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War of the Words: How to be a WOW Blogger

When radio was young, Orson Welles held the world in frightened captivity when he narrated an adaptation of H.G. Wells’ fictional tale, The War of the Worlds. Since the first hour of the radio program was structured as a series of news reports, many tuning in to the broadcast heard frantic, panicked descriptions of an alien attack on our planet, and, trusting what they heard coming through the box, believed it to be true.

But that was 1938. Surely, that could never happen today, right? Well, probably not to that degree. But the power of words, once they are transmitted, is still undeniable.

Nowadays, with technologies that have gone beyond the one-way messaging of radio and TV, such as texting and Internet communications like emailing, social media, chat rooms, forums, and blogging, we are sending and receiving information to such a degree that our ideas can make an instantaneous impact. At the same time, however, our choice of words is more important than ever, and our message needs to stand out among the seemingly endless stream of sound bites we are bombarded with each day.

The most impactful leaders of our generation utilize the latest avenues of mass communication and social media to impart their ideas and share their knowledge. But what a leader says, and how she says it, is critical to her success. Words are indeed powerful, but their strength is intrinsically linked to the way they are communicated.

Blogging is an ideal format for a WOW leader to convey her message to a broad spectrum of followers. As a leadership journal of sorts, a blog provides a venue through which ideas can be shared, opinions can be voiced, problems can be discussed, and solutions can be offered.

So, how do you make your business blog a success? How do you turn your WOW ideas into a WOW leadership blog?

1. Keep it short. Whatever you say, say it fast. You are competing for the attention of busy, information-overloaded professionals. (Admittedly, keeping my blogs short, succinct, and to the point, is one of my greatest challenges.)

2. Make it relevant. Know your target audience. With a leadership blog, keep your topics related to the challenges faced by those in the business arena. Don’t stray off topic with irrelevant posts and offhanded observations.

3. Find your voice. Be confident in your own opinions, and then use your voice in a consistent and truthful manner. Remember that your words do have power, and can be helpful, thought-provoking, and inspirational to the right group of individuals. Through an open, honest exchange of thoughts, you can lead as well as learn, reinforcing your own leadership abilities and honing the skills that make you successful.

4. Stay positive. Although there may be times when your topic refers to negative subject matter, don’t always be the bearer of bad news. Keep your tone positive in nature with a solutions-based approach to realistic problems.

5. Think big. Unless Donald Trump is writing a blog, readership is anything but guaranteed. Once you start blogging, your following will likely be relatively small. But a great leader keeps her goals focused on continuous growth and steady progress. She is always thinking big, aiming towards expanding her viewer profile and reaching more potential leaders.

Blogging can be an invaluable tool for up-and-coming or established leaders. A blogger’s message may not have the effect that Orson Welles’ broadcast had on the public nearly 75 years ago, but through the latest technologies, the power of words can be just as impactful.

Sheri Staak has served in many Vice Presidential roles at both large privately held and publicly traded global companies. She’s a corporate powerhouse and has been the recipient of numerous sales awards and recognitions. In addition to her key position in a highly aggressive, extremely competitive industry, Sheri is a regular contributor to a travel newsletter, lending her expertise by writing articles that provide tips and advice for business travelers. She also shares her wisdom and business perspectives with regular postings at her leadership-focused blog, The Staak Report.

How to Deal with a Social Media Mutiny

It all seemed like such a good idea at the time. We’ll open a Twitter account, get a load of customers to follow us, they’ll love our brand and shop with us even more than before as a result. Beautiful in its simplicity right? Not when your Twitter stream fills up with comments such as this…

For online businesses, what started out as a way of building brand loyalty and boosting sales can quickly turn into a sounding board for the disgruntled customer.

If you’re in charge of your company’s social media account, how do you deal with the fallout from unhappy customers venting their frustrations all over your Twitter page?

Get Them Offline

While it may be tempting to make a public display of how you are dealing with your customers’ complaints, it can quickly deteriorate into an online slanging match. Leave the “he did this”, “she did that” for emails and phone calls as this isn’t something that you need your other customers to see.

Go back to the complainant with the details of your customer service department and make sure they are dealt with promptly and effectively. If someone has hit Twitter to complain about you once before, you know they will go back again if they aren’t happy with the way you have dealt with their complaint.

Answer Everyone

Managing a social media account has now become a full time job for many large companies. Customers are hitting social networks 24/7, and you need to be on-hand to answer every complaint that comes in.

Everyone who complains to you on Twitter will expect you to come back to them, just as they would if they had written or emailed, so don’t treat unhappy customers any differently just because of where they made their complaint.

Make your reply personal to them, don’t just copy and paste a standard “complaint” reply, and direct them to somewhere that is not your Twitter feed that will rectify their problem.

Retweet & Reply to the Positive Comments

Managing a company’s Twitter account may sometimes feel like putting out a million different fires all at once, but like us here at business gifts it is important not to forget the positive comments too.

If people visit your Twitter page and it is solely a stream full of unhappy customers, this is going to have serious repercussions for your company’s reputation. Make sure you reply to everyone that leaves a positive comment and encourage them to leave you a testimonial too.

Also, retweet the positive comments you get so that they show up in your feed and are visible to anyone who visits your Twitter page.

Using Twitter can be a great way to communicate with your customers and develop a feeling of brand loyalty, but it is also a magnet for the disgruntled customer.

If you are just starting out on your business Twitter journey, make sure you consider how you are going to deal with negative comments before you go online, and have your customer service procedures in place so that you can handle complaints in a professional and effective manner.

Daniel Vince is Sales Manager at The Corporate Gifts Company which is a leading
supplier of promotional items, which offer amazing high quality from silver plated
luxury corporate gifts.

Video Blog when I look like THIS??

To video blog or not to video blog?

That is a big question a lot of bloggers face. But sometimes your face might be the issue on why you are staying behind the camera and in front of the keyboard. In this vlog I discuss, and demonstrate, why our own appearance might be influencing our choice in blog format.

Google+ making the jump?

Article first published as Google+ Making the Jump? on Technorati.

The big question about Google+ has been will they make it. When a new technology comes out they go through a adoption cycle from inception to worldwide domination. This is called the technology curve. The concept is pretty easy. It starts with innovators who design the product. The early adopters try it out. The early majority bring it into mainstream. Late majority are the ones who pick it up after everyone else has tried it and the laggards are the last people to pick it up. On this curve, there is a little space, a chasm is you will, that is the determining factor as to whether a product makes it or not.  Crossing the chasm is the biggest challenge a new technology faces.

Technology Curve

This is the best technology curve I have yet to see. It made me laugh.

Google+ has been standing on the edge of this cliff for a while now. People keep asking if they are going to successfully make the leap. There is a good chance of it.

Often times landing your jump to the early majority requires the involvement of influential people. Getting someone who has a wide following and who looks to them for guidance on their tech to adapt your technology and then endorse it is like making he jump with a big parachute.

Well, Chris Brogan is often considered one of those people. He is essentially the father of social marketing and has been carving the path for the rest of us for a decade. Many people in social media look to him for trends and guidance. Well, guidance is something Brogan frequently offers. He just recently endorsed Google+ on his blog. He explains how to best use it and tells everyone to go and sign up. He even offers a solution to the “invite only” issue.

With endorsements from people like Brogan, it is very likely that Plus will make the leap and have a safe landing on the other side.

Will Google+ Cross the Chasm?

The Google+ button is everywhere. Reports are saying it is more wide spread than the twitter button. Google just sped up the button by 3 times, so now it will load even faster on all those websites.  But with all these great reports about Google+, is it really holding up?

Many have questioned if it will hold up against Facebook. Facebook is the leader in social networks, however it is not without criticism. The Google+ draw is that it answers some of those criticisms, like privacy. But is that enough?

Reports have been that the users are primarily early adapters, “while important, are not great predictors of the success of a social network.”

Technology Curve: Crossing the Chasm

Early adopters are integral for the adoption of technology. They are the ones that vet the tech and help usher it into the early majority. But the chasm is the challenge. Crossing the chasm is the challenge of any new tech. In fact, tech will live or die depending on if it can make the crossing.

The early majority are the people who will usher a new tech into the main stream. They are the ones who are considered the trend setters and other people follow their lead. But the jump from early adopter to early majority is not easy. Right now Google+ is trying to make the leap.  Though early indications are not hopeful.

Early reports are showing that Google+ visitors are down 3%, or 1.79 million, and the time spent on the site is down 10%.  The time spent on the site being down is a bigger indicator to me than visitors. Google+ is still invite based and many of the early majority will not think to ask for an invite, and the early adopters will like not think to give them. Hence part of the problem with crossing the chasm. But Google can solve that problem easily by opening up registration, which I expect they will do relatively soon.

However, time spent on the site should be going up, especially with more and more people signing up to the site. What this says is that the content on Google+ is not captivating enough to keep people on it. Facebook focused on that when they started, and have maintained the ability to keep people exploring their network. Google+’s inability to do this could be evidence of their lack of experience with social networks.

So the big question: Will Google+ cross the chasm?

My RSS Feed is Gone!!

cartoon man sitting on a bench reading an oversized magazine with an RSS symbol on the coverI was doing some basic maintenance on my blogsite and suddenly realized that my RSS feed subscribers dropped down to zero.  You can imagine my “WHAT THE F*%$!!!!” reaction.  Once I got a grip, I decided to leave it for a day to see if maybe it was just some horrible dream.  So I came back and checked and nope, it was real.  All of my subscribers were gone.

I checked my RSS address and it was no longer registering my RSS feed, which was totally confusing and frustrating.  I actually had to go into my wordpress site and eliminate my custom feed.  Then I deleted my feed on Feedburner and reclaimed it. THEN I had to assign a new feed url and redirect my wordpress to the new feed address! Thankfully I did not have many subscribers…

Ok, wait, not really –  I am thankful for every subscriber!  What I mean is that I just offered a subscription box on this site, so I hadn’t yet gathered many subscribers.  But for people who have been managing subscribers for a long time, having your feed url get tanked could be devastating!

I hope that by fixing the RSS feed the subscribers I had will find me again.

Of course after I did all this I started doing some research on feedburner, specifically for this post.  I originally wanted to talk about what feedburner counted and what they didn’t, and why it is not always the most accurate form of traffic stats for blogs.  I found out that Google has been doing some algorithm adjustments and my RSS tanking was most likely because of this.  A post was written talking about feedburner possibly being one of the sources to people having RSS issues. Apparantly Techcrunch and Mashable both had issues with their feeds because of this update.

If it can happen to Mashable, it can happen to me! and you!

So go out and check your feed and make sure that all is well in your blogoverse.

5 Sources of Inspiration for Bloggers

Comic image of two people talking about finding things to write about

Blogs can be a source for – or a source of – inspiration. Blog writing is something we come to in many different ways. Some people write out of a deep interest in a topic; they have a passion about a subject that they want to share with others.  Others have expertise they want to pass on.  Some people do it out of professional intrigue or professional necessity.  The reasons for blog writing can be as varied the topics covered.

Regardless of the reason for writing, sharing is one of the key elements that unites bloggers. One of the things they most want is for others to read it.  We all want to acquire an audience.

There are various ways to promote our blogs, drive traffic, and build revenue and subscribers.  But before you can focus on these things you have to face some primary technical questions – like how often are you going to post?

How often can you write on your topic?  How frequently can you find sufficient inspiration?

Is once a week enough?  Twice? Three times?  What about daily? Oh my god, daily! Yowza. Let’s not even talk about the nuts who post twice daily (ahem…Chris Brogan)

If your goal is to drive traffic to your site, then Brogan summed it up nicely when he said, “the more you post, the more traffic you get.”

So now you are blogging three times a week, or maybe you have even gone hell bent for leather and are blogging daily. So how do you do it?  How do you find motivation?  How do you find your topics?

  1. Read other people’s blogs!
    This is one of the best ways to find inspiration. See what other people are writing about; perhaps respond to what they have written.
  2. Read the news
    Many of us don’t actually blog about mainstream news, so what is the news in your industry?  You probably have thoughts and opinions on trending topics.  Share your opinion. Stop worrying if people agree with you, or if you are right or wrong.  Put your thoughts out there, and then if the response you get changes your point of view, well then you have another post topic!
  3. Follow Twitter
    Twitter is a beacon of discussion.  What are people talking about?  How are people interacting? Twitter is ripe with inspiration seeded in the conversations.  If you pay attention to what people are talking about you will see what people are interested in…write about that!
  4. Watch a movie
    Sure, it is a great form of procrastination, but if you are feeling stagnated then challenge yourself with a movie.  Watch a great and notable title and see how you can apply your writing to that movie.  Integrate buzz words from your industry into movie liners.  Have fun with it!
  5. Just start writing
    Occasionally we are just blocked. Blocked for words, topics, creativity. Sometimes sitting down and just typing whatever comes to your mind will lead you into something.  Think of it as an active meditation.  Just write what comes, no matter how goofy or nonsensical.  Many times finding inspiration is a matter of discipline, which may means committing to writing even when you can’t think of anything to write.

The more you write the easier it will become. When you first ramp up your frequency it can seem really daunting.  But the old adage is true; the more you write the more you will be able to write.  If you focus, the inspiration will come!

What inspires you? Tell me about it!