Jan 20, 2009

Did you know Obama is an Internet Marketer?

Did you know that 25% of all the people who voted for Barack Obama had already signed up to one of his sites or had become his friend in an online social networking group?

Obama extensively used all the same techniques I teach on my weekly live show and I believe it won him the election. I'm going to give you an inside look at exactly how Obama used Internet marketing to dominate politics & win the presidency.

Tune in TONIGHT to my weekly live online marketing show: It's live tonight at 6:30 PM Pacific Standard Time tonight (Tuesday).

Come by and say hi! Just go to: http://www.billmcintosh.tv/live

I'll be there answering live questions about online marketing. You should come by and ask me any questions that you have. I'll open up my call in lines during the show & take your questions. When I do, you can call 1-714-795-2504 to reach me live on the air. Later, this number will also forward through to my team during normal business hours.

A quick favor to ask:
If you are a fan of my live show and are on social networking sites like Twitter, Myspace or Facebook, please send an announcement out telling people about the show. I'd love to see a TON of viewers on tonight's show. Thanks!

I'll also be giving an update on my new social marketing tool:
TweetManager. It's currently in closed private beta testing now. I'll be giving an update on the status of the tool & handing out invites to start using it if you aren't already in. Just click this link when it's time: http://www.billmcintosh.tv/live I look forward to seeing you there!

All the best, Bill McIntosh
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Jan 15, 2009

Top 10 Blog Writing Tips

Written by Salwa from Blogriffic

With the ever-increasing popularity of the blogosphere, it can be hard to keep up with the competition. However, there are a few tips that can propel your blog to the top of the heap. Here are my top 10 blog writing tips.

1. Make it your own. This is the absolute number one item to remember if you want a loyal readership. Never claim someone else’s work as your own. Too often today we do a search for a specific article key phrase and half a dozen articles pop up that are exactly the same but attributed to different authors.

While there are many authors that will sell the same article with private label rights to anyone, it is usually not a good idea for a blogger. In order to draw a loyal following and gain your readers trust, you want a blog post that is unique, original, and all your own. You want your readers to come to you as the expert.

2. Write for your reader. Don’t write for yourself. While it is certainly easier to simply write about what you know, you also want to write what your reader wants to know. Take the time to do some research if your readers want information that you aren’t already familiar with. By venturing into areas that your readers are looking for, you will only make yourself a better writer.

You may also need to adjust your writing to your audience. Different blogs will have different levels of readers. If you are a mature adult writing for a childrens blog you will need to use a different type of writing. Adjust your writing for your readers or you will lose them.

3. Choose your niche. This can be a very fine line. While a wide niche may draw more readers initially, they will eventually move on when you blog about a topic they aren’t interested in.

Remember, a blogger can’t be everything to everyone.
In the same vein, you also don’t want to have too narrow of a focus or you will simply run out of things to post. You may also turn-away potential readers if you don’t broaden your niche.

4. Keep things simple. Don’t make things overly complicated. You want your blog to be easy to navigate and easy to find. Don’t clutter it up with ads or overused sales gimmicks. Provide the information your readers are looking for and that they will find valuable. Don’t clutter your sidebar with icons or overly long blogrolls. Use a simple color scheme and avoid large graphics. Blogs are not websites and the two are distinctly different. Keep them separate and keep your blog simple.

5. Always respond. Respond to comments and questions as soon as possible. Even if you disagree with a comment post a response. This is the essence of blogging. Free exchange. Not everyone will agree with your views but, if they take the time to disagree, you must take the time to respond.

You must also make sure you answer any questions that are posted. Your reader would not have taken the time to ask the question if they didn’t expect an answer. If you don’t know the answer, say so. Do some research and then respond but don’t simply ignore the question.

6. Use a personal touch in your writing. You will gain a loyal readership by adding that personal touch. Blog readers will come to see you as a trusted friend. They will be able to identify with you if you chat with them as a friend would. A personal touch doesn’t mean to “get personal” it simply means that you don’t need to be too formal with your readers. Formality is not needed when writing blog posts. This can be difficult for some writers who have been formally trained and work hard to ensure there are no grammatical errors in their writing but it is important to present your own personal touch.

7. Check out other blogs. Spend almost as much time reading other blogs as you do writing your own. Don’t be afraid to mention them in your postings and don’t be afraid to present your own counterpoint to someone else’s blog post. This is a great way to get links and trackbacks for your own blog.

See what is working (and not working) for others. Expand upon their success by adding more value to your own blog. Discover what is missing on other blogs and make sure you don’t make the same mistakes. Blog writing is a continuous learning experience. Don’t ever stop learning.

8. Blogging is about writing. Remember that blogging is not about sales. Don’t use your blog simply as a self-promotion tool. It is about providing information and value to your readers. Don’t worry about graphics and logos and ads. Use the written word effectively and you will have an effective blog.

You must also remember that blogs are short. Don’t waste words. Make sure each word is necessary and that you get your point across succinctly. If your words don’t relate to your topic and add value to it then leave them out. Readers don’t care if you’re late for work and haven’t eaten breakfast.

9. Have a clear priority. Don’t try to cover too many topics in one post. If you have twenty things you want to write about, don’t try to cover them all in one post. It is usually acceptable to write about two or three related topics if they fit nicely together but more will simply create confusion. Blog posts are short and to the point. Save those twenty topics for other posts. Twenty topics should give you between ten and twenty posts. You may even find that one topic is broad enough to provide you with the content for several posts.

10. Clean up your old posts. Your blog writing will inevitably improve as you gain experience. As you become a better writer, go back over your original posts and clean them up. In addition to improving the post, a refresh may bring new life to it and bring you increased traffic

Jan 7, 2009

Why should Video Marketing Be Included In Your Marketing Mix?

Why should Video Marketing be included in your marketing mix?

Online video is one of the best venues to engage an audience - don't even think about excluding it! This new medium allows the video creator to communicate a message on multiple levels - via visual imagery, the spoken word, music and visual text. It may sound like a commercial for a Montessori school - but this is the way people learn, and consequently, the way legendary brands are created. As a case in point, think of traditional internet marketing; when was the last time that a paid search listing or banner ad raised your blood pressure or induced you to forward something to a friend? Get the point?

With online video you can also reach a huge audience for a minimal investment, thus the ROI of online video marketing can be astounding. Consider that according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau; more than 50% of the US population will watch video online next year. That's 155.2 million people, and we're just talking the US! Increasingly, people are watching a lot of video as well.

According to comScore, Americans watched 9 billion online videos just in the month of July.
Like everything else, there is no "free lunch" - the video-sharing sites don't charge to host your content, but getting your target audience to watch and forward your video is no easy feat. That's where we come in. Since we are tracking videos across the major video-sharing and social networking sites, we know a thing or two about what works and what doesn't.

"Secret Formula" - .50C + .15M + .20T + .15P = Success
Alright, we admit that an exact formula may be a bit over simplistic, but when it comes to deciding how to allocate time and resources on a video intended on marketing something virally, the weighting of these four components should follow closely to something like this: That's it. Write down the formula above on a cocktail napkin and you have the code cracker for getting people to watch and forward your video. The formula above says that creating a video is a weighted function of four components:

50% C = Content and Production - this is storyline, style lightning, production, etc.

15% M = Metadata - the text title, keywords, descriptions, and categories that help people find your video

20% T = Thumbnail - the packaging which draws people in when displayed on the page15% P = promotion - just good old fashioned marketingThese aspects help communicate your message far and wide in a way that makes an emotional connection with the viewers in a way that motivates them to pass it along to others. Now we will dive into each component of the secret video marketing formula.

Content and Production - (.5C)
We know now that 50% of creating a great viral video is about content and production. The goal in this stage is to create something remarkable, literally, something that causes people to remark - and in doing so to effectively convey your message. We've noticed that certain categories tend to garner the interest of large audiences. Regardless of your message, utilizing a proven content category to package your message is a good way to spread your message wide and far.

The remarkable comes in many shapes and sizes:
Humor - everyone loves a laugh, but many of us like to make others laugh as well; this is what makes comedic videos so viral.

Avant-garde videos - videos that push the boundaries of what is acceptable can be incredibly viral - especially since this content never makes it to network TV. But be careful not to damage your brand and to obey by the terms and conditions of the respective video-sharing sites.

Talent - true talent is rare and fascinating. If you can showcase true talent people will forward your video.

Celebrities - we are fascinated with celebrities, and any videos featuring a celebrity are very viral, in part because there are hundreds of websites that follow celebrities and will embed these videos. Beyond virality, celebrities endorsements have a powerful influence on decision making.

Kitsch - don't kill the messenger, but a remarkable number of the most popular videos we are tracking also contain one or more of the following qualities:

Special effects - the Ray Ban sunglass catching video is a great example. In general, any video that generates debate generates viewers

Animal/pet tricks - man is drawn to animals just as he is to fire… it's hard to explain, but it seems to have to do with primitive wiring in the brain

Cute kids - one of the draws of online video is that real people capture real moments, and nothing is as straightforward as a child just being herself

Repetitive, catchy music - certainly not a new concept, but with infinite channels come many more opportunities to put up the experimental jingle

Physical injury - thank goodness it's not me!

Pranks - thank goodness it's not me!

Spoofs - ride the coattails of the tried and true

And of course, sex always sells

The trick, as with any marketing effort, is to both be remarkable AND communicate your message. Use the right package to make your video a hit, but don't create a vehicle without passengers. Make sure the content is doing what it supposed to do. In the online video community, discussions around production are typically in reference to video quality - as it relates to camera, sound, compression, and editing. Some believe that higher production quality is an important component in gaining popularity for ones online videos, while others believe that the popularity of the medium is authenticity, and that lower quality video has a genuine nature that gets lost with higher quality.

Given the plethora of widely seen videos over the internet, this concept of quality hasn't seemed to correlate with audience size or popularity. One thing is for certain: high quality human components of production, such as shooting and editing, make any video more watchable. Paying attention to lighting, framing the shot, and crisp editing is not only more pleasant, it's often required to make the picture viewable in a small window and on sites with file size restrictions.

Bottom line: choose production components that fit with your message, content, and intended audience.

Some great resources for tips on video production can be found at such sites as:
http://videomaker.comhttp://studio.metacafe.com/ (along with many of the sharing sites)http://ourmedia.org/learning-center/videohttp://www.theshirtlessapprentice.comhttp://www.digitalvideosolutions.com/

Metadata (.15M)
Each video-sharing site let's you create "tags," which are words that describe your video. These tags, along with the title and description of the video, are the basis for how your video is located by end users on video-sharing sites like YouTube. This is a simple concept, so it's remarkable that so many content creators screw it up.

Good use of metadata for video has recently become a requirement. Search engine optimization and search engine marketing used to be the realm of text only, but with search engines like Google and Ask adding video to their search results ("Universal" and "3-D" search, respectively), optimizing the metadata around your videos is increasingly important. This means creating rich and relevant video titles, descriptions and tags.

There are only a few specifics that you need to know about tags. First, max out the tags, title and description for every site. The more metadata describing your video, the more likely someone is to find your video. It's surprising to see so many uploaders let so much opportunity go to waste by adding few or non-descript tags. Second, your tags, and particularly the category you choose, should be relevant to your video. We have seen video creators go from little viewership to becoming regularly featured producers simply through a better choice of category.

If you are hosting a video on your own site, the same rules apply. But in such a case, be sure to create a relevant file name for your video. It is also advisable to have just one video per page with a simple text title and description place near the video itself. It's important to keep in mind that most videos are watched in social networking sites, blogs and content sites - not video sharing sites. This means that while you may post your video to YouTube or MetaCafe, many of the views are a result of people embedding that video into another site. The implication is that your video should be hosted on both your website and the video sharing sites for maximum exposure.

One more hint on tags - the TubeMogul "Load and Track" tool shows you how your tags will look on each site as you are uploading videos, and soon will show you the most popular tags and video search terms to help you select appropriate metadata.

Promotion (.15P)
Videos that have relevant and rich tags and descriptions will be found and will be forwarded. But there is nothing wrong with supercharging this process, and this is where promotion comes into play. This is especially important as many video sites employ a "bubble up" methodology that promotes videos and content creators that receive the most views, subscribers, comments, ratings and forwards. Thus, then "bubble up" to the top of video sites and become even more popular. So in the video world, popularity begets more popularity.

Building a community is the single best method for promoting a video. This isn't an overnight process, but can be done by using the infrastructure of the various video-sharing and social networking sites. This means subscribing to people's videos and leaving creative comments so that people click on your profile.

Also, it's important (and fun) to befriend people and invite them to subscribe to your video channels. You can also join and be a meaningful contributor to various newsgroups and chat rooms. If you can pull off these things, you've just created your own set of groupies that will watch your content just because of the relationship, and this applies to both companies and individuals.

Yet another way to build community is to write an interesting blog and create a following, as well as responding to the blog posts of others. Also, you'll be surprised how open bloggers and category experts will be to plug your video in exchange for a "sneak peak" or an interview.

Also consider submitting your videos to other "Web 2.0" websites that employ voting systems to promote content. Some of the most popular sites are Digg, Reddit, Del.icio.us and StumbleUpon. As your video or article gains more votes, the video will attract even more attention and may even end up in a featured or "top 10" type category which can generate hundreds of thousands of views in a day.

Generally, deploying videos to multiple sites makes sense as different sites have different content niches and audiences. Essentially, each site represents a community opportunity that you can tap into. TubeMogul "Load and Track" is an easy tool to deploy to multiple sites at once.

Thumbnails (.20T)
The last component of our secret formula, and often the most overlooked, is the thumbnail. A thumbnail is the single image that represents your video. This is the image that someone will see before they decide whether or not to watch the video. If your thumbnail is bad it often doesn't matter if you got all of the other components of the formula right.

So what makes a good thumbnail? Typically thumbnails that are relevant and match the video title, description and tags are all you need. Beyond this, try to select the image that best captures the essence of your video. Unfortunately, each of the video-sharing sites has a different methodology for determining which frame will comprise the thumbnail. At one point, for example, YouTube used the frame that is in the very center of your video as the thumbnail, then they used 1:20 into the video, and now you have a choice of three frames. Other sites give you more options. It will pay off to invest the time to understand how the thumbnail is determined for every site where you deploy your video.

If you have any doubts about the power of thumbnails just check out this video on YouTube - http://youtube.com/watch?v=nhSZs-aAZbo. The video features a thumbnail of Britney Spears topless, but the viewer is soon disappointed to see that the video never delivers upon its promise. In fact, the video has no content, just two frames played over and over - this hasn't stopped close to 7 million people from watching the video!

There are thousands of successful commercial videos that have gone viral, but we thought we'd share with you a few of our favorites:
Nike - "Touch of Gold" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lsO6D1rwrKc

This video features Ronaldinho - one of the most famous footballers in the world. He is sitting on the practice field and all is quiet, when he is presented with a gold box containing a pair of gold Nikes. After putting on the shoes he goes on to hit the crossbar with a soccer ball four times without the ball ever hitting the ground. You find yourself wondering, "Did he really do that?" At the end, the url nikefootball.com is displayed - the message comes across loud and clear. As of 9/24/07 this video has been viewed closed to 17 million times on YouTube alone and continues to garner around 30,000 views daily.

Video characteristics: grainy quality, celebrity, special effects

Blendtec's "Will It Blend?" video series - www.willitblend.com

Think blenders can't be viral? Blendtec created a video show, complete with theme music and a host that feature their blenders pureeing everything from iPhones to Chuck Norris dolls. The videos are hilarious and definitely convey the message that Blendtec blenders are bad ass. While the videos are distributed on video-sharing sites, the company also built an entire website around the concept. As of 9/24/07 the videos have generated well over 30 million views! Think about what that would cost on network television.

Video characteristics: humor, special effects, integration with retail website, building community (they take requests of what to blend)

FrenchMaidTV's "How To Register A Domain" - www.frenchmaidtv.com

Think of the last trade show you attended - the most popular booth was probably the one seeded with scantily clad and beautiful women. Take that same concept, inject steroids, and you have FrenchMaidTV where sexy French maids demo products. In this video, the maids show us how to register a domain on GoDaddy. Beyond the obvious attraction, the videos are well produced and feature over the top humorous French accents and interesting story lines, reminiscence of an old Benny Hill comedy spoof.

Video characteristics: Sex sells, humor, pushes boundaries

SummaryOnline video is a powerful medium for marketing because of its engagement potential, SEO value, and measurement opportunities. There are specific steps one should take to maximize the chances of producing a wildly popular (and widely viewed) web video campaign, and specific tools to help manage those steps. Remember to choose content that is remarkable and incites an emotional connection with the viewer, recognize the value of metadata to help your videos get found and thumbnails to draw in viewers, and last, use the platforms at your disposal to build communities around your video messages. Online video is a powerful marketing tool if you use it to the fullest!

Talk soon,
Frank Tocco--Marketing Mentor
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