Mario Sundar's Speakeasy

Spero Ventures. Early LinkedIn, Twitter. These are my thoughts on tech, brand, marketing and community.

Advertisers now want to use social networks for what?!

Summary: As expected advertisers are jumping onto the social networking bandwagon – pitfalls ahead (Warning: Astro-network-turfing anybody?) — What should marketers do? — Follow the Social Networking LAMP (a variation on my recent presentation at the Online Marketing Summit).

Just a couple of weeks back, I gave two presentations on the “Impact of Social Media on Marketing”. I also took pains to identify some of the Ten Ways for marketers to engage organically in social networking (think word of mouth marketing). One of my key takeaways from the phenomenon of social networking (Disclosure: I work for LinkedIn as community evangelist), is that it helps spur true evangelism and word of mouth marketing in a way that no other technology development has been able to since the advent of the internet. And then, I read this in Advertising Age. Titled “Marketers start to use social networks for CRM instead of ads” (by Abbey Klaassen) the gist of the post was similar to the content of my recent presentations (particularly in reference to how social networks is more about evangelism and less about advertising. Here’s a comment from Chris Jones, former CEO JWT and currently adviser to FreeWebs (company that creates widgets/apps that run on social networks), about what I presume are old-school advertisers:

“[They say], ‘It’s not fair others can use the audience that we created for marketing purposes without us having a share of that.’ At the same time, it’s MySpace, not Rupert’s Space,” he said. (Mr. Jones is an adviser to FreeWebs, which creates widgets run on social networks.)

Advertisers/PR have used Social Media inappropriately before (think Edelman-Walmart fiasco), and with the current mindset as outlined above, one thing leads to another and before we realize it we could be staring into the face of another astro-network-turfing scandal! So, if you’re a marketer who’s considering social network as a means of connecting better with your target audience, you can still follow the LAMP — here are the first four steps for marketers/businesses to connect better with your audience either in social media or within social networks:

1. Listen: Yes, this is the most important and essential benefit from a social network. Find out how many groups dedicated to your product/service that you can find on these sites. It’s not any different from scouring Yahoo! groups, the only noticeable difference being you may actually be friends with some of the members of these groups and that’s a huge difference. First off, introduce yourself, listen and respond when there are appropriate questions about your product/service. Listening can sometimes be the most difficult thing to do.

2. Awareness: Once you’re a well established member within the group, you’ve got a decent awareness of what needs to be done. In terms of what users’ expectations are, their feedback on your product/service, their pain points. Once you’re aware of these, take that feedback back to your teams and try to get some traction in responding to some of these questions.

3. Measure: Within social networks, the only level of measurement we can attempt to quantify can be engagement – the holy grail within marketing these days (that’s another topic and another post all together). This is an ever evolving field. Feel free to share any ideas you have on this topic.

4. Participate: Let’s face it. All companies HAVE TO PARTICIPATE in the conversation, there are no two ways about it. No longer can a company hide behind PR. Just think of the PR fallout from the recent Skype outage where the users question their most recent press release. Other than this, why else should companies participate? Because you care about your product/service and would like to set the record straight when someone wrongfully blames your product, Why? Because you care enough about your users that you’re out there responding to their questions (esp. the oft repeated ones).

A social network is a great way to participate in these conversations with your users but it’s no different from a discussion forum or a blog. Let’s not forget that all of the above steps are inspired by relationship marketing (originating in the 60s and the 70s) but with an increasingly ubiquitous social networking world, it looks like the promise of relationship marketing will finally be felt today.

And for the rest of the advertisers, there’s always paid advertising. Are you listening to your users? If so, what platforms do you use currently?

Related posts:
1. Impact of Social Media on Marketing
2. Social Media LAMP (First four steps in social media adoption for businesses)
3. Is Marketing to your “friends” on your “social network” right?

Filed under: Facebook, Linkedin, Miscellaneous, Twitter

Debate: Does Social Networking foster real ties or not?

Summary: A question I raised on whether social networking is the future of word of mouth marketing has gotten close to a 100 answers (both on LinkedIn Answers and MarketingProfs) — Business Week debates whether social networking fosters real relationships — Let’s debate (Disclosure: I work at LinkedIn)

Click above images to take you to the respective Q&A pages

Let’s get confrontational! One of my recent posts on MarketingProfs and a connected question on LinkedIn Answers has been getting a fair deal of buzz, interest and participation from both LinkedIn users as well as Mprofs readers (links below)

Q: Is Social Networking the future of Word of Mouth Marketing? (via LinkedIn Answers)| 44 Answers in a week

Marketers viewpoints on the above question (via MarketingProfs) | 25 comments

Actually, today, Business Week Online had a debate on a slightly related topic, so I thought I’ll briefly revive the debate/discussion (whatever you call). Earlier today, Business Week’s debate room featured a fascinating question on human behavior with regards to social networks. I paraphrase:

Are social networking sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace weak substitutes for making and cementing real business relationships in person?

Pro: Nothing beats a face-to-face meeting (by Jenna Goudreau)

Summary: Social-networking sites prove more of a distraction than a tool. The inundation of friend requests and insignificant news feeds on sites like Facebook eat up valuable time that could be spent solidifying contacts in person. “The most effective networking is face to face,” says Stanford business professor Jeffrey Pfeffer. “There’s no substitute for real human contact. It’s less personal online.”

Con: There’s no substitute for a social networking tool (by Erica Pelzek)

Summary: Back in 1974, sociologist Mark Granovetter’s “Getting a Job” study revealed that 56% of people found their jobs through personal connections—even if they qualified as only “weak ties.” Today the Internet makes these connections easier to strengthen. Furthermore, most recruiters search Google (GOOG) or Facebook and other networking sites for people before agreeing to interview them.

(Source: All quotes from Business Week Online’s Debate Room)

My take: I’m one of the many who’s super enthused by the state of social networking today, because IMHO this could change the way we interact with one another. My personal objective is to try and add people based on face to face or blog interactions for the most part. I’m guilty of some omissions too as I’m sure most of are. Here’s something to think about.

Dunbar’s number, which is 150, represents a theoretical maximum number of individuals with whom a set of people can maintain a social relationship, the kind of relationship that goes with knowing who each person is and how each person relates socially to every other person.[1] Group sizes larger than this generally require more restricted rules, laws, and enforced policies and regulations to maintain a stable cohesion. Dunbar’s number is a significant value in sociology and anthropology. Proposed by British anthropologist Robin Dunbar, it indicates the “cognitive limit to the number of individuals with whom any one person can maintain stable relationships”. Dunbar theorizes that “this limit is a direct function of relative neocortex size, and that this in turn limits group size … the limit imposed by neocortical processing capacity is simply on the number of individuals with whom a stable inter-personal relationship can be maintained.” (Source: Wikipedia)

So, let me end with another question (s). So, (a) have social networks redefined the Dunbar number, or (b) are we randomly adding connections beyond our “cognitive ability to maintain stable relationships” or (c) have we added “more restricted rules, laws, and enforced policies and regulations to maintain a stable cohesion”… Whoa!

What do YOU think?

Filed under: Miscellaneous

5th P of Marketing and the first 4 steps in Social Media adoption

Summary: Where does Social Media fit into the traditional 4 Ps of Marketing? — 5th P of Marketing (Participation) — What are the first 4 steps in social media engagement for any company?

Click pic above to see the Social Media Cycle of Participation

If you were wondering where does Social Media Marketing fit into the classic “4 Ps of Marketing” model, check this out. Traditional 4 Ps of Marketing encompass Product, Price, Place and Promotion. Social Media as well as social networking sites enable the Promotion aspect, especially the Word of Mouth part of it. (Related question I posed on LinkedIn Answers — 44 answers). Subsequently, the Word-of-Mouth component enables the 5th P of Marketing – Participation.

So, if you’re a company wondering whether you should engage with your users through social media or social networking, here are the first four steps one should follow (marketers, listen up), all of which culminates in the 5th P of Marketing – Participation.

1. L – Listen

* Where are your customers online/offline?:

Blogs, Social media tools (e.g. LinkedIn Answers), Discussion Forums, Twitter, etc…/Events

* Monitor these conversations:

Use a central tool to track the different conversations happening around your company. Most online conversations are RSS enabled, barring a few Yahoo! groups that don’t support RSS. Use a RSS reader (e.g. Google Reader) to gather all these conversations into a central repository and create a folder that you check on a daily basis.

2. A – Awareness

* Calculate Brand perception within these conversations

– News & Blogs (Google search, Google Blog search, technorati search)
– Keyword mentions & incoming links
– Corporate Blog (Unique users, hits, trackbacks, comments)
– Brand Scoring system (similar to brand attitude survey)

(Source: Clickz article)

3. M – Measure

Any social media presence of your brand can be calculated by simple methods (example below):

* ROI of corporate blogging (Resource: Charlene Li’s new ROI of corporate blogging study)

4. P – Participate

* Create a strategy around how you wish to participate

* You have the following options:

– Be where the users are
– Facilitate easier means of communication with them
– Create brand evangelists
– Be a source of information on the company
– Respond swiftly and honestly
– Start publishing content
– Stir internal company conversations
– Improve product and user experience

(Brief outline/excerpts from last week’s keynote presentation at the Online Marketing Summit)

Quick Update: Another blog post on my presentation by Kelly Abner from Marketo – Click here

Filed under: Business Blogging

Keynote: Impact of Social Media on Marketing (Online Marketing Summit)

Summary: Overview of recent keynote address at Online Marketing Summit both in the Bay Area and Los Angeles — Addressed the audiences on the impact of social media & social networking on marketing (Disclosure: I work at LinkedIn) — Outline of 5 social media topics I covered

Moi w/ the Online Marketing Summit team and Ray “Catfish” , a fellow speaker at the event (Los Angeles)

Having covered, Gnomedex, last week as an attendee I also had a chance to give the keynote during Online Marketing Summit‘s 10 city tour during it’s last two pit stops in the Bay Area and Long Beach. The event is organized by Aaron Kahlow (Conference chair and his team — see above pic). Here’s a short snapshot of OMS

WHAT: Summit’s sole objective is to educate, collaborate, network and learn how to execute on the best known practices in Online Marketing. The Online Marketers Summit (OMS) is an Invitation Only, “vendorless” educational forum for Marketers only. Set in beautiful San Diego, Marketers from leading companies gather every year to share best practices and learn from expert online practitioners.

The 10 city tour was an offshoot of the original San Diego OMS, which has been drawing a fair amount of attention with a couple of hundred marketers attending the events where I spoke in LA and the Bay Area. Couple of ways I noticed OMS is trying to carve a unique path is in their focus by encouraging audiences to literally boo any references to the speaker’s own company. Again, similar to Gnomedex where speakers are doubly careful to not make a pitch by respecting the audience.

I got a chance to talk about ways marketers can leverage social media and social networking, given the enormous interest in these topics recently and the fact that I work for a professional networking site – LinkedIn, and could share some of my recent experiences implementing social media strategies encompassing corporate blogging, LinkedIn Answers, etc… After addressing the true impact of social media today, I delved into a 5-part presentation outlined below:

1. Social Media Circus

2. The State of Social Media

3. The 5th P of Marketing (Participation) | Social Media Marketing Mix

4. Follow the L-A-M-P (4 step process to engage in social media)

5. Ten ways marketers can leverage social networking

The first three components addressed the genesis and evolution of social media and the last two provided actual ways marketers could embrace social media and social networking. I’ll be covering my favorite part of the social media keynote in an upcoming post called “Follow the LAMP – 4 simple steps to engage in social media”. It’s as simple as that. And for you marketers interested (what are you waiting for?) what’s interesting is that it doesn’t cost you anything to step into the realm of social media.

As my good friend, Jeremiah, says with regards to blogging, I’d say with regards to speaking — take the first step, just do it, and things start developing. I’ve already got a couple more requests to speak at similar events; mostly revolving around social media, social marketing and my experience practicing it at a leading social networking site – LinkedIn. This is all exciting stuff!

Filed under: Miscellaneous, Speaking Engagements

Top 10 highlights from Gnomedex 2007

Summary: Back from an Online Marketing Summit (OMS — more on this later) as well as Gnomedex — excuse for a week long break from blogging — top 10 highlights from Gnomedex 2007

Bell Harbor Convention Center where Gnomedex 7.0 was held

Yes, I was there — Gnomedex 2007; and boy it was a BLAST! It was my first time there and I personally enjoyed the camaraderie among fellow bloggers (many from the Bay Area) and entertainment/controversy (see below) and personally to me, it was quite an unusual event that focused on bloggers and facilitated their discussions in a physical location. (Full Disclosure: LinkedIn was one of the co-sponsors).

So, here are the highlights (or at least how I saw it) in an entertaining 2-day bloggathon. Some of the crazy stuff that happened both on and off-stage. Here are my top 10 highlights from Gnomedex that I found interesting as a first-timer.

#10. Respek the audience: Audiences start off, by announcing their fear of the Gnomedex audience (well, I wouldn’t be surprised given what happened during Jason’s speech). However, for the most part the audience is receptive to ideas and suggestions feverishly blogging live, taking pictures or just having a good time.

#9. Dancing: Greg Spiridellis (one of the co-creators of Jib Jab — you know the guys who put together “My Land”), after introducing their new feature “Starring You”, added Chris & Ponzi’s image (Scoble and Chris’ for another fun piece) for some of the new flash animation. Anyone can add their photo to pre-visualized dances, kind of like Simpsonize Me. Hilarious!

#8. Random announcements: Apparently, the auditorium was twittering about rampant rumors (via Valleywag) that Scoble was fired at Podtech. Scoble picking up on the twitter feeds yelled out at the end of the Derek Miller presentation that he was NOT fired and clarified that they were after all – only rumors.

#7. Conference chatter to blog chatter: One thing leads to another. Ethan Kaplan (from Warner Music) my audience neighbor on Day 1, summarizes his take on the event (including the Scoble rumor busting event). Online happenings engender offline debates and as of last evening Scoble pulled Ethan into an online debate about Warner Music. About what? Well here it is (quote below):

What you are doing and funding (and supporting through your technology) is FAR worse for the human race than any arguing we’re doing at Gnomedex.

#6. Calacanis vs. Winer: Speaking of blog chatter, leading from what happened at Gnomedex. Jason Calacanis and Dave Winer debate. It’s a long story, one that is well told by Brian Solis. So check it out here. Well, you can also see the conversation spill over online as well.

Jason’s post | Dave’s post

#5. Be cool: Casual presentations (sometimes too casual) but all the time bordering on the patience of the audience, before something exciting (or untoward!) happens. Trust me; it’s super-exciting and entertaining. For example: the audience decided they wanted Chris to wear his new shoe on his head and badgered him to do so. Justin from auctioned off the real estate on his cap for $750 to b5media. It’s random, quirky and audience generated stuff like this that you won’t find anywhere else.

#4: A Baby Shower! — Chris and Ponzi rolled out a ton of gifts celebrating Robert and Maryam’s baby shower in the middle of the conference. It’s stuff like this that keeps Gnomedex so blogger centric and community focused.

#3. The Goodness of Technology: Many presentations focused on the good that could emanate from technology. In particular, I enjoyed the ones by Darren Barefoot, Jason Calacanis (esp. for the controversy it generated) and there was another one by Michael Linton on Open Money, which was a tad ambiguous (for me). Using technology for good is definitely a theme Gnomedex should stick to. Very cool. Here are similar observations by Ethan.

#2: Derek Miller (MVP, Gnomedex 7.0)Derek Miller (composer of Gnomedex’s theme song last year) was a regular at Gnomedex, until he was diagnosed with cancer. This year since he couldn’t make it, Chris had us video conference him LIVE, with an inspirational, emotional and heartfelt Q&A that really elevated this event beyond all the controversy, banter and entertainment into one that truly represented the blogger ethic and community, which I consider myself a part of. Here are Derek’s thoughts on the event.

#1: “We ARE the chat room”: After Chris Pirillo placed his shoe on his head acquiescing to a bunch of requests from the audience, he jokingly accused the audience of being like the online chat rooms, to which Dave Winer (i think) yelled out: “We ARE the Chat room”. And, I couldn’t agree more. Gnomedex IS a BLOGGER conference (first and last), placing its focus solely on the community of bloggers. And, it’s a WHOLE LOT OF FUN.

Friends I met include Chris and Ponzi (of course), Chris Brogan, Dave McClure, Deborah Schultz, Guy Kawasaki, Jason Calacanis, Michael Rubin, Betsy Weber, Josh Hallet, Renee Blodgett, Dave Coustan, Marc Canter, Ethan Kaplan and so many more…

Quick Update: Here’s Dave Winer’s critique of Gnomedex 2007. I’d definitely like to add my $0.02 to this conversation (more later this week) and would certainly be bummed out if Winer doesn’t make it to next year’s event 😦 Here’s Dave’s positive highlights post on Gnomedex.

Filed under: Miscellaneous

Is Social Networking the future of Word-of-Mouth Marketing?

Summary: Question of the week — Is Social Networking the future of Word of Mouth Marketing? — Posted question on LinkedIn Answers — 24 answers in less than 24 hours — sample a few

I hinted at this in an earlier post of mine, where I asked the question whether the future of word of mouth marketing is social networking. I then also cross-posted, a modified version of the same post/question on MarketingProfs, which should be live anytime this week (hopefully today or tomorrow). Since LinkedIn Answers is a tool that also gets me in front of millions of professionals (yes, I work there and am tired of saying it, but for disclosure’s sake I shall continue repeating myself), I decided to post the very same question on LinkedIn and within 24 hours, I received ~24 Answers (most of them from C-level executives and entrepreneurs. Well, I thought I’ll break it down into sheer % of answerers (is that a word?). Among the first 24 answers I received in 24 hours, here’s a breakdown of those who posted a response (interestingly, only 2 of the respondents where bloggers):

C-level executives: ~41%
Senior Marketers: ~33% (of whom 2 are bloggers, my friends Damon and Karl)
Consultants: ~21%
PR Manager: ~4%

Here’s the question: Is Social Networking the future of Word of Mouth Marketing?

Here are some answers from fellow LinkedIn users:

Bob Allistat

“Social networking” is incumbent upon joining or somehow being a part of a technical mechanism *not* a community. And certainly not of the world “at large”. The closer we can approximate real world connections online the more powerful will be our ability for one person to reach any other person. In other words the easier it is to connect the dots – without mediation, membership, being in or out, etc – the more profound the network, social or otherwise.

Currently the problem is barriers which exist at every turn. How we negotiate these barriers and design connections will determine how effective and easily we will be able to communicate with one another.

Karl Garrison:

I don’t think it will replace it, although it will definitely augment it. The nice thing about social networks now is that they don’t market very much – or at least it’s still quite subtle.

I also think snake-oil salesmen will find more subtle and clever ways to use and abuse social networking sites like monitoring the questions so they can answer with their own favorite CRM solution. Much like bloggers, companies will pay popular posters to endorse products without revealing they are paid.

While it could greatly strengthen and reinforce marketing, it could also corrupt the social networks themselves and make recommendations from people more than 1 degree away not really mean anything. This is a particular danger from the huge open networking community who don’t care and don’t know most people in their networks.

Also, I recently answered a question from someone that seemed like they were driving traffic to their blog. My answer was quite polite, but I disagreed with them and, mysteriously, my answer was flagged as inappropriate and disappear from the list – and several other similar postings disappear as well. I think this type of anti-marketing (where you flag answers that disagree with your post or recommend competitors) is evil and very likely to explode. Particularly when you can anonymously flag questions and easily get multiple accounts. (My response: Karl, please send me a link to the question and I’ll look into it. Thanks!)

Curtis Broome:

I think your question is great, but your assessment is inaccurate. There are two forms of WOM marketing, formal and informal. Formal (which is from a known friend, colleague, family member) WOM marketing is the most influential form. Informal is influential, but it’s strength is determined by the behavioral nature of the recipient of the information.

Let’s look at Yelp as an example since the business is built upon WOM recommendations. Clearly, Yelp is a success if measured by audience size and growth. Many Yelpers swear by the value it provides them as a local referral service. Yelp is an informal WOM marketing community. For me personally, Yelp is useless. I am not interested in the opinions of others regarding local businesses as I prefer to experience the business myself and form my own opinions. I am also very likely to try out a local business if I hear of positive experiences from my family and friends. Again, I see value in Yelp, but none for me.

Hence, your question should be whether or not social networking is the future of informal WOM marketing. If that is the question, my answer would be maybe, and it depends on whether or not any of these social networks can maintain a long enough product lifecycle to become true influencers on societal behavior.

Which of the above three is your favorite answer? And, do you’ve any thoughts on the same?

On a similar note, I’ll definitely urge my fellow marketers who dabble in blogging or those who don’t, to check out LinkedIn Answers. Not only will it get you answers from your select circle of friends on LinkedIn you can also have the question posted publicly where others interested in that category will respond (the question above was on Viral Marketing). Also, you can subscribe (RSS) to questions within each category. Check it out here. For e.g. I see my friend Jennifer Jones (Podtech) has a post up on MarketingProfs where she basically asks the question:

Strategic Marketing: Disappearing or just in hibernation?

I’d definitely urge Jennifer to post that question on LinkedIn Answers and see what kind of responses she gets. It’ll definitely surprise you since it opens up the question to an entirely new audience.

Here are some of my peers and friends use LinkedIn Answers in unique ways in the past:

1. Jason Calacanis — Posts on LinkedIn Answers; here and here
2. Chris Pirillo — Posts on LinkedIn Answers from the past; here, here and here

Filed under: Miscellaneous

Is “Marketing” to “friends” on your “social” network right? Is that WOMM enough?

Summary: Jason nails the argument — “Is social networking all about being a marketing platform?” — Why use social networks? — How social networks brings to fruition what word-of-mouth marketing dreamed of!

“You talkin’ to me!” | Jason accurately summarizes the social networking affliction

Jason’s Social Networking Bankruptcy Theory

A week ago, Jason Calacanis in the middle of a blog sabbatical, wrote:

Facebook is a multilevel marketing platform where you agree to pay attention to people’s gestures in the hopes that those people will pay-attention to your gestures in the future. It’s a gesture bank.

Are we creating a social system to communicate with each other at a distance because the reality of creating and maintaining that social networking face-to-face is, well, scary?

How NOT to network socially?

IMO, Imagine if in real life you’d a chance to make friends and all you did was keep making friends and at the end of it, try to market stuff to them. It’s kind of like the Pyramid Scheme were your rationale behind making friends was to sell stuff to them. I know Jason means otherwise, but then the question to ask then, is who among your social network’s connections are truly your “friends”. I have around 180 “friends” on Facebook and almost 400 professional colleagues, networkers, etc… on LinkedIn. (I work for LinkedIn)

I haven’t seen even a single sponsored video, haven’t clicked on the ad for the movie “Superbad” that was on my mini-feed on Facebook. Why? For starters, it’s kinda like inviting your friends over for a party and then starting it off by running a trailer for Superbad. And, if I wanted to be marketed to, I’d then go watch TV, not be on a social network. However, if a friend of mine (from my social network) writes a glowing review of “Superbad”, I may go watch. Interestingly, I’ve seen a bunch of my friends announce on the mini-feed that they were going to watch the “Bourne Ultimatum” today. Now, that makes my ever-convinced mind that I should watch the film today. If you belong to my circle of friends, you’ll also see a glowing review of the film later tonight? I’ve an honest opinion that I’m sharing and you may be inclined to take my word for it.

How to network socially? And, the theory of Word of Mouth Marketing.

Well, what I’m trying to say is that never before did we have tools that organically helped spread word-of-mouth as well as social networking sites allow us to do today.

Word-of-mouth promotion is highly valued by advertisers. It is believed that this form of communication has valuable source credibility. Research points to individuals being more inclined to believe WOMM than more formal forms of promotion methods; the receiver of word-of-mouth referrals tends to believe that the communicator is speaking honestly and is unlikely to have an ulterior motive (i.e. they are not receiving an incentive for their referrals) Source: Wikipedia.[1]

There is no more organic way to do this than using a social network. And, maybe that’s what Jason’s referring to as the gesture bank. I wonder what Andy Sernovitz of Word of Mouth Marketing (WOMM) thinks of that? Or, what Ben and Jackie at the Church of the Customer think. Their most recent book was titled — Citizen Marketers: when people are the message. What should marketers do when that message is now dispersed on a social network? Think about it. More on this later.

(BTW, I love Andy’s post on how to use networking sites like LinkedIn, without pissing people off? A must-read)

Note to Jason: I also think I’ve subscribed to the rules of linkbaiting, Jason and this was the best picture of yours I could find 🙂 BTW, I’ve gotta thank you for your response to my initial Top 10 CEO blogs. Made a whole lotta difference in my blogging life. Heard through today’s social networking grapevine that you love Kurosawa’s movies. If you do, check out this book by Donald Richie.

Filed under: Facebook, Twitter

When blogging is NOT your full time job?!

Summary: So you love to blog, but can’t find time to do it or you have a day job! — 10 5 easy ways to make your blogging experience better when you’ve very little time to do it — becoming more efficient at blogging

Ogilvy’s Rohit Bhargava (on the left) outlines 5 easy ways to maximize blog writing efficiency (Photo by Hyku)

I know what you’re thinking, all this blogging is very easy and a lot of fun (which is true), but then once you get into it, you realize, gosh darn, I have a real day job where I’m getting paid to do stuff and where do I find time to BLOG. E.g. some of my essay posts have taken anywhere between 1 – 3 hours! Fear Not! Rohit Bhargava (Ogilvy | Influential Interactive Blog) outlines ten five easy ways to maximize your blog writing efficiency in the midst of your day job:

1. Set a REALISTIC target & LET GO of your blogging guilt:
Bloggers guilt! I totally agree w/ Rohit on this one. As a matter of fact, one of the key blogger manifesto rules, written by my friend Chris Pirillo is:

  1. I will post whenever I feel like posting.
  2. I don’t have to blog every meme.
  3. I won’t post for the sake of posting.
  4. When blogging becomes a chore, I’ll quit doing it.

Exactly! Never ever feel forced to blog, but it should rather be an uncontrollable passion. Lucky are those whose blogging is their job, because in that case you’re paid to indulge in your passion. In my case, one of my goals as community evangelist at LinkedIn is to craft the blog strategy for LinkedIn’s corporate blog and to drive blogging adoption by my colleagues as well… (and blog there as well, as well as on an internal blog as well as contribute to MarketingProfs, which I rarely do). So, I also have to deal with a fair amount of blogging fatigue on Marketing Nirvana that I try to combat with a focus on my areas of interest or the processes I follow to enable blogging where I work. I really need to work on reducing that bloggers guilt for my personal blog.

What’s your ideal # of posts / week?
I’m trying to stick to 4 – 5 / week (for Marketing Nirvana) but sometimes it just doesn’t work

2. Figure out CONSISTENCY:
This is tremendously helpful when you’re driving a blog schedule, whether it’s for a personal blog as well as for a corporate blog (actually moreso for a corporate blog). Try to figure out a source(s) for a regular blog post. As Rohit suggests it could be something as simple as your delicious or Google Reader shared items. For a corporate blog, it could be a post based on press and media articles that involves your company’s field of expertise OR it could also be a list of features that your company launches. See, it’s pretty easy. Also, I’d recommend creating a collaborative calendar (Google calendar), which allows you to plug in certain regular feature posts that you can then be reminded of. Trust me; it helps.

3. Collate, collate, COLLATE:
A bloggers’ mind is constantly thinking about and working on themes that he’s obsessed with. In Jeremiah’s case, it may be web strategy, I’m thinking about social networking, community marketing, etc… Since most bloggers constantly browse articles that feed that obsession, I’m sure you’ll stumble upon articles that may seem blog-worthy. Start collating those articles in a repository. Rohit suggests a simple notepad; I’d say go with a Google Notebook, which is effective (yet could be better). It allows you to add different folders (think of them as different tags) and start clipping items/articles/blog posts that you encounter, into appropriate buckets of data.

4. Master the art of HALF-WRITING, Add the EXTRA STUFF later, Start the dialog, don’t always finish it:
Many times, I’ve felt daunted by the task of crafting, yet another, Top 10 post. However, blogs are about conversations and Rohit suggests starting them even if you don’t have a conclusion. Agreed. All I’d add is, try to be controversial, since that’ll definitely attract a commentary from other bloggers who’re opposed to your viewpoint. Take a contrarian view. I’ve always tried that but have not been very adept at implementing it. Let me know how it works for you?!

5. Compose the post in your head or Use the 25 STYLES OF BLOGGING and Write FAST:

I don’t know about composing the post in your head, but I’d agree with having a certain structure for your blog writing in general as well as sub categories. In Marketing Nirvana’s case, you’ll notice I’m adhering to a basic structure (Summary, Picture, 3-part post). The 3-part post is generally an intro, the argument and a conclusion — you know, basic essay writing. I prefer (and would recommend, bulleted versions more since it is easier to read). This way, I feel comfortable starting a post since it allows me to follow a convenient path. Also, I haven’t gotten used to writing FAST. I always take at least an hour to craft a post. Also, check out the 25 styles of blogging recommended by Rohit and pick one.

If you’ve any additional tips to ease blogging fatigue, feel free to share in the comments section

Filed under: Business Blogging