bonus tip, since it's not really connected to any of the previous ones - try to enjoy yourself when you use Twitter. Try to embrace all that's good about Twitter - the new friendships and business contacts you'll make, the fun hashtags and trending topics, the strong community spirit - and before long you'll be singing (or is that Tweeting?) Twitter's praises to anyone who'll listen.
About the Author: Debs Williams is Managing Director of debbidoo Ltd, a marketing company in Caernarfon, North Wales that provides marketing, website design, copywriting and internet marketing services to organisations of all shapes and sizes in a variety of industries.