Relationship Building Is At the Heart of Building a Solid Community

building relationshipsAny community whether it is offline or online is only as strong as the relationships that have built it. Understanding that building a community one relationship at a time is critical to how long or how fleeting a community survives. Knowing that fact, is critical to any online marketing strategy companies or even individuals embark on in social media. One day you might find that a community has sprung up around your brand, product or service, if you don’t build solid, enduring and transparent relationships with your audience, it can disappear just as quickly if you don’t invest in building relationships with community members.

There’s no quick fix for building lasting relationships. No “drive-thru”, “fast food”, “overnight success” answers to building a lasting, thriving community that can withstand the trends and falls of the every picky, constantly distracted consumer. There’s only the ardent task of reaching out to one community member at a time and touching them personally. Unfortunately and sadly to some marketers, they are only interested in “how can I get X number of links fast”, or “how can I get X number of friends fast”, and that’s where they go wrong when jumping into social media.

Something magical happens to companies and individuals who take the time to reach out on a more personal level to build those relationships they deem important. They create evangelists. They create word of mouth marketing. They create something viral. All from taking the time to personally respond to an email, a blog comment, a post on a forum, a message on a FaceBook fan page, a glittery comment posted on MySpace, that personal “reaching out” means something to people. The simple act of saying “Thank You” or “I’m Sorry” or even “How Can I Help?” goes a long way towards building trust and a relationship that can touch many more people than who you reached out too.

Social Media and Community Building are not overnight sensations, you can ask any forum moderator or message board administrator. It takes time to build relationships that last. Even the “A” list bloggers (o.k. Perez Hilton could be the exception) didn’t become hot sensations overnight, it took reaching out, commenting on others blogs, linking to other posts and sites and speaking directly to the audience members to build their communities.

Social Media and Community Building are areas that do need a specific strategy planned for. How do you approach building a relationship, who handles building the relationship, what are the boundaries (yes, you do need to define them), and how do these relationships help you as a company or an individual become even better? Those are things that need to be considered before jumping in. If you just set you team loose on building relationships, it could go array, as one person on the team has a very different idea of how to build a relationship than another person.

Take the time to figure out what your message is and how you want to build the relationships around you, your brand, service or product. Research your audience and understand what they are receptive to, and then go out and start building those honest relationships, before your know it, you could have a thriving community on your hands.

XMen Origins – Wolverine & 20th Century Fox Miss The Online Marketing Buzz

This past weekend the internet was buzzing. What were they buzzing about? The movie trailer for the new Wolverine movie coming out. It wasn’t on main stream news, where it was buzzing was on social networks, social news sites, video shares and forums as well as social communication channels like Twitter.

The trailer hit theaters as a lead in to the Keanu Reeves’ movie, a re-adaptation of “The Day The Earth Stood Still“. The first real big buzz coming Friday night. A smaller bit of buzz about the Wolverine movie came during Comic Con this year where they showed a slightly different trailer.

So how did 20th Century Fox stumble out of the gate on this one? There’s several ways, and as a marketer who’s well versed in online media, it just frustrated me to no end that these big movie houses still just do not get online marketing in any sense of the form.

What Happens When You Can’t Find The Website?

Let’s start with their website. Think you can find the official Wolverine website by typing in Wolverine Movie? How about Wolverine Movie Trailer? How about using it’s official movie title “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”? Nada – Zippo – Zilch. All through out the weekend I tried, today I took screen caps – no where in the top 10, take a look below (click the thumbnails to get a larger view).

Wolverine Movie Google Search   Wolverine Movie Trailer Google Search   X-Men Origins Wolverine Google Search

X-Men Origins Wolverine Official Site Google SearchTheir website is in flash, totally absolutely in flash with absolutely no content a search engine’s spider can read. The only thing it can read is the title tag for this site. Talk about being invisible to the search engines, and to the rabid Wolverine fans! It wasn’t until I typed in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine Official Site” did I get the movie site to come up in Google. Now tell me who the heck is going to type that in, other than me who was bound and determined to find the official site?

Video, Video, Video… It’s Where the People Are At

Now lets go to the subject of the trailer. Talk about needing to loosen control! 20th Century Fox definitely needs to loosen their death grip if they aren’t going to put their trailer out on their site the same day they release it in a movie theater. They also need to realize that when they don’t come up for “Wolverine Trailer” for their own site, they need to have it ranking else where, or someone else will. On Friday, Saturday and early Sunday there was still no Wolverine trailer on the official site, what in the world is wrong with their marketing team? Granted today when I went out to look the trailer is now there.

People were clamoring to see this trailer who didn’t want to go see this movie. Let me tell you, as a comic book gal, and a XMen fan from my childhood years, I was clamoring to see this trailer. I’ve been waiting like the rest of the XMen fans since the last movie to get more. We all scour the internet for clues, tidbits and the slightest bit of information we can glean to satisfy our need.

Thus why looking for this trailer became an obsessions with not just me, but others as well over the weekend. According to Groundswell, the author Charlene Li, points out that 29% of the people in social media are watching videos other people have made. Google was pulling down more trailers of Wolverine this weekend than you can imagine. But people were still searching for this trailer on YouTube and any other video share they could find.

Wolverine Trailer Search on YouTube

The Fans Take Action…. 20th Century Fox Misses Out

I did find it on another video share, I’m not going to say where, because I don’t want to see it taken down. I found another trailer from Comic Con too – and what’s amazing about that video, it captures people cheering during the trailer, talk about fandom! Cheering during a trailer – now that speaks volumes.

People were videoing the trailer from their phones while in the movie The Day The Earth Stood Still. They uploaded it to video shares and blogged about it. Why did they do this? 1) they love XMen, Wolverine in particular 2) they recognized that 20th Century Fox wasn’t filling their need or the need of others.

No where on YouTube is there an official Wolverine, 20th Century Fox, or Marvel Channel for the movie. What 20th Century Fox doesn’t realize is that there is real buzz going on about this movie. One look at Google Insights tells the story. Just over this weekend searches for Wolverine skyrocketed, several terms are break out terms with searches increasing over 1000% (I don’t get the big surge in Michigan though). None of these terms are pushing traffic towards the official XMen site either, and if you notice, none of these terms use the long arduous title that 20th Century Fox Does.

click images for a larger view
Google Insights - Wolverine - Trend and Map Data  Google Insights - Wolverine - Search Trend Data

So this leads to showing you the audience, a lesson in strategy in combining both SEO and Social Media strategies together when you are launching something big. When you understand online media, and aren’t having such a death grip on control of your brand, you can reap huge rewards. Unfortunately for 20th Century Fox, they are just making their fans of XMen and Wolverine not like them very much.

And btw the way, yes I did a fan girl squeal when I saw Gambit. 😉 ahhh Remmy LeBeau makes me weak!

Offline & Online Marketing Convergence – Missing Out on Key Opportunities

Sometimes I get a little frustrated when I see things in an offline environment, and I cannot find head nor tail of it online. Has that ever happened to you?

Techno Twins Comercial from AT&T on YouTubeRemember those AT&T Wireless commercials from about a year ago, where one person said they went from city to city, the background would move behind them to reflect those cities, and they’d come up with some weird concoction of a city name like PhilaDevMunichopolis? I thought those commercials were clever and wanted to show them to my mother without having to wait around for the commercial to actually appear on TV. Do you think I could find them on the AT&T site? Hell no! Think I could find them on YouTube? Hell no! The closest I could find was a blog post about them because of the director Wes Anderson. The videos though, are no longer on YouTube, and don’t play on the blog post.

Talk about a missed opportunity.

Now AT&T has “the techno twins, Slad and Veeder”, I laugh every time I see this commercial. This time, AT&T has stepped up a little bit better, they have their own YouTube channel and have the commercial out there. But here’s the thing, it’s not on their website! You would think they’d have this as a widget in their front page. These commercials are catchy – from the family going to a nude beach in Spain by mistake, to the guy who’s checking into some shady French hotel, they are funny and they get people talking about AT&T – people go to their site and get disappointed.

However, take a trip and go to their service centers and all their commercials are being played on a loop in the waiting area ( I had to back in May). Now, that’s monotonous when you’ve seen the guy in the pool hall missing out on concert tickets 8 times, and the other guy calling a client Mr. Stinky Fish Face.

Talk about a missed opportunity.

Travel + Leisure Magazine Front Page 10/31/2008Today, I was on MSNBC, and I clicked to watch a video segment from the Today show about “23 secret beach retreats”. It was about a 4 minute segment, with Nilou Motamed from Travel + Leisure magazine. I got interested of course, I’m a beach bum at heart. I then went to Travel + Leisure’s website to look for the rest of the list since the Nilou only discussed 4 places with Meredith Vieira, gosh darnit, I wanted to know the 19 others!

Travel + Leisure didn’t have the article anywhere on its front page for me to click, not even giving me a tidbit and then have to pay to see the rest. They didn’t even have an image of their latest magazine’s front page on their site, so that if I wanted to go pick up the magazine because of this article, I would know it’s there – I remembered a brief flash of it in the interview and thought I saw it, but wasn’t sure. Then there’s MSNBC, no link to an actual article on the video.

Thank goodness I’m a bit more technically savvy, and decided to check out the Today Show website. It wasn’t on the main page of the Today Show, so from there I clicked into the Travel section, and found the article, it’s 2 pages on the site, with very little to really go on. I suspect this is to draw in the person to either buy the magazine or go to Travel + Leisure’s site. Two problems here with going to Travel + Leisure’s site 1) I’m not sure at this point, if that magazine on the shelf has my article 2) Travel + Leisure isn’t featuring this article on their site.

Talk about a missed opportunity.

Carnival Cruise Lines - World Record PinataHas your Public Relations department let your Online Marketing folks know about that special event you are planning? Carnival Cruise Lines apparently does.

Carnival is planning to break a world record for the largest pinata, ever. 6 foot tall this thing is suppose to be. I’ve heard about it on the news, and on the radio, since it’s suppose to happen here where I live in the Philadelphia area (home of the 2008 World Series Champs – The Phillies). I go to Carnival’s site and they’ve got the information about this right on their front page, featured front and center.

Talk about pulling things together and getting it right.

So these instances always lead me back to my clients, and making sure their offline efforts are easily found online. As our population becomes increasing web savvy, and relies more and more on finding things on the internet whether it’s going through a companies site, or even through Google to find something, stop and think – Are you tying all your marketing efforts together?

Don’t be an AT&T, or a Travel + Leisure magazine, don’t miss out on the opportunities. It can end up costing you branding opportunities, relationship building opportunities, the chance to create brand evangelists or even sales. Make sure that you have someone pulling together all the ends of your marketing strategy, not just one or two.

SES San Jose: 12 Fast, Free and Easy Tools

image of toolsKeyRelevance will be well represented next week at Search Engine Strategies in San Jose. Our company president, Christine Churchill will be speaking Wednesday on the “Keywords & Content: Search Marketing Foundations” and “Advanced Paid Search Techniques” panels, and on Friday is giving a four-hour training workshop, “Making Pay Per Click Pay – Best Practices in Pay Per Click Advertising.” Also Wednesday, Li Evans will be speaking on the “Successful Tactics for Social Media Optimization” panel.

It’s my turn on Thursday, when I’ll be giving a starter-level presentation on the “Fast, Free and Easy Tools to Get You Going” panel. This is part of the Just the Basics track, geared toward anyone who’s new to search engine marketing. While we’re all going to be advocating the use of tools to make your search marketing life easier, I’m reminding myself to emphasize that tools aren’t a replacement for individual analysis. Tools shouldn’t make the decisions for you; they should make it a little easier for you to make your own decisions.

If you can’t be there on Thursday, here’s a roundup of the tools I’ll be introducing in my presentation:

SEO Tools

Firefox web browser
SEO for Firefox plugin
Search Status plugin

When I think of SEO tools, Firefox is the first thing that comes to mind. There are so many terrific plugins that make site analysis and competitive research easier. I almost thought about doing my whole presentation on Firefox and its great SEO plugins, but ultimately decided to cover a wider variety of tools. Such as…

Keyword Research Tools

Keyword Discovery
SEO Book Keyword Research Tool

Keyword Discovery has been my keyword research tool of choice for a couple years now. The paid version offers some great features in an easy-to-use interface. The link above is to the free version, which has fewer features than a paid account, but is still a good tool to use for basic keyword research. And the SEO Book tool is a great complement that people should be aware of, too.

There are lots of other great keyword research tools, but my fellow panelists are planning to mention some of them, and we’ve agreed not to repeat one another.

Backlink Tools

Yahoo! Site Explorer
Link Diagnosis

The search engines are pretty stingy about revealing all the backlinks they’re aware of. Of the three main engines, Yahoo’s Site Explorer is considered the most comprehensive and reliable, so I’ll be mentioning that as an official source of checking for backlinks. Among the other tools, my favorite is Link Diagnosis. It shows backlinks, the anchor text of those backlinks, which pages on your site appear to have the most backlinks, and so forth. These tools can also be used to help local link building opportunities, but I’ll be mentioning tools for that purpose separately.

Link Building Tools

Hub Finder
Traffic Marks

The idea behind both of these tools is similar: They examine the backlinks of the highest-ranking sites for your keyword and reveal what sites are linking to those high-ranking sites. This helps you locate “hub” sites — sites that would make a great place to get a backlink to your site. If you’re interested in more background, I recently wrote a fairly detailed Traffic Marks review on Small Business Search Marketing.

PPC Tools

Local Keyword List Generator

I don’t do much PPC work, plus my fellow panelists are going to be discussing some of the more well-known PPC tools. So I’m going to share this one — it’s a favorite of mine. If you do geo-targeted PPC, this might be a real time saver. With this tool, you supply a zip code, radius, and your keywords and the tool spits out a list of keywords you can use in your PPC campaign. It takes the zip code and radius you supply, and locates all the city and town names in that geographic area, then concatenates them with the keywords you provided to create your keyword list. Pretty cool.

Domain Tools

Domain Tools

Yep, the name of the tool in the domain tools category is “Domain Tools.” Clever, eh? Anyway, it’s simply the best place I know of to research registered domains. It’ll tell you the WHOIS data, of course, but also a lot more about the domain, too: the Title tag of the home page, the meta description text, how many internal and external links are on the home page, whether the domain is listed in DMOZ and the Yahoo! Directory, and so much more.

Spider Tools


This is one of a couple different tools that will show you how a search engine spider “sees” your web page. I’m including it in my presentation because it goes beyond that to also include some extra data like link counts, word count, page size and load speed, and things like that.


So, that’s it. Twelve tools, 24 slides, and I have 10-12 minutes to fit it all in. No problem! It’s been fun working with fellow presenters Scott Allen and Joe Abraham. We’re making sure there are no repeats in our presentations, so the attendees should learn a lot of different options for their SEO and PPC needs.

If you’ll be at SES next week, please do say hello to Christine, Li, and/or myself — we’d be glad to meet you and say hello!

(photo courtesy batega, via Creative Commons)

Can Businesses Combat the Constant, Experienced Complainer?

By Liana “Li” Evans

As a business, no doubt you will have your run in with an upset customer or two. But what happens when that customer turns into a troll? Or what happens when you are subjected to the “experienced complainer”?

Santa with the Reindeer ComplainerWhat’s an experienced complainer? Well those are the people who know how to “troll” the system. Knowing that if they complain enough, they’ll be placated with discounts, coupons, certificates, and special things all to “soothe” their complaints. They then figure out they can do this just about anywhere they go. All of a sudden, seemingly or magically they get free trips, special discounts, and the like, all because they threaten to write a letter of complaint. These days, even more damaging, they threaten to write a negative review on sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor or Epinions, or even possibly more damaging – write a blog post with a scathing review, with links to your website that are nofollowed.

As customers, I’m sure we’ve seen these types of people. Nothing ever makes them happy, not even free things (undoubtedly they’ll find something wrong with that, too). So what’s a company to do? How can they fight back? Can they takes steps to protect their good name and reputation from these types of complainers, scammers and trolls?

Seems helpless doesn’t it? Well take heart, people in these social communities are smart. Especially if you are making an honest effort to communicate with your audience and reaching out to them. They can smell a “troll” a mile away. They can peg a constant complainer usually within 2-5 posts on a forum or a blog, and they can certainly use their own voice to “out” them as the scammer they seem to be.

Is there anything else you can do? Well in this day and age of digital photos, videos and instant reviews by bloggers and review sites, you do need to do your do diligence before taking extreme actions against the constant complainers. Research and documentation into them is probably the best course of action, to proove that the complainer has a history of “never being happy”.

Take the case of Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and a couple from Cleveland. I wrote about them on SearchMarketingGurus. This couple has done nothing but complain for years and were “soothed” with discounts, special packages and percentages off – all because they were Diamond Club members. I did a little poking around in forums, and the wife seems to leave a wide path of complaints all over the place. The communities even call her a whiner.

Royal Caribbean seems to have done a bit of homework here, and felt they’d never be able to make this couple happy. Guess what they did? They banned the couple from taking cruises on their cruise line for life. Drastic? Perhaps, but it does alleviate the issue dealing with a customer who seems more out to take advantage of your business than anything else.

While banning customers from your business might not be the first option you want to take, it is there if you have the need to do so, but prepare for backlash, undoubtedly the customer will play the victim in the end. In the case of Royal Caribbean, the local news interviewed the wife about the distressing news RC banned them, and a website or two came to her defense, saying complaining to much got them banned. But looking at other sites, the wife has been outted as a “constant whiner” – so who’s right? I guess that’s up to Royal Caribbean’s customers and online community to make their decision with their wallets.

If you are active with your audience, talking to them, interacting with them in social media, believe it or not a lot of times your customers will take up your defense. So the lesson to be learned here is hold an honest conversation with your customers or audience, as they say, the best defense, is a great offense.

I’m A Social Media Goody 2 Shoes … And Proud Of It

By Liana “Li” Evans

Goody Two Shoes Comic by Flickr User ebbourg So yet another controversy when it comes to social media. I woke up to a plether of IM’s, Private Tweets and emails, to find out I’m a “Goody2Shoes”. I guess I could be upset, but I’m not. It’s par for the course in the world of Search these days. I could lash out at SEOMoz, because as many have pointed out, they let a post go to their own blog that attacks competitors (It has now been edited, but point being they originally let it out with the rather rude attacks on Matt Cutts, Lisa Barone and myself). I’ll let all those comments on the post speak for themselves. I’m sad that SEOMoz chose the path of inciting drama and discourse, but in the end that’s Rand’s business decision where to take his business, not mine. The drama gets the site links, and traffic, and I guess that trumps everything.

As for what Marty wrote about both Lisa Barone and myself and choosing to post it on SEMoz rather than taking ownership for it on his own blog, I can only guess he really needed the larger audience for the message he wanted to convey. I read Marty’s apology, “Lii and Lisa are pillars in this community…”, while I’d like to think it’s genuine, I was on the panel in Toronto, where I heard his example of vanity baiting in his presentation, I can’t help to think and question that this might another example of it.

As for my stance, I also guess when you take a position that fake profiles on StumbleUpon, and adding lots “fake” friends to make yourself look more popular, is not a sound strategy for entering the social media space, undoubtedly you’ll get flack, from those who find no flaws with this strategy. It happens, we all have different moral compasses, we all have different things that drive us to be what we perceive as a “great marketer”.

When I was taken aback by the tactics my co-panelists in Toronto presented and posted about it, I wanted to make sure I wasn’t off base. I asked a few people who just use social media without any knowledge of search or marketing what they thought of these tactics. The first person I asked as a 14 year old son of a friend who is an avid MySpace user. I asked him what he thought about adding all these famous people as friends, his reply was just one word “Lame“. I asked a friend I hang out at karaoke with the same question, her reply was “that’s just stupid, why would you friend them unless you liked them?

Next I asked a few people who I know use StumbleUpon for pure enjoyment, they have no marketing background, what they thought about people building fake “avatars”, or “fictitious profiles” on the service (btw, that’s a blatant violation of StumbleUpon’s TOS). My one friend from the EU said, “isn’t that illegal here?” (only illegal in the UK, sorry to say), another said “people do that? why in the world do they do that, that’s just crazy, and wrong, can’t they be honest?

Now if everyday people (not marketers) are saying this about these strategies, why would I advise my clients to implement those strategies? I wouldn’t and I wouldn’t promote doing this in a session at a major online marketing conference. I don’t see how creating fake profiles (or avatars) gains anyone any kind of ground in the end, when you are found out to be a fraud, all trust is lost.

What’s wrong with being honest? Really now, what’s wrong with starting a conversation, and honest one with real brand representatives, not one greeted immediately by fake/automated avatars that want to be my friend?

The only reason I can understand why SEO’s seem so fascinated with “gaming” social media by creating fake avatars and adding all these “non-friends” is for power and links. That’s really not what social media is about, not to the people inside the communities – only to SEO’s does this seem to matter.

If advocating that in social media, marketers be real, engage honestly in conversations with an audience or their customer, is deemed as “Goody 2 Shoes”, well I’ll gladly, and proudly wear that badge.


Now, I don’t know about you, but all this reference to Goody 2 Shoes, I really can’t get Adam Ant’s 80’s tune out of my head. :)

Photo/Comic Credit: ebbourg

What Is Social Media’s Purpose? Honestly, It’s Not About Links

By Li Evans

What do you use social media for?

Do you use it to gain links? How about power? Maybe to trick people into thinking you are someone else? Perhaps as leverage to con someone into doing something on another social media site for you?

HonestyAt SES Toronto I was on the Social Media Success panel. I took this panel very seriously, I wanted to demonstrate how companies are using social media and creating their own success stories. The companies I chose to highlight wanted active conversation, true audience engagements and honest reviews and because they took that approach they had incredible success. I believe with every ounce of my being, social media is about conversations and sharing. I have a huge issue with applying shady link acquisition tactics, power manipulation and common trickery to social media.

There are people in the search industry that think social media is a numbers game, a numbers game that involves links. On the panel there were things presented that made my jaw drop, basically “shady” techniques, things like adding friends just for the numbers, creating multiple profiles, vanity baiting, and using your power on one social media site to gain something on another. To my colleagues on the panel, social media was all about the links and perceived power. Success to them in social media seemed to be about how many links you acquired, and what seemed to be cheap and fast tricks to get them.

I wasn’t alone in my dismay, Rahaf Harfoush expressed her shock at the lack of ethics presented.

People in the search industry wonder why SEO gets the stigma of being the “snake oil salesmen”. People in the search industry wonder why big companies are snubbing SEO, and don’t even look to SEO practitioners for Social Media assistance. Well when you try to apply SEO practices to social media wherein you are using it to gain links alone, or try to manipulate people into thinking things are true that aren’t, that’s how that reputation emerges, and the snubbing occurs.

Social Media is not about links.

Honesty is the Best PolicySocial Media is about conversations and the opportunity to share experiences through those conversations. Links are merely a by-product of a great social media campaign, and search engine rankings are merely a by-product as well. If you are measuring success in social media by the number of links you’ve acquired, you are really and truly missing out on what social media is all about.

What’s going to happen when Google finally devalues links from websites and looks more and puts more weight into what’s going on in social media? Social media offers so much more opportunity for the general public to voice their opinions about brands, products, companies and their opinion of what is really relevant, more so than a meager link from a website. Think of it this way, more people on the internet today participate in social media, than own a website. Guess what? These people are actively telling Google, Yahoo and MSN what they think is relevant by rating, commenting and participating in social media.

No fake profile, or adding friends, or using your “perceived power” is going to be able to easily change this, once it comes.

Remember, those discussions that are happening in social media channels, happen whether you are actively engaged in that conversation or not. So wouldn’t your time be better spent involving yourself with those conversations actively? Or would it be better spent adding a ton of fake friends to MySpace, conning a top Digg user into submitting your link for exchange of Wikipedia article help, or creating fake profiles on StumbleUpon?

Use social media for true customer engagements, be transparent, be honest, be who you are. People want to interact with real people from companies, they want Truth in Marketing. They want to tell stories about how great your employees are, what kind of heart you have and how you care about your customers and audience. The audiences couldn’t give a damn about your links, or how many sock puppet accounts you have.

Maybe when the search industry stops thinking of links first with social media, they will be taken a bit more seriously in the online marketing arena.

It’s Not the A-List Bloggers You Should Worry About

By Li Evans

What do Bill Clinton and Barrack Obama have in common? It is a woman. However, its not the woman that was taking the spotlight Saturday afternoon. No this time its not Hillary, so you need to guess again. Give up?

Mayhill Fowler, Photo Credit Thor Swift of Washington PostMayhill Fowler

WHO?! Yep, that’s right Mayhill Fowler, someone you probably never heard of until today. Both of these polished and charismatic politicians were rocked by this unsuspecting amateur blogger, who is among 2,500 bloggers that write on Arianna Huffington’s The Huffington Post. The 61 year old, mother of two and Tennessee native, caught both of these high profile people in rather unflattering situations.

Fowler, back in April, caught Barack Obama’s “Bitter” comments on tape and set loose a firestorm for his campaign efforts in my state of Pennsylvania. This was literally non-stop for 2 weeks prior to my state’s primary.

Last week, Fowler was in South Dakota and caught Bill Clinton in what seems to be an unguarded moment when he let loose on his thoughts about Vanity Fair and their article about him.

Fowler, has no journalistic training. Fowler has no online marketing training. Fowler is a citizen journalist who describes herself as a person who “just discovered that I’m impelled to get out there and get the truth of the matter” to Washington Post reporter Howard Kurtz. Armed with her tape recorder (not even an iPod!), Fowler won’t even read her own posts, since the editors tend to change her lead-ins so more people will “click in” to read her pieces.

There’s a lesson here for businesses, public relations specialists and online marketers. It isn’t the A-listers like TechCrunch, Scoble or Rubel that are gettting the scoops these days and they should not be the sole focus of your online marketing efforts to get noticed or “picked up by”. Passionate bloggers who are in your industry writing about what they love best are who you should be paying attention, too.

As someone at one of my WOMMU breakout sessions said “A-Listers” at times can be like echo-chambers.

I couldn’t agree more. Be cognizant of the B,C and even D list bloggers. If those bloggers have any type of SEO training, their blog posts could start to rank right up there with the A-Listers. What’s more important to note, is that these “smaller” bloggers probably have a more passionate reader base, and a “scoop” on an “amateur” bloggers blog, can be just as damaging or beneficial, than the echo-chambers of the A-Listers.

Just ask Barack Obama and Bill Clinton about Mayhill Fowler, that should be enough to convince you.

*photo credit, Thor Swift of the Washington Post.

Why You Shouldn’t Blog

By Liana “Li” Evans

How\'s My Blogging Photo by Scott Beale of Laughing SquipJeremiah Owyang has a great post on “The Many Challenges of Corporate Blogging“. It’s a great read, and I highly suggest taking the few minutes to take in what Jeremiah’s saying. The reasons he lists are spot on, but Debbie Weil author of the BlogWrite for CEO’s blog and The Corporate Blogging Book, added a few more reasons, and I’ve added a few more. If you haven’t read Debbie’s book, this is another read I highly recommend if you even have the inkling you want to start a blog, or you’ve started one and you are wondering where to go next. If you’re interested, check out my review of The Corporate Blogging Book.

I think these reasons that both Jeremiah and Debbie listed are all spot on, but not just for CEO’s or Corporations. These reasons are spot on for anyone considering starting a blog, from the work at home mom to the startup entrepreneur, or even the stamp collector wanting to convey his passion. Blogging is a commitment, it’s not just a fad.

So here’s the reasons I listed in the comments of Jeremiah’s post, with a little more in-depth explanation.

  • Don’t Just Blog to “Blog”
    Blogging because you read about it on TechCrunch, Newsweek or FastCompany isn’t the reason to blog. Just because your competitor is blogging, doesn’t mean you should blog either. Blogging isn’t just a fad anymore, its a commitment, and unless you can give it the time and nurturing it needs, you’ll likely do more damage to your reputation than if you hadn’t blogged at all.
  • Don’t Blog Unless You’ve Got Your “Voice” Figured Out
    Will your blog be just one person? Will it be a team of people blogging about different aspects of your company? Will you talk about products, services, issues, events, company news? Before you even start a blog, you should define a clear road map of what is “off limits” to talk about on the blog, how to handle issues as they arise (who handles what, and what’s the tone) and exactly what kind of demeanor will be portrayed on the blog – will it be laid back, straight talk, humorous or just newsy?
  • Don’t Blog Unless You’ve Got the Interest
    If you are starting a blog just because “everyone else is” and you really don’t like to right, or communicate with the outside world, perhaps you should rethink this strategy. Why? Because without a doubt, your utter lack of interest, your lack of passion and your lack of love for conveying why people should care will shine through. It will be just like those commercials Ben Stein did for “dry eyes”, he sounds monotonous and boring. If its a reach for you “social” you might want to think about looking at other online strategies to convey your company’s efforts and news.
  • and lastly…

  • Don’t Blog Unless You’ve Got The Resources

    Time, people and most importantly content ideas are the resources I’m referring to. Unless you’ve got the time to dedicate to writing a post, responding to comments and even dealing with spam here or there, you might want to think again about starting a blog. If it’s only you writing in the blog, and you don’t have the staff resources to help you out, again, you might want to rethink your strategy. If you can’t plan out your content for at least 2 weeks in advance, you really should rethink this blogging strategy. The worst thing a “blogger” can do, is start off a blog in high speed, slow down and then just stop because they are either burnt out, lack the time, lack the resources or just have no more content to give. You’ve created a following and now you’ve let them down – its nearly impossible to get them back when you find the resources you should have ad in the first place.

* Photo Credit, Scott Beale of Laughing Squid

Travel Industry: Online Marketing Going Beyond 10 Blue Links

By Li Evans

Last week I had the delightful opportunity to present on the Travel & Search panel at Search Marketing World 2008 in Dublin, Ireland. It was a really great event that featured not only search marketing in Ireland, which is growing by leaps and bounds, but search marketing across the UK and Europe. Not only did Chris Sherman of Search Engine Land give a great keynote speech, but Mike Grehan of Acronym Media presented a panel on linking, Bill Hunt of Global Strategies and, Jon Myers of Mediavest spoke on Integrating Search Into Your Media Plan, and Dave Davis of Ireland’s own RedFly Marketing presented on Blogging & Search.

Travel Industry Expanding Beyond 10 Blue LinksThe Travel & Search panel brought up some interesting topics. From why the travel industry should care about search marketing, to why it should care about mobile and finally my topic of social media and travel, the panel covered a lot of information that businesses in the hospitality industry should be looking at to be competitive in this online market. Both of my industry colleagues, Nick Walsh and Teddie Cowell brought some great information to the audience.

Businesses who find themselves right in the center of the hospitality industry like hotels, resorts, restaurants and tour companies, find themselves in an ever evolving market space when it comes to online marketing. 3rd party booking engines are a godsend and a problem, social media is this big area that is rapidly growing and a place that can make or break a business, and mobile search is coming on so fast, no one really knows what to prepare for. Understanding all of this and being able to handle it is a big task for a lot of businesses in the hospitality industry.

The big question that really came out of the panel is “Why should the Travel Industry care?” … about online marketing, which encompasses SEO, PPC, Mobile, and Social Media. There are a lot of reasons to care, and they all boil down to the company’s bottom line of making a profit. Although some of it is hard to directly relate to it, every segment of online marketing can have a direct affect on the bottom line.

Looking at hotels, making sure your site is optimized for the search engines can help ensure their site is the rankings for their listings. Not only that, but making sure that their own sites have a capable booking engine and prices are in line with both the competition and the 3rd party booking sites like Expedia, and Priceline, can help these hotels keep the relationship personal with the customers booking on their sites. In the end, it saves the hotels commissions, which helps their bottom line, and creates a valuable relationship with the customer that usually brings them back to their hotel again and again.

Social media has increasingly had a growing affect on businesses in the hospitality industry. From forums to review sites and then tack on blogs, businesses have a lot on their hands when it comes to not only promoting their services, but also when monitoring their brands and services. One bad post about a guest not having their sheets changed for 17 days is enough to drive enough potential customers away that it makes a difference in the bottom line. Knowing how to handle and embrace the good as well as the bad, is essential to this industry.

Finally mobile is about to take this industry by storm. Ensuring websites are mobile friendly is not just a “nice” thing to have; soon enough it will be essential if you want to keep up with the competition. From maps to find the business, to making reservations with smart phones, mobile will soon be a force that can no longer be ignored.

So where does this leave the travel industry? To be honest, it leaves them in a place with a lot of great marketing possibilities. It’s a great time for the hospitality industry to embrace a lot of new ways to market their businesses and improve their bottom lines, to reach out and engage customers and create rewarding relationships. Are you a hotel, a restaurant or even a tour company, are you thinking about embracing any of these great ways to market your business? Perhaps now, is the perfect time to take a second look at online marketing!

Stop over at Search Marketing Gurus for additional coverage of Search Marketing World.