Recently I have been wondering how often I should blog. When I blogged everyday it clearly sustained traffic in a way I hadn’t experienced before. And as much as I loved the challenge of blogging everyday, I decided it was more realistic to blog weekly, after all it is just me blogging and I have a business and a household to run. What was the impact of blogging only once a week? For me it was a drop in traffic to my blog and my site.
Did you know that corporate sites with blogs actually attract 55% more visitors than sites without blogs?
This month I am participating in Blogging Success Summit 2011 , and my biggest take away after day one is that I need to blog more. More doesn’t mean longer blog posts, in fact Joe Pulizzi, who spoke at yesterday’s Blogging Success Summit, suggests less is more. Debbie Weil, yesterday’s second speaker, echo’s Pulizzi’s recommendation and reminds us that bog posts can be video clips or images - she even suggests going to your blog to make an update or share a comment rather than always going to Twitter.
Blogging more also doesn’t mean blogging about everything. Pulizzi’s example of a bread stick recipe on a corporate web site (that had nothing to do with food or baking), will forever stick with me. Your blog should have a clear and well defined goal. And if you are small like me, your blog should be very niche.
Blogging more” is just the first step. If you ascribe to Pulizzi’s perspective that the blog is the core of a potentially much larger content marketing strategy or Weil’s notion that the blog should be the hub for your social media activities, either way your blog is key.
Day one was full of lots of tips and a few tricks and I am sure there is lots more to come. I have a long list of to-do items to blog smarter and more strategically. Starting today, I will blog more.
How often do you blog? Have you done any testing around frequency or time of day for posts? I would love to hear what works for you.
Our neighbors just got back from a honeymoon in Portugal and Spain. Want to know which restaurants they went to? Restaurants with web sites!
Before a restaurateur takes on the added work and responsibility of a web site, there are a few things they need to consider. You noted that I said "added work and responsibility", right?
I find that many people who don’t often deal with web sites tend to focus on visuals and creative above all else. And although this is an important factor, a web sites success is dependent more on how it is optimized for search, how much traffic it generates, how often the content is updated and how well it engages its customers.
If you are a restaurant and you are creating a web site I am going to guess it is so you can increase business. And to do that people will need to find you. And I don’t just mean that your address should be easily found on your home page (and it should be!), but people need to find you in search engines too.
A lot of agencies will likely jump at the idea of building a web site for you, but do they really understand what it takes to create a successful restaurant site? Can they set up the correct SEO infrastructure that will enable your site to be optimized for local search? If someone types in "restaurants on Ossington" (insert your neighborhood here), will they find you?
Beyond search, how will you drive traffic to your site? Do you collect email addresses so you can do some email marketing to get traffic to your site? Are you prepared to do on-going email marketing campaigns?
Once you get the traffic, what will they see and will it be something worth returning for? Sure people want to come to your site for your address and phone number or link to make reservations, but they also want to see the Menu. Will your menu be kept up-to -date? If your menu doesn’t change often, will you post specials? How about promotions? Is your chef willing to post recipes (lots of people search for recipes) I can tell you there is nothing worse than coming to a site only to find an outdated promotions, menus and content. Are you prepared to keep your site up-to-date?
Social media is a powerful tool for restaurants. Are you using Yelp and OpenTable? How about foursquare? Don’t forget about Facebook and Twitter. Before you think you don’t need these, you do, and chances are people are already using these tools to talk about you, you better be part of the conversation! Social media is one of the most powerful ways to engaged with your customers, bring them to your site and ultimately get them into your restaurant! Are you ready to allocate time daily to engage with your customers?
I don’t want to turn restaurateurs off of the idea of creating a web site, but I want to make sure they know what they are taking on.
Before you spend any money think through how you will support the site. Can you create the content and maintain the site and social media on your own after a bit of training or will you need to outsource all of this? You need to factor these cost as well as the cost for things like photography into the overall budget so you get the full picture of exactly what you are biting off!
I attended an American Marketing Association event on social media last week and I was very pleased when the speakers all talked about how great social media was for connecting with audiences. Erin Bury, Community Manager, Sprouter, who did a great job, pointed out how easily an audience can become a community simply based on how you engage them. The days of static sites and talking into the dark are over. I love social media for its power to connect.
One of the biggest message of the day, that I completely agree with, is that companies need to go where their audience are - and if that is Facebook, Twitter or YouTube, they need to be there too.
Maggie Fox used the analogy of social media being like a puppy to remind all of us how much time and commitment social media requires.
Everyone agreed that social media needs to be authentic and it needs to be personal and I couldn’t agree more.
As the morning progressed, we broke into groups to come up with the social media campaigns that touched us/impacted us the most.
And then something happened, the audience who seemed to love the puppy suddenly changed. The conversation quickly turned to the orchestrated campaigns led by brands and their agency partners. Often with prizes or some other gimmick that spikes the follower count.
Despite the message from the panel about making sure your social media has a real person behind it - all the examples we talked about where large corporate campaigns - with little mention of a connection to a person or even personal motivation to change a behavior based on the campaign.
Did we do that because we are marketers? Is it because we are so caught up on what we can “sell” to the RIO obsessed board rooms?
Social media is powerful because it is people - real people, connecting, sharing, collaborating, laughing and challenging each other and the companies they interact with. It can not be measured in traditional terms, and although this makes it hard for us to sell it to many companies, we shouldn’t let this undermine our commitment to doing this right and keeping social media authentic.
This is my bid to you non believers to use Twitter.
I have had so many people ask about this tool - or simply shrug it off as something that isn’t worth their time - this is my bid to get those people to start using Twitter. I have been promising to write this for weeks. Let’s start with finding people to follow and then we will move into “what do I say”.
In some ways the hype that Twitter has received - Ashton Kutcher and his bid to get one million followers - undermines the power of this tool and makes it seem too much like a passing fad. The truth is more and more organizations are opening their eyes to the power of Twitter - which is really about connecting. It goes far beyond “Having a coffee with friends”. Twitter is an incredible forum for sharing news, views, gripes and shout-outs. It is a powerful tool for customer service and an amazing medium for connecting and engaging.
Most of the time, Twitter is only as interesting as the people you are following and it takes a bit of time to find the right mix.
This is what you need to do - get an account. If you have a business and think you will use Twitter for that, secure your company name. You can also simply use your name or the closest available name. Set up your account info with your real name (so people who look for you can find you) and create a bio - don’t worry you can change this later. This bio is 160 words and is another way that like minded people will be able to find you. Eventually you will need a picture and a background - but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
To find people to follow, go to “find people” (duh). On this page you can actually look for people you want to follow. An author you like, an industry expert, a designer you admire, major brands, you competition, companies you want to emulate....and yes even people you know (you can add me @jpilar). You can also go to the “Browse Suggestions” tab. Then I suggest you go to Twitter Search (just google it) and input topics you are interested in - the results will be a combination of people talking about the topic or people who have those words in their bio. If someone is talking about a topic you are interested in - check them out see what else they have tweeted about - if it looks like a good fit, follow them. Checking out other people's followers is another way to find people to add to you list.
Some of the most active users are hard to follow at first - they have so many direct messages in their tweets or hash tags...but these are the people you can often learn the most from. The have lots of direct messages (which look like this @jpilar) because they are having conversations. Like any conversation you are only hearing half of, that can be awkward - but if you are patient, you will learn how it works.
I have a few favorites.
EliteTravelGal - she is one of the most active users I follow - she also happens to be someone I grew up with. She uses Twitter for her business and that means at times she will use it to promote a trip. She gets invited to lots of places and does a great job of Tweeting out about those places - and she shares things about her life. If you are into Travel or not she is a great person to follow and learn from.
Vacaseca is also great to follow - even if you aren't into wine - he talks about food and he is consistent - Tweeting daily and staying focused on core messages.
ScaryMommy, just one of the few mommy bloggers I am following, she always makes me laugh.
Mashable is great for social media news, but I will be honest it doesn’t feel like I am following a person. This guy (or mashable.com) tends to get tweeted often if you follow multiple people who follow him, some tweets do become redundant.
You get the idea....and if you want to you can go on Twitter and see my whole list.
Go to it - get an account, build a list and start learning. But remember it is like a cocktail party - you can’t just stand around saying nothing - you are going to have to start tweeting.