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Online communities and integrating blogs into mainstream marketing campaigns

If you’ve got a spare 10 minutes can I recommend heading to Rachel’s blog and downloading a PDF that she’s posted that is the verbatim of a talk that she and her partner (that’s blog partner and life partner) Regan did to the New Zealand Marketing Association on the topic of blogging.

Rachel showed me the powerpoint for this presentation a day or two before they gave it and my reaction to her was that it is perhaps one of the most useful summaries of how blogging can be used in business that I’ve ever seen.

The presentation is called – The power of online communities and integrating blogs into mainstream marketing campaigns

It’s not a short article but it tells the story of Rachel and Regan – two bloggers that have quietly carved themselves a niche as two of the most prominent ‘go to’ business blogging gurus in their country. Their most prominent work is the massively successful idolblog which is a fan site for the New Zealand, Australian and American Idol shows. In NZ Rachel and Regan have become not only sought after experts on blogging but also on NZ idol – in fact every time I speak to them these days it seems that they’ve just done some sort of media appearance or another as a result of idolblog. Their story is well worth reading.

Business Blog Consulting Revived

I’ve been watching Business Blog Consulting with interest over the past few days – its gone from a blog that had become a little quiet to something that has now got a lot more activity due to Rick’s decision to make it into a group blog and include some excellent business blogging types. Look at the list of bloggers now involved!

La Shawn Barber of The Language Artist -Toby Bloomberg of Diva Marketing – Bob Bly of Bly Blog – Steve Broback of Avondale Media – Rich Brooks of Flyte – DL Byron of Textura Design – Paul Chaneyof Radiant Marketing – Henry Copeland of BlogAds – Jill Fallon of Estate Vaults – Josh Hallett of Hyku – Kevin Holland of Air Conditioning Contractors of America – Wayne Hurlbert of Blog Business World – Tris Hussey of Larix Consulting – John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing – BL Ochman of What’s Next Online – Michele Miller of Wonder Branding – Lee Odden of Top Rank Results – Steve Rubel of Micro Persuasion – Todd Sattersten of A Penny For…Stephan Spencer of Netconcepts – Dave Taylor of Intuitive Life for Business – James Turner of One by One MediaDana VanDen Heuvel of BlogSavant – Des Walsh of Thinking Home BusinessDebbie Weil of WordBiz and BlogWrite – Andy Wibbels of Easy Bake Weblogs – Jeremy Wright of Ensight

That’s quite a list of very talented bloggers. So if you’re interested in Business Blogging (and even if you’re just into any sort of blogging) you’d do well to add it to your RSS feed. I just hope that they can keep the blog ticking over after the initial excitement of the new approach wears off because it would be a shame to lose this conversation.

Bloggers For Hire

Jim Turner has just let me know about a new blog he and others have started titled Bloggers For Hire – where it seems they are looking to provide companies interested in setting up corporate blogs with bloggers and bloggers interested in blogging for a living with companies. It looks like early days so far but its a service that there will be an increasing need for.

Is Blogger the worst free blogging service?

I’ve got an interesting thread started at Blog Herald on an interesting topic that should be of interest to Probloggers: Is Blogger the worst free blogging service? that some readers might like to contribute to, but I’d like to add a little here. As a “Problogger” I’ve got to say that I’d NEVER set up a serious blog on a free service. Why? it’s a matter of control. If you are serious about blogging you’ll want to be sure that forever more you’ll have 100% control over your blog and will not be dependent on Google for your hosting. Every time I see a commercial or “Pro” blog launched that uses Blogger I cringe. Don’t get me wrong, personally I’ve always thought highly of Blogger and there is no argument that the service has played an important role in popularising blogs. But in business I wouldn’t risk my time and money on a third party where I’ve got no control over the hosting and future direction of a site, particularly if your site was on a blogspot.com domain. Using a free blogging service, even with Google behind it, is always a risk. I’ve got mixed responses on the actual service, as you’ll see from the post at the Blog Herald, but my advice: if you are serious about blogging you won’t host your blog on a free service.

Blogs, Links, and SEO

Blogs and links are the perfect couple. Of course, everyone knows that. You don’t have to be a hopeless romantic or some SEO techie type to figure that one out.

Talk about stating the obvious.

As we all know, almost everyone talks about how powerful blogs and their linking power are for search engine optimization (SEO). The reasons for the strength of blog links in achieving high search engine rankings are discussed much less frequently. It’s time to change all of that.

Let’s talk blogs and links and SEO.

Blog links have search engine power for several reasons. One of which is the different types of linking featured on blogs. All blog links are not the same, and that is part of their secret search engine rankings power. Different types of links provide different rankings boosts, in several different ways. In the end, the links add up to your blog being placed highly, for your most important keywords, in Google, Yahoo, and MSN Search.

Links appear on a blog’s home page as links to other blogs. Other blogs link to your blog from home page link lists and blogrolls as well. As the most powerful page on your blog, the home page passes along quite a bit of search engine power. The problem is that home page mojo is divided among many different blogs. The piece of the pie for each one is not that large.

On the other hand, the age and permanence of that link has some real value. The links also get value from arriving from other blogs sharing similar themes and topics. Interlinked blogs on cooking help one another more than a cooking blog and a welding blog. All links have some value, but theme related ones provide even more.

Links also appear in posts. Those are expecially valuable links. When someone links to one of your posts, they often double link to the home page as well. Because of the strong and obvious theme relevance of the post, the search engines give in post links some real power. As such, writing interesting posts that attract natural inbound links, and trigger discussions on other blogs are especially important. Note the value of providing great information to your readers.

Trackbacks provide a bit of link power, but not as much as some bloggers believe. Being open to spamming has reduced their link strength. Links in comments have little if any link power these days as a result of abuse. Trackback links provide their power more indirectly, in attracting discussion links and finding new potential linkers to your blog.

There is some evidence that linking out to other blogs helps gain search rankings for the generous blogger. Instead of being a drain, linking out can result in a net SEO gain. Now beat that for great karma!

Keep in mind that your goal should not be to game or trick the search engines. On the contrary, those sorts of tactics are counterproductive and fail to provide the desired results.

Instead, think of the needs of your readership first. Provide them with good useful and interesting blog posts. Links will arrive naturally, and as a result of your generous linking habits, your blog can rise to the top of the search engine rankings.

WOMMA Measuring Word of Mouth Conference

The Word of Mouth Marketing Association is holding a conference July 13 called “Measuring Word of Mouth.” Targeted to those interested in marketing metrics, WOMMA says the conference is the first-ever on measurement, metrics, and standards in word-of-mouth marketing.

It will be held in Chicago. Cost is $295 for WOMMA members, $545 for non-members. I’m happily able to pass on a $50 discount code WOMMA gave me to share with my readers. When you register, use the case-sensitive discount code “Blogsareawesome”

WOMMA Measuring Word of Mouth Conference Web site

Looking For Online Revenue Bloggers – ReveNews

ReveNews is a trusted, unbiased source focusing on Internet related industries such as online marketing, SEM, affiliate marketing, retail (e-commerce), analytics, spyware, blogging and much more. ReveNews authors consist of highly respected thinkers, commentators and business people who have real experience and insight. ReveNews readers include industry gurus, top-level executives and CEO’s, plus many of the industry’s top net-repreneurs; all coming together to create a global Internet community to distribute, discuss and analyze the industry at hand.

Interested in writing for us? Applications are being accepted now.

“I was standing in line at an industry show when someone grabbed my arm and introduced themselves saying they read my blog at ReveNews all the time and wanted to ask a question. Turns out it was a senior developer from Google. He couldn’t say enough about the good things he reads on our site. Pretty cool. And a nice contact to have in the future.” – Wayne Porter, ReveNews Blogger

More thoughts on defining blog (but much more intelligently put!)

It seems my “I goofed” post, or rather my attempt to explain the difference between a web site and a blog has got some folks thinking. Taughnee at endeavor creative (do you have any idea how hard it is for a Canadian to spell endeavor? I spell in endeavOUr every time!) has a very interesting, totally relevant story to share. It’s a fun read too.

EDIT: URI is fixed.

Blogs Must Earn Their Keep

Sounds like Darren is having a wonderful time on his well deserved holiday. From a ProBlogger fan, it’s been great fun reading the variety of posts by guest bloggers.

Over the past few months, I’ve been talking to marketers around the country about how blogs can support business initiatives. Most folks are intrigued and want to explore ways to incorporate this new tool into their strategies. However for some the deal breaker is how to justify to their management that blogs are not a resource drain.

If blogs are going to be accepted as a credible marketing tactic they must be able to earn their keep within a company’s master marketing plan. Let’s save the “people talk” for blog conversations. In “marketing talk” that means accountability. As with any interactive strategy “blog” metrics can be tracked and ROI can be established. Compliments of Diva Marketing here are a few suggestions.

Blog Specific
*May be measured by unique or total posts

-Search rankings
-Visitor hits*
-Page views
-Trackbacks *
-In bound links – general*
-In bound links – “high ranked” blogs/sites*
-Comments* such as customer feedback/new ideas
- Newsreader subscriptions

Conversions
- Newsletters subscriptions
- Sales
- Leads
- White paper/other down loads

Buzz
- Speaking engagements
- Podcasts, vlogs and other interviews
- Media mentions/quotes
- Mentions and links on other blogs/websites

Intangibles
- Customers’ emotional involvement with the brand
- Increase in brand loyalty
- Providing customers with the opportunity to talk with people within a company and ensuring that customers are heard, responded to and respected by those people who are assuming the role of the public “voice” of their company.