Put snack sized content on the menu too

TumblrSo, you’ve got the web site, the feature length articles in the ezine and you’re posting regular riffs on the blog – what’s missing.

For some the missing content strategy might be your micro content strategy. I’m not a raving fan of services like Twitter that promote instant “what are you doing now” types of blurbs, but there’s no denying that lots of people are suggesting by their use that’s the way they want to consume content – in snack size bites.

The question is how and why do you create that kind of content with your already overtaxed content producing brain. Like so many things the answer lies in finding a solution that is effective from a marketing standpoint, yet easy to implement from an actually do it standpoint.

Here’s a tool I would suggest you take a look at. It’s free service is called Tumblr. Tumblr is in many ways a blogging tool, but one with some interesting features built right in that let you create what they call Tumblelogs. I think it just might be the perfect answer to the bite size content challenge.

Tumblelogs.

Unlike blogs, tumblelogs aren’t designed like a newspaper column. They’re the easiest way to share everything you find, love, hate, or create — even if you’re not wordy.

Setting up a Tumblr micro-blog is dead simple. Just follow a couple steps. Once you’ve done that you will be presented with a dashboard that prompts you to upload text, quotes, links, photos, audio or video. Each action creates a formatted post. This set-up is just perfect for the kind of stream of snacks that people seem hungry for.

But, here’s where it gets interesting. You can also add feeds that you already publish. So, with one step you add your Twitter feed to the micro-stream and all of a sudden, people can view your Tweets in something close to context. Now add your delicious feed (or the feed for a specific tag) and content gets posted to your tumblr blog as you surf. You can add YouTube, Digg or any RSS feed to the stream and automatically create as you go. There’s also a desktop widget for posting text and a “Share on Tumblr” browser bookmark tool so you can post something you find on the fly. Posting text and photos via mobile is as simple as sending an email.

What I really like about this format is that that it automatically produces little snippets all day long, but the net collection of snacks can produce an entirely different kind of interesting main course – one that you might never produce sitting in front of a blank screen trying to write something deep.

Okay, now let’s add another twist. The service allows you to create groups and give shared ownership to the members of the group. This is a potentially simple way to create an entirely different kind of content solution. What if you created a group Tumblelog with a very specific focus in mind. How about a group that takes a chapter from a book each week and each member reveals the most significant moment for them in the chapter. How about a group that poses a question each week and then collectively riffs on it. How about a group of strategic partners writing about an industry or a community. I think all of the above would be powerful traffic magnets. (Yes Tumblelogs produce RSS feeds.)

Here’s a Tumblelog that I’ve set-up – duc.ttape.us

Yet, another thing on your list to consider – but certainly food for thought.

Is networking online really that different?

Social networkingWith all of the hoopla these days about networking online I can’t help but wonder why people get so confused about how to approach these new tools. See, networking is networking, only the tools that you can employ have changed.

When you think about it, hasn’t networking always been social networking?

Here are some of the proven, effective best practices when it comes to networking

  • It’s never about the sale, it’s always about the relationship – build first by giving
  • Don’t keep score, give because you can help, the universe will sort out the accounting
  • Network with your peers and partners as much as with your prospects and customers
  • Every network has influencers, build relationships with the influencers
  • Get out and chat, lunch and visit with the members of your network from time to time

While I’m sure there is many a fine point that could be added to that list, would you agree that’s what effective networking looks like? So, I ask you, does that change just because the networking platform is no longer a Chamber of Commerce? Doesn’t that sound like a pretty effective way to approach building and expanding your network within a Small Business Brief, Digg or LinkedIn?

Building and maintaining strong networks is the killer practice for the most successful organizations, every business should be reaching out and connecting with customers, prospects and partners both online and off. The secret to opening up these new access points online and expanding your networking reach globally is to go in there with the same best practices in mind, but find ways to creatively apply them with the new, rich set of tools.

Okay, an example of creatively applying this concept.

Let’s do lunch – can become let’s do virtual lunch.

Here’s what I would propose – send 5 people you would like to network with a $10 Panera Bread Company gift card and invite them to grab lunch and meet for an online group chat to discuss X (x = a topic like a book, or tool or some challenge you know is common.) – You can use Campfire from 37 Signals to host the chat.

Here’s what is really cool about this. This could be a very powerful medium to network, share ideas and build relationships. You could set this up and do it weekly with different peers, partners and customers. (you don’t have to always buy the lunch!) But, what I really like about this idea is that the group chat tool creates a transcript that will certainly enhance the participation of the members in the chat and could easily turn into great content for future consumption.

Slideshare offers tools for presenters

I’ve been using a tool called Slideshare ever since a group asked if they could share one of my presentations with attendees about a year ago.

The service allows you to upload PowerPoint and PDF slide decks and then converts them to a player that can be tagged and made public.

Recently, they also added something called Slidecasts, which allow you to also upload and sync an audio file to create an entire online presentation if you like. As you see below, you can also embed the slides on a web page or blog. There are other ways to accomplish this same thing with the use of Camtasia or iMovie, but this one is really simple.

Another thing I love about the site is that it’s a wealth of inspiration for what to do and what not to do when it comes to slide presentation design and content.

If you present workshops, seminars, or just your latest ideas as a small business owner or marketer, I would like to invite you to join a group I’ve formed on Slideshare just for small business presenters. Join the group and upload, share and comment great small business presentations in an effort to get better at this key marketing skill.

Slide show with audio: Let’s Get Social

Facebook’s latest move

FacebookYou know a lot of folks dismiss Facebook’s leadership as young and inexperienced – and that they are.

They really got beat up over the whole Beacon fiasco

And yet, on several occasions they have made moves that changed the game for all the players. The recent move to allow Facebook apps on any website through a javascript client library is a game changer for anyone in the space. And once again the young and inexperienced leaders of Facebook have everyone else – young and old – scrambling to play catch up.

It’s kind of fun to watch. I don’t know if they will figure the money piece out, but they are wielding a growing clout in the online world.

Another sort of related social media tidbit – A new service called Tweetmeme – designed to allow Twitter lovers to track and keep up on topics launched last week. I’m sure people addicted to Twitter will love it! It will bring some amount of order to the random thoughts tossed around all day on Twitter and may very well become a unique news service.

Your social media strategy

Social media, and by that I’m lumping together blogs, RSS, social networking and bookmarking, presents the marketer with a rich set of new tools to help in the effort to generate new business.

But, if that’s the only way you view social media, as a set of tools to perform a set of tactics to reach the set of objectives you have always tried to reach with your marketing, then not only are you really missing the opportunity, you will probably find yourself wondering what all the fuss is about.

You can’t approach new media with old thinking. Taking full advantage of social media requires understanding and adopting a specific social media strategy.

First and foremost you must appreciate the differences between social media and, say, direct mail. With direct mail the outcome is likely to create an action, with most social media, it’s to create a connection. Both of these have equally important places in the long-term health of a business, but how they happen is significantly different. Try to do one with the other and results may actually backfire – ie: Ads on Facebook?

I think the best way to look at social media is to view it as a way to open up access points. These points can then be leveraged to create content, connection, and community. Do that well, and they can also add to lead generation, nurturing and conversion.

I’ll talk more about this in a free webinar this Wednesday put on by the good folks at Jigsaw, but here are couple point to ponder.

Choose your social media tools with an ideal interaction in mind
~ Is a blog a starting point or an ending point?

Choose your social media objectives with connection in mind
~ Are you after traffic, primary and secondary links or access to communities that think and act alike?

Meatballs with Seth 2

PlayPlay

Earlier this week I got on the phone and chatted for a while with:

  • Seth Godin is the author of Meatball Sundae and others
  • Tim Ferriss is the author of The 4-Hour Workweek
  • Chris Anderson is the author of The Long Tail and Editor-in-Chief at Wired magazine

You can download the audio here

Creating feeds from feeds and content from air

In this final installment of the 3-part “Fun with RSS” I want to show you how to take multiple RSS feeds, mash them together, and create one single feed to filter or display.

Now, perhaps you’re wondering, “why would I want to do that?” Here are my three favorite uses for this technology

1) Listening – let’s say you want to follow everything being said about a subject and have it delivered to you daily
2) Creating custom or iRSS feeds (individual) – let’s say you have several really hot prospects and you want to create a news feed just for them as a value added service – and to show your mad customer service skills.
3) Creating custom content – maybe you would like to create dynamic news pages related a topic or community (great local search play), or maybe you wanted a way to take the feeds from your top 5 strategic partners and have them run down the sidebar of your blog page.

All of the above can be done using a tool called mysyndicaat. Mysyndicaat allows you to take any RSS feed and put it together with up to four others to create one new feed. This trick even takes out the duplicates that might come from news service feeds like Yahoo and Google News. (Note: if you want more than 5 feeds you can create several mashups and then create one new one using the 5 feed mashups resulting 25 feeds in one.)

The video below demonstrates this technique with the addition of Buzz Boost from Feedburner to help you display the results on a web page. I’ve use my Duct Tape Marketing Coach home page to easily display the latest posts from all the coaches in the network as an example. (Always respect copyrights and content syndication licensing.)

Video: Using mysyndicaat to mash together feeds

I would love to hear any ways that you have fun with RSS!

Learning about new media

JigsawYou may still feel like you are a fish out of water when it comes to wading into social networking pond (don’t you love mixed metaphors?) but you do need to educate yourself on new and emerging tools to be able to analyze and cut through the hype just enough to glimpse why you might invest your time and resources.

I am presenting a free webinar next week put together by the folks at Jigsaw – an online directory for business contact and company information built by members titled:

“Getting Social – Leveraging New Media Tools in Marketing” on January 30, 2008 at 10:00 am – 11:00 am PST.

In this free webinar I’ll cover:

• How to use blogs and podcasts as tools to enhance your search results and create education-based content.
• Simple uses of RSS technology for research and content creation.
• Smart ways to get your organization, customers and prospects involved in social networking.

Join me if you can! I don’t have all the answers, but I can help you make sense of some of this stuff.

You can register here