Ferguson’s Still Hot, but Facebook Can’t Take the Heat.

Facebook dropped Ferguson as a trending topic in the wake nationwide protests after a grand jury declined to indict Darren Wilson. Such decisions are rooted in strategy and driven by economics. Social media chronicled the unrest in Ferguson in the four months since Michael Brown was shot and killed. So if Facebook’s staff cut the topic everyone was talking about, it’s because Ferguson was negatively impacting Facebook’s business.
Ferguson stands as one of 2014’s most polarizing issues. Arguments over it cause strife within families and damage friendships. People don’t use Facebook when it becomes a place to fight with their friends and family. Facebook staff need to maintain an atmosphere that keeps people on their platform and inclined to click ads.
This is why users whose posts get comments with negative keywords appear less frequently in their friends’ News Feeds, and why Facebook experimented with emotional contagion in 2012. Its staff had motive to cut Ferguson as trending news to stem arguments between users, or because it spread a mood harmful to its business goals.
Facebook also relies on advertisers feeling comfortable having their products represented on the platform. No one wants their ad displayed alongside a controversial post or argument. Facebook cut Ferguson as a trending topic when people began organizing protests targeting Black Friday and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Facebook was being used both to advertise and boycott the same sales.  It could be coincidence, but keeping advertisers happy seems reason enough for Facebook staff to bury a topic.
Facebook’s success comes from its staff’s savvy business choices.  While its exact motives remain ambiguous, there is no doubt its choices result from careful calculation by the industry’s best minds. Always remember that social media is not immune to market forces, and if you have thoughts on how economics have influenced Facebook’s platform or other social media, please share them in the comments.

On the Mobile Strategies of The National Art Centre, Mashable, and Kickstarter

The National Art Centre is Canada’s national performing arts organization. They have hundreds of productions every season. Their marketing revolves around promoting their own events, fund-raising and promotion for their charitable efforts, and provide an attractive advertising platform for the companies that rent their stages. From largest to smallest, The main productions series are the NAC Orchestra, NAC Dance, NAC English Theatre, and NAC French Theatre programs. While the demographics of each program vary, most of the NAC’s patrons are over 35, and a great many are seniors. While the NAC sells individual tickets, they prefer to sell subscriptions of four or more shows, with a typical price range of one hundred to five hundred dollars per person. Its typical mobile site user is mostly likely to be a busy professional in their late thirties to fifties. They will likely visit the mobile site looking for show dates, phone number, or address.

The NACs website, despite a recent redesign, is challenging to navigate at the best of times. It is, however, fully responsive. In fact, the mobile version of the NAC’s website is so much easier to navigate than the regular I will shrink down my browser window on the laptop to navigate the site. The homepage has a banner link recent a performing arts related article produced by the NAC. It also lists the next five upcoming shows in a side-swipe bar, and links to key areas of the site. Discipline specific pages (Orchestra, Dance, etc) have further content including news, articles, videos, and podcasts. The NAC relies on Ticketmaster for sales, and the layout lends itself well to individual ticket sales, but not the purchase of subscription packages. This makes it easy for someone to check what’s on at the NAC in the next day or two, and buy tickets. Subscribers can also exchange tickets by voiding the tickets, photographing them, and emailing them to the NAC. This is an alternative to faxing in the voided tickets or bringing them in to the NAC in person.

The homepage lacks critical information about upcoming shows. As previously mentioned, the typical visitor is likely looking for whats on in the next couple days, box office hours hours, address, phone number, or parking information. Only the first is on the homepage. The NAC seems consistently unable to understand that people going to their website want to find their phone number. It takes at least a click to find their phone number and address, usually more. One can find the full contact information on the Contact Us page, but its hidden underneath an email form and FAQ index. This applies to all versions of the website. Luckily, the NAC has a very prominent location, so address is slightly less of a concern, but the missing phone number is a true oversight in the site design. You can get to the Ticketmaster page to buy tickets for an upcoming individual show in two clicks. The “convenience” of making a ticket exchange through photographing and emailing voided tickets is also not that great a convenience when one considers all the information one needs to include in the email, that one now needs to know in advance what show they would like to exchange for, and the discontinuation of credit vouchers. These last two factors are recent changes that are a terrible blow to costumer service for the National Art Centre.

The NAC needs to keep an eye of the ROI of its mobile strategy, since one of their key  demographics, those over sixty, do not make heavy use of the mobile Internet and are traditionally not great problem solvers when a website is hard to navigate. The website’s reliance on side-swipe scroll might also provide difficulties. The NAC also makes it very easy to pick up tickets to shows at the last minute, despite their preference to have people subscribe to multi-show series months in advance. It has no notification system for upcoming shows, other than its monthly newsletter, which is not very mobile friendly. It would be very easy to set up a reminder system for subscribers, either through text or email, but no such services exist. For busy business professionals, such reminders would be critical customer service that is simply not there. The convenience given by their current mobile strategy for those buying night-of actually discourages people from subscribing in advance.

Mashable is a respected and trusted site for news and articles about develops in digital fields, targeting the “Connected Generation.” It prides itself on being an influential and engaged online community. They needs their readers to return frequently for new content, and want to promote comments and discussion on their articles.

Mashable has an excellent responsive website, and an app. With frequently updating content, Mashable gives multiple viable options for checking Mashable on the bus, watching TV, or whenever else one finds spare moments. The content is engaging, but a bit longer than what I usually like for a mobile read. Luckily, the app does keep one’s place in articles, and allows one to read content offline so long as the app isn’t completely exited. Share buttons are prominently placed, and one can easily search tags or switch between sections. The page is always perfectly legible.

While the strategy is well designed and effective, its execution is imperfect. Mashable likely assumes a their readers have robust smartphones, which is not unreasonable given its target demographic. My phone is a one year old, lower-mid range phone (the Moto G), and Mashable is pretty much the only site it ever struggles on when the articles are media intensive. The app also has many bugs when I try to use it. Ads do not display on the app. I don’t mind, but I imagine Mashable’s advertisers would. The app also only loads new content when it is completely exited and opened again. Lastly, I can only scroll down a few comments before being snapped back to the top of the conversation. It’s likely that these glitches in the app are not universal, but if I can’t read more than three comments on the phone, then its likely the app has glitches with other phones as well.

Mashable caters to exactly the demographic that is most likely to be using the mobile web and mobile devices. It is the demographic that is most likely to notice bugs, flaws, and hold Mashable to high standards. This is especially so since Mashable tries to position itself as a leading community and authority on such topics. Little flaws, even ones normally forgivable ones like the bugs in the app, have an amplified effect of undermining their authority.

Kickstarter is the best known and most popular crowdfunding website. Last year Kickstarter put more money in the hands of artists than the USA’s National Endowment for the Arts. Its typical users are smartphone adept and mobile Internet capable. They key actions that Kickstarter wants is for people to pledge to projects hosted on their site, to share and promote projects, and to browse and discover new projects. A well designed and run Kickstarter campaign can generate considerable publicity. Many users with disposable income browse Kickstarter like a bazaar looking for projects to support or some clever bit of merchandise.

Kickstarter’s website is not responsive, but they do have a solid mobile site. They have all the staples, a featured Project of the Day, side-swipe bar of popular projects, and links to get areas of the site. The only oddity seems to be a absence of a search bar on the landing page. Its a click away under the “Discover” button. The project pages are neatly laid out, with the video player working perfectly, and all the reward tiers are laid out for easy browsing. There is an easy button for backing the project or to sign up for reminders about the project. The pledged total, goal, number of backers, and time left are prominently displayed, as well as buttons to tweet, email, and share on Facebook. All of these are important for generating excitement and group enthusiasm.

Kickstarter also has an official app for the IOS, which seems quite similar to the mobile site in layout and functionality, the only notable difference in landing the user on a Staff’s Picks page of projects instead of a more generic home page.

When visiting the mobile site on my phone to check a minor detail for this project, I found that I had clicked to view a project and was seriously considering backing it. I still am considering backing it. The mobile site makes browsing projects very easy. If I had disposable income, I could easily see myself idly browsing Kickstarter on the couch while watching TV, or sitting on the bus, and I am not one who normally cares for shopping or browsing merchandise. In the past I have backed projects that barely succeeded in achieving their funding, and checked them a couple of times a day. The mobile site makes tracking and checking up on projects easy. It certainly promotes the desired action of browsing and discovering projects. Even if one prefers to pledge on a laptop or desktop, the Reminder and Share features make it easy to earmark discovered projects for backing later.

While the app doesn’t add many new features, if any, it does play off the personal feel that one would want from a site they have an account with. Also, IOS users tend to like to collect apps, and are more likely to make purchases through apps than through the Internet. Overall, it seems worth while for the specific demographics and personality of IOS users, and it seems responsible to not have support for Android or Windows devices yet.

The biggest risk that Kickstarter faces through this strategy is to remain accessible across all devices. Since the mobile site is not responsive, it may not work as well on some devices, and needs updates and investment as new devices are released. The app, which only works for IOS, does not mitigate this at all. So, perhaps, with their current strategy, they are not being as effective as they could be with website development and maintenance costs.

Social Communications and the Press

Social media has expanded the tool kit of the traditional communications industry with powers and functions previously unavailable. They can connect with the audience in a more personal, timely manner. It allows the communication industry to reach people wherever they are through mobile devices, and made allowed for their message to be better tailored and responsive to the context of the receiver. Critically, it provides meaningful metrics to allow the communication team to figure out which 20% of their content is doing 80% of the work.

Social media has augmented a company’s powers of communication. It helps put a face and a personality to a brand, and humanize it. It allows for each individual devoted to customer service to work more effectively and address the needs of more patrons. It allows for one to target their audience very specifically, and thus allows you to tailor variations of your message for different audience segments for maximum impact. The speed of social media allows it to be responsive to context and adapt to rapidly changing circumstances. Social media provides good data for analytics, which leads to reliable metrics for measuring one’s success.

A social communication plan needs to have a clear goal, and well developed messages that take into account people’s current attitudes, and the desired attitudes and behaviors. These messages need to be targeted and a well identified audience that has been correctly profiled. Communication channels should be selected with consideration to the message and the audience, and the resources available to invest. Then, one needs a content strategy and criteria, and a media plan for related materials. Any activities that are part of the strategy should also be outlined, and a virtual media kit prepared.  Because social media is inherently a social medium, one should always consider potential partners, and not just when they are needed. Relationships with the public, peers, and influencers should always be being nurtured and developed. Of course, a plan should always be open to adaptation. It should be regularly evaluated and key performance indicators(KPI) should be tracked. Contingencies for the most likely issues and the worst cases should be at least outlined in advanced.

Social media has created a space where journalists can be contacted and addressed more directly. Most journalists use social media, and they can be reached effectively through these channels. On mediums such as Twitter, it also makes the conversation more transparent. Social media has also helped to move the powers of the press in house. It allows companies to reach masses previously that previously could not be reached without a third party. Social media also allows for the easier tracking of press impressions. Listening platforms make it relatively easy to follow the trends of where you and your news items are being talked about, and how frequently, and who is doing the talking. This helps the communication team understand what is actually working, what effectively communicates the desired message and achieves goals, and what is wasting time and resources through inefficiency.

The Red Bull Lifestyle

While their primary physical product is a beverage, Red Bull tries through social media to sell the idea of a lifestyle. It works to position itself as being part of enviable lifestyles and part of the story of that way of life. Red Bull’s media empire all aims at telling the story of extreme sports, esports, racing, music industry success, space exploration and adventure, and positions Red Bull as both part of, and the platform for, that story. So, ultimately, it is trying to sell its story, its narrative, through social media. Because there is nothing so compelling to a human psyche as a narrative.
Red Bull uses its various social media accounts to build these stories. In its posts, Red Bull rarely talks about itself. Its story is not about Red Bull, its about what Red Bull is part of. The most product placement one usually sees is a logo on a car or helmet. It doesn’t need the branding in the content, the branding is on the platform (or is the platform).
Red Bull is usually quite adept at adapting its content to the various social media platforms. Its Google+ content is mostly cloned from Facebook. Twitter is appropriately brief catchy. It makes brilliant use of unbranded tags to make sure that people interested in the various fields find their content. Red Bull doesn’t seem as sure what to do with Pinterest. They make due with lots of fantastic photos and few tutorials.
Regardless of the platform, Red Bull’s content is designed to be genuinely captivating to people interested in or admiring of the lifestyles Red Bull associates itself with. Red Bull wants people to come to them for their engaging content. They don’t need to advertise within the content itself. The fact they they sponsor, create, and present the content is advertising enough. Red Bull also rarely joins in on commenting on their posts, especially on Facebook. It lets the fans build their own dialogue and community. In a way, Red Bull turns itself into a platform. It has people use Red Bull as the platform to find the content they want. This is perhaps the truest incident of the medium being the message.
Since Red Bull loves to associate itself with incredible sights and uncanny success, it loves to sponsor outrageous stunts. Red Bull wants to be seen as part of the cutting edge, of the pinnacle of human accomplishment. That’s why it loves to work with record breakers. Perhaps the best example of this is the promotional Stratos event it sponsored. In 2012, 8 million people, myself included, watched a Red Bull sponsored jump from space to Earth. This broke records that had stood for almost fifty years. Interesting, most of the records the Stratos jump set were quietly broken earlier this week by a Google employee who made a 24 mile just in secrecy without any fanfare. Red Bull also has its own magazine and record label. It sponsors countless extreme sports and esports teams and events. Red Bull has also partnered with NASA for various projects, and is even sponsoring prospecting for valuable minerals in the asteroid belt in 2015. Red Bull wants to be seen with the best.
Red Bull specifically targets males 12-34 under pressure to produce or compete. It specifically looks to those in the fields of extreme sports, music, or gaming. It is a legal, cheap, and theoretically safe and effective alternative to amphetamines, adderall, and other substances believe to improve performance and productivity. It takes advantage of the competitive aspects of North American culture, the shrinking job market, the pressure to excel, and the scarcity of the lifestyles it associates itself with.
They are trying to position themselves as part of a strategy for success for breaking into one of these highly desired lifestyles. Red Bull sold 5.2 billion cans of energy drink in 2012. There is no way that only extreme athletes, pro-gamers, and music industry folks bought over five billion Red Bulls. The true target is the fans and the wanna-bes. Red Bull makes itself part of the glamour of the lifestyle. It wants to make itself part of the culture, and of success culture. It wants to normalize itself and the consumption of Red Bull energy drinks within these cultures. Therefore, those who also want to be part of those ways of life, who want to associate themselves with it, need only reach for a can of Red Bull.

Fun Time Studios Social Sweepstakes Stratagy

The new marketing strategy of Fun Time Studios (FTS) will focus around a three week Facebook contest. The contest will run through a Facebook app, such as Wishpond’s Facebook Sweepstakes, positioned behind a “Like to see” fan-gate. This means that only those who have Liked Fun Time Studio’s Facebook page will be able to participate in the contest. Entrants will supply their email address and will have a chance to win a One Year Membership to Fun Time Studios, worth $100. In addition to garnering “Likes” on the on FTS’ page, it also creates a list of leads for a later email campaigns. To encourage people to share and promote the contest of their own volition, the prizes will only be drawn after at least 2500 people have entered the contest. If this goal is reached quickly, it would be wise to increase the marketing budget to offer additional prizes at higher thresholds.

Memberships make great prizes, because members are likely to bring (paying friends). If they make heavy use of the membership, they are likely to pay to renew the membership when it expires. If they don’t use the membership much, then it costs FTS less.

A series of targeted ads will be run on Facebook during the three week campaign to drive users to the FTS facebook page. These ads range in price from $6.50CPM to 12.50CPM, depending on the demographic targeted and the precision of the targeting. These figures are based on the minimum estimated pageviews for a daily bid on Facebook. During the first ten days, many different designs and demographics will be tested to find the most effective ads and demographics with the greatest ROI. The campaign will focus on the most successful ads and demographics during the second half on the campaign.

A demographic worth targeting is thirteen to sixteen year olds with an upcoming birthday. While this is ancillary to the main thrust of the campaign, the potential ROI is too great to ignore. Facebook allows the targeting of this key demographic for only $2 a day, and would reach 40%-100% of all those in Ottawa between 13 and 16 with an upcoming birthday.

Fun Time Studio staff on the floor will be instructed to find families or children having photogenic fun, and offer to take a picture. With the parent or guardian’s permission, the picture will be posted to the FTS’ Facebook page, and tagged appropriately if the family members provide names. At the time, staff members will also mention the contest. These posts should  place highly on EdgeRank, and are likely to be Liked and shared by the family members tagged. This should place more pictures of families having fun in the news feed of fans of the FTS page, which will give an increased likelihood of Fans of the page actually visiting FTS. This increases the effective value of each Fan, and helps spread word of mouth as friends and family share photos.

The campaign will start on a Wednesday, and on the second Saturday of the campaign (day 11), a full page ad will be published in the newspaper. This full page ad will make 150,000 impressions, which will include a large numbers of mothers with children at home. This is expensive and not suited to most demographics, however  a recent study found 85% Canadian mothers with children under 18 at home read the newspaper every week. This disproportionate representation will make the investment worthwhile at $33CPM. The ad will mention the contest, and drive readers to the Facebook page and FTS’ website. The newspaper requires the finished ad only three business days before printing, so the ad’s design will be refined through the analytics of the first week’s Facebook ads.

At the end of the campaign, the number of people Liking FTS’ Facebook page should have at least doubled. The value of each Like will also have increased as a result of staff posting photos of kids and families having fun. The newspaper ad in print and online will have made 250,000 impressions. Facebook advertising will make 271,444 precisely targeted impressions upon parents, and 2,730 impressions on teens aged 13-16 with an upcoming birthday. A quality emailing list of at least 2,500 addresses will be generated from the contest as well. These goals will be accomplished presuming a conversion rate of at least 0.5%, and Facebook’s minimum estimated impressions. A high estimate for Facebook ads would be over 750,000 targeted impressions. This does not include estimations for Likes garnered through word-of-mouth sharing of the contest. Fun Time Studios will benefit from a heightened community profile and a larger presence on Facebook. FTS will have a good EdgeRank and will be able to communicate more effectively through Facebook. It will have an expanding email list, and good fan engagement.

This plan is sustainable. FTS could make draws a regular event to retain current fans and drive new Likes. As fans increase, the goal number of entrants and number of prizes can be increased. For example, after the initial three week blitz, FTS could run a contest for one membership requiring 2500 entries. After a few months, as the number of fans grows, it could be increased to require 5000 entries, but two memberships will be given away. Then 3 memberships with 7500 entrants. The exact ratio of memberships to entrants can be tinkered with after proper analytics to determine the ROI of each Fan. This would be advertised only through word of mouth and the FTS Facebook page, with little to no extra advertising required.

Facebook Creative: $450
Newspaper Creative: $300
Prizes: $200
Wishpond Fees: $65
Newspaper Print Ad: $5000
Newspaper Online Ad: $1500
Facebook Ads for Teens: $42
Facebook Ads for Parents: $2443

Google+ in the Right Measure

Google has finally decided that Google+ will no longer be mandatory for gmail accounts. The newest announcement comes just days after Orkut’s final shutdown on September 30th. Earlier this year, Google has killed Google+’s Authorship program and Hangouts are no longer Google+ exclusive. So far, Google+ has survived as the social fabric underpinning Google’s services, and has a small active userbase of artists, visionaries, and the tech savvy. Google+ boasts tempting features like improved SEO and many success stories, but these cuts place Google+ on precarious ground for its future development, especially with the departure of its “Godfather,” Vic Gundotra, last April. While this has left many leery of whether Google+ is soon destined for Google’s project graveyard, it still offers potential for a great ROI for those who use it wisely.

Proponents of Google+ are quick to tote its inbuilt SEO benefits. In the battle for favour from Google’s PageRank algorithms, this is enough for many people and brands. From atop the Search Engine Throne, Google can look favourably upon those who use Google+, and they do. Posting and linking content through a Google+ page and installing its buttons is an easy piece of SEO.  No other social platform has this power. This alone is reason why a minimum Google+ presence is almost always worthwhile.

Google+ gives users a powerful toolkit of features for developing and executing a social media strategy. Many of Facebook’s best features has a Google+ equivalent. It has communities, events, and pages. One can comment, +1, and share posts. Google+ supports better Youtube integration than Facebook, and its video Hangouts are unrivaled by Facebook’s attempts at the same. It places an higher priority than Facebook does on building communities and dialogs. A dialog about a brand is incredible advertising and engagement. Hangouts in particular allow for great engagement as they link brands with influencers and consumers. Google+ has even integrated shopping directly into their Hangouts, allowing one to browse and purchase from a catalog currently being discussed on a Hangout.

Google+’s shared features with Facebook also means that it’s easy to make a Google+ account nearly a clone of a Facebook page.  Unless you a social media strategy makes the most of the Google+ specific features, it might be a better investment to do just that. If a brand is already posting content to a Facebook page, then there is less overhead than would normally be expected from using two platforms.

Even when simply reposting Facebook content, Google+ still requires a skilled user. Google+ is not as intuitive as many other social media platforms. A community manager needs time to become familiarized with Google+ and learn how to use it, which could take days, or even a week. This is a barrier to new users as well as content managers. If the bettered SEO brings new visitors to a Google+ page, that means nothing if they are baffled by the platform and leave. When deciding if Google+ gives a good ROI, the time spent learning the platform must be accounted for.

This learning curve does mean that those who use Google+ are invested in the platform and want to engage on it. Google+ has twice the user interaction per post that twitter does, making it second only to Facebook. Users will invest time on Google+, and will engage with interesting content. But this is a double edged sword. Google+ has a third of Facebook’s. There is less chance of gathering a following through sheer statistics.

Failure to engage Google+’s small userbase means a loss of time and money. Its a smaller, pickier userbase, who aren’t going to give time those who you don’t deliver new and engaging content. Many of Google’s brand success stories implicitly speak to how poorly the companies were doing before their revamp. Google+ needs a sufficiently robust content strategy and well executed social media strategy to win user engagement. If one cannot invest the time and personnel into maintaining the community, still try to use Google+ for SEO, but pay attention to its analytics to make sure there is enough ROI to be worthwhile.

Google features brands that have had success on the Google+. Oddly, they fail to mention NASA, which has nearly half a billion page views with 1.6 million followers. Featured success stories like the Finical Times, Al Jazeera, and TopShop fall behind in page views by an order of magnitude. Even Cadbury is four hundred million views behind, despite its 3.5 millions followers.

NASA has correctly identified a platform whose users are predisposed towards them. A typical active Google+ user has above average technical savvy, or at least an inclination in that direction. They tend to be interested in innovation, social development, or the arts. NASA’s mission on Google+, and all its some 500+ social media accounts, is to keep Americans excited about space and its exploration. It needs to inspire interest in keeping the space program alive and drive the new generation into related careers.

To this end, NASA makes six to eight quality posts every weekday, and is only slightly behind that on weekends. While these posts have new and insightful information, they also have gorgeous, colorful graphics and videos. Just scrolling down the page is a pleasant feast for the eyes. NASA takes advantage of the similarities in format to Facebook and posts its content there as well. This gives NASA an extra return on its investment for generating the content.

NASA also makes the most out of Hangouts. In 2013, NASA held a Hangout between astronauts aboard the International Space Station and Star Trek cast and crew. They discussed life aboard the space station and making science fiction into reality (for more on the subject, see The Dreams our Stuff is Made of). Crew of the International Space Station and the USS Enterprise alike answered questions submitted by viewers. NASA puts together Hangouts that bring together intersecting communities that might not necessarily encounter each other normally, and its great exposure for all parties.

NASA’s goals are more ephemeral than most brands, and their metrics are harder to measure. Yet of all Google’s success stories, only Mashable even comes close to NASA’s pageviews. And perhaps the greatest indication of success of all is that even during a recession, there are serious talks about manned missions to Mars.

Penning the Schematic Electric

I need a strong personal brand that’s independent of my current employer or enterprise because I expect my career to evolve with technology and society’s acclimation to it. Through this blog I will begin developing that personal brand, and start the long process of positioning myself to be an expert in a key area.

I will write the majority of the content for my blog, but I would enjoy featuring guest spots or collaborating with other thinkers once I am established. I will beg the services of saintly proofreaders to improve the quality of the content.

My first posts will be responses to prompts given by Dave Hale. By exploring social media topics through these prompts I’ll determine an appropriate area of interest on which to focus and develop a content strategy. This will evolve into content guidelines and criteria as I gain a better understanding of my position within my area of interest. I may also feature a weekly feature on a topic slightly outside my field of focus, such as a Sci-Fi Friday (or Sci-Friday), or maybe a monthly recipe that’s accessible to novice cooks.

Initially, my blog will be read by Dave Hale and my proofreaders. As I become satisfied that I have meaningful content in a specific field, I will expand into targeted communities that have a partial overlap with the area of interest I will develop in my content strategy.

At first, my blog will be accessed through links emailed to Dave Hale and Google Docs shared with my proofreaders. To attract new readers, I will begin to comment on blogs in target communities and engage them in discussion. I will strive to position myself at the intersection of different communities.  They will be able to follow my profile back to my blog. I will also install Like buttons for Facebook on my blog and on my posts to help my them reach a wider audience.

As I become more confident in my writing I will be careful to listen to what people are saying about me and the topics I cover. I will also pay attention to the discussion around blogs akin to my own, and use this to refine and improve my content.

I will expand further into other platforms. I have secured Twitter and Tumblr accounts with handles matching my url (ZanderIM.com, @ZanderIM, ZanderIM.tumblr.com). Tumblr has its problems, but its tagging system is an invaluable tool for gaining exposure. To overcome its users tendencies to remain on the website and draw them to my blog, I will use a truncated posting style like that of Vice Magazine, albeit with much fewer images. I will use Twitter because it never hurts to shout from a mountain top. On occasion it does give good exposure. If it becomes appropriate, I may add a Facebook page.

I will also find groups and networks on LinkedIn to which I believe I could offer meaningful contributions. Careful not to overextend myself, I will make suggestions and comments on targeted topics within my area of expertise. Those who find my comments insightful will be able to find my blog through my profile.

I will do my best to follow and comment on the blogs of my most insightful commenters to strengthen my following and build brand loyalty. And also because that’s the decent thing to do, and they will probably be interesting people. Once established in the community, I will invite peers to make guest posts on my blog, and submit posts to topical blogs that accept submissions.

The Metric of Success
Initially, I will measure success by my repeat visitors and the comments on my post. The quantity of repeat visitors and comments are an objectively measurable metric. At the small scale, I can qualify these metrics by examining the loyalty of the readership and quality of the comments. As I begin to implement my growth strategies, the influx of unique visitors will indicate the success of my promotional strategies and how much exposure I receive. The increase in repeat visitors and comments will measure the quality of the blog content, and my ability to target appropriate communities. As my proficiency with web analytics increases, I will add new metrics of success to reflect my evolving needs and understanding of web dynamics.

Overly Honest Methods
I value transparency. I want to be upfront with my thoughts, especially when it can inject a bit of humour into my writing or gives insight into my process. I believe its important to make space in professional culture for certain threshold of constructive honesty and levity. Where do you, dear readers, draw the line between professional and amateur?