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Marketing, design, and technical resources for making your digital and print communications more effective.

Secrets of Successful Blogging

March 29th, 2011

Blogging can be compared to retail in terms of generating “foot traffic.” Many people venture into retailing because they enjoy interacting directly with customers, they’re passionate about a product or service and they’re certain that others will be as well. So they’ll lease a storefront, flip the sign on the front door to read “Open,” and wait for the customers to rush in and buy their goods. However, what separates a successful retailer from a bankrupt retailer is the realization that rewards are derived from hard work, quality, attention to detail, and evolving a passion to match the market need. Retailers can even spend a significant portion of their budget to advertise their product or service, but if they haven’t addressed these variables, they’ll never generate interest nor will they develop a loyal following. And yes, these same principals apply to blogging.

So why do so many blogs fail? In my estimation, I’d narrow it down to these 5 reasons:

CONSISTENCY – The blogger has failed to consistently develop content on a regular schedule; which in turn leaves whatever viewer he or she has previously attracted clueless as to when updates or newsworthy items will appear on the blog. Although many business owners say they don’t have the time to blog consistently, they need to change their perception of the blogging function and recognize it as a legitimate portion of their sales and marketing activities.

RELEVANCE – Just because a blogger may have a passion for nude para sailing, that activity doesn’t necessarily equate to like minded interest within the public at large. Similar to the retailer example above, a blogger must evolve their passion to address a market need. One unfortunate characteristic of our culture is that people are too busy in general to be interested in the passions of others; what they desire is content that emotionally engages them and equates to their own interests. This isn’t to say that bloggers can’t structure a message to endear their passions to others, but merely a warning to keep the interests of the audience in mind. In fact, regardless of the subject matter, successful blogs capture the emotions of an audience by making them laugh, cry, ponder, or get angry. Even nude para sailing could become a relevant blogging topic if the subject matter is able to emotionally engage the reader.

AESTHETICS – No matter the content, people in general still appreciate a well-designed layout for a Web page that is pleasing to the eye and easy to navigate. By maintaining a well designed Web page, bloggers are able to enhance credibility and improve the viral component of their distribution – because who really wants to refer a terrible looking Web site to a friend or professional acquaintance?

COMPREHENSIVE MARKETING– Going back to the retailer example, one cannot simply flip the sign on the front door to read “Open” and expect customers to pour in. Generating blog traffic will take effort; the content must be distributed out to a targeted group of readers in order to generate interest. Thankfully, utilizing technologies such as RSS (Really Simple Syndication), SEO (Search Engine Optimization), and viral social components such as Facebook, Vertical Response, Twitter and even the “Send This to a Friend” link are all viable methods to help generate interest in a particular blog. Additionally, bloggers should must incorporate some good ol’ fashioned personal promotion. The power of simply honestly asking your friends and professional network to help spread the word is highly underrated and under utilized. Be honest and simply ask your sphere of contacts (family, friends, neighbors, work contacts, etc.) to read your blog and pass it along to anyone they know who might appreciate it. Tell them plainly that you’re trying to grow the awareness of your business. If you’re truly passionate about the value you are offering your customers AND you’ve taken the time to address the first three components this tactic can have amazing results.

How to set up a business Facebook page (the right way)

February 18th, 2011

These do-it-yourself instructions are based on best-practice recommendations from Facebook and are current as of February 18, 2011. Additionally, Risingline provides full Facebook development services. If you would prefer to have us setup, optimize and integrate your Facebook and other social media assets with your Website, please feel free to contact us for a no-obligation estimate.

1. Setup a Personal Account

If one does not exist already, set up a personal account for the CEO, owner or a principal of your company. Do not set-up a personal Facebook account and populate it with business information. This is against Facebook’s terms of service and may result in Facebook deactivating your profile.

2. Setup a “fanpage” (In Facebook lingo, fanpage is synonymous with business page)

a. Login to the personal Facebook page you created in step 1. Click “Home” in the upper right.

b. In the far-left column, look for “Ads and Pages” and click. You may have to click the “More” link in that column to see Ads and Pages.

Facebook Ads and Pages

c. Click the “Create Page” button

Create Page

d. Select the category that best describes the type of business page you’re creating. In most cases, you will need to decide between “Local Business or Place” and “Company, Organization or Institution.

  • If you market your products/service primarily in a single market then choose Local Business or Place.
  • If you market your products/service nationally then choose Company, Organization, or Institution.

Facebook | Create a Page

e. Fill in your basic business information and click “Get Started.”

Create a Page

f. Your business fan page is now setup in its initial draft state.  Proceed with uploading your logo or other company images for your profile. Save the other suggested actions like “Invite your friends” until after you add essential information to your page.

Draft Facebook Fan Page

g. Click “Info” in the far-left column then click “Edit Info.”

Fan Page Edit Info

h. Complete the Basic Information page. Insure you use (but don’t overuse) the keywords for which you have optimized your Website.

Basic Information Facebook Fan Page

3. Add additional Administrators to your Fan Page (Business Page)

Click “Manage Admins” from the far-left column. Type in the email address of the other personal profile accounts of individuals that will also administer this page, then click the “Save Changes” button.

Manage Admins

Your additional administrator should now show up on the “Manage Admins” page.

Manage Admins

Important Information About your Facebook Business Page

Your business Fan Page needs to be treated as a business asset. It’s important that the owners/principals of a business have control of the business/Fan Page by being added as an administrator. It’s ok to have a trusted Web developer or employee as an administrator; the business principals just also need to be administrators. As Facebook states:

“Businesses do not typically put the titles to company vehicles in employee’s names, nor do they allow the employee to keep the company vehicle after termination of employment. Nor should they with FB business/fanpages.”

For more information on Facebook best practices for business fan pages please see this article from Facebook’s Website: Fan Page Help – Beginners Read First!

4. Start populating and promoting your page.

Click the “View Page” button in the upper right hand corner, then proceed with Invite your friends, Tell your fans and Post status updates.

Facebook Fan Page Get Started

Confusion Warning!

While logged into your business fan page as an administrator, be aware that clicking on the Home, Profile and Account links in the upper right hand corner will connect you to those section on your personal profile/page with no notification. Hopefully Facebook will correct this long-standing usability issue but until then, it’s best to use the lower column sections to insure that you’re remaining in your business page.

The View Page or Edit Page button that appears under them does pertain to your business fan page.

Facebook navigation

Continuing Your Fan Page Development

The above guide will allow you to optimally setup a functioning Facebook business page, but there are numerous other options you can explore for managing and promoting your Fan Page through your administrator account.

Facebook Optimization and Integration with Your Main Website

Risingline provides additional development services to integrate your Facebook page with your main Website, blog and other social media accounts like Twitter. A popular integration includes us setting up your Facebook and Twitter accounts to automatically post links to blog, news or article posts when you post them on your main Website. Feel free to contact us for more information.

Congratulations to Placement Music for Their Super Bowl Win

February 4th, 2011

While we normally only post boring stuff related to Web development, design and marketing on our blog, I wanted to break with tradition to congratulate the impressive achievement of  Placement Music, a great customer of ours. Placement Music has only been in existence since last year but already they’ve scored huge with their music being featured in the Super Bowl. Wow!  From start up to the Super Bowl in less than a year! Sounds like we could all learn a thing or two about marketing from them. Just to be clear, we did not provide them their top-notch identity design or Website, those are from the talented folks at Tribal Chicken Design in Georgia.  We provide Placement Music custom HTML email design and support for Constant Contact.

Redirecting Users From Links to Old Webpages

January 16th, 2011

Have you just deployed a new Website that includes a significantly different site structure, file names, and/or file extensions?  There are a few basic “housekeeping” tasks that should be performed to insure that indexed pages (in the case of search engines) and bookmarked pages (in the case of users) will not be returned with “Page not found” errors.

301 Redirect

The digital Change of Address Notification

301 redirects are  the best method for telling the world that a previous web page name and/or extension have been replaced by a different page. Think of a 301 redirect like digital equivalent of forwarding your USPS mail when moving to a new physical address.  It instantly forwards an old URL to the newer replacement URL. With a 301 redirect, the server is configured so that when a search engine or user follows a link they have previously bookmarked, the server recognizes that URL as an old page and automatically redirects the user to the new page.  For example we have the following URL set to redirect using this method: http://risingline.com/creative_samples.htm (notice the URL of the actual page you end up on is completely different).

301 Redirets are also useful for creating more descriptive and memorable URLs in marketing campaigns. For example, we found ourselves directing people to a particular page on our Website quite often during phone conversations.  Rather than having to relay the page name with its dash and “.php” extension we just created a shorter 301 redirect; so now we just have to say or type “http://risingline.com/why” instead of  “http://risingline.com/web-sites.php“. This URL is much more effective and memorable for verbal and written communication yet allows us to retain our file name “web-sites” which is more desirable for SEO purposes.

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