Daily Archives: February 4, 2014

Giving Your Blog a Facelift

One of the overarching themes of all the articles and posts on blogging is to make sure that you are producing useful content. Whether the author is talking about constructing an editorial calendar or finding content, the main message is to make sure that you’re writing about a topic that is useful or informative to your readers. Sometimes we start off blogs without thinking about the concept all the way through– here’s one way a company I interned for gave their blog a facelift.

Two summers ago, I interned for startup Lab42, a market research firm. I worked primarily on communications and marketing, which Consumer Insights meant that the weekly blog fell into my hands. Lab42 pools its respondents from social games, blogs, and applications; as someone who’s always been interested in social media, I decided to capitalize on this part of Lab42’s brand identity, blogging on topics like Instagram and live-pinning. While this was a good start, it wasn’t exactly tailored to Lab42’s offerings, and didn’t tell readers too much about the quick, professional research we were able to conduct.

After an in-office workshop on blogging, we decided to give the blog a much-needed facelift. Here are some lessons learned throughout the process:

  1. Find your value Figure out what you can offer your readers that no one else can (or almost no one else). There are tons of blogs about using social media, but not too many about conducting your own market research… that’s where we found our niche.
  2. Leverage your experts You have smart people in your company… use them! You could assign blogging responsibilities to a different team member every week, or at least have them give some input on content and posts before they go to press. And don’t forget about guest bloggers! guest-bloggers-welcome
  3. Have a point person While you do want to leverage everyone on your team, blogging is still a branded tool. A marketing or communications person should be responsible for making sure posts are contributing to the overall brand.
  4. Have a variety of content Solid, writing-heavy posts are nice, but you can post other kinds of collateral. Lab42 produces really great infographics, so we used the blog as a home to post those so that we could link to them later, like this SuperBowl infographic. We also posted information about events we were hosting.
  5. Use an editorial calendar They really do help! A half-hour brainstorm session with your team could be all you need to fill one out for a month or two. You might not have all the ideas hammered out, but at least you won’t be scrambling when Blog Day comes.
  6. SEO is everything SEO is especially important on blogs, where you’re able to update  content often. Even just skimming a few articles online will help you learn how to link and keyword your way to success.

Now, the types of blog posts you’ll see at the Lab42 blog are informative and tie straight back to their service offerings (good example: Infographic Best Practices: 3 Ways to Shape Your Story). Have you ever gone through a transition period with your company blog? How did it go?

Social Media Goes Down in History

We tweet, we like, we follow, and we share. But it wasn’t always that way. If you tell your parents to tweet about something, they might look at you like you have three heads. It speaks to how new social is and where its biggest impacts lie. But the fact is, social has been around for a really long time – just not in the same way that we think of social today.

Here’s a brief timeline of the evolution of social to what we know it to be today:

1950s Phone Phreaking —> 1960s Email —> 1969 ARPANET —> 1970s MUD —> 1978 BBS (Bulletin Board System) —> 1990s Modern Social Networking

So what is all of that? Let’s start with phone phreaking. Sounds phreaky, but it’s not. The term refers to Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at 11.40.26 AMpeople who used go rogue on the telephone lines to try and use circuits to make free calls. Many phreaks ended up hacking into corporate unused voice mailboxes to host the first forms of blogs and podcasts.

Next came email. Okay, we all know what email is, but in the 1960s, email was very exclusive. The Internet was not publicly available until decades later, but a basic infrastructure for email did exist in which both computers that were looking to exchange communication messages needed to be online at the same time. Email has certainly evolved since then, but think about it, aren’t we almost always connected now on our smartphones?

ARPANET in the late 60s refers to the Advanced Research Projects Agency. ARPANET was an “early network of time sharing computers that formed the basis of the internet.” Two key words jump out in that description: “time” and “sharing.” Isn’t the basis of modern social media based around real-time sharing? Hmm, we’re on to something here.

By the 1970s social started to become more sophisticated with virtual worlds like MUD and real-time information sharing platforms like the Bulletin Board System, which allowed people to upload and download files as well as post and share information and news.

Finally came modern social networks and social media in the early 1990s. By 1991 the Internet was publicly available, and that created a rush to be the biggest and best social network out there. Many failed, few still exist.

The history that social has painted is an interesting one. It shows us that being social is in our nature. We want to interact with others and create communities where we can be social. So now that we have taken a peak at the past, let’s look into the future. How are you social now, and how do you imagine us being social in the future? Share you comments below or tweet me @JaredMandel!