Sunday, November 30, 2008

Dec 08 - Business of blogging

A couple of months back I was interviewed by a journalist who was researching an article about business blogging. I thought he was interested in talking to me because of this column.

Turns out he had seen my blog, Brand DNA, and wanted to talk to me about it, why I blog and to get my thoughts on business blogging.

It made for an interesting chat, although I can’t say that he would have gleaned anything useful from talking to me. You see I started my blog for fun and I write it for fun.

Brand DNA is a place for me to ramble about advertising, marketing and related topics. The sort of stuff I do every day at work to be honest, except I get to share these thoughts with the whole world.

Surprisingly for me, there are people out there in the world who seem to enjoy my rants and rambles. Quite a few of them actually. Which makes finding the time the post something to the blog each and every day worthwhile.

At no stage did I set out to achieve anything with my blog. In fact I’m surprised that I continue to write regularly for it after two and a half years.

I think the fact that I set up DNA simply because I could, is what keeps me going. I do it because I enjoy it. Simple as that. At no stage did I set out to make money from my blog.

Which brings me to the one thing that bugs me about so many blogs today (and believe me I read a lot of them) is that they are written with the sole intention of making money.

There are even blogs out there that are devoted to helping bloggers make money from their blogs.

These blogs are incredibly popular. Whether or not the blogs that use their advice are just as popular I do not know.

But how could you fail with great advice like; “How to write a killer headline”, “Double traffic to your site”, “Make money from adwords”, “Earn a living off your blog”.

Of course as soon as someone found a way to monetise blogging, along comes a ranking system. A list that says one blog is more important than the other.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m as much of a fan of lists as the next man, but to me all blogs are created equal. I don’t rank them, I simply enjoy them. And, of course, join in conversations with fellow readers by commenting.

Having said all that, I was very excited to find out that I’d made Julian Cole’s list of Australia’s Top Marketing Blogs. My blog also made an appearance in Brad Howarths list of Australia’s Best Business Blogs.

Thing is I never ever considered Brand DNA to be about marketing or business, even though I write regularly about those topics. Or could it be that I know enough about those topics that what I consider to be opinionated rambles are actually educated opinion pieces. Who knows?

What I do know is that the blogs I read are written in a variety of styles about all sorts of topics. The only thing they have in common is that most of the people who write them are voicing opinions that would not have been able to be voiced without digital technology and the internet.

The great thing about being a blogger is you get to know lots of people who are more than happy to share their knowledge and opinions with you.

If you’re thinking about starting a blog, feel free to email more if you need help or advice. I’d be happy to help. To get you started, here’s some great advice from Brad Howarth;

“Post often, and post well. Give your readers a reason to come back regularly.
Acknowledge other bloggers and sources of information.

Try to avoid writing about things that are outside of your specialisations just because they are popular topics.

Don’t be afraid of using images, audio and video content to spice things up, and make yourself a resource for people interested in your areas of specialisation.

Never ever, ever, ever, be anything other than upfront with your readers. Readers can switch off instantly, but their scorn can last a lifetime.”


Business Blogs

Brand DNA

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Nov 08 - Getting Social

Stop any person in the street, ask them what advertising is, and chances are they’ll not only tell you, they’ll also have an opinion on it.

Ask that same person about social media, and there’s every possibility they’ll look at you like you had just asked them the square root of 347.

Of course social media and social networking are two of the marketing buzz-terms of 2008, but are we as an industry perhaps getting a little over excited by them?

I think we may be.

I’m not saying they’re not important or useful as marketing tools. I’m just saying that the average person in the street isn’t as aware or involved in social networking sites as we might think.

In fact, a recent survey by marketing intelligence group, Synovate, found more than half they people surveyed had no idea what social networking was. A similar survey conducted in April this year by Universal McCann also found social networking to be a minority activity.

Greg Verdino, from US agency Crayon, blogged on this subject recently. “Just because blogs, vlogs, virtual worlds and mobile social software might be woven into the very fabric of our day-to-day lives,” wrote Verdino, “doesn’t mean that any of these things have actually mainstreamed.”

When he uses the word ‘our’ Verdino is talking about thought leaders in marketing and the blogosphere. Not the populace at large.

“We're trying new things, overdosing on them and writing them off as yesterday's news long before the more typical consumer has even heard of them,” says Verdino.

“Take social networking for instance. Who among you doesn't at least have a Facebook profile? But imagine you're on a crowded train. Odds are the person sitting next to you couldn't tell you the first thing about MySpace or Facebook.”
I’m not completely sure I agree with Greg Verdino to be honest.

Whilst I don’t doubt that a large percentage of people may not have MySpace or Facebook accounts, that doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t participate in social networking.

As Chris Grayson from Gigantico points out, “We are too close to it.”

For him, the most popular and widely used examples of social media applications are email and instant messaging! “The people you really know,” believes Grayson, “are in your phone list.”

For the go-getters at the vanguard of social media however, everyday tools like email and the phone are old hat.

But when you stop and think about it, you can share just as much information and conversation with your friends using email and phone as you can with a Facebook account. It’s just that Facebook makes it so much more simple.

So perhaps the Synovate survey is wrong. Maybe most people are social networking, they just don’t do it using the latest hip new web 2.0 gizmos. Which is a bit of a shame, as applications like MySpace and Facebook really do facilitate social networking.

What the experts are slowly starting to realise though, is that these new technologies are actually taking us back to the so called good old days.

Writing on the One Size Fits One blog, Anjali Ramachandran says, “Social networks like Facebook and Twitter have basically taken the social system back to the period of small-town life when everyone knew what you were up to all the time.”

“Most of the people we know,” argues Ramachandran, “or at least those that we interact with on a regular basis are likely to be on Facebook.

At the end of the day, your life is most impacted by those people. So even though I am not super active on Facebook or LinkedIn anymore, I still maintain my profiles, because that's where my friends are.”

That’s also the case for me too.

The days of checking Facebook on a regular basis are long gone. But check it I do, because it brings my friends from near and far together in the one place. The same with my teenage daughter and MySpace.

As Chris Grayson says, “What these sites are brimming with are happy loyal members of tight-knit online communities.

When you’re on most of these sites, they ask in your user profile whether you wish to share your website URL, your email address and instant messenger identities.

But the true lesson to be learned from these sites is that, irrespective of technology, content is still king.“


Greg Verdino

Chris Grayson

Anjali Ramachandran