Today on Blogcritics
Home » Culture and Society » Facebook is King at BlogWorld & New Media Expo New York

Facebook is King at BlogWorld & New Media Expo New York

I’m not sure what I expected at BlogWorld Expo 2011 in New York. A lot of marketing, of course; after all, what is an Expo if not a giant orgy of marketing? But a great many of the talks were actually about marketing. As a blogger of some ambition, as well as a freelance writer always needing to market himself and an editor with significant responsibility here at Blogcritics, I found much of this really resonated with me.

One talk I attended was entitled “Using Social Media to Drive Acquisition.” That’s marketing-speak: “to drive” is the number one business-speak/marketing verb, and “acquisition” means acquiring customers and thus growing your business.

The speaker, Chris Baggott of Compendium, made the surprising point that 80% of blog traffic comes from first-time visitors. So when you’re posting content on your blog, you shouldn’t assume you’re addressing people who know you. Sure, it’s nice to have a certain number of devoted followers and returning readers, but they’re not most of your audience.

A primary lesson is that since blog content always has to be fresh and relevant, companies are succeeding by getting their customers to supply much of this content – for example, by gathering feedback via email outreach and then posting that feedback on a company blog; after that, a follow-up email notifies the customer that their content is on the site and gives them a handy Facebook link, so with one click they can tell all their friends and “friends” about it.

The trick to soliciting this content is to ask a specific question the customer is qualified to answer and will be interested in answering. In other words, not a “survey” type of question like “How would you rate our service?” but something with a personal angle.

Facebook is key to a lot of marketing efforts. Tom Webster of Edison Research shared some brand-new data from the company’s Internet and Multimedia surveys (conducted via mobile as well as landline phone, in collaboration with Arbitron). The percentage of Americans 12 and above who have Internet access rose from 84% in 2010 to 88% this year, and of those who have access at home, 86% have broadband and 65% have a wireless network.

Not surprisingly, smartphone penetration has tripled over the past two years, to 31%. Among frequent social networkers, almost two-thirds would give up their television over their smartphone if they had to choose.

Perhaps more surprisingly, those 35-54 showed the largest growth in use of social networking.

Overall, 51% of Americans have a Facebook profile, far more than Myspace (17%), LinkedIn (9%), and Twitter (8%), but it’s worth noting that more than half of Facebook users have some concerns about privacy. Still, 24% list Facebook as the social networking service that most influences buying decisions. No other service even hit 1%.

Any stereotypes that might imagine frequent social networkers as stay-at-home screen addicts don’t hold water. Such people are more likely than other Americans to be found at a restaurant, movie theater, sports event, concert, etc.

Finally, Webster stressed that there’s a lot of bad “data” out there, such as survey “conclusions” that rely on “meaningless” numbers. Raw mentions on Twitter, for example, are useless in themselves; dissemination does not equal reach or exposure, since there’s no way to measure how many people saw those tweets.

The SEO speaker didn’t show, so I missed all the tips he might have bestowed. Therefore, I don’t know how you managed to find this article. (But I’m glad you did). Instead I ate an early lunch and did some work, then headed for a session on WordPress, which I hoped would help me with my own blogs. Alas, there was no room at the inn; the small space was packed, no chairs available.

I spun around and ended up in Scott Ginsberg‘s session. He’s that guy who wears a name tag all day, every day. His advice on “approachability” dovetailed with some of the other wisdom I’d picked up, especially when he said that publishing content without eliciting a response is “like winking in the dark” – no one sees, and you might as well not have bothered. Ask questions; include a call to action. That’s another marketing-speak term. But if we want to popularize (and monetize) our blogs, we have to learn that language.

About Jon Sobel

Jon Sobel is an Executive Editor of Blogcritics as well as lead editor of the Culture & Society section. As a writer he contributes most often to Culture, where he reviews NYC theater; he also covers interesting music releases. He writes the blog Park Odyssey, for which he is visiting and blogging every park in New York City—over a thousand of them. Through Oren Hope Marketing and Copywriting you can hire him to write or edit whatever marketing or journalistic materials your heart desires. By night he's a working musician: lead singer, songwriter, and bass player for Whisperado, a member of other bands as well, and a sideman.