Marketing Through Blogging

5 Minute Read

Blogs, Blogs, Blogs… They are everywhere and you may not even realize it. Blogs are the marketing tool of the time and blogs are giving newspapers and radio advertising a serious run for their money. In order for a company to effectively use blogs as a marketing tool, a company has to have a solid understanding of what social media means for businesses today and how they can utilize the social media world and blogging to benefit their long term strategy.

Blogging has broken out from the conventional blog hosting sites and is now on all of our social media platforms.  If the criteria for a blog is: regularly updated articles, one or more authors and typically focused content written in an informal or conversational style then blogs populate Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Pintrest and many other platforms. When you like and share an article or a post you are GVessentially marketing for someone and perpetuating a blog. Today, social media and the internet allow companies to have direct relationships with their consumers that were not possible in the past. Companies can now interact and engage easily with their consumers just as consumers can now easily engage with their favorite companies. This dynamic has some companies scratching their heads while it has other forward thinking companies developing strategies around it.

Two forward thinking companies I think that are effectively utilizing blogs as a marketing tool are Coca-cola and Gary Vaynerchuk with Vaynermedia. Both have set up an amazing web of blogs and social media content that keeps the attention of their consumers and maximizes interaction and impact.

Both companies realize that the use of blogs as a marketing tool is a long play. The effectiveness of blogs relies more on the quality of its content and the relational depth a company has with its readers than the number of followers alone. A good blog should not push sales, it should give value to the reader. Nobody wants to read blogs that are always pitching a sell to them. A reader wants value from the content in the form of entertainment or knowledge. Essentially a blog is a marketing expense that is used to give your customers value in the form of entertainment or knowledge. That sounds like an awful play but if you consider the blog as a relational investment in regards to the integrity of your consumer base then it makes sense. Effective blogs are relationship and trust builders. Gary Vaynerchuk once said, “If you give more than you take then you have leverage for life”.

CokeCoca-cola has positioned their blogs as a form of engagement and interaction while providing stories and product updates through their blog “Unbottled”. The content is not overwhelming or pushy and articles can be easily searched and found through filtering. Coca-cola wants to reach and keep the attention of as many consumers as possible in order to fabricate a lasting loyalty from them. Their focus is rooted in retention through attention and Coca-cola quickly cycles numerous pieces of content that are broadly appealing and shareable.

Gary Vaynerchuk is the CEO of Vaynermedia, a 600 employee media and strategy company that boasted over $100 million in revenue last year. He is a pioneer in the digital and social media world and an incredible entrepreneur to say the least. Gary started his career after he graduated college in 1999. He took over operations at his father’s wine company and increased the annual revenue from $3 million to $60 million annually through the use of an incredibly effective e-commerce and e-mail marketing program. He started one of the first online video blogs in 2006 called Wine Library and in 2009 he and his brother started Vaynermedia. Gary hustled his way toG.png the ability to put yourself in other people’s shoes and see what they want is the greatest gift anyone can have. With that gift all you have to do is deliver and Gary understands that today’s generations require interaction, online relationships and above all else… attention. The social media climate is driven by attention. That is why we have like buttons and share buttons. It is why we post pictures and stories for people to read and tell us how great our lives are. We crave attention and Gary is a deliverer of attention, value and motivation. Gary also blogs to maintain his personal brand as an industry leader. His blogs means more followers which result in credibility. Credibility sells books and authors get paid to speak. That type of notoriety can lead a company such as Vaynermedia which sells various media products and provides services such as social strategy and social media management to many fortune 500 companies.

As you can see blogs allow a company to be more up close and personal with their consumers than ever before. If a company understands what they want to achieve through blogging they can begin to develop a strategic plan and begin the long game strategy. The first step is to create shareable content that readers will find value in. Then listen and be empathetic to their needs and deliver to those needs. Interact and keep their attention and the number of followers will increase. If a company can remain consistent and present, then they will gain the trust and loyalty of their followers and that is the goal of any company or blogger.

-Brent Devers

Bias on the news and the Internet – what is the impact on society?

There is a funny phrase that has become fairly common in American society that states, “They can’t put anything on the Internet that isn’t true. Who told me? The Internet.”

Since the year 2000, there was a 566.4% increase in Internet usage. That equates into roughly 2.4 billion users from all over the world, with eight new users every second. Next to that, there are roughly 1.4 billion users on Facebook worldwide and not all are individuals. Some are large corporations, news outlets, religious organizations, and so on and so forth. That is 11% of the world’s population and that is just Facebook alone.

The amount of information we receive daily from our Facebook feeds, Twitter tweets, and Pintrest pins is truly amazing. With access to the Internet anyone can broadcast their views and beliefs and anyone can project their version of a national news story. So how do we see through all that distraction? With so many competing views, the central message becomes convoluted. For example, Fox News and CNN compete daily to provide their own, ‘fair and balanced news’ to the hungry masses. It is no longer as easy as reading the Wall Street Journal or watching your local news channel after dinner.

For the common reader the question becomes, “how do we know which news source to believe?” Everyone wants to get his or her own message across, and what this becomes, is not an easy question to answer. This is because what Fox news reporters might say may differ heavily (and it usually does) from the content-based website of Reddit. Our favorite source-gathering site Wikipedia, on the other hand, hosts over 17 million different articles, which are modified by users to anyone curious enough to dive in. Even our favorite search engine Google offers daily news, albeit gathered from multiple news sources.

Biased opinions on the news and Internet do an excellent job of creating argumentative ‘sides’.  Everyone has a right of speech here in America and everyone has the right to broadcast his or her views. Anybody can log onto CNN and strictly follow the flow of news that is being ejected at an alarming rate. Your choice of what you view and post on the Internet is strictly yours.

Let’s look at the most recent and controversial government shutdown as a textbook example. A highly conservative based news outlet such as Fox News will explain that this stalemate lies with Obama and his liberal agenda. Fox would exemplify Republicans as the ‘white knights’ of congress fighting to uphold democracy. While Reddit, a mostly liberal user-posted-content website, takes a different stance. Broadcasting the opposite, claiming that the actions of the Republicans are destroying what America was founded on. Of course it is all much more complicated that that, but the differences are there. We take this information from all sources and post them publically to our friends, family, and coworkers. The results we find are typically Internet arguments, which in turn become pointless shouting matches over why/why not Obama should be impeached.

It still goes deeper than that. Americans have a pretty good understanding that a lot of the news we ingest is biased in some way, shape, or form. As stated in an article from the University of Michigan’s The Medium, “On the Internet, there is little control over what gets published” (umich.edu). On the Internet there is no limitations to time or space so, we can find well-written and polished articles there. These provide so much more information than a 30-minute wrap-up with a few sound bytes. On the Internet we get the ‘full story’ or so we are led to believe. Hidden in the text, between the lines, we can find agendas and propaganda; and I don’t say that in a bad way. It is a brilliant tactic that the Internet provides for reporters who can write a clean and refined story and still ambiguously pepper it with anti-liberal ideals. As viewers it is important for us to understand the news we are reading, where it is coming from, and the purpose it is trying to achieve.

So how do we detect this bias? Well simply put, the same way we would check the bias of any other news source. We analyze the sources of the article. We should check if the sources are two competing views or if they are strong-sided. Diversity is key in an unbiased article. The article must exhibit both sides of an argument. Watch out for double standards by researching opposing views or different examples of a situation. Loaded language is huge in reporting; the difference between the words devastated and damaged can carry a different weight. Biased articles are easy to spot once you know where and how to look into them.

News on the Internet has a huge societal impact on us. People who share our views and beliefs no longer surround us; in its place, we can now make two clicks and find an atheist’s argument for morality or a conservative case against abortion, and the world becomes ever more interconnected. The question for the individual experiencing this plethora of information is not, “How do I avoid all this information?” but instead, “How do I construct a viable view from all that is offered to me?” The information is ours for the taking, but we must decide on how to utilize it.

The Internet is possibly the greatest resource we have. Two clicks with the mouse, a keystroke, and we can find almost anything we can imagine. The Internet has a dizzying amount of content and has enhanced the way we digest news. We can find a story that provides good insight into LGBT rights, then turn around with a Google search and find its counterargument. Even still it does not stop there, we can then log onto one of the hundreds of social media networks and find our friends, family, and coworkers and view their opinions and their friend’s counter-opinions and so on and so forth into the opaque vastness of the World Wide Web. The possibilities are endless.

Works Cited:

http://www.statisticbrain.com/social-networking-statistics/

http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm

http://www.umich.edu/~newsbias/medium.html

http://fair.org/take-action-now/media-activism-kit/how-to-detect-bias-in-news-media/

Using Twitter to Drive Value to Your Business

Driving value into a business is what every business owner and/or leader needs to accomplish. Using Twitter, along with a common-sense marketing plan, can drive value to any business. Twitter is currently being used effectively by various sizes and types of businesses to connect with customers, build brand, advertise and increase sales – and you can too.

As with any type of marketing or communications (marComm), using Twitter should be done with planning and rigor. However, it can still be fun, creative and impulsive. Using the following elements in this simple equation will provide a solid foundation and set you free to tweet.

(Plan + Content) + Brand x Consistency (Followers x RT2) = Value

I’m not a math major, so the equation might not make perfect sense. However, let’s focus on the elements which make the equation work. This article will help you understand the basics of each element and how they drive value into your business.

Plan:  As part of your marComm plan, develop a high-level plan that drives goals and provides a strategy for communicating with Twitter. Simply state a goal to gain 500 Twitter followers and convert  5% of them monthly is a good start.

You will also need to develop a tactical plan of weekly and daily Twitter activity of when you will communicate and when you will market to your followers. Tools like HootSuite can help schedule tweets so you can keep working!

Content: Any marComm plan is only as strong as the content that you deliver.  Not everyone can film, edit and soundtrack a video that rivals professionally produced media, but you can still produce quality content that is in line with your followers’ expectations.

Good content can be as simple as your opinions and thoughts (based on your plan) or as complex as multiple media streams (photo, video, animation, illustration). Following industry thought leaders and reTweeting (RT) their comments, as well as your replies, is another good way to provide valuable content to your followers.

Brand: Brand is simply a relationship that is based on a set of expectations that drive a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over others with similar features and benefits. So, like any other relationship you have via social media, your Twitter followers should easily get an idea of ‘Who you are’ and ‘What you do’ so they can begin to understand ‘What you can do together’ and ultimately, make a purchasing decision.

Businesses that do not establish and reinforce their brand in marketing and communications, usually struggle to keep long-term followers. Establishing a strong brand is essential to drive value to your business.

Consistency: Before stepping too far out into the social world, you need a consistent voice and brand personality. The best way to develop your voice is to practice tweeting in smaller social venues (church, alumni group, friends, etc) not associated with your industry.

Driving consistency doesn’t mean all your content is similar, but rather it feels like it is coming from the same entity (person, business, organization, etc). Without consistency, your followers may feel as though they are developing a relationship with someone who has multiple personalities.

Followers: Quality trumps the quantity of followers every time. In Twitter, find people who post frequently in your industry, then follow and re-tweet (RT) their content if it fits inside your content strategy. Then, build a relationship with these ‘thought leaders’ and drive value back to them.

You can also use Twitter’s search function to find people and businesses in your industry. When they show up multiple times, follow them. To keep a high-functioning list, block and remove all spammers and content that is not ‘on your brand’.

Value: Follow your plan and deliver good content. Stay on brand and be consistent. Follow the right people and build your list. Including these elements will drive value to your business and leave more time for focusing on your real job.

Richard Whitney,
IUPUC Student

Works Cited

“How to Use twitter for Business” by Jill Duffy  |  PCMag.com  |  April 16, 2013
(http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2417647,00.asp)

“How to Use twitter for Business and Marketing” by Charlene Kingston  |  socialmediaexaminer.com  |  April 10, 2013
(http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/how-to-use-twitter-for-business-and-marketing/)

“10 Reasons Why Your Business Should Use Twitter” by Aaron Lee  |  askaaronlee.com  |  2013
(http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2417647,00.asp

As Grammar Goes, Verbs are the Spice of Life

Inexperienced writers often suck the very life out of their prose by taking energetic verbs and turning them into dull, lifeless nouns.  Consider the following:

Example:    Today’s stock price elicited a disappointed reaction among the shareholders.

Revision:    Today’s stock price disappointed the shareholders.

 Example:    It is our expectation that we will see productivity improvement when the new computer system comes online.

Revision:     We expect more productivity when the new computer system comes on line.

 When revising a business report, press release, employee newsletter or company-wide email, be sure to look specifically for those weak noun structures and replace them with vigorous, active verbs.  Not only will you gain clarity in the process, but your writing will be leaner too.

– Robin Fritz,  Adjunct Lecturer, Indiana University-Columbus

Internet Consensus and IUPUC

If you go to the dictionary or Google the term “internet consensus” you won’t find much, if anything; believe me I tried. However unfamiliar the term may seem, the concept is something we are all acquainted with. Internet consensus is simply creating a format on the internet for people to collectively put their thoughts and opinions. Then you have a large source of information ready and available to you for whatever the purpose of collecting the data was for. I have three prime examples of internet consensus:

2002: M&M color change
Changing colors isn’t a new procedure for M&M’s. They changed their tan M&M to blue back in 1995. They had the choice of blue, pink, or purple and had to call a 1-800-FUN-COLOR hotline to place their vote. What about internet consensus?  It wasn’t until 2002 that M&M decided to introduce another new color, but this time voting was done via the internet. The choices were pink, purple or aqua. There were advertisements abroad, all over the world. Consumers were invited to go online to M&M Global Vote and vote for the next color. M&M marketed this new campaign to all sorts of media. In one particular instance M&M had put a voting poll on the AOL homepage, and in a single day registered over 600,000 votes! After the time was up, the internet consensus determined that purple was to be the new M&M color.

2009: Live Music by Mass Animation    <watch video here>
Mass Animation, a computer graphics company out of California, teamed up with Facebook to create an interactive consensus with Facebook users. People had the option to download software that had unfinished clips of a possible story line and make it their own. They then submitted their short film layout and people could then vote on them. The winning submission with the most votes won a Dell XPS System, and every week the submission with the most votes won $500 per shot. Once the polls were closed, Mass Animation studios then finished the short film and Sony then showed the short film on the big screen with Planet 51. The internet consensus produced a high quality and entertaining short film.

2010: DEWmocracy <get out and vote!>  <watch video here>
Pepsi knew it had a fan craze base with Mountain Dew products and wanted to provide tasty options to its many loving fans. They provided the simplest solution: give them what they want! Pepsi created a very comprehensive poll method allowing their fans to choose everything about the new product: the flavor,  color, name, label design and fans even had the option to choose which campaign companies would make the new commercials. That’s not all! Then they finally had the option to choose one of the three drinks they created to be the new mountain dew product. Geniuses.

IUPUC
With the knowledge that internet consensus is successful and can provide profitable data, how do we implement that at IUPUC? It would be simple for IUPUC to question their students with an on screen poll installed on all the lab computers. A lot of people are investing in smart phones and use an IU mobile app. IUPUC could use that app to retrieve poll answers. So what kind of information would IUPUC receive through internet consensus? IUPUC could ask the students and teachers about what kind of new lunch item they would like to see at the café. Ask the students what class they would really be interested in taking that isn’t provided. Come up with community volunteer ideas and let the students decide on which one they would like to participate in. Find out what pressing topics we are interested in and give those majoring in journalism an opportunity to write about what we want to know more about. Any information that IUPUC needs to come to conclusions or for research can be done through internet consensus via webpages, mobile apps, Facebook, Twitter and more.

By: Amanda Jo Lucas, Business Entrepreneurship Major – IUPUC

<additional dewmocracy video> <additional dewmocracy video>