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  • subQuark 9:40 pm on May 19, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: branding, , iliveisl,   

    Branding. It is easy but . . . 

    Online branding is very easy to do, but takes discipline, persistence, and more time than many people think.

    What is online branding?

    Awareness of something – that something could be you as an “expert” and an expert does not always mean some self-proclaimed smarter-than-you person. Not at all and that often makes the word branding seem bad. A comedian, a virtual world event planner, or a freelance journalist may want to increase their online “reach” and bring awareness to their community of their services.

    That something could also be a product. Dell computers does a great job with their online presence, especially with Twitter. They offer deals and coupons, and have won the trust of you, the consumer.

    We are all consumers. We consume products and services and also knowledge. Some knowledge is just for fun, some is to make decisions on new software purchases, some is deciding what land to buy in Second Life.

    Without sharing your “message”, how will anyone find you? The Internet is great for serving up information on nearly anything. That means there is a lot of chatter out there, but it also means there is a lot of good “stuff” too.

    Much chatter is easy to detect, just look at all the Twitter messages on joining Trump networks or making big bucks with your twitter account. While there seem to be legit Trump networks for some nutritional supplements, I have yet to see how you make money with just your tweets. I think the people that are making that money are the ones getting paid $12.95 to show you how to get 1,000 new followers a day. People are looking for the easy buck – no doubt.

    Branding online is easy, but it takes real sustained effort. That’s why Ener has so many followers on Twitter and had so many friends in Facebook. Ener never paid for or used any type of automated service but actually just participates in “the conversation”. Sounds easy doesn’t it?

    Well it is, but again, it takes time. About 30 minutes a day and for the last year; Ener has done this everyday. This blog [iliveisl] is an example of that. Ener insured that at least one blog post would be done per day for a year. There has been help from a few other authors who are listed in the right sidebar including the number of posts they contributed. But no day was missed and that year promise of daily posts is up in a week. Pretty good job Ener!

    As Ener indicated in a past post, effective branding takes a certain strategy (btw, thanks for announcing my blog move, which I have yet to do!). None of it is difficult, it’s just setting up accounts in several places and connecting what you can together. For example, this blog automatically sends out a tweet to the iliveisl Twitter stream. That tweet can also update a Facebook wall post (I did warn the beaner about making a friend page versus a fan page, but fan pages don’t offer that really personal feel, so I understand). This blog also automatically updates Ener’s LinkedIn page. These all occur without doing more than publishing a post.

    Another good account to get is a Flickr or Photobucket account. We use Flickr but either would have the same effect. Yahoo owns Flickr and your Flickr images help you in the Yahoo search algorithm which, in turn, affects the Google algorithm.  It is a good practice to include a Flickr pic or two in each blog post.

    If you do video, use YouTube since it is owned by Google. We messed with video a little and I do video using virtual worlds but we mainly use Blip.tv. While Blip helps SEO, and thus your online branding, YouTube is slightly more effective and content could live in many video sharing sites at the same time. We use Blip because it allows for larger videos and runs them at 30 frames per second.

    So far we have talked about blogging, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube. And all of those accounts should, ideally, use the same name. iliveisl is great for this because it is not a common term.

    You also should setup both Yahoo and Google email accounts and fill out the profile information. That profile information also ups your SEO for your branding.

    Gravatar is critical if you comment on other blogs so that you can display a consistent online avatar associated with your online name.

    Once all of these things are connected you have done a big part of setting yourself up to create greater awareness of your “message”. You’ll notice that this blog displays the iliveisl tweets and flickr pics in the sidebar. Again, the more your material is out there, the more it aids in your branding. Setting a Creative Commons license on your images also helps because it allows others – mainly bloggers – to use your images in their posts.

    Effective tagging is also important and Ener and I share many of the same tags since we often promote the same thing. We both simply have a Notepad text file on our desktops with a list of terms and links used in tagging. Don’t go too crazy on tags and limit the number you use.

    The central part of this strategy is in the blog. That forms the heart of this type of inbound marketing. In light of recent changes of services like Ning, Facebook, and Second Life, it may be wise to consider hosting your own blog on your own domain. While websites are somewhat antiquated in today’s online world – they still have their place and part of that can be in hosting your blog. While Google’s Blogger does say you own your own content in their terms of service, so did Linden Lab in the past. But a TOS can change and Linden Lab’s did last month. Now your content is yours only via license from them. Google reserves the right to change the Blogger TOS and could do the same. Hosting your content on your own domain makes sense but is not absolutely necessary.

    I admit to going a bit overboard when setting up all the accounts for the foundation of iliveisl but knew that Ener would ultimately settle on those efforts producing the most return. We even have a CafePress store, Blogger account, Urban Dictionary entry, and several others that I don’t remember at the moment.

    Blogging, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Flickr, and YouTube are the heavy hitters and if done right, one leverages the other and increases your impact.

    The big key is persistence and honesty. Don’t just sell yourself. No one cares if you think you are the best. Offer content that interests your community and may be of some use to them. Ener blogs from the heart and let’s it all hang out. No sales are trying to be made, no big morals are being pushed, just the ramblings of an avatar journeying through virtual worlds.

    If you have been thinking about doing more online, maybe try this. Blogging everyday is the accepted frequency for inbound marketing (twice daily is a rough and broad rule of thumb from groups like Hubspot). However, if this seems daunting to you, make sure you have a clear goal in mind (if it’s just rambling like Ener does, that’s fine too), and try just once a week to start. It takes a little while to get into the “blogging state of mind” like Ener is in, but only in doing it consistently will that change and you start to develop a larger online presence.

    Measure your presence with Google alerts, tracking back on blog referrals and ping backs, using analytics, Yahoo and Google search results, and general benchmarking as offered free by HubSpot.

    There are many more little tips, but you will find them on the way and tweak your methodology to use those tools and social networks that are most effective for you.  Good luck!

    Y not? =)

    note: this post originally appeared on the iliveisl blog and this blog is now self-hosted at blog.subquark.com

     
  • subQuark 1:42 am on March 2, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: iliveisl,   

    Connect the Social Networking Dots 

    Anyone with a Twitter account is a social networking ninja! Well, so it seems. Even Guy Kawasaki cringes at that! Of course, he is actually a social networking guru. However, simple practices can make big differences. I see many eLearning webinars on how to leverage your social efforts and drive more traffic.

    In reality, it comes down to content. Just like in eLearning material. Good content shines, regardless of it’s packaging. I use the example of Plato drawing in sand to teach profound things. These things became timeless because of their value and pertinence to others. The same with your eLearning. If it helps someone do their job better and/or have a better quality of life, then you have done well.

    Certainly, very poor execution of delivering your content can have a terrible affect. But I find that we often focus so heavily on the technology, that we sometimes place the content second. I see LinkedIn questions that make me shudder on this topic.

    The same holds true with social networking. There are some things you can do, like connect your blog to LinkedIn and Facebook, connect Twitter to those two as well. Use a Flickr image in every blog post (my preference because Flickr is growing faster than Photobucket and since Yahoo owns it, it helps with SEO as does Photobucket).

    None of these things are rocket science and blogs such as DoshDosh.com will help you select what is best for your particular goals.

    As you likely know, I set up the accounts and wired them together for the former iliveisl Second Life estate. Now that has changed focus from Second Life to OpenSim hosts Reaction Grid. Much trial and error went into finding the right places to help broaden the reach of iliveisl. From CafePress to t-shirt affiliates to Facebook to Ning and so on. In the end, what worked for us, was a blog, flickr, and Twitter.

    And the important thing? Content.

    In the two years of blogging for the iliveisl estate, very few posts ever pushed land sales. Topics are predominantly the ramblings of an everyday avatar (and there are also 3 other authors, including me, who added a different perspective on more technical topics). The same for the iliveisl Twitter – casual conversations.

    Many people think of Twitter as a sales tool and push their branding message like mad. Even Coca Cola has had poor Twitter results because of this. Granted, Dell has done very well, but they pass on very real savings via Twitter, not just hype about their product.

    If you have good content that your audience enjoys, you will grow your influence. So try out this and that, give it time – if you are starting a Facebook fan page, be attentive to it, deliver useful information, and wait. It takes longer than you think to see results. At least in our case it did.  Six solid months of blogging an average of 10 times a week yielded solid results for iliveisl.

    Here are the results of that effort. Keep in mind that iliveisl is predominantly one person and a shoestring budget versus a 300 person company with a million customers (Second Life) and I added Reaction Grid in there because we want to see it grow and will do our small part to aid that.

    bigThree

     
    • Ener Hax 1:54 am on March 2, 2010 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      we be kicking butts and taking avatar names! go subQuark go!

      *gets back to planting trees* =D

    • Peter Stindberg 2:50 am on March 2, 2010 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Having worked in Search Engine Marketing and Search Engine Optimization for many years (and right now looking for a new job in technology marketing) I am rather reluctant regarding those automatic ranking. I am always reminded to the infamous Alexa rankings, that have no practical relevance and are ridiculously easy to game so that they were the basis for a whole mushroom colony of shady SEO companies who made the client pay on Alexa rnaking success alone.

      For what it’s worth, my own blog ranks 87 on WebsiteGrader, and it is pretty low profile.

      The criticisim about those rankings aside, the only thing I really HATE about your blog is that I found it so late :-) Good job, good reads, keep up the good work!

      • subquark 11:19 am on March 2, 2010 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        Thank you for the kind words. Indeed, you are completely correct on gaming the rankings. I use them as a benchmark to compare our own growth, hoping that a move from an 80 to an 85 may be reflective of something we did. Anything that involves money will be exploited as soon as possible and SEO rankings are no different. Your insight from your experience certainly speaks volumes to the truth about rankings and that they should be taken with a grain of salt.

        And shady is an excellent way to describe the 1,000’s of Twitter promises of 100s of followers per day for $12.95 a month! The biggest part of that equation is “what is a large follower number worth?”

        Our own Ener is obsessed with twitter numbers, but I believe it is more out of fun than anything else. I don’t think anyone selling acai berries or ground-floor opportunities in Trump Networks gains much value from being an iliveisl follower!

        Btw, I believe Ener is creating an office space for you in Enclave Harbour if you are so interested. No strings attached and you would offer value to us with your presence.

        As to your 87, I enjoy your blog much more than Linden Lab’s 98!

        Keep us all honest and keep edifying the community. Thanks!

        • Peter Stindberg 11:34 am on March 2, 2010 Permalink

          Funny you mention it – only this morning I tried to find Enclave Harbour, but could not. One of the biggest hinderances in Opensim is th elack of Search functionality :-( What is your sim called?

        • subquark 5:42 pm on March 2, 2010 Permalink

          Oh sorry about that. We are still a private grid but will connect to the main Reaction Grid world soon. It is comprised of 16 sims, but one is actually called Enclave Harbour. I am so new to OpenSim and Reaction Grid, I am not sure how you get out locations? Is it still a slurl?

    • Ener Hax 7:39 am on March 3, 2010 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      good points Peter! and yep subbie, making an office spot for Peter. no pressure and we have space – Peter does some neat stuff in virtual worlds =)

      • Peter Stindberg 8:35 am on March 3, 2010 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        Cool, I really appreciate that. I have a neat XML file with my stuff already and only need to port the scripts. Just let me know where and when.

  • subQuark 10:03 pm on November 19, 2009 Permalink
    Tags: , iliveisl, , tony karrer   

    Top 99 workplace eLearning blog? 

    Call me fast on observation, I just noticed that Tony Karrer listed this blog as one of his top 99 workplace eLearning blogs!

    I guess that means I need to step it up a bit!

    I have put blogging about eLearning on the back burner after a whirlwind of conference and online speaking invitations (8 in six months). These were directly tied to using Second Life as a tool for eLearning development. Part of the reason for stepping back was partly due to the difficulty of getting Linden Lab to answer a question on proper attribution for a college textbook I wanted to write.

    In the meantime, I have been putting efforts toward growing the online presence of our Second Life endeavors.  Mainly in the form of virtual real estate.  With 12 sims and the transient nature of virtual land ownership, making a strong online presence is vital.

    The social networking has been fun to do and the results are very good if you set ip up properly. Fortunately, I discovered Maki at DoshDosh and follow much of his advice. It helps leverage your time effectively.

    iliveisl and it’s spokesperson, Ener Hax, enjoy good SEO mainly from daily blogging (5 contributing authors), Flickr, Twitter, and Facebook.

    But, as serendipity tends to have it, those efforts have led full circle. If you are immersed in Second Life, you could not miss the unfortunate handling by Linden Lab of one of Second Life’s biggest eLearning and education proponents – Jo Kay!

    Thankfully, there was an upside to this news.  Reaction Grid offered a great alternative to Second Life for education and business use and Jo Kay let the world know.

    Reaction Grid is strictly PG in nature, can be private, firewalled, or hypergrid connected to a large number of other OpenSim-based grids.

    The Reaction Grid team is incredibly passionate and supportive.  I have already had a few Skype classes with the CEO and CTO.

    OpenSim has been recompiled and is far more efficient than Second Life’s server code.  You can have 45,000 prims per sim (vs. 15K) and prims can be made as large as 256 metres (vs. 10).

    And Reaction Grid is far more economical!  Four sims for $75 per month versus $1180!

    So look for renewed eLearning posts about using Reaction Grid as an elearning video tool and as far as the honor of being in Tony’s list?  I am deeply humbled and am tiny in the shadow of Tony’s outstanding blogging and resources.

    Tony's eLearning blog is miles ahead of most others

     
  • subQuark 1:46 am on November 2, 2009 Permalink
    Tags: , grader.com, iliveisl, ,   

    Easy analytic tool 

    As the driver behind the social networking strategy of the iliveisl estate (Second Life virtual real estate), I look at various analytic tools to measure what are the best “fits” for these efforts. The iliveisl estate has a presence in many social networks, including LinkedIn, Youtube, blip.tv, CafePress, Urban Dictionary, Threadless Tees, Gravatar, Ning networks, Google and Yahoo profiles, various Second Life forums, and so on.

    An easy analytic tool to use is grader.com. It’s a nice and easy tool for benchmarking your efforts.

    The relatively new Facebook Grader does not have a large dataset yet, but can sill be used to measure your growth from a week to week.

    Here we see the Twitter grade for the account updated by Ener Hax, the spokesperson of the social campaign.  Secondly, the Facebook page of Ener Hax for the estate, and lastly the iliveisl blog.

    Twitter and Facebook drive traffic to the blog. The blog posts automatically update the Twitter account and that updates the Facebook page.

    Why does any of this matter?  How does it apply to eLearning?

    Effective social networking is vital if you want to promote your educational efforts and share your lessons learned with the eLearning community. 

    Individuals will post comments to our iliveisl blog posts on the Facebook wall and carry on a conversation with each other about our posts. That was a suprising and pleasant discovery.

    bigThree

     
  • subQuark 3:43 am on October 28, 2009 Permalink
    Tags: iliveisl, keyboard shortcuts,   

    Second Life keyboard shortcuts 

    Nice post by DreamWalker, our official scripter for our new venture into Reaction Grid, blogged a great iliveisl post on keyboard shortcuts in Second Life.

    http://blog.iliveisl.com/second-life-keyboard-shortcuts/

    sl keyboard

    by ::Prad Prathivi @ Amodica::'s photostream

     
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