RSS - 2/3 - Duct Tape Marketing

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10 RSS, It's Not Just for Blogs Anymore

I am a bit of a nerd when it comes to RSS technology. I just get really excited about all the things you can do to automate your learning and marketing and gain access to filtered content any place you want it.

RSS iconI don’t think small business folks can here this enough – don’t get too concerned about what it is or how it works – it’s just plumbing – get excited about what you can do with it.

Even if you have no clue what RSS is, there’s a good chance you’ve consumed an RSS feed one way or another by way of blog content. Every blog comes equipped with the programming to write to RSS feeds. This can be in the form of a main blog feed, category specific feed or even a comment feed.

But RSS technology is everywhere now and is the secret to allowing your to filter through the flood of information you need to be tracking just to stay competitive. And, there’s more.

In the course of a day I use RSS to check out what’s being said about Duct Tape Marketing, post content that I bookmark to web pages, update event calendars, publish blog snippets to three other web sites, monitor several industries, keep tabs on projects, send personalized data to customers, update product pages, track the weather where my kids live, discover new music, update my extended family on happenings and photos, find vegetarian recipes, and keep track of the MLB. That’s just on slow days. Once the routines are put in place much of the blur of info processing and publishing is done automatically.

    Here are two resources for your RSS learning pleasure:

  1. Everything I’ve written and recorded on the subject
  2. 100 Cool Things You Can Do With RSS

11 Engagement Without Velocity is a Lot of Work

Coincidentally, I’ve been hit with a pretty singular view of the concept of engagement on a number of occasions this week, so I thought I would take it up myself.

The riff running through all of the conversations is that numbers are not the point in marketing, it’s the quality of the numbers that count, the engagement that counts, the level of the conversation that counts if one is to measure the success of one marketing effort or the importance of one blog over another. Don’t get me wrong, I’m huge on engagement, but engagement without velocity is a lot more work. Sometimes the seemingly seedy, or is it bogus, task of building velocity is what really stops people from building much engagement.

Both of these stories, and the resulting comment fest, come at the about the same point from somewhat different angles – are big numbers, particularly numbers that are hard to gauge, like RSS subscribers, important if those numbers are not engaged. (FYI: Duct Tape Marketing does have big RSS numbers inflated somewhat by the fact that some RSS services like Google Reader bundle my blog automatically for people who choose the small business option.)

The problem I wrestle with in this argument is that it must start with the supposition thats every blogger and social media player has the very same goal. Remember marketing is about ROI and long-term results, whatever you deem they be. With that in mind, there’s no play book for what’s more effective or even how to measure what’s right or more valuable. (There certainly are rules for what’s right and wrong, but that’s not what we are talking about.)

What matters always, always is the completion of meaningful long term strategic objectives. So, the discussion of who’s blog readers are more engaged or if 500 hyper engaged readers is better than 50,000 kinda engaged readers somehow starts sounding a bit like the discussion of the best college football team every year. Until there’s a playoff, and everyone has the same goal, the discussion is silly.

From my perspective, a sale is a really big measure, a media mention is big measure, engagement is a big measure, people contacting me in hopes that I might feature their book or product is a big measure, getting a Google search term on page one is a big measure, the attention of an advertiser is a big measure, a really smart person agreeing to be a guest on my podcast is a big measure, many of these goals are achieved by working really hard to build things that can’t always be quantified scientifically, things that build velocity, such as Diggs, Facebook friends, saves to Google, StumbleUpon traffic, Twitter followers, RSS subscribers, and comments.

The point is that in the old world of marketing you simply couldn’t afford to pursue tactics that didn’t produce great ROI, in the new world of marketing you can often very easily afford to throw some things, on message, in the direction of tactics that might not produce one result, but just might, just maybe produce another, if you were actually able to measure it. Integration, velocity, opportunity and brand are the go words for me.

And just to make this entire thing muddier:
Storytelling ROI: Social Engagement Metrics for Bloggers (Interesting metric of engagement from AideRSS)

38 The Hierarchy of Social Marketing

I think one of the things that small business marketers struggle with around the entire topic of social marketing is trying to jump into the new new thing without enough analysis of what they should focus on. I happen to think this is an important, evolving and essential area of marketing for small businesses, but there’s a hierarchy to it. In other words, there is a logical progression of utilization that comes about much like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Nature.

Social Marketing HierarchyAs Maslow theorized, the ultimate potential of your marketing or human self-actualization couldn’t be achieved until the most basic human psychological needs – breathing, eating, sleeping, sex were first met. (Yes, I’m about ready to compare blogging to sex.) In fact safety, love, and esteem all come before transcendence. Now, before I edge too close to the deep end here, I’m simply comparing what I think is a bit like progressing up the social marketing hierarchy.

Most small business owners should look at the following progression or hierarchy as they move deeper into social marketing tactics. So, jump in, but do it in this order and don’t move on until you have the basics of each stage down and working for you.

Blogging – the foundation of the pyramid – read blogs (Google Reader or Bloglines), comment on blogs and then blog. This is the doorway to all other social marketing – WordPress, TypePad, Blogger

RSS – aggregate and filter content around subjects and use RSS technology as a tool to help you repurpose, republish and create content – Some tools – Feedburner, Google News and mysyndicaat

Social Search – this is often ignored in this discussion but I think it’s become very important for small business owners. Directories that publish reviews from customers – good and bad. You can participate and should stimulate and manage your reputation here. Insider Pages, Google Maps, Yahoo Local, Local.com, Judy’s Book, Yelp

Social Bookmarking – tagging content to and participating in social bookmarking communities can be a great way to open up more channels to your business as well as generate extra search traffic, but it takes work – del.icio.us, Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit, Mixx, Small Business Brief

Social Networking – branching out to take advantage of the numbers of potential prospects that you might find in sites like Facebook or MySpace will frustrate at least as a business tool if you don’t have many of the above needs met. These networks take time to understand and thrive on ideas and content. You’ve got to have much to share if you wish to build a business case. The good news is that industry and idea specific sites for everything from book lovers to green living are springing up every day. Here’s an enormous list of social networking sites from Mashable

Micro – I’ve lumped some of the more experimental social tools into the edge trend of micro, social, real-time communication that will likely only confuse most small business owners. The confusion is not because they can’t figure out how to make them work, it’s just not obvious why they would spend the time. I think Maslow suggested the self-actualization was a place that most might never reach and in social marketing terms Twitter, Thwirl, Plurk and FriendFeed might be some sort of sick transcendence.

All the evidence that we have indicates that it is reasonable to assume in practically every human being, and certainly in almost every newborn baby, that there is an active will toward health, an impulse towards growth, or towards the actualization.

Abraham Maslow

23 They don't use social media in my industry

Brown’s LuresMany small business owners still think they can take a pass on the power of online social media tools, particularly if they reside in seemingly low-tech industries like plumbing, fishing, or lawyering. I want to share a quick interview I did with Jason Brown, 23 year old co-founder of Brown Lures. That’s right, they sell fishing lures to guys and gals that probably don’t call hanging out at Web2.0 conferences a good time. (I’m just guessing on that though.)

Brown credits his blog with changing the way people find him, he created a podcast that gives him great “fishing stories” and loyalty from guides up and down the Gulf coast, he uses RSS and content tagging to automatically produce fresh blog content, and email marketing to blow his competition away at trade shows.

Using social media in industries that are still slow to adopt it is the killer competitive advantage.

In Brown’s words:

“We have been running waiting lists for products for about a year now, and no one has any clue how we are doing it without spending big advertising money. I love this stuff . . .”

Alas, I can still here the cries from the cynics – We don’t need no stinkin social media, we just need more sales.

Care to share your “social media in a low-tech” industry success stories.

6 Newbie Guide to Google Reader and More

Google ReaderGoogle Reader is an RSS reader that allows you to subscribe to and read RSS feeds (blogs) in one place. There are lots of ways to do this, but I like the way Google Reader has grown. (really nice iPhone interface on the mobile site too.)

My advice to anyone who wants to be better marketer is to read – lots – Google Reader makes it easy and automatic – a big plus for the time strapped small business marketer.

  • If you want write a blog, you should read blogs
  • If you want to be an expert, you should read experts
  • If you want to be a better sales person, you should read sales advice
  • If you want to educate others, educate yourself

Webware, a CNET publication, produced this Newbie Guide to Google Reader, but I’ve been a user for a while and learned some power tips.

Then, step it up a bit with . . .

Happy reading – you’ll thank me one day!

4 Creating feeds from feeds and content from air

In this final installment of the 3-part “Fun with RSS” I want to show you how to take multiple RSS feeds, mash them together, and create one single feed to filter or display.

Now, perhaps you’re wondering, “why would I want to do that?” Here are my three favorite uses for this technology

1) Listening – let’s say you want to follow everything being said about a subject and have it delivered to you daily
2) Creating custom or iRSS feeds (individual) – let’s say you have several really hot prospects and you want to create a news feed just for them as a value added service – and to show your mad customer service skills.
3) Creating custom content – maybe you would like to create dynamic news pages related a topic or community (great local search play), or maybe you wanted a way to take the feeds from your top 5 strategic partners and have them run down the sidebar of your blog page.

All of the above can be done using a tool called mysyndicaat. Mysyndicaat allows you to take any RSS feed and put it together with up to four others to create one new feed. This trick even takes out the duplicates that might come from news service feeds like Yahoo and Google News. (Note: if you want more than 5 feeds you can create several mashups and then create one new one using the 5 feed mashups resulting 25 feeds in one.)

The video below demonstrates this technique with the addition of Buzz Boost from Feedburner to help you display the results on a web page. I’ve use my Duct Tape Marketing Coach home page to easily display the latest posts from all the coaches in the network as an example. (Always respect copyrights and content syndication licensing.)

Video: Using mysyndicaat to mash together feeds

I would love to hear any ways that you have fun with RSS!

9 Automatically adding content with bookmarking

In another installment of what I might call “Fun with RSS,” I’ve created a video that will show you how to automatically post any content you want to your web site or blog using bookmarking.

This is a great little trick for creating “In the News” pages or for scraping company or industry mentions to re-purpose to a web site. I use it to post news mentions I get and mentions of my book from around the Internet, but you could easily use this technique to create custom content pages for search purposes or even create highly personalized newspapers for customers and prospects. Once you get this set up anyone surfing the web for you can build these highly personalized pages.

The video shows you ways to find the content you are looking for and then use a bookmarking service called delicious to tag the content and create an RSS feed that you then take to a service called Feedburner to create the code to easily publish the content to your site. Once you do this you can add content by simply bookmarking it on delicious using the tag that corresponds to the content and it will get posted automatically to your site.

Video: Adding content with bookmarking

5 Creating custom feeds in WordPress

WordPress logoMost WordPress blogs throw off RSS feeds for posts and comments by default. But some of the fun with RSS comes from repackaging and republishing content from blogs that is custom or targeted in nature. Let’s say you follow this blog and want to subscribe only to posts on local search. Or, perhaps I want to republish only posts about PR on my Instant Press Release page.

If you or the blog you are following uses WordPress you can easily create a feed based on a category. Categories are used by most every blogger to help, well, categorize and tag the content for easier searching and search engine notification. To create a category specific feed with WordPress you simply click on any category link (scroll down the lower left sidebar for mine) and add /feed to the end of URL in your browser and “poof” instant category feed. – http://www.domain.com/blog/category/categoryname/feed

Some examples:
https://www.ducttapemarketing.com/blog/category/web-marketing/feed/ – Web Marketing
https://www.ducttapemarketing.com/blog/category/search-engines/feed/ – Search Engines
https://www.ducttapemarketing.com/blog/category/local-search/feed/ – Local Search

Now you can take this URL to Bloglines
or Google Reader and subscribe only to the individual categories of content you want or get really tricky and take this feed to FeedBurner and republish laser focused content on your web pages using their buzz boost feature.

I devoted an entire feature article in my newsletter recently to some other Simple RSS Tricks

18 The proper way to stalk a journalist

First off the title of this post was meant to get attention, I only mean stalking in it’s most polite form of course.

You know you need to get your story told in the media, but you can’t seem to get anyone interested. The problem is you need to look at journalists as a target market – you need to get them to know, like and trust you just like you would a customer.

Now, would you send a customer a one page flyer and then follow-up with a phone call asking them when they planned to write a story about your company, I mean buy from you. No, of course not.

Here’s how you get journalists to know, like and trust you.

  1. Build a list of journalists that you think might care your story.
  2. Read everything they write (use a Google News search by their name and subscribe to the email alert or RSS feed – you can follow a lot of journalists this way.)
  3. Find their blog and subscribe to, comment on and write relevant trackbacks to it. (Most journalists have one now)
  4. Set up a routine of sending relevant content to them that is related to articles they right.
  5. Don’t push for any stories (unless they are truly news) until you’ve done this for weeks

Here’s the thing, if you can prove yourself a reliable resource for a journalist you will be looked upon as a friend, until then, you’re just a pest to an overworked, often underpaid, reporter.

By following what a journalist writes you will often find clues to the kinds of things they really care about, how you might pitch them and what they might write about in the future. I read an article by a journalist that I was following that stated he just started using Facebook. I connected with him through Facebook and the next you know I had scheduled an interview. My guess is that he would have ignored an email directly from me.

So, it takes a little work to earn media mentions, but it can be well worth the time spent.

6 Delivering Personalized Information via RSS

Just when you thought you were getting the hang of using RSS as a research tool, someone, like me, comes along and tells you that it’s not enough.

Now it’s become ultra easy to use RSS technology to create individual feeds of information and supply them to your best clients. You know they want to figure this RSS thing out but just can’t seem to get around to it. So, do it for them.

Here’s what I would suggest. Go to www.mysyndicaat.com and create personalized, search specific, RSS feeds, mash them together and deliver customized information to your clients on a daily basis. The current trendy name for this is a newsradar

Syndicaat allows you to easily mash multiple feeds together creating one very focused and personalized feed. (Yahoo Pipes does this as well, but my results with it have been spotty)

So, let’s say you have a client that produces tents for active outdoor types. You can search very specific terms and phrases in Google News, Yahoo News, Bloglines, Technorati, Google Blogs, Outdoor Forums, and anything else that produces an RSS feed and mash all the content about your client, their competitors, the industry, specific keywords and phrases, you name in, into one digestible, personalized newsfeed that changes daily. (Don’t tell your client how easy this is, just do it and bill them for it – they’ll thank you.)

Talk about a great way to get a competitive edge. It’s like creating personalized publications for each client or each marketing segment you serve. What if you did this for your prospects as a way to show them what you could do? You can make all this content public or create private password protected feeds.You can also republish the RSS feed and data on any web page on your site using simple javascript or even Feedburner’s Buzz Boost and then put it in your client’s private page on your website. So now they come to your website for their industry news everyday – you got to like the sound of that.

Here’s an example of the results from the type of search I described above using the mashable RSS feeds and syndicaat for the term duct tape marketing.