aStore / Amazon

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Developing Blog Strategy: When and Where

TechCrunch Clearly controls "When and Where" strategically. Make sure you define a strategy.
It may seem like internet sites can be static, universal (i.e. global), and timeless. That would get us to think of content creation and publication also as static and globally uniform. But that is not always the case. Today product sites, especially blogs, are timely sources of information. They are also a good place to voice opinion and shape ideas. When assuming a static and global reach, it can be a bad assumption and can cause writers and publishers to fail (or at least lose content effectiveness.) This brings up the question of a “When” strategy. Essentially when is content going to be published, how often, and in response to what news or information. There are two key factors in timing publication of blog articles: publication frequency and timing. Blogs as information channels, either publish news or editorials on demand, when an event happens, or on a regular schedule (i.e. every morning or once a week). Blogs serving as aggregators or marketing-publishing channels usually publish on a regular basis on a daily or weekly schedule. Giving readers a steady and regular stream of articles is a sure way of establishing habits with regular readers. People with start reading your articles on a regular basis. Strategic decision on publication and promotion timing is not a simple matter of looking at Google statistics (as in search interest or advertising cost). If you have a unique blog with a new approach, you may have to test different timing techniques. “When” strategy development may take a test and adjust process. It also depends on other factors such as resources: how many original articles can you develop in a week on a steady basis? This means developing a starting strategy and adjusting as the work starts taking shape.    

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Developing Blog Strategy: How (style, design, people, resources)

Typepad is a commercial, hosted, paid blogging platform. Popular with professionals

The second element I use in developing a blog strategy is “How” will the blog function. Essentially what are the elements which will make the blog: name and tag line, platform and hosting, writing, editing, graphic or photo resources (who will do the work, what is their experience, what is available and what is missing.) In both official and personal blogs, the “How” can be the most difficult or the most opportunistic element early in blog development. It is also the most useful strategy item for creators: writers, editors, promoters, designers, and business managers. In blogs where the message and content is not completely crystallized, or changes with time, how a blog looks and is written is extremely helpful (the “what” see: While some bloggers, focusing on interesting or useful topics, hoping to attract readers, style and design are just as crucial in a competitive world. Next in “how” are the resources: writers, artists, editors, publishers (possibly other blogs) and their availability, experience, and overall ability (quality of work, popularity, timely writing and commenting, social media leverage). Finally, useful information are tools, platforms (blogging frameworks), budgets, available resources which are not people (i.e. availability of content). Essentially, a “How” strategy components will describe the process of creating and maintaining the blog as an operation.  

Monday, August 12, 2013

Developing Blog Strategy: What (Core Subject or Message)

UAV use in the military is a side topic for GE Aviation, useful for blogging

The first item I define in a blog strategy is What” the blog will cover. For official or formal blogs (see previous article about formal blogs ), defining what to say is useful in many ways. First, blog content can be in-line or an extension to the main business or marketing strategy. In the case of more conservative companies (i.e. aviation and defense sector), blog and social media pages can be used for informal topics. In less conservative companies (i.e. music editing software applications, DAW (Digital Audio Workstation), topics from sound examples, case studies (people and techniques), and even special offers (sales and packages) can be useful and interesting. The topics are useful in communicating information to customers and other readers. These are also in a category which is not covered by other formats. Neither the company nor product web site, nor newsletters cover these topics. This is where blogs are interesting to readers, which makes them useful to product managers. They cover information and actually become discussion boards for daily topics we talk about every day. Yet these topics are not communicated by the company formally.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Developing A Blog Strategy: Your Message: What, How, When, and Why

Michael Porter, of Harvard Business School, advocates sound business strategy
Effective blogs for business are taking the place of many communication formats. A blog strategy is useful in planning, developing, and optimizing a blog's message. A strategy is also helpful in overall design, promotion, and management of resources. A blog strategy can be in line with the overall business strategy or with a marketing strategy. It can also have a strategy all it's own, improving communication with customers, improving a company's message, or simply explaining a product's use. A strategy in blog development is also useful to design content, focusing promotion efforts, and maintaining or changing a message as a community is built. When a blog is developed by many people a strategy helps focus their efforts. Developing, codifying (writing and publishing), testing, and finally using and optimizing a strategy gives a blog (and a communication operation in general) a high level of managing the message idea and actual development. Michael Porter, a proponent of developing business and marketing strategies, introduces strategy as:  
“Competitive strategy aims to establish a profitable and sustainable position against the forces that determine industry competition.” – Competitive Advantage, Michael E. Porter, 1985
Using this description for a blog simply means making a blog as a publication, communication, or any other business tool, a “profitable and sustainable” product. This is a good starting point to understand and use strategy.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Formal Blogs and Informal Blogs (or social media): What Look, Message and Style Fits You?

GE Aviation blog, slick design, corporate message, fits the image
The image of user contributed content, especially blogs (i.e. Blogger, Wordpress, TypePad, Tumblr) and social media sites (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) as informal and not useful in slick corporate marketing is not exactly true. For the most part, this is just an image. Some would say outdated and simply not useful. Looking carefully on how different organizations use blog formats, reveals a more complex landscape. Blogs started out as an alternative (and easy to use) publication platform. Quickly, they became the alternative opposition-voice in many areas, especially politics, technology, finance, and medicine. Blogs such as The Huffington Post, Giga Om, Engaget, TechCrunch, The Motley Fool, and WebMD became popular sites quickly. With their edgy writing and sometimes “big brother - conspiracy busting” style, it seemed like the internet would become a realm of popular writing with democratic leanings. Yet this idea, did not reflect the whole potential of digital media in government, corporate, media (written, audio, and video), and creative fields. While the out of favor and non-mainstream writers were enjoying complete freedom to say their piece, the more traditional media and corporate world took a wait and see attitude towards internet publishing. The traditional media channels simply did not need the internet as much as the other voices. They were also waiting for more reliable and better designed (i.e. look and feel) capability. That landscape has changed radically. Today we see the most slick and corporate marketing communicators using the blog format in creative ways, without the outsider leanings. The same is true for social media sites, where mainstream marketing is taking hold in a big way.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

User Contributed Content: Great for Marketers and Publishers

Focusing on a subject and letting users contribute: a great formula for marketers (c) 2011

Does every company need a dynamic digital communication channel? Is a blog, wiki, Facebook page, or Twitter stream crucial for business success? For many businesses, the marketing manager's answer is “definitely, absolutely”. Yet, it seems like for many other businesses, it's not that certain. Before you jump into a knee jerk reaction, and blurt out an quick answer, look around and examine your position. Two indicators are useful in answering these questions. The first is a survey of executives, marketers, and business professionals. Ask people you know and dig a little deeper than just a yes or no answers. See if you can get a marketing manager to explain how they use digital communication channels. The second method to determine the potential of digital communication is a survey of company web sites, blogs, and other digital channels. In any product or service category, we find companies which use and benefit from digital communication. We also find companies with superior products and services which lag behind the use of digital communication. In some cases, we can actually estimate [guess] the affect of more invested digital communication, or true professional execution. Fortunately, some work is clearly useful as examples. In many examples we can see good ideas and good use of digital communication.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Specialization and Professional Status in Internet Services

Top flight internet professionals are available for consulting and training
Our digital revolutionary communication capability is changing more than available services and available information. It is changing the way our work is organized. Three meetings in the last week revealed a trend in the way companies consume internet services and in how professionals are willing to provide services. Some professionals offer their services as independent contractors. Some offer services as packaged products: blog subscription, e-books, paid newsletters, limited attendance video [conference], or a mix of these and other formats. Some professionals use traditional service structures such as advertising agencies, design shops, and business consulting. Regardless of their format, it seems like better communication and free publishing is enabling many top internet services professionals to stay on their own. On the consumer side, only very large companies with large internet properties employ large or top notch professionals. Since services are available to purchase a-la-cart, they buy these services piecemeal.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Learning From General Business Books (2nd installment)

In the last article about learning and practicing new skills, I wrote about Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers book. He tells a story about how people in remote locations, away from the (accepted) mainstream centers, become accomplished experts and seem to suddenly show up as if discovered by a reality pop music show. Gladwell's is one of the many general business, social science and psychology books describing idea or trend. Many similar books from Seth Godin, Jim Collins, Michael Lewis and others, also tell stories useful to navigate today's changes in media use (especially the internet.) How do we turn a story of the financial failure in the US to something we can use? (see Michael Lewis's The Big Short) We can even go one step further and ask how do turn it into a new skill? If Gladwell explains the phenomena of expertise away from centers of knowledge, can we turn this idea into something we can use? That part is even harder, some general business ideas do not seem relevant to most businesses. Yet, they are and they can make or break a company, your career and maybe even your everyday work satisfaction. Look at these trend and idea books as today's version of the 1970's self-help books.