Blog Like the Big Brands: Google

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No conversation about corporate blog writing would be complete without talking about Google. After all, not only does Google own one of the planet’s most-used blogging platforms (Blogger), but its own blog is a highly-referenced one in its own right. The Official Google Blog is turned to by everyone, from politicians to journalists to tech experts, any and every time news, rumors or new products are generated by Google. Many would argue Google practically invented blogging for business in the first place. So we wondered: What makes Google such a blogging powerhouse? And how can our small businesses harness some of that blog marketing juju?

Take a gander at the Official Google Blog. Notice anything? For one thing, it’s super sleek and clean. The Google blog has taken on the same modern, stark look of all the other Google products. This is great branding because right away, a visitor knows exactly where they are. Also, while the blog has plenty of videos and links, it’s important to notice how orderly everything is. Google’s search engine is a resource, and the Official Google Blog looks like a resource, too. Google underwent a huge branding and image makeover last year, and the blog matches everything else. Content-wise is where small businesses can steal a move or two from Google, though.

Every post on the Google blog isn’t afraid to know what it’s talking about. Google goes to great lengths to explain how it does what it does to the little people like you and me and the blogs read like a knowledgeable friend. In short, people read the Google blog because the writers are experts in their field and they’re proud of it. We, too, should be proud of being brilliant in our respective fields. Our consumers and followers most likely stumbled upon our blogs to learn something about us. So pack each post with tips and tricks only you know about your business. Who cares if it sounds nerdy? When it comes to content, don’t hold back. Let your expert flag fly.

More Shots Fired in the Facebook Advertising Battle

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It’s the social media marketing smackdown of the summer: On one side, you have high-profile brands like GM who say that despite sinking millions into advertising on Facebook, their company has seen little or no return. GM shocked the marketing world when it pulled its advertising completely from Facebook. On the other side of the battle, after weeks of silence and an abysmal performance on the stock market, the world’s most used social network has come forward to defend its advertising power.

Facebook came out with guns blazing on Tuesday when it released a report which boldly states advertisers earn $3 for every $1 they spend advertising on Facebook. The new numbers were released along with ComScore in a report that shows how Facebook advertising has helped companies like Target and Starbucks. The research, according to Facebook, shows that 70 percent of ad campaigns will get advertisers three times the amount of what they put in. The company further claims that nearly half of all campaigns get companies $5 for every $1 spent. According to the Los Angeles Times, “The report also showed people who ‘Like’ Target were likely to buy from the company 21 percent more frequently, and people who saw unpaid marketing messages from Starbucks made purchases from the company every four weeks, 38 percent more often than those who didn’t.”

While these are compelling numbers and every marketer has some early Facebook marketing success stories in his or her cannon, the fact remains that public interest in Facebook is in a slump. Over time, we’ve personally seen clients who were once determined to talk to the Facebook crowd now focus their marketing dollars elsewhere. Moreover, Facebook has yet to prove that its users spend money. So far we can only confirm that Facebook is good for folks who want to chat, share pictures and reconnect. Still, we’re not going to count Facebook out just yet. If we learned anything from watching this brand explode over the past five years, it’s to never underestimate Facebook and its remarkable staying power.

Tweet Nation: Twitter Users Quadruple

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Looking for the right person to handle your company’s Twitter management and Twitter marketing? You’re not alone. It certainly feels like everybody is on Twitter these days and that brands of all sizes are taking tweets very seriously. Now a new report finds that Twitter users have quadrupled over the past two years — all while the company itself is finding new ways to keep users happy while making more money.

According to a survey conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International for the Pew Internet and American Life Project, engagement of users has skyrocketed, with 8 percent of the online adult population now using Twitter on a typical day. The number of adults who tweet on a daily basis has doubled since May 2011. Research suggests that the rise of smartphones helped Twitter explode with users. Like we speculated a little while back, the research found Twitter users are indeed getting younger. More than a quarter of people ages 18-29 use Twitter and 31 percent of Americans ages 18-24 — that’s compared to 14 percent of users aged 30-49 years old.

As a brand, Twitter is on a mission to make tweeting more fun and more profitable than ever before. Over the weekend, Twitter debuted its first television commercial. The spot, which aired during a NASCAR race, showed off a totally new hashtag page feature. The hashtag #NASCAR is shown in the ad to direct Twitter users to a specific page filled with content related to that tag. Twitter clearly is reaching out to brands interested in being part of much-talked-about events like the Olympics. Of course, Twitter stands to grow financially from this new feature, as the hashtag pages are sponsored by big brand cash. In other words, hashtag pages won’t be for just any old hot topic, only for the folks willing to pay for them.

Unlike Facebook, which seems to have hit a plateau with online marketers, Twitter just keeps getting bigger. Brands and individuals really work Twitter and reap the rewards. But let’s hear from you, readers: Is Twitter on the way up or on the way out? Share with us your Twitter triumphs and tragedies in the comments section below!

Blog Like the Big Brands: Volkswagen

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Over the last few weeks, we’ve been deconstructing how major companies use blog content management to increase digital presence and brand awareness. We were curious how (or even if) the top brands on Interbrand’s Best Global Brands list were blogging for business. Turns out a huge portion of those heavy hitters rely on blogging to reach followers. This week, we turn our eyes to the automotive giant Volkswagen.

Volkswagen or VW certainly knows what it’s doing when it comes to online marketing. The company has long received kudos for its social media campaigns and addictive viral commercials. So when it comes to VW’s blogging, the company takes a different approach: No fewer than 8 mini-blogs tell 8 different stories about what’s happening at VW. As we’ve discussed before, multi-blogging is a great idea when you’re a company like VW with a lot of subsidiary brands and campaign initiatives. Jetta, Beetle and Passat each have its own blog, while “My VW” is a blog devoted to questions VW owners might have. Other blogs include “Think Blue” which covers all of VW’s environmental efforts and, for the hardcore fan, there’s the blog VW Enthusiasts.

Snappy videos and cool social media tricks are missing from VW’s blogs and we think it’s a wise move. VW is really talking to folks who’ve gone beyond sort of looking at cars and are now here at its website doing serious research. Still fun and well-written, the blogs are more informational in nature as they report on awards won, new safety features and upcoming cars.

There’s a lot any company can take away from VW’s blogging brilliance, but our favorite is how photo-centric the blog is. After all, if you’ve come to VW’s blog, you probably want to see some cars — and they deliver on that. Too often companies with merchandise (clothing retailers, restaurants, etc.) don’t include pictures of the goods in the blog. Huh? If you’ve got stuff to sell, then by all means show it off! Adding photos and videos of your merchandise to your blog is easy and gives your blog that extra “oomph.” VW clearly realizes it can have all the smart commercials in the world but if it’s not using social media and blogging to sell its product, then it has truly missed the bus.

Five Things You Might Have Missed

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From a Facebook campaign that really cleans up to a satirical look at ghostwriting, this week’s edition of Five Things You Might Have Missed is destined to be your favorite so far! And if not, there’s always next week.

1.) Logging Out, Sweeping Up: “Leave no Facebook space unbranded” seems to be the motto we marketers live by. But we have to give Swiffer a round of applause for cleverly advertising its broom-mop thing in an unlikely place: the logout page. This week, P&G, the company that owns the Swiffer dynasty, placed a video on Facebook’s logout page. The cheery and cute video already has likes, so it seems that logout page marketing is just another clever Facebook avenue to sell our wares on.

2.) You’ll Love it Long Time: For those of you missing the subtle rap stylings of 2 Live Crew (and who doesn’t, really?), the kind people of the Netherlands have cooked up a candy bar commercial just for you. A singing rabbit-blob type of creature pops out of a backpack and busts into a chorus of “Me So Corny.” It’s as stupid and genius as it sounds.

3.) Hey Ladies: Ladies Learning Code or LLC is a smash hit not-for-profit group that seeks to empower women to learn code and other intimidating tech skills with courses in Toronto. The group has earned global recognition and this week is expanding the brand with HackerU, a for-profit, for-everyone version. Heather Payne, the lady behind Ladies and HackerU, makes our list for being a brand maker and entrepreneur to watch. Also LLC has a great corporate blog just ripe for inspiration.

4.) Mickey Dumps Junk Food: The biggest branding news of the week might have come from Disney, which announced it would no longer air ads for junk food during children’s programming on any of its networks. Furthermore, Disney characters will not be used to sell sugary cereals or fattening snacks. The bold move, which was backed by Michelle Obama, has not been without controversy. As part of the initiative, Mickey Check puts the famous mouse on things like apple slices and carrot sticks. Leave it to Disney to try and slap a logo on health food.

5.) Ghostwriting Goop: Actress and smug know-it-all chef Gwyneth Paltrow hasn’t had the best spring. In March, a New York Times article claimed someone else created and wrote the recipes in her cookbook. And this week, the actress probably wishes she had a Twitter ghostwriter after she tweeted the “N-word.” Let’s use la Paltrow as a cautionary tale of how not to use social media or ghostwriters and enjoy this hilarious spoof instead.