Capture The Conversation

Strategic Blog Commenting for Your Business

Jason Cormier, August 22, 2006

One of the most common laments I hear, especially from business bloggers, is: “No one visits / links to / comments on my blog!”

Comments are the lifeblood of the blogosphere. Comments are the most direct indicator of blog-based conversations — and conversations are always more engaging than monologues. That’s the true power of blogs or any other kind of conversational media.

One secret to getting more comments on your blog and attracting more high-quality traffic is to give lots of comments on other blogs — but strategically, not indiscriminately. Focus on commenting on blogs whose authors or audiences are the kind of people you’d like to have reading and commenting on your blog.

Shortly, Capture the Conversation will publish my video tutorial showing how this works. But in the meantime, here’s an overview of strategic commenting

Online Video Traffic Continues Tremendous Growth

Ben Castelli, August 22, 2006

Online video continues to grow at a shocking rate as illustrated in the latest comScore Media Metrix analysis of consumer activity at top online properties for July. For the first time Youtube.com was ranked in the comScore Media Metrix top 50 with 16 million visitors last month. Traffic to MySpace Videos doubled last month, and Yahoo Video was up 28% compared to June.

As the popularity of online video grows, you can expect truckloads of advertising dollars to come rolling in. Online video is arguably the most compelling medium for advertisers and as always the challenge will be targeting the right audience and alignment with appropriate content. Advertisers will also be challenged with thinking of crafty new ways incorporate product placement and promotional campaigns into user generated content.

As high speed broadband becomes more standard and the quantity/quality of content improves, the line between my TV box and computer monitor will definitely continue to blur.

Adwords on Your Desktop

Ben Castelli, August 17, 2006

Google has recently released its Adwords Editor application (BETA) to all Adwords users. Initially released to selected advertisers back in January, the Adwords Editor allows you to manage your Adwords account from your desktop, and then upload changes. Some of the benefits and features that Google highlights are:

– Navigate your account quickly and easily
– Make bulk changes to keywords and ad text
– Work offline, then upload your changes
– Copy and paste keywords and ad text
– Circulate proposed changes and get feedback

I am most excited about the increased speed of editing Adwords accounts on a desktop application versus online. Anyone who has spent a significant amount of time navigating and editing Adwords campaigns online has felt the frustration of the Adwords website crawling.

The Adwords Desktop editor is easy to navigate and definitely speeds up the campaign editing process. Just make your changes, click “Post Changes” and you are done. This free tool is especially helpful for advertisers with large accounts and multiple campaigns. You will need to be careful not to overwrite updated information if multiple people have access and are updating the same account.

Viral Marketing, Link Bait, and Snakes

Ben Castelli, August 11, 2006

Web Pro News recently summarized the Link Bait and Viral Search Success session at SES 2006 including Rand Fishkin’s 13 step guide to creating the content (link bait) that drives a viral marketing campaign. Here are the steps:

1: Researching a Sector’s Link-Worthiness
2: Discovery of ‘Big’ Players in Your Field — do a search at Technorati with your keywords.
3: Targeting YDDS (Yahoo!, Digg, Del.icio.us/Popular, Slashdot)
4: Targeting Offline Media
5: Selecting a Content Focus
6: Melding Branding & Viral Elements
7: Targeting Keywords/Search Traffic
8: Look at Examples of ‘Brilliants Ideas’
9: The Value of a ‘Web 2.0’ Look & Feel – “The look and feel oftentimes is critical.”
10: Elements that Encourage Linking
11: Pre-Launch Public Relations
12: Managing Launch Traffic – “Be careful not to be suckered into a debate you don’t really need to be part of.”
13: Continuing to Get Value from Linkbait -“Update it with timely information.”

Through viral marketing you can take advantage of the network effect of the internet and utilize online word-of-mouth in existing social networks (Digg.com, Del.icio.us). The goal of viral marketing is to increase brand awareness or generate buzz through online word-of-mouth (blogs) which is much cheaper and perceived as more credible than traditional advertising methods.

One recent example of how viral the blogosphere has become is the wildly popular, yet unreleased, movie Snakes on a Plane. In part due to the absurdly appealing title and ridiculous plot line, Snakes on a Plane has generated unprecedented internet buzz mainly through blogs. New Line Cinema even ordered a re-shoot to add scenes based on fan suggestions and an internet trailer spoof – user generated content has made its way to the big screen.

Check out our online video tutorials for more information on how to track your brand and the conversation surrounding it through resources such as Newsgator, Technorati and Del.icio.us.

Listening is Critical to Entering the Online Conversation

James Clark, August 10, 2006

Greg Clemenson had a great post on the WOMMA Blog about 5 Tips for Joining the Conversation.

Greg’s 5 Tips from the WOMMA Blog are:
#1. Have a valid place in the conversation
#2. Use your voice and have an opinion
#3. Be relevant
#4. Be responsible
#5. Remember that it’s a social phenomenon

But I would say there needs to be another tip (I know, WOMMA’s format only allows for 5), and it should be the #1 Tip and that is Listening.

We often get too excited about talking and forget that the best conversationalists are the best listeners. Teaching someone to be a good listener is much harder than teaching them how to talk about what they know.

Listening takes patients, focus and attention. In the online world, listening also takes some technical skills too. One must set up an RSS reader, use scouts such asTechnorati and Google Alters to find the conversation, understand blog comments and trackbacks to drive the conversation, analyze and interpret web analytics to understand behavior, and blog to capture the conversation.

The art of listening often overwhelms those trying to enter the conversation. This is why we work with our clients to customize the listening systems and analyze the conversation to ensure their online communications success.

For those interested in starting this on their own, we’ve created a set of DIY online video tutorials for Getting Started.

Horizon  Food To Buy Organic 1

Google Adwords on Your Mobile

Room 214, August 9, 2006

Google has recently introduced Adwords advertising on mobile devices in the US and UK. Adwords clients can now place their clickable ads on mobile phones through Google’s mobile search service.

Direct from the Google Help Center, here’s what the ads look like: Mobile ads contain two lines of text, with a limit of 12 or 18 characters per line, depending on the language in which you write your ad. Your destination URL appears on a third line if you choose to enter one. If you select the option that allows customers to directly connect to your business phone, a Call link will appear next to your destination URL. You can also set daily budgets and establish scheduled marketing messages.

The big advantage could be for advertisers looking to draw in local customers. For example, people who are on the road traveling and looking for a restaurant, hotel or service. David Utter from WebProNews.com commented on Google’s strategy: “We know that Google and its competitors have been actively engaged in a battle for dominance in the local search arena. It makes sense to corner the mobile search market for advertising if possible.”

Businesses purchase the ads through the Adwords interface, and must have either a mobile web site for pay-per-click ads, or a toll-free phone number for pay-per-call ads.

Now that mobile phones are fully integrated into mainstream America with over 200 million subscribers, mobile phones are and will continue to be an important place to deliver advertising.

Seth Godin Says Small is Big

Room 214, August 9, 2006

I was on a virtual seminar with Seth Godin yesterday, and he was talking about big companies being successful by thinking small. You can check out his new book by going to smallis.com.

I thought he brought up some important points about business people being brought up in a way that keeps them from thinking for themselves when it comes to marketing. If you work your way up in marketing by simply doing what you are told, then when you are the boss you don’t really know what to do. This is in the context of the importance of thinking small. Thinking small means thinking like a business owner.

Other interesting points he touched on related to blog traffic not being a good metric for the success of a blog. The question is how attentive are people to your blog. Does it have the potential to be viral? Is it something that others want to look to as a valuable resource?

One of the comments from a participant in the seminar pertained to how Seth was using business to consumer examples in almost everything he was bringing up. Seth’s response was that businesses are just like people, they are just spending somebody else’s money. Businesses are prone to fashion, just like everyone else. So marketing to them doesn’t have to be as different as people may think in many cases.

Blog Post Frequency – Too Much Talking Not Enough Listening

Room 214, August 8, 2006

Eric Kintz’s “Why Blog Post Frequency Does Not Matter Anymore” post on Marketing Profs brings to light one simple fact – online conversations are a lot like offline conversations. The more you talk about irrelevant things, the less likely people will pay attention.

The largest barrier to good blogging is having good listening skills. In the online world these listening skills involve using a set of scouting tools such as Technorati, IceRocketGoogle AlertsMoreover.com pulling the data into a RSS reader and analyzing the conversation.

We found that people just getting into blogging, are quickly overwhelmend with the process of listening to the conversation, entering the conversation and capturing the conversation.

This is why we set up our “Getting Started” online video tutorials to take someone through the entire process of setting up a RSS reader, a Blogger blog, a Delicious account, how to post to blog, setting trackbacks, commenting on other’s blogs, submitting an RSS feed, etc.

Eric’s HP Blog

Search Engine User Research

Room 214, August 8, 2006

I just came across a report released by iProspect, with Jupiter Research’s help, about three months ago regarding important user behavior stats on people using search engines. The leading summary points were as follows.

Of over 2,300 people surveyed:
1. 62% of search engine users click on first page results, and a total of 90% click on results within the first three pages.
2. 82% begin a new search query using the same search engine if they don’t find what they are looking for with the first search term used
3. 41% of users who continue their search after not finding what they were looking for will change their search term and/or search engine if they don’t find favorable results on the first page.
4. Now here is the BIG ONE: 36% believe that company websites that are ranked in the top search results are at the top because they are leaders in that field.

Point number 4 is interesting indeed, suggesting that over a third of the population believes that search engines somehow determine who are industry leaders – and then rank them accordingly. Wow. Any companies out there willing to take advantage of this proven perception? No wonder SEO services continue to be a larger part of marketing budgets across the board.

Google Sitemaps, Keeping Things Fresh

Room 214, August 7, 2006

Think of it like Febreeze for your website, Google Sitemaps, now part of the larger Google Webmaster Central, helps Google crawl your site more efficiently, resulting in increased visibility. Sitemaps allow you to tell Google what URL’s you want crawled along with hints about the URL such as when the page was last changed and how often the page is changed.

Sitemaps also give you an array of valuable statistics such as how Google crawls and indexes your site, and problems Google may be having accessing certain pages. You can also learn which search queries drive traffic you your site and the keyword terms used in external links pointing to your site.

Search Engine Watch highlights some of the new features in Google Webmaster Central such as the ability to choose a preferred domain and improved crawl/sitemap error reporting. By keeping your website fresh and offering valuable site stats, this free service is a great complement to any well rounded SEO plan.

Be sure to check out the video tutorials section of our website in the upcoming weeks for an easy step-by-step guide on how to create and submit a sitemap to Google.