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.
Because Facebook is so important, I attended a panel discussion on Facebook News Feed Optimization. Since most people who “Like” a Facebook page don’t return, the news feed is key to getting your wall posts out to your “fans,” and you need to follow certain best practices and strategies. Hint: they mostly sum up to “Know your audience.”
And speaking of audiences, more so than at any other session, I appeared to be among the two or three oldest people in the room. Though folks over 35 are inhabiting Facebook in droves, they’re not attending BlogWorld to learn how to “leverage” (another business-speak word I hate) social networking to boost their businesses. I was also, I’m pretty sure, the only person in the room who’d brought a printed magazine to read while waiting for the session to begin. Another way of saying the same thing, I suppose.
Do with that data what you will. I’ve got to get back to blogging.