Social Media Superstars at Blogworld

By Shel Horowitz

Highlights of their presentations, as reported by Shel Horowitz, Editor, Down to Business

Scott Stratten—7 deadly sins of social media:


Apathy is the biggest enemy of social media—in part because we send untargeted uninteresting invites for nonevents. We’re breaking social—one of the greatest tools we’ve ever had

(Half the room have turned off their Facebook invitation notifications—show of hands)

Pinterest is 97% women—and me. Web innovations come from passion, and then the profiteers come in and kill it. And they outsource it to clueless overseas people.

Whole Foods is really good at social. They understand it’s more important to be a catalyst for conversation, to add value, than to sell food [directly]. They feature kitchens on one pinboard, and they don’t sell kitchens. 30,000 people followed it. Someone suggested they do a vegan board, and they set it up: 38,000 followers.

I search Pinterset for my URL, every time someone posts about me. And I go to that board and say thank you—that’s my social strategy, to thank people who are talking about me. And they’re like, Wow, he replied.


To be great at social media, you only have to be average, because everyone else sucks at it.

Rush Fitness Complex posted a notice that negative posts will be removed. You don’t make the rules in social! You should see the comments, people get so pissed. The company got ripped apart.

By contrast, another company says, if you loved it, we’d appreciate a review on tripadvisor. If you had issues, please let us know right away so we can fix it. [Much better]

Nikon did a foot-in-mouth, 1500 people shared it, and the company didn’t respond. In social, response is measured in minutes. I’m guessing Nikon’s was preprogrammed and no one was there. [audience: it was an intern, and now, every post has to be approved by PR]

Scott: And that hurts the engagement. If you can mail a letter faster than you can send a tweet, that’s a problem.

You have to recognize that your clients may be using tools you hate, like Farmville. Farmville’s company (Zynga) made $1 billion in 2010. 246 million people play monthly. Even if only 3% actually purchase anything, it’s enough. You bought a fake chicken with real money. Zynga is valued at $7-8 billion. Average Farmville is an educated, affluent 47-year-old woman. If your potential consumer is there, you need to at least understand it.

And I diss Farmville, but I do Angry Birds. 300,000,000 users.


Don’t make me wait 79 days to respond to a tweet. If you have no presence, it’s dangerous.

We skipped over mobile when we jumped from websites to social. But most everything is running through phones. Our screens are getting smaller, not bigger. You need to look through the phone, through the eyes of your user. I pay for roaming. One site that’s not mobile-friendly costs me $30 to view.

If you use iPhone, look at your site on an Android and make sure it renders. My site came up on a mobile and it worked, but it wasn’t friendly. I put in a custom skin that shows the same content but in perfect virtual harmony. And the file size was only 20K vs. 300K.

This is not going away; we’re not going to say in two years, we’re done with phones.

Outrage does not take the weekend off. Geeks have more time on the weekends.

If I can subscribe to your list immediately, I should be able to unsubscribe immediately. Don’t tell me “ten days.”


There’s no shortcut to being great in social. Fivvr will give you not-real clicks. You want to get more followers—be better! Create better content.

Something goes viral when it goes to the third circle, when it’s tweeted by people who received it from someone who doesn’t know you.


Anthony Weiner looked like an idiot when he claimed it was a hack.


Friends don’t let friends tweet drunk (with slide of Red Cross hack and response).

[Stratten has made a career of reporting on the blunders and best practices of well-known companies on the social media stage, and particularly on Twitter. In his talk, he had this wonderful example of how the Red Cross responded when some prankster hacked into its Twitter account and posted “Ryan found two more 4 bottle packs of Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch beer…. when we drink we do it right #gettingslizzerd”

The organization responded with something both Stratten and I feel is nearly textbook-perfect: “We’ve deleted the rogue tweet but rest assured the Red Cross is sober and we’ve confiscated the keys.” (Okay, so if I were writing the tweet, I’ve had put punctuation in the appropriate places—a minor quibble–but I love the fast action, the humor, and the active repudiation of the hacker without beating up on him)]

If you’re always retweeting compliments, you’re selfish, not social.

We’re already ruining QR codes. I’ve see QR codes on subway platforms, airline magazines. I have no signal! I bought a banana with a QR code! It’s for smoothie recipes. And the video comes up, sorry, not playable on a mobile. You can only scan QR codes on a mobile! We’re crying QR wolf.

Every time it doesn’t work or doesn’t go to a mobile-friendly page, we’re ruining it for everyone else. There’s such a great potential!


We all have this power, we have a louder voice than the brand itself.
Note written in ketchup and mustard: we waited 30 minutes. NO SERVICE. 1 million views.

Follow @Nenshi: very social-savvy mayor of Calgary

Awesome is situational. You don’t have to work at Zappos or Google or Apple. The Assistant Call Center Manager—the worst job in the world—gets this email, if you can draw a unicorn fighting a bear on the pizza box. Call center guy wrote back, they don’t have the skill, but drew it on a post-it note for him. 3.7 mm views, best PR ever.

Make sure you close the loop on a public complaint. If you take it private and fix it, tell the world you’ve done so. Keep/respond to negative real comments, but delete trolls ASAP.

Jay Baer,

Everything I do on social media drives traffic to the blog, which generates revenue. And speeches, which generate revenue. Selling ads is gravy for me.

In social media, we are all both teachers and students. Anyone who says they know everything is a liar.

12 Imperative must-dos

1. Be patient. Online, we expect instant. I started with my mom, and then my wife, as my readers. For two years, my traffic was eh. Now it’s 30-60K visitors a month. The chance that you start a new blog and knock it out of the park instantly is zero. The only exception is Social Media Examiner (100K in less than a year). This year, we will do $80K in sponsorship revenue. Last year, we did $20K. First three years, we did zero.

2. Be specific (about what your blog is about). You have to be somebody’s favorite blog. You can’t run a business as someone’s tenth favorite. Understand for whom you’re writing. We make up personas [a la Jeffrey Eisenberg,] with fake backstories. KEEP ASKING: Because of this blog ____ (specific persona) will __ (benefit). Write 50 headlines of posts you could create for that audience. They won’t be as massively timely, but you’ll see how tight or unfocused your posts are, and the kind of help you’re really providing. The audience are the ones who will benefit from those headlines. But your audience is not static and will shift over time. My blog started as “Digital Marketing for Agencies.” But I realized that any post about social media got 300% more clicks than e-mail posts. So the third iteration was all about social media, for about two years. But then it got very competitive. We were writing for people who were professionals in social media; that was the differentiation.

3. Be consistent. You’re in the magazine business. You can’t not blog because you think you don’t have something to say.. Maintain your quality but don’t just wait to be inspired. I wrote 3 posts a week, never missed, for 3-1/2 years. The more you post, the more success you’ll have. One agency went from 14 to 25 blog posts a month, traffic more than doubled (2959 to 6883). Until February, we had three posts/week, most by me. Now we have four per week, but I only write one of those. Traffic up 23%, page views up 84%, visit duration up 27%.

4. Embrace variety: interviews, videos, podcasts, presentations, resources roundup, cartoon, quiz, (match the company with the tagline—66% was the best score) (ecamm—allows side-by-side videos in different locations, for Skype interviews) Do an award in your industry, and you can milk it for several posts. Do surveys. Do at least one non-standard post that’s not straight writing, every week.

5. Be helpful, give content to sell bigger content

6. Curation

7. Call to action. Eyeballs are overrated. You are not in the page views and visits biz, you’re in the behavior biz. Visits are a means to an end. You should have calls to action (CTAs) for the overall blog and for every post. Make it clean and clear. We changed our home page so you can’t miss the call to sign up for the newsletter. We changed the entire layout to emphasize CTA. After visiting this blog, I want readers to do _____. And the second-best thing is _____, and at a minimum, I want them to do this You can’t eat pageviews.

8. Cultivate community. You want people to feel emotionally invested in your blog. The difference between audience and community is the direction the chairs are facing WFACT: Warmly welcome. Facilitate. Answer. Connect. Think. sends an e-mail to every new commenter, welcoming them.. Attention is currency. I’m thankful for every person who spends a minute—so I thank them. Vulnerability drives community I don’t write from high vulnerability, I try to educate. But a couple of posts do this. I blogged about Trey Pennington’s suicide and my brother’s death. Even as a business, it creates community. The second you lose the human element, you’re in danger of creating a brochure in WordPress. Community, humanity, is what will save the written word. You have to be your own validator. Blog comments is not a business model, it’s not even a sound metric.

9. Be findable. Google is your most important reader. 27% of my 424K visitors come from search. Especially for corporate blogs—the crimes of SEO I see every day… Take the extra 20 minutes and make it search-friendly. Always be optimizing. 70% of my traffic is from new visitors. Thus, every page of your blog is a home page. So the better you are at SEO, the more the individual posts benefit. If you only put bios or the Twitter button on the home page, you’ll have 80% of your visitors not seeing. Them. That has implications for marketing, for branding… Great headlines matter. It is massively important. 9 times out of 10, the headline is all they see Headlines should be keyword-rich, use some unfamiliar words. We use, which suggests terms to use in real time. There is a WordPress plug in. Use long-tail keywords: what search term will let people type in and find this post.

10. Keep score (with the metrics that matter). How does your blog make/save you money? This matters; RTs, comments do not. You want to measure behavior, not aggregations. Percentages or ratios measure behavior. Measures that count measure aggregation and are usually inferior. Set up goals, funnels, events tracking in Google Analytics. There are behaviors that are indicative of intent to purchase. I actually measure these: Visits/conversions to the newsletter page. Visits to the podcast page. Visits to the speaking page (speeches are big part of client acquisition). Who goes to the consulting pages? Remember that people may find you through multiple channels.

11. Embrace extensibility. Your blog should be your home base, your central core But there are a lot of places you can co-exist: Slideshare, Scribd, blog comments, YouTube, Pinterest

12. Be sharable. But if you have 37 icons for networks nobody has heard of, that’s visual pollution. The more you share other people’s great content, the more that light shines on you. Share down—find the new bloggers, up and coming influencers.

Slides at

Chris Brogan

How do you get heard above the noise? Your best post goes nowhere and some idiotic thing goes viral.

The number one complaint people have is “I have no time to blog.” Stop it! We’re all busy. No one’s going to write, “I’ve been doing absolutely jackshit.” We all have children or day jobs or day jobs with children.

And the other is “I don’t know how to find topics and my writing style isn’t great.”

My #1 traffic source is how to find blog topics, and how to gain more followers on Twitter.

The third is, “I’ve been trying to figure out how to make money.”

It turns out it does take work. I started blogging around 1988, on a blog platform creaed by Dan Bricklin, who invented Viscalc and Trelic.

I use WordPress because it works, and because there’s a community to support it. But nobody asked Hemingway what kind of pencils he used to write his books. Nobody thought Fitzgerald started selling when he switched from #4 pencils to #2.

Learn to think in 20-minute bits. I do a lot of blogging in the grocery store, or waiting to pick up my daughter, or in the middle of the night: “time-quilting.”

If you make a framework for how you write, and keep using that framework, it takes a lot less time. So I start with a picture, write a title, write the personal stuff, and then get to the most important points, and then I end with a question or drive you toward something I want you to buy.

When I wrote for Entrepreneur, they just wanted 500 words. I gave it up. Framing matters.

Practice is the reward. Practice replaces talent. I’ve been watching a crap-ton of bands. Sex Pistols didn’t know how to play instruments, but they watched other bands. Do not worry that your writing is not good enough; Worry that it’s not passionate enough. Wilco is technically far superior to Sex Pistols, but they have no passion.

I find topics everywhere. I’m forever baffled that people can’t find topics.

Take a photo of yourself. You can blog on big fat idiot on stage, things I already knew, the day I decided to take myself more seriously in blogging. With our visual and auditory ability, you can use this medium to start seeing and finding something different. You can get the photo horribly wrong, It’s a magical way to come up with new blog ideas.

Flickr has Creative Commons. You can find millions of photos. But I prefer to do my own. I get an idea that I can twist a bunch of different ways. A smell is even better, but it’s hard to copy and paste into your post. The smell of worms in second grade led me to believe that the person in the front of the room had no clue about my future.

Put emotions into your post. I don’t care about the exact topic, even if you’re reviewing cameras, you can say, “my six-year-old loved it and I could start a new career in photography.”


With my 200,000 subscribers, I make about $150/month in Google AdWords. Amazon links bring about $200/month.

You have a review site and affiliate links. They self-police now.

I’ve never opened a magazine and seen, “sorry I haven’t written lately.” Stop it. Don’t ever start a post like that. If you can get to weekly, you’ll find a reason to go twice-weekly.

The other lie we tell ourselves: if we stop this, we have time for that. But we always fill it up with stupid.

I also find it strange when the entire sidebar is to go elsewhere. Don’t send them away from your content to go to the outpost. You want to be a lot more cautious of what you put in the sidebar. On super-important posts, you can take away the sidebar and the comments.

If your blog isn’t a business, I give you absolution. Go blog and have fun.

If it IS a business, think about what magazine it would be. Not too super-niche, encompass everything. Rolling Stone writes about politics every week.

Pride does not replace hard work. People are always saying both nice things and horrible things about me. Both are a trap, I say as a newly converted Buddhist. To the haters—the inner critic’s already said far worse. But for some reason, in print, you believe it.

Nothing replaces hard work. It took me 8 years to get 100 readers.

Only people with 210,000 twitter followers say numbers don’t matter. If you have few followers, the big guys don’t answer you. But they retweet nice things about them. Always reply as often as you can. I can’t reply to all because the Twitter API can’t handle the volume.

Never suck up to the big guy. Reach out to the up-and-comers.

The whole social media platform is so often, “god, I feel so invisible right now.”

The hard work isn’t writing the blog. It’s connecting with people and getting them back to your site without asking explicitly. Asking them about THEIR stuff. The people I try to help the most are the ones who’ve never asked me for anything. You want more followers? Start remembering people’s names, and you don’t do the badge dive—or you use the badge dive long before they know you’re looking at them.

I answer my own e-mail (though not the corporate contact form). chris AT

If you’ve ever worried that you can’t succeed as who you are, I’m living proof. I even talk about poop. Be brave. For every day that you’re fed, you’ve already won.

These are Shel Horowitz’s highlights from three different sessions at Blogword 2012, in New York City/ Marketing consultant and copywriter Shel Horowitz’s latest book is Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green (co-authored with Jay Conrad Levinson)