Faking It: Why Writing in Your Niche is Killing Your Blog

I have too many blogs.  No really, there’s this one, Lurkers Anonymous, Social Marketing for Business (recently updated title that I need to change), my Martindale.com Blog, and I think that’s it.  Still, four blogs.  Four.  And each one kind of talks about stuff the others touch on.

For example, Lurkers is all about how to activate online communities.  Started strong this year and wanted to turn the blog into a book.  Posted consistently through March and then it died.  In starting my new business/project, My Media Labs, I started doing a blog about social media basics, marketing, blah blah blah.  Each of these have something to do with social media, but what I find is the more “professional” or “niche” I try to go, the more antiseptic my posts become, like I have to present these Fisher Pricified posts that potential customers or readers can easily categorize.  “That’s what will help my SEO, site visitors, and sales – being put in nice little boxes.”  It’s killing me.

Where’s the passion?  Where’s the experimentation, the love, and the need to get it out there.  Truth be told, striking that balance between passion and commerce is not an easy trick.  Most of us don’t have it figured out.  If we did, we’d all be doing what we loved and getting paid for it.  So here’s the secret: if you hate what you are doing or feel in your gut there needs to be a change: STOP.

You can hit the reset button.  Posts are looking too vanilla, throw some marsh mello, chocolate cake crunchies, and cake mix in there (mmm … I want ice cream now).  Write something completely off topic and then relate it to your blog theme (posts about how Tonka trucks and playing in sandboxes teach you everything you need to know about product marketing).  Go out there.  Chances are it won’t hurt your SEO to do something different.  Chances are your readers (if you have them) won’t revolt and leave because you did something different.  Who knows, you may even earn a few new readers.

Don’t be afraid to break out of the niche.  The niche will still be there.  You can always go back to writing boring posts again if you want.

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Filed under Commentary and Critiques, social media

3-ways to get started in social media

I speak to a lot of people who are interested in social media.  As this is rapidly just becoming the way we use the Internet getting “into the game” is a lot easier than you think.  For those looking to incorporate social media into their business strategy, here are a few easy to follow steps help you take the plunge (many books have been written on this subject so these quick tips are just the tip of the iceberg – pardon the pun):
  1. Identify your target buyer – create a buyer persona, a biography of the person you want to sell to.  Give them a name and write a few paragraphs about them focusing on (a) the problem they have that needs solving, (b) what would be appealing to this buyer and how we can find them online, and (c) the solution you have for them.  This can be done on paper with pen or Word.  We’ll use this to craft our marketing strategies.
  2. Brainstorm ideas for your blog categories (ex/ body work, medicine, posture, etc.).  These are like chapters of a book and you will usually choose 1 of them to categorize your posts.  Categories are also helpful to navigation and give depth to your blog.
  3. Start drafting your first 10 posts.  It may be helpful to think of them as a theme – so for example, start with the theme of posture.  You can easily come up with 5 posts about posture: (a) importance of posture (worst cast scenario if not fixed, benefits, etc.), (b) how to have good posture, (c) ways of paying attention to your posture (20 minute reminder, etc.), (d) what to do when your posture is terrible (extreme measures), (e) how good posture improves health, work, etc.  This is only an example, but the point is you can think of a single theme that fits in a category, come up with a bunch of posts about that theme, and then just start writing.  The beauty of a blog is you can have these posts as drafts for weeks as you develop others and work through your ideas.

Like I said above, these are three quick and easy strategies that I use whenever starting or rethinking about one of my blogs.  There are much more qualified people than me talking about this stuff at sites like CopyBlogger and ProBlogger (both EXCELLENT resources).

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Filed under social media, Uncategorized

Seth Godin’s Linchpin and Mastering the Art of Social Media Policy

Daniel A. Schwartz, author of the Connecticut Employment Law Blog posted about one of the presentations from Legal Tech back in February 2010.  His post, Social Media Policies and Practices Developing as Companies Begin to Embrace It, gave some details from the panel discussion by the following in-house lawyers: Lesley Rosenthal (Lincoln Center), Ted Banks (former in-house at Kraft), and Mark Bisard (American Express).  Check out Daniels post here.
The panelists basically discussed how social media policy is becoming a more recognized form of policy for a company to have.  Ted Banks spoke up as say that employees can become disheartened and resentful of too restrictive a policy.  I left this comment in response:
I am most in agreement with Ted about social media presenting an opportunity to companies to engage their creative employees and let them flourish.  This requires clear guidelines that are flexible enough to allow for employees to be artists in what they do.
Seth Godin describes this really well in his new book Linchpin (if you haven’t checked it out yet, it is a must read).  His general point is that corporate work trains obedience, being just good enough, and waiting for orders.  To thrive in today’s world we need employees who are artists.  They contribute value, connect to customers in ways that are human, and can make a real impact that propels the company.  These people are linchpins.
Rigid guidelines choke the life out of such employees.  Demanding metrics over artistry mechanizes the processes, makes it sub par, and outsourceable.  It’s why companies like Apple and Google, the leaders in business, thrive and are adored.  Other companies say they want to be like Apple or Google, but this just means they want to be loved while producing mediocre results.
Any social media policy should be a guideline.  Your employees are smart enough to know what they should and shouldn’t do (if not – get new employees).  A good legal department balances the need of the company to have a policy in place they can point to if something goes wrong, with the need for employees to be free enough to create without fear of censorship, backlash, or worse.  It is a risky game, but one with great rewards if done right.

A social media policy is not some revolutionary mysterious thing.  It is a policy.  Likely a policy no one will read anyway.  Where companies experience mastery is when they do things that are risky, things that ordinary policy making would cry “NO! Don’t do that!”

Notice I said risky.  Not stupid.  As a member of the  legal department it is your job to protect the company, but realize that your employees are likely smarter than you think they are.  Also, they are more creative than most of us realize.

If your management creates a linchpin culture where employees take risk, reach for greatness, and share their gifts then your policies at best should be guidelines to help amplify that.  If you have an assembly line amassing Twitter followers than perhaps you want something more rigid that will meet the CYA standard.  All I’m saying is that in a world where everybody is on Facebook, the winners are those who can connect with customers in ways that automation cannot.

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Filed under Legal, social media

Connected Pulse Interview: Jason Romrell, GC of InsuranceLeads.com

Jason Romrell, General Counsel for InsuranceLeads.com values practical value over philosophy any day. Not to say he isn’t deep (ask him about diving for golf balls), but Jason brings a “can-do” type of attitude to his work that breaths success into companies. In this video we discuss the ALM Social Media Risks and Rewards conference and find out what job he’d NEVER like to do.

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Connected Pulse Interview: Carolyn Elefant Explains the Beauty of Going Solo

Last month I had the pleasure of speaking to a real pioneer in the legal industry.  Carolyn Elefant has been blogging (or blawging if you prefer) since 2002.  Her blog MyShingle.com is a testament to commitment and a wealth of information for anyone looking to start their own law practice.  We discussed a host of things and even found out her favorite word … you’ll never guess what it is.

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Passover Contracts Online (selling “chametz” via the web)

During the 8 days of the Passover festival it is forbidden for a Jew to have any “chametz” (refers to bread, grains and leavened products that are not consumed during Passover) in their possession.  We throw lots of stuff away, clean like germaphobes with OCD, and seal any cabinets in the kitchen with masking tape that contain chametz products that we didn’t want to toss out.  Then we sign a contract with our rabbis to “sell our chametz” in a paper transaction that removes ownership of the products sealed in our houses until the holiday is over, at which time the chametz are transferred back to our possession.

Enter the Internet

My wife usually needs to remind and remind me again to sell the chametz.  I usually wait until a day or two before Passover before signing the 1 page simple contract with our rabbi and fulfilling the obligation.  Well not this year.  Here I am almost a week away and I fulfilled my obligation without ever leaving my home.

My friend Yoni forwarded a link to Kipa.com’s program to sell your chumetz online.  The site is in Hebrew, but thanks to Google Translate (or the built in translator on Google Chrome) I could read what it said.  Basically, you enter your email address and they send you a verification code.  You then enter the verification code, which brings up the web form equivalent of the rabbis contract asking for your name, home address, phone number, and places where chametz can be found.  The whole process took me 3-minutes and once finished I received a verification email that my chametz would be “sold” right before the holiday and revert back to me 1-hour after it.

This brilliant use of the Internet is just another reason I love all things online.  What are some of the novel things you have found the Internet to do that used to require physical actions?

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Connected Pulse Interview: Antone Johnson, Former GC of e-Harmony

We sat down with Antone Johnson, Principle of Bottom Line Law Group and former GC of e-Harmony and one of the original lawyers at MySpace. He spoke about technology, growing companies through international expansion, and even told us his favorite curse word in our new feature “Inside the Lawyer’s Studio.”

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