The 10 Secrets Of A Successful Social Media Blog

It was about a year ago and I noticed a rather quirky social media blog with a good selection of key words in its title  called the ” Social Media Examiner”. It was late last week and an article in the worlds largest blog the Huffington Post featured an interview with the founder of that blog Michael Stelzner that piqued my interest.

The reason my ears pricked up was because on scanning the article the traffic and success that he has garnered in less than 12 months was not just notable but stunning.

Here are some of the milestones after launching on October 12, 2009.

  • 13,000 people visited the site within the first 2 weeks
  • January 2010 (only 3 months after launch) he had 10,000 email subscribers
  • January 2010 he had 55,000 unique visitors to the blog
  • In February (less than 5 months after launch) the site was rated as the number one small business blog on the planet by Technorati
  • It currently generates 300,000 page views a month
  • The Social Media Examiner Facebook Fan page has over 11,500 fans
  • Less than 12 months after launch he has an email list of over 30,000 subscribers

So what are some of the secrets behind Michael’s success with the “Social Media Examiner”? but before we answer that let us look at what he was doing prior to launching the  blog.

In 2005 he started a blog called “Writing White Papers” which was quite successful… its tag line “How To Capture Readers and Keep them Engaged”. He wrote whitepapers for Microsoft, FedEx, Motorola and Dow Jones. In just over 4 years he had just over 25,000 email subscribers so he had obtained some blogging experience that provided him with basics of what to do and not to do with a blog.

The success secrets of the “Social Media Examiner” are highlighted by the following ten revelations as stated by Michael.

1. He collaborated with other successful  people such as Mari Smith, a Facebook specialist, Chris Garrett who had co-authored Problogger the book and Denise Wakeman from the blog sqaud.. he called them his firestarters.

2. Held a major online virtual summit called “Social Media Success Summit 2009″ prior to the launch of his blog which attracted over 700 attendees and was completely online and Gary Vaynerchuk was the keynote speaker. (by the way the summit generated over $900,000 in revenue)

3. Composed a team of writers who provided guest posts on Social Media Examiner including Jason Falls and Casey Hibbard of the blog, Stories that Sells as well as an additional team of writers. A proportion of these writers substantial followings drove readership to the new blog.

4. Interviewed 16 social media marketing thought leaders at Blog World Expo including Scott Monty and Chris Brogan and released these videos over 9 months slowly.

5. Publishes a long magazine-style article every weekday that is  edited for top quality writing prior to hitting the blog publish button

6. Implemented an email acquisition strategy that includes a pop over form that hovers over the screen for first time visitors (it includes a free Twitter video tutorial)  as well as offering a subscription form on the right sidebar. The other email subscriber tactics includes a suggestion to refer a friend to to join the email list and the Facebook fan page also has a video inviting visitors to subscribe.

7. A Facebook fan page that is well designed and optimized including a Friendpile social plugin that shows all of a visitors Facebook friends that like Social Media Examiner. Other strategies included invitations to join the Facebook Fan page that were broadcasted to the email list generating almost 1,000 fans overnight. He made a note that the keyword to use is “Join” not “Follow Us”

8. On Facebook Michael has the rule that they reply to every comment on the Facebook page

9. Social Media Examiners Facebook editorial guide involves “breaking news” as opposed to “writing features” on the flagship blog site.

10. Ultra-rich content that is offered for free on social media examiner acts as the major incentive to attend a virtual summit where people know they will get even more valuable and in depth information from the top experts in their field

What is empowering about this story is that he didn’t spend a dime on his marketing (just his time) and leveraged the power of social media including Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

How could you take these tips and make your blog more successful?

It would seem that we need to take some of Jeff Bullas’s good advice. Do you have any additional suggestions to add? Are you writing “breaking news” or “writing features?”

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8.5 Slang Expressions for Business Professionals to Avoid

Man's mouth covered with tape in an "X" representing online reputation

We have been gathering a list of negative (as well as positive) behaviors for a class we intend to launch entitled, “Twitter: Business Ethics and Behavior.” Our original intent was an exercise around how to sell without being obnoxious, how to build authentic relationships and having a following that matters. It should come as no surprise that our focus group and crowd-sourced feedback led to the conversation itself. Semantics and syntax were at the core of most people’s impressions.

Social business in public “social media” spaces now requires professionalism. If you are using Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, Orkut, Bebo or posting live video on Youtube, Vimeo, Viddler or for business than these are the idioms your audience thinks it’s best to avoid.  Keep in mind, your children are going to read this stuff ten years from now when they search for you online.

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Renewal on the path to Mastery

I’m working my way through "The Personal MBA," by Josh Kaufman.  He completed the work as a manifesto at  Both are worth more than a quick view. 

One book (text) out of many that a part of Kaufman’s recommended list included in the Personal MBA is Mastery by George Burr Leonard.

"Mastery draws on Zen philosophy and the author’s expertise in the martial art of Aikido to show how the PROCESS of Mastery can help us attain a higher level of excellence and a deeper sense of satisfaction and fulfillment in our daily lives."

Leonard discusses the path to Mastery as long and rocky with no quick and easy payoffs.  He also discusses types of people and societal influence that cause us to be Dabblers, Obsessives and Hackers instead.  I found it enlightening.  Leonard gives Essential keys and tools for Mastery of most anything – your career, athletic potential, relationships and creating harmony within yourself. 

Mastery was not only a brilliant inclusion in a self imposed individual MBA program but influential on my decisions concerning what it is I desire to Master – and that it is a lifelong endeavor.

It’s been some time since my last posting on this blog.  I believe I approached it (blogging) as some combination of obsessive and dabbler.  I wanted community and value to be realized instantly.  When it wasn’t happening as planned I abandoned the project – but it gnawed at me – both as something important to discuss and foster, and now as something to Master. 

I continue on with your help.  Please email suggestions, post comments, and make contributions.


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Principled Rant

My thoughts of successfully blogging about character and principles as a path to effectiveness in living have led me through the blogoshpere.  I have traveled and read to attempt to answer the question, "How do I make this valuable to you, the reader?"

In my search I found the research report:  Behaviors of the Blogosphere: Understanding the Scale, Composition and Activities of Weblog Audiences(pdf) that includes the current top 25 blogs.  Many of these are feeds that I subscribe to for news, fun or geeky stuff such as Free Republic, Drudge Report,,, and Gizmodo.  And then, also rounding out the top 25 are the sex and trashy blogs like Fleshbot (#3), Gawker (advertising a roast of Pamela Anderson) (#4),and  Defamer to name a few. 

I’m all for fun, enjoy breaking news and won’t criticize the
People/Us/Seventeen Magazine crowd. Perhaps there’s just room for an
active discussion concerning how to be more effective by living a high
character existence. 

I’ve learned, through trial and error – mostly error – that the forces by which we overcome being less effective than we’d like to be are guided by principles, ethics and roots of high individual character.   And, based on the horrible number of American corporate executives led though courthouse doors with their heads hanging low, has there ever been a better time to find our roots in the good earth of character?

There are fundamental Principles, such as Vision, Harmony, Order and Purpose that work in opposition to the common things that get in our way (like interruptions, unclear values, lack of organization and fatigue).  Are these not worthy of our attention?  Have you seen the results of acting outside of good character in your own life?  I sure have. 

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