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Archive for November, 2008

Do Social Networks Drive Online Revenues?

November 25th, 2008 by Bob Bly

No, according to an article in DM News (11/24/08, p. 7), which cited a survey in which social networks were the least effective way to educate consumers about online bargains.

From most to least effective online selling tool according to the 1,000 adults surveyed: e-mail marketing (45%), friends forwarding a link (16.5%), onsite messages (16%), banner ads (10%), onsite shopper comments (9%), and — last and least — social networking, a mere 3%.

Hardly supports the assertions of social media gurus and evangelists that web sites and e-mails are irrelevant in today’s market, does it?


Category: General | 54 Comments »

Jerome Wrong About Writing

November 23rd, 2008 by Bob Bly

It pains me to say it, but a nonfiction book author I greatly admire, the late John Jerome, said something in his book about writing, which I am now reading, that I believe is almost totally wrong.

In “The Writing Trade” (Penguin), Jerome said: “I’ve always felt that any piece of writing is about writing first, before it is about whatever the subject matter is supposed to be.”

I disagree. To me, the most important elements of nonfiction writing are, in this order:

1. The audience: Who is the reader? What do they want or need to know?

2. The topic: the product, lesson, idea, skill, subject matter, etc.

3. The content: are the facts there? accurate? in an order that makes sense? does it answer the reader’s questions and tell her what she wants to know?

4. The writing: is it clear, well organized, clean, well reasoned?

I agree with Michael Masterson, who says “Great writing is a good idea cleanly expressed.”

I always put my reader first. My subject second.

I don’t think MY type of nonfiction writing — how-to and marketing copy — is ever about the writing itself.

If I’ve done my job. The writing is essentially invisible. It doesn’t deflect the reader’s attention from the story or content to the writing itself.

I think a dwindling group of literate readers (me included) can still appreciate reading a genuine prose stylist.

But our demand, time, and attention span for “fine writing” is shrinking with each passing year.

So when you write, you should write for the reader.

And not to show off your eloquence or style to others — yes?


Category: General | 69 Comments »

Has DM News Gone Nuts?

November 17th, 2008 by Bob Bly

In their article “New Media Hot Ad:tech Topic” (DM News, 11/10/08, p. 2), Dianna Dilworth and Mary Hurn write: “As Web sites become less important than a Facebook page and Twitter entry…”


Web sites are LESS important than having a Facebook or Twitter account?

Since when? Says who?

Were Dilworth and Hurn high when they wrote that sentence?

Or did they mean to say it?

I agree that social media has become the hot marketing topic of 2008 … and is undeniably growing in importance.

But if Dilworth and Hurn truly believe that having a Twitter account is — for the average DM News reader — actually more important than having a company Web site ….

Then they need a refresher in Marketing 101 … Journalism 101 … or both.

On the other hand, if they are right — then perhaps I should be sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch of the Old Marketer’s Retirement Home.

Soclal media. A valuable addition to the online marketer’s toolkit? Yes.

More valuable than web sites?

Not hardly, ladies.


Category: General | 49 Comments »

“We’re All Spending Time in Social Networking”

November 7th, 2008 by Bob Bly

“We’re all spending plenty of time in our social network accounts,” says Clay McDaniel, co-founder of Spring Creek Group, in an article in DM News (11/3/08, p. 13).

Oh really?

I for one spend NO time on the social network sites — Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn — where I have accounts. So Clay is wrong.

My problem is not, however, with Clay being a cheerleader for social media. It’s with his use of the language.

There are very few instances where “all” — which in Clay’s statement is synonymous with “everyone” — can be safely used.

That’s because it’s impossible to know — or prove — that everyone is doing anything … whether it’s social networking or switching to hybrid cars.

Clay might have been better off to say “most of us” … but that still wouldn’t be safe, unless you could cite a reliable source reporting that over 50% of Internet users are spending X number of hours a week on social networks.

The safest statement would have been to say “many of us.”

But when it comes to social media, even that might be challenged.

For instance, another article in this same issue of DM News reports that more than half of Internet users have NOT read a blog in the past year … and only 12% read blogs daily or weekly.

Again, my point here is not whether social networking is hot or not.

It’s that as professional communicators, we (including Clay) must use accurate language when expressing opinions.

Otherwise, we instantly lose all credibility — as Clay has here.


Category: General | 65 Comments »