Category Archives: Viral media math

5 ways to make blog posts GO ALL VIRAL

There is no guaranteed method, no secret way, to make a blog post that causes the Series of Tubes to explode.

Anybody who says otherwise is a lying liar full of lying liaosity.

Because this is an art, not a science.

HOWEVER: There are things that are smart, and give you a chance.

yoda after the death star blows up

If your magical blog post causes the Series of Tubes to blow up like a Death Star orbiting the second moon of Yavin, then Yoda will celebrate by dropping it like it’s hot.

5) Swing for the fences

If all your blog posts are kinda the same — the same topic, the same length, the same tone — it’s a good bet none of them will ever magically shock the world.

Learn from PETA, which gets gobs and gobs of free ink and airtime by trying bold, crazy PR stunts.

Most of them fail. Sometimes, they get a little bad press for a stunt gone wrong.

But they keep swinging for the fences, because there is no real penalty for swinging and missing. Continue reading

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Filed under 7 Media Strategy Saturday, Journalism, publicity and scandals, Old Media, which is still Big and Strong, The Twitter, the Book of Face and the Series of Tubes, Viral media math

Handling bad news, making your message sticky and other penmonkey tricks

The New York Times

For two years or whatever, I blogged three times a week about publicity, speechwriting, public relations and scandals for The New York Times’about.com.  If you are an author, actor, director, politician, professional athlete, rock star, user of social media or otherwise in the public eye, THESE POSTS ARE USEFUL TO YOU. If you live in an ice cave, you can safely ignore all this stuff and go back to tanning that elk hide.

Not-so-basic publicity stuff

Handling Bad News and Scandals

How Effective Is Your Message? Achieving Stickiness

The Yin and Yang of Word Counts

Dialogue Versus Monologue in Public Relations

How to ID and Reach All of Your Audiences: Audience Analysis 101

Avoiding the Biggest Last-Minute Mistake in Public Relations: Scheduling Can Destroy the Best-Laid Plans

How to Find the Right Media Mix: Reaching a Mass Audience in Public Relations

3 Ways to Check Your Clips

4 Ways to Respond to Bad Press

Five Reasons to Monitor Your Media

The Care and Feeding of Media Lists: Building Different Lists for Different Purposes

How to Use Charts and Graphs in PR Presentations

How to Work a Room

How To Use a Story Kit

Taking Your Lumps in the Press: Not Every Bad Story Can Be Fixed, and That’s a Good Thing

The Media Prefers Raw Meat

How to Interpret and Use Polls in Public Relations

Who are Opinion Leaders, and Why Do They Matter? Shaping Public Opinion at the Grass Roots

Putting Opinion Leaders to Work: Opinion Leaders Can Be Vital to Any Public Relations Effort

What Do You Want Your Quote to Be? Soundbites Are Getting Shorter

Tips From The Field: Public Information Officer

Job Profile – Press Secretary

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Guy - Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Guy – Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that was a finalist for some award.

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Filed under 7 Media Strategy Saturday, Journalism, publicity and scandals, Old Media, which is still Big and Strong, Viral media math

Social media and social networking ARE NOT THE SAME THING

For two years or whatever, I blogged three times a week about publicity, speechwriting, public relations and scandals for The New York Times’ about.com.

IT WAS INTERESTING. Also, I got checks every month from The New York-Frigging Times, which, as a journalism major, is pretty damn cool.

The New York Times

If you are an author, actor, director, politician, professional athlete, rock star, user of social media or otherwise in the public eye, THESE POSTS ARE USEFUL TO YOU.

If you live in an ice cave, you can safely ignore all this stuff and go back to tanning that elk hide.

Social media and social networking ARE NOT THE SAME THING

Word of Mouth and Viral Public Relations: If Your Images Are Strong Enough, You Don’t Need Words

How to Maximize Social Media for Public Relations

Social Media 101: A Revolution in Public Relations

Social Media 201: Different Tools for Different PR Jobs

Are Bloggers Parasites on the Mainstream Media?

How Many Followers and Fans Do You Need?

How to Publish a Daily E-newspaper — Effortlessly

Social Networking Synergy for PR

The Trouble with Twitter

Click and Share — Is it a Smart Idea for Public Relations?

The Shift Toward News on Portable Devices

Mobile News Consumers Are Opinion Leaders

The Shift to Hyper-Local Media

All Public Relations Is Local: Hyper-Local News Is Changing Everything

News Collectors Are Turning Into News Gatherers

What Are News Aggregators, and How Will They Change Public Relations?

How Should PR pros Deal with News Aggregators?

Trends are important, people

Trends in Public Relations

Don’t Believe the Hype: Newspapers Are Alive and Kicking

Media May Be in Flux – But PR Business is Booming Again


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Filed under 7 Media Strategy Saturday, Viral media math

Why blog hits DON’T REALLY MATTER

Hear me now and believe me later in the week:

  • Blog hits don’t really matter.
  • People collecting thousands of Facebook “friends” are wasting everybody’s time, including their own.
  • Your number of Twitter followers doesn’t mean diddly.

For those of you catching up: (1) The Twitter, it is NOT for selling books, (2) Forget the Twitter: free ink and airtime are your MOST DANGEROUS WEAPONS and (3) Using free ink and airtime to BUST THROUGH

Just saying these things is heresy to Internet Fanboys, who believe nothing is more powerful than the series of tubes.

If they can only find a way to implant a USB 3.0 socket in the back of their skull, they’ll be able to jack into the Matrix, do insane kung fu kicks and stop bullets JUST BY THINKING ABOUT IT, but they’re too busy looking at the woman in the red dress that they never leave the keyboard, go out in the real world and, I don’t know, kiss an actual girl.

Am I saying unplug from the series of tubes entirely? No. The internets, they are useful for many things.

I’m saying the real world is ALSO useful for many more things.

Why blog hits don’t matter

Everybody wants to be read. I mean, it’s sad to start a blog, put time and effort into writing great posts and have virtually no traffic.

However: let’s get practical.

When I started my old blog, it was to serve a specific purpose: a permanent home for the craigslist ad to sell the Epic Black Car.

WordPress is free. My sister, who is a flipping genius, told me that she loved working with the WordPress, that it was easy and fun. So I popped the ad on there, threw some photos in the craigslist ad and thought nothing of it.

Did it really matter whether I had 50 visitors a day, 500 or 5,000?

No. Not at all.

Now, our brains aren’t wired to be that logical and practical. We all have egos, which like attention and get all sad if nobody shows up. WHO WILL PAY FOR OUR THERAPY?

Fail stamp

Fail.

Yet if you’re completely practical about it, the people who saw my silly ad and commented from Maine and Canada and Australia — those were fun people to talk to and all, but the real point was to sell a black Hyundai, a trusty beater that simply would not die.

Anything other than that was a bonus.

Here’s the ugly truth: unless you’re making a living selling banner ads on your blog, traffic doesn’t matter.

Quality beats quantity

A friend of mine had a website with amazing content that she was giving away for free. Videos by experts. Tutorials. Great stuff.

I’d pay money to see it, although it was all there for free.

She was busting her hump, working 80 hours a week to make this website shine, and hadn’t made much from it.

Why? She wanted to generate enough traffic, she said, before going green with the whole “paying the rent” thing.

I whacked her upside the noggin. (From afar, via the internets.)

Because that business model is stupid.

Is she selling banner ads? No.

Is she selling ebooks? No.

She was offering her services as a consultant.

I told her she didn’t need 1,000 hits a day, or 5,000.  For most people, the quantity of hits doesn’t matter. It’s the quality of the hits that matters.

She’d do fine with one hit per day, IF THAT PERSON HIRED HER.

This is why she — and most newspapers — made an Achy Breaky Big Mistakey in giving away all their good content for free, via the series of tubes, while making people pay for it if they got it delivered to their doorstep by paperboys.

The newsroom of The New York Times in 1942.

The newsroom of The New York Times in 1942. Photo courtesy of Wiki Commons.

Think about your local pizza joint for a second. Let’s say they operated like most newspapers these days: If you walk in the door, a sausage and mushroom pizza costs you $15. But if you order the pizza via the series of tubes, they’ll deliver it to your house. For free.

Stupid. A terrible business model.

Yet everyone went so ga-ga over the internet that newspapers, magazines and everybody else basically did just that: put their content online for free.

Nobody wanted to miss the next big thing.

What are you trying to do?

Think for a second.

Why are you writing a blog?

As of February of 2011, there were 156 million blogs on this planet. The people at BlogPulse counted them. That’s a lot of blogs.

Here’s some wisdom from a blogger, Steve Pavlina, who gets two million monthly hits and wrote this in a forum:

The average blog gets virtually no traffic. If you’re looking to be average, I don’t recommend blogging at all.

If you want to create a really good blog, then put all thoughts of being average out of your mind. Either be exceptional, or don’t bother. The world doesn’t need any more average blogs. There’s a massive glut already. If you like to write but would only want to create an average blog, don’t blog. Use a different medium like journaling or Facebook. I’d say a reasonable target after one year is around 10K visitors per day for your blog. If you’ve been going for a year and only have 1K readers per day or fewer, then either you haven’t put much effort into it, or your blog simply isn’t gaining much traction.

This assumes you’re serious about it, you have strong writing skills, you have strong domain knowledge to share, and you have a decent understanding of the Internet including search engines and social networking.

What’s more important than the exact target though is the growth rate. If your blog is going well, then during that first year you want to see a growth rate of at least 10% per month. It goes up fast if you’re putting out quality content and generating word of mouth. If it stagnates during that first year, something is off, and you should re-assess what you’re doing.

Steve said he guessed at those numbers. Because good, hard numbers on blog readership are impossible to get, since there are 156 million of them and hundreds of thousands get born every day.

And “average” is a terrible number. A successful blog getting, say, 900 hits a day would get averaged with 10 other blogs that get 2 hits per day and we’d get an “average” of 90-whatever hits per day. Which isn’t accurate at all.

I would bet my mortgage payment that (a) most blogs are dead, empty shells, just like most Twitter accounts get created and then ignored, (b) the majority of living, breathing blogs get between 10 and 500 hits per day, (c) a minority of really active blogs get 500 to 5,000 hits per day and (d) a tiny sliver of .001 percent of blogs get 5,000 or more hits per day.

Pop quiz: Which do you think is more impressive, 2,739 hits per day or one million hits per year?

Most people would say one million. You’ve made it, right? YOU ARE GOLDEN.

Except they are the same number. One million divided by 365 days is 2,739 hits per day.

That might sound like a lot, but it’s less than the circulation of The Willapa Valley Shopper, so it’s really not that much. And nowhere else but the internet do people count circulation figures like this. A  tiny daily newspaper with a circulation of 14,000 people, if it lived on the internets, would scream, “5,110,000 hits per year!” Um, no.

And if you use photos at all in your blog, you’ll get a lot of image hits. They kinda don’t count. My old blog started to average 400 or 500 hits a day, which I used to think was impressive for a silly blog until I saw all the google image hits of 13-year-old boys looking for photos of Hogzilla and whatnot.

Hogzilla

Hogzilla, the legendary wild hog as big as an elephant.

So let’s think about this: do hits matter for writers like me — or for rock stars, actors and other folks starting out?

Hits matter for authors selling ebooks on their websites, or for singers peddling mp3s. However: unless you enjoy poverty and buying Top Ramen by the case at Costco, you need a crazy number of hits to truly sell ebooks and mp3s.

Let’s remember the math: to sell thousands, or tens of thousands, you need to reach MILLIONS.

Viral math from Dan Zarrella

Viral math from Dan Zarrella, who is smarter than you or me when it comes to the series of tubes.

So if you’re getting millions hits to your blog, sure, quit your day job, because you can probably make a living selling ebooks, mp3s and banner ads.

I believe most people will never see millions of hits per year.

More importantly, 99 percent of people SHOULD NOT bust their hump trying to do that.

Why have a blog?

There are three basic business models:

  • High volume, low margin — grocery stores, Wal-Mart, web sites with banner ads and millions of hits per month
  • Medium volume, medium margin — medium-sized businesses in medium-sized towns in medium-sized square states, like Colorado
  • Low volume, high margin — your local lawyers, doctors, dentists and engineers

And by business, I don’t simply mean “corporations who are legally people but cannot vote, though they can give campaign contributions, and are apparently immortal.” I mean “ways of organizing things that work.”

Let’s think of the blog equivalents:

  • High volume, low margin — fark.com, Huffingtonpost, technorati, mashable
  • Medium volume, medium margin — deadspin, jezebel, gothamist
  • Low volume, high margin — mlbtraderumors, phandroid, treehugger

Now, I got those from a list of the top 100 blogs. The list makes sense, though — Huffingtonpost and fark.com are aggregators, taking all sorts of news from all sorts of sources. Wide audience. Technorati and mashable have a lot of original content and reporting.

The medium ones are more specialized. And the low-volume examples are even more specialized. Think about the possible audience for fark.com — people who want to take a break and laugh at weird news, which is just about anybody — versus the possible audiences of mlbtraderumors (only baseball fans) and phandroid (only people are are serious fans of their Android phones).

Unless you’re dead-set on trying to get millions of hits, which is a fool’s errand, it makes sense to (a) think carefully about your goals and (b) write to a select audience. A very select audience.

If you’re a screenwriter, don’t start a blog about screenwriting or movies. There are a zillion of blogs, professional and amateur, covering the same ground. Do something about your specific niche, whether that’s zombie movies or rom-coms starring either Matthew McConaughey or Jennifer Aniston, or Matthew McConaughey AND Jennifer Anniston.

(That was a bit of a trick question. While the Matthew or the Jennifer are required by law to be in every rom-com Hollywood produces these days, they have not co-starred together in the same rom-com, because that would cause a rip in the space-time continuum or whatever and destroy the galaxy. Also, every movie poster of Matthew in a rom-com must have him leaning on the female lead.)

Hollywood Law requires that Matthew McConaughey leans on his female co-star, in this case, Kate Hudson.

Hollywood Law requires that Matthew McConaughey leans on his female co-star, in this case, Kate Hudson.

Matthew McConaughey leans on that woman from SEX IN THE CITY who I do not enjoy watching in anything.

A niche audience is smarter anyway. Write about your specific thing, whether it’s men in kilts or Mad Max fan fiction, because those are the people you want to talk to, right? You don’t care about getting random hits from some kid in Arkansas who heard about the Legend of Hogzilla from his cousin and bet him two bucks that it’s a tall tale and there’s no way a wild hog could be the size of a Brontosaurus or whatever.

A blog is for your and your kind of people. To make friends, talk smack and learn from each other.

It’s different for people who make a living off their circulation numbers. If you’re a professional website like politico, where you’ve hired reporters and need to make payroll every month, yeah, traffic matters.

For you and me, traffic is just an ego stroking tool.

Chances are, 99.99 percent of us will never make a living selling banner ads — and wouldn’t want to in the first place. There’s no point in chasing traffic like crazy.

The real point isn’t quantity.

It’s about quality: the quality of what you write, the people you meet, the things you learn and how much fun you have doing it.

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Guy - Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Guy – Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that was a finalist for some award.

Google+

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Filed under 7 Media Strategy Saturday, Old Media, which is still Big and Strong, Viral media math

Using free ink and airtime to BUST THROUGH

Earned media — free ink and airtime — is worth a lot to reality stars like Snooki, The Situation and Kim Kardashian, who all extended their 15 minutes of fame into millions of dollars.

Ink and airtime are even MORE valuable for people with actual talent.

Yet if you’re trying to make it — as a writer, an actor, a director, rock star, whatever — it’s hard to get the mass media to pay any attention to you at all.

Read the first evil post: The Twitter, is it NOT for selling books

Getting serious ink and airtime is a great way to bust through, boost your name recognition and make a living at doing what you love. Whatever that may be.

If you haven’t read it, get educated with the second evil post: Forget the Twitter: free ink and airtime are your MOST DANGEROUS WEAPONS

So how do people bust through?

Not everybody is placing their faith in the series of tubes and spending their free time on the Twitter, the Book of Face or their personal blog.

Reporters, editors and producers get zillions of press releases and story kits about new authors, new rock bands, new actors and the latest indie movie made for $9,000 by some up-and-coming director.

They get pitched stories all the time. Most of these pitches go nowhere.

You have to hook the reporter or editor.

A hook isn’t about the quality of the product. Not at all.

Craftsmanship matters latter. I know, This is where we cue up Keanu Reeves:

A news hook is something a reporter can tell his editor, in a sentence, why this story is worth spending column inches on.

THREE NEWS HOOKS THAT FAIL

1) This book / movie / rock band is great!

Hype is typical and horrible. The press never buys it, even if you crank up the hype machine to 11.

In the first place: Even if the hype is true, it’s not newsworthy.

In the second place: Hype is never true.

But let’s pretend it’s true just this once. “Man writes great book / sings glorious song / directs amazing movie” still isn’t something a reporter can pitch to editors.

They know how to pitch “Afghan vet with no arms types novel on Underwood WITH HIS FEET” — because that’s a story, no matter how bad the actual novel may be.

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Filed under 4 Writing Secrets Wednesday, 7 Media Strategy Saturday, Journalism, publicity and scandals, Old Media, which is still Big and Strong, The Twitter, the Book of Face and the Series of Tubes, Viral media math

Forget the Twitter: free ink and airtime are your MOST DANGEROUS WEAPONS

Most of you are trying the same thing.

Every writer, rock star and actor trying to break through is told to “Harness the powers of the internets.”

Start a blog. Get on Facebook, Twitter and six other things that haven’t been invented yet. The message is: jack into the Matrix, work it hard and the world will take notice of your inherent awesomeness.

I already poked Internet Fanboys in the eye by saying The Twitter, it is NOT for selling books.

Why pour 2.6 metric tons of salt into this fresh wound? Am I simply a bad, bad man, bent on destroying your dreams? No. I am a bad, bad man who hates people wasting their time. The series of tubes is actually quite useful. An amazing tool.

HOWEVER: 99.9 percent of people are doing it wrong. When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

Use the right tools for the right jobs

Now, some people took the wrong message from my post about the Twitter.

Bad Response No.1: “You’re wrong, because I don’t buy books from seeing authors on the Glowing Tube or when movies are made from their books or whatever. I only buy books based on word of mouth, specifically, from the mouth of my best friend, Suzie the Librarian.”

Bad Response No. 2: “Wow, that math stinks, and if we can’t break through without using Twitter and whatnot, then maybe we should give up our dreams of ever making it big, because I can’t afford millions of dollars to buy ads and publicity. I can barely afford this cardboard box and beef flavor Top Ramen, though on good months, I splurge for shrimp flavor.”

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

First off, Twitter isn’t a bad thing.

I adore Twitter. It’s a beautiful tool that’s meant for meeting people, talking smack and sharing information. It’s made for dialogue, and creative writer types are helpful. They like being nice to other creative writer types.

teh kittehs, they are friends

The kittehs, they are friends. Twitter is for making new friends, not selling things. REMEMBER THAT.

Twitter simply isn’t built for selling things.

That doesn’t mean you give up on your lifelong dream of writing, acting, singing or competitive square dancing.

Second, earned media is not only free, but it has more weight — more credibility — than paid advertising.

I will translate this into simple Man Speak: You can get on the radio, in the papers of news, on the Glowing Tube — and on blogs that review books or talk smack about movies / rock singers / square dancing — and IT DOESN’T COST YOU A DIME.

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Filed under 4 Writing Secrets Wednesday, 7 Media Strategy Saturday, Journalism, publicity and scandals, Old Media, which is still Big and Strong, The Twitter, the Book of Face and the Series of Tubes, Viral media math

What’s happening with social media?

Myspace is dead, and may never be revived, despite the techno-powers of Justin Timberlake.

LinkedIn, in my humble opinion, sucks like Electrolux.

Facebook is for friends and family, not networking and marketing.

Also, while the Twitter is rising up to swallow the series of tubes and make more money than God, The Twitter, it is NOT for selling books.

HOWEVER: those are my evil opinions.

What you want to see is this spiffy chart made by Ignite Social Media.

Current state of the social media

What's really going on with social media? How about some science. I like my social media with a side of science. Also, ranch. Sometimes blue cheese. Never, never Italian, or Thousand Island.

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Guy - Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Guy – Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that was a finalist for some award.

Google+

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Filed under 7 Media Strategy Saturday, The Twitter, the Book of Face and the Series of Tubes, Viral media math

The Twitter, it is NOT for selling books

Twitter isn’t built to sell books. Or anything else.

Yet if you belong to the Twitter, you see all sorts of authors pimping their books.

Some do it subtly, or randomly. Others do it faithfully, if not relentlessly.

And even if they mount a full Social Networking Offensive — a combined-forced attack with tweets on the ground, blog battleships at sea and Facebook fighter planes swooping down from above — even if they do all that, they will fail.

Attack of the Internet Fanboys

Oh, this is sacrilege. I know it.

Internet Fanboys believe that the Twitter, the Book of Face, blogs, the entire series of tubes — hey, that’s the future. Old Media is so wrinkled and, I don’t know, old. They say, “Social media once was the student, and now it is the master. If you only KNEW the power of the Dark Side…”

Except they’re wrong. No matter how much you want it to work, how hard you squeeze your eyes and reach for that Internet lightsaber, it doesn’t fly through the air and into your hand. Even when you pick it up and push the button, nothing happens.

Faith isn’t enough.

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Filed under 4 Writing Secrets Wednesday, 7 Media Strategy Saturday, Old Media, which is still Big and Strong, The Twitter, the Book of Face and the Series of Tubes, Viral media math