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

Empowering Your Brand Evangelists

By Liana Evans
Brand PromotersEvery company large or small wishes for the kind of brand loyalists and promoters that companies like Apple, Webkinz, and Starbucks have. Companies pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to figure out how to attain that kind of brand loyalty, and most of those companies fail. To a point, even Apple fails at capturing the opportunity of furthering their brand because they do not engage and empower their fan base nearly as ofter or to the potential they could.

While at the WOMMA WOMM-U event, I sat in a breakout session that focused on “Building Sustainable WOM Strategies”. There was a lot of key take aways I got from that session, but one of the ones that really hit me, that I see so many companies fail at is empowering their brand promoters or brand loyalists.

It’s great to have those rabid fans who talk about your products or services and how great and wonderful they think they are to everyone they meet. Word of mouth like that can be better than running a commercial on Desperate Housewives for 3 weeks, especially in a world of DV-R and TIVO. Having an unpaid spokes person, who’s had personal experience with your brand, willingly promoting it and touching their friends is a great thing to have.

Having those is great, but can you make it a better situation, not just for you but for them? Can you empower those brand loyalists? Can you make their recommendation more than just words? Can you make their words become actual engagement opportunities with the people they are speaking with? Do you think it’s possible to even track this type of empowerment?

The answer to all of these is yes.

Yes you can empower your brand loyalists, and yes you can track these types of engagements if you plan and strategize for it. But you are probably sitting here wondering ‘But How?!’ Well there are a lot of ways to do it, you really need to stop and think about your audience and how they speak about you. The key to empowering your evangelists is in understanding what’s in it for them. What do they gain from promoting your brand, and what can they gain from being empowered to promote a brand they love?

From coupons to exclusive opportunities, these are just some of the ways brands can empower their most loyal customers. By giving them something to “back up” what they are telling their friends, families and neighbors, it gives these listeners another reason to really believe what they are saying could possibly be true. As people we are skeptical of people who seem to always promote without any back up, but empower that promoter, and you’ve got an entirely different ballgame on your hands.

Hanes ‘Wedgie Free’ Campaign Misses Out on Online Marketing

By Li Evans

Madison Avenue advertising agencies may be good at TV commercials, and highly paid PR Firms may know how to write a press release, but when it comes to translating that across to an online medium (i.e. the internet), the majority of them have a lot to learn. I came across a post on AdFreak about Hanes’ new ad campaign for their new product “Wedgie Free” underwear, which features actress Sarah Chalke of Scrubs fame. The commercials really hit the mark by capturing Sarah’s comedic timing and her all around good looks. It can appeal to women by them thinking “wow, ‘She Gets Wedgies Too?'”, yes I know kind of corny, but all of us have been in that situation at least once in our lives.

While the commercials are catchy, and even premiered on American Idol (trying to capture that ‘young adult female’ demographic), I stopped and wondered how this was translating online. To any online marketer, it’s probably not a surprise that it hasn’t translated yet. If you’re a major online brand, maybe even Hanes, you are probably wondering “what is she talking about?” Well lets take a look at this a little closer.

Hanes PR people sent out a press release. It’s nice, contains images of Sarah Chalke from the commercials and also includes the ability to play the videos on PR Newswire. Great! Hanes’ PR company has at least managed to figure out how to get the videos and images into the press release, but that’s where it seems to have stopped. The PR Release isn’t optimized for search – at least the way normal people search – especially if the aim is “Wedgie Free”, “Wedgies”. I’m sorry, but not many women refer to their underwear crawling up their backsides as “no ride up”, its a “wedgie” plain and simple. It make work in a commercial, but that’s not how people search.

When they launched this campaign, they probably didn’t even stop to think about an online strategy. I’m pretty certain it was more of an after thought. Why? Well because if you look at the search results, you’ll see they (meaning Hanes’ website) doesn’t rank for the main phrase “Wedgie Free”, nor “Wedgie Free” Hanes. They could own this term but they don’t and they are missing out – especially with their PR people contacting blogs like AdFreak.

Google Search “Wedgie Free”

Wedgie Free Search Results in Google

Google Search “Wedgie Free Hanes”

Search for Wedgie Free Hanes in Google

Google Blog Search “Wedgie Free Hanes”

Search for Wedgie Free in Google's Blog Search

You can see the results (in both regular search and blog search) brought back are minimal, and probably until this point, not a lot of search were conducted on “wedgie free”. However, if you launch a campaign on American Idol touting “Wedgie Free” underwear, what do you think will happen? Hello – the audience of American Idol is the demographic that uses the internet the most, they are going to go on and search for videos, images and information on “Wedgie Free”. With as little competition as there is for the key phrases around this campaign, they could have really hit the mark online with this campaign without a lot of effort. Instead their Press Release on PR Newswire gets the search results as does AdFreak, who points to the PR NewsWire and Wall Street Journal pieces, not even to the Hanes website.

Multi-Media wise Hanes is sorrily missing out too. They could really capitalize on this campaign if they only took the time to contact an online marketing agency to help them “get more bang for the buck” when it comes to their online efforts. In taking a closer look, I’ll show you some examples of where they are really missing out. First we’ll look at images and then go to video.

A search in Google Image Search shows the screen capture below for “Hanes Wedgie Free”. I also did a search on “Sarach Chalke”. Granted the search for Sarah might be a bit more competitive, but had Hanes optimized their images on their site and in their press release for theses terms, they could be capturing another segment of search, and it’s quite possible they could invoke that these images produce “blended” search results in the search engines (where the images will appear in the search results).

Google Image Search “Hanes Wedge Free”

Results for Hanes Wedgie Free in Google Image Search

Google Image Search “Sarah Chalke”

Search for Sarah Chalke in Google Image Search

Now lets go to video. Here’s another chance that Hanes could quite possibly get “blended” search results to start appearing for these phrases that undoubtedly people are looking for after the appearance of the commercials on American Idol, however, again they are missing out. Google now incorporates relevant YouTube videos into their search results, Yahoo incorporates Yahoo, YouTube, Metacafe and a few others – Hanes is really missing out here!

Hanes doesn’t have a YouTube channel (as of this writing!), and they don’t have any of their videos/commercials out there. Instead other users on YouTube do. This actually does say a lot for their commercials – they are clever and witty, and Cuba Gooding, Jr is just hilarious in those commercials with Michael Jordan. People really LIKE them. It’s too bad Hanes isn’t taking advantage of this, people would subscribe to the channel and it could be another channel to disseminate their message in a quick and easy manner. Instead, with these new commercials, only one video is out there and it’s put up by a division of a PR Company. Plus the video isn’t even optimized for what it should be, it just has that “PR Spin” in the description.

YouTube Search for “Hanes”

YouTube Search Results for Hanes

YouTube Search for “Hanes Wedgie Free”

YouTube Search Results for Hanes Wedgie Free

YouTube Search for “Hanes Wedgie”

YouTube Search Results for Hanes Wedgie

YouTube Video of Wedgie Free Commercial Uploaded By Another Company

Hane's Wedgie Free Sarah Chalke Commercial / Video Uploaded in Another Users Account

The point here is that this ad campaign is clever, it hits its mark in speaking to its target audience, and it’s got a likable spokesperson, but wow, is it missing out on taking this to the next level. The video of how the commercials were made that’s included in the press release on PR Newswire is great but only included there, why they haven’t put together an online marketing strategy to take advantage of this is really befuddling!

Hanes, if you listening, at least get your own YouTube channel! (That’s a little free advice!) 🙂

Retailers & Blended / Universal Search

By Li Evans

This past week I presented at SMX West in Santa Clara, California on the Retail and Blended Search panel. It was quite interesting to be on a panel that also included representatives from both MSN and Yahoo Shopping divisions. There was a lot of information given, from making sure your images had feeds to looking beyond feeds for promotion of online retail products.

As we progress further and further with technology and the availability of broad band to shoppers, searchers are looking for more than just a blue link on a search results. Searchers are becoming more savvy as technology progresses, and as more and more options are being provided to them, they actually WANT more than just a blue link. So where does that leave the retailers on the web who have invested so much in feeds?

Retailers need to start thinking outside of the box, because if they merely rely on a feed to get the traffic to your page, eventually as the search results become more engaging. Retailers who just rely on the feed links will loose out on all those people clicking on video links, picture links, social media profiles, and reviews. So what’s a retailer to do?


  • Make sure your products have images.
  • Make your put captions underneath image.
  • Make sure your images folder is accessible to the search engines.
  • Name your images properly.
  • Make sure your images are of good quality.

Google actually shows different images in blended search than it does in regular image search. The thing to remember with images is that shoppers are very visual and if you have the opportunity to take advantage of image search why not put your best foot forward?


Here’s a perfect opportunity to engage consumers via a social media medium. It’s visual, its interesting and it engages a customer into finding out more information. Utilize a few of the social video sites, by uploading some short videos of product demonstrations, humor takes, or even “how to” videos. If you make them fun and interesting, there’s even a chance for them to become viral and while not directly on your site, if the description is optimized with a link to your site or the page the product is on, this can be another traffic driver, beyond the search engine.

Rating & Reviews:
If you can start reviews of your products on your site, this could be a powerful resource to help raise the quality of the page. Amazon uses this very wisely and to their advantage. Rating & review sits such as Epinions and Yelp, also hold a lot of value and can help with with yet another way to “indirectly” hold another position in the results.

Social Media Profiles:
Having profiles on various – relevant – social media sites are another way to help bring awareness to your brand, as well as your products or services. People link to social media profiles, so just like with rating and review sites, it is possible to own another spot on the SERPs in an indirect manner. Make sure that your profile on all of the social media site you belong to is properly filled out with the right URL, emails, contact information, etc.

These are just a few ways retailers can broaden their reach, beyond the regular product feed. Starting to think beyond the feed and planning a full online marketing strategy will open a lot more opportunities for retailers in the new realm of blended / universal search.

Why Most Public Relations Firms Aren’t Great Social Media & Blogging Experts

By Li Evans

As a online marketer with a public relations background I get pretty fired up about Public Relations companies who think that Social Media and Blogging are just something they can incorporate into their “publicity” offerings without any experience in the online world. I’ve done public relations before, and I know what goes into it, I know how to make the contacts, I know how to approach media outlets, and I know how to maintain the clients message. I’ve run successful public relations campaigns for clients that included press releases, media spots, events for the press and events for the community, so it isn’t like I come at this from an online marketer’s perspective that only online marketers should do this type of work.

There are some very experienced public relations companies out there that fully understand and grasp the effect that online media has on a company’s name, brand, products and reputation. They’ve been able to make the transition from working offline, to truly understanding and working with online media outlets, which has a very loose definition. However, these public relations firms are very few and far between, and usually swamped because there are so few of them.

Then you have Public Relations firms who “think” they get it. Who claim they understand bloggers. Who think because they just hired this college graduate who has a Facebook page, that they can spin that into being able to map out a social media strategy for a client. Who think that bloggers are just another place to mass email their client’s press release too.

The key here is “don’t believe the hype“. Public relations firms are great at “SPIN“! It’s their job, it’s what they do best. But, trusting in that spin, when it’s not really true can cost your dearly when it comes to your online reputation. This is the reason you really need to investigate a public relations company’s strategies’ when it comes to online marketing. Here are some things to look out for:

  • Look At Their Own Website: Is it all about them? Does it even work right? Is it all in Flash? How did you find them in the first place? All of this comes into play in a big way. If they cannot translate what they do offline into online success for themselves, why would you even want to deal with them? If all they can promote was that they won this PR award or that PR honor, and it has nothing to do with online marketing, what does that tell you? Here are some key things to look at.
    • Does the site work properly?
    • Are they optimized for the search engines?
    • Is their site done in all Flash?
    • Is there site image heavy?
    • Is it all about the awards they’ve won?
    • Do they even have a blog?
  • Look At Their Company Blog: This is one key indicator that a public relations company understands bloggers, the community and social media. If they don’t even have a blog, you might want to find another company to work with to handle your online marketing efforts in the blogging and social media space. If they do have a blog, look at it closely. A serious down deep look at their own blog.
    • How long as it been in existence?
    • What kind of content does it have?
    • Is the content just press releases?
    • How often do they blog?
    • How many subscribers does it have?
    • Do they allow comments?
    • Is there much discussion going on?
    • Do they use social media promotion (Delicious, Digg, StumbleUpon, etc.)?
  • Ask To See How the Contact Bloggers: This could get a little tricky, however, a good public relations company just like in the above example, should have no problem with this. They should be showing you that they establish a relationship with a blogger first. If they start pulling out numbers of bloggers they can contact – run, run very far away. If they start spouting “we can contact XXX bloggers with your information”, or they even mutter, “we can distribute your press release…” when you mention blogging or bloggers to them, its time to close up that briefcase and end the meeting.
  • Ask To See Success Stories: Don’t just take their word for it. Ask to see SEVERAL successful results. Ask for general information about their strategy. A public relations company who knows they are successful and has a great strategy in place for working in this space will have no problem showing you exactly what they did for other clients. The key is to understanding that if their approach for each client is unique in social media and blogging. If the public relations company shows you the same strategy over and over again, it’s time to move on.
  • Ask About Their Strategy For You: If they start saying “We’ll take the standard approach” or “We’ve done this a thousand times before for other clients”, stop and hang up the phone. Every client is different when it comes to social media. If you are a textile company and they start talking about Digg, honestly, it’s time to start looking at a company who recognizes each client has to be dealt with individually, there’s no “mass marketing plan” for social media and blogging.
  • Ask for References & Do Research!: Ask for references from clients they’ve worked with in the past on online media promotions when using social media or blogging. Now, just don’t take that references word for it either! You can do the research, just go to any search engine, or look at that client’s website and you can likely see the results. The online results will speak for themselves as to how successful the public relations company is.
  • Don’t get caught up in the hype that because they are a public relations company they can handle your online marketing. This is serious business, it’s your name or your brand. It’s something you cherish with pride. The last thing you need is a blogger being mass emailed about your event, when that blogger has asked several times to be taken off your public relations company’s mass spam list they send out every press release they write to. It really doesn’t bode well for your chances the blogger will ever pay attention – other than to write you and email letting you know your public relations company really doesn’t know what they are doing when it comes to online media. I know, I just did that this morning!

It’s About the Conversation, Silly!

By Li Evans

As a social media “junkie”, I get a lot of questions thrown my way. From “Why can’t I succeed on Digg”, to “Why can’t I get my page stumbled?”, to “What the heck is the value of this social stuff?”. There are a lot of people that look to social media as a way to boost SEO rankings, and gain links into their sites. However, if that’s all that you are looking at social media for, you’re missing a whole boat load of added benefit.

Social media is about interaction and conversation about something. That something could be a video, a photo, an article, a web page, a podcast, a game or even a song. The possibilities are endless for what that interaction and conversation could be about. So you are now probably wondering, “So why should I care if they talk about me?” You should care because its YOUR brand, YOUR product, YOUR service, or YOUR company. It’s amazing how things on the internet can get so turned around so quickly, and social media tends to increase that rate of speed tremendously, and if you aren’t paying attention to that conversation before you know it you could have a surprise situation on your hands.

Here’s a few reasons why you should care about these conversations going on:

  • Are They Getting it Right?
    A lot of misinformation is out there, has your company or brand fallen victim to it? Did someone misinterpret what one of your company spokespeople said at a conference or in a presentation? Is what is being linked to, to describe your product or service correct?

    If you aren’t keeping an eye out for these type of situations, before you know it, you could have a mess on your hands that even your Public Relations team will have a hard time digging you out of.

  • Stalkers & Trolls
    Lets face it, companies will piss off someone at one point or another. In some way shape or form, someone will be angry with the service they received, quality of a product or receiving an answer that isn’t to their liking. With today’s day & age of technology, it’s even more easy to tell the world about your grievances than ever. That’s when you need to approach with caution, and figure out if they really do have a legitimate gripe, or they are just being a “Troll” for the attention.
  • Jackpot! Evangelists!
    On the opposite of the Troll Spectrum lies the Evangelists. These folks LOVE you! They talk about how great your product / service / brand / company is. They lavish links and traffic to your website. They unload heaps of praise on your efforts and guess what, they tell their audiences that you are Awesome! So, now you say “Great!” and just walk away? Wrong! Capture these Evangelists’ enthusiasm and use it. Thank them publicly, heap your own praise back. Remember it doesn’t take much to turn your most loyal evangelist into someone who can turn the world against you.
  • Who’s Talking About Me?
    Not only should you care about what’s being said, but you should be mindful of WHO’S saying it. Is it a newspaper columnist, is it your industry publication, is it your fan base, is it a troll, is it your grandmother? All of these people (and more) have varying degrees of influence over their own audiences. Knowing who’s saying something, whether it’s an article, a forum post, or a comment on a social site, is just as important as knowing what’s been said.
  • There’s a lot more to social media than links and page rankings. Understanding that and knowing how to capture and utilize it, is a whole different strategy all together. Is your social media strategy reaching its full potential? If not, maybe you need to rethink who’s handling it!

5 Quick Ways To Utilize Twitter in Your Online Marketing Strategies

By Li Evans

Twitter-LogoIf you didn’t know, I’m a huge advocate of Twitter. Some of you are probably thinking Twitter? What’s that?

Twitter is a great way to communicate with the people who “follow you” all at once, with one simple message (or “tweet” as twitters call them). Twitter is similar to instant messaging in that you are doing this in quick snippets, and online, however, instead of doing this in a one to one situation like you do on AIM, Yahoo! Messenger, ICQ or even GoogleTalk, with Twitter you message once and it goes out to all of those people who are following you and wish to receive your updates.

Twitter aims to answer the question “What are you doing now?” within a 140 character allotment. Since it’s early adoption, this medium has flourished and grown so far beyond just “What are you doing now?”. As an avid user, I’ve met new friends, I’ve learned about new events, I’ve discovered new blogs and I’ve even bought a Roomba through Twitter (btw, his name is Meryl)! So as you can see, Twitter has grown much further than a way to chat with all your friend at one time, it’s grown into a way to reach a very captive and very attentive audience.

So now you’re wondering, how can I use this “Twitter” to help reach my audience? Well here’s 5 Quick Ways:

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Social Media as Part of an Online Strategy, Not Just SEO

By Liana “Li” Evans

Lately there’s been a lot of fuss about Social Media. There are conferences dedicated to it (such as SMX Social) and different aspects of if (such as the upcoming Blog World Expo). There are blogs dedicated to it such as Pete Cashmore’s Mashable, and there are portions of forums dedicated it to it as well like on Cre8asite Forums. All of these talk about Social Media and their individual parts, however it’s rare that any of these actually talk about incorporating Social Media as part of an overall strategy for online marketing.

To look as Social Media as a boost for you SEO, quite frankly, is foolish. Social Media touches so many other aspects of an online marketing strategy. It isn’t just about gaining links to raise your PR or even your ranking in the results on Google, Yahoo, Live or Ask. If that is the sole reason to use social media, you might want to start thinking about finding another “quick fix”. Soon enough, the search engines will probably take a hard look at the effect of social media and will start devaluing the power links from places like Digg have (there are some reports that this has already begun to happen).

So if the search engines start devaluing the links from these big well known social media hubs like Digg, Reddit, and StumbleUpon, what is and SEO to do. Well if you are just and “SEO” and not an online marketer, it’s off to make sure that website is fully optimized. If you are an online marketer, you probably have already seen the value beyond SEO for Social Media.

Beyond the mass amount of links that a successful social media campaign can provide there are several other areas that Social Media touches within an internet marketing strategy.

  • PPC – When Social Media is strategically combined with PPC it can effectively reduce the cost of some campaigns. If you are advertising in the content network, utilizing social media can help you cut back on some of those costs. It’s a matter of watching your analytics closely in this case, as Social Media is not a replacement for PPC, it can certainly help to reduce some of the costs.
Comcast Technician Falls Asleep on Couch

Google Results for Blentec Will It Blend

  • Reputation Management – Social Media can be a help or a loss. There are some companies who don’t have a clue about the effect of Social Media on their reputation (i.e. Comcast & the sleeping cable guy), and then there are companies who embrace it (i.e. Blendtec’s “Will It Blend”) and in turn have amazing success stories to tell. In Comcast’s case, the sleeping technician video ranks in the top ten for the term Comcast – the video itself has been viewed over 100 times has links galore to it and as the thumbnail shows, represents Comcast in a negative light. Blendtec on the other hand has an over all positive reputation with its use of social media – a success story as people really engage in a positive manner with the brand/
  • Acquiring Links (aka Link Bait) – Social Media can be used to acquire links. I’m speaking of thinking beyond that site that consists of 16 year old girlfriendless boys who have temples to Kevin Rose in their basement. To have something be truly successful, the links have to come from a broad variety of sources, not just from Digg. Digg can be the place where it’s seen, but acquiring the links from other sites is another strategy all together and one online marketers need to really strategize on. (think about Mentos, Coke and the Eepy Bird guys)
  • Branding – Social Media is a great place to work with branding measures. If your company is new, and you need to get the word out in a cheap, efficient way, social media is the place to start. Talking to your audience, participating in a niche community, speaking to people who are already interesting in the type of product or service your offer all are a great way to get the conversation started.

The list above demonstrates just a few ways that shows Social Media isn’t just a stand alone strategy. It needs to be worked into an full online marketing plan if you want to have the successful results you are hoping for. Understanding how every aspect interrelates is just as important with social media as it is with working PPC and SEO together. Having an experienced online marketer who understands all aspects is going to be key to your strategy, the last thing you want to do is leave this in the hands of an intern. So take the time and not only plan, but budget for social media, make it a part of the strategy all on its own, not just a part of SEO.