Five reasons I’m a Feedly fan now

Five things

Photo Credit: marfis75 via Compfight cc

I help companies and individuals figure out what content makes sense for them, and how it can fit into their marketing strategy. For clients who want to produce their own content, it helps for them to see and read what their community of clients, competitors and others are “talking about” in their market.

The problem is, for the uninitiated, submerging into the boiling content mix is a daunting task. Let’s face it, no matter what tools you use, it’s still a hassle tracking and monitoring LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, blogs, company home pages, press releases, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, email newsletter subscriptions, RSS feeds … and more. And yes, I know about Hootsuite. Even that can be daunting to new users.

So here’s what I discovered recently.

I’m using Feedly now as my blog and content aggregator and hands-down, I love it. It provides a visual yet minimalist view of many blogs and content, and you can customize content by category. The visual element I particularly appreciate. When I’m hardcore researching, yeah, I don’t need pictures. But when  I’m just perusing or reviewing quickly, I appreciate seeing images associated with blogs — it helps with recall. See, it looks like this (with my settings)

Image of Feedly

From now on, I’m just saying “use Feedly.” Simple, easy, no muss, no fuss. And a curious thing is happening the more I use Feedly … I’m on my Hootsuite account less — and finding it less compelling. Maybe it’s because of what I now call the blog corollary of content marketing: If you’ve got something really important to say, put it in a blog.

So here’s the five top reasons why I’m all in:

1. I never used my RSS feed as much as I should have — because it was visually boring and not very customizable. Yeah, I used Google Reader mostly — but I hadn’t used it in a very long time. Only when I heard of its demise and saw article on new alternatives did I think “Oh yeah – Google Reader, I remember that.”

2. I’m not that interested in everyone’s Tweets — sorry. Actually, I’m not that sorry. I’m using my social media for what I call “meta purposes,” that is, to stay on top of marketing trends. Everyone selling me something every other minute is no longer very interesting to me. I’m busy doing things like helping clients (as are 98% of the people who read those tweets). If you’ve got something important to say, you’ll put it in a blog (and you know I’m right).

3. Feedly’s design is simple and intuitive (mostly). I didn’t have to figure anything out. I made categories and lists easily and started using it without thinking about it. This is the way all software tools need to work — and I’m not apologizing for saying that.

4. I can choose from various formats how I want to read all the blogs I’m following in Feedly — as an RSS-like list, as a more-visual index with summaries, or as a list of full articles. This comes in handy when I want to review a lot of posts at the same time (as RSS-like list), or just peruse the day’s posts quickly (index with pics), or dig deeper into a single blog’s posts (full article format).

5. Some people have complained about a feature of Feedly — if you “read” an item (expand it or link to it), it “disappears” from the timeline in the center well. But it doesn’t disappear really — it gets moved to “Recently Read” … My “Recently Read” list is really where the meat is if I want to go back and look up stuff.

So, yeah, this isn’t the ultimate list. And Feedly is by no means perfect. I just think it’s a great tool for aggregating and reading content.

Business blogging: Ghost bloggers are … everywhere!

Ghost blogger

Photographer: Salvatore Vuono (from Freedigitalphotos.net)

Hello everyone. You know what happens when you are super busy? You don’t blog as much (as you can probably tell). Well, I’m still super busy but wanted to pass this thought along. Just judging from my own experience, I’m willing to bet a lot of businesses that have not started blogging may not know a key secret.

Professional bloggers are everywhere. If you don’t know what to blog about for your business , hire a professional to help you come up with content topics, ideas, a schedule, and to mentor your progress. They can even write under your employees’ bylines (that’s called ghost blogging). It’s way more common than a lot of people know.

Where do you find professional blogger help? Well, I, for one, am a great example. I’m a former journalist who has been working in the business-to-business marketing world for 10+ years. That means I know all about communicating a message from the client to a key audience.

Here’s a common flaw I hear a lot in my line of work: How can you blog about my industry – you’re not an expert? And here’s where the former journalist training comes in. Journalists, despite what most people think, are not experts at what they write about every day. No, really. They may have a “beat” that they cover, but it’s usually very broadly defined. That means that every week, frequently, they have to patch together a story on a topic they’re not that familiar with, and find sources that corroborate the main facts.

That process is like “instant learning” and it’s a skill journalists would be useless without. A good professional blogger has the same skills; they can immerse themselves in a client’s market, topics, talk to relevant contacts, and craft a narrative that matches with the company’s marketing goals.

So, consider hiring professional blogging talent if you’re company wants to start a blog, or needs help getting more frequency out of existing bloggers. You’ll be surprised how helpful they can be.

20 ideas for your storefront/retail business blog

storefront

By David Lytle

To follow up on my last post, here are 20 blog ideas for small businesses. I wrote these ideas with small business/retail storefronts in mind.

  1. Being local: Write about your neighborhood.
  2. Being local: Blog about hot topics in your town.
  3. Being local: What’s in your store window? Take a pic, upload and talk about it.
  4. Share your expertise: big picture view. Know a lot about your market? Comment on it.
  5. Share your expertise: the small picture view. Comment on a single item/product.
  6. Inventory inventory inventory: what’s selling now and why (with pics!).
  7. Inventory inventory inventory: what’s coming on the market soon (and what you love/don’t love).
  8. Market observer: find other s/blogs on your market – comment on their posts.
  9. Market observer: be a news watcher in your market. Set up a Google Alert on a topic and relay key news.
  10. Company culture: share a story on what makes your company/firm unique.
  11. Company culture: case study. Talk about how you helped a client, customer.
  12. Company culture: quote of the day. Someone say something interesting that’s’ enlightening – quote them!
  13. Off topic: It’s OK to go off topic and just chat about something that inspires you.
  14. Be social: Go ahead and link and mention your neighboring businesses (they love that).
  15. Be social: Follow local news and businesses on Twitter — you’ll get blog ideas from these I promise.
  16. Be social: Start a discussion on Facebook or ask for customer ideas/feedback — and blog about responses.
  17. Support local charities/causes: Show that you care, get involved. Just because it feels good to do it.
  18. Solve customer/client problems: See a common problem/issue you resolve with many customers? Blog about it.
  19. Have fun: something crack everyone up at work? Blog about it.
  20. Be you: Let customers know something about your experience (and why they should trust you).