The Social Media Examiner Story: Proof Social Media Works

By Michael Stelzner

Back in October of 2009 I launched SocialMediaExaminer.com.  The response was immediate and it was big (I’ll share some of the back story in the video below).

I relied 100% on social media tactics to drive traffic to this site.

In less than 5 months, Social Media Examiner was declared the #1 small business blog in the world by Technorati, added more than 13,000 email subscribers, brought nearly 100,000 people a month to the site and is ranked as one of the top 4200 websites in all of America by Alexa.

I didn’t advertise, didn’t rely on the press and almost none of our traffic is coming from search engines.  Nearly overnight, this site has become a top destination for businesses.

This all took place via social media.  I simply leveraged the power of sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to deliver the kind of results that would’ve cost us a fortune in the past.  I didn’t spend a dime on marketing, just my time.

Watch the above video to hear more of the story…

Only a few weeks ago we launched a Facebook Fan Page and already more than 2000 people are actively participating.

Here’s a very common sentiment we hear nearly daily.

“Have I told you lately that I love you? No, seriously. I found your site a couple of months ago and signed up for email. Now with all the info I subscribe to I know that 100% of the time yours will always be a great informative read…..so thanks!” Jo McDonald Hooker

Clearly we’re doing something right!

How Does Social Media Examiner Make Money?

One of the big struggles most publishers face is actually making money.  Maintaining a site like Social Media Examiner is a big team effort for a LOT of people.

We toyed with the idea of running display advertisements.  However, it quickly became clear there’s very little money in advertising (we might reconsider down the road).

Since our inception, a “lot” of folks have asked for recommendations to better their social media learning.  The common questions were, “What courses can I take?,” “How do I really master this important form of marketing?” and so on.

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Before You Start Your White Paper Project, Ask These Questions (Part 4 of 4)

By John White

This is part 4 of a series on your internal preparation for a white paper project. Fourth: Who is going to write the white paper?

Once you have decided on the message you want your paper to convey, fleshed out your ideal reader, and determined your paper’s call to action, it’s time to find someone to start writing it.

Before you start banging out tweets in a writer cattle-call, stop and think about four factors in selecting your writer:

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Before You Start Your White Paper Project, Ask These Questions (Part 3 of 4)

By John White

This is part 3 of a series on your internal preparation for a white paper project. Third: What is your paper’s call to action?

A good white paper is like a diving board.

  • You promote and preface it so that your ideal readers see the benefit in getting onto it.
  • You inform AND persuade, so that readers feel that they are drawing their own conclusions as they move down it.
  • You set it up so that those conclusions lead in one specific direction – to your category of product or service.

Once you’ve done all of this, and your readers are at the end of the diving board, what do you need to do next?

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Before You Start Your White Paper Project, Ask These Questions (Part 2 of 4)

By John White

This is part 2 of a series on your internal preparation for a white paper project. Second: Who is the ideal reader for this white paper? Get ready to dissect the persona.

Too many companies underestimate the importance of this step in the white paper process—determining the ideal reader. When this step is skipped, the result is a white paper that tries to do too much for too many people and ends up boring most of them. Don’t let that fate befall your white paper project.

Do some homework on your ideal readers and be sure that your paper floats their boat. This kind of homework is akin to developing a buyer persona, which David Meerman Scott describes as

a distinct group of potential customers, an archetypal person whom you want your marketing to reach. Creating [content] based on buyer personas gets you away from an egotistical site based on your products and services (which nobody really cares about, after all). What people do care about are themselves and answers to their problems, which is why buyer personas are so critical for marketing success.

Your white paper needs to be valuable content. For that to happen, you need to think about what’s valuable to your reader. You can’t just publish a few thousand words of text that make you feel good and assume it will be read.

Characteristics of Your Ideal Reader

You can dissect your notion of the ideal reader with a few different knives:

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Before You Start Your White Paper Project, Ask These Questions (Part 1 of 4)

By John White

This post is part 1 of a series on the homework you need to do before you start on a white paper project for your organization. First: What message do we want to convey?

Have you ever painted anything: a door, a bedroom, a house? Did you keep track of your time? Did you notice that you spent most of your time in preparation, and that the process of applying paint actually went pretty quickly?

White papers are not much different. Organizations that have done all the prep work and established a rhythm and process for marketing content can keep white paper projects rolling without much ado.

But companies still getting their feet wet with this type of persuasive, informative content should do the prep work so that the process of writing, reviewing and approving the paper goes smoothly.

This is a series on the questions to pose and the answers to get when starting a white paper project.

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Images as Bricks, Text as Mortar – A New Model for White Papers?

By John White

White papers are meant to persuade and inform. What if you did all of your persuading with images and all of your informing with text?

Last week a freelance writer turning her attention to the world of white papers asked:

How important are graphics and diagrams to a white paper? I’m not very good at creating these. Do you think I should check out a few online tutorials on MS Word to learn how to use all those tables and charts?

I think about this a lot. A white paper without diagrams is silly, bordering on the oppressive.

It’s like children’s literature without pictures. In fact, it is children’s literature without pictures, because you run the risk of losing your readers to the demon of the abbreviated attention span.

I suppose that a real genius could tell the entire story with diagrams and use the text as filler. Most of us are not that good, but we realize that diagrams break up the text and make it easy on the reader, and we’re all in the business of making it easy on the reader.

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We’re Giving Away Free White Paper Success Summit Tickets!

By Michael Stelzner

If you want to win free tickets to White Paper Success Summit 2010, be sure to check out the contest we have going on over at Junta42.

Your chances of winning are VERY good.

And the grand prize is two summit tickets and a free consult with me!

Go there now and enter to win your free tickets.

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5 Ways to Grow Your Business With White Papers & the 3 Mistakes You Must Avoid

By Michael Stelzner

Is the need for better leads forcing you to rethink your marketing plans for 2010? Are you contemplating using white papers to grow your business? Do you know the common mistakes that make white papers useless?

If you’re pondering these questions, I strongly recommend you attend my upcoming webinar (it’s free) called 5 Ways to Grow Your Business With White Papers and the 3 Mistakes You Must Avoid coming on January 20, 2010.

I will be joined by Bob Bly (author, White Paper Marketing Handbook) as a presenter at this special free event.

By attending this online event you’ll discover how to attract quality leads and grow your business with the world’s number-one marketing tool—the white paper.

The free seats are limited, so be sure to go here and secure yours now before they’re gone by clicking here.

Hope to see you there!

Also remember, this online event happens on January 20, 2010 (and will be recorded)—but you must register in advance by going here now.

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10 Essential Rules to Help You Create “Ready-to-Buy” Customers With White Papers

By Michael Stelzner

Finding quality customers during tough times really is achievable!

Studies show white papers remain the most effective lead generation tools, bar none. Prospects turn to white papers when making large purchasing decisions. These marketing tools are so powerful that corporations repeatedly pay up to $10,000 to professionals to craft them.

But you don’t have to spend a lot of money or hire someone else to put the power of white papers to work for you.

Here’s some repression-proven steps any business can take to attract great customers…

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5 Reasons to Stop Writing List-Based White Papers

By Jim Lein

As a relative newbie to the craft of writing white papers and social web content, I have glommed on to all the advice I can find on making the process faster and easier as well as to make the end product more readily consumed.

Renowned among my friends and co-workers as a prodigious talker, one of the attractions of writing is that your audience doesn’t have to read what you write—there’s no, metaphorically speaking, “gun to the head”.  They can stop reading whenever they want.

In conversation, your audience may listen out of politeness or a sense of duty while thinking, “Geez this guy can really talk—how am I going to get out of this without a) hurting his feelings or b) losing his business, as the case may be.”

It is really an honor when someone actually reads something you write. Thus, I approach writing as less of a job and more of a privileged craft.

As many in my trade are now inclined to do, I have fallen back on mentally defaulting to a white paper format that is list based.  This seems to be a pervasive tendency in our culture.  But lately, I’ve become concerned about the long-term effects of this phenomenon on our trade and present these 5 Reasons to Stop Writing List Based White Papers.

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