Category Archives: Interactive Communication

Entertainment-education in India

High School students wait to see the Hindi version of our film on marriage. Almost all of the viewers were non-Christian – the film has proven that we

can embed Christian principles into a dramatic film in India and people will be reached. This concept is called Entertainment-Education and is one of the approaches we (Dan & Chris) have been using for some time.

How to grow your blog like a Fortune 500 company

How to grow your blog like a Fortune 500 company

If there’s one exercise that continually causes my blog to grow, it’s conducting a quarterly review. If you want your blog to turn into a business you have to treat it accordingly. Fortune 500 companies do quarterly reports, so why not model some of their best practices?

Why you should do this

As bloggers we’re often caught up in the day-to-day activities of writing posts, commenting on blogs, and interacting with people across various social media channels. It can feel like we’re not accomplishing much. We have a tendency to focus on how far we have to go rather than looking back at just how far we’ve come.

The process of conducting a quarterly review will motivate you to keep charging forward because you’ll get a clear look at how much you’ve accomplished. It will also give you insights into what worked, what didn’t, and what you can do differently.

The review process

Conducting a review is something you should expect to spend a few solid hours on if you want to get the most value possible from it. The review can be broken up into three main categories: traffic + subscribers, revenue, and projects.

Traffic + subscribers

Traffic is the biggest concern of many early-stage bloggers, and you should remember that not all traffic is created equal and that quality always trumps quantity. That said, reviewing your traffic on a quarterly basis can give you some deep insights into things you can do differently to increase it.

Here are three things to watch when reviewing your traffic and subscribers:

1. Compare to the previous quarter.

Perhaps the most important thing to consider when it comes to traffic is that you are showing a pattern of growth. If you do a comparison and your traffic has declined, then you’ll need to think about what might be the cause:

• Are you posting enough?
• Are you building the right relationships?
• Is your content worth sharing?
• Do you need to write more guest posts?

There are a number of factors that could cause your traffic to decline or increase. Choose one area to improve and stick to it over the course of the next quarter.

2. Look at referral traffic.

Take a look at where your referral traffic is coming from. You’ll notice that you get much more traffic when you guest post on certain blogs. If that’s the case, reach out to the author of the blog and ask if you can be a guest contributor again. Connect with the readers of that blog by visiting theirs.

3. Look at subscribers.

After two years of blogging, all I can say is that your email list is gold. Every successful blogger will tell you “the money is in the list.” While RSS subscribers are nice and bring people back to your blog, I’d recommend shifting your entire focus to your email list.

Many of us neglect our lists because we’re writing so much content for our own blogs. While the numbers are important, what you need to concern yourself with most is a pattern of growth. If you’re not seeing growth, then you’ll want to make some adjustments. Below I’ve suggested a few ideas to improve your email list:

• One simple thing that will help you to improve your newsletter is repurposing content from your archives. Most blog archives are sitting around collecting dust. You can take five to six of your best blog posts and make them the content of your auto responder sequence.
• Interview somebody well known in your niche and give away the interview as a bonus for signing up for your newsletter.
• Create a free e-book. But make sure it is just as good as something people would pay for. If the things you provide for free are of no value then it’s unlikely that anybody will buy from you.


I usually have two to three project goals every quarter. Here are some sample projects that you could work on over the course of any quarter:

• A guest post campaign;
• A free e-book or manifesto;
• A course or product.

In the review process you want to make sure that you have made some progress on at least one of your projects. If you’ve made no progress on any of your projects from the previous quarter, you might want to consider taking some of them off your list.


The final thing that I tend to review every quarter is the revenue that I’ve generated. The best way to do this is to break up the revenue by categories. For example, you may generate revenue in the following ways:

• Consulting;
• Products;
• Advertising Revenue.

It’s important to break this up into categories so you can get a sense of which efforts are giving you your highest return on investment. This helps you to prioritize your revenue generating efforts.

Setting up your quarterly marketing plan and goals

Keep in mind to not have too many goals. This might seem counterintuitive, but the more goals you set the fewer you seem to accomplish. The list will seem so daunting that you’ll fail to take action towards the goals on the list.

That’s why I recommend you set fewer goals. If you happened to get those goals done you can always add more to the list later in the quarter. Establish one or two goals in each area.

Traffic + Subscriber goals

Traffic and subscriber goals are interesting because the end result is not completely in your control. All you can do is take certain actions to move in the direction of your goal. That being said, I think it can be quite valuable to set a traffic and subscriber goal since it’s keeps you focused on how to grow your audience.

For example, you could set a goal of reaching 1,000 total subscribers by the next quarter, if you are at 500 now. The real value is not reaching the number itself, but learning how to reach it. After you’ve done it once, you can repeat the process and grow by 1,000 subscribers. Just have a target to aim for over the course of a quarter.

Project goals

I recommend that you make it a goal to complete at least one project every quarter. Rather than set a number of different project goals and scatter your effort, focus on one and make it your mission to finish it. If you want to write an e-book or launch a product then make that your project for the quarter.

As I said before, you can always add more projects when you complete one. In fact, if you have fewer things on your list and complete them you’ll be motivated to keep moving forward.

Revenue Goals

When you set a revenue goal, set something that you think is achievable. Chances are that if you are a beginning blogger you are not going to make a million dollars by the end of the quarter. Setting that kind of goal and not meeting it will only frustrate you.

Once you start with a number in mind, you’ll be able to start brainstorming the different ways that you’ll hit your revenue goal. It could be a combination of the following:

• Product Sales
• Consulting
• Speaking
• Advertising Revenue

If you have an opportunity to capitalize on low-hanging fruit, then do it. Even if it is not a lot of money, it will give you the confidence to keep going.

Deviate from your plan (when it makes sense)

One final caveat I’d like to add is that you shouldn’t be afraid to deviate from your plan. Opportunities will arise, your business will go through changes, and certain actions will make more sense than the ones you originally planned at the beginning of the quarter.

If you’re too stubborn about your goals, you might miss out on fantastic opportunities. For example, if somebody comes to you and asks you to partner with them on a product launch, be open to that because it could lead to many other things in the future.

The quarterly review might be a time consuming process, but it’s a very worthwhile one. It will give you a tremendous amount of insight into the growth of your blog and if you act on those insights your blog will continually grow.

Below you’ll find links to sample monthly/quarterly reviews from my blog and two others that I think do a fantastic job of breaking down everything they’re up to.

The Smart Passive Income Monthly Reports
Think Traffic Monthly Reports
The Skool of Life Quarterly Marketing Plan Q2 Review

How do you manage the long-term goals of your blog?

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The 10 commandments of media outreach

We live and work in an age of information proliferation.

There is more information out there than ever before, but thanks to shifts in the media world there are fewer reporters. This means that it can be increasingly difficult to attract the attention a story deserves (or that you think it deserves).

Based on my experience as a network television news producer and my years on the other side of the fence in strategic marketing and communications, I have compiled 10 commandments of media outreach.

1. Thou shall tell a story. Reporters don’t write announcements; they write stories. Too often, press releases and pitches are proclamations or simply announcements. It’s hard enough to sell your pitch without having to make a reporter come up with the story, too. And on those occasions, when they do, it may not be the story you want them to tell.

2. Thou shall make news. Is your announcement really news? And is it new or does it simply rehash old information? Imagine yourself taking a look at the day’s headlines as an average news consumer. Would this story interest you? Remember it’s a reporter’s job to sell stories—first to his or her editor and then to you, the public. If you wouldn’t read it, it’s not a story.

3. Thou shall recognize the forest and the trees. It’s all about context. If it’s your company or your client, each and every announcement may be of crucial importance and interest to you, and that’s the way it should be. However, it may not be of monumental importance to the world or even your industry. What’s news to a trade publication may not be news to The Wall Street Journal. Take a deep breath; be as objective as you possibly can, and gauge your outreach—and your expectations—accordingly.

4. Thou shall know what’s happening in the world. In the media, as in life, timing is everything. What might make the papers on a slow August day will not make the cut on an August day when the stock market is crashing. If there’s major national or international news and your story can wait, hold it. If not, well, that’s sometimes the breaks.

5. Thou shall target your media. From a reporter’s perspective, there is almost nothing more unprofessional than getting a story that’s not relevant to his beat or publication. In those cases, it’s obvious that the caller or sender didn’t do his homework. Believe me—a reporter will hold this against you and possibly your client. Care enough to research the outlet you’re going to pitch before you hit send.

6. Thou shall know the difference between persistence and harassment. You should be persistent. Maybe a reporter was too busy to read your first email or there’s a relevant angle that she may have overlooked. It’s OK to follow up. It’s not OK when they have made it clear that they’re not interested. And this leads directly to the next rule …

7. Thou shall know that the Internet works. There’s a very good chance that the reporter received your first email. There’s almost a 100 percent chance that they received your email and/or your follow-up call or email. Voicemail and the Internet work. If you don’t hear back from them, they’re not interested. Read rule No. 6 and move on.

8. Thou shall know and respect deadlines. If I didn’t “make” air as a television producer, I would be looking for a job the next day. If a reporter is on deadline, he or she doesn’t have time to listen to your pitch or to respond to your email. Try to be aware of the best time of day to call. If you do reach them at a bad time, quickly apologize and ask whether you can call later or the next day.

9. Thou shall realize that the media is not a cure-all. A news story, even a major news story, will almost never be enough to launch you into the stratosphere or to save you from catastrophe. That’s especially true these days when there are so many sources of information, audiences are fragmented, and the news cycle is continuous. At most, your sales or your stock will get a nice little bump and then fall back to Earth.

10. Thou shall embrace social media. A story in Businessweek is great, but does it sell product? If you’re working with a company that sells particleboard, I may (or may not) read that story and then quickly go on to the next thing. I read Businessweek, but I don’t buy particleboard. Conversely, I’m sure that there are many people out there who don’t read Businessweek but do buy particleboard. Those are the people you need to reach, and these days you can reach them directly through blogs, Twitter, Linkedin, and Facebook. It’s time to reevaluate and ask whether the time and money spent pursuing traditional media may be better spent and put to better use on social media.

HOW TO: Personalize Your Marketing With Social Data

HOW TO: Personalize Your Marketing With Social Data

While social data opens up a world of opportunity for marketers, it’s also important to balance gathering data on your customers and, well … creeping them out.

One of the easiest ways to gain access to social data is to enable social login on your website. Visitors can log in to your site without needing to manually fill out registration forms and you get a glimpse at their social graph. Below are some ways to effectively gather and use social data via social login while doing right by your customers and prospective customers.

Transparency is a Good Thing

Gaining access to social data doesn’t have to be a shell game. Your users will actually appreciate the transparency of a social login because they benefit from their social identity being pulled into your site. It allows them to see if their friends are also on site via activity feeds, game mechanics or whatever other social elements you have on your site. When you’re pulling in their social data, show your users exactly what you’re accessing and give them a sense of what you’re going to do with the data.

Don’t Get Greedy

Social network profiles come with more information than you really need. Don’t tick off your visitors by taking more than is useful — for example, their profile and interests may be more than enough. Facebook, however, offers 39 specific permission object queries (78 if you count looping in a user’s social graph) and LinkedIn has more than 200. You probably don’t need to see that much from your site visitors and, in fact, asking them for more than four specific permissions during authentication can lead to a significant decrease in conversions.

So just ask for the pieces of profile data which you think will be most helpful to your business. If you decide that you want to gain access to different pieces of profile data, you can always go back and change the permissions.

What to Do With Social Data?

Gaining access to social data is only half of the equation. Once you have that information, you have a number of options for cleverly and tastefully keeping your users active on your site and eventually marketing to them. One technique is to use the friends list data to show them what their friends are doing on the site (via activity feed) or show them their rank relative to their friends and other users (via game mechanics). Once they see that their social graph has been pulled into the website, your site visitors will be much more likely to engage with content and share with their friends.

After you’ve built a healthy user base, you’ll be able to pick out your power users and influencers. For example, if you own an online sporting goods store, you can use social profile data to dig into your visitors and establish which influential users (those with high numbers of social network friends/followers) are interested in basketball. Having that information is incredibly valuable as you can subsequently offer those specific sets of influencers relevant, targeted content. This will make their experience that much more enjoyable and entice them to share with their social graph.

With Great Data Comes Great Responsibility

Hyper-specific ad targeting is another means to monetize social data in a safe, non-invasive way. However, as with collecting that data, ad targeting should be done without violating your individual users’ privacy. This is especially important in ad targeting since their data is handed to third-party advertisers. Advertisers salivate over the prospect of being able to target influential and high-intent consumers. Consider segmenting your users by degree of influence and essentially place a value on each of those segments so that advertisers can decide how they want to spend their money. This way, you can target without releasing your visitors’ identities.

Social Data Doesn’t Have to Be Creepy

Marketers don’t need to act like Big Brother in order to effectively gather and use social data to benefit their business. Your site visitors shouldn’t feel like their privacy is being violated when they log in. Instead, they should feel like they’re entering a tailored experience. That trust needs to be nurtured through transparency and moderation. Permission marketing is set to grow through the next few years. However, marketers will quickly find that collecting and using social data is done best with some restraint.

How Students Use Technology

It’s clear that today’s students rely heavily on electronic devices even when they’re not incorporated in the classroom. In one survey of college students, 38% said they couldn’t even go 10 minutes without switching on some sort of electronic device.


5 useful Social Media tools

1. Bring live chat to your website with As the demo video at will tell you, an e-commerce site without a live chat function is like a physical store without staff behind the counters. SnapEngage serves up a solution thanks to its live chat software, which integrates into your site, allowing for instant interaction with visitors. Check out the features page for more information.

2. Facebook analytics on steroids now available thanks to If you’re responsible for managing a Facebook page you’ll know the insights dashboard isn’t exactly the most robust thing on the planet. solves this problem by bringing you all the Facebook engagement analytics you could imagine. Check out the demo video for more.

3. Treat your customers to continuous tunes with Galaxie music. Have you ever thought about setting up a music solution for your business but been a little put off by the potential cost? Galaxie solves this problem by delivering commercial-free, all-rights paid music to your customers as part of its very competitive broadcast package. There’s even a corporate edition if you just want to make music available to your employees while they work.

4. Get Instagram for the Web with Pixlr-o-matic. Now it’s time to introduce you to this week’s most addictive tool, Pixlr-o-matic. This easy-to-use Web application takes your pictures, applies filters and effects, slaps on a nice frame, and gives you a final product ready for immediate publishing. Check out some examples here.

5. Gauge the temperature of your customer base with Billed as a “one-click real-time customer satisfaction survey,” is well worth a look. Using a series of templates, you can tailor your survey before sending it out from the same dashboard.

26 things Twitter is NOT!

1. Twitter is not a medium to share the website content you wrote for your flash-based site that matched your printed material for the annual shareholder meeting in 1992.

2. Twitter is not a medium for you to hire a transcriptionist to break your content from 1987 down into 140-character segments for tweeting over the next five years.

3. Twitter is not the best medium to vent about your boyfriend, mom, or terrible boss. If you feel the need to vent, head straight to the water cooler and do not take your smartphone loaded with TweetDeck or Hootsuite!

4. Twitter is not
an activity for the car. Put down the phone, and keep your dang eyes on the road. I am sickened by the people I see texting and tweeting while driving in rush-hour traffic. Or any traffic.

5. Twitter is not what you should be doing at a red light while in your car. I am proof of this as I was recently rear-ended by a woman who was texting and driving. Yes, I was sitting at a red light minding my own business. Luckily, I saw her coming and was able to drive forward a little bit to lessen the impact. But both of our cars were totaled anyway.

6. Twitter is not
a replacement for family engagement time. Put down the phones and talk to one another, even if the other person is in the other room.

7. Twitter is not a self-promotion tool. Spend more time giving the social love and helping others than you do bragging about yourself.

8. Twitter is not a piece of collateral. No, your tweet timeline does not need to look neat and perfect. It’s a conversation and should look like one.

9. Twitter is not
designed in a way that those new to it “get it” and can easily understand why the tweet timeline shouldn’t look like a perfectly laced table at Grandma’s house.

10. Twitter is not the best tool to yell at someone.

11. Twitter is not private, not even in a TweetChat. Even though you may be filtering your tweets using a tool such as TweetChat, the tweets are still public. What happens on Twitter goes public forever.

12. Twitter is not to be used as a conversation agent if you are a compulsive liar. Don’t blame it on the tool; go see a doctor. Your multiple lives are eventually going to catch up with you—sorry.

13. Twitter is not
the right medium to decide you want to “be real” at 2 a.m. while at the bar on Saturday night. If you are using Twitter for business, remember there are probably current clients, prospective clients, and partners who may read your tweets the next morning. I have had numerous leads come to us due to the unethical way several local Twitter peeps behave. They said they watched tweet streams for weeks before making a decision.

14. Twitter is not the right medium on which to go silent if you are afraid of No. 13. Going silent after being loud for a period of time can also be a problem. You need to find a balance.

15. Twitter is not
the place to hang out if you are scared to death of sharing information.

16. Twitter is not the place to hang out if you don’t like people.

17. Twitter is not a medium where being on the sidelines will benefit you. Get in the game. Join the conversation, or don’t bother.

18. Twitter is not a medium designed to spend all day asking for people to “like” you on Facebook or get linked with you on LinkedIn. If people “like” you they will click like, don’t worry.

19. Twitter is not the medium to post the same boring quotes, blog posts, and tips every day. At least come up with something new and relevant.

20. Twitter is not the medium to grab the attention to arrange the marriage of Justin Bieber and your daughter. Sorry.

21. Twitter is not the medium to beg for nonprofit donations. Instead, engage with real people who have a genuine interest in your cause. If they want to donate, they will.

22. Twitter is not the medium to post all your dirty secrets all day and night about where you live, what you’re wearing, what time you’re leaving, who you’re leaving with, who is with you, how drunk you got, and when you got home and then complaining that you have a stalker.

23. Twitter is not a safe place where you can say and do anything you want with no fear of anyone using the information in a negative way. Yes there are creepers and competitors who will watch you, listen to you, and steal your good ideas. Get use to it. Facebook, LinkedIn and every other platform are the same way.

24. Twitter is not the same as Google+.

25. Twitter is not
the best medium to get out of doing the dishes, doing the laundry, mowing the lawn or feeding the kids. Eventually everyone needs to eat, the kitchen needs cleaning, and the clothes get stinky.

26. Twitter is not an excuse to miss work, ditch school, or lie in bed all day with your iPhone. Even if your eyes are bloodshot, your head hurts, and your fingers are numb, get out of bed and get a life! What are some of the funniest things you have seen people do—or not do—on Twitter? What Twitter truths can you add to this list?

Reach Your Target Audience: Women and Moms

Here is a revealing webcast on engaging Women and Moms. Here are the take-a-ways:

  • Moms are a distinct audience – 82% are online
  • Moms exhibit 3 modes when online: Organization, Connecting and Entertainment Seeking
  • Moms connect with their kids by watching videos and playing games together
  • Moms multi-task with digital devices
  • Look at mobile phones as laptops on the go.

The 4 things you need to know about mobile today

Mobile communication is booming. The Digital Buzz Blog said that nine out of 10 people in the U.S. own a mobile phone. And American children are more likely to own a phone than a book! With the popularity of mobile exploding, the trend — as you can imagine — is grabbing headlines. And you, as a PR pro or marketer, need to stay on top of it all. You’ve also got loads of work to do; allow us to shoulder part of that load. Here are the four stories about mobile you need to know today: The Mobile World Congress is taking place in Barcelona right now; the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition is available on your mobile device; in the U.K., mobile time on Facebook is killing every other website — this chart, from The Business Insider, says it all; amid steep budget cuts, Obama is increasing spending for mobile in one category. According to The Daily, The Voice of America will receive an additional 1 percent funding — that’s $207 million — to deliver mobile content in China and Iran.


Top 10 analytics tools for social media

Participating in social media for brands is no longer a question of if or even how, writes marketer Adam Boyden.  According to a recent eMarketer study, 80 percent of U.S. businesses with 100 or more employees will use social media marketing in 2011. But the question many communicators have is: How do I keep track of what’s going on out there? With hundreds of apps, websites, and platforms to help you monitor, track, and analyze your social media presence, which one should you use? After evaluating dozens of options, Boyden narrowed down the list to 10.  No-brainers in the paid category like Radian6, Lithium, and Alterian made the list, but free tools like and Beevolve may not be on your list.  What social media analytical tools do you recommend? — Matthew Royse

See for more information