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Social Media Development — Three Case Studies, Part 3 of 4

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Sam Diener is the second case study in this series. He also placed second in the Blog Off competition. As I mentioned in the introduction to the series, what caught my attention about these three examples of success in social media is the difference in their background.

We saw in part two that Sean Nelson is experienced in professional sales and owns two successful insurance businesses. In the next article, we’ll look at Tim Ruffner and see his background in the prototyping industry.

Sam Diener is unique in this group of top performers partly because he is just 25 years old. It’s easy to suppose that someone at that age is lacking in business acumen, but Sam’s success with social media proves otherwise.

Sam graduated summa cum laude from the University of Maryland – Baltimore County as a paramedic. After working in his field for almost three years, Sam moved over to a position as Manager with Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Less than 2 years later, Sam was downsized out of a job in July 2009.

That’s when Sam took a look at social media. By December 2009 – when Sam entered the Blog Off competition – he had built a global audience of 40,000+ with his blog.

As a result of the time and energy Sam has invested into his blog and other social media efforts, he is now being approached by prospects to consult on their campaign architecture and learn business social skills. Sam uses his experience and training from Enterprise to improve the sales process, and his knowledge of social media to increase customer retention for his clients.

Sam is even in negotiations with a firm from St. Louis to fly there and work with them on their social media campaign. He has a unique, humorous and interesting approach to applying business social skills that appeals to clients and readers alike.

One of the things Sam has done to increase the visibility and credibility of his blogging efforts is to get high quality sponsors for his blog. He went to three universities to get their sponsorship:

  • His alma mater, UMBC
  • San Diego State University
  • Ball State University

Rather than approaching these bodies asking for a financial sponsorship, Sam contacted their business departments. His approach was to ask the professors to review his blog and tell him whether the content is useful to their students. Because of his writing style and the usefulness of his content, all three universities agreed to provide a link to Sam’s blog.

You can see how that allows Sam to borrow credibility from the universities for anyone arriving at his site. It also gives him direct access to the student body of all three business departments because his blog is now being directly promoted to them by the professors.

Sam started the Stuff For Success blog precisely because he was “seeking a new opportunity in creative marketing or business development.” So building a blog that has had over 40,000 page views by people in 91 countries is an ideal way for Sam to showcase his ability. That he achieved that success in less than four months is outstanding and spectacular.

Stuff for Success is the center of Sam’s social media efforts. He is also on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, and the location to which he drives traffic from those sites is his blog.

It’s an important point because I firmly believe any business wanting to make the best use of social media should make a blog their primary business site. A blog provides all the flexibility and function of a traditional portal site while adding innate SEO value and the powerful functionality of plugins.

When you look at Stuff for Success, you see the menu bar across the top of the page. As with any portal site, this menu bar can easily have drop-down menus that access multiple pages. However, with a static portal site, adding pages or updating them means having to make the additions or changes manually.

Using a blog allows you to add a page simply by creating a new post. When you have information to add to a page, you can drop it in by writing a comment or by editing the original page content. Whereas updating a portal site means having to transfer files using FTP, updating a blog is as simple as writing in MS Word.

You can also see that Sam has his social media profiles prominently displayed on the Stuff for Success blog. The exact same thing can be done on a portal site, but most of us would have some difficulty getting it done. Sam was able to build his entire blog in a week using the Thesis theme for WordPress and a bunch of free plugins. (Keep in mind that Sam has no background or education in computers.)

There is no blogging platform that is easier to use and more flexible than WordPress. With the addition of plugins, the WordPress platform becomes unbeatable. By the way, a plugin is a program that is written by a WordPress enthusiast to perform a specific function on your blog.

For example, there is a plugin that optimizes each post for SEO. It’s called the SEO Pack. The great thing about all plugins is that WordPress keeps a library of them, and they’re rated by all the users. When you see a plugin with 4 or 5 stars, you know people are using it and are happy with it.

All the top rated plugins are supported and updated by their creators. WordPress even notifies you automatically when an update is available for any of your plugins.

For Sam’s blog, plugins allow him to include most of the features down the right side of his pages. They help him optimize posts, track visitors to his blog, and show visitors which of his posts are most popular.

Check in again for the last installment in this series. We’ll enter the thrilling world of “direct metal laser sintering” and discover how Tim Ruffner turned that into an engaging and comment generating topic.

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