I always love coming away from teaching with something that helps me contextuallize a process. I began working with my MBA Students on blogging…and ultimately building/finding your voice.
Clemson’s new MBA in Entrepreneurship Program is a one year intensive program helping shape twenty-two students’ business plans into a reality. As a part of this program, I working with them all semester to build a digital communication strategy.
Every class from finance to sales, they are constantly having to pitch. They are pitching their business ideas and I get to take it from a communications point of view. How do you take that elevator pitch and turn into a marketable piece of communication for numerous target audiences. One way is to get them writing and sharing…and we are doing this through the blogging process.
As I was working through today’s session, we were not focusing on platforms…but the message. What is the mission behind the blog? Who is the audience? What are you going to write about on a consistent basis that meets your goals. Most importantly, how does that effect their digital equity?
I thought this diagram above made sense as I was walking through a messaging process. As they begin the writing process, they are searching for their voice. We know those keywords that will attract the search engines and the audiences, but the more they write…the more they refine their message and their voice.
We have to understand that blogging is a foreign many of these students. As they find their voice, they begin writing for their audiences. The more they share, the more chances they have to build a community around their idea(s). As the community grows, they begin moving from writing specifically for the audience to writing with the audience as community effort.
This workflow helps refine and grow their digital equity and thus their blog’s search engine optimization. They continue to think through their keyword strategy and continue connecting with more and more individuals that share their common ideas. This is just fun!
Now…this is my perspective and one small part of an overall blogging strategy. But, this just made sense during our discussion this morning. I love helping people work through the thought process surrounding audience and purpose…ultimately finding their voice.
So here is a video that has been trending on YouTube for a while…right now it has over 8 million views…WOW! There is a lot of Google/YouTube traffic surrounding this video. Imagine leveraging that traffic for your blog. Now you would have to create a video that generates that type of excitement, but the point being…their is a lot of rich opportunities when integrating great video content from YouTube into a blog.
I am fascinated why more people do not talk about the value in integrating video into your blogging routine. It has and always will be a no brainer for me. So much conversation talks about the tremendous leverage you get when you share your blog posts via Twitter, Facebook, RSS Readers, Subscribe, and any other distribution platform. But no one is talking about why integrating video from outlets like YouTube really creates long term digital success for blogging.
YouTube is localized in 25 countries across 43 languages
YouTube’s demographic is broad: 18-54 years old
YouTube reached over 700 billion playbacks in 2010
YouTube mobile gets over 400M views a day (up 3x year/year), representing 13% of our daily views
The YouTube player is embedded across tens of millions of websites
Nearly 17 million people have connected their YouTube account to at least one social service (Facebook, Twitter, Orkut, Buzz, etc)
Over 12 million people are connected and auto-sharing to at least one social network
150 years of YouTube video are watched every day on Facebook (up 2.5x year/year) and every minute more than 500 tweets contain YouTube links (up 3x y/y)
100 million people take a social action on YouTube (likes, shares, comments, etc) every week
An auto-shared tweet results in 6 new youtube.com sessions on average, and we see more than 500 tweets per minute containing a YouTube link
So…how does this help your blog when you combine video from YouTube?
“YouTube is now the second largest search engine in the world with over 3 billion searches per day. So of course you want to have an optimized YouTube presence. By that, I mean you want to have a well branded YouTube channel with optimized videos,” via SEOinc.com.
Well…let’s get down to the basics.
When you begin creating a blogging strategy over a period of time, you begin mapping out the content you might want to write about. At the same tokin, you can begin thinking about a YouTube strategy. Specifically, mapping out video content you can create that can pair and supplement your written blog posts. As you write each post, you produce each coordinating video. That video is uploaded to your YouTube channel. Your YouTube channel needs to have your information and information about your blog in the about area.
For each video you create, you need to have the following:
Great title that includes the keywords you would use to search for the video.
Great description with keys words about the content of the video. This description should also include a link to your blog, maybe even the actual blog post.
Tags that can be used to search for this video.
Once you write the post, use the embed code from YouTube to embed within your blog post. You have officially linked a specific YouTube video to a specific blog post on your blog. The YouTube video has it’s own unique URL inside your YouTube channel and it is embedded in a blog post with a specific URL inside your blog. You have just connected your blog to the largest search engine inside the Internet. By the way, here is a great post about how to optimize each YouTube video for great SEO…CLICK HERE.
Connecting the DOTS!
Now, think about the stats above. Every time you Tweet, share on Facebook, include this blog post on a newsletter…you have shared two distinct links to two pieces of rich content. This not only helps your audience fing your video via your blog, but also via Google since YouTube is owned by Google. Each time you share, you are sharing exponentially two pieces of rich media creating lots of linkages between your blog, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and any other online outlets. This linkage system begins to rank higher in Google’s algorithm, placing your content in a much more likely position to be found.
Why Connecting YouTube to your blog works!
So, if you can write a blog post, included a specific YouTube video from your channel, and share across all the social outlets…then you are much more likely to be found than just writing a blog post. You have connected the rich descriptions and tags from both the blog post and the embedded YouTube video in world of search engines by simpley sharing on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or any other social media sharing outlet. For every share, you are broadcasting two pieces of media (blog and YouTube video) rather than one. And since YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine, and since Google and YouTube are on in the same, you have immediately connected a Google searching opportunity with your blog…merely by posting a video.
Below is a GREAT infographic surrounding the world of video sharing!
Content is Passion
Write passionately…I say. So many people have the hardest time writing inside a blog, especially in the very beginning…why? They are searching for their voice. A blog is created for some reason, it could be for business or even for a personal reasons…we write because we have something yearning inside to share. We share it on a public space because we want to connect. We could write in a private journal, but there is some reason we write publicly. We have a passion and it drives our fingers across the keyboard.
Connecting our passion with focused writing generates an audience that can connect, engage, and share. This focused writing channels the passion into key words that begin to index inside the search engines. This allows like minded individuals to find you (YES YOU) based on topics and keywords. The more we write from the heart, the more people can connect based on the social search algorithms that drive Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other outlets.
Content is SEO
Your blog is your mother ship. It is the hub for almost all your digital media properties…why? It is so dynamic and content rich, it provides a rich field of words that Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines index daily. Your mother ship is the home base because we share what we passionately write in one single place…our blog. We share this blog via social outlets, distribution points like newsletters, word-of-mouth, and even email. We point people back to our blog because it is the home of our most creative, carefully craft thoughts.
We want people to read, so we will do just about anything to get them to read. Each time we share our content via distribution points, and direct them back to our blog…the search engines love us. The more we write, the more hits we get, the more we share, the more our confidence grows, the more we find our voice. The more we write…the more the search engines index our dynamic home base. SEO is driven by passionate writing!
Content is King
I hear more people say this is “bullshit”, specifically that content is king. I disagree…it is proven by the SEO and the community that finds you based on the passion you write. The more you write, the more you find your voice, the more you focus…the more you connect. As you focus your writing, you can use outlets like Wordle.net to create word clouds based on your writing.
Wordle.net will create this “cloud” providing indicators of the words most frequently used in your posts. This is an indicator of your passion, the passionate content that allows people searching the search engines to find you and connect. As you fine tune those key words, focus your passion…the better the content of your blog is shaped. Your voice matures and you begin not only writing for your audience…yet writing with your audience. Why…because your audience has found you, commented on your posts, and inspired you to write more. Content is KING.
So let’s take a look at what will happen with a Bing.com search of Bobby Rettew:
Notice what is the top item in this search, my Facebook Profile…interesting. Well Duh, this makes since especially given this article from CNN.com back in October 2010, the Bing/Facebook search deal. Bing.com is influenced by the number of “Likes” in a Bing.com search, as detailed in this blog post. BTW, my Google Plus account was way back in page fifteen of Bing.com with this search.
So, what are we learning from this little discovery, a Facebook Profile is to Bing.com as is Google Profile is to Google.com, when it comes to SEO. Thus the “Plus One” concept in a Google search result will influence rankings in a Google search similar to the influence of a “Like” in a Bing.com search.
So Google is looking at our impressions within a search result with the Plus One similar to the “Like” in Facebook. By clicking +1 beside a search result, it gives you stamp of approval. These +1’s will show up in search results if your are logged into your Google account, and allow you to click it you have a Google Plus account.
Three weeks ago, I noticed something new in my WordPress blog. I have the “1-Click/Retweet/Like” plugin by LinksAlpha installed. It let me know it was time to update this plugin. When I updated, it added the +1 for Google Plus as one of the options to share. Now I have it placed at the bottom of each post.
This allows people to give a post a +1 as a sign of sharing in Google Plus. Each plus one helps a blog post, a website, a brand in Google’s rankings. The same as clicking the “Like” for Bing.com’s rankings. Ultimately, it is a way to show approval and help your favorite pieces of content show up in search rankings.
So here it is…if you have a Google Plus account and a Facebook account, you need to “+1” just as much as you “Like” to help your favorite pieces of content in search rankings. This will ultimately share with your friends in both outlets the things that your like the most. This influencing our social networks and social rankings of content.
Oh…by the way, there is a change in my Google Profile ranking in Google. Last week (July 6, 2011), my Google Plus Profile was listed number four in a search for my name, now it is number one:
Recently…I have become increasingly irritated with rubric’s and how-to’s that are consistently floating around the social space. It is driving me up a wall. Most of this is inside the world of blogging and the social space…that we must find a way to create a path for the perfect blog, that we must create the perfect social “strategy”, and there is a formula for social media messaging.
It is my humble opinion that those that are preaching these strategies, rubrics, and methods are in the business for their checkbooks. Each time I watch the tweets come down the timeline, “5 ways to do…”, “how to measure…”, the perfect blog must have…”, it is all about generating revenue for the person writing the posts.
Writing from the heart and creating great content is not “BS”. You cannot put a path to success when it comes to writing, connecting, and building an online community around a social outlet. There is no magic cookie cutter. Anyone that is selling this, pushing this, or tweeting this is selling it to generate their own income streams and not bringing value to this initial open source community.
If you do not have a passion for writing…then while the hell are you blogging? If you do not have a passion for exploring ideas, generating genuine creative thoughts, and connecting with others online…then why are you interacting in the social space.
I have read more and more tweets and blogs screaming to re-define the word marketing in this social space or 3.0. Many of which are searching to create a whole new space based on consumer trends and big company strategies. Why are they are re-defining this…well it is helping them land the next retainer deal, speaking engagement, big corporate marketing gig. But those same folks who surround themselves in chats an online discussions pushing what they deem is innovation…well they are actually trying to put this social space of user created content into a cookie cutter, placing a marketing dollar to each tweet, blog post, youtube video, and Facebook update.
These same “innovators” are actually stifling the social space right back into the same old marketing channels. Each of these spaces are becoming distribution points of corporate generated content specifically geared to track and generate a metric. Why, because the CEO’s and the VP’s of Finance who sign-off on these initiatives need a metric. We are right back where we started when the social space was beginning to appear.
Twitter is now the AP Newswire, Facebook is the new email chain, and YouTube is now our living television set. Just distribution points for those pesky marketers to generate a strategy for ads, product placement, and sponsorships. WTF…hashtags that are sponsored? Great…can’t wait. Sign me up.
“Because hashtags are important, packing tweets with them defeats their purpose. It muddies communication – of all people, Comms peeps should know the vitality of clarity, and the cost of clutter and noise. Why so many Healthcare pros don’t understand such a simple concept is beyond me, but I digress.
I’ve thought to myself: you know, Twitter once had so much promise, and now it’s becoming all serious business and so-called marketing. What a shame. We’ll all lose in the end.”
Thanks Phil, I do not think we will all loose…but there is a big ole shift.
Several months ago, I was talking with a very smart lady, Robbin Phillips after she came and spoke to some students at Clemson. She says it so nicely…(i am paraphrasing): “there is just so much noise out there in this space.” I have to agree.
I blame us…us marketing people have gone out and screwed it up. We had to find a way to put in some sort of cookie cutter system so we can track it and metric the crap out of each profile and communication channel online. Hell, we are even spending hundreds if not thousands of dollars for companies like Radian6. We want to track those conversations. And we will pay top dollar to analyze the heck out of those conversations.
All of this stifles innovation. It stifles passionate writing. It stifles true connection. It prohibits individuals to use places like blogs, YouTube, and other creative outlets to become pioneers. We want each of them to think there is a rubric for using these channels then track the success. Why can’t success be simply creating content, writing passionately, making a cool video. What if the only person that you were communicating to was just one person. If that person read it, listened to it, connected with the message…then led to see life through the authors eyes…then success? Right?
I remember when I was working on my thesis for graduate school and some of the many academic articles that followed. Each person in the academy I spoke too told me that getting an academic thesis or academic article approved was like jumping through hoops. My mother calls it “Hoop Dreams.” Yes…it was almost like social construction of knowledge. My genuine ideas were shaped to meet the expectations of those academic gate keepers whose agenda’s were played out in each word that was written. Some argue this process is necessary to form true scholarship…to meet the expectations of the academic world. I see the value in this process, but I also see the value in allowing true innovative writing and thinking to shine.
The connection here is that regardless where we go, where we write, what we create….someone wants to fit it into a cookie cutter paradigm. The social space is starting to shape-up to be just that. We marketers and new media people are trying to force clients, organizations, and small businesses into a framework that meets the needs of our pocket books. Why not just teach the technology and how them to utilize this framework as a place to share our inner thoughts, a place to express our inner beings.
Content is King. Communities grow as content and ideas are created. In order to connect we must share our thoughts and communicate.
I think there is a true progression in the way people create innovative content and connect through their ideas.
Idea —> Content Creation –> Content Shared —> Ideas Consumed –> People Connect … then the cycle starts over again.
A blog is just a place to hold thoughts. A video is visual representation to share motion, action, sounds that represent our creativity. These are just technological theaters for others to engage with our ideas. If we are thinking, writing, sharing in a way that the people that are truly interested in reading, listening, watching, understanding…then their peripheral vision will disappear and become completely engaged in the passionate content we create!
Blogging…what an interesting topic to write about. There are so many people out there who have better things to say about this platform…but I cannot hold back anymore. I am hearing and reading so many people struggling with this idea. I have so many clients who want to blog, or have tackled the idea…and they are struggling. So what is blogging? Well, if I could define it in one post…then something is wrong. Blogging is a personal experience. Blogging is about community. Blogging is about writing with passion. Blogging is about letting the technology give us a platform to articulate our thoughts for public consumption, then connecting with those who share in that passion. Yes…passion.
Over four years ago, my wife started a blog as a journal. She kept it semi-private without sharing her full name and her location. It was her journal. It was her place to write about her mother fighting breast cancer and loosing that battle. Her writing was candid and raw. Her blog was also about infertility. You see, we have experienced three miscarriages. This was her tool to write and greave. She has pissed people off by writing candidly about family and personal experiences during this time of grief. She has thought about moving the blog and going completely anonymous. But, she has stuck to her guns, wrote with passion, and built a community of people who share the same thoughts. We could not have paid for a better therapist than WordPress.
She writes with passion and she writes with focus. She shares her inner most thoughts, experiences, and ideas. She did not spend money designing some beautiful blog. She did not spend time paying someone optimizing for the SEO. She writes with passion. She also reads with passion. She seeks out other bloggers to learn about them. When she sees someone new commenting, she goes to their blog to learn more about them. She uses her blog as her social space to build friendships all over the country…and she knows more about them than some of our friends right around the corner. She does all of this for free on WordPress.
We marketers spend so much time thinking about the number of clicks, whether this logo should be bigger or smaller, the right web URL, commenting system, etc. What we forget…write with passion. Find a focus for your blog and write with passion. Then, go out and find similar people and read what they are writing. Use commenting as an opportunity to take a genuine interest in people. If we are business bloggers, find that business focus and write with passion. Show something personal about you so people have something to connect.
Sarah also does something very interesting. She password protects certain posts, only allowing certain people to read certain posts. Talk about generating interest…she has more people asking for the password than I have hits in a day for my business blog.
We think way to much. We also think if we just set-up a blog on WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, Posterous, etc…that people will just come and money will start flowing. UHH…HELL NO. Blogging is about writing…articulating thoughts, your thoughts. Blogging is that editorial place to share opinions, facts, information….through our eyes. What is your passion…write about it! Write about it consistently! Then, go out and find others that interest you…read their blog. Comment with passion and be authentic. Do not worry about technology, let the technology be the provide the platform to allow your writing flow freely.
I have been really enjoying the conversations lately on #blogchat, hosted by Mack Collier (@mackcollier) on Twitter. The weekly Sunday night chat is wrapped around blogging, and this past week was specifically geared towards monetizing your blog. Why do we blog? Seriously.
Businesses and organizations use blogs for many reasons, but I think it is specifically to position themselves as thought leaders in a specific discipline or arena. It is a great way to have an immediate position on a topic or ideal and generate traffic when audiences are looking to consume information. The ulitmate goal, drive traffic to your “mothership” in the hopes to gain some monetary goal or position a viewpoint to raise some awareness.
My wife has been blogging for over two years. She has no reason what-so-ever to gain any type of moentary position from her posts. She used it as an outlet when dealing with the loss of her mother and our two children. It has become her outlet to articulate thoughts, connect with others, and theraputically sooth the soul.
So why do we blog? I honestly think…we as humans just want to be heard and we want to connect with like minded individuals. Whether it be gaining business from our thoughts or connecting with loved ones, we use it as an outlet to organize thoughts.
So why do we as business owners blog? This is why I am writing this post. It is more than just the SEO perspective. It is more than gaining business from blog posts…even though we will not admit it. Blogs are a place to articulate our thoughts and help us keep focused in our business. This iterative process requires time and thought to critically think, “why are we dedicating time to an outlet in the hopes to generate cash?”
Blogging takes focus! It requires us as business leaders to write a mission statement for the blog. The blog is our sounding board for business, our credibility platform to justify to the world we know what the hell we are talking about. It requires us to define a goal for each post and justify whether it warrants a post, then focus it to specific key words that closely align with our business objectives.
Blogging is our creative outlet to work through creative ideas. Through this online discourse, we find ourselves creating an argument for a great project, a great proposal, a great business plan, or even just get some responses on an idea.
Some of the smartest marketing gurus and most successful business people have successfully found a focused voice in their blog. They have a community of followers, a one stop focus group (or usability testing facility) for ideas and thoughts. They have used their blog as a platform to successfully write their business plan. We should learn from them…because it has probably taken them lots of time and diligence to refine their blog, their online business plan.
Big-box business have a hard time wrapping their heads around how to “monetize” a blog because the voice is way to big. They are having to go micro and use individuals within the organization to focus the objectives. But…they use other marketing platforms to generate their own equitable “SEO”.
Our thoughts are our voice, if focused they will engage those with like minds. When you hear the heavy blogging gurus talk about focus…it is more that just focusing the blog, it is focusing the business of writing the blog.