Toby’s blog, Diva Marketing, was named one of the Top Ten Blogs for Social Media in 2010 by the Social Media Examiner. So this is a Diva that knows exactly what she is talking about.
Social Media Lessons from My Dog Max
My Westie pooch, Max, doesn’t know he’s a little dog who should only run with dogs of his size. One of his best pals is Alex, a beautiful Borzio (Russian Wolf Hound). In fact, Max has a diverse group of friends, including Tab The Cat. It was his YouTube video with Tab The Cat that turned Max from just a cute puppy into a YouTube Rock Star. Really!
One of the lessons that Max taught me is that when you put preconceived ideas aside, your accomplishments can exceed your expectations. This holds true in the world of social media, where marketers frequently approach blogs and social networks as though they were another traditional messaging channel. Let’s explore the world of blogs through the lens of a different set of possibilities.
1. A business blog is a powerful website that can not only be viewed as a unique form of digital communication, but can complement and support other tactics … both interactive (email, social networks, mobile, etc.) and traditional (broadcast, PR, outdoor, etc.) The options we have to connect with our customers and stakeholders continue to grow; however, the most powerful benefits are realized when each is integrated into a master plan.
Tip: Create your master marketing strategy to leverage the benefit of your blog content.
Example: A traditional ad can include a URL to a blog post that drives customers to a post that offers value-added content and in-depth discussion.
2. Blogs are more than just a communication channel. They are digital assets that, unlike Twitter or Facebook, you own. That means you set your own community guidelines, visual branding and links that will not disappear at the whim of the owner of a social network where you “rent” space not unlike an apartment tenant.
Tip: Create your blog to incorporate your visual branding and add elements that reinforce your brand promise.
Example: Set expectations for your community through guidelines that align with your brand promise. Link to bios of your blog authors that include something beyond their professional resumes. It might be an inspirational quote, a favorite vacation destination or perhaps a story about a pet.
3. Soon after launching my blog, Diva Marketing, in 2004, I quickly found that the blogosphere was very different from traditional websites. That distinction was in dynamic opportunities to build community. The brilliant “comment” feature is not only an avenue for people to give you feedback on your post, but for you to reach out to customers, prospects and other stakeholders. This changes one-to-many to one-to-one communication. Although a relationship may begin via a blog comment, it doesn’t end at that point.
Tip: It’s not necessary to answer each and every comment in a separate response. Consider responding to more than one person in a group comment.
Example: Take the relationship to the next level by copying your comment and emailing it to the commenter. Then go a step further by taking online offline. At the end of the day, all things being equal, people want to do business with people they like.
A face-to-face meeting helps to build and nurture digital relationships and may bring a few surprises. When at a conference, a woman came up to me and talked about Max before she even asked how I was. I knew we had more in common than a blog post!
4. Blog posts are a way to make connections with people in a genre unique from other communication initiatives. The conversational tonality is friendlier than a white paper or media release. This lends itself naturally to using blogs to tell the stories of your brand and the people (employees and customers) who are the heart of your brand. The big Win … It is through stories that emotional connections are made.
This is not the format for marketing/PR messaging or sales pitches. However, the benefits are significant. Your posts tend to be more memorable and have more perceived integrity than a typical advertisement.
Tip: Please don’t confuse telling the stories of your employees and customers with boring testimonials to your product or service.
Example: Let’s use this very blog post as an example. Through the “lessons” from my pooch Max, I’ve set the stage to personalize my point of view on how to use blogs as a marketing initiative. Hopefully you had fun and took away a tip or two that will help you on your blog adventure.
One more Max Lesson … when you put preconceived ideas aside, your world grows bigger and the end results can exceed your expectations!