The Long & Short of it: Finding the Perfect Blog Length

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“Blah, blah, blah” is the last thing you want readers to think after you’ve poured your heart and soul into blog creation. You want your company blog to excite readers about your brand. You want your words to keep ’em coming back. But if you still feel like you’re getting blah-blah-blahed (accompanied by the required eye rolling and blabbermouth hand gesture, natch), then your blog may be too long. If, however, your scant-yet-efficient blog fails to garner comments over and over again, perhaps your blog is too darn short. So what exactly is the perfect blog length?

The minuscule line between full of information and too much information is particularly fine in the blogging-for-business world. Naturally, you’d like to give your readers and customers an in-depth look into your company, complete with all of your insights. But you don’t want to load them down with so much content that their heads begin to spin. I once had a creative writing teacher who had a perfect formula for this dilemma: leave them wanting more. His theory was this: Don’t give away your entire catalog of grade-A material. Instead, pepper your writing with the good stuff, knowing that you’ll have plenty of opportunities to dish out other nuggets of wisdom. Or, as another writing mentor of mine would say, “slow your roll.” Under this mindset, we can assume a great blog length runs in the 300-600 word length.

I found dozens of studies online, all claiming a different “perfect blog length.” But I tend to think shorter is better given our attention span and newfound love of reading blogs on smartphones and tablets. There is an art to saying what you need to say in a limited space. Plus shorter blogs are ideal if you intend to update several times a week.

However, those 800-1,200 word blogs certainly have an audience. Take a peek at some of the most popular tech and business blogs. Many of them are darn lengthy! And we can assume given the exploding readership of said blogs that people don’t mind and even enjoy getting an eyeful of content. By all means, if you’ve got a hot topic that needs 1,000+ words and your readers are dying to hear more, blog away! Our only rule of thumb is make sure the blog is engaging throughout. Just a catchy headline won’t hold their attention as they scroll for days to get to the end. Also by dividing your longer posts into easy digestible chunks, you make it easy and more appealing for readers to come back pick up where they left off if need be.

While there may not be an exact mythological answer to the perfect blog length, the power and potency of words is what matters. Still, we’re curious. Readers, what do you consider the perfect blog length? Do long-winded blogs delight or frighten you? Sound off in the comments section below!

Five Things You Might Have Missed!

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Happy Friday! From Facebook pages gone ugly to blunt billboards, we’ve rounded up all the social media marketing, digital branding and online marketing news on a list we call our Five Things You Might Have Missed.

1.) Blogapalooza: Topping our list is a new study from Neilsen that is music to our ears: Blogging is back and bigger than ever. According to Neilsen, blogging is on the rise and the three major platforms — Blogger, WordPress and Tumblr — account for 80 million unique views in October 2011 alone. This is great news for blog writers and blog readers and more proof that if you blog it, they will come.

2.) ‘Sync. Tweet. Save: This brilliant Twitter marketing campaign from AmEx is a game changer. For the first time, the brand will use specially-created hashtags to reward card holders with bonuses. Each time AmEx customers tweet about using their card to buy coffee or get gas, for example, their cards get bonus points. It’s social media savvy meets rewarding customer loyalty.

3.) Pretty Ugly: The unpretty side of social media reared its ugly head this week in a controversial and popular Facebook contest called “The Most Beautiful Teen.” Parents were horrified when news of the page, which calls upon teens to sound off on the appearance of other teenagers, surfaced. Teens being teens, the comments got out of control and Facebook shut down the site — but not before the media hopped on the story at lightening speed.

4.) Hot Dogs in Hot Water: Those rascals from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine are at it again. This time, it’s a billboard that states Hot Dogs Cause Butt Cancer. (Alrighty then.) Sometimes it’s the blunt and simple messages people remember most.

5.) The Fed Tries Twitter: And finally, the Federal Reserve took to Twitter to clear up its much-maligned messages and image. We say bravo, Fed. If Twitter marketing can work for Charlie Sheen, then anything is possible!

Love it or Hate it, KONY 2012 Exemplifies Viral Marketing

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You can map out and plot the every move of content marketing strategy — but sometimes, no matter what you’ve laid down, a campaign takes on a life of its own. Kony 2012 is such a campaign. Released on March 5 with an already record-breaking 75 million YouTube views, “Kony 2012” is a 30-minute viral documentary truly unlike anything we’ve ever seen. The video is a call to action for viewers to donate to Invisible Children, an organization set on taking down Uganda’s notorious war criminal Joseph Kony. Oprah, Angelina Jolie, Rihanna and George Clooney were among the celebrities to throw their support behind the campaign.

As the views continued to climb, however, so did the questions. Where was the anti-Kony money really going? What organizations were behind Invisible Children? And did the video ignore some crucial facts? What unfolded in the following days was another triumphant and cautionary tale of viral marketing spun out of control.

Facebook and Twitter buzzed for days about Kony 2012, with users from across the globe posting the video to social media. No other viral campaign for a non-profit had ever seen this kind of traction and soon traditional media had followed suit. From strictly a marketing standpoint, Invisible Children and Kony 2012 is a smash success. Their goal was to educate as many as they could about the situation in Uganda and they certainly did that. The issue was pushed on the front-burner and many say the hotness of the topic squished other buzz-worthy news stories — including the iPad3.

On one hand, it’s inspiring that a documentary and the non-profit behind it can bring such global awareness. This is the kind of response every non-profit dreams of. On the other hand, as a campaign and a product, Kony 2012 isn’t exactly free from controversy. A peek into the 1990 tax forms of Invisible Children showed big-time donations and financial support from anti-gay groups and conservative Christian organizations. Other critics say Kony 2012 is the antithesis of shallow, push-button social media activism.

Regardless, the power of viral marketing for non-profits can’t be denied, and Kony has forever changed the game with one 30-minute documentary.

It’s Time for Digital Spring Cleaning!

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My mother once wisely said, “If you’re not using it anymore, you should throw it away.” This simple, sage bit of homespun wisdom holds doubly true for content marketing and social media marketing. In the digital world, it’s easy to amass dozens of platforms and social media accounts that you pick up when it’s touted to be the next big thing. Yet once the sizzle has turned to fizzle, these stagnant channels can actually damage your brand as they sit there inactive. So we here at Brandsplat have come up with a “ditch it list” for online marketing techniques and channels that might be collecting dust and getting in the way.

Pick a Blog and Stick With It: Maybe you’ve dabbled on Blogger, posted sporadically on Tumblr or toyed with WordPress — but done none of them with any regularity. Use this season to commit to a blogging platform that you like using and that fits with your brand’s image. If you’re a law firm, for example, the über visual stylings of Tumblr probably aren’t for you. Having one regularly updated blog helps redefine and streamline your brand and makes your message easier to find.

Enough With the Multiple Twitter Accounts: Not everybody in your office needs a company voice on Twitter. We think one strong, consistent Twitter account does the trick nicely, but two should be your maximum. All contests, photos and conversations can be handled by one person on one account. Again, dead, rarely-used accounts are confusing and should be deleted.

Embrace Timeline: Yes, it looks like bad MySpace code from four years ago. Yes, it’s not user-friendly. But Timeline for Pages, as of March 30, is an inevitability. Spring clean your company’s Facebook page and take the time to curate a cool Timeline with updated pictures and branding. After all, resistance of Facebook is futile, so you might as well make the best of it.

Throw Out Old Ideas: Is an old logo that you no longer use still floating around? Is a dusty blog about a long gone campaign still stinking up your website? Then toss ’em! Think of this last tip as your digital dusting. Use this time to brush off old content, outdated information and campaigns gone long past from your website. After all, once your website is free from old clutter, you’ll have room for great new ideas.

The TSA’s Blogger Bob Should Be Your Blogging Yoda

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Wanna see a perfect example of effective blogging for business pulled off with precision, coolness and humor? Then hop over to the Transportation Security Administration blog immediately. (N0, really.) It sounds downright impossible that an organization universally criticized for its ineptitude and crazy regulations would be so awesome at blogging, but the TSA has a secret weapon: Blogger Bob. Bob Burns, the official blogger for the TSA, gives readers a look into the kooky world of airport security with the skill, sense of humor and directness that every company blog should strive for.

Over the last two weeks, Blogger Bob has been making headlines, garnering both fans and criticism while facing controversies head-on. After an outcry in late February from breast-feeding passengers who argued they weren’t allowed to bring their breast pumps and empty bottles abroad, Blogger Bob hopped online with an apology and tried to put out the fire. Last Friday, Blogger Bob went head-to-head with another blogger who claimed he could defeat the TSA’s full body scanners. And even Bloomberg BusinessWeek jumped on the bandwagon when they applauded the coolness of Blogger Bob.

What makes Bob Burns such a great company blogger is his open and approachable look into the TSA.

“I call it the corny dad approach. I’m basically the Bob Saget of blogging,” Burns tells Bloomberg. “This isn’t really the most exciting subject, so I thought I should inject some personality into it.”

Burns himself served time on the front line of airport security, so his blog is peppered with the point of view of someone in the know. In addition to addressing current news stories involving the TSA, the blog also covers new regulations and hilarious real-life stories of passengers and what they try to get away with at security.

All of this adds up to compelling reading and the joining of a real voice to an agency many think of as humorless or soulless. Blogger Bob’s personality and fearless confrontation of sticky issues are techniques we can all inject into our blog marketing.

Allstate Defuses Facebook Mayhem

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On these pages, we love to chat about how big brands handle social media marketing meltdowns and snafus. Multi-billion-dollar corporations, it seems, have the same problems on Facebook that the rest of us do: crazy messages left on our walls, accidental fights breaking out over innocent topics and general misunderstandings blown way out of proportion — all in a way that can only happen on Facebook. So we were interested to see how mega-insurance powerhouse Allstate tried to put out a Facebook fire ignited by Women’s History Month and Rush Limbaugh.

A couple days back, Allstate harmlessly posted the question: “It’s Women’s History Month. What woman inspires you?” Undoubtedly, Allstate was looking for answers like “my mother” or “Golda Meir” but what it got instead was a firestorm of angry responses from women who were upset that the company advertises on Rush Limbaugh’s radio program. Limbaugh, in case you’ve been visiting your vacation condo under a rock, took some major heat last week for calling a Georgetown University student a “slut” because she supported health insurance coverage for contraception. ToppleBush.com published a list of advertisers who support Limbaugh’s program and Allstate was one of the heavy hitters.

But Allstate says they’ve never advertised on Limbaugh’s show and the ads that have aired have been a mistake. (Sears has similarly been charged with advertising on Limbaugh and also claims whatever spots have aired have been accidental.)

“We contacted the vendor that arranges for our advertising placements and discovered that an error had been made and advertising time had been mistakenly purchased for the show,” Allstate said in a press release. The insurance giant took further action to ensure its posts would not appear on Limbaugh’s show, as did other brands including like AOL, which pulled its advertising completely.

Meanwhile, the brand took to Facebook to clear up the Limbaugh mess directly. In a series of posts that interacted with Facebook users, Allstate discussed the programming mistake and its stance on Limbaugh. Of course, Facebookers will be Facebookers, and the fight over Limbaugh continued in the comments section of several posts.

In the end, Allstate faced the allegations head on and bravely hopped in the shark-infested Facebook waters. Do we buy the “Oops! We didn’t mean to advertise on Limbaugh’s show” excuse? Meh. It’s most likely a face-saving move… but when played using shrewd Facebook management, it’s a wise one, too.

Five Things You Might Have Missed

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With the heavy political mudslinging, depressingly overzealous marketing campaigns and lame social media sniping of late, we think it’s time we all lighten the funk up. After all, it’s spring and there’s tons of companies and individuals using online marketing in surprising, hilarious and inspired ways. Here’s a handful of some of our current favorites on a little list we like to call “Five Things You Might Have Missed:”

1.) That Viral Video Smells güd: Makers of yummy body and skin care Burt’s Bees came up with a “scentsational” way for fans to get a whiff of its new line, güd. Scratch and sniff cards were shoved in fashion magazines like Lucky where readers were prompted to visit Burt’s YouTube channel. There, viewers are treated to sparkling animated video with “scratch-along” numbers that give them that olfactory sense of inhaling whatever scent is on the screen. Smells like genius to us!

2.) ATMmmmm: Los Angeles-based cupcakery Sprinkles gave its Beverly Hills branch a one-of-a-kind ATM-type of machine that dispenses the company’s famous cupcakes, Sprinkles merchandise and even recipes. The machine itself is a candy-colored feast for the eyes, sure to inspire drivers to pull over and make late-night withdrawals.

3.) Tweeting with Friends: Scrabble, that O.G. uber competitive word game, is launching a new product called Scrabble Trickster. To celebrate, it’s taking the fun and games to Twitter. In what can only be described as “why didn’t we think of that sooner?” Twitter marketing, Scrabble is offering a chance for followers to play the game in real-time with other tweeps and even giving away some prizes to the winners. We love Scrabble and adore brands that tap into the light-hearted side of Twitter, so this campaign is a winner.

4.) How do you say WTF in Japanese?: Dying to see a singing supermodel drinking tea handed to her by some weird hooded dude? Then this list-making video starring Miranda Kerr is just the ticket. We can’t promise that you’ll be inspired to mix in such bold images in your own viral marketing, but we can promise you’ll be amused for 16 seconds.

5.) Does Craftsmen Make Those?: And, finally, Sears recently yanked this t-shirt off its website. Duh. For a company that features family-friendly ads and corny all-American imagery, this t-shirt doesn’t really gel.