Blog Like the Big Brands: Evernote

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Blog creation can look a zillion different ways. For design-heavy business, great photos are a must. For large companies, blogs that keep tabs on all facets of the business are important. And for tech companies, like those creating mobile apps, it is essential to create blog posts that tell readers how to use the product in a fun and simplified way. Evernote, the super-popular digital post-it, uses blogging to do precisely that while creating a blog that stands on its own.

What does an app like Evernote do? What kind of interesting uses are there for Evernote that normal folks might not know about? How do updates to the app effect Evernote and how we use it? These are the kind of questions that Evernote’s blog tries to answer, all while presenting a visually-pleasing and easy-to-understand blog. Similar in style to TechCrunch or Mashable, the blog’s layout and style are instantly familiar to casual tech blog readers and super techies alike. This was a wise design move as it says, “We’re more like a cool, online magazine and less like a company blog.” The posts themselves are equally impressive. A first-time visitor to the blog and non-Evernote user could easy understand the product and what it does just by reading the informative posts. How to use Evernote to redesign your website, new security features users need to know about and interviews with Evernote execs and creators are a few of the things you’ll find at Evernote’s blog. The posts are well-organized and concise, which is also probably intentional given that Evernote is an app which promises to help its users’ lives become more organized and less chaotic.

Evernote’s blog perfectly captures how blogging can carry a company’s message without resorting to corny sales messages or spammy posts. As a result, tech bloggers often quote and cite Evernote’s blog as a valuable and reliable news source. In other words, why wait for bloggers to break your stories when you can break them yourself? Turn your business blog into an online magazine like Evernote did and you’re bound to see results.

Transcending the normal business blog and becoming something industry leaders and normal blog readers can enjoy alike is a terrific goal, indeed.

It’s a Blog, Not a Commercial

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The biggest crime we see in branded blog creation these days? Heavy-handed promotional messages. This unfortunate trend has businesses littering their blog posts with boring, pushy promotional posts that are both off-putting and no fun to read. Blasting ads for company seminars, annoying product profiles and poorly-written posts begging for folks to sign up for your newsletter are but a few examples of blogging in promotional hell. Yes, we get it: You need your company’s blog to pull its weight and sell your company’s products and services. But you can still do this while creating a blog people will actually enjoy reading. In fact, you’ll sell more products and services this way. We promise.

Blogging is all about audience building. The most successful blogs on the planet — branded and otherwise — offer readers dynamic, interesting and entertaining content on a consistent basis. Think about the blogs and websites you yourself enjoy. Whether it’s for goofy pictures of cats, the latest tech news or celebrity gossip, you go back to these sites because of the promise of something fresh and fun to read. Your company blog can be the same way. Nellie Aklap of Mashable.com explains it like this:

“If the bulk of your posts are company or product-centric, you’ll need to change the way you think about your blog. Focus your content so it offers information that’s useful and relevant to whatever your particular community cares about.”

Educational posts are a terrific way for businesses to offer readers something valuable while giving them a break from commercial messages. Aklap recommends a mixture of informative, how-to posts and promotional information.

“Some experts advise on keeping a 90:10 or 75:25 ratio when it comes to educational vs. promotional content. You don’t necessarily have to stick to some magic equation, as long as you keep your audience’s needs and interests at the forefront of your blog strategy,” she writes.

Teach them something, give them how-to tips or share creative ideas and your readers will come back.

Stuck? Blog More!

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It’s a common tragedy. You’ve been cooking right along with an amazing and inspired blogging-for-business campaign. Your company’s blog thus far has been filled with inspired ideas, informative posts and really dynamic content. And then just like that, you’re dried up and run out of ideas. Call it blogger’s block or creative brain freeze but whatever you call it, the sudden inability to write blog posts is definitely a downer. The automatic impulse when we’ve run out of creative steam is to just stop and hope we’re struck magically with great ideas. But when it comes to blog writing, quitting is the worst possible thing you can do when you’re stuck.

Greater minds than ours have pondered for ages about the curse of writer’s block and how to move past it. But when it comes to blogging, we’ve certainly had plenty of experience getting stuck and powering through it anyway. Blogs, especially branded ones, should really be published several times a week in order to be effective. And this is fantastic news if you’re wrestling with writer’s block. No, really! Using blogging’s tight deadlines and never-ending schedule of new content as a motivator is a sure-fire way to squish stuckness. Short posts with pictures, reblogged posts from blogging idols and contemporaries and posts with videos instead of text are all terrific blogging solutions to help push through it. By continuing blogging, even when it’s hard, you and your company are working toward something instead of just surrendering. If you can just write through the tough, uncreative, blah times, you are sure to find that your blog will be all the better for it.

Quitting or swearing off blogging every time we run out of ideas or feel uninspired isn’t really a solution, anyway. In order for our blogging campaigns to remain effective and powerful, we have to continue to produce content. Sounds hard, huh? It doesn’t have to be. Besides, we’re here to help. 

 

Yahoo Buys Tumblr, Bloggers Mumble

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It was the shot heard ’round the hipster blogging world on Monday when it was announced that Yahoo! was buying super-stylish blogging platform Tumblr for a cool $1 billion. For marketers bent on über visual blog creation, Tumblr has been tops for years. Unlike any other blogging channel, Tumblr caters to visual arts, design, memes, GIFS and, most importantly, that elusive younger demographic. So how will this deal effect Tumblr devotees and marketers? What changes can blogging-for-business experts expect? And how do Tumblr users feel about this mega branding blogging collision?

For its part, Yahoo! has loudly and proudly already vowed not to mess with Tumblr.

“Per the agreement and our promise not to screw it up, Tumblr will be independently operated as a separate business,” Yahoo! said in a statement.

Yahoo! contends that everything users and brands love about Tumblr will stay exactly the same. The purchase, insiders say, had less to do with Yahoo! wanting to improve Tumblr and more to do with good, old-fashioned cash. Reports estimate that Tumblr brings in about $13 million in revenue annually, and for a sagging company like Yahoo!, this was a wise purchase.

“Tumblr in terms of users and traffic is an immediate growth story for us,” Yahoo! Chief Executive Marissa Mayer said in an interview with Reuters earlier this week.

For marketers currently rocking Tumblr for their clients, they too can expect things to stay the same. Or so Yahoo! promises. Tumblr lovers are not so sure. Longtime users/fans of the site certainly have their doubts about the merger and have naturally taken to the Internet to express their concerns. “The beginning of end” and “they’ll ruin our home” are just a few of the Negative Nancy comments left on Tumblr and Twitter regarding the news. While others compared it to the unpopular Facebook/Instagram merger of last year, some have already vowed to leave Tumblr immediately.

Regardless of how you feel, Yahoo!’s purchase of Tumblr is bound to be watched by users, blog marketing professionals and business reporters alike. So readers, you tell us: Tumblr and Yahoo — match made in blogging heaven or hell? Sound off in the comments!

 

 

 

Blog Like the Big Brands: Patagonia

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Some of the most powerful companies in the world use blogging for business to reach out to new customers, communicate with employees and help create powerful web content. And every Monday, we profile one of these bigwigs in hopes of inspiring you to start an amazing blog marketing campaign of your very own. This week, we look at how outdoor clothing retailer Patagonia elevates blogging into something pretty amazing.

The byline at Patagonia’s blog simply reads, “The Cleanest Line: Weblog for the employees, friends and customers of the outdoor clothing company Patagonia.” Yet this company blog is more than a corporate newsletter or boring product pitch disguised as a blog. The Cleanest Line transforms our old ideas about corporate blogs by creating an online magazine that reads more like NPR or GOOD then a commercial for hiking boots. Journalistic in style, the writing at The Cleanest Line is high-quality, interesting stuff. By blogging about the things that are important to them — like mountain climbing, responsible clothing manufacturing practices, independent documentaries and environmental causes — Patagonia tells us more about itself as a brand in a few posts than a billion press releases ever could. While the blog does feature images, clearly the point here is to read and get Patagonia’s message.

In addition, the simple design and layout make it easy to kick back and read several posts. Again, this is surely intentional. The Cleanest Line is company blogging built on a brand’s message and philosophy and, best of all, it’s actually interesting to read and enjoy.

Marketing magazines and SEO blogs have long shouted the praises of The Cleanest Line and Patagonia’s blog creation innovations. We can easily see why. What Patagonia does so brilliantly is use its blog to provide a company narrative. This smart move is something all of us can use blogging for. Try not to think of daily entries as “Ugh! Another blog post!” but as more opportunities to using blogging to spread your ideas and beliefs. Let The Cleanest Line inspire you to take blogging to new heights.

I Ain’t Afraid of No Ghost(writer)

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At the risk of providing a Santa Claus/Tooth Fairy moment, we have some news that may shock you. Most of the blogs you read aren’t written by the people whose names appear in the blogs title. Ditto for the majority of celebrity tweets, corporate Facebook page updates and clever Tumblr blog entries allegedly produced by a style icon. The fact is, this here Internet thingamajig is filled with ghostwriting. Ghostwriters are now turned to for everything from blog posts and social media content to digital press releases and beyond from companies of all types and sizes. So if you’ve been thinking it’s time you stopped trying to write everything yourself, let go of your fears and learn to embrace the ghostwriter — well, we couldn’t agree more.

Ghostwriters, first and foremost, help us save time. Complex content marketing strategies require a lot of writing. To really change your company’s digital presence, you need lots of tweets, lots of blog posts and a never-ending output of written material. And creating this mountain of words takes gobs of time — time most business owners do not have. By turning over content creation to someone who does it for a living, you literally save yourself hours of banging your head against the keyboard. Also, great ghostwriters are terrific researchers and they spend hours getting to know your brand’s language. This means every post will sound like it came from your brilliant brain. Another bonus to working with a ghostwriter is that you no longer have to scramble for original ideas. Professional writers get paid to think on their feet and come up with dynamic tales your followers will want to read. Letting a ghostwriter worry about the blog post for the week (or what on Earth to tweet about) leaves you more time to run your business.

Besides, haven’t you heard? The old shame of hiring a ghostwriter is a thing of the past. Top executives, movie stars and local companies alike know the value of hiring a talented ghostwriter to handle all of their content needs. And it’s easy to see why. Dynamic digital content is a must in this day and age; if you can’t create it, why not rely on somebody who can?

Blog Like the Big Brands: ABC

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Blog creation is a full-time job when your company has lots of products, services, divisions, personalities and general stuff to talk about. Juggling every aspect of your company in one tiny blog can be exhausting — and can make your blog feel schizophrenic. But multiple blogs devoted to every arm of your brand isn’t exactly a walk in the park, either. So what’s a super busy brand to do? If you are network television giant ABC, you blog a lot… but do so selectively.

Television networks, as we can imagine, are busy places with hundreds of programs and campaigns to promote. Therefore, ABC doesn’t even try to blog about every single show, star and entertainment event on the network. Instead, ABC uses blogging to chat about buzz-worthy OMG shows that folks talk about around the water cooler at work. Juicy dramas like Revenge, Scandal and Once Upon a Time are a blogger’s paradise as the episodes feature all sorts of moments fans can talk about. ABC skips blogging about sitcoms and some of its older, more established hits in order to, presumably, blog about newer shows that need promoting.

The conversational nature of blogging also works well for ABC’s News division, which has dozens of blogs on everything from sports and entertainment to global headlines and business news. Blogging the news can still be reputable and trustworthy while inviting conversation from readers.

Another smart blogging idea from ABC is being smart about how and what your business blogs about. Realize that not everything your company does, while important in its own way, makes for great blog reading. Instead, use blogging to talk about the goods and services you love. Because nine times out of 10, the things you are passionate about are the topics that make for great blog posts.

Whether you’re running a network or a cake decorating company out of your garage, blogging is a super way to talk to your client base. Use provocative and interesting blog topics to find out what your followers are thinking (and don’t forget to heavily encourage to them to leave comments).

 

Five Things You Might Have Missed!

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Can blog writing lead to a book? Is crossdressing on Facebook a sign of good marketing? And which shoe brand made a major Boston blunder? The answers to these and other questions can be found in our weekly list of Five Things You Might Have Missed.

1.) Not Skirting the Issue: Want to draw attention to a hot button national issue and raise awareness? Use Facebook marketing and do it in a dress. Or at least that’s what seems to be working for men in the Kurdish community in Iran who are showing their support of women and gender equality. Photos of Iranian men in traditional women’s clothing started popping up online yesterday on Facebook. The page currently has 10,000 supporters and over 150 photos of guys in women’s clothing. Meanwhile the campaign has made international headlines.

2.) Meat the Burglars: Kent’s Meats and Groceries of Redding, Calif., solved two problems with a new online video. By using real-life footage of a recent the bungled burglary attempt by a portly dude in a bandana, the store turned a headline into a potentially viral video hit and put its brand name on the map. Plus, the stranger-than-fiction comedy features that awesome theme music from Benny Hill.

3.) From Nightmare to Dream Come True: If you’re still wondering about the power of brilliant blog creation, the story of Shane Burcaw should convince you to start blogging. Burcaw is a 20 year old with spinal muscular atrophy and he blogs about his daily life with humor and heart on his Tumblr “Laughing at My Nightmare.” Publishers took notice of the truthful and highly-followed blog and Burcaw just got signed to Roaring Book Press.

4.) Tougher Twitter: Worried about security breaches on Twitter like the disastrous one that happened to the Associated Press this week? So is Twitter. On Wednesday, the social media giant announced plans to make future attacks even more difficult. The company promises it has new ways, including a two-step verification process, to thwart Twitter hackers as outlined in this article from The Consumerist.

5.) Boston Boo Boo: We wrap up this week with an unfortunate t-shirt from Nike which read “Boston Massacre” and was splattered with fake blood. The shirt, which was made long before the tragic events at the Boston Marathon earlier this month, was meant to “reference the Bronx Bombers sweeping the rival Red Sox during a key regular season series in 1978 and in the 2006 MLB Playoffs. The phrase itself was borrowed from the notorious 1770 incident in which British solders opened fire on civilian protestors in Boston, killing five and wounding six,” according to AdAge. Nike quickly pulled the shirt and apologized profusely for the t-shirt.