Marketing Through Blogging

5 Minute Read

Blogs, Blogs, Blogs… They are everywhere and you may not even realize it. Blogs are the marketing tool of the time and blogs are giving newspapers and radio advertising a serious run for their money. In order for a company to effectively use blogs as a marketing tool, a company has to have a solid understanding of what social media means for businesses today and how they can utilize the social media world and blogging to benefit their long term strategy.

Blogging has broken out from the conventional blog hosting sites and is now on all of our social media platforms.  If the criteria for a blog is: regularly updated articles, one or more authors and typically focused content written in an informal or conversational style then blogs populate Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Pintrest and many other platforms. When you like and share an article or a post you are GVessentially marketing for someone and perpetuating a blog. Today, social media and the internet allow companies to have direct relationships with their consumers that were not possible in the past. Companies can now interact and engage easily with their consumers just as consumers can now easily engage with their favorite companies. This dynamic has some companies scratching their heads while it has other forward thinking companies developing strategies around it.

Two forward thinking companies I think that are effectively utilizing blogs as a marketing tool are Coca-cola and Gary Vaynerchuk with Vaynermedia. Both have set up an amazing web of blogs and social media content that keeps the attention of their consumers and maximizes interaction and impact.

Both companies realize that the use of blogs as a marketing tool is a long play. The effectiveness of blogs relies more on the quality of its content and the relational depth a company has with its readers than the number of followers alone. A good blog should not push sales, it should give value to the reader. Nobody wants to read blogs that are always pitching a sell to them. A reader wants value from the content in the form of entertainment or knowledge. Essentially a blog is a marketing expense that is used to give your customers value in the form of entertainment or knowledge. That sounds like an awful play but if you consider the blog as a relational investment in regards to the integrity of your consumer base then it makes sense. Effective blogs are relationship and trust builders. Gary Vaynerchuk once said, “If you give more than you take then you have leverage for life”.

CokeCoca-cola has positioned their blogs as a form of engagement and interaction while providing stories and product updates through their blog “Unbottled”. The content is not overwhelming or pushy and articles can be easily searched and found through filtering. Coca-cola wants to reach and keep the attention of as many consumers as possible in order to fabricate a lasting loyalty from them. Their focus is rooted in retention through attention and Coca-cola quickly cycles numerous pieces of content that are broadly appealing and shareable.

Gary Vaynerchuk is the CEO of Vaynermedia, a 600 employee media and strategy company that boasted over $100 million in revenue last year. He is a pioneer in the digital and social media world and an incredible entrepreneur to say the least. Gary started his career after he graduated college in 1999. He took over operations at his father’s wine company and increased the annual revenue from $3 million to $60 million annually through the use of an incredibly effective e-commerce and e-mail marketing program. He started one of the first online video blogs in 2006 called Wine Library and in 2009 he and his brother started Vaynermedia. Gary hustled his way toG.png the ability to put yourself in other people’s shoes and see what they want is the greatest gift anyone can have. With that gift all you have to do is deliver and Gary understands that today’s generations require interaction, online relationships and above all else… attention. The social media climate is driven by attention. That is why we have like buttons and share buttons. It is why we post pictures and stories for people to read and tell us how great our lives are. We crave attention and Gary is a deliverer of attention, value and motivation. Gary also blogs to maintain his personal brand as an industry leader. His blogs means more followers which result in credibility. Credibility sells books and authors get paid to speak. That type of notoriety can lead a company such as Vaynermedia which sells various media products and provides services such as social strategy and social media management to many fortune 500 companies.

As you can see blogs allow a company to be more up close and personal with their consumers than ever before. If a company understands what they want to achieve through blogging they can begin to develop a strategic plan and begin the long game strategy. The first step is to create shareable content that readers will find value in. Then listen and be empathetic to their needs and deliver to those needs. Interact and keep their attention and the number of followers will increase. If a company can remain consistent and present, then they will gain the trust and loyalty of their followers and that is the goal of any company or blogger.

-Brent Devers

Using Twitter to Drive Value to Your Business

Driving value into a business is what every business owner and/or leader needs to accomplish. Using Twitter, along with a common-sense marketing plan, can drive value to any business. Twitter is currently being used effectively by various sizes and types of businesses to connect with customers, build brand, advertise and increase sales – and you can too.

As with any type of marketing or communications (marComm), using Twitter should be done with planning and rigor. However, it can still be fun, creative and impulsive. Using the following elements in this simple equation will provide a solid foundation and set you free to tweet.

(Plan + Content) + Brand x Consistency (Followers x RT2) = Value

I’m not a math major, so the equation might not make perfect sense. However, let’s focus on the elements which make the equation work. This article will help you understand the basics of each element and how they drive value into your business.

Plan:  As part of your marComm plan, develop a high-level plan that drives goals and provides a strategy for communicating with Twitter. Simply state a goal to gain 500 Twitter followers and convert  5% of them monthly is a good start.

You will also need to develop a tactical plan of weekly and daily Twitter activity of when you will communicate and when you will market to your followers. Tools like HootSuite can help schedule tweets so you can keep working!

Content: Any marComm plan is only as strong as the content that you deliver.  Not everyone can film, edit and soundtrack a video that rivals professionally produced media, but you can still produce quality content that is in line with your followers’ expectations.

Good content can be as simple as your opinions and thoughts (based on your plan) or as complex as multiple media streams (photo, video, animation, illustration). Following industry thought leaders and reTweeting (RT) their comments, as well as your replies, is another good way to provide valuable content to your followers.

Brand: Brand is simply a relationship that is based on a set of expectations that drive a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over others with similar features and benefits. So, like any other relationship you have via social media, your Twitter followers should easily get an idea of ‘Who you are’ and ‘What you do’ so they can begin to understand ‘What you can do together’ and ultimately, make a purchasing decision.

Businesses that do not establish and reinforce their brand in marketing and communications, usually struggle to keep long-term followers. Establishing a strong brand is essential to drive value to your business.

Consistency: Before stepping too far out into the social world, you need a consistent voice and brand personality. The best way to develop your voice is to practice tweeting in smaller social venues (church, alumni group, friends, etc) not associated with your industry.

Driving consistency doesn’t mean all your content is similar, but rather it feels like it is coming from the same entity (person, business, organization, etc). Without consistency, your followers may feel as though they are developing a relationship with someone who has multiple personalities.

Followers: Quality trumps the quantity of followers every time. In Twitter, find people who post frequently in your industry, then follow and re-tweet (RT) their content if it fits inside your content strategy. Then, build a relationship with these ‘thought leaders’ and drive value back to them.

You can also use Twitter’s search function to find people and businesses in your industry. When they show up multiple times, follow them. To keep a high-functioning list, block and remove all spammers and content that is not ‘on your brand’.

Value: Follow your plan and deliver good content. Stay on brand and be consistent. Follow the right people and build your list. Including these elements will drive value to your business and leave more time for focusing on your real job.

Richard Whitney,
IUPUC Student

Works Cited

“How to Use twitter for Business” by Jill Duffy  |  PCMag.com  |  April 16, 2013
(http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2417647,00.asp)

“How to Use twitter for Business and Marketing” by Charlene Kingston  |  socialmediaexaminer.com  |  April 10, 2013
(http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/how-to-use-twitter-for-business-and-marketing/)

“10 Reasons Why Your Business Should Use Twitter” by Aaron Lee  |  askaaronlee.com  |  2013
(http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2417647,00.asp

Internet Consensus and IUPUC

If you go to the dictionary or Google the term “internet consensus” you won’t find much, if anything; believe me I tried. However unfamiliar the term may seem, the concept is something we are all acquainted with. Internet consensus is simply creating a format on the internet for people to collectively put their thoughts and opinions. Then you have a large source of information ready and available to you for whatever the purpose of collecting the data was for. I have three prime examples of internet consensus:

2002: M&M color change
Changing colors isn’t a new procedure for M&M’s. They changed their tan M&M to blue back in 1995. They had the choice of blue, pink, or purple and had to call a 1-800-FUN-COLOR hotline to place their vote. What about internet consensus?  It wasn’t until 2002 that M&M decided to introduce another new color, but this time voting was done via the internet. The choices were pink, purple or aqua. There were advertisements abroad, all over the world. Consumers were invited to go online to M&M Global Vote and vote for the next color. M&M marketed this new campaign to all sorts of media. In one particular instance M&M had put a voting poll on the AOL homepage, and in a single day registered over 600,000 votes! After the time was up, the internet consensus determined that purple was to be the new M&M color.

2009: Live Music by Mass Animation    <watch video here>
Mass Animation, a computer graphics company out of California, teamed up with Facebook to create an interactive consensus with Facebook users. People had the option to download software that had unfinished clips of a possible story line and make it their own. They then submitted their short film layout and people could then vote on them. The winning submission with the most votes won a Dell XPS System, and every week the submission with the most votes won $500 per shot. Once the polls were closed, Mass Animation studios then finished the short film and Sony then showed the short film on the big screen with Planet 51. The internet consensus produced a high quality and entertaining short film.

2010: DEWmocracy <get out and vote!>  <watch video here>
Pepsi knew it had a fan craze base with Mountain Dew products and wanted to provide tasty options to its many loving fans. They provided the simplest solution: give them what they want! Pepsi created a very comprehensive poll method allowing their fans to choose everything about the new product: the flavor,  color, name, label design and fans even had the option to choose which campaign companies would make the new commercials. That’s not all! Then they finally had the option to choose one of the three drinks they created to be the new mountain dew product. Geniuses.

IUPUC
With the knowledge that internet consensus is successful and can provide profitable data, how do we implement that at IUPUC? It would be simple for IUPUC to question their students with an on screen poll installed on all the lab computers. A lot of people are investing in smart phones and use an IU mobile app. IUPUC could use that app to retrieve poll answers. So what kind of information would IUPUC receive through internet consensus? IUPUC could ask the students and teachers about what kind of new lunch item they would like to see at the café. Ask the students what class they would really be interested in taking that isn’t provided. Come up with community volunteer ideas and let the students decide on which one they would like to participate in. Find out what pressing topics we are interested in and give those majoring in journalism an opportunity to write about what we want to know more about. Any information that IUPUC needs to come to conclusions or for research can be done through internet consensus via webpages, mobile apps, Facebook, Twitter and more.

By: Amanda Jo Lucas, Business Entrepreneurship Major – IUPUC

<additional dewmocracy video> <additional dewmocracy video>

Writing Different Types of Business Reports

The following is an article written by Robin Fritz for eHow.com’s Money feature:

In the business world, good writing can get you noticed, hired and promoted.  And, much like a Super Bowl commercial, a well written report is an opportunity to highlight your skills.  But as a busy manager, how do you write a business report?  The following tips will help you tackle a variety of reports:

Know your purpose.  What have you been asked to do?  Are you providing information only?  Then, you’re writing an informational report.  Are you analyzing a problem and making recommendations to solve it?  If so, you’re writing an analytical report.  Are you describing a conference, meeting, or monthly progress on a project?  Then, you’re writing a standard report.  Knowing your purpose keeps you on target.  It gives you focus.

Identify your audience.  Who are you writing to – a client?  Your supervisor?  That individual is your primary audience.  But what if your supervisor shows it to her supervisor?  Then, you have a secondary audience.  Knowing potential audiences will help you identify the proper tone, whether formal or informal.

Analyze your audiences.  What do your audiences know about this topic?  Do you need to educate them?  Can you use industry jargon?  Analyzing your audience helps you avoid leaving out key information.  It saves you – and your audience – time.

Research your topic.  Brainstorm ideas.  What information already exists and what’s missing?  What sources are trusted by your audience?  Asking key questions gives you a research plan for your business report and gets you moving in the right direction.

Organize your research.  Look for relationships.  Ignore irrelevant information. Identify your strongest ideas and start your business report with them.  Good organization builds an outline and – most importantly – helps avoid writer’s block.

Compose your report.  Adopt a conversational tone.  Avoid trite business phrases like “per your request.”  Use vivid, precise language.  Focus on being clear and concise.  Use transitional expressions.

Revise and proofread your work.  Edit with “fresh eyes” only.  Review your content – are you satisfied?  If not, re-write.  Proofread for spelling, grammar and formatting.  Use your spell checker, but DON’T rely on it.  Verify noun/verb/pronoun agreement.  Check for page numbers.  Error free work is an advertisement for your skills.  Take the time to proofread carefully.

Evaluate the final product.  Did you achieve your purpose?  Does your tone match your audience?  Did you do justice to the topic?  Is it free from errors?  If you can say yes, congratulations!  You have a business report of which you can be proud.

http://www.ehow.com/how_6107127_write-different-business-reports.html

When to Sign a Memo

The following is an article written by X204 Business Communication Adjunct Lecturer Robin Fritz for eHow.com’s Money section:

To sign or not to sign?  That is the question that often arises when busy managers set out to write a memo.  Unlike business letters – which clearly require a signature – memos are a different animal altogether, and whether or not to sign them isn’t clear to many young managers just starting out in the business world.  The following tips, however, will help shed some light on whether to sign or not to sign. 

Know the difference between a memo and a letter.  Letters written on company letterhead are external documents – they tend to go to smaller outside audiences, such as clients, suppliers, industry regulators, etc. – making a signature a required element.  Memos, however, are internal and usually go to a company’s employees – which may include hundreds of people.  In practice, memos DON’T include a signature.  But sometimes managers are wise to include their initials next to their name in the header.  The real trick is knowing when and if to do so.

Know the purpose of a memo.  Second to email, memos are a primary tool used by managers to share information with employees, whether it be simple announcements or key information regarding changes in policies.  In short, some memos tend to be more sensitive in nature than others.

How sensitive is the information?  Routine memos – those that deal with non-controversial topics – make up the bulk of memos sent by managers.  These types of memos rarely require follow up and tend to be taken at face value.  Other topics, such as corporate downsizing measures, reduced health benefits, etc., can be difficult for employees to hear and, as a result, their validity may be challenged.  When the topic is sensitive, the memo writer may initial the memo to add validity to the contents.  But even then, initials are NOT required.

How many people will receive the memo?  Again, memos sometimes go to hundreds of people and even initialing them may be a time consuming task.  In the business world, time is money – and adding even initials may be a large undertaking.  When deciding whether or not to initial a memo, ask, what value is being added with this task?  If none, skip it.

Tip: Signature blocks signal to readers that they’ve reached the end of a letter.  With memos, however, telegraph the ending by using transitional expressions highlighting the conclusion, such as “In closing” or “Lastly.”

Warning: Remember, whether you’re writing a memo or a letter, with or without a signature, the content can be a legally binding document.  Never dash off any correspondence in haste – you could get yourself, and your company, in hot water.

 http://www.ehow.com/how_6110660_sign-business-memo.html