The Tin Shingle Blog - #Blogging
Guess who made this panic graphic...not the Tumblr/Yahoo haters, but Yahoo's CEO, Marissa Mayer. For her Tumblr blog. Which she named marissamayr.tumblr.com - misspelling her last name by dropping the "e" in keeping with Tumblr and Yahoo owned Flickr.
Despite the acquisition haters out there, I'm actually a little giddy about the prospects!
Early Thursday morning, a day after the acquisition, Sabina sent me a PR Lead from a reporter doing a story on the Yahoo/Tumblr merger who was seeking comments on why Tumblr users were apparently flocking to WordPress after the acquisition was announced. I didn't know, so did a little Googling to get acclimated with the drama, and found that generally, it was the usual brouhaha that happens after change, with people freaking out, thinking Yahoo would be uncool for uber-cool Tumblr, force ads on them, or even shut Tumblr down.
Which wasn't helped by WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg in a Sunday evening blog post, where he claimed that many Tumblr users are jumping ship to his blogging platform to avoid dealing with Yahoo (note, I think Matt has changed his blog post because those words are gone from his post that PC Mag links to, and I do remember reading the original post...hmm....):
"'[Tumblr] imports have actually spiked on the rumors even though it's Sunday: normally we import 400-600 posts an hour from Tumblr, last hour it was over 72,000," Mullenweg wrote.'"
|"I’ve long held the view that in all things art and design, you can feel the spirit and demeanor of those who create them. That’s why it was no surprise to me that David Karp is one of the nicest, most empathetic people I’ve ever met. He’s also one of the most perceptive, capable entrepreneurs I’ve worked with. His respect for Tumblr’s community of creators is awesome, and I’m absolutely delighted to have him and his entire team join Yahoo!."|
I've been a blogger since 2005, authoring numerous blogs housed on Blogger, rival blogging platform to Tumblr and WordPress. I'm considering moving Tin Shingle's blog from Drupal's CMS to Blogger for a variety of reasons, namely SEO and ease of use, which are areas that Tumblr blogs lag in. Until possibly now.
Thanks to the merger, Tumblr bloggers stand a chance at looking at real improvement at the under the hood coding structure of their blogs, so that they "speak Yahoo search" better, and stand a better chance of ranking highly in search results. If a search engine is behind a blogging platform, then you know that the search engine really wants that content to be found. Not that a search engine would build anything sneaky for the blog platform to rank extra high and cut in line, but you know that they'd build a basic blog template that "speaks search" *really well*. Complaints about Tumblr used to be that good SEO was fundamentally hard to tweak with Tumblr templates. Improvements have since been made, and perhaps many more are possible. But it still has oddities, like how blog titles sometimes aren't available (like at Marissa's blog), or if they are in the blog, they aren't linked to anything, but the date is linked to the post. Just odd things that aren't intuitive to the user experience.
Another point: Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has an eye for design, as does Tumblr. Design is half the reason why Tumblr blogs took off, especially in the fashion industry. It's actually cool to have a Tumblr blog, despite its technical setbacks and SEO challenges. If that code under the hood gets greased up a bit, Tumblr could really take off with content heavy-weights who *do* want more page clicks for their Google or Yahoo ads, and other sponsorships.
Another reason Tumblr bloggers should be shouting "Yahoo!!" is that Tumblr is community based, and so is Marissa Mayer. Building a community following on Tumblr is quite easy with built in features, so that's a step ahead of the curve with Blogger blogs that Google is trying to build into their templates right now by introducing tagging features for Google+.
Despite Yahoo's habit of shutting down its acquisitions, like Del.icio.us, Geocities and Broadcast.com, its move to buy a popular blogging platform is taken from the same page as when Google bought the blogging platform Blogger a decade ago in 2003, which proved to be lucrative when Google made it even easier for blog publishers to place Google Ads in their blog in a way that mirrored the blog's voice. And where was Marissa at that time...? At Google. :)
Marissa states her intentions in her blog post announcement:
|"In terms of working together, Tumblr can deploy Yahoo!’s personalization technology and search infrastructure to help its users discover creators, bloggers, and content they’ll love. In turn, Tumblr brings 50 billion blog posts (and 75 million more arriving each day) to Yahoo!’s media network and search experiences. The two companies will also work together to create advertising opportunities that are seamless and enhance user experience."|
I'm looking forward to the changes, as they stand a chance of being very beneficial to bloggers and brands using the Tumblr platform. Personally, I'd never considered using Tumblr, but now am giving it second thoughts, purely for the prospective benefits of search and community reach.
Do/did you blog on Tumblr? Comment below on your experience with using it, and if you were happy with it for your brand.
If I had a dollar for every small business I encouraged to create a blog, I'd be getting myself a little "high five" in the form of this sassy little puppy. But alas, I personally feel like all too often I see companies that aren't taking advantage of this powerful, free and brand-directed business tool. Don't get me wrong, I, like many of you, feel that if you're not going to do a good job at something you best not do it, and I know that lack of time often makes you think you won't be able to create a blog for your company and run it well. That said, I believe in business we make time for what is important, a priority and what could bring our company great ROI. I think for many of you, a blog is one of those things. As part of my campaign to get you to begin thinking strategically and creatively about a possible blog (or more stratetgic use of your blog if you already have one) I've laid out a few - well eight reasons (plus bonus one 'cause I love ya) - blogs are one of my favorite buzz building business tools.
What’s the point of having a blog as a business?
- You can create quality and shareable content that can be passed along to social media, customers and more.
- You have the power to drive traffic to different parts of your company’s website that you want to give attention to.
- Having a company or personal blog lets you control and maintain your image.
- A blog lets companies "pull back the curtain" and show people about who they are. People love seeing the face or team behind the brand - that can keep them passionate about your business and mission like you won't believe!
- Helps you improve brand awareness and engagement with current and future customers and clients.
- Helps new customers & clients find you through key word searches. BAM! That means you're getting buzz while you sleep! Literally!
- Experts can prove they are valuable source of information.
- Newsworthy interviews or content on your blog can lead to pick up in other blogs and media outlets, further growing your brand's visibility, traffic and name recognition!
Bonus idea? You can make content work double time and turn the tips you created for your blog into a service/expert based pitch! Both ways of sharing your knowledge show you are an industry leader!
I hope I've planted the seed - blogs can be your sercret weapon for public relations, SEO, sales and more! I'm so geeked out about them I'll be back to share more reasons soon along with some of my favorite examples of small business owners like you putting their blog ideas into action.
Video blogging. Posting Video. Starring in your own homemade videos. However you describe it, it has become one of the most popular ways for brands big and small to connect with followers, fans, customers and more. For me, it's the an uncharted area of outreach that (I'll admit it) still scares me. That said, it's one of my resolutions for 2013: start talking to all of you "in person" via posts I tape.
There are so many reasons I (and I'm sure some of you) create to NOT post video, even though there are so many reasons that it's a good idea. Some of my personal favorite excuses include: I don't have time to plan it out, I don't have a studio to shoot in, my hair hasn't been blown out...you get it.
That said, the universe keeps nagging at me (as does my own business sense) and I've decided that 2013 will be the year of us connecting "face to face". I also realize from watching some of my favorite "girls on film" (okay, gals on their own self-made videos) that my laptop, some decent lighting and some moxie are all I truly need. If you haven't tried it yet and it makes sense for your business or brand, I encourage you to join me on my video adventure! That said, every great endeavor requires some inspiration, and I've included a few that are helping me below!
What better way to inspire yourself to share your message on camera than those who are already rocking it (and prove you CAN tape at home and still rock it). My faves this week include:
#1 - The Year in Music 2012 Presented by Tasia Ann Thomas:
If you haven't seen this video that went viral at the end of 2012 & has been seen thousands of times, take a moment to watch it. What I LOVE about it and find inspiring is that Tasia rocked a video that is being watched all around the world, featured on the Huffington Post and more, from what appears to be her bedroom. Sure she has talent, but so do you. Yours may not be producing a musical showstopper like Tasia, but channel her energy, fearlessness and charisma into a video showcasing what YOU do best. PS - Tasia will be doing an exclusive interview with Tin Shingle soon regarding how she made her (now) viral video - stay tuned!
#2 - Molly McAleer & Zooey Deschanel Guaranteeing my Crush on HelloGiggles.com Lives On (& Inspiring me to Post Video):
If you know me, you know I love the website HelloGiggles but enough about my website obsessions for now. What we're here to discuss is inspiration for making your own video posts. These ladies do it for me. Here are a couple of my favorites including the regular Moll's Five Faves series examples HERE and HERE an oldie but a goodies of Zooey singing with Joseph Gordon-Levitt (a must watch). Here's what I like about these clips: They clearly are self-made at home without major production overhead. They are themselves, they are witty, and they are likeable. They talk about what they know. Basically their videos say to me "Save the drama for your momma and just DO IT!"
#3 - So where do you even start? Educate yourself! While I'm inspiring myself by checking out videos like those above, but tips and pointers always help, and that's where stylist & vlog pro Dawn Del Russo comes in! Check out her tips she shared with us earlier in 2012 HERE! They are sure to get you on the right track.
Now if *I* can do it, you can! Let's do this video newbies! I'll show you mine if you show me yours : )
Entrepreneurship can be lonely. And if you're looking for 'friends' there are plenty of networks that you can join. But if you're looking to grow your business, to increase your exposure, to improve your sales, to get more press and to establish your credibility in the marketplace, then Tin Shingle has your back.
What makes 'PRENUER unique is that we were founded by real experts in the areas of business strategy, marketing, online media, public relations and SEO. We leverage our more than 30 years of collective business experience to give your brand, your company and you the edge you need as a small business owner.
We don't just send you a list of PR leads and hope for the best, we connect you with the people who are writing the stories that are going to bolster your sales. We don't just tell you that search is important, we actually work our SEO to help improve YOUR site traffic. And we don't just espose business theory, but we give you real concrete guidance and strategic tools that you can use to make an impact in your business.
It's all about real people helping real businesses.
So if your business could use a leg-up, an extra edge and some real solutions, come Tin Shingle with us.
It's a small investment for a lifetime of rewards
This week, Sabina and I were contacted by three different press outlets to give quotes about something business related. And just today, Sabina saw via her Google Alerts that she was quoted in an article about why Daily Candy is good for small business, but she never gave an interview for it.
What you ask? Never interviewed? Never pitched? Yes, that's right. We got press while we were sleeping. Journalists are taking to the Google and searching for what they need, and either pulling quotes from existing articles online, and/or going to your Contact Us page to ask your business a specific question.
How do you get this magic press? Blog. No matter what kind of business you have, whether it be a bike store, glass blowing shop, real estate office, virtual assistant business, anything. People are looking for what you have to say, because you know it best. To illustrate, here are the subjects for which we were contacted (keep in mind, I have 3, soon to be 4 websites I run, and Sabina and I both can produce content about a myriad of things on this blog):
- Why Daily Candy is good for small business (Sabina wrote a great "how to" piece on how to get onto Daily Candy)
- How Katie dealt with clients and business pre-and-post pregnancy (I blogged about my unknowns with business life after baby, which reminds me I need to write a follow-up)
- Katie's dog treat bags and blogs were an attraction for a Best of the Web feature on a website
Quite a variety! Imagine what else people are searching for!
Blog it UP!
Ever wonder if there is another entrepreneur experiencing the same highs and lows, ups and downs, success and challenges that you are? Ever curious about what the path you’re on looks like, say, one or two years down the road? We’re guessing you have, and you do, and as entrepreneurs we do the same thing too. Because of these sentiments, and because of our love of the stories we hear from so many of you on a daily basis, we’re proud to announce our newest blog series launching next week: Diary of a Small Business Owner.
In this series you will follow the stories of three entrepreneurs:
A virtual assistant from Michigan who relaunched last spring after taking some time off to get clear about the kinds of services she wanted to offer and who her ideal client was. It was a much needed break that has proven to be exactly what she needed at the time to kick things into high gear. Things have been taking off ever since she is ready to kick it up another notch and plan some big changes in her business in the very near future including some rebranding and new plans to service people locally and virtually.
Two fashion savvy female entrepreneurs – and close friends – from Georgia who designed a pair of must-have “little black pants” that combine fashion and shapewear in a stylish compression garment. They’re just out of the entrepreneurial gates and are in the launching process, reaching out to editors, sending out samples and running their own DIY PR campaign, learning social media and getting ready to see what the world thinks of their pants!
A product designer from New York City who produces problem-solving gear for parents inspired by her own experiences with her children. A brand that started by accident, it is now currently selling in national retailers while trying to maintain a work-life balance between raising three children and “raising a business”.
You can look for them blogging weekly about their entrepreneurial journey right here on our blog beginning next week as well as follow snippets of scoop to hold you over until the next week via our @collectivee Twitter via the hashtag #smallbizdiary.
I was listening to WNYC's Soundcheck with John Schaefer while tweaking the redesign of our Tin Shingle home page, when I heard a quote that you may appreciate. The segment was on creative blocks, and how artists cope with those stuck times. The quote, which I can't promise was spoken by John Schaefer because I was only listening peripherally, went something like this: "When you have a daily blog, you have to write every day. Then again, you're in the habit of writing every day, so there is a process there. But then again, it's a blog, so who gives a crap?"
Ha. Loved that. Not because blogs are crap, but because blogs give creative expression to so many different kinds of people and brands for different reasons. If you're blogging for your brand, yes, you need to be mindful of what you put up there (because online content is very hard to delete squeaky-clean-like), but the most important thing you could do for your blog is to...blog. Translated into: write. Just write.
Tin Shingle member Kelley Taylor wrote a blog, but had created it for herself. It was a private blog cataloging her home decor resources. Through a series of events, she became an author and sought after expert on the subject, and the press wanted her website address. She didn't have one, so published her private blog. What she didn't know was that she had created an SEO masterpiece. We'll publish that interview later, but come away from this blog post with the takeaway to just write and create.
I wanted to think of a sassy title for this blog but then I decided forget it, I want you to know exactly what you're getting - great advice from a fellow entrepreneur!
Tin Shingle member Judy Goss, founder of the Over Forty Female Movement, has a special place in my heart as I not only count her as a friend and colleague, but I've watched her grow as an entrepreneur and leader since I met her a few years ago while she was working at More Magazine. Since then a lot has changed, and one of her biggest projects (and I'd say fastest successes) was the launch of her website, Over40Females.com.
Why do I see her launch as a great success? Well beyond the fact that I think any woman (or man) taking a risk, launching a good or service or website and striking out on their own is a success story in itself, Judy launched her website with NO press coverage and on it's second day she had already garnered over 2,000 hits a day (and it's still growing) for this online home to her Over 40 Females Movement.
After I congratulated Judy on the successful launch, I immediately wanted to know "how did you do it?" and my suspicions were fight - a lot of it had to do with her mastery of social media. I asked Judy for her tips and she obliged. You can find these tips below.....
How I Got 2,000 Hits on My Website's Second Day Live (without any press), by Judy Goss:
Begin building your fan base and buzz on Facebook & Twitter prior to your launch (for Judy this was months prior).
Always be consistent in your postings, always (try as best you can) answer people when they "@" you or "friend" you, and definitely when they message or direct message you.
Created a Fan Page only for the upcoming website - not a personal page.
While building my website (a good 2-3 wks before launch) I "ramped up" the interest...made a simple blog that I forwarded from my main domain "Over40Females.com". In other words, when you typed in "www.over40females.com the site would forward to a free wordpress blog, until I got the official site launched. This kept the buzz building.
While ramping up, I posted things on FB and Twitter that piqued interest like "Professional experts waiting for you on OFF.com" and had a countdown for the launch, etc.
(*note from Sabina: My interest was captured just by trying to figure out what Judy's OFF teasers meant - I wanted to know too!)
When people joined my FB fan page, I thanked as many as I could and mentioned the launch of OFF.com, AND friended all the people that weren't my friends on my personal page.
I made sure to update my Tin Shingle member profile and share the launch with other members and on the website.
At launching time, I emailed my friends who had a lot of members and asked them if they wouldn't mind posting my site on their FB page, Twitter, etc.
Most important thing for social media - be consistent, to the point, and humor & giveaways are the icing on the cake.
Good Karma: Whoever r helps you out with a Twitter or FB or whatever, make sure you return the favor if you haven't already!! Or at least thank them.
One more thing - if you are a Tin Shingle member and would like to share your story with Judy (first check out the site to see if you're a good fit), send your information to email@example.com and we'll pass it along! You can also send it along our PR Leads Submission form.
Today I was reading one of my favorite online outlets, Jezebel, and came across an article about singer Katy Perry, and the media and pop-culture loving demographic of the population going nuts over her Tweets lately, tweets that supposedly hinted at a possible pregnancy. (Back story: @KatyPerry recently got engaged to actor/comedian Russel Brand which she recently tweeted about in a cryptic message as well. As with many celebrities, much of her life has been tweeted lately and as of this posting her following was at 1,618,694).
Sure the story is on the surface about a celebrity and our country's frenzied need to know everything about famous people all the time (and their often feeding it to us), but to me it's also another great example of how Twitter allows you to connect with and grow your customer/ambassador/database and your brand's reach more than ever.
As Jezebel's blogger explains, "the peculiar world of Twitter, and the direct contact people feel they get with celebrities, will only lead people to keep reading between the lines in order to solve a mystery that may only exist in their minds." This is one effect of Twitter that is at times negative....but you can use this same power of Twitter and instant and intimate way the audience connects with your brand to propel it to new media opportunities, sales, visibility and get your message to spread virally if done correctly!
A brand's longevity is largely due to a loyal customer base and true brand ambassadors - especially during a recession when every sale counts more than ever. Knowing that, be sure you create a passionate base of followers on Twitter who really care about what you say - they probably won't tweet about a possible pregnancy but they may instead give your brand exponential reach!
Find out more about what Jezebel had to say about Katy Perry's tweets HERE!
You may have read already that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has amended its guidelines regarding endorsements and testimonials, last changed in 1980, to require bloggers to disclose a financial relationship they have with an advertiser or agency when publishing a review about a product or service. This most likely has to do with bloggers such as those recruited now by Walmart, Lifetime, or other big brands trying to influence the bloggosphere, but nonetheless, the guidelines do not discriminate. In the words of the FTC:
|The revised Guides also add new examples to illustrate the long standing principle that “material connections” (sometimes payments or free products) between advertisers and endorsers – connections that consumers would not expect – must be disclosed. These examples address what constitutes an endorsement when the message is conveyed by bloggers or other “word-of-mouth” marketers. The revised Guides specify that while decisions will be reached on a case-by-case basis, the post of a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement. Thus, bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service.|
The Wall Street Journal published a piece on this, implying that the FTC wanted to restrict gift giving to bloggers, and followed up with at least two clarifying articles which made it clear that the FTC was targeting advertisers, and not bloggers, to maintain the ethical responsibility to fully disclose when bloggers are paid to positively review a product. In the FTC article mentioned above, tweets from Twitter are not mentioned, but The Wall Street Journal does include them in its analysis, as any experienced online person would as well, since both blogs and personal Twitter feeds aka "micro-blogs" and are being used to endorse products and services, both in a paid-for-services way, and in a strictly editorial way.
Discussion on this topic can go in several directions, including the direction of federal government involvement in general and whether or not it's a good idea. Let's refrain from that conversation, and instead focus on why the FTC was compelled to amend these guidelines in the first place. Usually government springs into action based on a relevant current issue. The issue here is clear: the bloggosphere has been growing and growing. The Twittersphere has been growing even faster because creating content for a "micro-blog" is a lot easier than publishing a proper and effective blog post. That said, some bloggers and tweeters are taking liberties with their public voices which may not be in the best interest of maintaining truth and trust when endorsing a product or service, and can actually pollute so called "word-of-mouth" marketing. Let's explore:
BLOGGING: BACK TO BASICS
Bloggers started blogging, in my opinion at least, to have a voice. As a voice, they had to say something worthwhile to maintain an audience. Some were talented enough to just write about their lives. Others had to have themes and be top trendspotters. Like magazines, they searched the world for good product or service to recommend. Early PR firms or boutique firms actually had their finger on the pulse of this word-of-mouth movement that at the time, was extremely genuine because bloggers had devoted followings - small or large - each had some kind of influence over purchasing decisions. As a blogger myself, my first direct pitch was from then first time author Jennifer Solow. She reached out to me to review her then new book, The Booster. Her directive: if you like it, please blog about it. If you don't like it, please don't. Well I did review it, but *gasp* I didn't mention that she sent me the book to read. Ethics would indicate that maybe I should have disclosed that I got a free book, but you know what? If the book was bad, A. I'm not going to finish it, and B. I'm not going to recommend it to anyone because my reputation would not be trusted when others went out and bought it and were bored stiff. But I could have added a little sentance at the bottom of the post. It would not have hurt my blog post in any way.
True blogging, in my opinion, is just genuine. If you really need a sample in order to give a proper review, fine. For the nomie baby car seat cover, sending a sample to a mom blogger makes sense because it needs to be mom-tested-and-approved. But for a designer like SpoonFedArt, whose publicist first emailed me long ago, little tips about cool stuff can go a long way. When I opened the email from the publicist to tell me about something wonderful that just happened for the then new company SpoonFedArt, I read it, liked the product, and blogged about it, saying how fun my inbox was those days.
TWEETING: THE $1 TWEET
Or is that the McDonalds dollar menu?
Tin Shingle tweets for our members who pay for membership. Our tweets spread naturally b/c the links are just so good. Tweeting information about our members is clearly stated in our membership benefits (we refer to it as Promotyping, a term we made up), but it's also a no-brainer for us, and we couldn't not do it if we tried (that's why we made it a benefit). This is a most creative and effective use of a Twitter feed for potential profit (because yes, people do understand that part of their Tin Shingle membership includes endorsements from us via social networking). We didn't sell our Twitter souls for our 140 character real estate for $1 to tweet about a random product from some random guy hocking his wares. That would dilute our Twitter strength, and thus hurt our actual recommendations. If you are considering selling your Twitter stream for $1 a tweet regardless of what the product is and if you like it or not, think again if you want quality followers.
ETHICS: WHO'S JOB IS IT TO BE ETHICAL or JOURNALISTIC INTEGRITY
Bloggers who are in this for the free stuff should re-think the impact of their voices, and consider going back to basics, where their voice is key, and trust is their golden egg. You don't need to review a piece of art or a limited edition product to know you you like the look of it. If you're so concerned about integrity, put on a disclaimer that you've never actually touched the fabric or the spoon, and to buy at your own risk. But come on people.
The Wall Street Journal points out that "...newspapers generally prohibit reporters from accepting gifts from a company they write about to protect their credibility with readers." Note that reason: to protect their credibility with readers. Bloggers do not have an editorial department or publisher to please. They just press "publish" and up it goes for the world to see. This is great, but requires self-monitoring to make sure you are fairly representing an industry of words.
Thanks @kelcott for passing along this article from Gally Cat: http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/web_tech/how_big_is_the_ftcs_new_fo...
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