Archive for January, 2010

How to write a FREAKING AWESOME blog post

Friday, January 29th, 2010

There are probably a million ideas on how to write, and how to write a blog post, and how to write a freaking awesome blog post.

I’ll share just one… since it’s on my mind. I don’t remember where I heard this but it made a ton of sense to me.  Before I share it I want to say why I think it is brilliant.

One reason I write is to develop a community. One measure of community is the discussion.  A way to gauge the discussion is by the comments.  A “comments” metric is “Number of comments.”

I think blogs that have comments show they have (a) readers and (b) a community.

So, how do you write a blog post that gets comments (perhaps that should have been the title of this post, which really should become a series)?

WRITE ONLY 80% OF THE POST.

Let your readers finish the other 20% in the comments.

Think about that – if you write enough of the post, but leave it open for discussion, as opposed to making a super-tight conclusion, you don’t give your readers much to comment about.

When I heard this I thought it was absolutely brilliant.  It takes skill to write that 80% and not sound aloof… and I think by nature we want to complete things, but if you want to generate discussion and create community, make sure you don’t say all that should be said.

I’m wrapping it up here – tell me in the comments what YOU think a FREAKING AWESOME blog post entails :)

Want more info about blogging?  I do a monthly coaching thing – learn more here.

What Makes A Blog Suck

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

I pick up a little side work as a social marketing consultant here and there.  Today I was working on a project looking for relevant bloggers to network with in a niche space. I went to alltop to find the blogs they have listed for this topic and opened all of them in tabs so I could see if I liked them.

I was specifically looking for people who had street cred as a blogger in that space.  I found a bunch that I liked. I was also reminded of things I hate.  Here’s my hate list:

  1. Very dark background, very light font. Think black background, white font.  IT SUCKS.  I hate this. I have bad eyes, and I’m in front of a computer about 10 hours a day.  When I get to a site that has black background with white font I find my eyes hurting pretty quickly and I just have to go away.  (surprisingly, many people have this sucky color scheme on their Twitter bio area.  Do they not realize it SUCKS?)
  2. Funky font.  Bright colors. Really big text.  Different font types throughout a post.  Look, I get it… you want to somehow accentuate something, right?  Bring out a big idea, or whisper or something… my heavens, don’t do it by making the font 8 times bigger than what it should be.
  3. Too many linked distractions. I like to read blogs without a lot of noise.  Don’t have dozens of links all over the place. Here’s an example – don’t put a link to a community or forum unless you have enough people (that is: more than you) in that community and forum.  Work up to it, but don’t lead me all over your site to places that have tiny bits of information, but none of them have any real substance.
  4. Too little information. I want to know about YOU or the topic.  Don’t doodle in blah blah blah.  I’m amazed at the contrast between a very strong, on-topic blogger compared to a blogger that wanders all over Boringville and never makes a relevant point.
  5. Lots of off-topic posts. I know you like your kitty cat.  I know you like your spuds, flowers, car, favorite pair of jeans, etc.  But if you have a topical blog (that is, not a personal here’s-what-i-ate-for-lunch-this-last-month blog, then severely  restrict your off-topic posts.  If you want to have a following for your topic and you talk too much about junk you’ll lose people.
  6. Cussing. You are a big boy or a big girl, I get that.  But the more strong language you use on your blog the more you are going to turn people off.  Or maybe you don’t care… that’s fine.  Your blog is more about venting your feelings than about developing an audience and a community – that’s fine.  But I can’t follow you much if you are constantly offending me.  Prude, I know.
  7. Link bait, or dropping a lot of keyword searchable words. I don’t want to read your blog because I’m a search engine, I want to read it because I’m a human being.  It’s okay to put the link stuff in there, and put keywords in there, but can you at least work it into proper grammar and have it relevant to what you are writing?
  8. Widgets. Kill most of them.  If you are widget crazy I won’t even wait the three minutes it takes for your blog to come up… I’ll just close the tab and not come back.  Seriously, don’t YOU have something more value-add on your blog than 18 widgets?  You are better than that (I hope).  Don’t distract me with useless crap.
  9. Google Ads, if you are a legitimate business/blogger. I’m amazed at the sites that have Google ads on their site.  I’m quite biased against google ads because the goofballs at Google shut down my ad program (lame story).  But here’s why I don’t recommend it: (a) it is a distraction that you can’t really control, (b) if I click on the ad, I GO AWAY from your site, and (c) I wonder why a business or legit blogger would ever sell valuable real estate on their blog for $18/month (what I’m guessing most bloggers are getting).  Seriously, figure out something more value-ad to give to your audience.  Google ads to me says “I don’t care to build a community, I’m just hoping the brainless drone who happens to come to my site will be dumb enough to realize I don’t have any value for him/her and they’ll click on the Google ad so I can make five cents.”
  10. ______________________________________. What’s the thing you hate to see on a blog?

It’s Time To Shake Up The Email Signature Again

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

I have a think for optimizing my email signature… so here we go again.

Yesterday it was this:

email_signature_jason_alba

Today it is this – because I am not emphasizing my product lines enough:

email_signature_jason_alba_jan2010

I think I like this better. I need to get a real site for the social marketing thing, so it’s not a tinyurl… we’ll see how long I keep this one.  But it’s pretty clear now (a lot more clear than before) that I have something for:

Thoughts?

Are You A Speaker? Here’s A Group To NOT Join

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

I started my speaking career shortly after my book came out.  I didn’t think I would become a speaker, but the first money offer was a real eye-opener.

I learned about the International Speakers Network from… I don’t remember. I probably googled something about speakers and found them.  I was intrigued, got on their mailing list, and thought they provided good stuff.

I was particularly encouraged by a list of speaking opportunities they were looking for speakers for.  Each time I saw the list I thought “man, I gotta be an insider here – these guys are obviously finding good jobs, and I might qualify for one!”  I also thought that my topic was unique enough (it isn’t anymore) that they might be able to drum up business just for me.  I remember in their emails they had lists of companies that I thought they were prospecting, or marketing their members to.

I eventually decided to join their organization. At the time $525 was a big investment for my new company, but I knew that one gig would pay that back tenfold.  I knew it was one-time, lifetime, and probably non-refundable.

Shortly after I joined it seemed the nature of the newsletters stopped.  Since then I remember ONE email that had speaking opportunities, and I don’t remember any more that had lists of “here’s the conferences or companies we are prospecting.”  Instead, every email seems to be a reminder to sign up for one of their conferences (in Tennessee) or buy their marketing services (to make a one-page or other marketing material speakers use).

It just isn’t what I thought it would be.  I know they’ll see me forever-more as a thorn in their side, but I have to say it, and if any speaker asks me, I’ll tell them:

“Don’t spend money on an ISN membership.  It isn’t worth it.  I’ve gotten zero value out of it.”

Have you had a different experience ?  I’m happy to let you share yours.  When ISN reads this they are welcome to send their members here to leave their own testimonials of the value of ISN.  I’d like to hear them.

What is a social media expert?

Monday, January 11th, 2010

Here’s another great resource and discussion on social media… Sean Nelson asks the question and gets terrific responses on LinkedIn… click here to read it. (you have to be a member of the Linked Strategies Group on LinkedIn)

If you want some hands-on training from me, check out my newly announced program.

Choosing a Social Media Consultant, in reponse to Kyle Lacy

Friday, January 8th, 2010

I found Kyle Lacy on Twitter recently and really like what I saw.  There are a number of his blog posts that are great.

In light of yesterday’s announcement I wanted to share his 25 tips on choosing a social media consultant, and MY thoughts on each of them:

1. They need to use the tools they are teaching.
It is extremely important that the teacher is using the tools. Before you decide to use a social media consultant… investigate! Make sure they are using tools like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIN, and Plaxo. If they do not use the tools on a regular basis, they are just riding a wave.
2. They communicate with their audience.
The last person you will want to hire is someone who throws content out on the bed and doesn’t allow for two way communication. The best way to test this? Go to their Twitter account and make sure they are actually sending “RT” and replies to people. 2-way communication is key.
3. Do they call themselves a Social Media Expert? Ask about the 10,000 hours rule.
The person that calls themselves a “social media expert” is the last person you want to hire. Read Shikow’’s post about 10,000 hours to become an expert.
4. Ask them their definition of social media.
If they give you a list of tools. Fail them.
5. They will run your Twitter account for you.
It is impossible to ghost a Twitter account. YOU either use it or you don’t. Ghostwriting for a blog is a different story and NOT for this post.
6. Their blog is less than six months old with no comments. (thanks Beth)
7. Ask them about social bookmarking. Do they know what it is? Do they use it?
8. Have they taught a class before on social media? Even a webinar?
It is important that your consultant or educator has experience in teaching or presenting on social media. The last thing you want to do is spend money for something that is going to be a DRAG. You want to know that you are not wasting your money.
9. Are they a Just-add-water expert?
10. They actually have a personality and GET people.
It is important that your social media consultant have a personality. What do I mean by personality? They are not stuck in an office all day pecking away at Twitter and have no sense of humor. ALSO, they are not overly bubbly and excited about everything under the sun. Sanity is key.
11. They blog more than once a week.
It is important that the investigation goes deeper into the blogging world. Your social media consultant should be learning on a daily basis and expounding upon what they are learning by blogging. This does not have to be catered specifically to a BLOG (WordPress or blogger). You can always check Twitter on how they are communicating and learning.
12. They are linking and being linked.
Complete a Google link search and make sure your social media consultant actually has people and blogs linking back to their site. It is extremely important
13. Ask their opinion on viral marketing.
It is extremely important that your social media consultant and educator understand the concepts behind word-or-mouth marketing and viral marketing. Social media marketing is a relationship driven model. The evangelists and lovers of your product or service need to have the means to shout to the world… WE LOVE YOU!
14. Check out their website.
The first step to any Internet or social media strategy is the website. Do they have a communication driven website or is it a web 1.0 brochure driven site? Are they interacting with people? Are they talking about social media? Are they talking to YOU and not about their services.
15. What do other people think about them?
Mentors are one of the greatest asset to any small business owner. Who would they choose? Maybe they think social media is a waste of time. You need to take that into account. Maybe they were burned in the past? It is extremely important to get another perspective when entering into a relationship with any type of consultant or marketing professional.
16. They advise you to start a Facebook page as the first step.
It isn’t about starting in one spot. If you are new to the world of social media it may be smart to start USING Facebook other than trying to manage all 5 but the last thing you need to do is just start a Facebook fan page. SM strategy should be surrounding an integrated marketing approach. Period.
17. The instant success test.
It takes time and knowledge to be successful at using social media as a small business strategy. If they promise instant results.. You should probably find another consultant.
18. What do they think about traditional marketing and advertising?
Ask them. If they come back to you and say that the traditional approach to marketing is dead. They are just riding the wave of no return. They will never understand the concepts of combining traditional and new media into an overall strategy. You will slowly drown them.
19. Ask them about Radian6.
Radian6 is one of the better brand monitoring companies out there. If they have no idea about Radian6. FAIL.
20. How long have they been using Twitter?
I have come across plenty of consultant who have been using Twitter for a matter of months. It is important for the consultant to know more than YOU… the client. Check up on their usage of the different tools on the web.
21. They believe in actually listening to your problems instead of convincing you about the world of social media.
22. If they are still using an @aol.com, @aim.com, @comcast.net, or @att.net email. Fail them.
23. Listen for new approaches to strategy.
Everyone is offering to be a “social” consultant. Do they talk and think differently than anyone else you have listened to? If they do… You have a gem on your hands. Creative thinkers are the best social media consultants.
24. Are they a used car salesman? Do they seem genuine?
For the sake of argument I am going to list this. Do not work with someone you do not trust. Period.
25.Do they have any success stories?
Ask them about their history in using social media. The space is extremely new but there are people who are succeeding in using the tool. If they do not have case studies. Ask. If they cannot present you with a valuable case study… find someone else.
There are plenty more but this is just the beginning. Add to the list if you would like!

1. They need to use the tools they are teaching.

I totally agree – they have to eat their own dog food.  I’ve seen social media experts who have made a lot of money (stay with me) selling products and coaching on how to use social media… but they haven’t ever sold any non-social-media stuff.  They have jumped on the bandwagon at the right time, made TONS of money, but haven’t really done it themselves.

2. They communicate with their audience.

True.  I’ve been not-as-great as this as I’ve wanted to… at the same time, I hate seeing a blog post where every other comment is from the blog author saying “thanks!”

3. Do they call themselves a Social Media Expert? Ask about the 10,000 hours rule.

I’ll typically let others call me an expert (in anything) rather than me saying I am one.  Same with guru, etc.  Let others give you the title.

With regard to the 10,000 rule, considering someone has spent the last 4 years immersed in social media (at 40 hours a week), they still wouldn’t have hit 10,000 hours… I doubt that some people who we all admire have 10k hours, but I get the point… a newbie vs. a veteran… :)

4. Ask them their definition of social media.

Kyle says: “If they give you a list of tools. Fail them.”  Oh my gosh. I can’t agree more.  I work with very busy people… they don’t want a list of 25 places to go, or tools to use, or accounts to have.  Give me a break – social media is not a list of the hundreds of places – think more about strategy and tactics.

5. They will run your Twitter account for you.

Kyle says: “It is impossible to ghost a Twitter account.” I agree.  Twitter has to have a genuine person, with a personality, behind it.  There are techniques to take the pressure off of constant updates, or posting daily, or whatever, but I would not suggest ghost tweeting if you are marketing your own stuff.

6. Their blog is less than six months old with no comments.

Considering blogging has been around for a long time I mostly agree… however, there will be many new blogs starting now, or that have started a few months ago, that are quite credible.  One way to get around this is to develop the persona of  “I’m a newbie learning – won’t you learn along with me?  Let’s go!” … I’ve seen that work quite well.

With regard to no comments, I mostly agree there, also… although getting comments on blogs has gotten increasingly difficult because some people might comment on Twitter or Facebook or other places and that might now show up on the blog post… more on that here.

7. Ask them about social bookmarking. Do they know what it is? Do they use it?

I don’t use it.  Oops.  Or not oops.   I think it depends on your product/service and audience… for me it hasn’t hit my radar much, considering I have limited bandwidth.

8. Have they taught a class before on social media? Even a webinar?

I can see this point… I’m guessing that a “coach” in social media will have done multiple presentations.

9. Are they a Just-add-water expert?

Not sure what that means but I’m guessing it refers to all the people who have read a book or article and say they are an expert.  LOTS of those.

10. They actually have a personality and GET people.

Yep, agreed. Kyle says to not go to the extreme – either no personality or TOO MUCH.  Yeah, totally.

11. They blog more than once a week.

Totally.  I say your blog is the anchor of your social marketing strategy for a reason, you BETTER blog more than once a week!

12. They are linking and being linked.

Yeah, being known is good.  Although there are “experts” out there who are known but still don’t have real world experience… selling their own stuff….

13. Ask their opinion on viral marketing.

I don’t get what Kyle writes in his original post on this, but my thoughts go to “viral videos.”  You don’t make a viral video, you  make a video that goes viral.  You don’t send a viral message, you send a message that goes viral.

Regarding “viral marketing” in general, this is one of the most amazing aspects of the internet.

14. Check out their website.

yeah… if they don’t have a website, that might be a problem :p

15. What do other people think about them?

I think it might be hard to really figure this out – online I see a lot of ego stroking… people are pretty quick to say nice stuff and endorse… unless you are young and immature… but there are places to see this, like LinkedIn Recommendations, etc.

16. They advise you to start a Facebook page as the first step.

I would never suggest that – FB is so very misunderstood and even though they are beyond huge, they are not the first place I’d recommend for most businesses.

17. The instant success test.

Kyle says “If they promise instant results.. You should probably find another consultant.” Agreed – if you are looking for instant you might want to go back to your day job.  Let’s think about long-term… networking and relationships is LONG TERM.

Instantly results can lead to instant failure.

18. What do they think about traditional marketing and advertising?

He makes good points here.  I have strong opinions about this… :)

19. Ask them about Radian6.

Kyle says “If they have no idea about Radian6. FAIL.”  I totally disagree.  I have heard of Radian6 but couldn’t tell you what they do (well, I know now).  At the small business, entrepreneur level where you don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on their types of services they are irrelevant – not knowing who they are is not a fail, it just means that they have impressed Kyle and he thinks they have awesome services (which they probably do).

20. How long have they been using Twitter?

Mostly important, but I’ve seen some social marketing practioners who have been using other tools well but have small followings on Twitter.  Twitter is not the be-all, end-all.  Powerful, important, etc. but not critical for all businesses.

I think this point suffers from the “when all you have is a hammer, all of your problems look like a nail” syndrome.

21. They believe in actually listening to your problems instead of convincing you about the world of social media.

Agree – because sometimes your important solutions might not even be social marketing.

22. If they are still using an @aol.com, @aim.com, @comcast.net, or @att.net email. Fail them.

LOL.  I have to agree with this… I know plenty of successful business people who use those email systems, but if you are in the social space, as an expert or consultant, that would be a red flag for me.

Notice he didn’t put gmail on the list?  I’m sure that is intentional.

23. Listen for new approaches to strategy.

Creative doesn’t always mean better or good… too many times I see these “new approaches” tried by early adopters … who always seem to be jumping from one thing to another… I like principle-based stuff and prefer not to jump all over the place, on all the networks.

24. Are they a used car salesman? Do they seem genuine?

Kyle says: “Do not work with someone you do not trust. Period.” Yep, trust your gut.  And if their sales page wears out your mouse scroll wheel.. um… :(

25.Do they have any success stories?

Success stories OF THEIR OWN.  That could be an increase of sales, a media gig (getting on TV or print), etc.

Thanks Kyle, for giving me stuff to think about and the opportunity to comment on stuff that’s also been bugging me a for a while!

This is pretty cool…

Friday, January 8th, 2010

Check this out – JibberJobber.com mentioned by a federal entity:

jibberjobber_dol

Let it not be the last time it’s mentioned officially :)

As a disclaimer, I learned why they mention stuff… this is a survey they are doing, and when any one tool gets 25 or more votes, they mention that tool…. so we got a mention not because we are cool, or because they know who we are, but because we had 25 people register and vote – very nice and very cool… !

Announcement: Monthly Social Marketing Training

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

It’s been a long time coming, and today’s the right day to announce this.  Today I’m announcing my 12 month social marketing training program for entrepreneurs and marketers. This is not geared towards job seekers, although job seekers can sign up.

I’ve done a lot of social training.  I’ve written two books and have spoken probably 300 times in the last 2.5 years.  I’ve done my own webinars, I’ve been on the road from California to Washington D.C, and even to Istanbul.  I’ve done teleseminars, webinars, and articles.  I’ve been the expert for social marketing training systems that other people have put together.

And I never get to share all the stuff I want to share.  Not anymore.  Now I get to share it all.

I know there are a lot of social marketing programs out there. I don’t consider any of them competition – not because I’m better than them, but because this is not my core business.

Instead, this is stuff I’m sharing based on WHAT I’VE DONE in my own business, with my own revenue streams.  From moving product (books, DVDs) to getting subscriptions (on JibberJobber.com) to building a brand as a SME and thought leader, I’ve lived it.  Each of those things have produced $ for me, and it is really the only reason why I have my own sustainable business.

I have lived it every day for almost four years – not just talking about it, but DOING IT.  And now I’m ready to share.  Here are the details of the program:

What it is

The focus of this program is to help you, the entrepreneur or marketing manager or CEO or founder, or speaker, or author, better utilize current online marketing tools to help you build your business.  The emphasis will be on strategy+tactic=growth.  You will understand the tools and different strategies, and you will know what tasks, techniques or tactics to employ.

Each month (see schedule below) you will have at least four hours of instruction and/or discussion, as follows:

Week 1: You will get a video to watch that will help you understand the month’s topic, including strategies and tactics, around that topic.  You will have things to DO.

Week 2: One hour webinar/call where we talk about the things you were supposed to DO, how you did them, what results you got, any questions you have, any suggestions, etc.  This will be an open, collaborative meeting.

Week 3: same as week 2 – the emphasis is on DOING things as well as answering any questions, following up on exceptions, etc.

Week 4: Open webinar – we can discuss anything you want from this month’s topic, or any month.  I left this open so if you have a question about something we aren’t talking about for 9 months, you don’t have to wait.

Each of the 4 weeks will be recorded and available for review (unless we have technology glitches) at your leisure – you don’t have to be on the calls but I suggest you are.

There will be a private Yahoo/Google Group where we can discuss things at any time – ask me questions, ask your peers questions, share wins and victories, etc.

This model of training (video and discussion and accountability) with the email forum to top it off.

In addition, each person will get a premium JibberJobber account, as relationship management is key, and we’ll use JibberJobber as a baseline CRM tool.

Tentative Schedule

  • February: LinkedIn Marketing
  • March: Blog Marketing
  • April: Twitter Marketing
  • May: Facebook Marketing
  • June: video marketing sites (YouTube, Vimeo, etc.)
  • July: Newsletters Marketing
  • August: CRM / JibberJobber
  • September: Website and SEO, shopping carts, etc.
  • October: speaking and Webinars
  • November: Products: books, DVDs, recorded webinars, etc.
  • December: Article Marketing
  • January 2011: Press Releases (includes $249 Killer Online Press Releases DVD if you have paid for at least 3 other months)

Price

One Person: $99/month, paid monthly.  No long-term obligation.

Discount if you buy 6 months (one month free) or 12 months (three months free) upfront.

Discounts for companies with multiple attendees – email for details.

To sign up simply go to the JibberJobber payment page and make any of the following payments:

One month, one time: $99 (make sure to put a comment that this is JUST for January)

Monthly subscription: $99 (make sure you say it’s for a subscription, and to bill you monthly (monthly draw will be on the first of each month))

Six month, one time: $495

Twelve months, one time: $891

I regularly charge $250/hour for consulting, so to get 4 hours * 12 months for $891 is a steal of a deal.

Refund Policy

If you are not satisfied with the course we will refund your money as follows:

Monthly payments: anytime during the month, if you are unsatisfied, cancel and ask for a refund for that month.

Six/Twelve month payments: We’ll refund the month you are not happy with and then cancel the rest of the plan.