The official blog of Nancy Marshall Communications
offering tips, techniques, and thoughts from Maine's PR Maven, Nancy Marshall

 

PLEASE NOTE: This blog has been discontinued.
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How to Make the Most of your Blog

NMC Account Assistant, Erika Bush

Erika here, and I have a question for you. How many times have you visited a company’s website and thought: I want to know more? I know I feel this way a lot. Press and News pages are great, but if you are claiming to be an expert or giving advice as if you’re the best out there, then I want to know why. Why should I buy from you versus a competitor?

An easy answer: you have a killer blog. The entire team at NMC believes that the key to success is being someone your consumers “know, like and trust.” A blog lets people get to know you and like you, and as a result they trust you.

For me, writing about social media sites is fun and easy. I grew up in a generation that experienced the evolution of social media platforms firsthand. AOL, yeah, I had that and I had an AIM profile page complete with hearts and smiley faces that would later evolve into a customized MySpace page. Then, as soon as I was old enough to get a college email address, I was on Facebook and witnessed it become more public, to the point that the nine-year-old kid next door could have an account if he wanted.

Blogs are one thing that has stayed constant in this frenzy of change. They have existed in some way since the internet began, and while their role is changing, they aren’t going anywhere.

So how can you make the most of your blog? Let me share five best practices when it comes to influential blogging.

  • Create weekly features. If you want regular readers, then you must provide regular content.
  • Keep advertising to a minimum. Most people don’t mind ads down the sides of the content, in fact, we might not even notice it, but we do mind when we can’t scroll until we’ve watched a 30-second ad about something we don’t care about.
  • Engage your readers. Create contests, or link your posts to your social media pages or your business website. Your readers should feel like they are getting something out of reading your blog.
  • Link to previous posts. Not many readers are going to scroll back or search to find a previous post mentioned in a current article, so link to it for them. Keep your readership growing by making it easy for readers to find more relevant information.
  • Acknowledge other bloggers. Blogging is networking, and it isn’t necessarily a competition. Comment on other blogger’s posts and join the conversation. You will be surprised by who may reciprocate.

The key to a great blog is to develop a rapport with your readers and to offer them information that is relevant to what you can do for them. Now, I’m not saying that you should make it entirely about sales and the services you offer, but it should be about establishing yourself as a reputable source of information when it comes to the services you offer.

Finally, always remember that no matter what your topics include, blogging can be utilized as a fun way to enhance your brand.

 

Hula Hooping, Singing and All Things Nikki Hunt

Nikki Hunt, lead singer and hula hooper of The Nikki Hunt Band

Anyone who lives in Hallowell or frequents the Hallowell scene has heard of this week’s Monday Maine Maven, Nikki Hunt. They know that not only does she sing, she also hula hoops. In fact, her name and hula hoop are almost synonymous—almost as if she invented the thing.

Ironically, the idea was originally brought up as a joke. Her band mate, Sonny True, suggested she bring it on as a floor show since he knew how much she enjoyed hooping for fun. Nikki says she was terrified the first time, so terrified that the hoop never even left the van, but now she says, “The hooping has picked up at shows and if I don’t bring it people ask where it is—it’s been such a hit.”

So how did her passion for performing begin? Nikki Hunt credits her Mom, who got her enrolled in dance lessons very young, and in fifth grade she started voice lessons. Hunt says, “I was frustrated with sports and found myself leaning toward the performing arts.” It was during this time she became heavily involved in the Hallowell and Waterville theater programs.

After high school, Hunt moved to New York City for college. She says that she loved it there, but she felt like she was spending too much time working on everything but her voice.  She eventually left the city and made her way back to Maine. Nikki says it was through this experience that she learned a very important thing about the entertainment industry: “You don’t have to live in New York City, Boston or Los Angeles to write original music and you don’t have to kill yourself, juggling multiple jobs and hundreds of bookings, to pay rent.”

Hunt says that in Maine, she has been able to start her career the way she wants to—in small steps and says, “I’d rather take my time and build a solid foundation than constantly be skating on thin ice.” A part of her plan has been to find ways to build and network with her fan base. “Social media is a phenomenon,” says Hunt. She credits the use of her original MySpace page as a way to branch out to her fans so they could hear her live recordings. This evolved to Facebook where she currently has more than 2,500 friends and fans.

We mentioned in our previous previous post, American Dream in Portland Maine that sending too many event invites via Facebook can be perceived as spamming fans. Nikki started her website for just this reason, “I try not to barrage Facebook friends with event invites,” she says. She adds, “I have a great advantage to communicate clearly with my fans using an email or simply by posting pictures, or a video from YouTube.” She adds that social networking sites can be addicting, so she tries to use them in moderation.

Hunt’s growing success has lead to more interest in who she is, which is why she decided to start an official blog which is set to launch in February. She believes it is important to reach out to fans and to relate to them on a more personal level than Facebook. Nikki hopes that the blog will do just that and help to inspire new material for her and her band mates.

To connect with Nikki, check her out on Facebook or on her website: www.nikkihunt.com

The Continuing Evolution of Social Media

Hi, Erika here!

My little sister Tessa and me last Christmas

I would consider myself to be pretty hip. I keep up with the latest celebrity news. I know who the cutest guy from One Direction is (according to my little sisters it’s a pretty close tie between Louis and Zayn) and I follow the latest social media trends, but sometimes I have these moments when my little sisters are zipping through online chats and sharing videos from one source to another as easy as cutting a hot knife through butter, that I begin to feel really old.

My little sister Desiree and me last Christmas

 

I think about trying to explain to my Mom why she should ditch the landline for mobile and I find her giving me reasons that are comparable to my reasons for why kids shouldn’t be on Facebook. She’s stuck in her ways, I’m stuck in mine, but the reality is that social media is everywhere—neither one of us should be fighting it and neither should you. Social media is evolving, but how much has it changed and how will it continue to evolve in the years to come?

Social media has steadily increased from a blip on the radar to an essential part of business strategies. The increasing mobility and access to social media sources makes it pretty safe to say that social media is no longer just a trend—it is an integral part of business and popular culture. So let’s take a look at how it all began and where it’s going.

AOL: While yes, there had been BBS and CompuServe, America Online (AOL) brought the “Internet” into everyone’s homes in 1993 and made “networking” possible. It was the original site that allowed people to personalize their profiles, update their statuses in the form of “away messages,” personalize their account with color and font choices, and it included member searching capabilities. I remember sleepovers with friends looking for Justin Timberlake (we never found him) or seeing who had the coolest away message. You could even customize your online mood by choosing a smiley, grumpy, goofy, flirty, etc. icon.

Classmates.com: In 1995, the first true social network was created by Randy Conrads. He was looking for ways to let people reconnect with that high school prom date or that best friend you lost touch with over the years. It was the first time this sort of network had been put into motion although due to issues with fees, it has lost a lot (if not all) momentum in the social media scene.

Friendster: Basing much of its basic set-up on classmates.com, Friendster was a social networking site that focused on making new friends and meeting new people, unlike Classmates which focused mainly on people you already knew. It recently has re-launched as a social gaming site.

LinkedIn: In 2003, two very different sites would launch, but LinkedIn decided that with all of the online social networking going on, they would focus primarily on business “connections” rather than personal networking. To this day, the site’s primary goal is helping business professionals to network and endorse one another.

MySpace: The second 2003 launch and without a doubt, a precursor to Facebook, MySpace was mainly focused on music and video sharing. It felt more hip and gave the users more options than any other site available. The personalization factor helped people feel more comfortable and it became a resource to connect with artists, friends and more.

Facebook: The game changer. Founded in 2004 and originally available only for Harvard students, it went public in 2006 and has since brought in nearly one billion users. Its success has set precedents that no other social network has been able to surpass. They are constantly changing their site (maybe too much if you ask users) to better fit the evolving trends in social media and the requests of users when it comes to privacy policies and page layout. The trust built with users helps people feel free to be themselves by sharing their status, current location and even personal photos.

YouTube: The next phase in the evolution came from three former PayPal employees. They decided to share videos online and with the use of HTML5 and Adobe Flash Video they enabled their members to share their own personal videos. This revolutionized sharing and in a world where people are constantly being overloaded with information, the instant gratification factor that YouTube brings to consumers is refreshing.

Twitter: In 2006, the world rapidly became familiar with “Tweeting.” Celebrities quickly endorsed the idea of sharing photos and mini status updates in the form of a Tweet. In 140 characters or less you were able to constantly update your followers and keep up with the people you followed. This social media outlet became a great resource for news outlets, and contests, and sharing more frequently.

Pinterest: While it is still young, since 2010 Pinterest has set records in growth. Last year alone they grew by 145%, not to mention that they generate more referral traffic to website than YouTube, Google +, and LinkedIn combined. Not bad for a company less than three years old with a mere 16 employees.

So where is technology going?

  • Mobile access is becoming a requirement, not an option as social media continues to evolve.
  • The iPhone and Android systems have completely changed accessibility, which means everything, good or bad, can go viral in an instant—you want to make sure that you are not only prepared to act quickly, but that you have a way to respond to consumers in the way they understand it best.
  • Social television is taking off thanks largely to Twitter. Fans can now watch television with their favorite actors/celebrities by Tweeting using a hash-tag to carry on conversations as the show is playing via their mobile device.
  • Facebook and Twitter are looking into ways to present advertisements through their mobile sites. This requires a larger social media budget for most companies and makes proving results very important. The C-suite wants to see what they’re getting out of the money they’re spending.
  • Social customer service—if you have an e-commerce site, link it to your social networks and take the time to answer questions posted. Transparency is more important than ever. You are no longer selling a product—you are building relationship and trust with your consumers.

It’s a lot of information, but social media is a complicated business. It has grown exponentially from its humble beginnings into a full-on revolution in the way people communicate and do business. Hopefully, this week’s Witty Wisdom will help you navigate your way through the different social networks out there and find a way to join the conversation.

Talking about Social Media

Yesterday I was a presenter at a conference about Marketing and PR for a group of professionals in the marine trades, composites and boat building industry in Maine. The first session was about Traditional Public Relations methods and the second session was about Social Media. 

One of the things we talked about is creating groups in MySpace and Facebook. I wanted to post an example of a MySpace group for owners of Hatteras Yachts.  There are pros and cons to creating a group in MySpace or creating a group on your own Website. If it resides on your site, you have more control, however if it resides on MySpace, you can access a larger number of people who might not already be visiting your site, and you can drive traffic to your site with links.

I’d like you to weigh in here on the pros and cons of having a group on your own site or on FaceBook or MySpace.  My PowerPoint is too large of a file to post here but let me know if you’d like me to email it to you.

Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and Oprah Winfrey’s Media Empire

Nancy at the Media Marketplace of the Society of American Travel WritersI’m working on building my networks in Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn. I haven’t done too much with Facebook and MySpace frankly but I am going to work on it this week. On LinkedIn, I have been building my network consistently for several months.  I love being able to see how many degrees of separation there are between others and myself on LinkedIn.

Here is my Facebook page.

Today I purchased an ad on Facebook to promote this blog. We’ll see how we do with it. I am experimenting with all these communities so I can better counsel my clients on how to leverage the marketing value of being involved. As I continue to experiment with different aspects of each community, I will report back.

I’ve invited my son to ‘friend me’ on Facebook. We’ll see if he does. I don’t really think he wants his mother as his friend on his page, unfortunately. Jean Chatzky, the financial guru who has a radio show on the Oprah XM 156 Radio Station, was just complaining about the same issue on her show the other day. Jean, if you’re reading this blog, I feel your pain.

By the way, I love Oprah’s radio station on XM and I think that Oprah and her team have set the standard for multi-media exposure to build Oprah’s celebrity and expertise with the TV show, soon to be TV Network called OWN, the radio station on XM called Oprah and Friends, the Magazine, the website, numerous blogs and published books. In so many ways, Oprah inspires me. It’s not only her leadership and sheer success, but for her commitment to doing the right thing as well as how she stays true to herself and true to her friends. Her best friend is Gayle King who also has a radio show on XM 156. I enjoy listening to Gayle, too, as well as Dr. Oz, Dr. Robin Smith, Marianne Williamson and Bob Greene, Oprah’s personal trainer.