No Rules Allowed

One size does not fit all. This article courtesy of BuzzFeed proves it. But I’m not writing about the kind of terrible clothing industry. Rather, like clothes, blogging styles, rules and trends don’t fit every blogger to the T.

Where are bloggers getting rules anyway? Isn’t a blog the place you actually have no boss? I’ve highlighted a few rules to break found in this PR Daily article.

Keep posts under 300 words
I can agree that the average person’s attention span sucks. BUT – what about the people that really, really care and look to you for information, are influenced by you or just really like reading? Write what you need to say without a ton of extra babbling with some passion and you’re golden.

Stick to a rigid publishing schedule
This doesn’t mean you can’t use a scheduled publishing tool. It does mean that people probably aren’t setting alarms on their phone to check your blog at a specific time every day. Leave some mystery in the relationship!

Be edgy
Compared to what? Be yourself. If you write like you talk, write that way (which may break another writing rule). Again – your passion and expertise will speak for itself. People like authenticity.

Social media has replaced blogging – forget about it
NO.

It’s all about subscribers
Our friend Shanna Haun may not have all the blog subscribers she wants lining up at her door (after all – that would be creepy), but that doesn’t mean people aren’t reading the blog. I follow around 10 blogs closely and subscribe to none. If it’s good and interests me, I’m going to bookmark it either in my mind or on my computer. It can be hard to measure success in subscriptions.

Be brave, daring and yourself. Find out what works for your blog and audience. Rules are made to be broken. Except the speed limit – you’ll have to pay for that one.

Jamie

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What’s The Deal With Blogs, Anyway?

Blogging hasn’t always been around, and it hasn’t always been a popular form of social media. Many people are scared to try out blogging because they aren’t confident in their writing or don’t feel like people would be interested in what they have to say, so it would be a waste of their time. I, however, believe that blogs are a great use of your time! There are so many benefits to blogs, whether you’re someone who wants to write about their hobbies from the comfort of your own bedroom, or a company trying to expand their brand.

Personal Blogging

  1. Become a better writer. Being a better writer can help you in many aspects of your life! Employers are always looking for skills that they don’t have to teach you, and writing could always be one.
  2. Connect with others who share your interests. Enjoy knitting? Love learning about fitness and health? Blogging about these things can easily connect you with others who are also interested in them! You can build your own social network, tailored just for you.
  3. Make some extra cash. There are tons of bloggers out there who have turned little hobbies into some serious income. With just a bit of creative planning and advertisement, you can easily start making some money too!

Professional Blogging

  1. Communicate with customers. Blogs can allow you to communicate with the people who matter to your company most on a more personal level. It’s easy to attract new customers that are interested in your company through the social network of blogs.
  2. Drive traffic to your website. Hubspot talks about how blogging is basically free advertising. Instead of paying extra to get your company’s name out there, your blog will pop up on search engines and attract more visitors!
  3. Little effort, a lot of benefits. One blog post can drive up your traffic a lot more than you think. Sure, it’ll get read and tossed around on social media for a bit and probably die down, but it’s going to show up in search engines for quite some time. A post today with a few hits could turn into a million hits a year later when a news story hits that is relevant to your post.

So if you’re one of those people who are scared of starting a blog, don’t be! Get some practice in and take the chance.

The Five Types of Bloggers (lifehacker.com)

-Marisa

The 10 Commandments of . . . .BLOGGING?

When I first got familiar with the “blogging” world, I had no idea how everything worked or even where to start. At first, I was not even sure what the point of “blogging” was. After getting schooled in blogging by fellow peers I started to get the hang of things. I came across this article that I thought would be helpful to those who may be new to blogging or just may have lost their touch.  It list 10 thoughts ( commandments) that bloggers should think about and live by when creating and maintaining a blog.

1.) Thou shall write every day
Setting aside some time a day and writing down all your thoughts and things that you want to touch base on could help keep up with blogs.  By writing a lot you will be able to find your true passion and can run with it.
2.) Thou shall publish once a week
A writer needs to maintain their blog and do not neglect it. It feeds off your thoughts and requires attention. Keep the content fresh and exciting, make the readers want to know more and follow.
3.) Thou shall build an email list
By building and email list it allows a writer to gain a better connection with their readers. Their readers are a huge part in their success in the blogging world. The will become “sharers, leads, and sales.” Keep them updated on the important things
4.) Thou shall track everything
By installing Google Analytics on your blog you will be able to see what is attractive to readers and who it is attracting. You will be able to see what your readers are more interested in and can continue to write things that are relatable and entertaining to them.
5.) Thou shall sell something
Use your blog to sell. Depending on what you’re trying to offer or sell to your readers, use your blog to educate. This is a place where you work on your product.
6.) Thou shall use social media wisely
Divide your time evenly between social medias and blogging. Do not spend more time tweeting and not blogging or vise versa. Use both outlets strategically. Possibly use twitter to direct followers to blog.
7.) Thou shall look GREAT
An unattractive blog just isn’t going to cut it. Readers will see how outdated and uninviting your blog may be and….RUN
8.) Thou shall ask for action
Don’t be afraid to ask. By getting readers to take action you can gather more followers and get more shares than you’d ever imagine.
9.) Thou shall love SEO
It may be confusing, but SEO could bring you a lot of traffic. Get familiar
10.) Thou shall remember you blog is only a marketing tool
Although you may have a a great blog, whatever your selling will not survive on the blog ALONE. It is a very helpful TOOL.

Although there are many more ways to keep up a good blog, I thought this as a good foundation that bloggers should live by.

-Alyx

Cutting Through the Clutter

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Ever since the advent of smart phones, it seems that anyone can be a blogger. In 2013, there were approximately 152 million blogs, and that number has surely grown with advancing technology. This can be handy if you are looking for someone who has specific knowledge about a subject, but can also be a major pain for companies looking to get their information out there. What can a company, or even an individual, do to cut through the noise that is drowning out their blog? The Official SlideShare Blog has a Four Step Plan to cutting through clutter and making your brand known.

Identify the questions. Answer the questions your audience has about your product/service before they ask it. If they go to Google with the question you wrote about, odds are they will find your blog. I don’t know how many times I have had my questions answered in depth on a blog by someone who knew what they were talking about. To find out these questions, listen to what your audience has already asked. Listening is crucial to cutting through clutter.

Gather Contacts. The SlideShare blog recommends adding an email or subscription request to your blog to gather contacts and see who is really looking for your content. While this is great advice, it depends on the audience you are going for. I am typically scared off by sites that ask for my email or information.

Publish the Answers. Instead of advertising your product, show readers how the product will fit into their lives.  Post a handy tutorial video or link to other videos of real-life users with your product. Essentially, make your audience’s time on your blog worth it, don’t just make a sales pitch. One company that does this really well is BareMinerals, a makeup company. They post makeup tutorials and user testimonials that can be accessed for free. This is a great way to engage your audience and see who is watching the videos.

Turn Your Fans into Evangelists. To me, there is nothing more convincing than a genuine endorsement by a regular Joe like me. I am more likely to buy a product if I see someone real recommending it rather than a commercial. A great example is Swiffer, who sent large boxes of their product to “mommy bloggers” to try out for free. The moms got a clean house and great products while Swiffer obtained many third-party endorsements.

These four pieces of advice can truly make a difference in the success of your blog, but what it comes down to is knowing your audience and how to engage them. Posting a blog without knowing who reads it is like casting a fishing line without bait. Do the research, engage your audience, and make your blog worth their time.

-Olivia

Just Try and Keep Up!

As I sit at home relaxing with my family, I begin to see something very odd. My 10 year old cousin and my mother taking “selfies” together to post on their Facebook and Instagram pages, ridiculous, I know. Although I become slightly annoyed seeing as how I have been run off Facebook by my underaged family members requesting to be my friend and my elders continuously inviting me to play a Facebook game, I noticed something.  Social media is changing the world we live in and we can either adapt or get left behind.

Social medias are being used for more than entertainment purposes, they are being used to connect, networking, marketing and more. I’m sure most people are able to get the hang of using social medias to connect with old friends and family members, but using social medias for business can be difficult to keep up with. This article gives examples of different parts of social medias that are constantly changing.

The article focuses on these 4 social media parts:

1.) Social Media Visuals
2.) Social Media Customer Support
3.) Social Media Visuals
4.) Social Media Strategy

Not only does the article give some insight on how these social media parts work, but also gives ways that users can adapt to the changes and use social medias efficiently.

Social medias are constantly changing to keep up with competition and society.   There also seems to always be a new social media outlets on the rise. Business need to be ready for anything and certainly ready to adapt in 2015.

Although I REFUSE to add anymore of my family members on my social media outlets, it is good to see everyone adapting to the change that this world is undergoing.

-Alyx

Why Everyone Should Use Hashtags

One of my biggest pet peeves is when I hear people say “I hate hashtags”. What?! This makes absolutely no sense to me, but as someone studying public relations I have to give them the benefit of the doubt that maybe they just don’t know much about them. Every day as I scroll through my Facebook or Twitter feeds, I see so many incorrect usages of hashtags. Many people have no idea how they actually work, and just use them because it’s what everyone else does. However, the use of hashtags can be very beneficial to an organization’s social media campaign.

Despite what many people believe, a hashtag is more than just a silly symbol with random, seemingly meaningless words attached. It enables you to connect with others with similar interests. It allows thousands of people to join in the same conversation. It makes searching for posts that interest you much easier. A lot of the hate that hashtags tend to get simply stems from misinformation or misuse of them. Hashtags are a very important part of social media! There are, however, many ways that hashtags are used wrong and therefore ineffectively. For instance, hashtags that are too long. It’s best to keep them between one and three words; any more and they just become a long jumble that nobody wants to read! Keep them simple, and keep them relevant. For instance, hashtags.org suggests simplifying them, such as using #USElection instead of #USNationalElection. They need to be clear and concise, just as the rest of your tweets are (thus the 140 character limit).

Hashtags aren’t just for Twitter, though! They’re all over Instagram, and even Facebook has started using them. They work the same way on all of the popular social media sites; keep them simple and relevant. If you haven’t explored hashtags before, now’s the time to start! Don’t just read through those tweets, click on the hashtags and see what everyone else is talking about. Start using them when you’re watching the season finale of your favorite television show. Use them as an addition to your tweets about the State of the Union address! You’ll start to see that hashtags are a lot more useful than they may seem.

Marisa

Staying Relevant in the Age of Technology

A few years ago, my grandma got an iPad. These days, most people own a tablet or computer of some sort, but not my grandma. A child of the Great Depression and survivor of the Dust Bowl, Bernice is the last person to be seen holding a piece of highly intelligent technology. Yet here she is, sending emails and liking my Facebook posts. I think this says something about the world we live in today: Technology and social media have become so integrated into how the world communicates to the point that everyone has to adapt.

Social media is no longer just a fun way to pass the time; it is an essential tool that can bring a business to the next level. Sadly, many business owners don’t know how to utilize this tool, or –gasp– don’t use it at all. As future PR pros, it is our job to communicate the benefits of social media to our superiors, and if we don’t, we run the risk of a failing business.

Hootsuite posted this article listing the benefits of using a social media strategy in business. This list is a good resource for when you have to communicate with your boss on why his business needs a Twitter account. Aside from those benefits, just having a social media presence in general will show you are working to stay relevant and (hopefully) engaged with your audience.

Staying relevant to your audience is deeply important, especially in this age where technology is changing nearly every week. A business won’t succeed if it doesn’t have its ear to the tracks listening for what its audience is up to. Social media will not only make you relevant, it will give you a tool to communicate with your audience and see what’s next.

So, next time your grandma leaves an obnoxious comment in all caps on your profile picture, don’t be upset. Instead, enjoy the fact that she is more on top of social media than many businesses are.

-Olivia