Today’s guest post is from Chris Garrett from chrisg.com.
In my last guest post here I listed some things we can learn from Darren’s blog. This time I am going to look at a blogger who many would like to emulate, if only for the fame, blog celebrity lifestyle and cool geek toys he gets access to. For todays post I am going to look at Robert Scoble. Now before I get slated for name-checking an “A-Listers A-Lister” let me explain why I find him interesting. Robert Scoble on the face of it does many inadvisable things, he …
- moved URL – a sure fire way of losing readers is to move domains
- lists his cell phone number – how many crank calls must he get?
- has a feed addiction – he reads way more feeds than any human being should consume (although I think I am catching up)
- publishes a link blog – we always say add value to be successful yet here is a famous blogger just posting links?
- is pro-Microsoft – enough on its own to get flamed in some areas
- name-drops – sometimes reading his posts is like looking at the cover of a celebrity magazine “so and so says” “I just met” “talking to” “over dinner with” …
- has a horrible design – design? What design? – his template is, well I wouldn’t say ugly … but … pretty basic. Surely he has access to a decent designer? I guess you can say it is clean. Could be worse.
So he is not perfect by any means. In fact as he said himself, he does many of the things that make people unsubscribe from your feed. He is doing something right though, he is an A-Lister after all. I don’t think anyone would dispute that. What can we learn from him?
- Network – be a hub and a connector. Robert seems to spend as much time having lunches with movers and shakers as he does blogging and speaking. Blogging is as much about relationships as it is writing. To succeed you have to have great content, of course, but it also helps to be well connected.
- Monitor the news – You might not want to handle the quantity of feeds that Robert does but keeping his finger on the pulse of the blogosphere certainly pays off dividends. He is always right there with the big stories.
- Scoop – As well as reporting on the news it also helps massively if you can create it or scoop it. While at Microsoft many people turned first to his blog for the latest scoops on what Microsoft was up to. Using his unparalleled access to top industry names he’s still on top of the news.
- Unique, interesting links – Link to great stuff that others haven’t noticed. One of the great things about Roberts link blog is that it doesn’t just replicate the popular Digg and del.icio.us stories – he has his own sources. If you are linking out to the same old stuff people won’t need your feed cluttering up their reader. Find fresh and exciting new stuff though and your readers will reward you.
- Nobody is perfect – Many bloggers try to project an image of perfection. Admit when you are wrong, there is no harm in it, in fact it could do you a world of good. I believe part of Roberts success in helping Microsoft repair their relationship with the public was Roberts willingness to admit when mistakes had been made, personally or by the company. This builds trust.
- Be transparent – Another trust building quality is a willingness to be transparent. If he could talk about something he would. Where a spin-doctor would have gone into overdrive his attitude was “What do you want to know, I will tell you what I can and what I don’t know I will find out”. You never felt he was hiding anything just to protect the company.
- Keep it real – You can tell Robert is human. He doesn’t tow the company line, speaks his mind, gets emotional and never resorts to weasel words. As the front man for Microsoft it would have been tempted to create just another PR mouthpiece but on many occasions he was as critical of the company as any other commentator. As an A-Lister he could throw his weight around and let it go to his head, a real turn-off. He writes with a human voice and that helps people warm to him. Some bloggers are so concerned with perfection their writing becomes robotic. Loosen up, write like you speak. Yes review and correct spellings and grammar but not to the extent where you choke all the warmth out of your writing.
- Little and often – Some days Scoble posts a lot. Darren has commented a couple of times about the dangers of misjudging posting frequency. Some readers are put off by too much content too fast. I believe why it works for Robert is, like Seth Godin, he posts little and often. Small bite sized 15-second posts work well.
I guess the main lessons to learn from Scobleizer are to network well, use those connections to stay on top of movements in your niche, and link to good stuff, first. For corporate bloggers especially, be as real and transparent as your company will allow and your customers and readers will appreciate it. Those lessons can be applied to any subject area. There is absolutely nothing stopping you from being the Scoble of your niche.
Read more from Chris Garret at his blog chrisg.com.