Archive for the 'Blogs' Category

#MagNet11: Meg Pickard on blogging, part 2

June 16, 2011

Meg Pickard‘s afternoon session at MagNet was “Building a Business Case for Blogs”. Below are my tweets from the session.

Don’t let mistakes online tarnish your existing brand value.

Blogs are excellent to reinforce authenticity and transparency.

Blogs can: Build engagement and get people emotionally invested in what you’re doing.

Blogs are really good at putting a personal face on your organization.

@megpickard‘s background is in anthropology. Looks at structures of community and social in media world. Perspective.

The Guardian has a site section where readers can pitch ideas that they want to read.

Blogs are very good at gaining the love of search engines.

Existing, off-the-shelf blog platforms like WordPress are already SEO-optimised. Makes things easy.

Be creative with blogs. @megpickard recommends blogging for cricket matches (they last for days…)

Blog vocab: “above the line” (journalism space), “below the line” (commenting space). Pay attention to both.

Blogs a good place to experiment. The Guardian used Google Translate to put Egypt live-blog into Arabic on the fly (refined later)

Andrew Sparrow: “If journalism is the first draft of history, live-blogging is the first draft of journalism”

Clay Shirky: “The problem isn’t information overload. It’s filter failure.” [Opportunity for editors and magazines.]

news stories answer questions, tie loose ends. Blogs ask questions, unpick things.

Build a blog for your actual audience, not the audience you wish you had.

Zuckerberg: “Communities already exist… think about how you can help that community do what it wants to do.”

With blogs, readers are part of the entire publishing process, not just reading the end result.

If someone comments, they’ll probably come back to comment again. Engagement begets engagement.

Commenters on your blog will add keywords, too. Good for SEO.

Blogging is a long-term engagement and hard work, but builds engagement with readers and matures over time. Not a quick fix.

When you set up blogs/topics, ask: “What are we going to write about when nothing is happening?” You have to have an answer.

Team blogs need to have similar tone, feel from each writer. Shouldn’t feel like disparate voices.

Get creative with blog pay models, beyond per post/word/PV. Compensate for engagement (comments), inbound links, social buzz.

Commissioned blog pieces that go into editors’ picks get paid more.

Measure everything you can. The more information you have, the better picture you can draw for your organization.

There’s no magic formula for blog metrics. Every blog has its own needs/goals.

Don’t just stick with CPM. Consider sponsorships. Guardian music blog: Orange for three months’ sponsorship.

Find the right sponsor that wants your particular audience = higher $ value.

Good Q: What metrics do you make available to sponsors? A: metrics they need for proper picture of what they’re buying.

What to do when blog doesn’t work? @megpickard’s blog post on end of Guardian Local http://bit.ly/iVQIaP

Give readers notice if you’re shutting something down.

When killing a blog, let the writers wind it down too. Don’t just end things abruptly.

Shocking! “Social media doesn’t need to be sociable” – value in lurking and using social info (eg tripadvisor) without engaging.

Very cool – Guardian Zeitgeist – “what is most interesting on our site at the moment” http://bit.ly/lz5pUl

#MagNet11: Meg Pickard on blogging, part 1

June 15, 2011

At MagNet last week I was honoured to be the official host and introducer for Meg Pickard of the Guardian, who presented two sessions on blogging, both of which I live-tweeted. The first was called “Building Readership for your Blog” and my barely edited tweets from the session are below.

Waiting to introduce @megpickard in her first of two blogging sessions today.

We can’t just do twitter because we have to do twitter, says @megpickard. Don’t do things because your rivals are.

Always think about how social helps you extend and amplify your editorial.

Only 1/3 of the Guardian’s web traffic is from the UK. 1/3 from Canada/US, 1/3 from rest of world.

The Guardian has 54 blogs, plus blog networks.

What makes a blog? Timeliness, hosted by an individual, display, plus interactivity – makes it diff from just publishing on web

Narrowly focused blogs can be good for SEO because of higher targeted keyword density, says @megpickard.

Downside of narrowly focused blogs: can be hard to find topics without being repetitive.

Advantage of broad topics on blogs: easy to write, encourages casual discovery and experimentation.

Downside of broad blog themes: hard to explain to readers, content may never find its audience or stride.

Broadly themed blogs can also be more challenging for SEO – less keyword density, less focus.

What kind of blog to avoid? Narrow focus, infrequent posts.

Bloggers don’t have to be famous, they have to be engaged and have personality, ability to be consistent.

At its heart, a blog is a conversation, a way of developing interactions with readers.

Good bloggers need to be engaged + knowledgeable about, interested in, aware of their subject matter. Discussion is key.

Bloggers have to be aware of the wider context of coverage and discussion online and curate/link/highlight as needed.

Andrew Sullivan: Blogging is to writing what extreme sports are to athletics…. it is, in many ways, writing out loud.

Common ingredients of a great blog post: good, SEO-friendly head; illustration/image/video; clear, descriptive blurb…

…good metadata (keywords, location, byline); engaging intro; external and internal links

The longer the blog post, the more you need to break it up with something pretty to look at. (images, etc.)

Short blog posts: <250 words, links, roundups, quotes, at least daily. Little and often.

Make use of services like Delicious that will auto-post links to your blog. Easy updates.

Long blog posts: 500-800+ words. “Think pieces”, perspective/analysis, reflection, live blogs, reports/write-ups.

If you do longer blog posts, make the words count.

Sometimes a blog post is a snack, sometimes a full meal.

More keys to great blog posts: human tone; encourage engagement by appealing for expertise or insight; ask questions; participate

“Don’t light a fire and then walk away” – make sure to participate in comments early.

RT @halifaxmagazine If you bury readers in links, they won’t click any; give them a few good ones.

@megpickard showing life.tumblr.com as example of magazine using Tumblr as a blogging platform.

Tumblr a good option for teasing the print edition. Less useful for writing longer posts.

rollingstone.tumblr.com – in addition to their blog. Tumblr and blogging are different strategies.

Another example – newsweek.tumblr.com. Note: no commenting on Tumblr. You can favourite or reblog.

@megpickard is live-tumbling as a demo to the crowd.

megpickard.tumblr.com – personal collection of stuff. Good example of playing with new/fun tools.

@megpickard started by saying everyone in room would have blog by 5 pm. I think everyone will have a Tumblr.

RT @sftcurls_blog: @kattancock there are some Tumblr themes that allow you to add Disqus for comments.

This is important: “Be of the web, not on the web”

Hoping people will arrive at your site and never leave – not a good web strategy.

Blogs are good for engagement, and advertisers these days want engagement.

@megpickard quotes @jeffjarvis: “Do what you do best and link to the rest”

Audience question on choosing between blogs, twitter, tumblr, etc. @megpickard: why not do them all?

Another great @jeffjarvis quote: “If you can’t imagine anyone linking to what you’re about to write, don’t write it.”

RT @sparksheet By not linking you’re getting in the way of the user’s web experience (invokes @jeffjarvis)

Don’t try to be the last point on people’s web journey. Be the first.

RT @sparksheet When people click your outgoing links, it means they’re trusting you to send them on a journey -@megpickard (great metric!)

Community keywords: interacting, regularly, context

Make engagement better by nurturing conversations you start. Lowers need for moderation.

Commenters are like children – give them positive reinforcement, don’t reward disruptive behaviour.

Very important online: be transparent about affiliations, perspectives or previous coverage of a topic or individual.

How to capitalize on internet memes (kittens ftw!)

June 6, 2011

If you haven’t yet seen the video of the sleeping mama cat hugging her dreaming kitten, you must not be on Facebook – the clip was spreading like wildfire last week. National Geographic’s editors certainly didn’t miss it, as they wrote about it on their Daily News blog on Thursday, asking an animal behaviour expert to weigh in on online commenters’ debates over whether the kitten was really having a nightmare, and whether its mother was really comforting it with a hug.

The result? As of this writing, over 1,300 Facebook likes for the blog post – and certainly a lot of new visitors to the blog, who might then click on related stories that pique their interest. (Note the extremely SEO-friendly title.) The lesson? Everyone loves a good kitten story, so if you can make it a good fit for your brand, why not? You never know how many of those visitors will come back.

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