Sword and the Script

13 Statistics from an Inc. 500 Social Media Study

by Frank Strong

UMASS Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research is out with new research as part of its long standing study of business and its relationship with social media. The Center has been publishing research focused on either the Inc. 500 or the Fortune 500 since 2006.

I’m partial to the Center’s research because it includes some academic rigor – that is more or less absent an agenda. The current study focuses on the Inc. 500 and is a two-step methodology of reviewing use-cases and later conducting surveys by random sampling.

Key findings from the UMASS study Read More…

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Reflections: 5 Lessons Readers Taught Me in 2013

by Frank Strong

best posts 2013


I haven’t always published a “top posts of the year” on this blog, but Shift Communications recently published their “worst” posts of 2013 – a tactic I found to be a clever and transparent analysis – and it prompted me to have a look at the best and worst posts on this blog.

Generally I pour over the analytics on a mobile phone in those in-between moments, but it’s been a while since I took a comprehensive view in a proper web browser.  It was a very useful mental exercise and in reviewing data on the 130 or so posts published here in 2013, several things stood out for me.

Here are five lessons my readers taught me: Read More…

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Digital: The Gap between Importance and Performance

by Frank Strong

Digital Marketing: The Gap between Importance and Performance

Most marketers get their experience on the job. They don’t start as marketers, companies pay people to become marketers.

If marketers aren’t able to sleep at night, a study published by Adobe just might offer a reason why:  we know digital marketing is important, but we’re not very confident in our ability to execute it effectively.

Adobe has a number of products it would like to sell to marketers – so of course we’re lacking – but in all fairness the research is well grounded:  it surveyed 1,000 respondents using ResearchNow with 95% confidence and a margin of error at +/- 3%.

Some of the findings are at incredible odds:

  • Just 44% say their marketing departments have a great deal of influence over their organization’s overall business strategy and (surprise!) just 40% think their company’s marketing is effective. And 61% of all marketers think that, for most companies, digital marketing approaches are a constant cycle of trial and error (as opposed to tried and true). Read More…
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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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Six Creative Ideas for Blog Posts

by Frank Strong


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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Smart things: A blog building secret 13APR12

Hey, the Washington Nationals won their season opener yesterday with 3-2 victory with an extra-inning over the Cincinnati Reds. That’s got to be a good omen even if DC’s traffic is an everlasting nightmare. Nearby the Nat’s mascot waves the club’s flag as happy fans exited the stadium – this mascot doesn’t get the opportunity to do that often!

Returning from the game, the first season opener I’ve ever attended, I sat down to write this week’s smart things:

1.  A secret to building a blog.  Comments – as bloggers, we love them on our own posts, so it seems logical to build a blog, it’s important to comment on other blogs.  Ken Mueller wrote a fantastic post last week titled 6 Reasons You Should Comment on Other Blogs that explains why.  For example, his first reason is “you get to know other people” and that’s very true. There is a sense of a sub-community among people that comment regularly.  Ken’s enthusiasm also comes with guidelines such as, “don’t comment just to comment,” which is sage advice; save your comments for when you really have something to offer.  In the spirit of his post, there’s a lively discussion with great points in the comments on that post.  Smart thing:

But there’s one area of blogging and marketing that we tend to ignore: commenting. And I don’t necessarily mean the comments on our own blogs, thought that’s important. I’m talking about the importance of commenting on the blogs of others.

2.  Considering the source.  South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley was subject of a crisis recently; but the crisis was based on false information.  Unfortunately, several mainstream publications ran with the story without checking the veracity.  There are several worthwhile posts on the topic including Jeff Domansky’s summary and crisis analysis.  Toddi Gunter focused on the problem in a BlissPR post called, Consider the Source. The title is the point, but it applies to more than just reporters – in a world where infographics are created and shared without much scrutiny, I think Toddi’s words are guidelines for everyone.  Smart thing:

I believe it is more important than ever that the reader, whether it is a citizen journalist, professional journalist or the man on the street, think critically about the source of the information.

3. PR has a negative vibe?  EverythingPR’s Shanna Mallon posted a story this week on the industry that I thought was especially well researched called, Why Does the Word “PR” Put Out Such a Negative Vibe?  She lays out the foundation with references from Bernays to MJ Siegler and then asks, if PR has such a bad vibe, why does it work and why do people still use it.  Her entire post is worth a read, but I believe it boils down to something close to this smart thing:

“PR–finding people who genuinely like a product or service and getting them to talk about it. This type of publicity doesn’t come across as contrived; rather, people tend to trust it.

What smart things have you heard this week?

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:
Smart things: benevolence and fiascos 4.7.12

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Lessons from migrating from Blogger to WordPress

Though a relatively late bloomer to the blogging community, there are several reasons why I blog, one thing that stands out for me in hindsight is how important a decision it is to choose a blogging platform.  For this blog, my personal blog, this blog, I’ve used Blogger since my first post in 2009 but in the past couple weeks I’ve made the leap to WordPress.

Blogger is easy.  It’s simple.  It’ll allow you sound control over your blog’s style, theme and personality.   However, because it’s simple, it misses many of the new innovations a more professional platform offers.

Google simply hasn’t devoted the resources to keep Blogger current since it acquired the company in 2003.  For example, you cannot write custom URLs for your blog posts in Blogger.  It’s a simple feature, incredibly important for SEO, yet it hasn’t been rolled out.

I’ve considered migrating to WordPress for a long time and as I tip-toed to the edge, Google would announced new features that made me think they were turning it around. That made me pause. Read More…

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A post about most popular posts

most-popular-postsMost popular posts.  Some people love them and some people hate them.  I like them.  I’ve done my own as you can see:  Top 7 posts on Sword and the Script in 2010.

Why?  Here are three reasons:

a. Trends: I like to see what content resonated with other bloggers to identify trends.

b. Learning:  If a piece of content was popular, it might be for good reason.

c. Reflection:  Posts about top posts are like time lapse photography.  You can visualize events that unfolded over a long period in a very short time.

So here are 7 magic posts about most popular posts from bloggers I follow regularly:

1. The Future Buzz Most Popular Posts – 2010 Edition by @adamsinger  I liked #9 the best, even if bashing the word viral is going viral. Read More…

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