blog valueTweet this, retweet this, check out this blog post, click here, act now, subscribe for free updates, watch this, share this, like me, follow me, act now. Whoa! There sure isn't a shortage of folks telling us what to do in the social world.

From bloggers, internet marketing experts, social media gurus, social rockstars, twitterati, to a-listers someone has something that is going to rock your world with a click, like, follow and tweet.

Do you remember why you created your blog?

It's easy to get caught up in the hype of the buttons, gadgets, shares, pages, videos, widgets, gidgets and gadgets. As a result it's also easy to forget why you created your blog in the first place. Did you create your blog only for the rankings, stats, clicks, shares and likes? Or did you start blogging to help your business?

Do you remember how happy you were when you received your first tweets, retweets, likes, and comments? Remember the feeling of knowing that your content inspired someone, helped you connect with someone in a way that brought them closer to you and your brand?

How long has it been since you had that feeling? You know the feeling I am talking about.  The one that makes you want to do the “happy blog post dance” when you hit submit.

How long has it been since you knew deep in your heart and brain that you are providing value to your readers, your clients, partners, audience? If you have to think more than a few seconds on this question then it's been too long.

Take your blog back!

A few weeks ago I wrote a post titled “Is This My Blog or Your Blog?” where I realized I was doing the same thing. I had gotten so wrapped up in the hip and hype, gidgets and gadgets that I was starting to lose “me” in my posts. When you lose yourself in posts you also start to lose the value you offer your readers.

10 tips to take your blog back from the value eating gadget, widget and share button monsters.

take your blog back1. Know your objectives. Why are you blogging? Who are you blogging for? What do you want to accomplish? If you are blogging for business, how is your blog going to help you meet your business goals and objectives? What do you want to achieve from blogging from both personally and professionally?

2. Stop Random Acts of Marketing (RAMs)!  Get integrated. A blog should not be run as a silo separate from your business, online marketing, offline marketing or social media strategy. The more and better you can integrate the better your results will be. Many assume integration is more expensive. In reality integration can cost you less if done correctly. It helps minimize and often eliminate the Random Acts of Marketing (RAMs) which will eat your business ROI for lunch and dinner. If it isn't in the budget, doesn't have a plan and doesn't align with other efforts, campaigns and tactics then chances are it's a RAM!

3.  Know what you have to offer. What are your strengths and weaknesses? What topics are you most familiar with that will enable you to provide the most thoughtful, comprehensive but easily understood content that can be enjoyed by your readers? Don't try to be something that you are not. If you have not had success or spent time on Google+ then don't write about it like you're an expert.

4. What do you know that others don't know? Writing a blog post every day about the latest feature that Google+, Facebook or Twitter launches is not going to differentiate you from the masses. What do you have to offer your readers that is different than the status quo blogger? How can you differentiate yourself by offering the most relevant, compelling content that will help your audience meet their business goals and objectives?

target market analysis5. Know your readers.  Who reads your blog? Why do they read your blog? What content do they read most on your blog? What would they like to see more or less of?  If you don't know the answers to the questions then find them. Dig into the analytics and viral share metrics. Ask your readers what they want. You'll be suprised how much they'll share with you if you simply put a little more effort into showing them that you care.

6. Know the people you wish would read your blog.  Who would you like to read your blog that isn't reading your blog? What content do they need? What blogs are they reading? Where do they hangout online and offline? How are they engaging with other bloggers? What content are they consuming, sharing and talking about? The more you can get in the head of your readers and wanna be readers the better your results will be.

7. Know your data.  Dig into the data!  Google Analytics is a gold mine for learning how your readers engage and don't engage with your blog. Pay close attention to top landing pages, exit pages and referral sites. What is the bounce rate, time on site, and top traffic sources? Google Analytics now supports a first level of viral share data if you install a small set of code on your blog. Our SMO team is just starting to use this as a way to easily get a snapshot of shares on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Of course it's not perfect or as comprehensive as our other more robust paid tools, but it's great for a close to real-time snapshot.

8. Get a reality check. If the data shows that your readers are not engaging, sharing, clicking, liking, or commenting, then it might be time for an overhaul. If it's broken, fix it, don't ignore it. Do a sanity check on your content, brand experience, user experience and overall success of your efforts. If you don't like what you see in the data then have the guts to make a change. You can either waste another year doing what you're doing or you can invest the time and money now to ensure a year from now your results are something you are proud of. If you do what ya' always do, you'll get what you've always got, period!

9. Quit making up excuses. Quit blaming your lack of success on your lack of budget, boring fans, readers and community. Maybe you are the one who is boring. Even if you have a limited budget you can still rock your blog. I started my blog with a computer, keyboard, two hands and a chick ready to rock. In less than a year my blog made the top 50 on AdAge Power 150, Top 100 Small business blogs. I didn't pour tons of money into it. I learned what I had to learn and hired out what I needed help with. If your results look the same a year from now as they do today, you will have nobody to blame but yourself, sorry.

10. Do the gidget / gadget test. Take a look around your blog. How many buttons, widgets and gadgets do you have? Take inventory, analyze the data and determine which ones are delivering value to your audience? Which ones are helping you meet business goals and objectives? If they aren't doing either then it might be time to say “buh bye” to some of the technical toys that are probably also slowing down your website performance big time. I did this last week and increased the speed of my blog exponentially.

11. Create an editorial calendar. After you have done your research, clearly defined your objectives, written a plan, now take the time to draft an editorial calendar. It doesn't have to be anything fancy. If you're new to blogging or content then simply decide upon themes that will connect with your audience throughout the year.  Develop a calendar that defines by week, month and quarter what content you will develop.  Defining themes of topics helps you integrate, increase brand awareness and brand equity by hitting home key messages and value propositions. It will also simplify the integration of your blog into a supporting and pivotal component of your overall strategy.


Your Turn

So what is your blog doing for me lately? What is it doing for your readers? Is it providing value? Is it time for a reality check? If it is working, what tips can you offer others? Was there ever a time you struggled? How did you work thru it?

Heartbeat of Social Media Series

heartbeat of social mediaThis blog post is part of a new series titled “The Heartbeat of Social Media“. It will include a deep look at how communities work, what people are doing within them and how businesses can better understand how they can fit in, provide value and derive benefit as both a business as well as individual people.

Subscribe to the series for updates and access to special videos, webinar training and more. Would love to hear your input and have you participate in discussions and debates as we challenge each other to be part of what makes the social network heartbeat healthy and alive in 2012!

I'll be hosting a free “Facebook for Business” as well as “Rock Your Blog” webinar with focus on social media optimization which will deep dive into some of the topics discussed in this post. Subscribe to the series for updates and early invitations.