Sunday, June 5, 2011

Behind Shaq's Social Media Presence

Shaq's recent retirement predictably led to huge amounts of social media content on sites like Twitter, but it wasn't only due to his fame and popularity -- he used a new social network called Tout to spread the word. (See how Shaq broke the news initially.)

While Shaq is one of the most involved and successful athletes on social media, the Big Tweeter had some help from Amy Jo Martin of Digital Royalty. Check out the video below to learn more about Shaq's social media origins.

"It is all about engagement but providing value when, where and how your audience wants to receive it." - Amy Jo Martin

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Gameify Your Blog

This post is an adaptation of my upcoming post to the CampusLIVE blog, YouEngage. Look for it and other posts on engagement marketing there as we overhaul the entire blog.

The following post is inspired by the BlogWorld and New Media Expo info session “Game Mechanics and the Future of Loyalty”.

The panel was moderated by Jason Keath and featured Mike Schneider, Chris Pirillo, and David Tyler.

Picture this: you post a podcast to your blog, urging readers to listen.

A fan of the blog and lover of audio, Steve Sportsfan decides to start your podcast and finds…minutes upon minutes of analysis and opining and no discernible end to the rant.

Even the most loyal reader would be tempted to throw their hands up and exit the podcast without knowing exactly how long they have until the end. They're busy, and they need to fit your blog into their day along with hundreds of other activities. 

When the frustrated listener leaves the podcast, you (the blogger) lose on three fronts

  1. You fail to extend your audience on a consistent basis.
  2. You frustrate loyal readers.
  3. You fail to tap into the network of social media followers of each listener who bounces.
Now, as you're well aware, no (successful) podcast lacks the progress bar along the bottom. It's a useful tool to skip around, but it's also a "game mechanic" in place to help you stick it out until the end.

This is just one small example of a marketing tactic that's been gaining steam of late: employing "game mechanics", or features that turn a non-game into a game. For example: simply adding a status bar to a podcast (or survey, or profile set-up) lets the user know just how close they are to finishing and drives more people to completion. 

(The same type of status bar can be found on LinkedIn to let you know how many steps are left in your profile set-up or on CampusLIVE to promote a sense of urgency and exclusivity for students joining branded challenges.)

Adding the status bar, an act so simple yet so compelling to users, can be considered the "gameification" of the user experience.

Gameification (not to be confused with actual games like Farmville or Super Mario) is the concept of using game mechanics (status bars, badges, leaderboards, checkpoints and much, much more) to transform an otherwise straightforward experience into something incredibly motivating and enjoyable for the consumer. Without creating Halo-quality games, marketers and bloggers achieve a similar goal: extending loyalty, improving time on site and providing a great user experience.

Comparing your total number of friends on Facebook? Gameification at work.

Group-buying status bars and “tipping points”? Gameification.

Badges, mayorships, point systems, leaderboards…even that paper card from the local ice cream shop that gets you a free cone after 10 stamps? Yep - gameification.

Game mechanics is by no means a new idea, but they're now being embraced by marketers in our exploding world of digital content and user fragmentation.

A recent study unearthed that online users have the attention span of goldfish - nine seconds. So unless you're willing to try your readers' patience, you’re tasked with engaging them in just a few seconds. You need to be compelling right out of the gate.

This is something that's tough to master, too. By no means do I feel like I'm a minor leaguer at this...let alone a pro. But savvy site owners are turning to game mechanics.
How about you? What are some other tactics you use to keep your blog engaging?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

BlogWorld and New Media Expo

I'm at the Expo over the next couple days! Look for some updates that will summarize to a degree but mainly advise you on how to make your blog and your digital approach better each day.

For now:
Expo Twitter tag: #BWENY

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

In "Online Pickup", Bloggers Need to Separate Selves

Few things in life give a basketball player more of a release and more joy than pickup basketball. But for every great run and competitive game, another is ruined by that guy in jeans and boots who thinks his crossover is God's gift to hoops. (If you don't know that are that guy, and I invite you on behalf of all players in the world to twist an ankle.)

I recently used this argument to defend the industry I know and love. When a couple friends who know BDL well believe, sports bloggers are often brushed aside or viewed as "trashy" compared to more mainstream media. I quickly pointed out that "mainstream" now includes bloggers in a big way, but their objection to sports bloggers remained, drawn from some irrational beliefs:

"Sports bloggers are all terrible writers."

"Sports bloggers just repurpose news from ESPN."

"Sports bloggers rant and rave but have no real points to make."

My response was this: it's unfair to write off a basketball court for pickup because of one or two garbage players.

Don't misunderstand: I realize it's very easy for those on the sidelines to take the stance of my friends. Pickup lets amateurs participate in a game otherwise reserved for organized teams or professionals. Unwritten rules created by the players preserve some semblance of order, while each individual plays under an honor system, responsible for calling foul when he or she thinks it appropriate. 

And that doesn't always work out so well. As soon as one loud, obnoxious, over-confident bozo wearing jeans and boots tries to call next, many people walk away.

It's those "jeans and boots" bloggers that tarnish the credibility of the bloggers that take time to work on their craft, lace up some fresh new posts and actually do justice to their industry.

It's those very same "jeans and boots" bloggers that are terrible writers, repurpose ESPN, and rant and rave without any real points to make.

As a basketball fan and former player, I've walked into enough pickup games to know that the players jacking shots off the side of the backboard or bragging about a cross-over would break The Answer are hard to tolerate.

But there's plenty of great basketball being played, and plenty of great blogging being done every day. 
In this giant, online pickup game, I argued to my friends, it's tempting but ultimately incorrect to let the jeans and boots distract you from the more talented players.

I therefore challenge readers to look beyond them and bloggers to not tolerate those "jeans and boots" blogs in this, our beautiful game, our beautiful industry of sports blogging.