Business Blogging

{A brief citation of articles related to business blogging. Enjoy! -dc }

Business Blogging for Beginners – Fast Company

“Creating a business blog is a lot like hosting a cocktail party: You’re networking with customers in a low-pressure setting and, at best, nurturing great relationships.”

Blogs will change your business – Business Week.

“It’s time for a frank talk. And no, it can’t wait. We know, we know: Most of you are sick to death of blogs. Don’t even want to hear about these millions of online journals that link together into a vast network. And yes, there’s plenty out there not to like. Self-obsession, politics of hate, and the same hunger for fame that has people lining up to trade punches on The Jerry Springer Show. Name just about anything that’s sick in our society today, and it’s on parade in the blogs. On lots of them, even the writing stinks.

Go ahead and bellyache about blogs. But you cannot afford to close your eyes to them, because they’re simply the most explosive outbreak in the information world since the Internet itself. And they’re going to shake up just about every business — including yours. It doesn’t matter whether you’re shipping paper clips, pork bellies, or videos of Britney in a bikini, blogs are a phenomenon that you cannot ignore, postpone, or delegate. Given the changes barreling down upon us, blogs are not a business elective. They’re a prerequisite. (And yes, that goes for us, too.)”

The Bottom Line on Business Blogs – Entrepreneur

“So how do blogs fit into a business? They can be used in several different ways. Many companies use them for communication and collaboration among distributed colleagues, partners, suppliers, customers and others. That’s the most popular use. My personal favorite is that they also can be used as a unique, informal way to establish a company or individual’s reputation or brand. Other businesses use them to improve operations (like for project management or tech support knowledge-sharing), to demonstrate expertise (useful for professional services businesses) and to establish competitive differentiation. Blogs let companies reach out to value chain members with organizational news, marketing promotions, new product announcements and more. “

“Blogs can really give a company substantial business benefits:

· They’re cheap, easy to launch and don’t require HTML expertise.

· They make working in groups easier, are community-builders and can be more inclusive (and interesting!) than e-mail.

· They strengthen internal and external business relationships and improve productivity through interactive information exchange.

· They’re not intrusive, since users have to seek out a URL to read the content.

· They improve branding by presenting a more authentic and distinctive voice for a business than canned PR or MarCom messaging.

· They’re more searchable than e-mail and instant messaging, so they’re effective as an information or knowledge-base archive.”

How Blogs Pertain to You – iMedia

“Many businesses and publishers are still trying to figure out “blogs,” wondering if they should have a blog and what they should blog about. That’s probably a mistake. What they ought to be trying to understand is bloggers and blog readers.

It’s probably not wise to generalize about something as amorphous as the Blogosphere, but here goes: the Blogosphere is a place for people who want a more personal relationship with various entities they deal with on a regular basis — corporate, government, media, you name it. They want to have a sense of a person behind or within the enterprise. They are looking for something or somebody real.”

When a business shouldn’t blog – Business Blog Consulting

“Imagine two opticians. One says “I take care of eyes. There’s lots of medical info on eyes out there, so my Web site will be a digital brochure, and that’s good enough for me” while the other says “I get the same questions from every patient, and there’s so much confusing information online, I’m going to try and shed some light on eye care and eye health by writing about it. But not with a newsletter, how 90s!, but with a blog.”

Now, a slight aside: I believe that the future of business is findability, and if your business doesn’t appear when your potential customer looks for you online, you’ll eventually wither and die. Given that, you can guess which optician I think is going to be more successful in 24 months.”

ArcSoft Panorama Maker 3 Review

Recently inspired by this thread on the Vortex about panoramas, I decided to give it a shot myself.

Swear to God, in less than 20 minutes, I downloaded the ArcSoft Panorama Maker trial software, installed it, went outside and set up the tripod (overkill), took the pictures, downloaded them onto the computer from the camera, and then let Panorama Maker 3 do it’s magic.

Here’s my first attempt as a compressed .jpeg. It has some obvious flaws in it, but you can see the potential. If I took a few more pictures with more overlap, it would’ve been much better. I only used 6. And with a subject that’s more interesting than our scrappy backyard, results should be better in future attempts. (And yes, we still haven’t painted over the masterpiece entitled Millie.)

Not impressed yet? Well check out the backyard Flash movie (gasp!) and QuickTime {oops, no links… The QuickTime is 60m and the flash is 12m. Sorry!}. For a trial version of the software, that’s a pretty cool feature to throw in.

Two thumbs up for Panorama maker!

dc

Million Dollar Homepage

“This guy got the idea to sell pixels for a dollar each, in blocks of a hundred, to get him through college. The advertisers get an ad spot for 5 years, and “a piece of internet history.” Silly and gimmicky, but that’s exactly why it worked, and to date he has pulled in an unbelievable half million dollars.” Full article on Mezzoblue.

And the Million Dollar Homepage itself.

Amazing!

dc

IPN Searchfest 2005 Summary

{memo for the boss that I composed}

Overview

This event was a bit smaller than expected, but the material presented was excellent and current. Blake Vawter joined me, and we later met up with John Tompson from eCampus as well. Blake and I were in the midst of a budget adjustment related conversation with Admissions in reference to SEM, so it was very timely to be able to attend this event when we did.

The seminar focus was to introduce and reinforce SEM/SEO strategies and execution. MSN was on hand to talk about their new online search marketing engine, and the seminar was hosted by Anvil Media in Portland. Anvil is an SEO/SEM/Pay-per-click specialist and was the recognized expert at the event.

Anvil Keynote Address

Kent Lewis, Anvil founder, opened the day with a barrage of statistics, hints, and advice:

  • Organic search results are those which are displayed in order according to search engine algorithm. Paid placement ads are a direct result of paid placement bidding.
  • Fortune 500 companies spend only 6% on online advertising vs. other media advertising.
  • The average user spends only 6.5 second analyzing a search results page before moving on. Very important to have your site above the fold in result listings.
  • Top 3 results returned are perceived as market leaders.
  • Only 50% of users notice paid placement advertising.
  • 50% have no idea that they’re paid placement links.
  • Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising can cost any where from .10 per click to over $2. Currently lawyers are paying over $2 per click for people searching on Mesothelioma, a chronic disease developed by overexposure to asbestos.
  • SEM leads customer acquisition costs across channels: $8.50 vs. $20 Yellow Pages, $50 banners, $60 email, $70 Direct Mail
  • New area of SEM: International Marketing
  • Yahoo can serve up content/ads based on registration information and account history.
  • The next evolution in the web evolution is what Kent described as democratic content. Content that others recommend as being that of the best, or authoritative content. (Previous evolutions were content that was found based on links between sites. The next evolutionary step was search based content. Next is that of online communities.)
  • Kent said that Google is adding lots of search engine features because Yahoo was actually pulling ahead with it’s feature suite.

Winning SEO Methods – Stanford David, Straight On Internet Consulting

Stan is a one man show SEO consultant in the Portland area. His presentation was about 70% familiar. Here’s new information I gained from his presentation:

  • He strongly suggested wordtracker.com for a low cost, first starting place for Keyword Effectiveness Index (KEI) analysis. As little as $7-8 to user per day. $250 for a year membership.
  • New sitemap technique emerging that is structured via XML.
  • Integrate a sitemap link into a custom 404 message. Helps search engine try to determine new location of page it had indexed.

PPC Strategies and Tactics – Hallie Jannssen, Anvil Media

An excellent introduction into what PPC is all about.

  • A/B landing page testing. Swapping a landing page with another for a period of time and examining not only web analytics but where the landing page appeared in search results, as well as how well it was received.
  • Buying competitor’s keywords and search terms to ensure you always appear higher in the listings, locking out their organic search opportunities. {I thought of the keyword ‘OSU’ immediately}
  • MSN’s upcoming online placement advertising will allow demographic targeting based on information harvested from Microsoft Passport accounts, Hotmail accounts, etc…
  • Part of the MSN advertising service will include Site Analyzer, which provides the analysis of your site versus your competitors and identifies keywords, SEO opportunities, etc…
  • Day Parting – Allows for greater utilization of online advertising dollars by limiting advertising to be displayed/utilized during specific time periods (days, months, hours) to avoid paying when you visitors aren’t likely to be searching.
  • Second tier search engines can provide very low PPC rates while giving the advertiser time to fine tune the paid placement campaign.
  • Geographic targeting available from Yahoo and Google only currently.
  • Negative keywords: Portland Oregon vs. Portland Maine.
  • Dynamic keyword search can be provided by major search engine, which adjust your keywords based on the search input! Frequently used for eBay listing currently.
  • Signing up for Google’s Quick Start is only $299 and they provide a full starter kit. In addition, the $299 is deployed in it’s entirety towards your online marketing budget!
  • CPM – Cost per thousand.
  • Bid Management – Desire #1 position, but can only afford X. Ad will be placed in best location at time when higher bidders aren’t being displayed.

SEO for a World-Wide Web – Steve Kemper, Ion Global

Ion global is a web services firm focused on internationalization. A very good presentation about being successful in a global website venture, with specific code suggestion strategies. The presentation was largely based on international web practices, but did prompt thought about our own international site and how we could apply these techniques.

Best Practices Panel

All the presenters, as well as a few quick testimonial speakers, were asked to assemble for an open forum of questions and answers:

  • blog.marqui.com Marqui is a Canadian online marketing firm that decided to change it’s name when it established it’s US firm. They used blogs to spread the word about their company, paying bloggers $800 a month to say whatever they wanted to for 20 months, just as long as they talked about Marqui. And naturally, people spoke their mind. This caused an enormous buzz about the company and it catapulted them to the forefront of the industry. Furthermore, once it was exposed as an obvious abuse of blogging popularity, they were at first blasted for their underhandedness. Now it’s being seen throughout the industry as a stroke of genius.
  • Rather than just present information, make the topic and content available for discussion. An emerging trend in all popular websites and services.
  • Tagging – linking content, media, objects with meta data that identifies it. Making media available with your tags attached.
  • Google Juice – something that is hot and fast moving on Google.com
  • Podcasting was discussed as something that is a must have if you have an audience members predominantly under 35 years of age.
  • Business Blogs:
  • Establish leadership (perceived or otherwise).
  • Engagement.
  • Not necessarily blogging about the product, but about the industry as one of it’s leaders.
  • Humanizes the entity.
  • Blog are indexed more frequently.

Why Aren’t You Using Firefox?


You’re not, are you?! Get Firefox now!

You are?! Phew!!! Want to make it even better? Check out this excellent extension package put together by none other than pro poker player Paul Phillips. An extremely talented poker player, he’s also very savvy with the computer. And also disturbingly arrogant. Consider yourself warned if you decide surf the rest of his blog.

So what does the extension pack have? The best one is the Adblock. This one will display site content only and remove banner ads. No it’s true, no more banners! I’ve been using it for a couple days, and it’s fantastic! This is a must have extension for Firefox users! Also a bunch of tweaks that makes Google even better and more usable, and an automatic extension for the excellent bugmenot database that I mentioned last week. Now surf over your favorite membership required site, a la New York Times, and right click the login fields. Viola, you get one of the databases passwords and don’t need to register!

Paul goes over these in more detail, and includes a mass installer to install all of these extensions at once.

And for those of you who think Firefox is a bit slow, try this out: Firefox speed tweaks.

dc

Sheer Brilliance: bugmenot.com

Ever get an article link sent to you from a friend, but as you click to read it, you get prompted to fill out a registration sign-up form, that must be completed before you can read the article? Of course, happens all the time. And of course it only takes a moment to sign up, but if I was to count the number of site registrations I’ve entered… well you get the idea. It’s the repetitive nature of these that gets annoying.

Well be annoyed no more, use a login/password that’s already in the system! Bugmenot.com is a database of usernames and passwords that you can use as your own. I’ve already used it twice today!

dc

Creative website ideas that generate a little cash

I’m constantly kicking myself for not thinking of something that could bring in a few extra bucks a month that’s web related. Some of these websites hardly feature anything in-depth, but they’re interesting. And each of the pages has banners that generate cash. For instance, some of my favorites:

Hot or Not – As soon as you click a rating, another victim is displayed for your approval. Curiously addictive, and each page displayed has banners. The first time I visited the site, I was probably on it for 15-20 minutes clicking away. I’ll bet others spend far more time than that. I wonder how much this site generates for the owner…

Wheresgeorge – A website that lets you enter the serial number off dollar bills for tracking. The bill gets marked with the web address, and the next person who notices, enters where they got the bill and can check out the history of the bill. A low maintenance site with banners that is again curiously addictive to check out.

You get the idea. Seems like a clever little diversion that could earn beer money with little effort.

dc

One link more today

One of the most funny, shocking, intriguing, clever and depressing blogs I’ve seen. PostSecret is a collection of post cards mailed to the blogger that contain a personal secret, which is scanned and then posted on the blog. An amazing phenomenon really, and I’m really pleased to see that it’s popularity isn’t diluted with any advertisements. A truly selfless act considering how much effort this probably takes and how many visitors the site receives.

dc