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March 22, 2007

BlogHer Business Live-blogging: Should You Blog?

Blogherbus2UPDATED 3/23/07

I headed to New York for the BlogHer Business  conference. The conference will  answer the question: How can Businesses Succeed in a Social Media World? I live-blogged three sessions of the Day Two track : How Do I Get It Right the First Time? Please also check out the full list of live-blog posts as well as the other two sessions in this track on Techmamas.com: How to Keep Out of Trouble and How to Embrace the Social Media Culture.

The session is called Should You Blog?:  If so, how do you set objectives and integrate social media strategy into corporate strategy? How do you measure your results? What does success look like? Can your corporate culture integrate with the social media culture? If not, how do you stay in the social media game, even as a spectator? What should you be monitoring and tracking? Featuring Remi Adams, Toby Bloomberg, Roxanne Darling and Boston Globe columnist Penelope Trunk.          

Some interesting pre-sessions interviews are on the BlogHer site. Toby Bloomberg "Business blog evangelist" is president of Bloomberg Marketing, her blog is called Diva Marketing Blog. She interviewed Remi Adams,  director of public relations for Homestead Technologies.  And Penelope Trunk, who writes career advice for the Boston Globe and Yahoo! Finance, has a blog called Brazen Careerist. Roxanne is co-owner of Bare Feet Studios and has a vlog called "Beach Walks With Rox".

Here are my apologies in advance (thanks Jen Lemen for the idea): for misspelling, missed names and other tragedies of being in a rush. Everything is a serious approximation of what was said.

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Should You Blog?

Toby Bloomberg: This is a small group, it seems as though most of the participants have already decided to blog. This session will discuss the nuts and bolts of blogging. This session will drill down a level and tell how to put this whole thing together. 

(Speaker and Audience Introduction) 

Audience members introduce themselves and tell what they want out of the class:

  • An audience member from the UK: I am interested to hear about the challenges in the US for blogging.
  • How blogs fit into the overall idea of a community?
  • Ideas on how I can help company’s traditional company’s transition websites to blogs?
  • How to help my CEO develop a blog?
  • How are people guiding their clients to or away from blogging?
  • I am here to learn and meet a great group of people.
  • I just left the corporate world and want to learn about blogs.
  • Two employees from Pay for Post are at the session because they try to work with WOMA and make sure they follow the guidelines of blogging. They are also open for dialogue, controversy or not.
  • A PR rep was here to learn more about blogs to help a client (who is writing a book) build one.
  • A blogger from Israel uses her blog to have conversations with a friend who is Palestinian. 

Toby: Thank you for joining in this conversation. We have a series of topics that we think are helpful. Our format is casual. I invite the audience to join in the discussion from the topic. There are two sides of a blog: internal and external. Our first question is on culture. Why go forward in a social media strategy? Is your company ready to blog in this culture? 

Roxanne Darling: Speakers will be publishing their notes on their blogs. 

Remi Adams: You should ask yourself what is the business challenge you want to solve? I want to create thought leadership. Why do you want to do it? Is it the right medium? Is your culture ready for you to blog? How is going to the spokesperson. How frequently will they blog, what is their focus? What is the voice of the blog? 

Toby: Let’s step back and look at blogging as a strategy. What medium do you want to use? Roxanne, do you want to talk about the choices?

Roxanne: I discovered by accident the different forms of blogging: text blogging, audio blogging, and video blogging. One example is of a CEO that does not type, but he bought into the intellectual concept. So let’s get him a microphone so he can audio broadcast. Choose the most effortless, most convincing, and most comfortable manner. 

Toby: Has anyone thought of using something other then text?

Audience member: How does the audience want to be reached? If someone is more comfortable speaking they should do a podcast. You can have the same material that is posted a couple of different way. 

Toby: Marriot blog is going to be a great blog. He talks about his personal experiences. He text and audio’s each blog post. It may seem odd for someone to read a blog post, but he is a storyteller so it is interesting. 

Toby: Does anyone have any questions on Video’s? 

Audience member: I have been running online community since 1995. I just recently suggested a blog. People that were used to using email discussion groups, can they use blogs in the same way. They did not know how to do it. 

Roxanne: It is not fair to compare text, audio, and video to each other. Video blogging takes more technology. I have done a video blog every single day for 365 days. But it is certainly not for everyone. Text blogging is fast and easy, you can even do it from your phone. Audio is in between. 

Remi: I use social media in a different way, per campaign. I did a campaign about the platform of entrepreneurship. She worked with about.com to do some research to see what were the hot business trends of 2007. I wanted to push the word out. They did a podcast with the press release- and it came alive. The press release being the sole channel has changed. I use video, podcasts, with free services. Don’t be dissuaded from using the other forms of social media. 

Toby: The medium has to support the goals and objectives.

Audience member: When you try to turn your niche blog into a business, a wiki is helpful for our users to help better understand the system. 

Penelope Trunk: I noticed that people have varying degree of abilities. Some people will say “This is the first comment I have done”. How will the audience relate to my social media? I just used a wiki at SXSW and found it challenging. It is not about how comfortable are you video-blogging, it is important how comfortable your audience. 

Audience member: In my opinion there are two different types of audience, and sometimes management tries to blend the two. I worked with a news organization and everyone wanted to have their own blog. But the audience may have not been there. And the audience had to sign up which is a barrier to entry. 

Audience member: I may be a purist, but “if you can take that first step, be the one to bring them online”.

Penelope: I started with a newsletter list, which did not send me traffic. When I put an URL on the bottom of my Boston Globe post, I got more traffic. But posts on Britney Spears, that will get the most traffic.

Roxanne: I may disagree. My mom was not used to going on the computer until I created my vlog. She now visits my blog and uses skype. If you in your company are not that tech savvy, starting with an internal blog is a good way to start. You don’t want to force anyone into anything.

Remi: Unless you know html, you don’t do it for yourself. We have hundreds of people around the country that may not have email but have their own website through Homestead. Releases end up offline and online, people get it in different mediums. They may the association that the technology from this company is easy from reading our CEO blog. Bloggers get to say their own words.

Remi: I put the link to the blog in the press release. I talk about it and drive people to it in a million different ways (email campaigns). 

Toby: We have three different people with completely different experiences. How should a blogger use social media to reach a reporter? 

Penelope: I like to help bloggers move to print. Many people may not know how to find bloggers. If I got a press release from Remi that has a blog, I would go look at that blog. It is newsworthy to get a press release that has a link to a blog. 

Remi: Companies say a lot of things that may not be true, but a blog is the real thing. The blog has months or two years of material that supports my PR claims. 

Penelope: There is also a better story for the reporter if there is a blog. With just a press release there is a hugh risk to look into the details. If there is a blog that has the details through a link, then that has more information that makes a story. I am happy to publish the URL for bloggers as a reward for contacting media. When publicists see that I will write about bloggers, they will pitch their clients to me. Reporters do not know how to find bloggers. Reporters contact me to ask about the blog they see in my columns. 

Roxanne: I find it irritating that some bloggers do not have their contact information in their blog. Pre-packaged software may not have that information default. 

Penelope: A “press” button/link will tell me that that blogger is easy to contact. 

Remi: My CEO’s personal blog links to our company blog. So, how many times have you had a service issues and you could not get anyone. You did not get anyone. With a CEO blog, especially mine, if you put your issue on the blog he will respond. 

Penelope: I will rarely go to someones blog to pull out a quote. I really need to talk to the blogger. I need someone who is going to pick up the phone and get the blogger. 

Toby: How do reporters find you?

Audience member: I contacted a reporter with a story that was relevant to him. The article was accepted. They forwarded viewers of the article to my website. I use social media to also research my story. 

Angela LaSasso (Web Content Manager for HP): HP participated in the Sundance Festival, we got press because we did something unique: launching a HP blog that discussed the entertainment industry. We also added video performances, which were the most popular posts. They discovered HP did more then printers, and that they are in the Web 2.0 space.

Roxanne: You raise two good points. HP had some bad press at that time, and that blog pointed them in a positive direction. Text is easy to get up, but users leave quickly. Video allows you to build a relationship with the viewer and they stay on the site longer.

Audience member: Someone found my blog through a Google search that brought up a random post on my blog. It was not on a topic that I usually write about but it generated interest.

Toby: Jeremy has proven that even if you write one post that is off topic, it may bubble up faster then a traditional web site. The blog will come up on searches before a traditional web site or press release. 

Audience member: Technorati is the most popular blog directory. It is important to include Technorati tags in your posts so people can search using the Technorati sites. 

Penelope: I just got a call from a reporter that asked if I know any life coach blogs. It seems that reporters are not going to Technorati. 

Remi: I don’t think that they are not adopting technology, I think they are just be cautious. 

Audience member: Is anyone suing any bloggers for something that happens on a blog? 

Penelope: I think it is the eccentrics of the world that sue. 

Roxanne: I have read of a couple cases recently for bloggers being sued for what they write. Off the record, I have heard that the lawyers have to file the suit to protect the intellectual property. Lawyers have to take the legal action to make sure if they want to sell the company then they have defended the right to ownership. 

Penelope: TechCrunch gets letters saying some of their material were illegal use of an IP. 

Sue Thomas (Audience member): I appointed Harold Rheingold to our University as a visiting professor (De Montfort University, Leicester – Bedford). The press covered him but had no mention of our university. So we spent a lot of time on that publicity and got nothing back. Until I blogged about it, then we got attention.

Roxanne: One of our clients has a large database, someone scraped data and created their own site. They took all the locations in that database and created an Google API, then contacted us and say “see what I did”. Our first reaction was “how dare he”. He created a business on our clients backbone. Our clients decided to work together: they can give your their data in an XML files – but we need to make sure this is only a small business and not a company business. 

Audience member: A friend of mine said be careful of libel. I talked to the general counsel of the New York Times and put that in my blog. I got many hits from that, including from Asia.

Stephanie Bergman (AOL Senior Product Manager): Once you get to a certain size you are a target. That is why we have blogger guidelines.

 Wrap-up:

Remi: The biggest take away is from a marketing perspective, don’t be afraid to dabble in many types of social media. But there needs to be an end goal.

Penelope: When you are evaluating social media, think of the press because they will be open to that.

Roxanne: One of the things we find common with our clients is that they all wonder if they have anything to say. It is not a small matter, I find the less pressure we put on them, the best. Don’t tell everyone that you are cool, just be cool. That law of attraction will kick in naturally. 

Toby:  Specific purpose, specific objective. Blogs may not be the silver bullet of marketing, but it is the gold coin.

 

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