The Problem with Blogging

Fingers on keyboardThere's no point in beating around the bush. The main problem with blogs is that they're hard to maintain.

After the first few months, you begin to understand that like anything else, it's work. And not just a little bit of work. It's a lot of work.


I began blogging in 2007 and have been both a faithful and an unfaithful blogger in the time since. However two years of steady writing at a time is the most I've been able to accomplish before falling off the blog wagon.

Oh, there's tons of excuses. I've used them all. But once you stop writing on your blog, it's easier to stay stopped than it is to start again. I've probably spent more time thinking about NOT blogging than I have about what to write in the first place.

My most successful blog was my children's literature blog –Crazy4KidsBooks Upon reflection, I think the reason that blog was successful comes down to three things.

  • Clarity – I reviewed children's books. Just for the joy of it. Since things on the Internet never die, the blog is still there. The content is mostly book reviews with an occasional rant about funding school and public libraries. I was totally clear on the blog's purpose and function.
  • Community – Once I began, I was almost immediately welcomed into the community of children's literature bloggers. A wonderful ragtag group of teachers, parents, librarians, writers, illustrators, and folks from the publishing industry. And what's not to like about talking books with other readers and finding boxes of books on your doorstep each month?
  • Contribution – Although the most popular books might be reviewed on multiple blogs, there was an interesting lack of redundancy between children's book blogs. Each reviewer had their own interests and experience that colored their choice of titles. So together (at that time roughly 500 of us), we produced a large canon of book reviews and opinions that celebrated our love of good stories. They, of course, have continued to create wonderful content in my absence.

So, can I extrapolate anything useful from this experience and apply to my now third refresh of this marketing blog?

At this point I can tell you that being passionate about marketing or even about helping teachers and students is not enough to keep most people showing up at the keyboard for weeks, months, and years.

I think the three points above are actully key success criteria for any blog. It's not enough to love what you do.

It's about finding clarity, building community, and making a contribution.

In our world of educational publishing, being focused and clear about who our community is and how we can help them is the first requirement. What information do they need to accomplish their goals?

Building a community of people who resonate with what we have to share is another key ingredient. Learning and sharing with others is collegial and fun.

By helping educational companies share their customer stories, we contribute to the body of information called  'What Works' in education.

My goal continues to be helping educational companies tell their stories about changing the lives of teachers and students. In restarting this blog, I'm going to keep in mind the three lessons from above – finding clarity, building community, and making a contribution.

We'll see if I can beat my two-year blogging record by sharing successful marketing strategies with educational publishers and providers.

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3 Reasons to Use Twitter in Your Educational Marketing

twitterMost companies use Twitter the same way they use advertising – as a one-way communication blast. Although it is easy to set up and manage your Twitter account this way, it is limiting and off-putting to your target audience. They quickly see through your self-serving Tweets, and tune you out. Often, for good. If you think of your website as “information central” and your Twitter account as an “outpost,” gathering and sharing intelligence, then you’ve got the right idea.The three best ways to use Twitter in your marketing are:

 

  • Research
  • Building Awareness
  • Establishing Authority

You can think of research in this sense as keeping your ear to the ground. Educators are talking and sharing on Twitter. They share what’s happening in their classrooms and schools, what they think about education issues, and what they need help with. Twitter is a direct channel to the connected educator…the educator who is actively invested in learning how to be more effective by connecting with other educators across the country. Building a community of interest and awareness of your products is the goal on Twitter. It is not a direct sales channel. As you know, educators are particularly sensitive to marketing spiels. Once they determine you are more interested in selling your stuff than in helping them, they’re gone. They’ll pass right over you.

So, how do you build community and awareness without turning off educators?

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3 Ways to Optimize Your Investment of Time in Social Media

 

Time to go One of the biggest objections to launching a social media plan is concern about the investment of time and money.

Straightforward social media plans do not have to cost a lot of money. You can certainly spend a lot of money, but more expensive does not necessarily equate to more successful.

The largest component of any social media plan is time. Whether it’s your time, a team member’s time or a freelancer’s time, it takes time and lots of it.

There are a number of automation programs that can make social media more efficient: Hoot Suite, Hubspot, and Wildfire are three of the most popular. However, you don’t want to sacrifice engagement and building relationships for greater efficiency. Even the best automation plans require time spent on interaction with your community.

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Insights from ‘The Zen of Social Media Marketing’ Guru Shama Hyder Kabani-a Review

 

front cover of the zen of social media marketingRight at the outset in the book’s introduction, Kabani points out the primary difficulty marketers have with social media. Their challenge is that they’re trying to apply traditional marketing rules to what essentially is a platform outside their control.

Therein, lies the most important lesson for companies struggling to understand social media marketing. The balance of power has shifted to consumers. By the time you become aware of your prospect, your prospect has already acquired massive amounts of information about you. Through search, social media, and recommendations from friends and colleagues, the consumer researches you and your company before you get a chance to say the first word.

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The #1 Blogging Mistake and How to Fix It

Keyboard

It's easy to do. We're all so busy in "regular" times that when we hit "extraordinary" times, our too-full schedules quickly come unraveled.

I'm no different, which is why it's been since late May since my last blog post. I have perfectly good reasons. Most of us do. A family wedding, a funeral, a conference, travel, a summer cold and VOILA!! More than a month has passed without a blog post.

If I were one of my own clients, this is what I'd say:

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Do You Know the Difference Between Content Marketing v. Inbound Marketing?

content marketing-inbound marketingAs the terms "content marketing" and "inbound marketing" gain greater traction, it's important to note the ways they are the same and different from previous types of marketing and how they relate to each other.

Smart companies understand that everyone in their organization is in the customer service business and everyone helps market the business through their daily interactions with customers and prospects. So, the end goal of marketing has not changed. We are still in the business of connecting the right people with the right product or service.

While some of the basic units of effective marketing are the same, the strategy and process of getting to the end goal are a bit different. And of course, we're calling it something new.

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Content Marketing IS Real Writing

woman typing on keyboardAs long as I can remember, I've wanted to be a writer. From the time I knew what a writer was, I've wanted to be one. In those long ago days when I wanted to be able to create the kind of adventures I loved reading, I believed that a real writer was a fiction writer.

Turns out that a lot of people felt that you weren't a legitimate writer unless you wrote fiction. Aside from the fact that journalists routinely win Pulitzer prizes and some of the best writing in our culture is nonfiction such as biography, essays and memoir, there has always been a hierarchy of writers with fiction writers at the top of the pyramid.

And business or corporate writing? That was considered beneath notice of "real" writers. It was commercial – as if selling novels, newspapers and magazines were not?

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Case Study Must Haves for K-12 Solutions

 

students and school computersOne of the most common ways to demonstrate product efficacy or to tell a product story in the K-12 industry is through a case study or a customer success story. Case studies are an important component of your content marketing strategy in pushing out content of interest to your community of prospects.

While the general structure of a case study is basically the same across all industries, K-12 stories are usually quite compelling because they strike at the heart of two things our culture holds most dear – kids and education.

Case studies have a four-part basic structure:

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Why Content is the Secret Sauce in Your Marketing Mix

 

secret sauce for your marketing mixWhen developing a marketing mix for a new campaign, not only do we need to ensure that each channel's tactics complements the others, but they also need to stand on their own to move the prospect forward to the next step in the process.

Our marketing mix should include every available channel that makes sense for the product. We can choose from: direct marketing (including email, phone, print), search marketing, social media marketing, advertising, public relations and mobile marketing.

Different products require a different marketing mix, but no matter what channels we use, each should lead the prospect to the product website which is "brand central." It's there that we get to tell our story in detail and prove our authentic intention to help customers solve their problems.

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Grow Your Business with Online Professional Learning Communities

grow your businessK-12 educators receive encouragement from their school districts to seek out online professional development opportunities. There they can form professional learning communities (PLCs) or a professional learning network (PLN). While some districts provide direction and a platform, other districts encourage teachers, librarians and administrators to find and participate in a PLC of their own choosing.

Earlier this week I had the privilege of presenting a free webinar called “Growing Your Business with Online Communities,” for K-12 education publishers sponsored by edWeb.net, a professional social network for the education community, and MCH Strategic Data, an education data company.

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