To blog or not to blog … or the seven rules of blogging etiquette

 

Life is so full of interesting nuggents that it is hard not to be tempted to share it. What colleagues or relatives or friends say and think always has something interesting that longs to be shared. Yet there is a delicate balance that must be struck — not to divulge confidential stuff but yet not to feel censored either.

And this provides a valuable lesson on how to think about the boundaries when doing social media. Corporate boardrooms have long worried about the uncensored proliferation of opinions and gossip that make its way to the blog-o-sphere and the wider social media world.

So to guide all you budding bloggers – here are the seven basic rules for achieving the optimum balance.

1)     Never put anything in writing you would not or could not say to your colleagues directly.

2)     Play the role reverse game – if you recounting what you think is a funny anecdote about your Uncle Bill, read it again as though you are Uncle Bill. Would it sound so amusing to you?

3)     Be careful about including business details – one may slip in that could be more telling than you intend. Always keep it vague.

4)     Always, always be respectful of others feelings. Do not use your blog to vent or even a score. It will come back to haunt you – guaranteed.

5)     Always assume that who you write about will read it so censor yourself accordingly.

6)      Let your creative juices flow – but before you publish anything (particularly if you are recounting a funny anecdote about a co-worker) put it aside for a couple of hours. When you read it again “fresh” you will be in a good position to assess the “embarrassment” factor.

7)     Finally – always always be honest in your entries. Then you should have nothing to apologize for.

 

Let the fun begin. 

Judy Shapiro

The Zen of Business Creativity (or why social media has become the new “in” thing)

 

Our CEO is fond of saying, “Logic has one way” and I politely smile and agree. Logic is useful for project and process management.  But that has little to do with how life or even business really proceeds. Innovation in medicine and science is rarely linear or even logical. Innovation, like life, weaves and bobs and turns back on itself like a tenuous road trying to make its way over a rough mountain terrain. The road must follow the contours of the natural topology. And so it is with business – it must follow the contours of creativity and imagination and intuition.  

Great businesses are born in the moments where you begin to harness the power of the blink decision in the way we humans make decisions about what we buy and where we buy it. And only after we have decided what we want to do, do we then look to rationalize those blink decisions with facts.

And this why, I believe, social media seems to have exploded onto the business psyche. It is the subtle perhaps even unconscious recognition by business to harness the power of the blink business. While logic based marketing is the foundation of most marketing programs – it is limited. Sure business executives like facts and logic – but it can be misused as a crunch for making decision. When asked to rationalize their decisions, they can pull out a presentation and very easily explain their decisions. To most business leaders intuition based decisions seem too risky to trust (note the irony in that – logic feels good and intuitive decision are uncomfortable).

And yet I notice what separates the visionary CEOs from the pack is the ability to appreciate blink thinking that is expressed by customers in their forums, communities and social networks. . Visionary CEO make intuitive decisions and then back it up with facts whereas most other CEO look for facts to help them make decisions and then they try and make themselves feel good about the decisions.

A simple example. Comodo makes available for free a slew of desktop solutions including an award winning firewall. Lots of time and development resources were spent on this initiative. Many people wondered, “Why do it? Where’s the money in it?” All logical questions — well aimed. Yet the CEO kept saying, “We are doing this to grow our business. People will know us for our free products and then they will buy from us.” Logical hardly, visionary you bet. And you know what he was right. Our brand is now more searched than the some of our biggest competitors.  And this was because he understood how to use social media at its best. Promote a great free product and word of mouth stimulated our whole business.

So next time you are tempted to make business decisions with logic and facts, think again – better yet – feel again.  Look to social media to help guide how you feel your way through business decisions. Answers are in the social networks – in the blink moments that are expressed in there. And yes, sometimes following creative business leaders is hard on the team around them. These CEOs often look like they on the edge of falling off the deep end. It is hard not to try to get them off that damn ledge. But this is where faith and intuition again asserts itself. You have to believe that their instincts are well honed.

But if you can endure the ride, the rewards mean the difference between a “just so” business and one that flies. I, for one, like life in the heights. The view is much more fun.

Judy Shapiro

And now a word from our sponsor …

Before you fire up your new PC or laptop – turn up the heat on PC protection – for free with Comodo Firewall Pro

The marketers’ engines are gathering a full head of steam to propel us consumers (some willing, some not) into the Holiday season with promises of great stuff. One sure fire item that is always high on everyone’s list is the PC.  And usually, these bright shiny PCs and laptops comes crammed with lots of security solutions — some free, some free for a while.  

But before you fire up your PC and activate the preinstalled security software, take heed – many of today’s leading anti-virus (AV) solutions are simply not up to the job of providing up-to-the-minute anti virus protection to keep your new PC healthy. Really. Here’s one sobering stat from Virus Total. Within any 24 hour period less than 1% of viruses are detected by any anti virus solution. “Yikes” you say and rightfully so. The dismal performance of most anti virus solutions is because they work on the old model of using a “signature based methodology” to  identify the bad guys. Simply, these solutions let every application into the PC and then try and figure out what’s bad based on how the file looks.

Well, it’s easy to see why that’s not too efficient. What about “new” signatures the AV solution has never seen? How can it possibly detect those? Sure, the security vendors provide regular updates – but that’s a little like having a burglar system that only protects against known burglars even if you get regular mug shot updates from the police.  Not the best idea really.

So is there a way to really protect your brand spanking new PC without it costing you another bunch of cash? There is and it’s free to boot. It is called Comodo Firewall Pro (Version 3.0) with A-VSMART P technology. Millions of users are protecting their PCs with the previous version of Comodo Firewall Pro which PC Magazine recognized as one of the leading firewall on the market (paid or free) and this new version (Version 3.0) is a super charged version.  

A-VSMART P technology is short for “Anti Virus, Spyware, Malware Rootkits and Trojan Prevention” technology and it does the job better than any conventional AV or security system your PC might come with because it operates from a wholly different perspective. Instead of letting all applications in and then trying to weed out the malware, A-VSMART P technology prevents unrecognized applications from ever getting access to your PC in the first place. Plus, if you have a new PC, this new solution really rocks because it has a patent-pending feature called Clean PC Mode. This feature takes a profile of your new PC and all the applications in it and registers them as safe. After that, the only applications that get installed on your PC are applications that are either recognized by Comodo’s extensive white list of trusted applications (which include nearly one million applications in the database and growing) or applications you expressly allow to be downloaded. This is the most effective way to keep a new PC healthy and no other anti-virus solution has anything like it.

So go ahead, download this powerful firewall for free. And in case you are wondering why Comodo gives it away free, it’s simple really. The Comodo group of companies represents a leading security company and the world’s second largest Certification Authority. If more people are confident shopping safely online, then there will be more eMerchants who will need Comodo security products and services.

So fire up your new PC – but first turn your PC onto Comodo Firewall Pro. It’s the safe bet for a safe computer.

For a free download, go to: http://www.personalfirewall.comodo.com

Judy Shapiro 

The Six Step Plan to Claim Your 15 Minutes of Fame

 

Thanksgiving is here and with that the frenzy of holiday marketing truly explodes around us.  Everyone selling just about anything is vying for a piece of your mind and ultimately a piece of your pocketbook. And if you are like many businesses, the holiday season accounts for a big part of your yearly business – one way or another. 

So friends, here is a six step plan to make your name better known out there – (OK – maybe it won’t be a household name – but it will get you noticed.)

1) If you have a blog – flaunt it. Post regularly if you can – and be sure to sign your name to end of the post. You’ll be surprise how quickly the name will get picked up by Google. If you’re in the service business this is especially helpful.

2) Register your blog with Technorati and other directories.   Costs nothing to do and will beging to get you some traction.

3) Get your friends and family to cross link to your blog or site.  Yep – this is where networking helps. Ideally, get as many links into your site as possible – that is a key measure of importance to Google.

4) Don’t be afraid to give something away for free.  It may sound counter-intuitive – but giving something of value for free does generate business. People appreciate honest value and they will reward you with their business. But be straight in your offer – no hidden clauses or surprise fees. That will turn them off faster than a bulb gone dead.

5) Promote any brand recognition you can.  If you have won any awards or competitions that have branded cache, do a press release and send it out. You can send our press releases for free. Some of the biggest distributors are http://www.free-press-release.com http://www.prleap.com

6) Participate in the conversation.   Or, become an expert by responding to articles and other people’s blog. You will definitely see an uptick in your recognition.

Some things I mentioned are quick hits and others take time. But follows these steps and soon when someone Google’s your name, they will see exactly what you want them to see.

Happy faming.

Judy Shapiro

The Top 5 Myths of Viral Marketing

 

I am surprised at how mysterious this wide world of viral marketing is to many of my colleagues. It reminds me of the days when companies were first learning about  the Internet. Companies were slow to climb on the Internet learning curve then and now I feel like this is a mass déjà vu moment again.

So to help accelerate the learning curve this time around, I’d like to explain what viral marketing is NOT  because it’s easier first to explain what something is NOT and then you can better understand what it is. So here is my top five list of what viral marketing IS NOT. Take note comrades – nothing is a silver bullet and viral marketing is no exception.

1) Viral marketing does not cost a lot

It is a mistake to assume that viral marketing is something that happens if you sprinkle pixie dust into the Internet engine. There are costs but it is often hidden. Great viral marketing is about participating “in the conversation”. That takes time. The “time is money” cliché is true. And guess what – since there are no automated tools to participate in the conversation – participation can be time consuming and therefore not cheap.

 

2) Build a blog and they will come

Sound familiar? Marketers rushed to create websites using that mantra and we know how that ended. Getting a blog going is just the beginning but for it to help create brand buzz requires time and diligence and patience. Blogging at its best can give your brand a personality and a way for people to engage with you. But it needs care and feedling just like any other marketing tactic.

 

3) Viral campaigns can’t be planned – it just happens

On rare occasion that is true. But here’s the reality – most viral marketing successes are the result of careful planning, good execution and a sound strategy. Just like any other marketing campaign.

 

4) Viral marketing can take care of itself

Successful viral marketing is no different than managing a successful direct marketing campaign or advertising campaign or public relations initiative. It must be measured so it can be managed.

 

Which leads me to the final myth …

 

5) You can’t really measure a viral campaign

This is arguably one myth that does the most damage and is a myth that agencies like to promote. After all, it is in the agencies best interests to convince clients that viral marketing can’t be measured because then there is no accountability. But not only is viral marketing measurable – it is in some ways easier to measure than many other tactics. You can measure traffic volumes, responses to blogs and more. So next time your agency hems and haws about measuring a viral marketing campaign – keep looking. You can do better.

So now that we have debunked some of the biggest myths – what now? Let’s talk about what’s a good way to execute a viral campaign. There is a new disciplined type of viral marketing called “content campaigns” that uses an emerging model, PVR – public + viral relations. This means that all content is focused on a few themes and it is distributed across all media – PR, SEO, corporate blogs, white papers, seminars etc etc. By coordinating content creation and distribution, you can optimize search volume and that my friends is how business gets done today.

Buzz that.

 

Judy Shapiro

Blogging and communities and affinity networks – oh my :(

Sometimes too much of a good thing is, well, too much. I talk to my marketing colleagues at big and large companies and they seem to be plagued by the same syndrome – the “am I missing the viral marketing angle because none of my agencies seem to get it” blues.

They consistently sense that there is more they could be doing but not sure how to proceed, not sure how to integrate viral marketing into their existing programs, not sure how to measure these tactics and on and on.

And who can blame them. Marketing agencies seem to take perverse pleasure in “black boxing” these newer marketing tactics that leaves many marketers feeling insecure – about what they don’t know nor their ability to manage it.

And worse, when you try and nail down an agency to explain what they do you often get lots of fancy words that seem to be the right buzz words with no real traction. You know you are in trouble when you talk to an agency about viral marketing and after an hour you still can’t name a specific tactic or specific program. In fact, you often feel like you are getting snowed.

So what’s the remedy? Arm yourself with information, education and intuition. Or if you can, find yourself a viral mentor – someone who either does it for a living or someone who has had success doing it. Seek out the advice of those who know this space so you can calibrate your tool kit. Agencies can’t or won’t do it for you. This is something you must do for yourself.

So here’s an offer. Got a question in viral marketing and can’t find a viral mentor. I’ll help. Not sure your agency reco is making sense. Run it by me and I will help you assess it.

Take me up on my offer. You’ll get objective feedback and I’m sure I’ll learn a thing or two also.  

Together, we can get to Oz.  

Judy.shapiro@verizon.net

Light a candle of hope for homeless kids

Join me in helping homeless kids find hope and light through Covenant’s House Candlelight Vigil for Homeless Youth scheduled for November 15, 2007.

 A colleague of mine asked me help him “spread the word” and what better use of my PVR concept (Public + viral relations) than this. For millions of homeless kids, they lose hope and with it a chance for a meaningful life. We must prove to them that there is always a second chance at life and that there are people who care.

Join me in this candlelight vigil. If you can join the event – great. If not, please participate by lighting a “virtual candle”. Your candle can brighten the future of homeless youth to rebuild, reshape and recover. What could be more important than that.

To support this effort — please go to candlelight.covenanthouse.org. There you will see link to attend a vigial or buy a “virtual” candle or to help. 

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