Corporate Blogging Survey 2005
 
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October 31, 2005

More Perspectives On The Commercial Alert Letter

I think that Anastasia Goodstein has a point about the recent Commercial Alert letter to the FTC about buzz marketing practices of several companies including Tremor and P&G.

“Quote a Tremor spokesperson who says "there's nothing sneaky about Tremor's approach, even if the teens keep quiet about their marketing role." Personally, I think without full disclosure up front it is sneaky (and btw, goes against The Word of Mouth Marketing Association's (WOMMA) values of "Honesty of relationship, opinion, and identity). Neither Tremor or P&G are listed as WOMMA members. If buzz marketing firms like Tremor doesn't push for full disclosure by its connectors (even if they're saying bad things about the product), I think that WOMMA is going to constantly be fighting this type of PR battle... “

http://blogsurvey.backbonemedia.com/archives/2005/10/endorsement_without_disclosure.html

And Walter Carl makes compelling arguments for any buzz marketing company to encourage any participants in a word of mouth marketing program to reveal their participation in the program, even if no payment is received by the participant. As I write in the comment section, perception is everything, and my advice to any company that markets to under 18 year olds, you don’t want to put your company in a situation where your wider audience perceives you to be commercializing children.


Posted by johncass at 10:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

More Perspectives On The Commercial Alert Letter

I think that Anastasia Goodstein has a point about the recent Commercial Alert letter to the FTC about buzz marketing practices of several companies including Tremor and P&G.

“Quote a Tremor spokesperson who says "there's nothing sneaky about Tremor's approach, even if the teens keep quiet about their marketing role." Personally, I think without full disclosure up front it is sneaky (and btw, goes against The Word of Mouth Marketing Association's (WOMMA) values of "Honesty of relationship, opinion, and identity). Neither Tremor or P&G are listed as WOMMA members. If buzz marketing firms like Tremor doesn't push for full disclosure by its connectors (even if they're saying bad things about the product), I think that WOMMA is going to constantly be fighting this type of PR battle... “

http://blogsurvey.backbonemedia.com/archives/2005/10/endorsement_without_disclosure.html

And Walter Carl makes compelling arguments for any buzz marketing company to encourage any participants in a word of mouth marketing program to reveal their participation in the program, even if no payment is received by the participant. As I write in the comment section, perception is everything, and my advice to any company that markets to under 18 year olds, you don’t want to put your company in a situation where your wider audience perceives you to be commercializing children.


Posted by johncass at 10:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

More Perspectives On The Commercial Alert Letter

I think that Anastasia Goodstein has a point about the recent Commercial Alert letter to the FTC about buzz marketing practices of several companies including Tremor and P&G.

“Quote a Tremor spokesperson who says "there's nothing sneaky about Tremor's approach, even if the teens keep quiet about their marketing role." Personally, I think without full disclosure up front it is sneaky (and btw, goes against The Word of Mouth Marketing Association's (WOMMA) values of "Honesty of relationship, opinion, and identity). Neither Tremor or P&G are listed as WOMMA members. If buzz marketing firms like Tremor doesn't push for full disclosure by its connectors (even if they're saying bad things about the product), I think that WOMMA is going to constantly be fighting this type of PR battle... “

And Walter Carl makes compelling arguments for any buzz marketing company to encourage any participants in a word of mouth marketing program to reveal their participation in the program, even if no payment is received by the participant. As I write in the comment section, perception is everything, and my advice to any company that markets to under 18 year olds, you don’t want to put your company in a situation where your wider audience perceives you to be commercializing children.


Posted by johncass at 10:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 28, 2005

A Call For E-Mail Notification On A Blog

Now that I have e-mail notification on this blog, I can ask everyone else to put comment e-mail notification on his or her blogs. Click on the comment link below and you will notice we have a subscription form for this post’s comment. If anyone else comments you will get notified of the comment post. This is the way that forums and bulletin board’s work. The service draws people back to a site. It’s a great way to continue conversations.

Posted by johncass at 12:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 27, 2005

Surly Bikes Float On Snow!

Its not often you see a product that catches your eye that makes you want to go up to someone on the street and ask the owner where did they got that product. Surly Bikes has one such product. I was in Lincoln Nebraska for a presentation on corporate blogging a few weeks ago. I’d finished my presentation and had a few hours to kill before my plane took off for Detroit.

While walking down the street to check out the local café’s Internet wi-fi connection I spied an unusual sight, a gentleman outside a bike shop riding a mountain bike with enormous tires. I stopped the rider and asked him about the bike. He explained the bike was from Surly, a manufacturer of bike frames and tires. The bike shop had received the bike frame a few weeks ago and had just received the new tires. The tires are snow tires, able to support the weight of bike and rider on snow. The bike shop rider also told me he had several local farmers who were interested in the bike tires for riding on sand.

I congratulated the rider, and made note of the Surly name. Back in Boston I was delighted to find the company had previously launched the Surly blog. Great I thought, I can combine my fascination with this great new product, and find out if the company had received any benefits from blogging. I contacted Andy Corson at Surly and asked the following questions about the value of blogging to Surly.

John: What value have you received from the blog?

Andy: Several years ago we decided to revamp our website and the web designer suggested we have a blog, and none of us had any idea what a blog was.

The web guy mocked us and said he thought it would be a good idea. Realized right away that it would only be worthwhile if we kept it current and published only things that could truly be of interest to our customers.

We use our blog for new product announcements, changes, and cultural reports (what's happening on the bike scene). It has met with tremendous response and I've heard from people who are not into bikes or our brand and read it because they find it interesting.

John: I was wondering about results from the blog? Have you seen more direct traffic? Has the blog improved search engine rankings?

Andy: The results have been that the blog is the second most visited portion of our website after the home page. It gets a lot of traffic, and based on feedback and site stats we get a lot of people coming to the Surly site specifically for the blog.

It's sort of hard for me to compare pre-blog to post-blog for search engine rankings, since our website was completely redone all at once (and at that time the blog was added), and our website traffic was slower then due to a lot of factors, from the number of customers we had then to how our previous site looked and how comprehensive it was. We wanted the new site overall to be much more informative than before. It needed to be our storefront, where before it was just a website. Plus, our growth and public familiarity with the brand has increased due to other factors like advertising and word of mouth. I just did a quick and dirty search using Yahoo.com and Google.com and the current Surly site came up first in both cases, which I know was not the case three years ago. In fact on Google the first hit is our home page and the second is for our blog (and the seventh is dictionary.com's word of the day: surly).

John: Have you received any new product ideas that you have implemented? I've seen a number of examples where companies are taking suggestions from customers to improve existing products, and also make upgrades to products in the next version of a product. The change might be minor or major.

As far as new product ideas, in our case that has very little to do with our blog, yes, customer feedback of this sort happens to us, but it happened before the blog, just by email mostly (though I have received letters written on typewriters too).

While I think the blog has increased peoples' awareness of us, and seems to have raised our visibility (although the blog is only part of that), and this might lead to more feedback, it isn't specifically the result of having a blog. In fact we don't invite it to the same degree that some companies do, but of course it would be stupid to ignore people who feel strongly enough one way or another to write us with feedback. A large part of design change consideration for us is in the product we see coming back to us. That easily has the most to do with design changes for us.

We are pretty sure of our deigns by the time they reach production, so not much design change is usually necessary, but when potential changes do present themselves we are made aware of them by means of warranty returns sent back to us. Something breaks and people send it back, we determine if it was our design or manufacturing that was at fault and decide from there if change is necessary.

This is different from people just contacting us with ideas they have had that they would like to see someone produce or ideas for changes to existing our existing product. These sorts of communications generally are more spontaneous and less in depth than the more holistic approach design changes necessitate.

John: Since chatting with bloggers at Microsoft and Macromedia, I've discovered that some companies do use blogs for product feedback and customer service on occasion. But I wondered how quantifiable that information was in terms of being representative of the whole audience. With a strong metric like returns you have no doubts about people's opinions on products and its durability. Do you ask for product feedback?

Andy: The blog is definitely a form of interactive communication for us. People read it and many are prompted to write in. But I had said we don't invite it, and by this I mean that I know of companies who actively seek customer input through their blog and other methods (bicycle discussion forums for example), but we do not do this. Rather, we put info up on the blog and answer questions that may come up.


Posted by johncass at 4:39 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 26, 2005

Non-Profit Blog Marketing

I am preparing for my presentation on blogging 101 for non-profits, and I found an interesting post about the American Lung Association of American Minnesota chapter.

Robert Moffitt, the Communications Director for the American Lung Association of Minnesota described on Beth Kanter's blog the reasons for their blog and also why the association decided not to allow comments on the blog.

“1) This blog will be a communications tool of the ALAMN, the same considerations for content and tone made for print or website communications will apply to the blog.

2) This blog will be a tool for all divisions of the ALAMN, not just tobacco control. While much of the content is about smoking, we also have postings on asthma, fundraisers, outdoor air pollution, indoor air pollution and our clean fuels program.

3) We will not allow (as many blogs do) unedited comments to be posted on our blog. While this decision may seem to run counter to what a blog is supposed to be, I felt it was important not to allow our new site to be highjacked by critics of Minnesota smoking bans. As I mentioned before, these pro-smoke bloggers are well-organized (they have several formal blogger organizations and meet weekly at a local bar) and are very sophisticated and experienced in the blog-o-sphere.

I was certain the one thing that would certainly kill this new communications tool was having to explain to the CEO, National Office or a Board member why an official communications tool of the ALAMN is being used as a pro-smoke forum. So, no comments.?

Putting the association into our model of corporate blogging, as described in the Backbone Media Corporate Blogging Survey, the association is on the left hand side of the divide, next to IBM, they will be gaining benefit from their posts but lose out on the inability of readers to comment on the blog or send trackbacks.

Posted by johncass at 12:53 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

October 25, 2005

IBM Problem Solved

Bill Higgins from IBM uses his blog to help with an issue with some IBM software.

If you have other examples of the benefits of blogging and customer feedback send me an email at john @ backbonemedia DOT com.

Posted by johncass at 6:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 24, 2005

What Is The Cost Of Blogging - And What Is The Value?

Bradley Johnson's article in Advertising Age today, "what blogs cost American business," asks an interesting question, how much time do workers spend reading blogs at work?

According to Advertising Age, 35 millions works, one quarter of the workforce visit blogs and spend 3.5 hours on average reading blogs a week. While 25% of people spend their time reading work related blogs, 75% read non-work related blogs. These figures are interesting, especially when put in context with the overall averages for spending time at work reading the web for the population as a whole.

America Online and Salary.com conducted research relating to time wasted at work among 10,044 respondents during May and June, 2005.

44.7% cited web surfing as their biggest distraction at work, whether its blogs or buying a birthday present on the web for a loved one, surfing the web is a big distraction at work.

The America Online and Salary study was described on an SFGate.com article, ? Wasted Time At Work Costing Companies Billions,? that stated "Employees say they're not always to blame for this wasted time, however. 33.2% of respondents cited lack of work as their biggest reason for wasting time. 23.4% said they wasted time at work because they feel as if they are underpaid."

In addition I was interested to read this paragraph from the article in Advertising Age, "While blogs are becoming an accepted part of the media sphere, and are increasingly being harnessed by marketers -- American Express last week paid a handful of bloggers to discuss small business, following other marketers like General Motors Corp. and Microsoft Corp. into the blogosphere -- they are proving to be competition for traditional media messages and are sapping employees’ time."

I think we know through several studies that people are using the web during the work week to do personal shopping and keep up with the news, there's nothing new here about the consumption of worker's time by the web in the Advertising Age article. What's new is the identification that people are moving away from traditional media to customer generated media or corporate blogs in their readership patterns. I don't think there's any difference between spending time on blogging and shopping at Amazon.com at work, both activities take workers away from work.

To me the next question to ask is not about the cost of blogging to employers, but the value of blogging to employers. 25% of the blogs read are work related; I'd like to know what value that content provides to an employer. There have been few major studies of American blog readers; I think its time we saw some published to understand the answer to this question.

Posted by johncass at 9:14 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 21, 2005

Gaining Readers & Community Though Hyper-Local Content

I think I have one answer about Chuck Tanowitz’s question regarding how newspapers can regain ground – it’s called hyper-local content. See my previous post on Community Journalism in the 21st Century.

Basically, some newspapers are generating a lot of ‘hyper-local’ content not available to national websites. The community journalists give the newspaper the opportunity to cover in more depth a local community all by using unpaid community journalists.

Posted by johncass at 6:47 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 20, 2005

Perception is everything in advertising and apparently word of mouth

I’ve been having some email conversations about the commercial alert letter to the FTC, P & G and my blog post yesterday. While I don’t agree with Gary Ruskin’s letter in relation to P & G, bearing further evidence. I am glad Commercial Alert raised the issue.

Zach Rodgers gave me his permission to print his personal comments about his personal thoughts about the incident, ?My feeling is a lot of these practices are insidious without being illegal.? Although Zach writes for ClickZ.com these are his personal comments.

Also, see Matt Galloway’s post and Matthew Hurst’s comments on his blog ‘The Basement’.

I think Zach is one of many people who feel that the practice of marketing to young people or people in general (maybe?) in this way is seen as being insidious. I might suggest that is probably why Commercial Alert targeted P & G either they felt it was insidious or they thought everyone else would too. I don't know if the practice is illegal or not, though I have tried this morning to get more information out of the FTC (very difficult). I think the fact that P & G's Tremor service targeted young people makes everyone slightly nervous about the activity. But nervousness does not make something illegal, but it might damage a company's reputation.

Perception is everything in advertising and apparently word of mouth.

However, maybe this perspective will change your opinion:

I was thinking the P & G example is a little bit like going to a supermarket where someone asks you to test a product, say a dip or a new type of microwave sandwich. If I ate the product, liked it, bought it and went home and told all my friends. Commercial alert is suggesting the company would ask me to inform everyone I spoke with about the new product that I received a free product at the supermarket. Somehow I don't think that type of product testing and promotion is against the FTC rules. What do you think?

Posted by johncass at 4:49 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 19, 2005

Buzz Marketing is Evil?

http://whatsnextonline.com/cgi-bin/mt3/mt-tb.cgi/4225

B.L. are you saying that all forms of buzz marketing is evil?

Posted by stephenbackbone at 4:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Endorsement Without Disclosure: Commercial Alert FTC Letter Points To P & G and Buzz Marketing

Commercial Alert sent a letter to the FTC yesterday about their concern regarding the evolving buzz marketing industry and how several companies including Proctor and Gamble are conducting their word of mouth campaigns. Gary Ruskin, the executive director of the organization writes a very compelling letter. It is the law of the land that if someone is going to endorse a product and they are paid to endorse that product, the person should acknowledge the payment. I wrote about a similar issue several months ago on my personal blog PR Communications, “blogger endorses product without revealing payment?.

Gary is correct, a company should ask its paid agents to inform consumers that they are being paid by a company. However, I wonder about the exact circumstances around the Proctor and Gamble Tremor program. Here’s more detail about the Tremor program from a Chief Marketing Officer article, “Making Waves.? Tremor is a service provided by Proctor and Gamble, Tremor sells its marketing research or promotional services to other companies. Looking at the FAQ for Tremor participants I did not see anything about being paid to participate in the program, though I did see that participants gained access to products and special events.

Does P&G pay the program’s participants to take part, and if they do what training do they give to each participant in how they describe their relationship to P&G. I know that BuzzAgent a locally based Massachusetts company changed their rules about their agents notifying consumers in recent months, see more on this issue on PR Communications.

I wrote to Gary Ruskin to ask him if he had contacted P&G and he told me he had not. When I originally read a news article on USA Today quoted on the commercial alert site, I wondered if Gary’s organization was just attempting to make some noise and publicity for their own organization. However, after I read Gary’s well-researched letter to the FTC I thought he had some great points, and that he was correct in saying any program that asks agents to endorse products without revealing payment should be investigated, as they may be breaking existing laws. But for the life of me, I cannot understand why Gary could not have approached P&G and asked them if they are paying people to endorse their products and their customers’ products. It seems like a simple step to me.

Not to be discouraged, I contacted P & G’s communications department this morning, and Tami Jones, from P&G Corporate ER told me,

“P&G does not compensate any participants, there are no cash payments, some programs for our clients do involve free samples, but that is because people have to see the product to get an opinion about a product.?
I asked Tami if P&G provides any training to participants on how to advocate a product. Tami said,
“We don’t provide any training, actually we don’t encourage, or discourage participants to talk about the products. We don’t require participants in the Tremor program to promote or endorse the product. We see the Tremor program as a teen word of mouth advocacy program; participants are informed and not compensated for taking part.?

It seems pretty clear to me that P & G is not paying people to endorse products and therefore is not breaking the FTC’s rules. Gary do you have further comment on this issue, exactly what rules is P & G supposed to have broken? Where’s your argument with P & G. Although I am not above contacting several Tremor participants to ask them if they received any compensation for taking part in the program, I thought comments from a Tremor participant on this ad-rag.com blog post indicate that members are fully aware of the relationship with P & G.

Update: WOMMA opposes stealth marketing, the word of mouth marketing association reacted to Gary Ruskin's letter to the FTC by clarifying their definitions of buzz marketing and stealth marketing.

Thanks Adrants.

Posted by johncass at 12:04 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Slogreporter.com

Frank Gruber, a blogger based in Chicago has started a website called slogreporter.com to report slogs or spam blogs, this wall street journal article covers this and other slog issues.

Posted by johncass at 9:20 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 18, 2005

Web 2.0 Conference Highlights

Good overview from Business Week about the Web 2.0 conference, things are getting hotter in the consumer blogging space, lots of sales and new business.


Posted by johncass at 3:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 17, 2005

Consumer Generated Media Strategy

Al Ries and Laura Ries in their book “The fall of advertising and the rise of PR,? wrote:

“There are many disadvantages to PR. You can’t control the content you can’t control the timing, and you can’t control the visual appearance of your message. You can’t even be sure that any of your message will be delivered.?

Sounds familiar? This is customer generated media on the web to a tee. Companies faced with an increasing volume of customer generated media will have to develop a strategy to try to influence what is said about them by customers on the web, and the perception of content once its been published.

Blogs offer one of the best ways to join into the conversation between customers on CGM.

Posted by johncass at 6:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 16, 2005

Blogging for Arts Non-Profits

I’ve been invited to give a blogging 101 workshop for arts related non-profits in November. I am excited about the presentation. As part of the presentation I am asking any participants to list their questions about blogging here in the comment section of this post. I will answer the comment post and hope to include any relevant information in the presentation for the rest of the group.

Demystifying Blogging: What is it and What does it mean for smart arts marketers?

Wednesday, November 9th, 2005
2:30 pm--5:00 pm
Barr Foundation Dining Room
The Pilot House, Lewis Wharf, Boston

Presentation by John Cass, Director of Internet Marketing Strategies, Backbone Media, Inc.
Panel/Q&A with Bill Marx, Arts Critic and Editor of WBUR Online Arts and Steve Garfield,
Blogging is all about connecting with your audience in this fast-moving world! Gain insight into how blogs can benefit your organization and learn strategies to develop and manage a successful blog, making you a smarter marketer!

You'll learn:
· Benefits of blogging Blogging publishing platforms
· Designing a blog
· Who should blog
· Blogging outreach

Posted by johncass at 6:01 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 14, 2005

BlogStock 05 Postponement Does Not Mean The End of Blogging

BlogStock 05 was postponed this week, the organizers were not getting the kind of response they wanted from the business community in terms of the number of people who wanted to attend. I had thought that the conference would be very ambitious when the organizers a month ago contacted me. Therefore I was not surprised about the postponement to next year. With more time, the organizers will be able to get the word out about the conference and we will have an even better event. Several reporters from Mass High Technology newspaper wanted to know if the cancellation of the conference meant that blogging was all hype. Several of the speakers explained timing was the issue, and that blogging was definitely not on the decline. With the increasing numbers of customers using the web to research products and services, companies have to be involved in customer online conversations in order to have any hope of influencing the online conversation about their products and industry. Blogging it appears is the one of the best ways to influence customer generated media.

Posted by johncass at 10:33 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 13, 2005

Using Consumer Generated Media For Market Research

Jeffrey Feldman suggests that its important to pay attention to consumer generated media because in part that content may be what is appearing at the top of a search engine for a particular keyword your customers are searching for on the web. If your company has not published the content, and the content is about your product, your company doesn’t get to change the initial perception of the customer clicking on the link and reading the webpage.

Jeffrey states:

“Due to the interconnected nature of weblogs and message boards, and the way search engines determine link rank, CGM postings often have disproportionably high standings in search results. Combine this with the ever growing the number of people doing pre-purchase research on the internet, and suddenly CGM’s weight grows appreciably, and the whole concept of target market needs to be revaluated.?

If you can enter into a dialogue with the writer of that content, or if the content is published on a message board, you then have the opportunity to comment on the content. To find such content you have to use buzz measurement tools, Jeff’s company provides such tools, but you also have to be aware that it is worthwhile when and when not to respond.

Jeffrey said, Consumer Generated Media “analysis still can’t yet tell you if the prevailing opinion expressed online is representative of your target market, or only present in a different group.?

This is an area of blogging and marketing research I’ve been mulling around for sometime, see my earlier post on blogging market research. Asking the question how can a company use blogs for market research and product development when there are sampling issues with the data will help companies to understand both the benefits and limitations of such data.

Posted by johncass at 3:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 12, 2005

Will my customers take my corporate blog seriously?

Here is one question someone asked during my presentation on corporate blogging today in Lincoln, Nebraska for the Lincoln chapter of the AMA that I found interesting. “If my company is blogging how do I ensure that the content is believed by the audience??

To expand on this question, I think that customers might perceive a blog to be very self-serving on the part of a company, and therefore an audience will not believe the credibility of the posts. I think company must work hard to ensure their blog content strategy focuses on their industry and products at hand. I’d recommend conducting extensive research and back up any statements with third-party references.

More importantly, ask for feedback from the audience, and reference positive and negative website and blog posts. If you want your blog to establish credibility with your audience, start a real discussion, one where you are not afraid to receive constructive feedback from your audience, credibility really does come from having a real dialogue with your audience.

Posted by johncass at 3:34 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 11, 2005

Verisign Buys Weblogs.com

Verisign just purchased weblogs.com from David Winer, there is a discussion of the new purchase on the Verisign blog. One aspect of the purchase is Verisign’s hopes for reducing blog and ping spam. Blog spam has become an increasing problem over the last six months, making many of the major feed search engines virtually useless for some high trafficked terms, I think in some ways we are back in the late 90’s for search engines with feed search engines. Some bloggers are even abandoning their use of feed search engines, I would not go that far, but we all of the spam blogs it does require some more ingenuity to find good blog content than once it did a few months ago.

We’ve just begun doing some analysis on just how many blogs out there are real – the work of real humans crafting posts – rather than simply splogs – web pages that are generated automatically by scripts and programs to look just like (or much like) real blogs, but serve only as a place to park keywords that will hopefully be found in a search, and advertisements that hopefully will be clicked on by humans who happen to somehow land on that page. In talking to Google, they can confirm what our initial scan tells us: there are an enormous number of splogs out there, and the number is growing faster than the number of real blogs. By a good margin. This problem is fraught with many of the same problems that plague the email world in its struggle against spam: Who is the source? What is the content about? Is it a copy? What does its distribution look like? Is this purely a solicitation? These are not easy questions, and a robust solution is not readily available. However, at the infrastructure level, very little is currently being done, and there are remedies that can be deployed that will provide significant, if not thorough relief. As a first “killer app? to deploy on top of weblogs.com ping services, we’d like to make progress in improving the “signal-to-noise ratio? in the blogosphere. Does that mean censorship? No. As above, we’re committed to maintaining the integrity of the free and open ping stream, in all its wild and chaotic glory. But we believe that many will want to take advantage of filtering services – screen out the splogs based on a threshold value in the analysis – in much the same way that mail users see value in spam filters for their email inbox. That’s a tough task, and one we won’t be able to make much progress on alone. We’re already working with a number of parties in the ecosystem on this subject, and believe that as part of a community effort, VeriSign can help lead the way to much better “signal? at the infrastructure layer of the blogosphere. Which will improve the user experience for everyone. Which is why we got involved in the first place.

Posted by johncass at 11:15 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 7, 2005

Blockstock '05

I will be presenting at Blogstock ’05 in New Hampshire on October 26th.

Blogstock '05
Learn how to effectively promote your business or organization through blogs - the hottest new form of online communication and community-building - at this day-long conference.

Date: October 26, 2005
Time: 9:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Place: Portsmouth Sheraton, 250 Market Street, Portsmouth, NH

Keynote speaker: Biz Stone (Seattle, WA), author of Blogging: Genius Strategies for Instant Web Content and Who Let the Blogs Out? helped build one of the largest blogging communities on the web.

Session Topics:
• Managing and Utilizing Blogs Proactively and Defensively - featuring John Cass of Backbone Media (Waltham, MA)
• Using Blogs to Sell Your Products - featuring Buzz Bruggeman from ActiveWord Systems Inc. (Winter Park, FL)
• Around the Blogosphere: What's Hot and What's Not - featuring Cindy Sullivan from Cymfony (Watertown, MA) and Todd Van Hoosear from Topaz (Malden, MA)
• Law and Liability in the Blogosphere - featuring Fred Frawley of Preti Flaherty (Portland, ME)
• And more!

Sponsored by: Garrand & Company, a marketing communications firm, and the legal firm of Preti Flaherty.

Contact: For more information or to register, visit www.blogstock05.com or call Joyce El Kouarti at 603-431-2772.

Posted by johncass at 11:29 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 5, 2005

Benefits of Business Blogging

I thought it would be useful to give a quick overview to the benefits of blogging.

Customers are using the web to find vendors and compare opinions with their fellow customers. A starting point for any customer’s vendor research process today for business-to-business customers is a search engine. 63% of B2B buyers start their research process with search. (Source: Marketing Sherpa Survey / Enquiro: How B-to-B Buyers Use Search, October 2004).

The best location on a search engine for a company to be is the organic results area; a recent study indicated that 62% of Internet users click through on the organic section of the Google search engine. (Source: Marketing Sherpa Survey / Enquiro: How B-to-B Buyers Use Search, October 2004)

We know therefore that search engine marketing is important, and also that the ROI on organic is higher than pay per click campaigns. To achieve a high ranking in the organic section of a search engine, a website must have three things;

1) Relevant content - contains the keywords your audience uses,
2) Votes - or backlinks from other websites
3) Accessibility - making sure your site can be indexed by a search engine

Blogs are important to search because of the way blogs are designed and implemented, blogs can help a company to achieve great results for all three of these factors.

1) Blogs are powered by content management systems that allow non-technical people to update content quickly. Also, culturally it’s very acceptable to post content more frequently than a normal website.
2) Bloggers link to other valuable content on a regular basis; if your content is valuable to other bloggers you will receive a lot of links without having to ask for the link. It's been difficult to get another website to link to a website by simply asking a Webmaster to link a site, blogs have solved that problem
3) Blogs are designed well for accessibility

The ROI from blogs for any company is therefore both the search engine marketing results in terms of higher rankings, and the public relations benefits from getting your message to your audience, by developing valuable content that is very relevant to your audience.

Developing content that interests your audience, will get a company the most attention and links from their audience. Content strategies that have worked for other companies includes; new product ideas, product feedback, and discussions about industry trends. Such content or thought leadership can improve your recognition in the community and improve lead generation.

The question for any company therefore is; which audience should your company target, and what content strategies should you develop to get the most recognition and leads from each audience?

Posted by johncass at 4:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 4, 2005

BlogOn Speakers

Looks like the list of speakers at BlogOn is really going to be good. David Weinberger of the berkman center in Cambridge alone makes the event worthwile.

Posted by johncass at 3:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 3, 2005

Search engine optimization: A solitary, or collaborative profession?

Search engine optimization is a fast-paced profession, constantly changing; daily search engine algorithms change, and industry competitors deploy new websites and more content. Yet how different is the profession of search engine optimization to that of writing? Often SEO experts are sitting alone writing or editing content for keyword placement and technical accessibility.

Writing is a solitary profession, yet to become a successful writer requires a writer engage the world, joining a writing group to seek feedback and encouragement or sharing a passion for a common subject. The biggest benefit from engaging a writing community comes from learning from fellow writers and giving a boost to improving a writer’s discipline to write.

Collaboration is also required in the search industry, first an SEO expert must work with their client, building the keyword list, checking with the client’s IT department on SEO accessibility issues, and encouraging the client to write content, or hire a copywriter. But to become really successful an SEO expert must constantly search forums, newsgroups and attend industry meetings to keep up to date on what’s happening in the industry. Otherwise their knowledge and client’s rankings start to fade.

To be successful in SEO you really must collaborate, yet for a client to be really successful in organic search the client has to write. That’s the dilemma in SEO, writing is tough, and difficult to do well and fast regularly, yet the way to achieve success, or high search engine rankings as recommended by Backbone Media is to write a lot of great relevant content.

The irony is therefore that search engine optimization is a collaborative profession but it relies on a solitary profession, writing, for its ultimate success.

I suggest a tactic for any company or search professional to encourage more writing of relevant content – start a company writers group, make it a weekly duty, the discipline, collaboration and forum will produce good quality writing that will help your company to get high rankings in the search engines.

Posted by johncass at 5:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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