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I am very proud, a little surprised, and frankly a bit humbled: The BrandBuilder blog made Social Media Examiner’s 2011’s Top 10 list of social media blogs. Proud because I don’t often make Top 10 lists, and I think this is the second time I have made this one. Surprised because this blog isn’t devoted entirely to social media topics, and the competition was fierce: 300 Nominees, many of which attract a lot more readers and attention. Humbled, because some of the other nominees and finalists are pretty solid professionals. (I’d better start upping my game a bit.)

The other 9 to share the badge:

Brian Solis: Brian is one of the web’s leading social media evangelists and his blog is required reading for businesses. He’s interviewed Katie Couric, for crying outloud! Who does that? Katie interviews you, not the other way around. (Unless you’re Brian.) His latest book Engage is kind of a must-have for anyone working in the social business space. One of the smartest and nicest guys in the business too.

TopRank: This popular blog, the brainchild of Lee Odden, provides exceptional social media advice and should be one of your daily destinations.

Convince & Convert: Jay Baer’s Convince & Convert provides outstanding content for businesses seeking to embrace social media. Jay is a second-timer as well. The discussions on his blog are usually pretty rich in insights and opinions, which is always nice.

Six Pixels of Separation: Mitch Joel offers consistent and thought-provoking content delivered with personality.

Social Media Explorer: This blog, from Jason Falls, provides excellent perspective on the current state of social media and should be a regular stop for serious social media marketers. This is the second year Jason has made our list..

Spin Sucks: Gini Dietrich’s blog takes a look at social media from a PR perspective, and does so with intelligence, insight and refreshing common sense.

Danny Brown: Danny Brown writes the truth. His blog is one of my favorite reads in the internet.

The Anti-Social Media: For something completely unique, check out Jay Dolan’s satirical blog on the state of social media.

BrandSavant: This unique blog from Tom Webster combines a great intellect with with common sense, giving it an edge.

I want to thank the Academy… Wait, no. Wrong speech. It’s only Monday.

Now that I’ve had my 15 seconds of shameless self-congratulatory back-patting, let me suggest that you try to find the next batch of voices that will influence your business thinking and perspective on social media and social business. The 10 of us aren’t really the best of the web. There are others who write amazing stuff and do amazing work, and you should strive to discover them.

Let me give you four more blogs you might want to check out (I don’t want to overwhelm you by making the list too long):

Geoff Livingston’s blog

Maddie Grant’s blog (Social Fish)

Gradon Tripp’s blog

Valeria Maltoni’s blog

Happy reading, and thanks for dropping by.

Cheers,

Olivier

 

 

 

 

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You might be surprised to know that I don’t just read blogs and e-articles. I mean… I do. A lot. And below is a list of blogs I have been reading pretty religiously this summer, but I also read books. Real books. Sometimes in analog format (you know… paper, ink and whatnot) and sometimes in digital format via my Nook, which is quickly becoming my trusty companion on long trips and the occasional quiet morning on the beach. (At $149 now, it’s too good to pass up.)

So anyway, without further fanfare, in case you were wondering, here is what my summer reading list looks like:

Blogs (long):

http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/ by Jeremiah Owyang

http://www.livingstonbuzz.com/ by Geoff Livingston

http://www.conversationagent.com/ by Valeria Maltoni

http://www.brasstackthinking.com/ by Amber Naslund

http://aarongouldagency.com/blog/ by Scott Gould

Blogs (short):

http://www.chrisbrogan.com/ by Chris Brogan

http://sethgodin.typepad.com/ by Seth Godin

http://kriscolvin.com/ by Kris Colvin

http://3angelsmarketing.com/ by Karima-Catherine

I read lots of other blogs too, but these are the ones I am visiting most often lately.

Magazines (Print, not digital):

Esquire (UK), GQ (France) and Fast Company (US) – or as I call it, the triumvirate. When I can buy enhanced versions of all 3 on iPad, I’ll know that iPad is ready. Before then… Eh. We’ll see.

Here are links in case you want to subscribe:

http://www.gqmagazine.fr/magazine/http://www.esquire.co.uk/http://www.fastcompany.com/

Other occasional reads: Wired, Dwell, Men’s Health, Men’s Vogue, Inc., Runners’ World, Triathlete, GQ (US), National Geographic, ID.

News:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/

http://www.lemonde.fr/

http://www.lefigaro.fr/

I keep it simple. Other occasional sources of news (aside from radio and TV): CNN.com, Yahoo, Google.

Books (Print):

Business: Sally Hogshead’s Fascinate, Chris Brogan and Julien Smith’s Trust Agents, and Brian Halligan & Dharmesh Shah’s Inbound Marketing (They’ve been sitting on my desk for a while, waiting to be read. It’s time.)

Fiction: (see images below) Ben Kane’s The Forgotten Legion and The Silver Eagle.

Books (Nook):

William Napier’s Attila trilogy: Attila, The gathering of the Storm, and The Judgement (to be released)

Simon Scarrow’s continuing Eagles series: The Eagle’s Prey and The Eagle’s Prophecy (Not exactly literature, but pretty fun and relaxing beach or poolside reading. Scarrow does a pretty good job with this series. I’m a fan.)

Chuck Palahniuk’s Pygmy: Because a reading list without ChuckyP isn’t much of a reading list.

Mira Grant’s Feed: Zombies and bloggers. Need I say more?

Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games: I hear good things.

See? It isn’t all Marketing and Social Media, is it? (I spend all day working with business stuff, marketing, brand management, communications and Social Media, so when I unwind, I like to unplug from the work stuff and read well-written fiction that has nothing to do with twitter, facebook, customer retention and corporate communications.)

Though to be fair, there’s more to it than escapism: The Attila Series are solid leadership books, and so well written that they are already helping me become a better writer. Ben Kane’s stuff deals with the nature of the human spirit and is also superbly written. The rest, I don’t know yet, but I’m sure each book will inspire me to write a few dozen blog posts at least. And there’s something to be said for just turning off the TV, ungoogling yourself, and sitting down with a good book for a few hours.

I will probably be adding more books to this list, but that’s how it’s shaping up so far. Have a great summer of reading. 🙂

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Making a point about finding your voice

Making a point about finding your voice

Hi gang! Thanks a bunch to all who attended our first WordPress Workshop Thursday. It was pretty exciting to meet all of you and have a chance to help you get more out of your blogging – both from a technical perspective (Doug’s piece) and a strategic perspective (my piece). Sorry if we went a little over the scheduled time. There was a lot to cover in just two short hours. 🙂

For those of you who couldn’t attend, don’t fret: We will be putting together a web version of the workshop very soon.

I also really want to thank Bobby Rettew and View for taping the workshop, The Commerce Club for taking such great care of us, StudioPress for co-sponsoring the event, Jim O’Donnell for taking some of these photos and all of you who helped us promote the event. You guys all rock. It takes a lot of people working behind the scenes to actually pull off events like this one, and I am as ever very aware of that. 🙂

Here are some photos of the event:

Our superfly registration (with free parking vouchers)

Our superfly registration (with free parking vouchers)

Gil Gerretsen and Hank Merkle causing trouble again

Gil Gerretsen and Hank Merkle causing trouble again

@HaroAvo and @XYBrewer before I bored them to death

@HaroAvo and @XYBrewer before I bored them to death

Yes, I talka witha my handsa. It isn't just an Italian thing.

Yes, I talka witha my handsa. It isn't just an Italian thing.

Joel Van Dyke and Hank Merkle - up to no good, as always.

Joel Van Dyke and Hank Merkle - up to no good, as always.

Doug Cone (@nullvariable) talking about CSS

Doug Cone (@nullvariable) talking about CSS

Yapping

Rambling about random blogging nonsense, I am sure...

A few of the tables at Greenville's WordPress Workshop #1

A few of the tables. Check out all the hardware! We need more power sources.

Have a great Good Friday, everyone!

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register

Hi kids! So we’re just a couple of days from Greenville’s very first “Working With WordPress” spring workshop, and I thought now would be a pretty good time to go over a few reasons why you might want to consider attending our event (if you aren’t signed up already).

And assuming you are going to be in the 864 area code on Thursday 9 April, that is.

First, let me break down the event for you real quick:

Hour 1: Doug (@nullvariable on Twitter) will run you through the technical “how do I do XYZ” with WordPress. If you are a beginner and have absolutely no experience setting up a blog, Doug will teach you how to start a WordPress blog from scratch, how to use it, how to tweak it, etc. (It’s pretty simple when you have someone guiding you through each step, so it won’t take long.) Once that is done, Doug will show you how to use widgets and other tools to customize your WordPress blog and make it remarkable. That part of the workshop caters to beginners, intermediate and advanced users.

Hour 2: I will teach you how to create relevant content, build an audience, and turn your blog into whatever you want it to be – a business development tool, your very own online publication, an community hub, a multimedia journal, etc. (We’ll chat about what you want to accomplish with your blog and I will tailor my session to fit your specific needs.)

We will have lots of time for Q&A and one-on-one attention, so bring your laptops and as many questions as you want. 🙂

Okay. That was the what. Now let’s talk about the why. To that end, let me give you a few examples of who might benefit from attending our workshop:

Marketing Managers, Community Managers and Business Owners:

If your company, church, school or organization doesn’t have a blog yet, your website probably isn’t getting the traffic you would like. And chances are that you aren’t generating a whole lot of net new customers either. Adding a blog to your existing site creates a dynamic online presence that will enhance – maybe even revive  – your website. For starters, it will help you link up with industry peers AND connect with your customers in a way you haven’t before. We will cover more at WPgreenville, but that isn’t a bad start.

If you already have a blog but it isn’t getting the traffic or activity you hoped for, or it just doesn’t look or work the way you want it to, we will show you how to fix that as well.

People just looking to get the most out of their blog:

Maybe you’re completely new to blogging. Maybe you’ve dabbled but got stumped because you aren’t technically savvy when it comes to computers. Maybe you’ve mastered most of the technical pieces of the blogging puzzle but have no idea how to create content, find an audience or even get noticed by the people you are trying to reach. Whatever your stumbling blocks may be, we will identify and address them right there and then. You will walk away from the workshop with your questions answered and your problems solved.

Bloggers looking to tie their blog to all of their new social media destinations:

Okay, so now you have a blog, a Facebook page, a Myspace page, LinkedIn, Twitter, Plurk, Tumblr, Seesmic, Youtube, Skype, oovoo, 12 Seconds, Buzznet, PingFM, etc. How in the world do you tie all of these things together with your WordPress blog? We’ll show ya.

Professionals currently between jobs – or planning to find themselves there someday:

If you missed J.T. O’Donnell’s presentation in Greenville last week, here’s a nugget of insight for you: 1 out of 12 Americans is unemployed right now. That means that you are one little drop in an ocean of potential employees. Resumes are piling up in stacks, and statistically, chances are that yours won’t get noticed. (It’s just a numbers’ game.) How do you turn the odds of being discovered in your favor? Simple: Make yourself easier to find on the internets.

Fact: 4 out of 5 recruiters use Google to research applicants before inviting them to their first interview. Consider applicant A who has no internet presence to speak of vs. applicant B who has a well designed blog with interesting, smart, actionable content that is relevant to his/her line of work. Which of the two do you think will be more appealing to an employer?

Having a well crafted blog filled with solid content can and will make you more attractive to future employers. We will show you exactly how to build your personal brand online, make yourselves search engine-friendly, and make sure you never stay out of work for very long.

Professionals wanting to further their new media skills:

Most professional courses cost a whole lot of money and don’t always give you skills you can take to work the next day… or take to your next job and actually do something with. How cool would it be for you to be the only person at your office who knows how to build a WordPress blog from scratch, make it do whatever you want, and then grow an audience where none existed before? Do you think that might be a worthwhile little notch on your belt? This workshop will accomplish just that.

That’s basically the jist. For full details about the event (when, where, etc.) go to www.wpgreenville.com.

The event only costs about $50 so you will definitely get your money’s worth. (Besides, it isn’t exactly being taught by chumps.) 😉

Oh, and as an extra little incentive, one lucky attendee will win a FREE  StudioPress theme (a $59.99 value)! Plus, all attendees will will receive a discount code for 25% off of any StudioPress theme on top of that. That’s a pretty sweet deal.

Be sure to register today and to pass this on to anyone in the 864 you think might find this valuable.

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J.T. O'Donnell speaking in Greenville, SC

J.T. O'Donnell speaking in Greenville, SC

Greenville, SC got a big treat today: Career expert JT O’Donnell was in town to speak at Linking The Upstate‘s inaugural event at the historic Westin Poinsett Hotel. Two words for you: Awe and some. I knew JT was pretty savvy when it comes to career advice, but I had no idea just how smart, engaging and approachable she was. If you guys aren’t familiar with her work yet, check out her website, her Careerealism blog, buy her book, and go ahead and start following Careerealism on twitter. And if you ever find yourself unhappy with your career or uncertain about your professional direction, do yourself a favor and reach out to her. You will look back on that email, tweet or phone call someday and realize it was one of the smartest things you ever did. Trust me on this.

By the way, if you missed it, you can check out some of the event’s coverage via Twitter hashtag #careerealism. Look for my avatar (ahem).

And as an aside, I have to give BIG kudos to Thomas Parry for launching Linking The Upstate so quickly… and so well. What a way to kick it off. Very well done. The group’s objective is to connect all of the 864’s business groups together (chambers of commerce, technology, HR, creative, networking, business groups, etc.) to leverage their collective economic, innovative and intellectual potential. A lofty and timely goal that I will definitely help support in the coming months.

Here are a few pictures from what turned out to be a pretty social day (even for me):

 

The pommes frites I ate

The pommes frites I ate

 

 

Thomas Parry, J.T. O'Donnell, Trey Pennington and Doug Cone at The Lazy Goat restaurant

Thomas Parry, J.T. O'Donnell, Trey Pennington and Doug Cone at The Lazy Goat restaurant

 

 

Yes, I take pictures of stuff I eat

Yes, I take pictures of stuff I eat

Thomas Parry at the Westin Poinsett Hotel introducing Linking The Upstate

Thomas Parry at the Westin Poinsett Hotel introducing Linking The Upstate

J.T. O'Donnell presenting at Greenville, SC's historic Westin Poinsett Hotel

J.T. O'Donnell presenting at Greenville, SC's historic Westin Poinsett Hotel

I don’t want to leave you guys with just photos and no takeways, so here are a few nuggets of information I grabbed from JT’s fantastic presentation:

 

 

4 out of 5 HR professionals will google an applicant BEFORE inviting them to interview. What will they find? (Hint: Have you googled yourself lately?)

The two worst things that can happen when a prospective employer googles you: 1. They find something embarrassing or not particularly positive (that may make them reconsider your application). 2. They find nothing at all. Lesson: Start managing your online presence better. Create a positive, professional, consistent and factual footprint for yourself online.

College students graduating this year will have an average of 9 different careers before they retire.

The average duration of a job in the US today  is only 18 months. (We are all glorified temps.)

Currently, 1 out of 12 Americans is either unemployed or underemployed.

Job boards are 60% down right now: The demand for jobs is so high that the volume of job applications via job boards is overwhelming HR departments. Result, they are turning to other sourcing methods to find quality applicants.

80% of open positions in the US are filled via referrals.

Whatever you may hear or believe, in this day and age, not having a blog and a presence on LinkedIn, FaceBook and Twitter can and will absolutely stall your career. (Management level folks.)

Tip: Don’t wait until you are unemployed to start building your networks. The sooner you start and the more you nurture them, the easier it will be for you to find your next gig when the axe finally falls. (Better yet, if you do this right, you will probably be recruited right out of your current job.)

Again: The easiest way to stand out from the crowd of people competing against you for your dream job is to have a well designed and solidly crafted blog. If you don’t have one yet, start. If you have one but it needs help, get help. (Incidentally, if you are in Greenville next week, we are putting together a WordPress Workshop specifically geared towards this. Check out www.wpgreenville.com to sign up.)

For more great advice, go check out the Careerealism blog and be sure to drop JT a note.

Have a great Friday, everyone. 😉

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Metal, by Olivier Blanchard 2008

In the spirit of Twitter’s Follow Friday, here is a list of blogs you should absolutely be reading if you enjoy what I write about here. All of these blogs touch on the topics of real marketing, smart business and inspired design.

1. Bloghound

Beeline Labs’ Lois Kelly has a blog, and it rocks. Not as flashy as some of the other A and B+ listers you probably already follow, but Lois is just brilliant. (And she keeps her posts short, which is something I always find awe-inspiring.)

2. A Clear Eye

Tom Asacker needs to get more face time withyou guys. The guy is brilliant and his book (A Little Less Conversation) is a must-read. If you aren’t familiar with Tom’s work, get acquainted. (And add his book to your library.)

3. Marenated

Yeah, I know Maren Hogan is a recruiter and not a marketing blogger. I don’t care. And maybe that’s the point: Here is a blogger (a vlogger, even) who uses blogs, Twitter, Seesmic and a pretty impressive toolbox of social media tools, refreshing honesty and fantastic insights to turn her industry upside down – for the greater good. Start reading her blog, follow her on Twitter, and connect with her via video on Seesmic.

4. The Altimeter

While everyone else is talking about where Social Media is today, Charlene Li already has her eye on the medium’s next evolution (or two). If you are getting a little tired of the same old discussions, check out Charlene’s take on where this is all going and what companies in the enterprise space are doing to engage with their customers. This is Social Media for grown ups. You know… with real data and stuff. (Yeah, your boss may actually like what she has to say.)

5. Change This!

These guys basically put together manifestos, all worth printing and leaving on people’s desks after hours, when no one is around. Shhhhh… Be vewy quiet. Changing the world one cubicle prisoner at a time can be dangerous business.

6. Piaras Kelly PR

If you’re a PR professional working in the US, up your game by seeing how the PR game is played in Europe. I have two words for you: Edelman Ireland. Need I say more? Seriously. Add Piaras’ blog to your daily read and I guarantee your PR game will go from zero to hero in just a few months.

7. Sonny Gill

If you aren’t already following Sonny, I’m worried about you. (Sonny is one of the freshest and sharpest minds in the Marketing  and Social Media strategery worlds today.) And by the way, Sonny may be interviewing new employers soon, so if you want t have a shot at him, get in line while he is still considering his options.

8. Conversation Agent

Valeria Maltoni isn’t just cool, brilliant and obsessed about this stuff, she also has gravitas. (Inside joke.) Seriously though, Conversation Agent is a must read.

9. Altitude Branding

Amber Naslund may not be as much of a household name as Dave Armano, John Moore, Beth Harte, Francois Gossieaux, Jackie Huba, Mack Collier or Chris Brogan (yet) but her insights are no less indispensible to your professional growth. Look… If I had to put together a marketing advisory board, Amber would be one of the first people I would try to recruit for it. Read her stuff.

10. Living Brands

Okay, this one is kind of a wild card… but that’s the point. I wanted to mix some important but predictable choices with a few blogs that might be completely off your radar. Living Brands should be the latter. It’s good stuff. Check it out.

Okay, I am still sick today, so I’ll leave it at that. Have a terrific Friday, everyone. 🙂

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Congrats on your new gig, Mark. 🙂

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For all the press – good and bad – about blogs and bloggers (Is there really value to blogs? Is it just all a bunch of noise? Do people really care what you and I think? Is there really value in starting and supporting “conversations?”), it is worth mentioning that blogs have played their part in enriching (dare I say enhancing) our private, social and professional lives. How? Blogsessive’s Alex Cristache gets us started with these five simple yet noteworthy contributions:

1. Blogs gave us back reading:

In a world of television shows, Hollywood movies, adverts, gaming and cheap entertainment, blogging gave back “reading” to people.

Sure, some of us never gave up on reading. Some of us still devour literature, but I’m sure you’ll agree that less and less people still do that. Most reading we do these days is magazines and newspapers, and even those are affected by the low interest in the actual concept of reading.

Even so, blogging stepped in at the right moment, offering a wide range of topics, opinions and voices. Nowadays, we follow hundreds of blogs daily, read enormous amounts of text blocks and continue to train our reading skills.

2. Blogs gave us back writing:

Most of us gave up creative writing back when we finished school, no matter how far we went. With blogging, we (re)discovered skills and interests long forgotten. First, a bit shy, but more concise, meaningful and powerful with each post published.

Sure, we can’t compare to Tolstoy, Voltaire or even modern authors like Stephen King, but we do it.

3. Blogs gave us back thinking:

We’re so caught up in our little “nine to five” worlds that sometimes we even forget to “think”. We’re so caught up in labor that we forget how it is to work. Each morning, the subways are filled with apathy, with people showing little interest in everything else but their own little lives.

Blogging changed that. Blogging gave us back “thinking”. We read and write opinion posts. We’re concerned about our economy, our political system, our finances and ways to improve our status, the global warming, war in the Middle-East and much more. Blogging took as from robots to thinkers.

4. Blogs gave us back evolution:

n a world of huge unemployment rates we’re bound to find success stories in the blogosphere. People that have evolved from zero to hero through their new found passion for blogging. Take Darren Rowse’s evolution for example. When he started blogging, back in 2002, he was a simple part-time minister and casual laborer. His continuous blogging efforts made Darren one of the most notorious bloggers ever, with people only aspiring to his status.

5. Blogs gave us back empathy:

Some would say it sounds cheesy, but that’s what blogging did. We’ve opened up our knowledge for people allover the world to experiment and learn. We listen. We hear about problems and offer solutions. We promote charitable actions. We offer prizes. We understand and help.

And that, my friends, makes us better people.

Read the entire post here.

I have to agree with Alex for the most part. I had just about given up reading by the time the world of blogs came knocking on my door. Reading for fun, that is, or rather reading for myself. Spend enough time reading studies, reports, marketing copy, emails and memos all day, and the last thing you want to do when you get home is crack a book or a newspaper. The occasional magazine (mostly Fast Company, Inc., ID and Dwell) passed through my streams of consciousness, but I certainly had gotten very far from my pre-workforce book-devouring days. Blogging gave me back the convenience and reasons to read volumes on a quasi-daily basis. Added bonus: The blogs I follow and continue to discover have made me much more knowledgeable about Marketing, business, politics, and current events than I ever would have been without them.

Same with writing: Spend 8-10 hours a day writing emails, reports, memos, copy, business plans and proposals, and you aren’t likely to invest what little free time you have writing for yourself. (Big problem for a guy like me who obviously needs an outlet when it comes to the written word.) Sure, writing short stories and working on a half dozen book ideas is nice, but being able to write what essentially consists of a daily column on topics that I am passionate about is pretty amazing. Blogging gave me the opportunity to create the brandbuilder blog, and the rest, as they say, is history. Now I couldn’t imagine my life without this outlet/platform. What would I do with all these words? They would just accumulate in my head… and then what? Scary. Added bonus: Believe it or not, writing about something daily (mostly on the fly) has made me a better writer AND (don’t laugh) helped me shorten my average word count. (If you think this is bad, you should have met me six years ago. Zola and Hugo have nothing on me.)

The thinking thing: The more you read, the more you think about things you normally wouldn’t think about. It isn’t to say I wasn’t already thinking about how broken or misunderstood Marketing is in so many companies, but reading so many different points of view every day sure made me think about the problem a lot more, and more importantly, helped me think a lot more about ways to correct that problem.

The evolution and empathy thing… Eh. Not my experience, but it doesn’t mean those last two points aren’t valid. I’ll let you guys decide how relevant they are to your world.

If anything, I would add a few more:

6. Blogs gave us the ability to create and build communities regardless of geography:

Think about how many people you interact with through blogs. How many peers, thought leaders, and collaborators have you met through blogs (or continued to engage with thanks to blogs)? Most of the members of Marketing profs, Corante and Marketing 2.0 don’t work in the same office building. They’re scattered all around the globe, yet here they are, starting and participating in conversations, sharing experiences, dispensing with advice and insight through this very convenient medium. I probably would have never met Spike Jones, Evan Tishuk, Bear Gautsch, Francois Gossieaux or John Moore had it not been for blogs. I would have never been involved with WOMMA or Corante or Marketing 2.0. Blogs help us connect on a level that no other tool or medium before the advent of blogging came close to.

7. Blogs gave us back the channels:

Before blogs, the only channels open to anyone with an opinion and a desire to help professionals in our industry grow and help improve things were through traditional media platforms: Publishing, TV, radio and industry events. Now, anyone who has something valuable to contribute can do so and be heard. It’s a beautiful thing. Even if you only appeal to a handful of people, that’s pretty wonderful. (Don’t knock the niche. It isn’t always about volume.) 😉

8. Blogs gave us better, faster, more complete journalism:

Sure, you have to take citizen journalism with a grain of salt, but when you incorporate unfiltered eyewitness accounts and videos with the fact-checking litmus test of professional journalism, you have something pretty powerful: 1. As news media become more and more meshed with the corporate entities that own and manage them, street-level journalism helps keep them professional. News items are less likely to be ignored or brushed off. Context is more difficult to tweak. Bloggers help keep news organizations aggressive and honest. 2. If an earthquake rocks Tokyo, I know it within minutes. CNN may not report it for at least an hour. (This actually happened a few months ago: Instant news on Twitter and Buzznet. 49 minutes on the clock before CNN posted the news on its website.)

Update: From Amanda Chapel via Twitter – ““Citizen Journalism is the bastard child of subjectivity in a post post modern world of misinformation.”

Update: Follow the conversation here. (Excellent opinion piece by Jay Rosen)

Update: 9. (Suggested by Patrick) Blogs gave us back accountability:

Whether personal or corporate, accountability wasn’t necessarily front and center of everyone’s M.O. before conversations found a home online. If you had a lousy experience with a car rental company or a restaurant, you were likely to tell a few people in your immediate circle, but that was about it. Impact: Virtually zero. Now that a single blogger (or networks of bloggers) can reach tens of thousands of people, negative/bland/disappointing brand experiences can’t be brushed aside as easily by throwing more messaging at the traditional media channels. With one influential blogger’s bad experience being able to ruin your whole day, smart companies have to a) up their customer satisfaction game a bit, and b) monitor their brand equity in blogtown a little more proactively. Accountability is back.

So what do you think? What other contributions could you add to the list?

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Don’t call it a comeback
I been here for years
Rockin my peers and puttin suckas in fear…

“Mama Said Knock You Out” – LL Cool J

As I’ve already lamented, moving the brandbuilder from blogspot to wordpress several months ago effectively destroyed its search engine relevance: Years of hyperlinks, trackbacks and traffic were left behind at the old url, and the brandbuilder’s new web address essentially rolled the odometer back to zero. The impact on my readership wasn’t too bad – you guys quickly found your way to the new URL and RSS, and daily visits went back to normal after a few short weeks – but solid daily traffic alone can’t rebuild my technorati and other search engine relevance overnight. It’s going to take time to get back to the various Marketing blog rankings put forth by Technorati, Viral Garden, Power 150, etc. I am just going to have to be patient and let technology do its thing. Grrrr.

That being said, Buzz Canuck‘s Sean Moffitt may just have tossed the (new) BrandBuilder blog its first bone by including me in his Ryder Cup of Word-of-Mouth, Buzz, and Viral dream team:

With the advent of golf’s best entertainment showcase about to take place, I thought I would provide the WOM version of the famed Ryder Cup tournament.

Why not pit the top 36 bloggers from the USA that speak on the subject of word of mouth, viral, buzz, influence and the engaging brand against the top 36 international bloggers that muse on the same subject?

Unlike some of the social media- and tech dedicated marketing and media bloggers, these broad-minded bloggers and company heads (below) have distinguished themselves by helping visitors understand how ideas spread, online and offline, through a range of different strategies and tactics and each recognizes the importance of having brands getting noticed, talked about and advocated in a 2.0 world. In my opinion, they are much closer to explaining the purpose and benefits of a range of new media, web 2.0, co-creation, social networks and other web, cultural and social phenomenon.

For my social media appetite, they are also among the best at understanding the art and science of buzz, not getting too hung up on the Silicon Valley gossip, the backslapping self-promotion (with the race exception), the technology minutiae, the journalistic ethic or political meaning behind peer-generated ideas, content and advocacy.

To my knowledge, no one has yet built the all star list of word of mouth savvy blogs – too often our best are muddled with overarching marketing categories (The Power 150) or not fully descriptive, catch-all social media lists. So here is my list, I’ve visited and read them all – my apologies to some of the non-english speaking International squad (there are limits to my comprehension even with pictures) and to some inevitable oversights.

To see my name next to such industry thought leaders like Jackie Huba and Ben McConnell, Andy Sernovitz, Sam Decker, Joseph Jaffe, John Moore, Mack Collier, Tom Asacker, Corante and Marketing 2.0’s very own Francois Gossieaux, and fellow Greenville resident and favorite sparring partner Spike Jones – to name but a few – is pretty humbling. I am very honored.

Check the whole list here. It’s pretty solid.

Segue:Imagine what would happen if you put us all in one room? Seriously. One firm. One think tank. One agency. All of us there. We could be like The Justice League of the Marketing world. Scary.

I definitely raise my glass to Sean Moffitt’s 100% non-scientific method for generating the list. Well played, sir. Well played. Thanks for marking the start of my return to “the lists.” (The check’s in the mail, buddy.)

Have a great, internet fame filled day, everyone! 😉

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Also present at this weekend’s National Cycling Championships were a few of my favorite bloggers:

Below, Greenville’s very own James T:

And Andy Woolard at the Hincapie Sportswear party and fashion show (left of frame just a few feet behind George, probably posting to Twitter):

I’ll even throw in H3O – even though they aren’t bloggers. They are, however, a sports marketing/branding firm, so I guess they’re relevant here. AND they were EVERYWHERE filming my every move!!! (Or maybe I just got in their way a lot. Whatever floats my boat.):

And last but not least: BikeHugger‘s crew… which I didn’t shoot photos of because by the time I ran into them, a) the Canon was safely retired for the evening and b) my camera hand was busy holding a chilled glass of delicious yet suspiciously tangy… lemonade. Very cool group of folks. 🙂

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*Sigh.* As of today, the brandbuilder’s Power 150 (Ad Age) ranking has dropped to 203rd.

To make matters worse, that ranking still links to the brandbuilder blog’s old URL (at blogspot). This brandbuilder blog (wordpress) is nowhere near the Power 150’s radar.

Same blog, new url: All the difference in the world.

I guess the brandbuilder’s Power 150, technorati and Viral Garden rankings shouldn’t matter to me. It isn’t that the content has become less relevant: Moving to wordpress essentially restarted the visitor and link clock to zero, that’s all. With time, things will get back to where they were. So yeah, I know I should just press on and not care…

It’s just that I’m not that friggin’ zen.

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From the very awesome Advergirl Blog – hat tip to Dave Armano’s fierce Twittering:

Question: What blogs and books do I read to stay on top of trends?

Well, I should say that ‘staying on top of trends’ is a pretty relative term these days. But, to stay somewhat aware of the cool stuff in my tiny area of addiction/interest, here are my top picks:

Blogs:

  • Adaptive Path
  • Advertising Age – CMO Strategy
  • Andrea Hill
  • B&A
  • Bokardo
  • ChangeThis Newsletter
  • Chief Marketer
  • Church of the Customer
  • Compete
  • Cowshed Productions
  • eBusiness.org
  • Emergence Marketing
  • Groundswell
  • Hill | Holliday
  • Hitwise Intelligence
  • Horse Pig Cow
  • How Advertising Spoiled Me
  • I Believe in Advertising
  • indexed
  • Jeremiah Owyang
  • Jeremiah Owyang
  • Joe Niedecken
  • Kelly Mooney
  • Logic+Emotion
  • Lynetter’s Online Dev Slides
  • Marketing Profs Daily Fix
  • Media Buyer Planner
  • Noah Brier
  • Own Your Identity
  • Paul Isakson
  • Pleasure and Pain
  • SAW a good idea
  • StickyFigure
  • The Brand Builder
  • Todd And
  • Tom Fishburne: Brand Camp
  • Trendwatching
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    Someone tried to school me in the difference between verbal/written expression and visual expression today, and I feel like I am a much better man for it. Yes, I have grown today, if not professionally or… physiologiclaly, maybe spiritually. It’s good to know that there are still brilliant, polite, thoughtful people out there who value the power of making positive connections and understand the importance of being cordial, positive, and friendly when reaching out to complete strangers.

    Ahem.

    So I was asked to remove an image from an earlier post this morning. The request came via an email threatening to take legal action against me. Ha.

    Yes, good morning to you too. I am doing great, thank you. Would you like some toast with your tea?

    Interesting thing, this blogging business. We’re so used to cutting and pasting people’s opinions that borrowing other people’s intellectual property has become almost a non-event: Find a passage you like or think is relevant, copy it, paste it, write a blog post around it, give the author credit and link back to his/her blog/book/website so readers can go there and find more good stuff, and voila. Finito.

    If you’re a true web 2.0 rennaissance man, you even send them a note to ask permission to use their words, but that is seldom done these days. Credit given and a link are usually all that is required. (Still, most of us do this with images even when we don’t with text out of some sense of duty or jurisprudence.)

    To date, I have not received an angry email from a blogger or author threatening me with a lawsuit because I quoted them on my blog, and for good reason.

    As a photographer, I understand the potential cash value of images. You can take a photograph and sell it. you own copyrights to it – or can share it with others at will. It’s a slippery business, but ultimately, someone owns every image that has ever been printed – very much like every written word can become someone’s property.

    The reality of it is that both photographs and prose are modes of expression. Both are protected by copyright provisions. Some people use words while others use images to express themselves, but the only difference is in the medium, not in the level of legal protection. Those of us who write for a living value our written work the way a photographer values their visual work. The medium may change, but the principle is the same.

    Yet here we are: Someone actually threatened to take legal action against me for having quoted them visually on the Brandbuilder. How sad.

    I promptly removed the image (which wasn’t that great to begin with) along with all associated credits and hyperlinks – and will replace it with another when I get a chance. Not because I am afraid of getting dragged into court, but because I have no want to give someone so stupid and arrogant any kind of exposure whatsoever. You don’t want to be featured on this blog, I won’t argue with you. Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out.

    What is funny about this whole little tangent is that a simple email politely asking me to remove the image would have sufficed. It would have still been silly, but whatever. At least the author wouldn’t have acted like a rude little child. My email asking for permission to use her image was not rude at all, as I recall.

    I have to wonder… would being polite really have killed her?

    So anyway, to the young lady who sent me that threatening email this morning, I have this to say: If you don’t want exposure, if you want people to discover your work, fine. Stick to submitting your stuff to any of the dozens of stock photo outfits that might be interested in buying it for mere pennies. (Not that they have, incidentally, since the email didn’t come from them.) Knock yourself out. But then don’t post your images on flickr and make them public. Jackass. And when someone asks for your permission to use an image, reply with a simple “no” if you don’t want them to.

    That being said, it is indeed your image, and you have every right to control how it is used and by whom. If you don’t want me to borrow it for a post and direct people to more of your work, that is your right. I won’t stand here and argue with you. It’s your life. Have at it.

    One thing you probably should know before I close this little monologue is this: Not only are you a crappy photographer who got lucky with one image, you’re also rude, and a complete moron.

    End of post.

    As always, go to the home page to leave comments.

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    This is the kind of stuff that makes my day. (Thanks, Todor.)

    Find out more about Bulgaria here.

    Note: www.NovaVizia.com is arguably Bulgaria‘s most popular management, business and professional development blog.

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    So it’stime to let the cat out of the bag. A few co-conspirators and I have been working on a little behind-the-scene project lately, and since it’s about to finally launch… well… I will let Steve Woodruff – the mastermind behind the entire operation tell you all about it:

    We’ve been working on something behind the scenes, and now it’s time to take the wraps off!

    Next Monday will be the official launch of BrandingWire, which will provide a monthly jolt of powerful branding creativity to the marketing community. Read on to learn more…

    What is BrandingWire? It’s a collaboration of high-profile branding and marketing pundits, who are banding together to tackle branding challenges and topics on a regular basis. We’ll take on one theme per month, and apply our combined creative energy to showcase how great branding gets done. We want to put forth Branding That Works!


    Who is BrandingWire? The team of marketing experts making up the charter membership of BrandingWire includes:

    Olivier Blanchard (that’s me!)
    Becky Carroll
    Derrick Daye
    Kevin Dugan
    Lewis Green
    Ann Handley
    Gavin Heaton
    Martin Jelsema
    Valeria Maltoni
    Drew McLellan
    Patrick Schaber
    Steve Woodruff

    As time goes on, we may invite other pundits to join our posse. It’s like herding cats just getting the “dazzling dozen” above on the same page! Just joking – there has been a sweet sense of unity of purpose and mutual deference, even in the midst of spirited discussion and (at times) diverging opinions. Exactly what you’d expect from a great group of collaborators, who are no slouches at their craft!

    In fact, our first branding challenge was BrandingWire itself – developing the name, purpose statement, tagline, graphics, site design, workflow process…and we accomplished it all electronically (we never did end up having that conference call, did we?). All of which proves the point – a “virtual community” of creative marketers can, in fact, do branding.

    Why BrandingWire? It’s simple – there’s a lot of bad branding out there, and it’s got to stop! Seriously, many of us see – and comment about on our individual blogs – examples of poorly-executed branding (we also commend the good stuff!). But now we want to showcase our talents and creativity by tackling challenges as a group – focusing our beams together – and try to promote better branding practices. Of course, we won’t hide the fact that for many of us, we hope that a spillover from BrandingWire will be new or increased business.

    Allow me to dream for a few moments here. The old model of work, which our parents’ generation once knew, is dead. It’s no longer the case that you’re going to set down your roots in one company for decades, and that organization is going to “take care of you” for the long haul. No, the new model will increasingly move toward teams – even virtual teams – drawn together for projects demanding specific skill sets. And as we build our community and learn to work together, I can foresee that someone will call Lewis Green, and he feels confident that he can do 60% of the work – but Valeria Maltoni is the perfect resource for the other 40%. Or Chip Heath finishes one of his stellar talks, and an attendee comes up to him with a business challenge. He quickly concludes that this sounds like a combination of CK and Matt Dickman. And so it goes – the Collaborative Community supports each other, interlinks on projects, watches each others’ backs. Can we evolve to that? Why not?

    OK, you had me at “Hello.” Where’s BrandingWire? Well, of course – BrandingWire.com. In the early part of each month, we will post our contributions on our individual blogs, with a “stub” and a link on the main site. Except this month, of course. To see the inaugural posting, you have to make a note to yourself to go to the site on our official launch date, Monday, June 11th. Also, for ease of viewing, there is a Pageflakes BrandingWire portal, where you’ll be able to see the participant blogs all in one view.

    Pretty cool? You bet. Definitely check out our official launch on June 11th! You’re all invited.

    Have a great Tuesday, everyone. 😉

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