Saturday, January 17, 2009

No Viral Hope

This past Wednesday I made the bumper-to-bumper trek up I-270 during rush hour to The Johns Hopkins University’s Montgomery County campus in Gaithersburg, MD.

The traffic pain was well worthwhile because Network Solutions’ put on an informative event titled “If You Build It, Will They Come?”

This topic is right in step with Strategic Communications Group’s (Strategic) philosophy about social media. For instance, when describing our competencies I typically marry a discussion of executive blog development with the importance of promotion. That’s because I believe it is the responsibility of the blogger to proactively market their content and thought leadership with the goal of driving quality and quantity of readership. Don’t leave these things to viral hope or chance.

Speakers Frank Warren of Post Secret and Rohit Bhargava, author of the Influential Marketing Blog, shared a number of best practices that have helped each of them expand their readership and influence. Perhaps more impressive is that Frank and Rohit have both leveraged their blog to secure six-figure book deals.

Here are highlights from each of their presentations:

1. Frank Warren

-The driving force of his effort is the quality of the content, provided by the very community his blog serves. Frank receives more than 1,000 post cards a week with “secrets” that he then reviews and shares on the blog. He refers to his reader contributions as “positive emotional capital.”

-Frank takes a minimalist approach to the layout of the blog, by design. There are no ads either as he doesn’t want to distract from the quality of the content.

-Perhaps his most savvy business decision was to eliminate any archive of the secrets his publishes each Sunday. The approach keeps readers coming back to the blog and also provided him unique content he incorporates into his books.

-Traditional media coverage early in his project helped create more reader interest in the blog. This is a good example of the importance of promoting blog content in traditional PR channels.

2. Rohit Bhargava

-Quality of readership trumps quantity for Rohit. Like many consultants, Rohit’s blog serves as a validation of his market expertise. In fact, he has been known to proactively send a link to a particular post to a select set of clients and prospects who may be interested in that topic.

-Brand personality is also important. According to Rohit, people want to care about who they buy from, who they work for and who they invest in.

-Rohit’s claim to fame is that he coined the term “Social Media Optimization.” Yet, rather than riding the interest in this topic, he purposely broadened the editorial focus of his blog to appeal to the largest possible readership base.

-The largest referrers of traffic to his blog are Google Search, Twitter and StumbleUpon.

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