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Friday, December 19, 2008

A Mack Collier Blog Review

What makes an effective blog? That's a question that Mack Collier addressed during the recent MarketingProfs Digital Mixer when he reviewed several blogs [including Flooring The Consumer].

Mack knows blogs. He reviews them regularly on The Viral Garden in his Company Blog Checkup Series. He also writes about effective blogging.

Here's what Mack looks for in a blog:

1. Blog Content
What kind of information does your blog offer readers? Is is of interest? Or is it just self-promotion? Effective blogs discuss issues of interest; they provide value to readers so readers will return regularly for more.

Look at Graco's Graco Blog content [Note: Graco attended BlogHer Business 2008: Social Media Outreach Programs.] Notice, too, the posting schedule [i.e., see #4 below].

Mack's article What Makes a Great Company Blog? offers more detail.

2. Comments and Are You Responding?
Good content engages readers. Engaged readers leave comments. Are you responding to those comments? The more you respond and interact with your readers, the greater the opportunity you have to create a community.

Look at Life of a Farm blog and its comments. They are personalized and full of detail [did you know that Llamas are effective against coyotes?]. Also, look at how HomeGoods' OpenHouse's bloggers handle comments [Note, too, how the multiple bloggers are individualized, the photos in the posts, and also the value-added elements in the sidebar - see #3 below].

Mack's article What Makes a Great Company Blog: Comments offers more detail.

3. Sidebar/visual elements
What you include in your sidebar communicates information about you to your readers - who you are, how serious you are about your blog, and how easy you and your blog are to interact with. What have you included in yours? Is there a photo of you? Is there information about who you are and how to reach you? This helps establish your trustworthiness. Do you offer the means to subscribe to your blog? And, then, do you offer your readers resources and recommendations?

Look at Patagonia's blog, The Cleanest Line, and its sidebar. Note the del.ici.ous links.

Mack's article What Makes a Great Company Blog: Sidebars offers more detail.

4. How often are you posting? Do you have a schedule?
The essence of a blog is regular updates. At least weekly and ideally more frequently. Keeping to a regular schedule creates a rhythm that readers identify with, encouraging them to visit your blog regularly in anticipation of updates.

Look at Kodak's A Thousand Words blog with excellent content and a Monday through Friday posting schedule.

Mack's article What Makes a Great Company Blog: Posting Schedule offers more detail.

I love that Mack referred to so many corporate blog examples. After all, these represent benchmarks for doing things the right way. Here are a few more that he mentioned [notice, too, how these are integrated into the corporate websites]:

+ Turkey Hill's Ice Cream Journal Blog

+ Southwest's Nuts About Southwest Blog [check out the Flickr group, the video blog, the news, the polls and the media center - suggestions that Mack brings up in Your Blog is Reallllllly Boring... to add spark.]

Mack's article Examples of Great Company Blogs offers a few more examples.

When it came to reviewing Flooring The Consumer, Mack suggested a regular series. To him I owe, then, the idea for Social Media Series: Bridging New & Old [only fitting that he should be my first guest!]

Read Mack's article Need More Blog Posts? Then Start a Series! for additional perspective.

Finally, read 10 Steps to Creating the Perfect Small Business Blog to put all of this into a 10 step framework.

What it boils down to is how do you create value for others? Which gets back to the points that Ann Handley made about how we connect with customers...

This blog review session did for me from a blog perspective what Paco Underhill does for me from a retail experience perspective: create a renewed sense of appreciation and awareness for the customer experience.

Thank you, Mack!

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Reminder: Please, no self-promotional or SPAM comments. Don't bother if you're simply trying to build inauthentic link juice. Finally, don't be anonymous: it's too hard to have a conversation. Thanks, CB

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