Friday, September 23, 2011

Blogging and Social Media: Principles in Action

Last week, I attended some professional blog training sponsored by my company in preparation to launch a new blog in November. The speaker was Bernie Borges, professional author, speaker and social media specialist. The half day training session gave me a lot of information to absorb and made me think to myself: Why wait until November to give some of these ideas a try when I can see how they work with my personal blog?

The first idea I wanted to test was that of commenting on posts from blogs of similar topics to raise your own blog’s credibility. So, I scrolled through the list of blogs that I follow and landed on a headline called Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers At Page One posted by Kristen Skunza at

That sounded like an interesting title to me, so I clicked on the link and discovered the article was for a book review. The book’s title immediately grabbed my eye, reminding me of another principle that Borges spoke about: the importance of visuals. Talk about a book cover that scores high marks for visual appeal: A bright blue watery backdrop puts the focus on a sole goldfish eyeing a small shiny hook – right underneath the title HOOKED in a crisp serif font.

By the end of Skunza’s review, I found myself making my way over to Amazon to add the book to my wish list.

That’s when I scrolled down to the reviews. The first review stopped me. The title read “Not So Great” and only gave the book 2 stars. Intrigued, I started reading.

The reviewer gave a thoughtful, in-depth explanation for the poor review, and by the time I finished reading the exposé, I decided not to add the book to my wish list after all.

That’s when I realized that I had just put into action another principle that Borges had discussed: the power of peers on our decisions in the age of social media. The irony of the situation is that these peers, sometimes referred to as “friends,” are people we will probably never meet, and yet we value their opinions because they share a common perspective. In this case, the reviewer and I shared the commonality of consumers – we both want to spend our money on something of value.

That’s not to say that the reviewer is necessarily “right”; I may thoroughly enjoy the book. What’s significant is that I may never buy the book in the first place, because of the reviewer’s opinion.

As I wrap up this exercise, a final principle specific to blogging comes to mind: conclude each post with a call to action. Borges clarified that the call to action doesn’t have to be of heroic proportions. It just needs to involve the reader.

So here it is: The next time you’re online, ask yourself how you’re influencing and being influenced by social media. The answer may surprise you.

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