Blogging Tips: A Fletcher Prince Presentation from Social Media Week DC

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Fletcher Prince presentation on blogging for Social Media Week DC, February 14, 2012. Skip to the end to the see the video of the presentation. Apologies for video quality - that is from our …

Fletcher Prince presentation on blogging for Social Media Week DC, February 14, 2012. Skip to the end to the see the video of the presentation. Apologies for video quality - that is from our Livestream feed. For more about us, visit http://www.FletcherPrince.com

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  • Hello and welcome to our session on blogging. I’m Mary Fletcher Jones, and I’ve been blogging since 2006. My main blog is for my company, Fletcher Prince, but I also write a Christmas blog, a Halloween blog, and a few others. I also created the blogs for the National Capital Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America and the DC Ad Club. I enjoy sharing what I know about blogging with my clients and today I’m looking forward to learning form you. I’ll go through my blogging tips in about twenty minutes, and then I’ll open up the discussion to your contributions and questions.By the end of this session, you should have plenty of ideas for jump-starting your existing blog, or even creating a brand new blog. If you are tweeting this presentation, the hashtag is #SMWBlogTips and my Twitter handle is @MaryFletchJones. CLICK
  • So, for those of you who aren’t blogging yet, you may be wondering why you should even bother. Well, the number one reason to have a blog is because it will drive traffic to your website. SEO experts agree that having an integrated blog is the number one way to increase your site’s search engine results.
  • Blogging is also an effective marketing communications tool.In study after study, blogging comes out on top for marketing effectiveness (emarketer, Sherpa, Forrester, Hubspot). It far outshines all over social media. That doesn’t mean it’s a contest. MDG Advertising, collected data from several sources (emarketer, Forrester) and 42% of chief marketing officers said they saw average or significant ROI with blogging.Compare that to 21% for LinkedIn, 21% for YouTube, 22% for Twitter and 36% for Facebook. CLICK
  • Pros and ConsBlogs do take effort to produce, but in comparison to many marketing techniques, they are an affordable way to present your key messages to a wide audience. Blogs are good PR. They extend the value you offer to customers or clients by providing information they find relevant and useful. Blogs trust in your organization by showcasing your work and subject matter expertise. ConsResults can be scatter-shot; best attempted as part of an integrated marketing approach.Time consuming. Lots of competition for readers. 
  • Blogging has really opened doors for me. In addition to putting my company on the map, the discipline of organizing my thoughts and conveying them through blog posts has helped me solidify in my own mind the value and benefits that I offer as a consultant. This has helped me be more articulate in meetings. Along with increased confidence, my blog has led to invitations for speaking engagements.
  • But blogging isn’t easy. Even for experienced bloggers, there are challenges associated with producing and distributing blog posts. It takes time and energy. Also have to set up, design the blog, locate images, video, moderate comments, and measure your results. Also risks. You are putting yourself, your ideas, and your company out there in a vulnerable way. People will say negative things. There is the risk of making a mistake, saying the wrong thing, or attracting negative attention. You’re leaving yourself and your company open to criticism. There are FTC laws about what you can claim in blogs and how you present endorsements. The Children’s Online Privacy Act impacts the content of blogs. Certain regulated industries have restrictions on what they can say in blogs. Government blogs require a blog policy, for example, and bloggers for real estate firms, banks, insurance agencies, healthcare operations, and law firms have to be careful about certain types of information they communicate.
  • Everyone gets writers’ block. The Universe Rewards Action. Here are some ideas to try that I use to jump start your blogging batteries. Often I find that I can get a blog post out of one them. Ease the pressure on yourself. Stop trying to be perfect. If you aim for perfection, you may never get off the ground.Have fun. Create a blog that is just for you. Write about your hobby, your pets, your vacations, or something light.I have a Halloween and a Christmas blog. If I find that I can’t think of a topic for my Fletcher Prince blog, I usually can find something to write about on one of my other blogs.Post comments on other blogs. It’s good practice. Try to add to the conversation rather than just saying “great post.” You can often turn these comments into blog posts.Post on question and answer forums, like Quora, LinkedIn Answers and Yahoo Answers. This is good practice for expressing yourself on a single, focused topic in succinct way. That’s what you want to do in your blog, too.Microblog on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. Writing those very short updates is great practice for expressing yourself in a very brief way, getting to the essentials of a main idea. It’s also good practice for writing attention getting headlines for your blog posts.And finally, the visual aspect. No one said a blog has to be all words. Tell your story with photographs and video.
  • Some good things happen without a plan. But you are blogging for work, I recommend creating a blog policy, an editorial calendar, and a blog plan.There are many good examples of blog policies, especially among the government blogs. Here’s what a blog policy can doJustifies the use of resourcesIdentifies purpose of blog and audienceExplains how the blog will be managed and moderated, and by whomProvides guidelines on what may and may not be acceptableDescribes approval and oversight process
  • The editorial calendar helps you plan your topics and when you’re going to publish. Your blog has a better chance of being indexed by Search engines index blogs if you publish posts on a regular basis, on a schedule. Try to post on the same day of the week, or pick a schedule like Sun/Tues/Thurs.Writing on a schedule is easy with Word Press, because you can write your posts in advance and schedule them to appear on the days you want, which is really helpful during holidays, vacations, and sick days.Set a pace you can keep, even it it’s just once a month (but try for once a week)
  • When you’re developing your blog plan, or taking a fresh look at your blog, you would ask yourself the same questions you would of any communications channel.
  • Your blog plan is kind of a strategy document. Tell WHAT your blog is about – provide a descriptionWHO is the blog for? Envision your audience’s age, gender, geographic location, educational level, background, level of technical expertise, needs, lifestyle. Tell WHY your blog exists. Do you want to ENTERTAIN, PERSUADE, or INFORM? Describe the KEY BENEFIT: what’s in it for me?
  • So for Fletcher Prince, I have a really clear focus in mind for my blog. And I TRY to stick to it. But my blog description goes like this:Published three times a week, The Fletcher Prince Blog is an informational resource of easy-to-understand marketingarticles and videos for small business owners and nonprofit managers who want to learn affordable marketing, public relations, social media, and graphic design strategies to achieve their goals and communicate effectively with customers or constituents. The blog will reinforce Fletcher Prince’s brand image as a friendly, accessible, and trustworthy company and establish Fletcher Prince’s subject matter expertise in its core business areas.
  • Now for some writing tips. You know blog writing is different from the writing we learned in school. Whenyou’re composing blog posts, you’re really writing for two entities (1) search engines and (2) people.Writing for search engines means you compose your posts in a way that they will be indexed meaningfully in search results.People scan online content. Headline, then the photo and the caption, then the subheads, and the bold text, as they scan the page and are deciding whether to read it. Post titles are important. Create literal titles, containing keywords, and not containing punctuation or quotation marks. Your title should be specifically about what your post is about – don’t use a metaphor or symbolic language that bots can’t understand.How you format your post makes it more likely it will be read. People scan online content. Use subheads and bullets and bold keywords. Keep your paragraphs short, between 1 and 3 sentences long.Keep your post focused on a single topic or issue. Between 200 and 450 words.
  • So these are tenets that apply to all your communications.Call to actionConversational tone (no jargon)Professionalism (no slang or profanity)
  • So when you’re blogging for work, you are blogging with the customer or client in mind. So you know their hot button issues, and questions. Respond to those. So, what makes a blog readable for you? What do you like to read about? Blog from your heart. Write about what you know, and what you’re passionate about. Be a little real, a little personal. Be open to learning from others. If you do this, your blog content will be good.Look at your stats and see what tends to resonate with people.The blog post I wrote that got the most views was (tell the stamp story)
  • Some ideas for kinds of blog topics –Tell the inside story – the history of your company, in small bites. Interview your interns or your vendors for a different perspective.Answer the questions you hear over and over.Reports: Make the case for your business or nonprofit. success stories with clients, Talk about the good works your company does, the volunteer work, pro bono work.Helpers: How-to tips and advice, special insight only you can offer. Offer insights about your industry that are more general, maybe not related specifically to your company. Announcements: Special events, offers, contests, awards. Maybe you got a great review or testimonial.
  • Look at these 2 blogs. Which would you be more inclined to read? Every blog post needs an image. Include at least one image and alt-tag it. Here’s a tip: long captions tend to get read first. It’s worthwhile to append a caption to your photos.Where to get images? Government, Wikipedia Commons, Flickr, purchased stock photos) or take your own photographs. Start thinking like a reporter about your job. Take a digital camera everywhere you go and keep one at work.
  • The design of your blog is important, not just for branding but because it makes it more accessible. This blog needs help.Template styleNo image or bioNo logo or custom headerNo subheads, bold text, links, or categoriesNo imagesPost is too longNo way to email the author
  • Usability considerationsText formatting: bullets, bold, subheads to enhance comprehensionWhite background, dark textWeb-safe fontsBranding ConsiderationsCustom header w/logoBio and way to contact the authorEmail subscription link & RSS ReaderFacebook, LI, Twitter Widgets
  • How can you get engagement? Most people do not comment. Be aware; commenters may not represent a sample of your audience – they tend to represent extreme POV – both positive and negative. But…take commenters seriously! How to get more commments: Ask for comments or photos, pose a question in a blog post, post a question of the week. I have seen contests operated through blogs that worked well for Wolf Trap and the Discovery Channel. Should you moderate? Government blogs should be moderated. SPAM. Offensive comments. Information revealed about a minorMake sure readers can email you! They might not comment on the blog.
  • #1 way to drive traffic to your blog is to comment on other blogs, online articles, and online newspaper articles – the larger the audience, the better (Washington Post, PRSAY, Advertising Age, YouTube forum)Almost all those comment forms let you add an URL – make it your blog URL.Link to your blog on all your online profiles (like LI)Link to your blog in your email signatureRe-purpose blog articles in email newslettersPut your blog link on the back of your business cardSend postcards promoting your blog to influentials
  • We have time for comments and questions. Does anybody have a tip they want to share or a question about blogging? Thanks so much for being here with me today. Please visit The Fletcher Prince blog at FletcherPrince.com and call us if we can help you with your marketing and social media projects. Take care, and have a great day.

Transcript

  • 1. Jump-Start Your Blog! Mary Fletcher Jones @MaryFletchJones #SMWEdCal1
  • 2. Why Have a Blog?2
  • 3. Is Blogging Effective? • Blogging is #1! • Highest ROI in social media • 75% of companies plan to increase their blogging activity3
  • 4. Blogs4
  • 5. Personal Benefits Associated with Blogging • More articulate • Increased confidence • Perceived as a resource or expert • Connections and sales leads • Speaking engagements5
  • 6. Challenges Associated With Blogging6
  • 7. Writer’s Block Un-Blockers 1. Stop trying so hard 2. Have a little fun 3. Post comments 4. Post informative answers 5. Go visual7
  • 8. Planning Tips8
  • 9. Finding Time to Blog9
  • 10. WHY should I read this blog?10
  • 11. WHY should I read this blog? • Tell WHAT your blog is about – provide a description • Tell WHY your blog exists and describe the KEY BENEFIT: what’s in it for me? • WHO is the blog for? Ages, gender, geographic location, educational level, background, level of technical expertise, needs, lifestyle11
  • 12. Example: Blog Focus • Published three times a week, The Fletcher Prince Blog is an informational resource of easy-to-understand marketingarticles and videos for small business owners and nonprofit managers who want to learn affordable marketing, public relations, and graphic design strategies to help them communicate effectively with customers or constituents. • The blog will reinforce Fletcher Prince’s brand image as a friendly, accessible, and trustworthy company and establish Fletcher Prince’s subject matter expertise in its core business areas.12
  • 13. Writing Tips13
  • 14. Basic Rules of Communication Apply • Why are you doing this? What returns do you expect? What resources will you dedicate? • Who is your audience? • What benefit are you offering? Why should they care? • What is the main idea? (stick to one) • What do you want them to do? (call to action) • Is this the right time? Is this the right medium?14
  • 15. Interesting Blog Topics15
  • 16. Viral Content for Blogs • What’s newsworthy? • Post video, five minutes or shorter, on YouTube and embed in your blog. 25% of all search results on the Internet are for YouTube video. • Consider original and off-beat topics • Try top-ten lists or top-five tips • How-to articles16
  • 17. Images Make Blogs Enjoyable to Read DO DON’T17
  • 18. Looks matter. Needs work… Better…18
  • 19. Designing Your Blog • White background, dark text • Web-safe fonts • Usability considerations • Logos and images • Sidebars and widgets19
  • 20. Blog Engagement Ideas20
  • 21. Promoting Your Blog • Subscription features • Comment on blogs • Email newsletters • Business card • Email signature • LinkedIn profile • Twitter updates21
  • 22. Thank you! Let me know how I can help you with your blog Mary@FletcherPrince.com Subscribe to The Fletcher Prince Blog22