Will your content be featured on a FlipBoard

opportunity

The roles of internet users are becoming more clearly defined these days – a sure sign that the market is maturing.   Internet users today fall into one of three categories:

  • content creators,
  • content curators 
  • content consumers. 

In the early days of the internet – before the year 2000 – virtually everyone online moved seamlessly between all three roles.  However, in the past few years, those roles have been becoming more delineated – which is a good thing if you understand your place in the internet ecosystem.

The Internet Ecosystem is Evolving – what’s your place in it?

I recently shared that Google reader is scheduled for termination but how it doesn’t mean RSS is dead – it just means the web is evolving.  Flipboard is one of the ways the web is evolving.

In a nutshell, Flipboard allows iPhone and iPad users to curate their own digital magazine.  What’s your passion?  Whatever it is, the new Flipboard app allows you to pull together your own collections of digital content – photos, videos, articles and audio files – to create your own “magazine”.  Once you’ve created your own digital Flipboard magazine, then others can “follow” your flipboard.

If the process sounds like an “expanded” version of Pinterest or Tumblr – it is.   According to Fast Company

It’s a new twist on the tried and true blogging formula. Magazines on Flipboard are simply blogs in a neatly packaged form–a broadcast platform that takes advantage of Flipboard’s smart UI and curation tools.

So where does this turn of events leave you – Mr. or Ms. Business Owner?

Does this mean you should shutter your business blog and launch your own Flipboard?

Again, this is a place where you need to KNOW where your place is in the internet ecosystem.

If your original blogging goal was to curate other people’s content into your own digital magazine – then you may want to look at shuttering your blog.

However, for my clients – their blog is not a carefully curated collection of other people’s content.  My clients are blogging to establish themselves as experts in their field.  If that’s why you’re blogging – then Flipboard is yet another distribution channel for your content.  The videos, audio files, photos and articles you’re posting may find new life when they get picked up by a talented Flipboard digital magazine curator.

Which is why its more important than ever to target your content to a tightly defined target audience.  If your product or service can appeal to dozens of tightly targeted niche audiences – its more important than ever to create content targeted specifically to EACH of those audiences.   The more tightly you target your content creation – the better your chance at having your content “discovered” by a Flipboard curator and featured in their magazine.

The more things change – the more they stay the same.

 

RSS feeds will continue to be valuable despite the death of Google Reader

The proverbial “shit” has hit the fan this week about the death of Google reader but it’s not the only service scheduled to meet with the hangman’s noose – iGoogle is also scheduled to die this year as well.

There are two reasons I’m commenting on this subject here – first and foremost – I have a blog post which gives instructions on how to use iGoogle to subscribe to an RSS feed as part of your master plan to master the internet while reaching out to potential customer via your business blog.  With the publication of this post, I can now create a link to direct future visitors who find themselves on that page – perplexed and bewildered – to this page to get their questions answered.

The second reason for writing this post is to let you know that RSS is not dead – the technology lives on – its just being used by different applications.

There’s a great article on the death of Google Reader over at Fast Company.  Within that article you’ll find this valuable paragraph:

Increasingly popular social news reader apps such as Pulse and Flipboard, and Taptu […] are built on RSS, though their users might not even realize they’re using that technology. In fact, they often have an option to import Google Reader feeds.

If you’re a Google Reader user – check out the apps above to continue to access your feed subscriptions.

For those who signed up for blogging based upon the multitude of “internet marketing gurus” who told you that RSS feeds were the best thing since sliced bread – never fear.  Your blog’s RSS feed is still a VALUABLE connection and communication tool for your business – even if it’s not being accessed via an RSS feed reader.

To clarify that last statement; as technology evolves – there are better and more elegant ways to access the data your business blog’s RSS feed contains.

In conclusion – if you started blogging because someone told you that the reason blogs were great for your business was because they “came equipped with RSS” – don’t stop blogging because RSS is dead or because Google is killing their RSS feed reader.

To be honest, the ability for your visitors to subscribe to your blog’s RSS feeds was always – in my opinion – at best a tertiary reason to be blogging for your business unless your target audience is the tech crowd.  RSS subscribers have always been confined to the uber-nerdy and ultra techy circles (a.k.a. the web’s content creators).  These were the primary users of Google reader – which is the reason behind the VERY vocal outcry over its demise.

If you’re upset over the death of Google Reader – in the words of a popular Meme – thanks to KnowYourMeme

yoda-calmyourtits

Meanwhile, the rest of humanity is collectively scratching their head wondering what all the fuss is about.

Who’s afraid of the FTC’s new guidelines?

social media's magic ingredientAnswer – ” Not you if you’re operating under an authentic business model.”

Social media is all about information flowing freely and easily.    When a company engages in questionable business activities – social media is there, allowing customers to share what it’s like to do business with someone.  However, there have always been business owners who don’t want to play by the rules.  Instead of gathering authentic testimonials – they resort to crafting lies to promote their product or service.   They create “faux blogs” to promote their products – complete with fake testimonials.  They hire celebrities whom you trust, banking on that trust being transitive.   Well, the US government (via the FTC ) has been receiving complaints and is about to join the game.  They are in the process of crafting some new “rules” for the game of doing business – both off line and online!

The FTC stands for the Federal Trade Commission- a US government agency which is charged with the protection of American Consumers. The FTC was founded in 1914 – in the era of “trust building and trust busting.”  Since then, the agency’s powers have been enhanced to include all “unfair and deceptive business acts or practice.”  The most recent (1980)  guidelines are receiving a “face lift” for the new millennium – and may be a cause for concern for those who have been operating outside the bounds of “authentic” marketing and business building.

It’s not just brick and mortar businesses that have to worry about the new guidelines. Bloggers and internet marketers are definitely affected by the latest FTC guidelines that ban deceptive or unfair business practices.  If you’ve embraced my 3 step  authentic business success secrets formula – then you’ll probably welcome the relief offered by these new guidelines -written with social media marketing in mind.

New guidelines are being drafted which in their current state would allow the FTC to go after bloggers for any false claims or failure to disclose conflicts of interest.   The current draft of the guidelines also allows the FTC to go after the companies who partner with bloggers as well.

By the way, this same language also applies to celebrities who endorse products.  It looks like those D list celebrities who endorse such products as Cash 4 Gold had better take a good hard look at the reputation of the company who wants to hire them.

So, if you’ve written a glowing testimonial for a product you’ve never used – you might find yourself in as much hot water as the person for whom you wrote the testimonial.

If you’ve written a glowing review of a product you received  for free and you failed to disclose that you received the product for free –  again, you might find yourself in the same hot water.

Mary Engle of the FTC tells why in this video:

It  appears that the FTC is joining in the effort to keep the communication going on via social media “clean” and free from manipulation.

If you’re running an authentic business model – you have little to fear with the new guidelines.

If the testimonials you feature on your blog or web site are real – both the ones from your customers and the ones you have written for other bloggers and internet marketers – then your compliance with the guidelines will be easy peasy lemon squeazy.

For most ethical business people and bloggers, you may need to disclose the fact that the links in your blog post are affiliate links – but other than that – the new rules shouldn’t cause most authentic and ethical business owners and bloggers much concern.

If however, you’ve been less than authentic in your marketing communications – then you may have a serious problem on your hands when the guidelines are finalized – expected some time in 2010.

Using Twitter to sell more stuff

social-media-marketingIf you’re like most business owners, you’re interested in selling more stuff.  Lately, you may have heard that Twitter is a great way to sell more stuff. However, if you’re not aware of the “why” behind marketing in general – it can be easy to begin viewing Twitter – and other social media tools –  as a form of marketing magic.

Without knowing the “why”  you might be tempted to to view Twitter as “social media marketing magic” instead of viewing Twitter as a great way to deliver a short timely messages quickly and effectively to a group of people who’ve asked for this information.

An example of the “magical” fantasy style of thinking is a local business owner who wants to use Twitter to sell more of the stuff he sells – cars.

His logic is flawless.   Dell computers uses Twitter very effectively to sell more stuff. This local business owners reads about Dell’s success and wants to harness the same “social media magic” so he can sell more “stuff” too.  What could be easier?

Unfortunately, there’s a disconnect. Dell sells refurbished computers via a dedicated Twitter feed.   Dell employees don’t “tweet” what they had for breakfast – they tweet the latest deals. Dell’s target audience is online – and they’re already using Twitter.  So all Dell had to do was set up a Twitter account – and spread the word that if you wanted access to great bargains – follow them at Twitter and VIOLA –  Dell is selling more computers using Twitter.

So the question at hand isn’t, “Can we make Twitter work to help us sell more stuff?”  It can obviously do so.   The real question is “HOW can we make Twitter work to sell more stuff?”

Which is the essential question we’re asking of ALL forms of media – whether it’s social media marketing or traditional media tools.

Of COURSE we CAN make Twitter “work” to sell more of just about anything – from cd’s to cars.  However, it’s more than just a question of “how do I use Twitter?”  Instead, it needs to be a question of “How do I COMMUNICATE with prospective customers/ clients?”

Let’s take the case of the car dealer who wants to use social media tools – Twitter in this case – to sell more cars.

The first step in crafting a social media marketing strategy with Twitter would begin by building a foundation of LOCAL Twitter followers – local residents who are actively car shopping and who want to be notified of special deals.  With this in mind, you’d be surprised how often people FORGET that the WWW stands for WORLD wide web.   Ten thousand Twitter followers in the UK won’t do a car dealership in Southern Florida much good.  So the first “key” is to be sure to build a Twitter following of the “right” people.

The “right” Twitter followers

Just as in direct mail – the “magic is in the list” – in Twitter – the magic in using Twitter for marketing is in attracting the “right” followers.  Once again – it’s better to have 100 Twitter followers who respond than 10K who are not responsive.

Who are the “right” followers?  Well, to use “traditional “marketing terms –  they’re also known as your “target” audience.  For the car dealer – they’re local people who are – or who anticipate – being in the market for a new or used car.

Once you’ve  defined your target audience – and created a Twitter profile which explains what followers can expect.  (This is where a custom Twitter background come in handy.)

The uses of Twitter for a car dealership are truly exciting.  A dealership could tweet about

  • price reductions  and sales
  • rebates
  • recent trade ins
  • used cars scheduled to go to auction

The list of possibilities goes on and on – however you may notice that the “topics” here aren’t much different than the “topics” covered in traditional  or “old school” media advertising.

When it comes to using Twitter to sell more stuff – the  real “root” question is:

How are we already CONNECTING and COMMUNICATING with our prospective customers/clients?

The same message that “works” via other media will probably also “work” well with Twitter. As a matter of fact, once you’ve established that you’ve built a foundation of the “right” Twitter followers – you can begin using Twitter to “test” your marketing messages BEFORE you use them in “traditional” marketing or advertising campaigns.

THIS is why real marketing professionals get jazzed about Twitter.  Instead of going to the time and expense of creating a split test mailing to test two possible headlines – Twitter allows a quick easy and EFFECTIVE way of testing those headlines instantly.

Twitter gets frustrating as a marketing tool when you don’t have a clear target audience and a clear marketing message to deliver to that target audience.   Then again – that is when ALL marketing and advertising gets frustrating for businesses of ALL sizes. 🙂

Social Media Buzz can’t….

Is it just me, or is it an EERIE coincidence that while the “social media buzz” was still building from New York Fox News anchor Ernie Anastos’ dropping of the f-bomb – SNL newcomer Jenny Slate just “happens” to drop the f-bomb on live TV?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQcBPNyv9Do[/youtube]

While Ernie’s “drop” is resulting in catch phrases being born and literally MILLIONS of YouTube views- Jenny’s slip isn’t getting NEAR that level of attention.  This “phenomenon” seems to have gotten a brief “buzz hit” on Twitter and Facebook – only to quickly die.  Blogs aren’t reporting on this – and it’s barely making traditional media’s radar.  In addition, views on the video are in the low six digits – and the “preferred” clip appears to be the abbreviated one with the poorest sound quality.  That’s because it’s easier to sift through the poor audio is infinitely better than trying sit through the ENTIRE skit.  It’s really, really bad.  It’s positively painful.

Notice the difference – Ernie’s f-bomb has added a new phrase to the Urban Dictionary.  Jenny’s f-bomb is already heading toward oblivion.  She’ll go down in history as the THIRD SNL cast member to drop it – and may set a record for the collective yawn it inspired.

Was this a scripted and desperate bid by SNL to attract viewers? It looks like it.

Unfortunately – this illustrates that it’s impossible to create “viral” without making some kind of connection.  The “biker chick” skit was flat and heartless – PERIOD.

It looks like the SNL writers looked around for what was “hot” – read that the FX show “Sons of Anarchy” is hot and tried to parody something they didn’t understand.

While the SNL skit bombed – the FX series continues to thrive – because the creators of SoA  give the viewer a glimpse behind the scenes.  They “get” that these bikers are human – and have created a show which connects with viewers.  The characters are “real” – they’re not flat and heartless.  Like the HBO hit – the Sopranos – awful monsters are shown to have a human side as well.  The show allows us to watch them live and love just like people we know.  However, we then see them kill and maime without missing a beat.  Viewers are fascinated by the dichotomy and more tune in each week for a chance to make a connection with these characters.

Maybe if the SNL writers had bothered to watch the first season of that hit show before they tried to parody biker chicks – this skit might have had legs.  The dropping of the f-bomb during a well scripted, well performed skit might have created buzz which could have elevated SNL back to the status of “must see TV”.

The moral to the story?  No amount of “buzz” will sell an inferior product.

SNL skits are painful to watch more often than they’re amusing – and that’s why people aren’t watching.  Flat and lifeless are the norm on SNL and you can’t create buzz when people don’t connect and don’t care.

Before you try to create “buzz” – make sure you’ve made a connection.  Your customers will let you know when you’ve connected.  Only then is it time to try to create social media buzz….