Will your content be featured on a FlipBoard


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.


Passion + Strategy = Success

small business blogs

You might have passion to spare when you start your practice – but passion alone won’t get you to your ultimate goal of success.  

To achieve success, you have to have a strategic plan in place.  

A while back, I was contacted by a client who had fired me a few years earlier. We had worked together for about 10 months but we never really accomplished anything.  We spent most of our time debating the importance of achieving a #1 organic SERP on her desired keyword.  She thought it was a top priority – while I wanted to focus on creating a lead generation process.

 The client is always right – so I focused my efforts on her desired objective.  We parted on good terms when she claimed she couldn’t “afford” to work with me anymore – and I left the door open for her to return when the circumstances changed.

Over the next few years, my efforts on her behalf were rewarded.  Her site rose to a #1 organic position on her desired keyword but despite that “success” – her practice wasn’t succeeding.

Her next contact with me was after she had emptied her savings and been forced to go to work 40 hours a week.  She sent me a link to a competitor’s website – one who is offering EXACTLY the same service she offers on her website with the comment , “This is the kind of practice I want to have!”

In my reply, I pointed out that this competitor was simply copying her website – sans the graphics but right down to her tightly targeted, carefully crafted keyword phrase.

When we were first working together, she had carved out a unique niche in her field.  Today she has a myriad of competitors – all chasing this tightly targeted audience which we had identified as under-served  years ago.

The key takeaway is this: my client had passion to spare when she started her practice. However, passion couldn’t take her all the way to achieving success.

During our first go-around – she didn’t see the value of putting together a cohesive marketing strategy – which in my world includes a lead generation process.  Instead  the “shiny” marketing tactics which promised a “softer,cheaper, easier way” to build her practice had let her down.

For some reason, many of my clients resist digging in and developing a strong lead generation process.   This former client in particular didn’t view developing such a process as necessary – until she had to get a “real” job to support herself.

Creating a solid lead generation process is hard work – but it’s hard work that pays HUGE dividends in the long run!

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


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

Branding elements are a commodity – the art of branding is not

business blogs and brandingBranding is something that consumers DO to your business however, by using the right “branding elements” – you can provide much needed “direction” in building that consumer perception. Since acquiring branding elements – like a logo, a website design, a facebook page or a twitter account – are all dirt cheap – what’s your excuse for not building a powerful brand?

There’s a great article over at Fast Company by Heath Shackleford Why Fast, Cheap, and Easy Design Is Killing Your Nonprofit’s Brand

It’s not a question of whether you can get quality design from cheap (or free) apps and services. Sometimes you do, sometimes you don’t. The real question is a fundamental one: Do you have a strategy for what you’re creating?

For 8 out of 10 nonprofits, the answer to that question is no. Only 20% of causes report having a formal, written marketing strategy. Meanwhile, 100% have logos, websites, and donor communication vehicles. That’s less than ideal when you consider:

  • A logo does not equal a brand.
  • A website does not equal a digital presence.
  • A Facebook page does not equal an engaged community.
  • A press release does not equal press coverage.

Strategy leads to things like a distinctive and authentic point of view, the creation of compelling content, and the development of engaged communities. Without strategy, you are just making stuff that may or may not “look pretty.”

I stand and salute Heath on everything he wrote with exception of the statement about strategy which I italicized. Here’s where we differ: I believe it’s possible for a business to fail in developing a distinct and authentic point of view despite having a sound strategy in place. I have seen companies fail to create compelling content and engaged communities even though they have developed a cohesive marketing strategy. Admittedly, more often than not – in cases where the company fails to connect on these “branding precepts” there is a gaping chasm where “insert marketing strategy statement” goes.

Often times at start up – the passion of the founder “infects” the business at the cellular level. This infection leads to the distinct and authentic point of view which in turn leads effortlessly into created compelling content which has as its end result an engaged community. However, it’s the passion of the leader(s) – not the lack of marketing strategy – which lies at the root of this success.

It’s possible to have a marketing strategy without passion – and it’s equally possible to have passion without a marketing strategy. So if you have passion – do you really need a marketing strategy?

In the end, I’d have to say strategy trumps passion every time. Combine the two – and you have a powerful force which will fuel the engine of your successful business. However, if someone held a gun to your head and forced you to choose just one of the two – choose strategy over passion every time.

Why choose strategy over passion?

Strategy plans for the obstacles ahead – the incessant, relentless obstacles that can quickly “drain” every ounce of passion from most hearty and enthusiastic of mortal beings.

In the end, creating a cohesive marketing strategy is like creating an acrylic housing for the passion upon which you’ve founded your business. Not only can it protect your passion – it can also direct your “branding” efforts as well.

You’re not in control of your “brand”

business blogs and brandingIt amuses me when people start talking to me about “branding” their business because often it’s portrayed like it’s something that the business owner “does” to his or her business.

Oh nay nay – branding is something your CUSTOMERS DO TO your business.

You may be able to exercise some control as you “guide” their hand as they wield the blazing hot iron rod and take aim – but your control of the entire “branding” process is limited because branding takes place entirely inside the mind of consumers.

The Twilight movie saga is an exceptional example of how “branding” can go totally awry.

When you saw “Twilight” reference above – did you wonder if I were “Team Edward” or “Team Jacob”? That my friends is an example of how consumers helped to craft a “brand” for the movie franchise – one that has attached itself to the movie franchise and inspired everything from t-shirts to SNL skits. However, there’s another side to this “branding love story” – a story of branding gone horribly awry.

When it comes to what “team” I’m on – I’m on a third hereto undefined team – I’m on “Team Rifftrax”. If it weren’t for Rifftrax I would have never been able to sit through this insipid movie – let alone enjoy it as thoroughly.

Watch the Rifftrax Twilight synopsis here.

Thanks to the ruthless and brutal commentary provided by Mike, Bill and Kevin, I am truly a fan of RiffTrax and by extension – the Twilight saga.

The RiffTrax brand is strong – very strong. Jedi mind power strong – oh don’t get me started – they’ve riffed the Star Wars saga as well. “We don’t make movies – we make them funny” is their branding statement and they follow through on that promise with surprising regularity.

Which is where the whole “you’re not in control of your own branding” thing comes into play.

Yesterday I got an email from Rifftrax introducing their Kickstarter campaign to do a live Riff of the original movie in theaters this summer. (Note: Rifftrax emails always get my attention because they are used to share important information like this and not spammy shit like so many email campaigns do these days.)

I logged on to Kickstarter 22 hours after that email was sent and saw that $136,000 had already been pledged to the project, which is well in excess of the $55,000 original funding goal.

On one hand – this is the story of a strong brand – RiffTrax – asking their “brand advocates” for support – and the enthusiastic response. How did this happen? Through five years of delivering on their branding statement – regular customer contact – and quite honestly – respect for their audience and customers.

On the other hand (the Twilight end) – this is a story about “branding” gone horribly awry. Sure – millions of “fans” adored the movie when it was released- but the movie quickly found its way into the discount DVD bin at various superstores.

Meanwhile there are obviously a much greater number of un-fans who dwell on the dark side behind our leaders (Mike, Bill and Kevin). The difference between the two is the Team RiffTrax crowd are brand enthusiasts – while the “Team Twilight” fans are a fickle bunch.

Building a brand takes years – not days – and is a never ending process for your business. For an example of a movie studio that has taken building their brand seriously, read about Pixar’s brand building activities in the days BEFORE they were a Disney property.

The best way to build and control your branding message is to stay “on target” and deliver exceptional quality – unless you’re a movie studio and want your movie franchise to become the next target of team RiffTrax.