Obama Hangs Out on Google+. Should You?

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Google+, which continues to roll out cool features for brand pages, still hasn’t quite won the hearts of social media experts. Despite its fast sign-up process and easy access to millions of users, many marketers have been slow to hop on the Google+ bandwagon. But maybe Barack Obama’s fondness for the platform will change their minds.

Yesterday, the president let the people interview him about issues and topics sprung from last week’s state of the union address. He answered questions submitted to Google+ and YouTube. According to Google and the White House, 227,000 users sent in 133,000 questions and cast 1.6 million votes to determine which of the questions the president would answer. The event was broadcast via video stream on the White House website, YouTube and in an exclusive Google+ Hangout. The prez and his team know how to rock social media and have done this kind of Internet Q&A before, the last time being a Twitter town hall over the summer. So it’s an eyebrow raiser when Team Obama takes to a relatively new platform like Google+ Hangouts.

That said, we can certainly see the appeal of Hangouts. Hangouts, in case you haven’t heard, are Google+’s true leg up on the social media competition and sponsored brand Hangouts are another trend we’re bound to see more of this year. Hangouts allow an invited group to get together and chat through live-streaming video. These state-of-the-art get togethers connect users instantly and “face to face.” For brands, organizations and politicians, this kind of access and back and forth is worth its weight in gold. Marketing magazines and blogs have been pondering the branded possibilities for Hangouts for months and it looks like the White House has yet again blazed another social media trail.

So, readers, tell us — are you still resisting Google+ and, if so, why? Let’s Hangout in the comment section below!

From Blog to Tweet to Book

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Perhaps you’re just dipping your toes into the blog creation and blog marketing pool. It might appear as though by blogging for your business, your blog probably wont be seen by very many people beyond your devoted group of followers. Maybe. But maybe not. Thanks to the easy practice of Twitter marketing, your blog could develop a long and far-reaching life — one that could even lead to big-time book deals.

Okay, so we can’t promise that people will want to buy your book based on your blog about shoe repair, but hey, crazier things have happened, right? In fact, we’ve seen dozens of writers and small brands catapult their blogs into big deals just by diligently using Twitter. Twitter, with its limited characters and lightening-fast results, takes well-read blogs and gives them the instant satisfaction treatment. Lots of super-popular blogging stars — like The Bloggess, for example — use Twitter to continue the conversations started on their blogs while chatting about new things that come up while live on Twitter. The Bloggess, thanks to her one-woman PR juggernaut on Twitter, has a hotly-anticipated memoir coming out this spring.

This pattern of blog to Twitter to book has become somewhat of a blueprint for new authors and wannabe Internet stars. So why couldn’t the brilliantly, witty thoughts you have on Twitter translate into a bestseller? But let’s say you don’t want to be the next David Sedaris; you just want people to find your blog and your company. Twitter can still totally help with that. Recently, I worked on a project with a staffing agency who wanted to use their blog to give job searching tips. I thought it was a great idea, but knew in order for the blog to get real traction, Twitter would have to be utilized. After some convincing, they now use Twitter to post new jobs, start conversations about career changes and direct folks back to their informative blog.

In the end, your company blog, even if it is about shoe repair, deserves to be read — and Twitter is a fantastic way to bring readers to you. And who knows… if you tweet with finesse, you could end up on the best seller list.

5 Fabulous Blogs You Might Have Missed!

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Stuck in a slump with your blog creation? Need some ideas before you embark on a blog marketing bonanza? Well, this blogtacular edition of our 5 Things You Might Have Missed is sure to inspire and entertain!

1.) Front & Main by West Elm: This blog is a great read. It’s filled with decorating and furniture ideas, proving your branded blog can sell your wares without being boring. Note the magazine-style look of Front & Main and the snappy copy, and then go infuse your own blog with the same effortless combo of style and information.

2.) Richard Branson’s Blog: Virgin’s rowdy and opinionated CEO blogs about company goings-on as well as his thoughts on hot global news stories. Branson is in love with social media and we love how his blog serves as a hub for keeping up with the busy billionaire online. Borrow some of Branson’s brashness to make your business blog stand out for having a personality.

3.) Standard Culture: Splashy and in your face, this blog looks more like an ad campaign for Italian jeans than a blog for a hotel chain. But since the hotel chain in question is The Standard, this blog fits its hipster-friendly brand like a glove. Standard Culture is a great reminder to make sure our blogs truly reflect our brand’s image.

4.) Lidia’s Italy Blog: Everybody’s surrogate Italian mama and one of NYC’s most prolific restaurateurs, Lidia Bastianich doesn’t overly update her blog. Some might argue that this is a problem (we tend to agree; of course, we update blogs for a living). But what is noteworthy about Bastianich’s blog and website in general is that the tone is informational and warm, just like the cooking goddess herself. Take away from this blog an aspiration to present the informational parts of your company in a more engaging way.

5.) Marc by Marc Jacobs: Minimal and sparse, you could call fashion guru Marc Jacobs’ blog pretentious… and you wouldn’t be wrong. But what’s great about it is the sleek and striking format that lets Jacobs and his brand messaging really shine. A teaspoon of Marc Jacobs’ minimalist style infused into our blogs would go a long way to inspire us to keep our blogs clean and easy to use.

Lego Hopes ReBrick Clicks with Fans

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Social media experts like ourselves have been predicting the arrival of the branded social network for years. But the truth is many have tried but few brands have been able to inspire the kind of ongoing conversation and interaction needed to keep a social network alive. Yet Lego’s new attempt at branded social media might be just the thing to catapult the platform into mainstream popularity.

ReBrick is a little bit social, a little bit Pinterest, and 100 percent Lego. Lego is already one of the most photographed and shared brands on the Internet, so why not create a hub that serves as an exchange of all things awesomely Lego? And that is exactly what ReBrick intends to do. As a toy and iconic brand, Lego has always been about creating, so ReBrick highlights the best in Lego creations instead of the latest in Lego products. Mainly the project hopes to unite the millions of existing Lego-based communities that are spread all over the web. “Lego has a very strong and vibrant community, with hundreds of thousands of videos and many millions of pictures on online,” said Peter Espersen, Lego’s online community leader in an interview with Click Z News. “But they’re all distributed across hundreds of blogs and thousands of websites. It’s about giving fans the credit that they deserve and putting an amplifier to the interesting stuff they’re doing so everyone around the web can find it.” For Lego fans, ReBrick could prove to be the all-in-one stop for great ideas and creations from all over the web. For social media marketing gurus, the expansion of branded social networks could prove to be a challenge.

Granted, it takes a mega-brand like Lego to conquer its own social media platform but as niche networks expand, the need for the general social media management might diminish a tad. Custom-made social networks that speak directly to a vivid and enthusiastic audience are undoubtedly the wave of the future. And only time will tell how this will change the face of social media marketing.

Facebooking Until the Mega Website Gets Built

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Here’s a social media marketing experiment we invite you to try: Walk around your neighborhood, get the names of five or six small businesses and then Google them. We’re betting that most of the businesses have both a Facebook page, a website and a couple other social media accounts. And then there are surely a few that just have a website. But the most surprising finding will be companies that have solely a Facebook page, and we’re nearly positive that you’ll find a few of those. Relying solely on Facebook to get your company’s information out until you can afford a website is a big risk… plus it sounds crazy. But can it actually work?

Prompted by a late night craving, I recently discovered that the owners of my favorite neighborhood cupcake and frozen yogurt joint has clearly chosen to dive headfirst into Facebook until the website of their dreams can be built. The current website is just a “coming soon” page even though the business has been open for a number of months. The Facebook page, however, is a different story. The local business has chosen to use the page to list its hours, location and menu items. But beyond that, the page prominently features photos of crowds inside enjoying tasty treats, pictures of mouth-watering cupcake creations and status updates with new yogurt flavors. Not only do you get the basic “where are they and what time do they open” kind of information, but you also receive an updated, closer look at the company than a regular static website can really provide.

This neighborhood sweet spot isn’t alone in choosing to focus on Facebook first. Since 2009, big brands have been slowly moving away from marketing their websites to concentrate on Facebook marketing. This being said, traditional websites aren’t going anywhere. The point of social media marketing in the first place is to drive your followers back to your website. Proper Facebook management should always push readers to the website for more content. Websites are the digital hub of a brand and need to be capable of serving the masses. But until that awesome website can be built, Facebook is an effective — even tasty — alternative.

Who Reads This Anyway? Getting to Know Your Audience

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We know how you roll: You tinker away 5 days a week at your blog creation. You come up with witty, wise and wonderful posts. You tweet and Facebook your blog on a regular basis. You feel like you’ve got this whole blogging-for-business thing wired shut. Yet there’s still something you don’t know: Who is your blog’s audience? And does it even matter?

Who your readers are does matter… mainly because you want to make sure the right people are reading your blog. By “the right people,” we mean audiences who share your same passions and rely on your expertise and hopefully want to buy whatever it is you are selling. Using your analytics tools that most blogging platforms offer is a good way to see who’s dropped by your blog and how many people a week lay their eyes on the darn thing. But to really get to know your readers, you have to talk to them. This is especially fantastic if your readers are other bloggers. Other bloggers know that commenting on your blog will get you to visit their blog and before you know it we’re all in the middle of a big blogger-to-blogger love-fest.

But beyond bloggers, who are your readers? Who do you write this for? If you write a blog about cooking to promote your line of baking accessories, for example, you would hope other foodie types are reading your blog. If those wannabe chefs aren’t dropping by your blog, however, you’d best go out and get them. Visit similar blogs, interact and invite audiences to come chat with you. Good blog marketing via social media and your own website will hopefully bring the audience of your dreams to you.

Taking some time to find out who your readers are will also help you develop topics they want to read and talk about. So on that note, readers, what’s on your mind? Tell us what tips you have for building and getting to know your blog’s audience. Sound off below!