Anybody Can Be a Viral Blogging Sensation. Even a Nine-year-old.

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You might think that we here at Brandsplat spend all of our time ghostwriting and blogging for business and are left jaded and uninspired at the end of the day. But you’d be wrong! Every so often, a story about blogging comes along that truly puts a smile on our faces and reminds us how powerful and effective blogging really is. So thank you, Martha Payne, for being the most recent story.

Martha Payne is a nine-year-old from Scotland who started a little blog in the beginning of May. NeverSeconds chronicles Payne’s daily lunches and life at her primary school. The blog was born after Payne grew frustrated with the size and quality of the lunches served in her cafeteria. Each blog post features a picture of the day’s lunch and its ranking on her Food-o-meter. Payne lists each entrée’s number of mouthfuls, courses and pieces of hair found (mercifully zero so far).

Her honest critique of school lunches has attracted worldwide media attention and more than one million views. Just by blogging about what she saw and experienced, Payne tapped into the hot global topic of school lunches and childhood nutrition. Celebrity chef and school lunch advocate Jamie Oliver congratulated Payne, the BBC interviewed her and local school administrators put school lunches at the top of their agendas. All of this in under a month! What’s more is that Payne has fans from all over the world. Kids from Spokane to Taiwan send her photos of their lunches. Payne, like any great blogger, has a story that audiences can relate to and identify with.

Payne’s readership and instant success are not the norm, as most grumpy custom content specialists will tell you. It usually takes time and planning and lots of content (things we can help you with, by the way). But the thing is you’ll never know if your blog will be a sensation until you actually create it! Writing about the business you’re passionate about might not get you Payne-sized publicity, but you won’t know until you try.

One Nation’s Twitter Battle Against Booty Shorts

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By now, most everyone has seen a public service or non-profit organization use Twitter marketing to help get its message out. Twitter’s microblogging format, complete with millions of chatty users, is the perfect platform for educational campaigns. Short, clever tweets with memorable hashtags have been pumped out by organizations trying to stop everything from drunk driving to human trafficking. Now, two ladies from the United Arab Emirates are on a mission to use Twitter to help stop an evil force infiltrating their country: tourists in booty shorts.

While the tiny UAE is by far the most lenient of Middle Eastern countries with its policies and opinions about dress codes for women, Hanan al-Rayyes and Asma al-Muheiri say that Western tourists disrespect their country’s customs by wearing low-cut tops, mini-skirts and the ever popular short shorts. One event in particular launched the women into action.

“I saw a woman at the mall wearing very short shorts and she looked repulsive,” said Muheiri in an interview with AFP.

After complaining to mall management and seeing no results, the pair decided to take matters into their own hands. They hopped on Twitter to school visiting foreigners about how to dress in the UAE — thus the @UAEDressCode account was born. A lively discussion of what tourists should or shouldn’t wear also gave way to tweeting about other behaviors, like kissing in public, that are big no-nos in the UAE.

With nearly 600 followers, the response has been as mixed as you might expect. The UAE certainly represents two worlds: one holding on to old Muslim customs and traditions and one trying to keep up with the Western world. Some residents are championing the campaign, while others think there are bigger issues for the UAE to worry about. But however you feel about tourists in tacky outfits, it can’t be argued that this homespun campaign garnered some amazing results. Internationally covered by major media outlets, @UAEDressCode has received coverage most Twitter for business experts only dream of.

Blog Like the Big Brands: Coca-Cola

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Blog Like the Big Brands is Brandsplat’s newest weekly series wherein we look at how top global companies use blog writing and blog marketing to leverage their brands. This week, we crack open a cold one with Coca-Cola to learn how the world’s No. 1 brand uses blogging to stay on top.

Year after year, on every list, one company consistently ranks as the world’s most successful and recognizable brand — Coca-Cola. Coke has long been a leader on the digital and online marketing forefront. They tweet. They Facebook. They have a billion popular YouTube videos from around the world. And Coca-Cola blogs. So what’s Coca-Cola’s blogging strategy, and can normal blogging-for-business schmoes like you and me copy some of their moves?

Coke’s apparent strategy for blogging is of the “blog everywhere” variety. Launched in 2008, Coca-Cola Conversations is the company’s corporate blog, which focuses on Coke’s history and the value of its collectibles. Conversations is exactly that; Coke employees talking about the brand they love while giving readers a glimpse into the past. It’s surprisingly homey and old timey but with enough videos and mentions of social media to remind you that yes, it is still 2012.

Now, when a company chooses the “blog everywhere” path, it must fully commit to blogging on every popular platform, and Coke has done just that. Not only is Coke on Twitter but so are all of its other brands. Coke didn’t miss a beat when Tumblr’s popularity exploded; the company launched its own blog on the platform over the winter. “Happiness is drinking a Coke” is the Tumblr’s main message, so all of the blog posts are focused on great smile-inducing images and messages with Coke’s products and campaigns sprinkled throughout. It’s very Tumblr and very Coke all at the same time. The company didn’t need to twist itself to fit Tumblr or vice versa.

Naturally, you have to be a brand of Coke’s magnitude to dominate so many digital platforms, but there a few blogging ideas anybody can swipe from the soda giant. First, campaign-specific blogging is for everybody. Coke is great about launching blogs or social media accounts just for a certain promotional push, and that’s something every business can try. The great thing about blog campaigns is that they are low-cost and low-risk. Next, having multiple blogs can help you reach different audiences. The visual-based consumer that window shops on platforms like Tumblr or Pinterest is different from a blog visitor who likes to read a lot of text, so if you have the time, why not be like Coke and talk to all of them? Finally, be everywhere but know your limitations. Coke didn’t climb to the top without its share of trial and error. Coke has backed out of plenty of online campaigns over the years because they didn’t work. So remember that it’s okay if a blogging effort or social media marketing idea doesn’t pan out. Just don’t waste your time on things that don’t make an impression; focus on the efforts that make your audience happy.

The Bristol Palin Blogging Tutorial

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Can the world’s most famous teen mom, Bristol Palin, school us crusty marketing types on blog creation and blog marketing? To quote her mama, “You betcha!” Bristol, in case you haven’t heard, has turned into quite the blogging machine over the last couple of months, and the byproducts of her efforts have put the reality star on the front page of every paper and on every network. Her blogs are discussed by talking heads and lampooned by comedians — so she must be doing something right, right? Or does the blogging notoriety of Bristol Palin have more to do with “How Not to Blog in 2012” than anything else?

Last week, Palin was attacked for blogging bogus statistics about the abortion rate for children with Down Syndrome. Palin wrote, “In the United States, would you believe 92 percent of babies diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted before they get a chance to take a breath? When I hear this statistic, it makes me want to burst into tears. I can’t imagine a world without Trig — he is the best brother!” Naturally, the real statistics, which were only a Google search away, came to light, and Palin was forced to apologize. That apology went something like this, “I’m sorry to say I think I unknowingly passed on incorrect information,” she wrote on her blog and then went on to publish the real statistics — 50 percent of Down Syndrome-diagnosed fetuses are actually aborted.

Sigh.

Listen, I don’t think anybody expects Bristol Palin to be an expert on anything, but for a young woman supposedly building her brand on being a responsible teen mom (one with a new reality show coming out, by the way), to not check the facts is ridiculous. Bristol blogging lesson Numero Uno: If you’re gonna spout off statistics, make sure they’re correct or be prepared to suffer the wrath of the informed.

This recent blogging blunder comes on the heels of a post wherein Bristol accused the first daughters of changing President Obama’s mind on gay marriage. This blog was publicly trashed on Twitter and comedians and pundits of all backgrounds had a great time destroying it. But Bristol was just doing one of the oldest blogging tricks in the book, which brings us to our second and final lesson: If you want publicity, blog about a controversial topic. Nobody really cares what Bristol Palin thinks about gay marriage, but that post sure drove traffic to her site, put her once again in the headlines and she probably sold a few books because of it.

While her celebrity is of the stomach-churning and head-scratching variety, Bristol Palin has certainly tapped into the power of blog marketing. And until her television show premiers later this year, we can bet on more headline-grabbing blogs to come in the immediate future.

How Twitter Put Newark & Cory Booker on the Map

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We can safely say that two decades ago, nobody outside of the Garden State could tell you what the mayor of Newark, New Jersey thought about politics — or even what his name was. Thanks to Twitter marketing, however, everybody near a computer (even those of us who don’t give a hoot about politics) can tell you that Cory Booker is the mayor of Newark and that his tweets have put the man and the town in the national spotlight.

Booker is to political tweeting what Kourtney Kardashian is to C-list celebrity tweeting — which is to say the man is quite prolific when it comes to using the platform to promote himself and his thoughts on the current political climate. The democrat has taken to Twitter to talk about everything from marriage equality to the education crisis. Still, the main thing Booker is talking about here is himself… like any good “Twitter artist,” Booker employs the site to talk about the guy he knows best.

Twitter can turn brands like Booker (because, let’s be honest, that’s what he and all politicians are) into bona fide headline-grabbing stars. Booker made serious waves over the weekend when he bashed Obama’s attack ads on Mitt Romney as “nauseating.” The comment, made on Meet the Press, was a bold one and one labeled a slap in the face by other Democrats working hard to get Obama re-elected. Nevertheless, it took some guts for the guy to speak out against the mudslinging practice, and his critics couldn’t wait to take Booker to the rack.

Unfortunately, Booker used his beloved Twitter to backpedal. In the days following his verbal shot heard ’round the world, Booker used the hashtag #IStandwithObama to show that he supports the president and plans on working to keep him in the White House. Again, critics turned up their noses at Booker’s change of heart.

Yet those of us who do Twitter management and marketing for a living know better. Booker is using the platform just like he should. Got an opinion? Say it on Twitter. Tick off people with that opinion? Apologize on Twitter. Rinse and repeat. When Booker has a bestseller on the charts and continues to make headlines, as we’re sure is the inevitable future, he’ll have Twitter to thank for it.

Everybody Makes Mistakes (Even Bloggers)

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Once upon a time, a young blogger (*cough* me *cough*) was writing about a popular actress from a sci-fi fantasy television show and credited this star for being featured in a film about giant locusts. Only thing was, this particular thespian never starred in such a film. Whoops. Of course, this “whoops” did not go unnoticed by her legions of fans, who somehow got my email and made sure I knew how wrong I was. But that’s not all… Soon the comments section of the blog was filled with delightful words like “hack” and “moron.” It was a lesson in blog writing I need to learn: Always double-check your facts.

Yet even the most savvy purveyors of blog creation make blunders from time to time. Even publications with hundreds on staff make mistakes. Even The New York Times. As pointed out by the bloggers at NPR, The Gray Lady ran the following correction earlier this week:

A critic’s notebook article on Monday about the prevalence of standing ovations at Broadway shows described incorrectly the quickness with which audience members appeared to be on their feet at a performance of the current revival of Death of a Salesman. Their ovation seemed to occur within a millisecond — one-thousandth of a second — not a megasecond, which is one million seconds.”

This typo, as noted by NPR, was of the educational, “who knew?” variety. Readers who read the correction might have learned the difference between milli and mega. Plus, no one, as far as we know, took the Broadway critic to the rack for mixing up the two. Of course, the NPR blog was peppered with some comments from readers who said things like, “As a writer, he should have known better,” but all in all there was no harm done.

The great thing about making mistakes in the digital age is that they can be fixed pretty fast. Just the other day, I misspelled a name and within moments my editor and swooped in with ninja-like speed and made it all better. (For the record, I do know the difference between the tart fruit marionberry and reformed crack smoking mayor Marion Barry.) And yet, for all of our technological advancements, we haven’t figured out the one problem that plagues writers: simply being human. And thank goodness for that. Bloggers will continue to make flubs and print corrections and repeat as long as there are actual people behind the keyboard. There isn’t a “milli” or “mega” typo that can’t be fixed with a published correction.

7 Quickie Content Solutions!

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Here’s a common scenario in the digital era: You’ve just whipped up your new business and you’ve got to get your name out there like yesterday. Only trouble is you don’t have the time to design a website and wait for people to find said website. Thankfully, we’re kind of masters at getting brands big and small found online in record time. Here now are ten tips for quick custom content that will put you on the map in no time!

1.) Like Pages at Lightspeed: While not everybody loves the ever-commercially-bent evolution look of Facebook pages, it can’t be argued that setting up a page for small businesses is faster than ever. We recently put together a Like page for a comedy group in less than 15 minutes and the Likes came rolling in immediately.

2.) Tumblr Those Photos: Got a visual business that needs to be seen rather than heard? Tumblr is fabulous for getting photos of what you do out there in a timely manner. No waiting to load or formating required, Tumblr blogs can serve up feasts for the eyes in mere moments. Here’s one we put together for a local frame shop in a few minutes that is currently getting re-blogged while showing what the company does best.

3.) Tout it Out Loud: Tout is the video status updating site that lets brands and individuals say it on camera. The fairly new platform is a hit with celebs, sports heroes and CEOs. Tout puts your face out there in minutes and is growing like crazy.

4.) Make a Mini-series: Instead of vomiting out a 3,000-word blog post that no one will ever read, how about chopping that sucker up and serving it in bite size portions that can be doled out over the course of several posts? A blog series is a great way to fill up a week’s worth of writing without having to search high and low for topics, saving you time and your readers from boredom in one fell swoop.

5.) Tweet and Repeat: Twitter is a super-fast way for a newbie brand to get its message out. Using 140 characters, new companies can say, “Hello! We’re here!” without using up a whole bunch of man hours. Also, Twitter’s excellent new search features make it easier than ever to find folks tweeting about the same things you are.

6.) Get On Google+: If you’re already on Google+, setting up a page takes minutes and the page in question gets the marketing moxie and search engine power of Google right behind it. I personally set up two a week ago and it took less than 30 minutes.

7.) Give ’em Something to Watch: Videos (only the ones which relate to your industry, of course) are great filler for an empty blog and website. Original videos take time to make, so until you get your film-making magic on, post pre-existing videos to your site that your followers will find interesting.