Sword and the Script

Why Google+ is a Better Place for Brands


Google+ for brands

Google+ is the #2 network according to eMarketer

by Frank Strong

“Google+ is like a gym,” began the Facebook status update. “Everyone joins it but only few use it. [sic]”

Lately, I’ve noticed people that make such broad statements have weak or little activity on the social network, but there’s little doubt it has grown.

Recently eMarketer published a post with a headline that stated Google+ had topped Twitter as the #2 social network in a survey of 2,500 U.S. Internet users conducted in March 2013:

The site had the second-highest number of account holders among both men and women, leading Twitter by approximately 10 percentage points for both genders. – eMarketer

Google+ hasn’t existed long enough to reach toddler status, yet the critics have already marked it as a failure. It’s amazing, really, because if a startup social network gained such traction it would be a media darling. However, since it’s Google, the standards, vague as those might be, are set higher. Invariably, it always returns to a Facebook comparison.

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Two Marketing Vendors that Do a Bang Up Job with their Blogs


marketing vendor blogs

There’s only a couple of marketing vendor blogs that burn it up.

by Frank Strong

The challenge for a vendor selling tools to the marketing or PR space is that they’ve got to be experts.

Why is this such a challenge? This is because most vendors are technology companies first, which means they are people that may be good at writing code, but not necessarily great at marketing. It’s a law of nature that often gets overlooked by customers and prospective customers because the juxtaposition of tool and space is a powerful persuasive leap.

There are a dozen vendor blogs I read regularly — which means I check in on them about twice a week.  Of course, I manage a good old fashioned RSS reader (Netvibes is my preferred reader) so I’m continuously adding and removing vendor blogs to keep current. As of the moment, my list has vendors that make tools for blogging, SEO, email marketing, marketing automation, social media management, and a couple that pitch themselves as all-in-one.

Of this list, there are just two vendors that I think do a really bang up job with their blogs. Read More…

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Tapping White Space for Creative Blog Ideas


creative blog ideas

A handful of the audio books that are often the catalyst for creative ideas.

Everyone has their methods for coming up with blogging ideas — or in screwing up their blog strategy.

Some prefer a strict enforcement of an editorial calendar, while some prefer to simply wing it.  There’s a good case to be made on either side, but for me, what works best is a little of both:  dance like nobody’s watching and keep a running list of creative ideas.

That’s all fine and well, but the key is getting those ideas and the secret to that is to expose yourself to ideas:  reading, or better yet, listening.


A Shift in Information Consumption

There was a time when I devoured books…the printed kind. While I still keep many of them as references, my reading habits have largely shifted online.  Books are hard for me to get through these days, but I’ve discovered a little secret:  audio books and podcasts. Read More…

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The End of Free


The End of Free

The End of Free

by Frank Strong

Free.

It was a model championed by websites, let alone social networks, for nearly a decade. Offer a service for free, build the user base and then sell ads on the platform.

With the possibilities of the Net, Free was a disruptive model, that worked a bit like a forest fire:  it ignited, burned fast, but ultimately died of natural causes while also leaving fertile ground for new growth.

Napster arguablly set the conditions for .99 cent download on  iTunes. It costs us a $1.29 today. Perhaps $1.99 tomorrow.

“Ideas are the ultimate abundance commodity, which propagates at zero marginal cost,” wrote Chris Anderson in his book Free. Anderson was right.  But he was also wrong.  Free is a lifecycle. Read More…

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Spam Two Saturday: Louis Vuitton and What?


Spam Two Saturday

You will die if you try to consume spam like this. Photo credit: Flickr

I’m starting a new series about spam comments.  As this blog has grown, the bad PR pitches — from my peers I might add — has grown exponentially.  So too have the spam comments.

The difference? Spam emails are a hot button but spam comments are humor. Because spam comments are captured in Akismet I can review them at my leisure…when I need a chuckle.

Here’s the Spam Two Saturday: Read More…

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Autotweets Are Not Comparable to TV or Radio Ads


autotweets, schedule tweets

Photo credit: Flickr

There’s a debate over autotweets, or scheduled tweets during times of tragedy

This post kicked it off: Guy Kawasaki is too ‘popular’ to stop autotweets during Boston bombings. This post reinforced the point, with kinder language, but with words that bite: A Letter To Those Of You With 1,500 Twitter Followers Or Fewer.

And we’re off.  Knock down.  Drag out.  Online scrap.  It’s not productive.

The point of the post?

While the news about the tragic bombings at the Boston Marathon was just being broken, and for several hours afterwards, most companies shut down their promotional efforts on Twitter and other social media.

Most people and organizations rightly came to the conclusion that to continue to hawk their wares while a national tragedy was unfolding (and people were using Twitter to get and exchange news) was a little insensitive, to say the least.

Most brands stopped. And while I generally dislike the term “personal branding” because I believe within a company — that is a team environment — it is divisive  some people have become brands. In a company, this means there’s an inverse correlation between productivity and ego.   Read More…

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Three Observations the Morning After Tragedy


Thinking of Boston.

Thinking of Boston.

by Frank Strong

I first heard about it on Facebook.  A friend had posted this link to The Atlantic. Initially, the article simply had a couple lines of text and a few screenshots of tweets.  The site has since updated it to provide more complete coverage.

Senseless killing. Tragic. Incomprehensible.

My first reaction was: this is terrorism.  The last time we had a terrorist attack we went to war for a decade. In fact, we are still fighting it.  However, it’s worth noting, before 9/11, the predominant form of terrorism was from domestic lunatics, like the duo from Oklahoma City.

As of the time of this writing, no suspects have been identified and officials have simply said, they currently do not know. Read More…

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Six Creative Ideas for Blog Posts



by Frank Strong

Six-creative-blog-posts-ideas

The only thing boring about content may well be the creator.

That was the message in a post on Copyblogger with a subtitle that read, “There are no boring topics, only boring content creators.” Author Pratik Dholakiya next tackles the challenge of making coffee cups interesting.

It’s an idea reflective of Malcom Gladwell’s work, who is a prolific writer with the hairstyle of a genius. In his book, What the Dog Saw, Gladwell says the role of a gifted writer, or more specifically, a journalist, is to breath life into a topic and in essence  make the uninteresting…interesting.  Read More…

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Triberr: Blog Building for the Magic Middle


triberr, magic middle, blogging

Image credit: Triberr

by Frank Strong

Twitter and Facebook killed blogging because it took the conversation out of blogosphere and moved it to social networks. That’s Dino Dogan‘s thesis — and it is a founding thesis for Triberr.

He’s not alone in his thinking — it was an often repeated refrain a few years ago — and the demise of Google Reader has resurrected the “end of blogs” discussion.

Google Reader’s shut down is not the end of blogs — there are plenty of RSS alternatives caught the news tail. There’s nearly a dozen good alternatives and at least one, Feedly has scored nearly one-half million new users as a result.  That’s 500,000 vocal power users and Google’s golden opportunity to earn good will walking out the door. Read More…

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Marketing Ideas: A Different Approach to Social Advertising


Facebook Ads

Image: Screenshot of current Facebook Ads on the side of my stream.

by Frank Strong

Rants about Facebook advertisements are a dime a dozen  and Facebook might be introducing a way for users to pay to have them removed.  I’ve seen a lot of comments in social media flatly saying they’d never give Facebook money to remove ads — it does seem a bit like holding people hostage — but clearly there’s also a market for it.

“I understand the company needs to make money (and I WANT them to make money) but why not at least honor your customers by providing an option that allows us to stop being annoyed?” wrote Mark Schaefer in a post titled pointedly, Dear Facebook. Please let me pay you.  “Let us give you a few bucks a month to end the insanity.”

The image Mark used in his post suggests a subscription fee of $20 a month as a fair price. If even a fraction of Facebook’s billion users subscribed, it’s stock price just might get back to that $38 per share mark it had for a fleeting moment at its debut.  As for the possible push back from users, Facebook has the unenviable position of a double edged sword:  no matter what they do, somebody is going to get angry. Read More…

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