Social media blogging_userguide


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Social media blogging_userguide

  1. 1. Blogging User Guide
  2. 2. Included in this guide, you will find the following sections: ƒƒ Intro • Audience Focus • Why Blog? • What It Takes to Succeed ƒƒ Writing for Your Blog • Content Inspiration • Writing with Personality • Being Reader-Friendly • Steps for a Proper Citation • Blog Etiquette • Keywords and Search Engines • Sound, Video and Multimedia ƒƒ Expanding Your Readership • Comments • Promoting Your New BlogThe User Guide for Blog Authors was developed by Michelle Golden of Golden Practices, Inc. 1
  3. 3. Intro Blogs are distinctly structured websites that contain short, conversational-style articles called “posts.” Each post is housed on a separate URL that is date and time stamped and can be commented on by readers. Blogs are a holy grail of marketing for CPAs Successful blogs have differing tones, styles in their ability to underscore their author’s and posting frequencies, but one thing the expertise, convey the author’s personality most successful blogs have in common is that to begin building a relationship and they’re written for specific audiences. Defined simultaneously draw relevant website audiences are better for the author because traffic to the expert. you discuss any topic that your audience will care about without being limited to just tax or Enthusiasm is requisite—boring blogs often are accounting issues. This not only makes for a the result of authors lacking passion about their more interesting blog for the subscribers, but subject matter. Boring blogs don’t get read. the niche-specific aspect of these blogs helps This is why the task of blogging cannot simply the author stand out as an expert in his or be “assigned” to your best subject-matter her field. expert—it must be written by someone driven from within to do so. As an author, you won’t always be inspired to write. It will come and go. Do it when you feel inspired, but also look for ways to feel inspiration (see related tips) more often. This guide is particularly detailed with very specific steps, tips and visuals to aid the individual/firm developing a blog to get an intermediate usage level.2
  4. 4. Audience Focus By targeting the right common interest group, Industry focus isIndustry focus is ideal, but targeting other you can find a built-in cheering section. You can be cross-referenced by existing and future ideal, but targetingsorts of common interest groups also can beeffective. Generally, the more focused your organizations catering to the same group. other sorts ofaudience, the better. For example, consider You can tap into their readership through common interestaudiences that are geographic or with specific comments and trackbacks that you initiate. groups also can beinterests or lifestyles. Plus there’s endless “fodder” for your postings with just a little bit of reading. Finally, the effective. Generally,If you’re pursuing a service-focused blog, clearer you are about your audience and their the more focused needs, the easier it is to assure your contentask yourself: “Who’d subscribe to a continuous your audience,feed of information about cost segregation remains relevant to readers.studies, or general tax issues?” A business the better.owner or another CPA? Probably the latter.To hold a business owner’s interest (and yourown), you’re better off not writing about taxor cost segregations studies 100% of the time. 3
  5. 5. Why Blog? tools whereas print or e-publications ƒƒJournalists use bloggers as sources because “dead-end” in paper piles or electronic folders. they’re easy to find and follow. Blogs make journalists’ jobs easier, so professionals with ƒƒPeople would rather buy from those they blogs get more mentions and quotes than know, trust and like. Similar to the way youTo learn more about non-bloggers. “get to know” a newspaper columnist youRSS and how to read regularly—your blog also is a ƒƒSearching your own content—blogs are a relationship accelerant.subscribe to and great way to archive your intellectual capitalread RSS feeds, ƒƒBusy people receive your content one article for future reference such as forwarding to aclick here. prospect after a meeting. or post at a time, so it’s more likely to be read than a longer, multiarticle publication. ƒƒDelivered posts keep you in front of the minds of people. RSS feeds (identified with ƒƒBeing highly visible, blogs can quickly the orange symbol) “push” your content establish a CPA as an expert in a to subscribers. particular field. ƒƒBlogs are a durable asset. Living on the web, ƒƒBlogs humanize the CPA and make him or they remain searchable, in-bound marketing her more approachable. 4
  6. 6. What It Takes to Succeed ƒƒFeature a good blogroll—list of related Budget 1-4 hoursƒƒAuthors who are passionate about blogs—your audience will appreciate. per week for their topics. ƒƒReaders tend to make great bloggers; researching, writing,ƒƒWriting interesting posts on a regular basis. bloggers tend to become better readers. reading comments, reading other’s blogsƒƒBeing part of the community—reading and Budget 1-4 hours per week for researching, and replying to interacting with others online. writing, reading comments, reading other’s blogs and replying to comments. This is for comments.ƒƒBuilding readership and a blog following a frequency of two posts per week—an (aka “subscriber base”). adequate pace to build blog traffic.ƒƒKnowing your audience and remaining true to them and their interests.Paul Neiffer, a Washington state CPA who launched FarmCPAToday, wasinvited to be a regular columnist for Top Producers magazine, a leading nationalpublication in the agriculture industry, and made an Ag-related TV appearancewithin his first year of blogging. He’s gained new business from farmers inHawaii and Louisiana, among others—all as a direct result of blogging. 5
  7. 7. Writing for Your BlogReading is the Blog posts are bite-sized snippets of information—think of them best source of as a single email answering a single question. Just as you’d write inspiration, whether to a client, your email would address a certain issue and will it’s books, news, be specific to their unique circumstances. Blog posts can be trade publications very specific. or Twitter. Set up afeed reader (such as Content Inspiration ƒƒWhat information already is readily Imagining what to write about week after week available to them (to help you determineGoogle Reader) and is the greatest concern of most blog authors. what information gaps you could fill)?subscribe to blogs towatch client industry 1. Scan your sent-items in your email 4. Need something to inspire you whentrends, technical because you’ve probably answered you’re stuck?updates and other questions for people. Sanitize the email by stripping out real names and identifiers ƒƒWhat are you currently working on? Howbusiness news. might it be relevant to your audience? and add a sentence or two at the beginning for context. ƒƒWhat do you worry about on behalf of 2. Find a consistent place to record random your audience? ideas that arise as you go about your daily routine. ƒƒ you were a fly on the wall within the If organization of your reader, what would 3. Reading is the best source of inspiration, you be observing that they should whether it’s books, news, trade publications know about? or Twitter. Set up a feed reader (such as Google Reader) and subscribe to blogs ƒƒWhat inspired you to go into your to watch client industry trends, technical practice? Or what do you love most about updates and other business news. For other what you do? things to follow, consider your audience(s): Periodically brainstorm article ideas, but also ƒƒWhat does your audience read remain flexible and able to post quickly on (online and offline)? emerging issues because doing so can attract some highly desirable media attention. ƒƒWhere are they online (other blogs, websites or forums; trade or other associations; networking groups and LinkedIn groups; etc.)? 6
  8. 8. Writing with Personality ƒƒDon’t allow your blog to appear to have goneBlogging affords CPAs a new way to through a PR-department edit process or itconnect with people that is enormously time will lose credibility.leveraging. Readers tell Scott Heintzelman( they feel like they Authenticity is the key. The more human andknow him when they first meet. To achieve helpful you are, the more credibility you have.this, let your unique “voice” and personalityshine through. Being Reader-Friendly On-screen reading is different than print. To beƒƒ as conversational as possible. Write like Be read more often, make your writing extra easy you talk, avoiding words you’d feel silly to skim. saying aloud. ƒƒKeep blog posts short (400-600 words isƒƒPicture a specific person each time you draft average). Consider breaking a longer article a post and write just for them. Don’t think into two shorter articles. Use short sentences. you’re “writing to the world” because you’re Break up your text. A lot. not. You are writing for an individual reader every time. ƒƒKeep paragraphs to five or fewer lines to avoid “walls” of text.ƒƒDemonstrate your knowledge to build trust as someone who cares enough to help others. ƒƒUse headings and subheadings throughout posts.ƒƒPosition yourself as a resource for information readers can’t get elsewhere so they’ll continue ƒƒ clarity, stick to one idea per post. For to read. It’s okay to relate two things together (making one point).ƒƒ a storyteller. Use sanitized real-life examples. Be ƒƒUse bullets and numbered lists.ƒƒAvoid the word “client” because it’s impersonal; whereas saying “you” helps ƒƒInclude relevant graphics or photos as the reader project him or herself into often as you can. Think USA Today. the situation. Keep blog posts short (400-600 words is average). Consider breaking a longer article into two shorter articles. Use short sentences. Break up your text. A lot. 7
  9. 9. Steps for a Proper Citation Blog Etiquette It’s appropriate to use excerpts of other blog There aren’t a lot of hard and fast “rules” posts or articles and add your thoughts. This is for blogs, but here are a few don’ts: “continuing the conversation”—a big part of the experience of blogging, a part that attracts ƒƒDon’t end your posts with cheesy pitches like: significant readership. “Call us for more information.” They won’t. That’s not how blogs work. ƒƒName the original author and link the text of their name to their “about,” “author,” or ƒƒDon’t just ask for comments or feedback “bio” page. at the end of every post unless you like the sound of crickets. It takes a while to earn ƒƒName the site or publication, and link the participatory readership and one way to company name to their company’s home page. encourage comments is to prompt people with something simple to react to. ƒƒName the specific post or article and point the title of their article directly to the item ƒƒDon’t shamelessly self promote. Talking you are referencing. about yourself should be the exception, not the rule—just the way you wouldn’t want ƒƒ create visual interest, break quotes out To to be “that boor” at a party. A dozen posts using the quote styling or indent specification without it might excuse the rare self-promo within your blog. but be up-front about it: “Forgive me for promoting myself today, but you might be ƒƒDon’t include someone’s entire post interested in …” within yours without the author’s specific permission. ƒƒAvoid re-saving a post (hitting “submit” or “post” again) even if you are tempted to ƒƒPost a link back to the original post. correct minor errors because it re-sends the blog post to RSS subscribers. Proof before posting and only correct major errors once live. Courtesy to readers overrides perfection so it’s understood that credible blogs will have the occasional error. Don’t just ask for comments or feedback at the end of every post unless you like the sound of crickets. It takes a while to earn participatory readership and one way to encourage comments is to prompt people with something simple to react to.8
  10. 10. Keywords and Search Engines Best Practices TipBlog posts provide organic search-engine strength for CPAs. Keywords (words Use online tools suchand phrases your audience cares about) can dramatically improve the firm’s as these to test yoursearch-engine rankings for terms found in as few as two or three posts on a given subject. While you don’t need to cater to search engines, knowing a thinking on searchlittle about how they work can help you make advantageous word choices. volume for phrases you suspect might beUse important keywords in the highest-level Knowing what keywords to use is a continual good: Wordtrackerlocations you can. Search engines give credence learning (in descending order): Keyword Tool, ƒƒThink of your audiences and ask yourself Google Tools andƒƒBlog name and URL “what would they call ‘x’?” Google AdwordsƒƒPost titles ƒƒUse readers’ industry “buzzwords” (e.g., Tinsley discusses “National ProviderƒƒCategories or tags Identifier (NPI),” the “CMS-1500 claim form,” and “Medicare Claims Processing Manual.”)ƒƒSubheadings, bolded words and words that comprise links (aka “anchor text”) ƒƒFocus on three- or four-word phrases (versus one or two words) because phrasesƒƒImage file names tend to attract more qualified traffic than single words (note Tinsley example aboveƒƒGeneral text within the post versus just the term “Medicare”). ƒƒUse variants and words within words (e.g., sit is within sitting, but sat is not within seated). ƒƒMention geographic locations if applicable (e.g., Arlington, Highway 40, etc.). ƒƒMention competitors, referral source and other experts (in a favorable light) to be found by people looking for them. ƒƒLearn from visitor trends and adjust your writing based on what you see (on your blog’s traffic reports, hover over the Google, Yahoo!, Bing and other referring links to view the exact term searched). 9
  11. 11. Keep podcasts and Sound, Video and Multimedia ƒƒWhen you add a video, sound, photos, Creating audio files (podcasts) or videocasts or presentation files to YouTube, iTunes,videocasts to less can be easy and inexpensive ways to spice up Flickr or SlideShare, post them to your blogthan four minutes by embedding the files in a graphic form a blog and show your style. Sharing photos,because it’s hard to presentations and other documents comes in wherever possible.keep the attention handy, too, and file-sharing tools that storeof people if they’re your files, yet let you embed them in your ƒƒWhen you use these channels, add relevant blog, get you a lot of extra exposure. keywords and phrases where prompted at theany longer. time you upload your files. Here are some tips: ƒƒ is great for presentations and ƒƒWatch that sound quality is free of fades, documents. Flickr is excellent for photos, “brushing” P’s and B’s, nose-breathing, iTunes can syndicate your audio files, and paper shuffling and other annoying YouTube is excellent for video files. background noises. ƒƒKeep podcasts and videocasts to less than ƒƒPractice sounding natural while introducing four minutes because it’s hard to keep the inflection in your voice so you’re attention of people if they’re any longer. not monotone. ƒƒWhen you give presentation, load the slide ƒƒUse good, medium lighting. Shady (dark) or deck and handouts to SlideShare or a similar interrogation (bright) are not good looks for site and provide the links before, during and financial professionals. after the program. ƒƒPrepare a script and practice it, but when you deliver, go from memory. Your message should be natural sounding, not “read aloud.” 10
  12. 12. Expanding Your ReadershipIt’s critical that you read other blogs. Blogs aren’t one-way Pick quality,platforms; they weren’t even invented for marketing. They are high-traffic blogs andtwo-way communication vehicles. When you blog, you join a build relationshipscommunity, and if you don’t participate, you may be viewed as with these influentialrude, aloof or “not with it.” authors. Find good blogs by searchingHere’s how to participate: CommentsƒƒRegularly read other blogs. Don’t worry about getting negative comments com. Once you find on the blog. Comments, if any, will be sparse some, check theƒƒPost comments that add value to the at first—most will be spam. Set up your blog so discussion (don’t “pitch”). that comments must be approved and activate sidebars of the blogs spam filters. to see whom theyƒƒThank people who comment on your blog. list in their blogrolls. Reciprocate by reading their blogs to find ƒƒApprove and respond to every legitimate Note or subscribe to something good you could refer to in a comment you receive. post—use trackbacks to the original posts. all the ones that catch ƒƒ can thank them privately, by email, but You your interest. You canƒƒLink liberally in your posts to other resources it’s best to post it on your blog, so people can unsubscribe later. and writings. Sites you link to will see traffic see you’re accessible and responsive. More referred by your blog and are likely to check people will contribute when they perceive you out. These people are potential new you’ll notice and care. followers and promoters. ƒƒ someone disagrees with you outright, IfƒƒView your visitor stats to see what sites refer be gracious, approve the comment and to yours. Thank referrers (via a comment) demonstrate maturity in your reply. At a and subscribe to their blogs. minimum, thank them and let them know you appreciate their readership.ƒƒAlways “hat tip” someone who referred you to interesting information with a ƒƒ someone is especially rude or unbalanced, If mention and a link. you needn’t post the comment; you can reply privately or simply ignore it. Comments are a validation of your work that reassures you that you’re striking a chord with readers. They inspire you to continue, lead to healthy debates and launch new friendships. 11
  13. 13. Drop a media release Promoting Your New Blog ƒƒPrint reference everywhere relevant (articles,announcing the new Wait until you have at least 10 posts before newsletters, announcements, bios, proposals, you promote your blog. A solid base of sponsorships and speaker “blurbs” etc.).blog, spinning it from posts better illustrates your long-term intentthe industry angle ƒƒAdd links in the email signature blocks of and shows people why they’d benefit frompositioning it as an subscribing. Here are some steps you can all related parties.industry-specific take to spread the word about your blog:resource. ƒƒWebsite links everywhere relevant (every ƒƒPostcard mailing to all prospects, referral author’s bio, every related service page, sources, trade groups and other contacts every article, etc.) and links from all authors’ related to the blog and the firm, social media profiles (LinkedIn, Facebook, if appropriate. Twitter, etc.) ƒƒE-mail promotion: use your prior means of ƒƒDrop a media release announcing the new communication at least two times to all of the blog, spinning it from the industry angle above, with periodic future mentions in firm’s positioning it as an industry-specific resource e-mail newsletters. (send to all industry associations, publications, websites and blogs; also send to all accounting publications). 12
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