Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Creating Your Own Content for Your Blog

When writing a blog post, constructing a PowerPoint, or taking advantage of any found media, the web is often the first place to go for content. Although this can be helpful when working with few resources, often the materials you find are either out of date, or have been greatly overused. Also, even though there is a vast amount of media out there, you may never find what you’re looking for. One of the best ways to get various media without any of these difficulties is to create your own content. Why? I’ll elaborate…

  • Overuse—Although there are thousands upon thousands of pictures, videos, and other forms of media on the internet, there are usually a few that have become overused. Although they are often popular, the reader may assume that your blog is the same as the last thousand blogs they saw that used that particular content. When the reader sees something that they haven’t seen before, however, their eyes will light up knowing that there is most likely new information there, too.
  • Customization—As stated before, the internet is a gargantuan compilation of various types of media. However, despite its size, you can’t always find exactly what you want. On the other hand, when properly equipped with simple Photoshop skills and a camera, you can create almost anything your imagination can devise.
  • Copyright safety—When you find media on the internet, you must make sure you cite it accordingly. You must make certain that the name of the Website or the creator of the media is somewhere in your post to avoid copyright infringement. While including an attribution or citation draws traffic to the media originators’ sites—which is helpful for them—it tends to create more work for you, the blogger, and it’s easy to make stupid mistakes such as forgetting to include the information entirely. When you create your own content, you can be relatively safe from copyright infringement.
  • So, as you can see, creating your own content can have its advantages. Original content can make your blog unique; you can easily customize it, and will keep the blood-sucking lawyers off your back. Let me restate, however, that these guidelines are not written in stone, and it can be beneficial in some situations to use found content from the internet.

    Guest Post: Thanks to the youngest blogger in the household Noah Hessinger for this insightful post (and cool photo just in time for Halloween) on why using unique content in your posts is always a good idea and why the most unique content is usually yours. Watch for Noah's new gaming Website coming soon.

    Saturday, October 20, 2012

    Using Video To Engage Community

    Recently, a friend of mine, small business coach Stephanie Ward, posted this great pitch for getting all her readers and clients involved in making more video for their Websites and online communities. There are a couple of reasons to do this. Video is helpful for Search Engine Optimization, social engagement, and mobile engagement.

    Here's a video I created earlier this year to help build engagement for a business intelligence and analytics community sponsored by SAS, a leader in business analytics and business intelligence software.

    A couple of notes about making video here that you should keep in mind:

  • Be yourself. In the post linked to above, Stephanie suggests that practice will make you more comfortable in front of the camera. I'd add that making video doesn't require tightly scripted preparation. I generally use a short typed script as a guide but don't put much pressure on myself to stick to it. Be natural.
  • Silliness is OK. I know! I know! You've probably heard the advice about avoiding humor because some of your audience might not find your attempts funny or, worse yet, might be offended by your efforts. I'd refer you to point one. I tend to be a kind of silly guy at times, so trying to do video too seriously can feel a tad unnatural. Whatever makes you feel comfortable (and seems appropriate for your audience) can work just fine for your video, even if it ends up being a bit goofy.
  • Think visually. Though a simple video of you speaking directly to your audience can be quite effective, it doesn't hurt to think a bit further in terms of visual variety. Change backdrops. Think of ways to illustrate your points visually. Use different angles, long shots, closeups, and cutaways (perhaps of graphics and other related images) to add interest.
  • Add value. Simple improvements in your video can add dramatically to its value. If you know someone experienced in graphic animation, ask them to design a title sequence and see if you can find royalty free music online. You'll be surprised at the improvements these elements will make to your video.
  • Are you using video on your blog or in your social media content? Why or why not? Leave your comment below.

    Tuesday, October 2, 2012

    Bing Tagging Can Make Your Website It!

    You've probably read that Bing is gaining ever so slowly on Google in the overall share of the search market.

    A new feature on Bing can help you improve search results on this increasingly popular search engine by harnessing the social features of Facebook. Here's how!

    Sign Up For Bing

    This will take literally only minutes, and once done, you'll have an account from Microsoft, the company behind the Bing search engine, allowing you to "tag" links in the search results coming up under your name.

    Tag Your Friends

    But, in addition, you can also tag links for your Facebook friends, making it easier for them to locate their own content, and your good deed will be recorded in the "recent activity" section of your life stream for your friends to see.

    For example, recently I tagged Joel Libava, the Franchise King, in an interview entitled "Many Entrepreneurs Not Cut Out for Franchising" from Small Business Trends. (See here.)

    Share Your Activity

    So, in addition to pointing out your links to friends on Facebook and improving your ranking on Bing, you become the helpful soul who's making sure everyone else finds their content too. (Your welcome, Joel!)

    And, just in case you get sick and tired of all this do-gooding and want to do some good old fashioned bragging again, well, the new Bing social feature has a way to do that too.

    Just click on the "Web" tab in the upper left hand corner of your Bing page and you'll see a gray "Activity" column on the right side of your screen. (See a screen grab to the right.)

    Simply, click on the Facebook status window and click on the paperclip icon to the left of the link you'd like to share. You can then choose up to five Facebook friends with whom to share your link. (Again, these friends must also have a Bing account.)

    You can also see which other friends shared links or other content recently. (So far, my friend, Web analytics expert Pierre DeBois and I are the only two listed in my network who seem to have used this feature.)


    My two cents? The Bing tagging feature is a neat tool to use for sharing links on the newer search engine with your Facebook friends, and since Facebook has more users than Google+ at present, we can reasonably say there is more opportunity to share links with a potentially larger audience than on any comparable feature Google might offer.

    That said, the fact is, Google has a much larger share of overall search, so the tool is much more useful as a way to promote your links and those of your friends and business partners to your Facebook connections than it is as a way of appreciably increasing your search traffic through social engagement. Like other tools, this can become a bit of a time sink with limited returns (until Bing gets bigger.) Use it sparingly.

    Have you used the Bing tagging function, yet? Tell us what you think in the comment section below!