BLOGHER DC: Online Community Building as Natural Promotional Tool

Online Community Building as Natural Promotional Tool

Tips on how to better present your blog. This session focused on marketing your blog. The key is to use Online Community Building as a marketing and communications tool. A key focus really is to use social media, of which there are many available tools. 

Featuring (detailed bios in the end)

Elisa Camahort Page
Angela Benton-Conyer
Jocelyn Harmon
Alexandra Rampy (aka Social Butterfly)
Rachel Rappaport


Many here need to use promotional and marketing tools for advocacy and political organizations where you are marketing a cause—which is the product.


1. Targeting: know your audience
2. The Ask
3. Blogger relations
4. Right tools for right job
5. Measurement: how do you measure your success

How to figure out your audience?
Food blogger: has recipes and then talks about the recipes. Many of her readers are older and not familiar with blogging. Thousands of daily visitors and subscribers; makes it very easy for people to access from many access tools. Very general level of content.

Boomer and older people: blog (30-40%), read, comment, but do not blog themselves.
This is different than the younger generation.
GenY (younger group): blog (80%) or just read (20%).

Survey available at under Press.

African American Bloggers:
Her blog is a tech blog, specifically African American interactive industry. Has many blogs for African-Americans, covering a gamut of interests. Information is presented differently depending on the audience the blog is geared to.

How do you know your audience? Google Analytics to see type of connection. Screen resolution as well. Small niche, so communicate with readers to really know them. On her more general blog, it is trial and error to figure out who is coming.

ANALYTICS: can’t tell you their screen resolution, browser, geography, computer using—all of this can help figure out who your readers are, especially on a tech savvy level.

Nielsen’s Site Census: blogher uses this to assess its readership.

If you can monetize your blog, even non-profits, do it. Survey your readers, see who they are: then you can charge more for your ads (after discerning who your readers are)

Survey your readers: can help optimize your blog and tailor it better to the readers you have.

But, be careful about asking for demographic information, and let people decline. Ranges are better than asking for specifics.

Site surveys: Many skip the own surveys, so a speaker suggests using Quantcast.

SURVEY SOFTWARE: Some suggestions: zoomerang, whitelabel, micropoll, survey monkey. Google survey tools for some free tools or are very inexpensive. Also, Google Forms can do this for free and correlates the data for you (“stupid, easy, lazy and free way to do it”)

For a non-profit blog: be careful about monetizing your blog, it might be taxable.

Social media can raise expectations regarding The Ask. People can be asked to DO stuff in the non-profit and advocacy world.

Three key marketing questions: WHO TO REACH, WHAT DO THEY NEED, HOW YOU CAN HELP

Direct mail and emails are still great tools.

Non-profits: really benefit from social media. But note, time is not free but tools relatively free to put in place.

Don’t have a “blast” mindset when using these tools. Don’t have an advertising mindset. They work best when you establish relationships.

Marketing Guru: SETH GOODIN: “Flipping the Funnel.” Key article by this marketing guru. Trying to motivate people who love you most, do not try to get the most “eyeballs.” Giving the fans megaphones! Don’t spray and pray. Engage people in your cause: ask them to sign a petition and send along, or put a widget on your site. Getting back to Tupperware party concept.

Companies getting smarter about contacting Bloggers, but still difficult for non-profits. Everyone needs effective blogger relations.

The PITCH: Aaron Rossel (sp?)—called for a 140-character twitter pitch.

Return on Invest is morphing to RETURN ON INFLUENCE. Set benchmarks depending on your organizations.

Benchmarks (i.e. credibility, authority, frequency of posting and comments), way to measure, tools used to measure. Key to have face to face contact. In DC there are many social media events. Do more things, such as being at Blogher conferences. NetSquare is an organization. Figure out your niche and find the right meet-ups, and ask people how they want to be reached, how you can work with people. Face to face, not just computer to computer.

Key networking question: How can you see us working together?

Never assume who is the powerful blogger. Never assume who has the influence online. Use a lot of metrics. For example: Technorati is not enough. Our power on the blogosphere is immense, don’t limit yourself. 

Example: put product info on Twitter, and then see how many have reTwitted and then follow how that spreads.

How to aggregate the information? There is no dilution here, spreading the message is good.

For some Bloggers keeping it informal creates a relationship with you. People like to share and to show what they are doing. And a key is brevity: for example a short Twitter stream can really be accessible.

How can you manage to track so many places? Can be daunting, but after a while you get into a routine. Again, the focus should be on creating one-to-one connections with people.

Beauty of social media: Discovery! Serendipitous connections. Don’t try to drown yourself, just decide where to jump in and look at where you are. Another speaker suggests finding a niche: the one tool that you are good at. For example, the speaker said she only blogs (while so many talk of Twitter, and Facebook, and MySpace, and other tools as well). She is for focusing on that one niche. Commitment to choose a tool or go for the smorgasbord.

You get an extra planet with each tool you use.

Building relationships and friendships, a key idea for many.

Making money BECAUSE of their blog, not WITH their blog.

Getting caught up with comments from readers, how not to let this drag you down. Idea: connect readers to each other, and then create your own social networking site for those people (use NING for that). Another speaker said that her blackberry helps, or at a certain point she decided on her hours of “business.” You need to create a schedule; treat it like a job makes it easier to step away. Creating a group page can also help in this. FAQ section is also key to cutting back on some basic comments from draining your time.

Set boundaries depending on your goals.

SUCCESS STORIES of What You Get Out of Blogging
Beth Cantor: social media. Raised a lot of money. Twitter challenge from the stage. She could do this because she had created trust and a community. Don’t abuse the trust that you develop with people.

JOB: launching an online division of a company. Got the job through her blog: the headhunter found her via her blog in a search.


JOB: via her blog. They were looking for someone with technical blogging expertise.

BLOG AS JOB: writing her blog has brought many readers, and has gotten many opportunities from this.

WRITING: writing for different sites stemmed from establishing her voice and intelligence on her blog. Create a presence and personal platform: college grads can do this right away without having to start from the bottom and work up.

HOTMAMASPROJECT.ORG: found funding through readership and then had the respect to present the project.

ARTICLE: wrote an article on what kind of tea McCain or Obama is, and this just really caught on. Teas for Candidates.

Consulting: Develop your own following, then people will contact you to ask you to help them with different related topics. This stems from being seen as an expert. 
NEWSPAPER: started off doing standard low-level newspaper stuff, then a friend sent to them her postings, and now has her mommy blog on the newspaper. Blogs about being a “fool,” and people seem to love that, for example about being the Biggest Jeopardy Loser Ever.

GUIDE TO DC: gets a lot of access (including freebies and tickets), meets other journalists who then contact her about different things happening, which means that she is the first to know things in her niche, which is invaluable for bringing more readers and contacts. 

BUILDING an audience is like building a community. You link to me, I’ll link to you. Be reciprocal. Build blocks. Don’t expect the one viral hit, it is really about building blocks. You never know which post will be a big hit. You don’t know what will be picked up: just be consistent. Sometimes it’s the right thing at the right moment. Go to people who are at the same level as you.

Put thought behind each post.

How do deal with an angry community?
Check case by case, but emphasize that you maintain your presence and catch things before the negativity can spread. Catch things before they happen. Or state the facts. If it’s a difference of opinion, it can spark a conversation and this might not be bad—just as long as everyone stays respectful.

You can delete nasty comments. You draw your own boundaries. If you have a big community, you don’t have to agree with everyone, but you do need to be respectful. Respond to even the negative comments.

The bigger you get: the more random loonies you get.

EXAMPLE OF RIGHT TOOLS, or Tools of Wisdom
1. Why I was inspired to blog: The Wind Done Gone, book retelling Gone with the Wind. Understood that there are 50 sides to a story, and now, with blogging, you can find your voice and tell your story. A great opportunity for women and women of color to find their voice. Go where you are passionate.

2. Use Google Trends to track visitors to your site and see why they come. Can help you find topics to write about. You need to use the keywords.

3. Free Rice program.

4. Meeting like-minded people who one would not meet in one’s everyday world. It’s all networking. Great to know that you are not the only one thinking about what you are thinking about. You end up seeing the same people; things start to happen organically.

TIE: A way to amplify and distribute whatever your voice/message/goal says. The way to find the people who will be interested in your product or goal or interest. 

Elisa Camahort Page
Elisa Camahort is a co-founder and COO of BlogHer, managing its events, marketing and corporate operations. A marketing executive with 18 years of experience in Silicon Valley, Elisa left her life in high tech product management to go online and join the social media world, and to help companies go there too.

She co-founded BlogHer as a labor of love in 2005 with Jory Des Jardins and Lisa Stone, and in three short years BlogHer has grown to be the number-one guide to and source for blogs by women. BlogHer serves its mission of creating opportunities for education, exposure, community and economic empowerment with its web community, sold-out conferences and advertising network that now features over 2,000 network members.

Elisa Camahort was at the vanguard of professional and business blogging and currently writes nine blogs. She blogs at various times about marketing, health issues, green and eco-conscious living, being a vegan, and reality TV talent shows like American Idol and Project Runway! She’s a frequent public speaker in the areas of business blogging and online community, and has been published frequently, including her monthly column for the Silicon Valley Metro, Silicon Veggie.

Angela Benton
Angela Conyers-Benton publishes, a blog that analyzes emerging web trends as it relates to African-Americans and African-American culture. He rexperience spans a variety of industries including consultative relationships with companies such as UPS,,, and Angela is presently leading design at, an IAC Company.

Jocelyn Harmon
Jocelyn Harmon, Director of Business Development, Triplex

Jocelyn joined Triplex in 2008 to help launch Triplex Interactive.  She has eight years of experience in development, marketing and communications for nonprofits, with special expertise in corporate and foundation relations and "navigating the online space."

Prior to joining Triplex, Jocelyn was Director of Sales and Marketing at NPower Greater DC Region, an affiliate of NPower Network - a federation of nonprofits which provides technology consulting and IT support to hundreds of nonprofits annually.

From 2004 to 2006, she was Director of Development and Communications for the National Council of Nonprofit Associations (NCNA)/The Nonprofit Congress - a network of associations serving over 22,000 nonprofits in 45 states and the District of Columbia. At NCNA, she helped launch the first Nonprofit Congress - a grassroots movement to create an advocacy platform for charitable organizations.

Jocelyn speaks regularly on online marketing tools and strategies for success and is the author of the blog,

Alexandra Rampy
Alexandra Rampy, M.A., is a social marketing believer, blogger, reseacher, practitioner and enthusiast.  A blogger since 2003, Ms. Rampy currently spreads the movement of social marketing through her professional blog, SocialButterfly, where she partakes in the Carnival for Non-Profit Consultants, the Carnival for Change, The Non-Profit Blog Exchange, is listed as one of the top nonprofit and social media blogs by and is syndicated at Ms. Rampy works at IQ Solutions, a social marketing and health communications firm outside Washington D.C., where she combines her specialties in social marketing with social media marketing for government agencies, non-profits and foundations.

Rachel Rappaport
Rachel Rappaport is a food writer, recipe developer, cooking instructor and commentator on all matters relating to food and cooking.

Her blog Coconut & Lime originally started in 2004 as a place for Rachel to share recipes with her friends. It now features hundreds of original recipes and easy home cooking tips covering a wide range of international cuisines and is recognized as one of the top food blogs in the country.

Rachel has built a dedicated community around her blog using Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, widgets and more.

Laura, blogging at


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