Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Is Personal Branding A Load of Manure?

Photo courtesy of Ardonik @Creative Commons

In their early November podcast , Mark Schaefer and Tom Webster dissected the value of "personal branding."

Does everything we do (or don't do) -- on or off the social web -- end up creating our personal brand, like it or not? Should we care?

Mark says yes. Tom says no.

Check out their differing points of view.

Schaefer POV
• Today, we have the ability to create a reputation/image/brand through what we do, say, and write on the social web. Therefore, it's important to establish our reputation online to demonstrate our values, how we work, and how we think.
• A few years ago I had the opportunity to interview at a Fortune 500 company in NYC, but a friend of mine told me to be sure that I would be allowed to continue to work on my personal brand, even if I were employed by this company. I never thought of it that way before. In my experience, when you worked for a big company, you were subsumed by that company.
• Personal branding and authenticity go together. Tom has talked about how he is careful because he represents his company in some way. Like it or not, a certain "containment" or "formula" guides what we choose to present or not present on the web. That is part of our "brand."
• Marketing myself would never occur to me while I'm working for a company, but today that is probably a smart thing to do.
• What can an accountant, for example, do to become "known" for his brand? He/she could create a blog about new principles/regulations, which would create a brand. It's also about networking, speaking, and writing. He/she could become established on LinkedIn or other online networking tools to demonstrate, "This is whom I am, this is how I think."
• The brand you present can be commensurate with your experience. Even if it's not a lot of experience, you can show, "This is what I believe, this is what I read, this is who I know, this is what I am curious about, etcetera."
• Personal branding also involves being smart about building business relationships. You still have to connect person-to-person. Social media doesn't deliver business like personal relationships do.
• I would encourage marketers to think about personal branding strategically. Even if you are secure in your job today, think about creating a long-term online presence.

Webster POV
• In short, I'd say personal branding is a load of manure.
• Where does "brand" come from? It's where a product or company tries to give itself a personality. I already have a personality, which is a result of what I have done.
• To me personal brand was invented and discarded by Tom Peters 50 years ago in his book on 50 ways to build brand "you."
• Personal brand is not about spreading your fame. What is most important is that a group of my colleagues and clients believe that I will do what I say I will do.
• Your personal brand needs to take second place to the corporate brand. When Mark talks about developing "personal brand," he is talking about displaying your skill.. which makes him unique from, say, an accountant.
• To me personal branding is telling a story about yourself, not simply having an online presence. Networking, for example, is as old as the hills.
• I get that it's good to have things you own that demonstrate who you are: content and so on. The dark side of personal branding is that inexperienced people who do this, often demonstrate that they aren't very good. In other words, mere links, if they're weak, don't drive business.
• In the early phase of social web, you could be at the top if you were good at content marketing. However as the web matures, you also must be good at what you do, not just good at content marketing or how you present yourself.

Thank you, gentlemen, for a fascinating conversation that, we're sure, is to be continued ...

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Monday, September 22, 2014

Starved for Content? Feed This.

Creating content from other content isn't about repeating or copying. It's about repurposing. Start with a rich source, then add to, expand upon, enhance, comment about, or -- in this case -- condense from that source. Voila! New and different content. 

Recently, I downloaded Curata's eBook, "How To Feed the Content Beast." And now I have my own blog post, short 'n sweet.

In other words, learn and share at the same time.

1. Turn an ebook into a series of blog posts, or a series of blog posts into an ebook.

2. Create a transcript so content “snackers” can scan the information from a webinar.

3. Host a real-time tweet chat and republish it as a crowd-sourced blog post.

4. Pull sound bytes out of a long-form report and use them as tweets and Facebook updates.

5. Give quotes new life as graphics for use on visual platforms like Facebook and Pinterest.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

You Might Think Everybody Does This. Uh… no. But Everybody Should.

Writers tend to do a lot of online research. As the editor of a marketing newsletter and a relentless blogger, I visit hundreds of websites, download dozens of whitepapers, pile up racks of statistics, and read a lot of blogs.

Sometimes a website will ask me to leave an email address and I will (though often reluctantly) IF I want the product badly enough. That’s what happened when I visited Vidyard.com to download their whitepaper “Video: the New ROI Star of Marketing.” What I never expected was the simple, non-pushy “nice-to- meet you” email that arrived 24 hours later:

Hi Nancy,

Thank you for stopping by the Vidyard website. I wanted to reach out to you to see if you were looking to learn more about video marketing or if you have any questions about Vidyard.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to me with any questions or if you think Vidyard might be a fit for your specific use case.

All the best,

From all the websites in all the urls in all the world, this is the first-time I’ve ever received an email like this. Phone calls from salespeople, yes. Thank you for downloading XYZ, yes. Glad you downloaded, now how about buying this, definitely.

But a simple, short, no-pitch email offering help if needed? Not once.

This classy follow-up tells me these folks are very good at what they do.

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

Monday, August 11, 2014

A Spin Around the Web Shows How Nonprofits Are Using Tumblr

Photo by Debbie Courson Smith
Boise State University
Jason Keath on SocialFresh cited 60 brands using social media come-lately Tumblr, including IBM, Huggies, The Atlantic, and NPR. So, yes, Tumblr has commercial advocates. But what about do-gooders?

Nonprofits are also rolling with Tumblr: Doctors Without Borders,  Mercy Corps, Robin Hood NYC, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and The Trevor Project have all taken a ride on Tumblr. A quick visit to NP Tech for Good shows more nonprofits who are Tumbling.

But why?
ArtezInteractive (artez.com) cites five reasons your charity or nonprofit should be on Tumblr, including: simplicity, Tumblr’s mobile app that facilitates mobile optimization, content aggregation ad sharing, ease of getting started, and Tumblr’s penchant for reaching the young 25-34 audience.

If you follow the blog, “When You Work at A Nonprofit,” you’ve seen Tumblr at work and the picture is clear.

And how?
For terrific tips on getting started on Tumblr, check out Mashable’s “Beginner’s Guide to Tumblr.”

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Friday, August 8, 2014

Don't You DARE Touch Me!

The Real You Is Sexy. No Retouching on These Girls.
On MSNBC's "The Cycle: yesterday, the show’s young hipster crowd was talking about the anti-photo-retouching movement that’s calling for magazines and advertisers to stop photoshopping models. In particular, the cyclists were talking about a National Journal  article titled “the Great Photoshop Crusade.”

In the article, ex-advertising executive Seth Matlins speaks out against the trend of many years to change the female body in print. “In my estimation, [Photoshopping to enhance breasts, slim stomachs, define cheekbones, erase skin perfections] is as big a public health crisis as anything we have faced as a country," he says. "And there are people who think I'm being hyperbolic, but I think the data makes it absolutely clear. ... This is an issue that has affected, and I'd argue, infected, generations of Americans—and promises to continue to affect generations more, unless we do something."
According to the National Journal article, in 2013 former ad executive Matlins, decided to advocate for a bill in Congress. He teamed up with various groups, including the Eating Disorders Coalition, to get a bill introduced by Democratic Rep. Lois Capps of California and Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida. He has been commuting between L.A. and D.C. to build support for the bill. In April, Matlins and others went to Capitol Hill to hold a briefing on the bill, and in June they returned to present Capps and Ros-Lehtinen with a Change.org petition signed by 28,000 peoplebacking the legislation. Since then, the petition has reached 35,000 signatures. The bill has also picked up Democrat Ted Deutch of Florida as a cosponsor.

It looks like the no-touch photo movement is spreading. This morning, I received an email from Aerie, retailer of bras, undies, clothing. At the bottom of the pitch, #aerie zeroes in on a young gal in a pair of undies and then makes this announcement: “The Real You Is Sexy. No Retouching on These Girls.”

Whatever the outcome of Matlin’s legislative efforts, this movement will have impact.

It would seem wise for marketers to touch base now with this no-retouch point of view.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

For Content Marketing, Headlines Power Tiny eNewsletters

Headlines rule Facebook's PAPER app.
Digg does it. Huffington Post does it. Even NAPL VP Bill Farquharson is going short. And you know what? I read at least one piece from each of these content providers during my morning "keep up" ritual. Why? I can't resist clever headlines.

Consider this NPR headline featured by DIGG. "So You Think You're Smarter Than A CIA Agent." The story focused on "the wisdom of crowds" — ordinary people who, as a group, forecast better than the CIA or the experts. Killer interesting.

Huffington Post
HuffPo's "Morning Email" opens with two or three catchy headlines and brief copy blocks (mostly sans graphic), followed by more terse headlines within come-hither sections. The Scuttlebutt, Top Stories, Culture Catch-up, Sports Scouting Report, Other People's Business, International Intrigue—these sections are broken into paragraphs and one-sentence copy blocks with links. For me, short works. I'm scanning; I'm reading maybe only two pieces … but I'm reading.

Farquharson Has A Short Attention Span newsletter
Bill Farquharson started his "Short Attention Span Webinar" series in February 2009. These little gems run about 5 minutes on Bill's YouTube channel and  typically get 700 to 800 views. The first time I saw Bill refer to "short-attention -span," I knew he was on to something .. and he is. It's now 2014. Bill is still cranking out the webinars and promoting them in a short-attention-span eNewsletter that also features minimal copy, several headlines, and some links.

There's more. Even Facebook's app Paper is geared toward promoting tiny content with a “newspaper” feel. Text and link posts are designed to resemble paper, while clicking unfolds the link like a newspaper.

Perfectly petite!

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Panda Pounds PR Regurgitation, Pleas for Fresh Content

Alan Caulfield, CC By

Barry Schwartz, Search Engine Land's News Editor has covered search news for over five years. Upon the release on May 20 of Panda 4.0, Google’s latest search engine algorithm, Schwartz noted that public relations web services got hammered. “PRWeb.com, PR Newswire, BusinessWire, and PRLog all seem to have lost significant rankings in Google. PRNewsWire.com seems to have shown a significant drop in SEO visibility, dropping 63% after Panda was released.”

Say What … Say Why.
Jacco Blankenspoor, a website developer from the Netherlands, concludes, “If there’s anything to learn from this Panda update, it’s that Google prefers longer, broader posts over the shorter, more targeted ones. Also, although there are some exceptions, they really don’t like pages consisting of tons of links. More importantly, they are actively enforcing these policies.”

SEER’s Sean Malseed commented on lower traffic at hoovers.com, businesswire.com, prweb.com, prlog.org, and sbwire.com, noting that “Google has been saying for more than a year that links in press releases shouldn’t carry any value.”
So what Does Panda Like?
Tender Nuggets. If you got hit by Panda or want to please Google in the future, Blankenspoor suggests you focus on quality. “Use a healthy combination of content and links, and make sure people stick for a few minutes so Google know your page is worth sending visitors to.”
Fresh Fodder. Writing on the Moz Blog, Cyrus Shepard noted five things to reach for going forward:

• a high ratio of original content
• pages devoid of empty content that merely links to the meat elsewhere
• sites that reject content “farming”
• sites with a low ad ratio
• pages free of affiliate links and auto generated content.
In short, Panda likes to chew on fresh content, new grown insights, and blooming branches of original thought. Ya gotta love it.
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