Archive for June, 2010

What Bloggers Should Consider in their Editorial Line


santa monica

Having a clear editorial line will save you time and headaches in determining what is right for your blog. And your content will be more cohesive once you set a clear direction.

As a bonus, doing this exercise can refine or fill holes in your niche since you will need to analyze what you do from different angles. The editorial line has impacts internally and externally. Therefore, it should cover your relationships with all parties. You will need to clearly define:

1. Who is your targeted audience. I put the targeted audience before the topics because your targeted audience will influence the forms of content that you will produce. Otherwise, you will not serve your audience properly.

2. What are the topics that you will cover and which forms your content will take. You must be thorough. Address the philosophy and the big picture, but also name specific topics, talk about the tone and the types of articles that you will produce.

Specify the length of your articles, the format (text, photos, videos), the frequency. If you have writers, what are the approval process for articles. Make sure to give a written copy of your editorial policy to your columnists.

3. How to manage your relationships with marketers and PR professionals. Do you accept samples or to attend events? Which samples will you accept? Do you always write about the samples you received or do you write only about the ones you like? Etc…

You should publish your policies regarding samples and invitations on your blog. This way, your readers and marketers are aware of how you work.

4. How to deal with advertisers. What is acceptable to you, and your readers? How do you protect your editorial from advertising? What form of advertisements are you looking for? How many ads per page will not undervalue your content? Do you accept contests and giveaways? Etc..

5. How do you fit Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare into the mix. Which content do you tweet or put on your Facebook page? What complementary content will you share? Under which circumstances do you tweet about a media event? Etc…

Your challenge will be to set clear and simple rules that are easy to understand and to follow. Then, each time that you write a story, that receive an invitation to a media event, or that you get a pitch, you simply check if they fit within your editorial line to take a decision.

How Restaurants Use Social Media to Boost their Sales


sweet flour bake shop twitter page

On Why Consumers Brands need to be on Twitter, I mentioned that being on Twitter enables the brand who listens and acts quickly to benefit from opportunities, to test on a small scale concepts or promotions, to pinpoint what people really care about and even, to tailor to a new niche.

When done right, running a blog and participating on Twitter and Facebook can do a lot for a business, regardless of their size. Mobile restaurants use Twitter to display their current location. Restaurants often use Twitter to share their daily specials. Some even let consumers order their take-out lunch via direct messaging on Twitter.

But their messages go beyond pushing their products. Take Kim Gans of Sweet Flour, for example. Kim Gans highlights her customers and show that she listened by offering more flavors gathered from customers’ requests. I read on The Hartman Group that before launching their mobile truck, Molly Moon asked their followers on Twitter for suggested routes. Molly Moon wanted to cater to new neighborhoods. Having the input of their loyal consumers helped them to determine the best locations for their business. In a sense, these retail businesses use their blog, Twitter and Facebook as a real-time focus group.

Typically, small business owners have been more successful than most big corporations when it comes to tapping into social media. You can argue that small businesses have an advantage when it comes to social media since they have face to face conversations with their consumers at their shop. Small businesses seem better equipped to connect online. You can attribute their success to:

  • First, small business owners are less afraid to be actively involved in social media.
  • Secondly, they are authentic in their conversations. Using plain language does not mean that you are not professional.
  • Third, a restaurant, bakery or caterer is more agile to implement the customers’ requests that they feel are right for their business. By doing so, they could build a more loyal customer base. Plus, if his/her suggested flavor is selected, the customer will probably spread the word.
  • Fourth, as a local business, they can take advantage of what is going on in their community. They use that knowledge on what is going on now to drive customers in on a timely manner.
  • Fifth, they often speak from the heart and show their passion.

Make sure to keep track of meaningful metrics. This is how you can assess the success of your social media presence over time. Link the metrics to achievable business goals. It may be evaluating the impacts on your brand’s awareness, your customer’s satisfaction, your progress in developing a new niche market, the effectiveness of your marketing message, and how does social media affects your bottom line.

I invite you to follow Media Sidekick on Twitter as I will share more best practices and good ways to use social media marketing.

+ Trend Alert: Street Food Gets Real on The Hatman Group blog
+ Sweeten sales with social media tools on The Financial Post
+ Discover how a subscription-based email marketing service filled a restaurant by reading Savings on menu of email campaign on The Financial Post

Niche Bloggers are Coaching Other Bloggers and Brands


grace bonney of design*sponge :: holly becker of decor8 :: liene stevens of think splendid

Successful bloggers accumulated a sought-after knowledge of social media. As a consultant, I advised big organizations about social media culture and worked on defining a good strategy for them.

More and more bloggers are capitalizing on their know-how. Design*Sponge is the latest design blogger who jumped into blog and business consulting services. Over the last couple of years, I have seen my share of lifestyle designers who launched training programs for like-minded bloggers. Here are a few good examples:

+ Holly Becker of Decor8 coached over 200 bloggers worldwide with her blogging and creativity workshop. Her Blogging Your Way e-courses aim to take to bloggers with some experience to the next level.

+ Blog Out Loud organizes social media events for inspiring creative people. Their sixth event was last Monday in New York City; read the recap of Blog Out Loud 6 here. Blog Out Loud is the idea of seasoned design bloggers, Megan Arquette of Beach Bungalow 8 and Rebecca Orlov of Loving.Living.Small. In April 2010, Rebecca launched Sweetline Agency, an online brand project management company that works with lifestyle companies to define, shape and build their online presences.

+ There is Liene Stevens who founded Think Splendid to provide social media consulting for the wedding and hospitality event industries. Her journey started with the Blue Orchid blog, the blog of her wedding planning company. She realized that the creative people that she was working with could get more insight in how to run a business and with marketing. To do her part, Liene launched the Smart Planner blog, which she then turns into blogging and social workshops for wedding professionals.

Each blogging sphere has its particularities. The same way that mass-advertising differs from niche marketing, it is important to know the general blogging rules but also to understand the specifics of your niche market.

Site Tracking is Now Free at comScore


comScore reports for publishers

Even if that news is a few weeks old, I want to make sure that you did not miss it. The reason is that it is a good news for serious bloggers and for media planners. Before this announcement, small publishers did not install the tagging system of comScore due to their excessive costs.

Typically, small publishers who sell direct can only afford to supply Google Analytics data or data from concurrents of comScore who were already offering free measurement reports. Some may argue that not having comScore data further put at a disadvantage small publishers who want to attract big advertisers since big publishers typically supply that data. I cannot tell you the validity of this assumption but one thing is sure: this news could level a level field of measurement.  I would need to get access to my comScore before I can tell you if it adds value for me, as a blogger.

How it works?

Tagging your pages enables comScore to compute a more accurate reading of your traffic. This is why it is a good news that comScore announced at TechCrunch’s Disrupt conference in New York City that it will provide for free tagging to all sites. comScore tagging means you put a code in each page of your site to track your traffic. Plus, start ups with less than 1 million unique visitors per month will get access to basic reporting features.

The free tagging program is in beta in the US right now.  It will launch globally this summer. The tagging setup cost used to be $5000, which is too much for most SMB and bloggers.

I read a good analysis of this news on eConsultancy.

Jeff Pulver's Interview at Webcom Montreal


jeff pulver interviewed by kim vallee at webcom montreal may 2010

I felt honored to interview Twitter expert and Internet investor Jeff Pulver at WebCom Montreal a couple weeks ago (May 2010). Sadly, we lost the live recording signal two minutes before the end. But Jeff gave us enough insight in the 6 minutes we have to provide a unique experience. Hearing Jeff Pulver is fascinating. His keynote session at the first ever WebTweet Montreal was a hit. It included moving and inspiring moments about the power of social media to make the world a better place and to help us achieve our dreams.

We talked about how social media changed the name of the game for brands, how the rules of engagement has changed and that they are never going back. This means, that companies need to adapt to this new reality. For people, social media provides them opportunities to enhance their professional and personal life. Just think about how average persons became influencers.

Jeff is working on a book titled The Connected Me, that I look forward to read. Thank Jeff for a wonderful interview that, I am sure, will inspire and give food for thought to everyone.

For Bloggers, By Bloggers! And Marketers are Invited


we can do it! poster designed by j.h. miller

Hi, I’m Kim Vallee, the founding editor of At Home with Kim Vallee and CEO of Media Sidekick. I am thrilled to launch the blog of Media Sidekick. This marks the start of a journey where we will explore together the present and the future of social media marketing. We aim to become THE reference in social media marketing on the B2C market.

Together with our Twitter account, this blog will share news and discuss opinions about social media marketing and what it means for bloggers and influencers.

Social media marketing / social advertising are new. We are still defining the rules of engagement. I believe that bloggers should have a say in defining the best practices. To make that happens, I feel that bloggers, PR professionals and B2C brands need a platform where they can bounce off ideas, educate each others on what is important for each parties, and learn from what is going on in the market. We want to do our little part in making that happened. I hope that you will stay tuned and participate in the discussions.

About Media Sidekick

Just a few quick words about us. We are a Montreal-based start up that runs in stealth mode at the moment. We are building Media Sidekick to be a new breed of ad network that goes beyond the traditional banners. We concentrate our efforts around the needs of lifestyle bloggers (design, living, food, hobbies, women and moms).

I’m an also the editor of On the Web with Kim Vallée, which is about social media for bloggers.

+ photo credit: We can do it! poster designed by J.Howard Miller