Saturday, December 19, 2009

What’s the story with blogging

We often feel the need to explain to our clients the difference between having a news module on their site and a Blog which can be integrated within their site or located on a separate domain.

As real time content has now made its way into the Google search results, this conversation is happening more often. Read this article from the 7th of December 09 from
The Official Google Blog, Relevance meets the real-time web.

Thus we thought to share you before the New Year, what we consider to be the top ten benefits of blogging. We will also share our thoughts on how to blog, what to write and how to measure ROI.

Sound good ? then read on...

Starter for ten on the benefits of blogging

1. Enables you to build your following into a community, your community.

2. Allows you to talk is a conversational manner – “One to One” rather than “One to Many” .

3. Increases your coverage in the search result pages.

4. Gives you an opportunity to be a thought leader / influencer.

5. You can submit your blog to separate blogging directories increasing reach further.

6. People may ask you to blog on their blog and vice versa – doesn’t generally happen with News content (One to many and no sharing or conversing opportunities).

7. Provides new opportunities to communicate with your target markets.

8. Allows your team to be involved with your online presence, inviting team members to join in with stories / blogs.

9. You can blog from your phone.

10. Encourage visitors to your site, increase sales, increase engagement etc etc.

The Barrier to blogging

The biggest barrier to most is “what do I write about” and “how do I blog”. So we thought to share with you some further tips, giving an example of a landscape gardener setting up a blog.

What would a landscape gardener write about on their blog?

About them – who they are (who is writing the blog), what they like (Classic Films, The Arts), what they blog about (Landscape Gardening, Design, Colour partners).

In general they would write Blog posts on information that will be useful to others examples below:

Show people with images what they have created (Landscaped gardens).

  • Explain why they placed lavender in with sage during their latest project.

  • Provide advice and invite questions to equip people to succeed with their own landscape garden plans.

  • Promote local landscape gardening groups.

  • Share their personal thoughts of recent visit to XY garden in the UK or design exhibition.

  • Review events they attended, which they had attended.

  • Discuss a new TV show you saw (Garden or Design related to keep focus), your opinions.

  • Engage readers with an event happening at their company, or perhaps encourage conversation over at another blog.

To sum up the key conversation areas are:

Show, Explain, Advise, Promote others, Share, Review, Discuss, Engage.

How to write the blog?

This part is simple as you as you simply: “Write it as you say it” ie: in a conversational tone. No one is really going to come to your blog and critique your grammar, however if this is important to you then ask a copywriter to check each post (we partner with a copywriting service for larger contracts).

Many people forget with the web you are actually talking to ONE person not MANY people, write the blog as if you were conversing. This is more engaging for the reader and also saves time too as you don’t need to be formal. Where possible let the text flow. Also consider non professional gardeners visiting your blog if mentioning Latin terms, mention English too. Don’t expect everyone to know what MULCHING is? (See the Wiki Pedia Guide to Mulch here)

How will this impact my business?

This is the big question.

To help measure ROI it is important that before writing any post consider the post’s objective, ie: do you want to encourage sales (of new type of plant? or service?) or is it to engage with your audience (your thoughts for school garden landscape competition) or do you want to write something that will be shared with many/retweeted/bookmarked to improve the ranking of your blog and site.

  • Reaching a sale on your site – write the post towards a call to action
  • Engaging audience – ask the readers questions
  • Bookmarking & Retweets – Write something compelling, funny, new that people will want to share.

Blog posts can simply be fun too eg: It was my birthday today, look at how many pieces of my cake are left, there are only 4 people working here! Let people know you are human.
You can throw in the odd bit of fun as long as you say to yourself, what is the goal of this? could you perhaps promote the local bakery in which the cake came from? With the goal of showing you care about / are involved in local community, maybe! What does this do? Well it builds trust with your consumer base as it shows you are open, honest and most importantly approachable.

Seeding out your content

Tip 1: Share blog post within your networks via RSS feeds, (find out more about
RSS here)

  • Send to Twitter
  • Send to Your Site
  • Send to other local business, perhaps place you information on their site and their news goes on yours.

Tip 2: Give consideration to the title of the blog post

When the RSS feed is fed out to the networks, the title needs to be engaging enough to make people want to click through. So please refrain from naming your blog titles: blog post 1, blog post 2, or January blog post etc.

Tip 3: Meet with us for help

We often help clients kick start their blogs (
social media campaigns) by meeting with them, talking about their company aspirations, goals, events of the year etc, then we go away and write up some blog posts for them. We encourage that blog posts come direct from the company or even better the individual running the company, however 7/10 times the company we are talking to, will not have the resource in house or the time. It is I am afraid a similar situation at Rocktime.

It is only when the community starts to build and the Managing Director/s see the results, then the available time to take the blog over or add more content come into play.

If you have a blog, have lost focus or simply need guidance on how to build your community further then please come in and
speak to the Flashlight Team to discuss your social media strategy.

Oh and the objective of this post, was to provide you with useful information and to encourage you to
CONTACT US to discuss your social media plans for 2010. See you next year ;)

Author: Sarah Griffiths

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Geek Video of the month

Together with the New York Times and the Washington Post, Google is introducing an experimental way of presenting news online.

Using certain advantages of online publishing Living Stories (presented in above video) organizes information according to how stories are developing.

We've found it particularly interesting watching the stories coming in on Copenhagen Climate Summit (COP15), a great advantage is that that you can filter content by opinions, events, graphics, quotes. Which is a fantastic way (IMO) of receiving news.

Have a look, see what you think here:

If you are interested in real time news then Living Stories is one to keep an eye on.

Author: Sarah Griffiths

Friday, December 04, 2009

Xmas Themes

If you fancy getting into the festive season and use Firefox (Firefox: 2.0 – 2.0.0) as your browser. Why not get yourself in the holiday mood by adding an animated snowfall on your tool bar and add animated toolbar icons like fir trees and smoking chimney pots, fairy lights as scroll bars and many more.

Download and find out more about the Xmas Firefox theme here
Download and find out more about the Xmas Light Firefox theme here.

Alternatively decorate your colleagues !!

If you would like a bit of Christmas Sparkle on your website, contact our Rocktime sales team.