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Link blogs and RSS feeds

Over the last few days, besides going to the sensational State of Origin match last night, I’ve been playing with a new (for me) blog tool. Using del.icio.us and RSS Digest, I have set up feeds off my blog where I can show the headings of articles and blog posts I read and think others might like to read.
This was all pretty simple to do, and free (though RSS Digest is donorware – and a great service), but will it prove to be any use to anyone but me?
Linkblogs are, of course, a good way to keep track of your own reading and work as an external brain (as the jargon du jour goes) and adding an RSS feed is just an easy extra step.
What do you think about this sort of stuff – does it add to blogs or just clutter up the sidebar?

The difference between a website and a blog

This is not directly related to problogging as such, but it’s an insight we can probably all relate to. This is cross posted from The Blog Studio, making this an act of shameless self promotion. But its too good not to share, so I’m going against my better (sober) judgement and posting it here too. Sorry Darren, I hope you’ll forgive me!

I get this question all the time: “what’s the difference between a web site and a blog?”

What it comes down to is this:

A company has a website. That website talks to customers.

A person has a blog. That blog talks to people.

It’s a matter of attitude, not of technology.

Yes, this is a gross oversimplification. But it gets right to the heart of the matter.

Are You Prepared For A Good Thing?

I doubt anything I post will ever be picked-up by Slashdot, but I have hopes of being Slashdotted someday. I imagine it’s like a number of great things in life – watch what you ask for, you may get it. Having a traffic jump on the magnitude a big blog like Slashdot can drive your way sounds nice, but you likely need a plan to make sure you and your host doesn’t bend to the point of breaking.

Duncan was Slashdotted not long ago and here’s the lessons learned from the experience.

A few lessons, if a blog gets slashdotted its wise to turn OFF comment moderation straight away if you have it on, you wont be able to keep up. more…

Are there more lessons to learn? Any tips for those of us fortunate enough to have a fire hose of traffic pointed in our direction?

Am I Weird?

For every single post I write, including this one, I write it first in MS Word and save a copy in a common folder on my computer. I do the same for almost every comment I leave in the blogosphere. My thought is two-fold…if I loose everything on my site, I still have all that I’ve written and with Google desktop search, I can search everything I’ve written as reference for future thought and posts.

Do any of you do the same or anything similar?

Bloggeropoly – world’s first blogger recruitment agency

Paul Chaney of Radiant Marketing has just made the announcement that Bloggeropoly is now being officially launched. If you’re a professional blogger, or want to be, listen up to this news.

What is Bloggeropoly? The first, if not the only, blogger recruiting agency. Matching ProBloggers with companies looking to hire bloggers. A win-win situation. I think Paul has come up with an excellent idea and business plan to make this work.

To be up front, I did help him execute the concept and will be blogging his site with posts on recruiting and pro blogger news. I really believe he’s doing something innovative and exciting there.

Add Bloggeropoly to your feed and see what we’re all about.

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.

Make yourself available

This may seem kind of obvious. But you’d be amazed at how difficult it is to get in touch with many business or pro bloggers.

There have been a couple of instances where I’ve wanted to suggest stories to people I read, and I haven’t been able to get in touch. Once I wanted to pass some work on to someone, and I couldn’t find his email address!

I know the whole refrain about spam-bots. There are ways around it. You can encode your address, or your could stick it in an image. Even simpler, do what many do and spell your address out like so: peter at theblogstudio dot com.

Stick your contact info somewhere obvious. I used the footer on The Blog Studio as an easy, always available piece of real estate.

What do you think? Am I missing something? Is there a reason people don’t want to be contacted?

The great level playing field

I had the opportunity of being on a phone hookup this morning with Andy Wibbells from Easy Bake Weblogs (the recording will be avilable soon), on the topic of blogs and there’s one point I made thats resonated with me since: blogging is the ultimate in level playing fields.

What other forum can deliver your thoughts to millions of readers without the need for any technical expertise? If you can get on the internet, through home, work, cafe or other way, you can write a blog. They said back in the 90’s that services like Geocities did this, but I disagree, the early home page phenomenon provided the potential of an internet presence for all, but it wasn’t a level playing field: you needed to have some idea about presentation and they weren’t as usable as blogs. Compare and contrast this to blogging; you set up an account, you write a title for a post, you write your content, and then you hit publish.

Every minute of every day thousands of new blogs are being created and posted to around the world. It doesn’t matter whether you are rich or poor, black or white, gay, straight or other, or where you live (as long as you can get on the net) : any one can blog, and more are more people are. This is the goldrush folks; and instead of having to travel far and wide to get to the gold, the gold is delivered to your door step. Whether you choose to dig for gold is strictly up to yourselves.

Customer Evangelism & Business Value Blogging

Blogs have been labeled next-generation marketing tools by a few because of its use as a powerful vehicle for voice and influence in delivering business level communications of a wide variety. Also, the voice of the customer has been heralding a new era of customer control and evangelism that is weighing heavily on business decisions and influencing business behavior. Consumers are having their say and the businesses that are listening are also winning. Blogs are now a major force at the center of this dynamic relationship between businesses and customers.

One important aspect of this relationship dynamic is ownership and control. The customer influence is far reaching and is having an impact on the business bottom lines. Control of the marketing and control of the message is no longer the domain of the corporate suits or Madison Avenue. The business imperative here is to determine how to handle and react to the ever increasing effects of customer activism and evangelism. This is where your business blog can shine and help your small business or solo enterprise. Next-generation marketing is simply consumer generated marketing. It is word-of-mouth marketing on steroids. It is the open and deliberate evangelization of a business product or service by consumers turned citizen marketers.

Of course customer evangelism is not new, however blogging allows customers to amplify their voices and choices for their favorite providers of products and services. This is a big deal because the speed, reach and influence of blogs has a viral affect. Blogs maintain links that think, and carry thought with talk. No longer static but an highly active and participatory medium, the Internet is more open and community driven than ever before.

A business blog provides you with the means to collaborate and cooperate with your customer community and allows you to control important elements within these viral conversations as they occur among consumers. One of the most important elements you have greatest control and influence over is your “business value”. Your business value is both the real and perceived desirability and quality associated with your brand, business, products or services.

A business blog will allow you to convert your expertise (about your products and services) into an authoritative content value stream which can have a significant social impact among your customers. Your business value then becomes a conversation with your customers that is distributed within a social context and which can position you for a far more cooperative and collaborative relationship with them.

If you think like a community builder and help influence the types of conversations that happen around your products and services you can create a real win-win relationship that is sure to produce positive results. Your cooperation and collaboration can spark passionate customer evangelism. The results for your bottom line may be surprisingly better than expected.

Additional Reading & Resources:

Blogs Will Change Your Business
BlogPulse Conversation Tracker
Church of the Customer: Customer Activism
Consumer Generated Media

Is It Time to Talk More About Conversion?

My background is B2B sales and marketing, more sales than marketing to be precise. I’ve worked with many sales people, teams, and organizations – each go through cycles of activity and business. One staple is the objective remains constant – close more business.

We need more leads and fresh contacts will be the mantra when new business is in decline. Once new contacts are in supply We need more demos and trials is usually the next mandate. Lastly, We need incentives and more closing activities surfaces once it’s noticed a plethora of field activity isn’t producing as much revenue as required or expected. Then the cycle tends to complete and begin again – more new contacts, more trials, more closing. But the objective remains constant – close more business.

Are there similar cycles of Internet presence?

SEO is big. A lot of focus is put on building more and more traffic. We each want our audience to grow. Is it time to talk more about conversion? There are some out there that have moved to what I believe is the next step in the Internet cycle. But the majority appears to remain focused on getting more clicks to their site than clicks to convert once they arrive.

If you have 1,000 or 10,000 visits to your site a day and 1 visitor accepts your call to action, isn’t the net result the same? At the end of the day, you had one visitor that purchased, registered, clicked, etc. If you could get two people to heed your call to action, your results double.

Does it make sense to you the time has arrived to move the discussion from How do we get more people to our site? to How can we can get more people to convert on whatever call to action we offer?