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The mommyblogger who dared speak her mind

June 5, 2016

Josi Denise

A few weeks ago, popular mommyblogger Josi Denise published a 4,000-word rant that went viral.

The subject of her rant? Mommyblogging. Specifically, sponsored posts.

She explains the sheer misery of pumping out reviews of products and services on behalf of sponsors for her site, the American Mama, then calls out other blogs for also participating in the echo chamber of nonsense.

It’s a compelling read, one worth careful consideration, whether you’re a blogger, a brand manager or a marketer.

I’ve always admired mommybloggers (whether they use that label themselves or not) for their creativity, their communities and their time management. The moms I know are juggling so many things simultaneously that to produce a blog on top of all that is miraculous.

Denise’s essay imparts nine lessons for bloggers and brands:

  1. Nobody is reading your shit. And that is true for most bloggers, most authors and most journalists. Don’t go into blogging to be a famous writer.
  2. There’s no way in hell you are actually that happy. I’ve been accused of negativity on occasion. But I have never been enamored of the “all positive all the time” trend in blogs and social media. God bless Denise for maintaining this artiface while suffering postpartum depression and navigating a divorce.
  3. Your goals are just as confused as you. Pretty much the first question I ask of anyone asking my help is “What is your goal?” If only I could be paid by the blank stare …
  4. You are wasting your money. She refers specifically to blogging conferences and Web designers. I take no offense as a blogging conference organizer: Lots of conferences are mediocre to awful, and do little to actually empower bloggers. She’s right: Save your money.
  5. PR friendly = “I have no soul.” Coming from a journalism background, this enabling of brands through a positive-only approach is foreign to me. I understand why bloggers do it, but I couldn’t live with myself. At the very least, bloggers should clearly define their boundaries, rather than let them be defined for them, one soul-sucking post at a time.
  6. Building your own prison with copycat guards. Denise takes bloggers to task for acting as shills for corporations. I don’t have a problem with sponsorships, partnerships and other brand collaborations, but I can understand why she thinks the deck is stacked in favor of the big companies. It is.
  7. Sunshine and fucking daisy reviews. She writes, “This shit would never fly in traditional journalism.” Have I got some bad news for her …
  8. Giveaway entries are not real fans. Aligning incentives with goals is a challenge, but not impossible. But it’s certainly a common mistake.
  9. You are wasting your time. Nothing is a waste of time if we learn and grow from it.

Her bracing honesty makes me wonder two things: First, where was this Josi Denise all this time? And second, would readers and subsequently paying sponsors have embraced her as readily?

I’m glad she escaped a lifestyle that was ruining her life and that she could share her experiences with all of us. Fortunately, she’s still blogging and sticking to a new tactic, radical honesty.

• • •

Brand-blogger partnerships can work for all sides.
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It’s always Peak TV in blogging and social media

May 22, 2016
Mr. Robot

A monitor on the set of “Mr. Robot”

It’s insane how much television is on television right now. And even off television.

I thought the expansion in reality shows and sports programming alone was crazy. Reality TV is cheap and easy to produce, while sports draws a consistent, desirable audience.

But the number of scripted programs has doubled to 409 from 2009 to 2015. Who has time to watch that many shows?

Apparently, the entire world.

Fortunately, we can watch some great stories in Peak TV: “Mr. Robot,” “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” “Casual,” “Transparent.” And we can watch a lot of mediocre programming.

Veteran showrunner Carlton Cuse (“Bates Motel”) compares it to what would happen if the National Football League suddenly expanded to 90 teams. “You would have a lot of football available to you, but the quality of it would be diluted,” he says.

What I find interesting is what talk show host and producer Conan O’Brien once said (I think) about the business: It takes as much effort to create a middling TV show as it does a hit. He’s referring to the army of people it takes to put a half-hour of television together: writers, directors, actors, costumers, set designers, carpenters, makeup artists, lighting crew, sound crew, editors, publicity and marketing staffers, casting directors, production designers, producers, directors of photography, camera operators, showrunners and more.

Multiply that by 400 shows in production. That’s a tremendous effort to make content competing for our limited attention.

Many of us feel that strain of producing content for consumption by audiences pulled in all directions. The number of blogs, social media channels, podcasts and YouTube/Vine/Twitch stars has always forced us to be creative and provocative in our output. Plus, the barrier to entry in the digital world is far lower than television.

The explosion of television is a reminder that the audience is always in control. The better we cater to audiences, the more likely we succeed in accomplishing our goals, whether to inform, to entertain or to sell.

Audience members always have the option to change channels, to pause, to recommend or criticize what they see. Whatever we create, we must keep them in mind and how we want to help or provoke them.

The competition never ends, nor should our commitment to content that enriches our audience’s lives.

• • •

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Video: The Power of Digital Storytelling [Alabama Media Professionals]

May 16, 2016

Video: The Power of Digital Storytelling

I haven’t given a talk for Alabama Media Professionals in a couple of years, so last week, I sat in on the May meeting in Homewood.

My presentation, “The Power of Digital Storytelling,” gave insights on how we can easily adapt our storytelling skills for online channels. I fielded some great questions and comments from the attendees.

Watch the 42-minute video, and leave me some questions in the comments.

Thanks to Alabama Media Professionals for having me.

Contact me if you want the outline and worksheet that accompany this presentation.

Speaking gigs: Alabama Media Professionals, May 2016

May 8, 2016

Alabama Media Professionals

This week marks the last of my spring talks, and I’m ending here at home on a high note.

I’ll be the featured speaker at the Alabama Media Professionals May meeting on Thursday. The topic is “The Power of Digital Storytelling.”

The official summary:

Marketing has evolved rapidly with the rise of digital outlets. But what can cut through the din of commercials and crass come-ons? Stories. We are natural storytellers, but we must strive to improve our skills for our online audiences.

Wade Kwon, conference director for Y’all Connect Presented by Alabama Power, will guide you through the options and strategies behind compelling storytelling. His work as a writer, journalist and storyteller has helped companies reach audiences quickly and effectively. Learn the three questions that will transform your brand’s story into a saga worth sharing.

The meeting is at 11:30 a.m. at Homewood Public Library. Tickets are $5 and available online.

I hope you can join us.

• • •

Book me for your event, conference or workshop today …

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Audio: The Power of Digital Storytelling [Craft Content Nashville]

April 17, 2016

Audio: The Power of Digital Storytelling

I returned to Nashville to speak at Craft Content Nashville last week. And I have the video to prove it, sort of.

Rather than subject you to a full half hour of terrible camera work, here’s my presentation on “The Power of Digital Storytelling” with audio only. Not to worry, I don’t have slides for that talk.

My 30-minute session explains how to define your brand story and how to tell it.

If you have a question, let me know in the comments.

My thanks to the organizers at Craft Content Nashville for a fun conference.

Contact me if you want the outline and resources that accompany this presentation.

More videos? Visit my YouTube channel.

Video: A Guide to Getting Started on LinkedIn

March 18, 2016

Video: A Guide to Getting Started on LinkedIn

For my third talk in Mississippi this week, I changed it up a bit and discussed LinkedIn. Lots of people have profiles on the social network, but they may not be using them to their maximum potential.

I presented “A Guide to Getting Started on LinkedIn” at the AAF Jackson meeting on Thursday. The members had terrific questions about profiles, company pages, ads and more.

Take a look at my 39-minute video from the event.

If you have a question, let me know in the comments.

My thanks to AAF Jackson for a great meeting.

Contact me if you want the slides and worksheet that accompany this presentation.

More videos? Visit my YouTube channel.

Video: The Art of the Brand [Pine Beach PRAM]

March 16, 2016

Video: The Art of the Brand: What Your Blog Needs and Deserves

I made the most of my trip to Mississippi with a swing up to Hattiesburg Tuesday for the Pine Belt PRAM meeting.

For the attendees, I have a 38-minute version of my talk, “The Art of the Brand: What Your Blog Needs and Deserves.” Watch it at your convenience.

If you have a question, let me know in the comments.

My thanks to the PRAM attendees and organizers for having me at their luncheon.

Contact me if you want the slides and worksheet that accompany this presentation.

More videos? Visit my YouTube channel.

Video: The Art of the Brand [PRAM Beach]

March 15, 2016

Video: The Art of the Brand: What Your Blog Needs and Deserves

I love visiting the Gulf Coast. And it was a terrific spring day when I stopped in Monday for the PRAM Beach meeting.

I gave a 25-minute version of my talk, “The Art of the Brand: What Your Blog Needs and Deserves.” Hope you’ll check it out.

If you have a question, let me know in the comments.

My thanks to the attendees and organizers in Gulfport for having me at their luncheon.

Contact me if you want the slides and worksheet that accompany this presentation.

More videos? Visit my YouTube channel.

Video: My philosophy of customer service

March 13, 2016

I spoke in Hattiesburg last month about digital storytelling. At the end, I took questions from the Pine Belt Entrepreneurs, including one on the state of customer service.

While I’ve been less successful selling my philosophy to colleagues, I have reaped success in implementing it in my own ventures.

Watch the video, and share your ideas on customer service in 2016.

More videos? Visit my YouTube channel.

Speaking gigs: Mississippi times three, March 2016

March 6, 2016
Galloway Memorial United Methodist Church, Jackson, Miss.

Photo: Ken Lund (CC)

Jackson, Miss., outside the Galloway Memorial United Methodist Church

I have three talks in Mississippi this month, and they’re all next week! I hope to see y’all at (at least) one of them.

1. Public Relations Association of Mississippi Beach Chapter, March 14. I’ll present “The art of the brand: What your blog needs and deserves” at the monthly luncheon, Gulfport location TBD. $25. Check the PRAM Beach site for more info.

The official summary:

Your blog stands for something. It represents your values and your personality, even if unintentionally. Branding might be more buzz word than tactic, but you must make it meaningful.

Join Y’all Connect conference director Wade Kwon as he explains how he turned a campaign launch with a so-so logo into a juggernaut. And how his online dating profile made him invisible. And how his adventures in branding helped his clients create and maintain standout brands.

2. Pine Belt PRAM, March 15. Again, I’m giving “The art of the brand” at the monthly luncheon, starting at 11:30 a.m. at the Lake Terrace Convention Center. $15. Details on the Facebook event, RSVP online on the PRAM site.

3. American Advertising Federation — Jackson chapter, March 17. I have a brand new talk, “A Guide to Getting Started on LinkedIn,” to present at the lunch meeting. It starts at 11:30 a.m. at the Fairview Inn. $30.Details on the Facebook event, RSVP online on the AAF site.

The official description:

LinkedIn can be your starting point for networking, leads and more. Make the most of this professional social network with strategies and tips from consultant Wade Kwon.

I can’t wait to hit the road again. Mississippi, here I come!

• • •

Book me for your event, conference or workshop today …

Contact me

How to embed Facebook video in blog posts

February 29, 2016

A couple of weeks ago, OK Go released its latest music video. The band is known for its elaborate eye-catching work.

And for the first time, the group posted its video on Facebook instead of YouTube.

But what really surprised me is how many news sites failed to include the video for “Upside Down and Inside Out” in their online coverage.

It’s so easy.


All I did was paste the URL of the original video on a line by itself in my WordPress post:

As shown above, the video is automatically embedded at the correct width, thanks to oEmbed. It’s a feature that allows instant embedding of media (videos, songs, slides, photos) by pasting the appropriate URL in a post. No other work required.

Maybe some of those news sites don’t have oEmbed capability — Facebook has an alternate method.

OK Go video embed


Below each Facebook video is an option to “Embed Video.” Clicking on it provides the embed code, which can be pasted into a blog post while in HTML/Text mode.

That’s it.

Why is this important? Facebook appears to give the edge to videos imported to its platform (as opposed to sharing videos from other sites such as YouTube). Import your videos, then share them on your Facebook page to gain more viewers and to take advantage of the silent autoplay function.

OK Go has nearly 50 million views on its first Facebook music video in 2 weeks, compared to 27 million views for its last YouTube music video for “I Won’t Let You Go” in 2014.

Apples and oranges? Maybe. But as you use original video content to engage fans and customers, it never hurts to use each platform to the fullest.

Learn more about using video content:

Video: The Power of Digital Storytelling [Pine Belt Entrepreneurs]

February 21, 2016

Video: The Power of Digital Storytelling

I had a great time last week in Mississippi. I stopped into Hattiesburg for an evening meeting with the Pine Belt Entrepreneurs.

We talked about storytelling, specifically “The Power of Digital Storytelling.” And I have it all for you to see in this hourlong video (I dropped the Q&A session at the end, but I may post a few clips later).

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a marketer or just love a good story, you’ll pick up a few ways to ensure your unique brand reaches the right audience.

If you have a question, let me know in the comments.

My thanks to Chris Spence for having me at the Pine Belt Entrepreneurs.

Contact me if you want the outline and resources that accompany this presentation.

More videos? Visit my YouTube channel.

Dispatches from the world of social media

February 14, 2016

Photo: Adam Przezdziek (CC)

The latest on Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat …

1. Instagram finally allows multiple accounts. For social media managers, this is a long overdue feature, one that’s been available in Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other channels.

Why Instagram still insists on app-only posting and management is beyond me. The Web interface should allow posting and scheduling, but nope.

This help article explains how to add and manage multiple accounts. I’m content to manage my sole account, the Y’all Connect Instagram feed.

Thanks to Andrew for alerting me.

2. Twitter has begun shuffling timeline tweets. Sort of. Many Twitter users (including me) have been complaining about the latest “improvement” to the service: algorithmic timelines.

Normally, users see tweets from the people they follow in reverse chronological order, with the latest updates always at the top. This was how Facebook used to work, until it decided to show everyone’s updates based on “importance” to the user. (I still switch my Facebook News Feed to “Most Recent” despite its insistence on the “Top Stories” setting.)

Twitter has now copied Facebook to show tweets out of order based on its own secret algorithm. But not by default on existing accounts, and not yet implemented on all accounts. (It’s available on only one of my Twitter accounts so far.)

Here’s Twitter’s Help article how to turn the feature on or off.

The Washington Post has a good example of how the new feature is already causing confusion among users: The London transit system announced it would cut back on real-time system updates, given that the tweets would no longer be delivered to people in chronological order. This naturally sparked even more bewilderment.

3. How to use Snapchat in 200 easy steps. Matt had asked me about using Snapchat for business. I admitted I hadn’t used it — rarely do I engage in new channels till I have a project or client request.

I should’ve sent him this BuzzFeed how-to article, “My Little Sister Taught Me How to ‘Snapchat Like the Teens’,” that shows how easy it is to connect with peers on the most popular app among teens.

Chances are that Brooke, our 13-year-old guide to the horrifying time-suck of Snapchat, has sent dozens of snaps since you started reading this section. I’m not kidding.

You will never be as good as Brooke is at Snapchat, and note in the interview that she points out peers who are really on their Snapchat game (one girl runs through 60GB of data a month).

• • •

Got a tip or a question about social media?
Give me a holler …

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