Brandcasting. Growing your brand by seeding vast digital fields. (Part 7 of 7).

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Don’t expect people to come knocking down your door just because you have a website. The bottom line is you must have products and/or services people are interested in first and foremost. No duh, right? Let’s say you know there is a demand for what you’re offering and you are ready to attract traffic to your site. This is where Brandcasting comes in. Think of Brandcasting like casting a bag of seeds across a vast field (the Internet). Each seed that is cast will need to be nourished and watered in order to grow tall enough to have a presence. But once a presence is established, you will see many iterations of your brand sprouting up for any passerby to come across. The longer you nourish the seedling, the higher and more prominent it grows.

There are lots of ways to deploy intelligent brand marketing online. We’re just scratching the surface here. I haven’t even touched on press releases, banner ad campaigns, viral videos, ppc campaigns, newsletters, affiliate programs, email marketing and a whole slew of other tools a business or an individual can apply for effective Brandcasting.

The metaphor of scattering seeds and then nourishing them is an apt one. For example, lets say one such seed is intended to grow a branded blog for your company. Having the best blog or writing the best entries doesn’t mean diddlysquat unless someone is interested enough in what you’re offering. So it is really important that you nourish your blog with quality content and engaging information and “water” your blog daily, that is, add content to it daily.  Having a good mix of seeds is helpful too. Having a multi-level marketing strategy that employs the best combination of “seeds” may be the best way attract different niche audiences. So one set of seeds may be intended to grow the company blog variety, another seed is intended to create a presence via article marketing, another seed may be intended to give your brand a video presence, and so on. Ultimately, you want the right mix of seeds to catch the attention of the right mix of customers.

Whether you do it yourself, or hire a company like Brandsplat to deploy an intelligent online branding campaign, you have to choose a strategy and remember to manage your strategy as certain milestones are met. Brandcasting can boost your company’s visibility and over time can give your brand a lasting footprint on the Internet. Just remember that it takes time to build your presence online and don’t get frustrated if you don’t see results right away. Cast those seeds, water and feed them and watch them grow your brand into one that has a healthy presence on the web. Happy farming.

This concludes my 7 part series on Brandcasting. Keep visiting for more informative updates on the power of Brandcasting.

Brandcasting. How social networking can increase your brand image. (Part 6 of 7).

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When social networking first came on the scene with sites like Myspace, many people viewed it as technology meant for younger, tech savvy users who want to have a common digital space where they can chat, exchange music, share information and do just like teens do in Europe in their local town squares. This was an ideal solution for towns across America that didn’t have a town square; a digital piazza was the perfect solution. As time went on, it was clear that something more powerful was forming on the horizon. Sites like Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin have soon become “virtual piazzas” for much broader ranges of users that include adults, professionals and now, businesses. As I have written about in a previous micro blogging post, businesses now have the power to broadcast deals and offers to loyal customers via micro-blogging. Think of how Kmart used “blue light specials” in their stores to create a loyal following of shoppers. Now businesses can do the same without the corny spinning blue light and they can reach far beyond the confines of their brick and mortar store space. But don’t think that just because you are tweeting deals to your audience that the dollars will start rolling in. You have to have a strategy. To get started, Twitter does a nice job of explaining how the power of micro blogging can help businesses of all sizes. For the novice, I have written a post detailing how to get started with Twitter here. The subject of using social networking is a huge one, so we will just scratch the surface by offering up a few tips for the novice micro blogger.

Micro Blogging Tips

1. Keep “˜em coming back for more. Offering incentives and special deals on an ongoing basis will keep your audience engaged and willing to follow your micro blog. Also, give-aways and promotions work well in growing your audience and keeping your loyalists happy.

2.  Manage your online reputation. Because micro blogging is a social medium, anyone can have a voice. That means that you may receive negative feedback from your customers in a public format. Always address negative comments and if you can, look for ways to turn those negative comments around in your favor by offering a solution or a “make-good” for that customer. While many will agree that there is no such thing as bad PR, there is such a thing as a bad brand reputation and anything you can do to snub negativity can help in the long run and may even turn a sour situation into a sweet marketing win.

3. Bond with your fans. Social media allows you to have back and forth conversations with your most loyal customers in a public format. Always invite your fans to have a platform and create a healthy exchange with your brand. Who knows, you may discover your version of Subway Jared, Subway’s spokesperson who was one of its most loyal fans.

Again, we are just scratching the surface here. Micro blogging can be time consuming yet rewarding if you do it right. It’s up to you to do research for the best micro blogging techniques that fits your marketing strategy for your business. For a better handle on micro blogging, I recommend looking to other businesses that are similar to yours, how-to books and online resources like Twitter. Be sure to check back for tomorrow’s post, the final part of a seven part series. As they say in the local piazza, ciao.

Brandcasting. Launch your brand into the blogosphere. (Part 3 of 7).

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One of the most effective ways to spread content about your brand on the Internet is to write a blog.  Blogging can be a great way to distribute information and good content about your industry. Often times a blog is a good way to set a tone for a brand and allows readers to interact with a real human being within the company. Blogging is a good format to write relevant blog entries that are timely and/or time sensitive. You can easily set up a blog for free. Sites like WordPress, TypePad, Blogger, LiveJournal are among the most popular services that can help you get started. There are others to choose from, so do your own research to find one that’s best for you.

Think of your blog like a daily newspaper. Daily newspapers rely on breaking news and rich/relevant content to attract a growing audience. This is the same strategy you should keep in mind when writing a blog. The idea here is to attract readers who want to check in on a daily basis because your blog is relevant to them, their industry or their likes and dislikes. This can be a time consuming, yet rewarding proposition. If you don’t have the time to write daily entries, you may want to hire a writer who is knowledgeable in your field and employ them to write blog entries that are on topic for you. Or, you may want to consider having a stable of writers, much like a newspaper, who can come at a certain subject from various angles. Successful blogs like the Huffington Post employ this kind of strategy and are able to offer rich content by multiple sources and differing points of view.

The next thing you want to keep in mind is that your loyal readers may want to have an interactive experience with your blog. Think of the Op Ed section of a newspaper. Newspapers will often print opinions of readers in order to give them a voice, and also to get feedback from their readership. You can do this by allowing your readers to comment on your blog entries and to post these comments on your blog. Sometimes readers may post irrelevant comments to your blog. In this case you may choose not to publish comments or simply delete them. The beauty of a blog is that you have total control of the content.

Once you have gotten your feet wet, you may want to consider commenting on other blogs that relate to the subject matter on your blog. This may help you build strong relationships with other experts in your field and will also help build a community of bloggers and readers who are passionate about your industry. It’s often a good idea to offer up intelligent comments to other blogs and hope that they reciprocate on your blog. Linking back to other bloggers and having them link back to you can also help your ranking as search engines will deem your content relevant, thus ranking you higher on search lists.

Google’s creative commons image filter makes debut.

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Google lobs one back into the Bing court by announcing a “creative commons” search filter for images that are queried on Google. This is good news for bloggers and art directors who scour the web for free images that can be used to spiff up that blog or make their comps sing. According to Business Insider, “search results can be filtered by “labeled for reuse,” “commercial” reuse,” “reuse with modification,” and “commercial reuse with modification.” It”™s a pretty cool feature, but in my opinion, it still takes longer to find images on Google than it does on Bing. Bing is lightening-fast and has some nifty filters categorized under size, layout, color, style and people. For me, speed trumps nuance filters like the one announced by Google. But don”™t let that sway you. Take it out for a test drive yourself right here.

Moms drop traditional media for digital.

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Women are among the most coveted audiences for magazine readership. However, new data suggests that moms are trending away from traditional print media and replacing their free hours once spent with pulp driven offerings with the digital sort. According to a recent report posted by MediaWeek, of 25,000 respondents, 49 percent of women said their magazine reading time went down after giving birth and 46 percent said the same about their newspapers. Of that same survey, 63 percent said they were active on digital social networks like mommy blogs, facebook and other sites that focus on families and child-rearing. The rise in digital popularity among the mommy set may be due to the fact that digital media allows for an effortless two-way conversation that encourages moms to interact with other moms, experts and even advertisers who specialize in products for kids and moms. This may be a wake-up call for magazines like Better Homes and Gardens, Good Housekeeping, Family Circle, Woman’s Day and Ladies Home Journal who are all in the top ten list for the category of largest magazine distribution in the US and good news for sites like Facebook, BabyCenter and mommy blogs.

Sweatshop blogging. Good for marketers, bad for writers.

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A recent post by content guru Christina Gleason uncovers the dark underbelly of what Google considers good practices for creating link bait. For any of you who don’t know, link bait is simply the act of spreading content on the web (in this case, just like fertilizer) in the hopes that you’ll get people to link to your site. Matt Cutts, head of Google’s webspam team, is an advocate of creating fresh and interesting content as a way to increase rankings. In a recent video , he seems to contradict himself. In the video Mr. Cutts is suggesting using a service called Amazon Mechanical Turk, which many writers feel is akin to a sweatshop that employs writers. Mechanical Turk is dirt cheap, and in my opinion, exploitative. Getting something for nothing because a new technology allows one to do so is not a new idea. Remember when “desktop publishing” took the world by storm? With the proliferation of computers that could handle graphics-based software, anyone with a Mac or PC was suddenly calling themselves designers, even though they had no formal knowledge of color, typography, design, etc. These self-proclaimed designers also knew nothing about how to price the market and often undercut professional designers, thus turning the design world on it’s ass for a bit. In the short term, it was bad for everyone because these “designers” were churning out terrible logos, websites with animated flames and hard to read content by the bushel load. But as design became more and more of a commodity, clients quickly saw the need to stand out. They realized the adage that “just because it’s cheap doesn’t mean it’s good” and came to their senses, going back to professionals who could tell the difference between a serif, slab and sans-serif typeface and who charged accordingly for their services. I believe we are in the same situation here for the written word. While it may take some time, at least we don’t have to put up with over-animated flames.

Blogging for dollars. Readers would be good too.

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The greatest fear for any blogger is that nobody is listening. Extensive blog entries have recently given way to snackable information like tweets, making blogging a less sexy and a more time consuming endeavor. Bloggers have many reasons to go to the digital well and pour their hearts out on a blog. Mostly the reasons fall into two categories:  fame and fortune. You will achieve neither if you don’t create interesting, fresh content that attracts a readership who want to hear what you have to say. In a recent New York Times article, Richard Jalichandra, chief executive of Technorati, said, “that at any given time there are 7 million to 10 million active blogs on the Internet, but “it’s probably between 50,000 and 100,000 blogs that are generating most of the page views.” That’s a pretty competitive marketplace. So what’s a blogger to do? For one thing, be original. A blog that doesn’t offer a unique perspective will eventually be lost in the din. Another important thing to do is post often. Being a blogger means creating content. If you aren’t posting consistently, then you probably won’t consistently attract readers. I had a writing mentor in college who said if you want to be a writer, you have to write. It sounds simple, but you’d be surprised how difficult it is to actually get your butt in a chair and put your thoughts down.  So why do I blog? Strictly for fortune. Yeah, right. Fame and fortune are always at the back of my mind, but I’m not counting on it. I blog because I believe my background in the traditional advertising agency industry gives me a unique perspective in the world of digital marketing, online branding and content distribution on the internet. In other words, a unique perspective. Anyone out there?

Bloggers do it in the dark.

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With the proliferation of information-based blogs and blog marketing comes the need to report faster than the next fast typer. It’s perhaps why the blogger has gained the reputation of a caffeine-driven writer who spends every waking hour (and perhaps even some sleeping hours) perched above the warm glow of a keyboard, ready to report on breaking stories that are so hot, they’re steaming. Sometimes, however, the steam blinds the information-hungry reader into thinking that what is being reported on is true. A recent New York Times article explores the importance of being more relevant for blogs versus seeking credibility. The article describes the world yore when Newspapers were actually printed on actual paper, where writers fought to break stories first regardless of whether they checked sources or not. Eventually, newspapers that sought to be more credible survived because the readers demanded it. But now, methinks, the reader may be demanding more. So the question isn’t which is better. The question, in my opinion, is which is more interesting. Who says that all the news that’s fit to print has to be the cold hard facts? Perhaps there’s room for scuttlebutt and rumor just to keep things spiced up. By the way, did you hear that Apple is buying EA and Twitter?