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A Few Blogging Tips

There are many different “best practices” out there for blogging, whether it be for a personal blog, the b2b audience or the b2c audience. The one constant spelled out in the book Groudswell that is consistent across all these audiences is that

“The prerequisite for starting a blog is to want to engage in dialogue with your customers.”

I think this rings true across all social communications as well. Too many companies take to social media and blogging solely to push their products and brands. You wouldn’t follow or friend someone who constantly talks about how awesome they are all the time…right? Blogging for a business should be the same.

 

Blogging is growing like wildfire across all industries. Its an integral part of our marketing strategy at my company and it appears as though it is across many other companies in my industry as well. The glory about the tech industry is that it is very easy to connect with customers via the internet. They are all tech savvy, connected and are not shy about engaging with brands. I’ve noticed a few best practices that I thought I would share to help you on the quest of taking over the blogsphere!

1. Be Genuine & Honest

This should be a no brainer but its important to be noted. In order for customers to want to engage with your blog and subsequently your company they must be able to trust the information you give them. It can be easy to exaggerate and tell white lies when writing blog posts. It is important to keep these in check because at the end of the day transparency is key. The more information you can share with your audience the better, it will make them feel like they are well informed and keep them coming back.

2. Relate To Current Events

One major benefit to blogs is that they contribute to the SEO rankings of websites. The more relevant content the better it will rank. One way to tip these scales is to connect current events or things people are searching the internet for at the time to your company. Dyn does this all the time, most recently was our Olympic post. Now you may be saying, what does a Tech company and the Olympics have in common? Truth is not a whole lot but this is where you get to be creative and make connections that may not be obvious.

3. Update Often

There is a fine line between too many updates and just the right amount. Most companies in the tech industry update it a few times a week which is a safe bet. Too many posts and your content gets lost in the noise, not enough, and you lose that connection with your customers. When people come to your site to do research and notice your blog hasn’t been updated in a while, they can lose trust in a brand. Truth is, it all depends on what you are looking to accomplish, About.com outlines this pretty well in their Blog Post Frequency Overview.

 

4. It’s Not All About You

Like I said earlier, blogs shouldn’t only be about your company and your products. No one wants to read a blog full of product sheets! For higher engagement, focus on industry topics, market education and helpful topics that will be beneficial to your customers. Once your doing all these things, then go ahead and mix in product and press releases as well as business cases surrounding your products. blogs can also be a great way for companies to showcase their company culture. This helps in two ways; people like doing business with companies they like and this can help them decide whether they like them and it can help get talent in the door to fill job positions. Check out the variety over at my company’s blog.

5. Sharing Is Caring

Blogging is social and should be easily spread over social channels. Be sure to add social share links to all your posts to make it simple for your readers to share your post. The more shares the more eyes on your site and thats what we started this whole blogging thing in the first place, right?!? It is also important for your readers to be able to easily connect with the author of the blog itself. Adding a little blurb like the one pictured below helps foster that connection and make it easy for readers to ask the author directly.

Screen Shot 2014-03-02 at 6.19.21 AM

I hope these points can help you in your Blogging endeavors. Remember blogging is to communicate with your customers, not to boast about your achievements like that conceited jock in high school. Don’t be that guy! It’s a two way conversation, talk about things people want and need and don’t forget to join the conversation if they leave comments.

Gunelius, S. (n.d.). Http://weblogs.about.com/od/startingablog/qt/BlogPostingFreq.htm. About.com Blogging. Retrieved March 2, 2014, from http://weblogs.about.com/od/startingablog/qt/BlogPostingFreq.htm
Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2008). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Press.

Social Media: Risks and Rewards

I think since so many companies are having success with social media the decision of whether or not to take a brand social has gotten easier and easier. In the tech industry, personally, I think its a no brainer but thats not to say that there isn’t any risk involved. In this post I will discuss some of the rewards and pitfalls of adopting social media in my industry.

You will often hear me refer to my industry as the tech industry. For those who don’t know what it is, its simply the technology sector. Investopedia defines the technology sector as:

“A category of companies relating to the research, development and/or distribution of technologically based goods and services. This sector contains businesses revolving around the manufacturing of electronics, creation of software, computers or products and services relating to information technology.”

The cool thing about the tech industry is that its full of socially connected gen y-ers. This makes the decision to go social a no brainer. In order for marketers to connect with their audience they must go to where their audience is, luckily for tech marketers, their audience is already well adapted to social media technology. Seeing as how all the major social sites are free, the monetary risk is very low however if executed wrong, the risk of damaging your brand is high. The glory of the internet and social media is that it connects the world faster than ever before, the bad side to this is negative publicity can spread like wildfire. Unfortunately, people tend to pay more attention to the negatives than the positive things brands do.

One example of a tech brand struggling with poor social media choices is the cooking site Epicurious, which is a cooking website.  Following the Boston Marathon bombings they tried to capitalize and push their brand with a couple tweets. (Feloni, 2013)

After a major tragedy like that is not the right time to push your brand and Epicurious paid for it with a lot of negative responses. Social media marketers must have a good grasp on common sense and know their audience very well so they can predict how people will interpret and react to their social media communications

When done  correctly, social media can do wonders for brand awareness. One of my favorite campaigns was beautifully executed by a Belgian television company called Telenet . They launched a Youtube campaign back in 2012 to promote a new station they were offering simply titled “A dramatic surprise on a quiet square.”

This video quickly went viral and now has just under 50 million views on Youtube. Its hilarious, disruptive and conveys their message that TNT is coming and bringing drama to their network. Typically the rule of thumb with video’s is 30 seconds or less because people’s attention fades after that but this video is so outrageous, they are able to push that to almost 5 times the recommended length. This is a very elaborate example of social media success and isn’t necessary for all companies. Video is huge now a days in the social sphere and they don’t need to be as elaborate as this one to be successful. My company launched a series we call DynEdu which are short bits about general concepts in our industry of internet performance. They are simple to make and quick to execute. They do wonders for market education and really help us establish ourselves as though leaders in our space. Here’s one for example:

As you can see there are many different ways you should go social. Notice how I said “you should go social,” this is because in the tech industry it shouldn’t even be a debate. Your audience is highly connected with social media and its free. There is enough information out there for the newbies to read and learn what to post and what not to post. For the more seasoned marketers, it offers them a platform to be creative and connect with their customers on a more personal level. If you haven’t yet, give it a try! Start small, measure success and grow from there. And remember, the most important trait of a social media marketer is common sense, the more you have, the less risk is involved!

Feloni, R. (2013, November 21). The 10 Biggest Social Media Marketing Fails Of 2013 Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/10-worst-social-media-marketing-fails-of-2013-2013-11?op=1#ixzz2tvDfxd2X [Web log post]. Retrieved February 20, 2014, from http://www.businessinsider.com/10-worst-social-media-marketing-fails-of-2013-2013-11?op=1
Moth, D. (2012, December 3). 10 of the best social media campaigns from 2012 [Web log post]. Retrieved February 20, 2014, from http://econsultancy.com/blog/11244-10-of-the-best-social-media-campaigns-from-2012
Technology Sector. (n.d.). Investopedia. Retrieved February 20, 2014, from http://www.investopedia.com/terms/t/technology_sector.asp

Events and Tech

Since the managed services industry is relatively new, our marketing team has to spend a lot of time educating our market. Our services are very technical but serve a very simple purpose, on the DNS side, we route users to websites, and on the Email side, we ensure transactional email delivery. Now, there is a bunch of stuff that goes on in the background that we don’t need to get into, but that is the just of it. There are some things my company does that  align with other companies in our space like webinars, whitepapers, case studies, etc but on top of this we host, what we call, “Roadshows.” Roadshows are themed lunch seminars to create a more intimate environment to educate prospects and build customer loyalty. Along with these roadshows we host a lot of parties, whether they be at events or at our office, for networking and meeting with prospects.

In order to manage all these events, we use an application called Eventbrite. Eventbrite is a social event platform for creating, managing, and promoting events through social media and email. An example of one of Dyn’s event’s promoted via Eventbrite can be found here, where all the information for our SXSW party is located. This app allows us to break the mold when in our industry which historically relied heavily on the traditional tradeshow’s for event marketing. We have the ability to provide experiences for our clients and prospects that will last a lot longer in their memory than a conversation at a booth at a giant tradeshow.

Eventbrite allows people to register for your events via mobile app or web application and share it over their social media network. It also automatically email’s and reminds them when events are approaching to make sure it is not forgotten. After an event it allows you to export all your attendees and non-attendees to an excel file for upload into your CRM and/ or Marketing Automation platform. At my work we adjust follow up messaging depending on whether people attended or not attended. While the attendees are more engaged than non-attendees, we will send a relevant piece of content to the non-attendees to try to re-engage them prior to passing them to sales. Ultimately our events are evaluated on how many net new leads we can acquire and how many sales opportunities are generated and closed as a result.

Event follow up is crucial for converting event goers into leads in our industry. Since our product’s implementation process is technically complex, it requires walkthroughs and multiple phone calls with our sales engineers along with a contract to complete. This cannot be done at a tradeshow so continuing the conversation following these events is key. We are able to track all these events from Eventbrite all the way through our marketing and sales software’s to track ROI and make decisions about what events to have in the future.

Some other features worth noting are its analytics and ability to take payments if the event were to cost money to get into. All of Dyn’s events are free so we don’t use that feature too much but I have attended events in the past which use Eventbrite and needed payment. It’s very simple to pay through the app and when you get to the event all you need to do is show the person working the door your mobile device.  I also like how it recommends events based on past registrations, if you have friends within your social network that have registered and your location. When I travel to tradeshow’s it helps me find smaller events in the area worth checking out as well as smaller get together’s in my area. I would say Eventbrite is a must have for any company organizing events on their own and individuals looking to get involved with their industries/ communities. It takes a lot of legwork out of the logistics, aids with the tracking of success, drives attendance and the kicker is, it’s free!

4 Social Media Trends In The Tech Industry

So it’s no secret I work for Dyn, one of the biggest DNS companies in the world. Companies that make money off their websites pay us to ensure their website is always available and fast. Ok, so it may be a little more complicated than that but that’s it in a nutshell. When you look across our industry of internet infrastructure/ performance providers, you will notice a lot of trends when it comes to social media marketing.  I’ll dive into the 4 major trends I have noticed.

Product Support

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 10.12.35 PM

Many companies are using social media to communicate with customers. I know my company encourages it. People reach out to us via Twitter all the time whether they are happy, mad or just have a questions about our products. Our social media team does a great job at assisting people when they have questions. In one of my previous posts, I mentioned a social media tool called Tweetdeck which is a great tool to use when trying to monitor this. Not all people know your companies’ Twitter handle or they will use a hashtag instead of an @ sign. This helps pick up the stragglers. 

Updates/ Outages

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 10.13.09 PM

I think that Twitter is great for product updates, especially in the internet space. When DNS or Hosting companies have outages, it is very difficult for them to send updates out to their customers. Without working DNS you cannot reach a website or send an email in most cases, so companies will take to social media to update their customers. Since we are in the internet infrastructure industry, if we or similar companies have outages, then our customers’ websites would be offline as well. Because of this, it is  imperative that you notify people as soon as possible. As you can see to the right, Cloudflare has created a Twitter account specifically for communicating these updates. 

Product Releases

Since most of our customers and prospects are active on social media, it makes it a great place to announce new product releases. We find that when people are shopping around in our space they will follow all the major players like Dyn, DNS Made Easy, Neustar Ultra DNS, Cloudflare, etc to get a feel for their companies. As you can see in the picture below, DNS Made Easy just released a new feature that is in high demand due to recent web security issues.

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 10.14.17 PM

This is a great example of how to communicate product releases and it would be a great candidate for a promoted/ paid Tweet as well. A promoted Tweet would help get this info out to non followers. It would be wise to target the followers of their competition (like us) because they are one of the few to offer this in their consumer level products.

Events

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 10.15.18 PMOne last trend I’ve noticed over social media is event marketing. In a world where most communication is done over the internet, it adds a whole new dynamic to actually meet the person that is interested in your products and talk face to face. At the end of the day, whether your marketing b2b or b2c at the end of the day you are selling to another human. Face to face interaction helps push this process forward creating  higher close rates and shorter sales cycles. This is why events are so important. In order to succeed at events companies must inform people that they will be there, where to find them and get them to stop by and talk. Social Media is a great way of doing so. In an effort to create social media buzz for our presence at SXSW, which is a huge music and technology festival in Austin, we created a contest which the winner will win a free trip.

There are certainly many more uses for social media in the business world but in the internet industry these are the trends I have noticed. It will be interesting to see where these trends go as social media evolves.

5 Business Lessons I Learned from Football

So in case you didn’t know this about me I’m going to drop some fun facts. I come from a family of football players. My father played for the 86′ and 87′ Kansas City Chiefs and my grandfather played for the Boston Patriots (yes, Boston, before they were the New England Patriots) for 9 years back in the 60’s. So naturally I played football all the way up through college, Go Wildcats! Through the years I picked up tons of valuable lessons and forged a lot of relationships, one which got me my job at Dyn. For the sake of time, I picked 5 of the top lessons I learned that translated into my professional life.

Problem solving

So this one came about mostly in college. There were many times where my coach would be very vague in his directions and instead of re-explaining he would just say “Figure it the F*** out.” So instead of doing the wrong thing and enduring physical punishment, we would just figure it out and fast. Another way this skill set was trained was when we would implement new plays. If my coach noticed you hesitating or looking confused, he would scream the word “PANIC” over and over again until you got it right. Fast forward to my professional life, the conditions are no where near as extreme so when challenges get thrown my way, I just think, I may not know how to solve this problem immediately but I know I can figure it the f*** out.

Decision making

The game of Football consists of a whole combination of decisions. These decisions must be made quickly, accurately and executed right. Make the wrong one as a DB on defense and the offense scores, make the wrong one on offense while you are carrying the ball, you may get jacked up. Again, when it comes to my professional life, the consequences are less extreme but the ability to think on my toes and make quality decisions on the fly has definitely helped.

Teamwork

Now, this one ins an obvious one that doesn’t only pertain to football, but every team sport. Everybody has a job to do and without everyone executing their jobs the team will fail. Same thing with the professional world, it takes a group of people executing their job functions smoothly for a department and ultimately a business to run optimally. Back when I played ball and someone would mess up their coverage or try to do to much, coach would yell “DO YOUR JOB” because if everyone does there job other teammates wont have to compesate for missed assignments.

Brand/ Flair

I’m a firm believer in the ideology, if you look good, you play good. I know this is silly, but I take it more as a reflection of your talent. My defensive back coach in college was a character and would critique us on our flair. Flair is a combination of gloves, socks, sleeves,  etc that would set you apart from the rest of the team. He was half joking when he did it but he wanted us to look as good as we played. This was our personal brand and this subject has grown exponentially with the adoption of blogging and social media. One other aside I would like to add to this is, the same ideas with branding a company apply. Your branding must visually reflect your product or service in a positive way or else you will loose out on potential customers.

Competitiveness

And lastly, another strikingly obvious one but important as well. It takes very competitive people to succeed in football among other sports. Coincidentally, the same competitiveness makes for a great business person. When I started my career as a business development specialist it was all about the quantity of qualified sales leads I could generate through cold calling and emailing. Obviously I strived for the most every month out of my team. Now, I use email marketing to drive sales leads and I compete with myself month after month.

 

To all of my fellow athletes and competitors out there, I hope I was able to shed light on some of the skills you didn’t know you had. I put these on my resume and used them to my advantage during the interview process. It definitely helped me and hopefully it can help you as well!

3 Free Must Have Social Media Tools

Throughout my marketing endeavors I have come across tons of tools/ applications I’ve used to leverage all of the social networks. Three of them that have withstood the test of time are Tint, Tweetdeck and Just Unfollow. I use all of these personally as well as for business purposes which means they are extremely versatile and powerful. They all have different purposes and I will dive into Tint first. 

For any brand that uses social media and has a website, I strongly recommend Tint. I know this is a broad demographic but it helps you understand the power behind this tool. In a nutshell, it is an easy way to embed all of your social feeds onto the web. As a matter of fact, I have a Tint feed on the homepage of this blog. I found out about them when they released a Wix plugin last year when I was building the website for my side business The Woods Collective. In case you haven’t heard of Wix, it is a drag and drop website builder and I highly recommend it if you aren’t efficient with HTML/CSS. Tint also offers custom options for mapping posts with certain keywords, mentions, and hashtags to displays for conferences and concerts. They operate on a freemium model which lets you add two networks for free and they strip out some of the customization options. The free version is more than enough for a personal user.

Next up is Tweetdeck. I was introduced to them within my first week at Dyn. At the time I was a business development rep, prospecting and trying to generate hot leads for the sales team. Tweetdeck helps keep a pulse on what people are saying about your company or your industry. It allows you to create columns which display a Twitter feed of a user specified keyword, hashtag, or twitter handle. Since I was generating leads for a DNS company I had a column for each of our competitors and for keywords such as “DNS Issues” or “DNS Outage” so I could see if people were having issues. I would then reach out via email or Twitter and offer up help. It can be extremely difficult to maneuver through all the noise on social media and Tweetdeck allows this to be possible.

Lastly, we have Just Unfollow. I found Just Unfollow when I was a business development rep for Dyn. Came across them while I was prospecting and started to email the founder to try to introduce Dyn’s DNS and Email services. Long story short, after about 8 months or so of talking with him on Google Chat he finally agreed to chat with us and he became a customer. Just Unfollow works with both Twitter and Instagram, which I heavily use, and monitors your followers. When people Unfollow you on either network you are able to see it and can make a decision to follow or un-follow them right from within the app. I use this more for personal stuff but it could be used by companies to maintain their followers and find new people to follow. They offer different ways to find similar people to follow based on your followers as well to help you grow your network. They are constantly adding features and its exciting to see this app grow.

I highly recommend these three tools to all the social media butterflies out there. I use all of them almost daily and they are a great compliment to social media in general. They help me use these networks to their full potential and, hopefully, I was able to uncover one of these tools for you.

Nailed It

So as a marketer, I personally feel like one of my responsibilities is to give existing customers the warm fuzzy feeling. Not many large companies do a great of doing this even with the financial resources they have available but Westjet is another story. In case  you havent seen it, the video is here:


Its truly amazing what they have done with this. With a little planning and money they have not only made all the customers in the video feel special but this video went viral with over 19 million views. People eat this stuff up, they were able to build loyalty with those customers and I saw a ton of friends on Social Media saying they will fly Westjet next time simply because of this video.

We recently did a stunt through Dyn on a smaller scale than this, Keep an eye out on Dyn’s social channels next week when we launch it.