DeSmogBlog Named One of Time Magazine’s Best Blogs of 2011

DeSmogBlog was honored by TIME magazine as one of theThe Best Blogs of 2011. The list compiles the top 25 blogs from across the internet. DeSmogBlog.com is the only Canadian blog on the list.

TIME's yearly list includes the most relevant and innovative blogs on the Internet. This year's trendsetting blogs include the NY Times Economix, the Wall-Street Journal tech blog AllThingsD and the math-based dating website OkTrends, among others.

DeSmogBlog is the only blog with an environmental focus to make the list. TIME has previously recognized Huffington Post, Daily KOS, and Mashable on past Top Blog lists.

TIME reporter Bryan Walsh calls DeSmogBlog a "necessary corrective" and "the antidote" to the corporate smoke screen surrounding news coverage of climate change and energy issues.

According to Walsh, "A corporate smoke screen surrounds much of the coverage of climate-change and energy issues. Fossil-fuel companies have spent millions funding anti-global-warming think tanks, purposely creating a climate of doubt around the science. DeSmogBlog is the antidote to that obfuscation."

DeSmogBlog is celebrating its 5th anniversary of clearing the PR pollution that clouds climate science, and this nod by TIME is an honor for all the hard work of DeSmog's contributors over the years, especially their current line-up of writers and researchers whose investigations earned the award on this year's Top 25.

I want to thank you all for your loyalty and welcome new readers to the blog.

Head over to TIME.com to see the full list of The Best Blogs of 2011.

– Jim Hoggan

Great read: Rise of the Corporate Tweeter

Bloomberg’s Businessweek has a great article looking at the rush by corporate America to hire directors of social media.

Early in the year there was a lot of talk about this being the year for the rise of social media to the corporate world and that is looking more and more to be the case as big brands like McDonalds, Starbucks, Home Depot invest big bucks in social media marketing programs. I would call 2009 the year of social media adoption and 2010 the year of social media investment.

As the Businessweek points out, social media is becoming something corporations are seeing as both an opportunity and a threat:

“In the current environment, complaints can go viral fast. Nobody wants to become the next United Airlines (UAUA), which took a beating last year after ignoring a frustrated passenger, a musician who eventually posted a song on YouTube about the airline breaking his guitar. The video has been viewed more than 8 million times and no doubt helped inspire more than one queasy PR department to consider hiring a social media strategist.”

How to Post a Youtube Video on Your Blog

I get this question a lot and in light of my latest blogging tip on producing your own online video, I thought I would do a simple walk-through of how to post a Youtube video on your blog. While this tutorial uses a WordPress blog and Youtube, it’s the same process for pretty much every type of blog software and embeddable videos.

It’s really simple to embed Youtube video on your blog.

1. You need to copy the “embed code” from the Youtube video you want to post. Here’s where you find that:

2. Copy the code you see there (make sure you copy ALL of it or the video will not work when you embed it on your blog).

The embed code will look something like this:

<object width=”480″ height=”385″><param name=”movie” value=”http://www.youtube.com/v/gFEB1VyvZEA&hl=en_US&fs=1&”></param><param name=”allowFullScreen” value=”true”></param><param name=”allowscriptaccess” value=”always”></param><embed src=”http://www.youtube.com/v/gFEB1VyvZEA&hl=en_US&fs=1&” type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” allowscriptaccess=”always” allowfullscreen=”true” width=”480″ height=”385″></embed></object>

3. Now start a new blog entry. You want to switch to HTML editing before you paste the embed code. You switch to HTML on a WordPress blog by clicking on the HMTL tab in the top right corner of the blog editing area here:

4. Once you’ve switched to HTML go ahead and paste the embed code into your blog post. Try and paste it where you want it to appear in the post. If it’s too confusing because of all the other coding, don’t worry, just paste it wherever and you can move the video when you switch back to “visual” mode.

5. Switch back to “visual” mode and you should now see a yellow box with a “f” in the middle that looks like this:

6. You can now align the video to the left, right, center or whatever else you want to do using the editing menu on your WordPress blog post editing dashboard. You can also re-size the video to fit your blog – to do that click on the yellow video box and holding the small squares that appear in the corners of the video you can make it bigger or smaller:



7. That’s it! Hit publish and your video should be viewable on your blog post.

If you’re having problems still, leave your question or comment in the forum section below.

And here’s the Baby Kangaroo video just in case you want to watch it:

Blogging tip #9: Meme tracking

An “internet meme” is defined as something that spreads quickly on the internet.

Normally a meme will take the form of celebrity gossip, a funny new video/image, big sports news, tech news or a breaking disaster story. With social media channels like Twitter, Facebook, Digg and Reddit, the speed with which these memes are shared is greatly enhanced.

These memes come and go in a matter of hours on the internet, with millions of people paying attention one minute, then quickly moving on to the next meme.

So while the world of internet memes is full of bald Britney Spears, Justin Bieber news and the lastest iPhone gossip, there is also a lot of opportunity to try and jump on a meme and write a blog post that relates in some way to it. The best way to do this is to find a meme that you think you can add further information or context to.

So if you’re a hair product company and Justin Bieber’s new hairstyle is going nuts on Twitter, do a post on the “ten things you can do to make your hair Bieber-licious.”

It takes a bit of creativity to jump on these memes, but if it is done right and you are in fact adding to the conversation the pay-off in additional targeted traffic to your website can be huge.

Here’s a few ways you can track internet memes:

Google Trends Hot Searches – updated every hour this site shows you the 20 hottest searches currently on Google.

Tweetmeme – following the most recent “retweeted” posts on Twitter.

Yahoo Buzz – ranks what the world is searching for on Yahoo at any given time.

Written by Kevin Grandia

[This is part of an ongoing series of articles on 50 Simple Tips to Better Blogging and you can check out all the previous tips there]

Blogging Tip #6: Beware of Epic Server Fail

Written by Kevin Grandia

Did your mom ever warn you to “watch out what you wish for, because you might just get it”?

If she did, she was unknowingly a social media marketing genius, because your mom’s warning speaks to a big issue that I see time and time again. To see it in action go to the homepage of Digg.com right now,  click on any of the stories in the “popular” section and see what happens.  When I did, a couple of the stories kicked back and error code or a “this server has timed out” message.

The reas0n these webpages are not going to the story is because being on the front page of Digg.com and many of the other social media news sites, blogs and forums can send a crushing amount of traffic in a very short amount of time. Here’s what that can look like, I took this from a recent traffic spike we had on one of the sites we manage, EnergyBoom. com when a story went on the homepage of Reddit.com:

If we were not prepared, that spike (sending about 100 pageviews a second at one point) would have completely crashed our servers and all that work that had gone into writing a compelling story would have been a complete waste of time.

A lot of hours can go into creating that perfect “viral” video or blog post and when it pops you want to be sure your servers have the capability to handle the surge in traffic.

Here’s a couple of tips that should take care of this issue:

1. I would suggest that if you are building out a project that could result in a crush of traffic that you ask your web designers if they have hosting capabilities as well as the capacity to handle a large surge in traffic – nowadays with the cost of storage and broadband being so cheap, many web designers do have this capacity. It is better to have your own web team handle your server needs because they are very accessible and you can phone them (if they are good at what they do) anytime you want when you have server capacity issues. You can also discuss with them ahead of time when you think they need to prepare for a ton of traffic.

2. If you do not have a designer that offers this, then I would look for a third-party service provider that offers server space on the “Amazon Cloud.” You don’t need to know much about the cloud other than that it is a service that can host your website and as your traffic grows (i.e. when your site is going viral on Twitter), your capacity to handle that traffic grows with it – this is why the Amazon cloud is also called the “elastic cloud.”

[This is part of an ongoing series of articles on 50 Simple Tips to Better Blogging and you can check out all the previous tips there]

Monday’s Social Media Caffeine Buzz

Here’s what’s hot in social media and online marketing that has us buzzing here at Hoggan this week.

How to use government website information to create sticky linkbait
This is a great column on Search Engine Land about driving valuable traffic that stays on your website by providing government information related to your service and/or product. It is something we do on our blogs and a recommended strategy for our clients. This article has some interesting polling data by Pew to back up this tactic.

Yahoo acquired location-based social network
The battle continues to heat up around location-based social networking channels, with Yahoo buying an Indonesian network called Korpol. This is a sector we’re watching very closely as it continues to grow with the most popular location-based networks in North America being Gowalla and Foursquare.

Design entry pages, not homepages
This article nails it. With the way people share links (i.e. twitter),  seek information (i.e. Google) and filter the information they receive (i.e. RSS feeds), there is less and less traffic visiting your homepage in comparison to the individuals sub-pages on your website.  This is a very important shift that is happening and will have many people reconsidering the traditional models of web design and information architecture.

Murdoch’s next step: hiding the UK Times articles from search engines
I wish Murdoch all the luck in the world with this idea and I am sure he’s thought through the idea that information in the form of news has become a very cheap commodity online. Maybe he has a trick up his sleeve?

Wendy’s frosty gets a social media infusion
Good on Wendy’s, this looks like a very comprehensive summer social media marketing program. Lots of ideas here for any business wondering how social media can be used to promote their product or service.

(p.s. I know this “monday” buzz is coming out on Tuesday, but it was a long weekend here in Canada)

Blogging Tip #4: Write like you have a million readers

Written by Kevin Grandia

Unless you’re super-famous or already have a large built-in audience, the first year or so of blogging can be a pretty tough slog.

You will see traffic spikes of optimism that come crashing down to days of very little traffic or any at all. This can very disheartening and frustrating and this can lead to a little bit of sloppiness – you might forget to spell check or not tag items or give your posts poor titles, or *gasp* start posting pictures of your cat – thinking that it doesn’t matter because nobody is reading anyways.

But if you keep at it, your traffic will grow and one day you might regretting all of those less-than-stellar posts with spelling errors and photos of your cat in a party hat (not that there’s anything wrong with cats).

So always write like you have a millions readers, because one day you just might.

[This is part of an ongoing series of articles on 50 Simple Tips to Better Blogging and you can check out all the previous tips there]

Monday’s Social Media Caffeine Buzz

Let’s get right into what our Social Media team here at Hoggan is reading/thinking/talking about right now.

Foursquare Mayors now get discounts at Starbucks
Why not start of this week’s Buzz with a caffeinated story about my favorite coffee shop. The geo-location social media game/sharing platform Foursquare gets some serious profile after Starbucks announced the Foursquare ‘Mayor” of any location in the US will get $1 off frappacinos until the end of June. The “Mayor” in Foursquare is the person who has updated their status the most times at any given location indexed on the Foursquare platform. Very nice marketing for Starbucks as well, who will definitely reap the benefits of showing how social media savvy they are.

While many remain cynical about the long-term viability of Foursquare and other geo-location social media platforms, they continue to gain headlines. Kind of reminds me of when Twitter first got going.

50 Simple Tips to Better Blogging
My long-awaited blogging guide is now in production. I am rolling it out here on the Hoggan blog as a series of 50 posts that will then indexed into a downloadable e-book. You can follow the series easily by subscribing to our RSS feed or you can check back in a month or so for the entire guide.

Hosting With GoDaddy? Might Want To Rethink That Decision
Do you use Godaddy for any of your web hosting?  A lot of people do, including me. I run a few smaller blogs on the platform while I use a much larger private server that runs on the Amazon cloud for any commercial projects.  Apparently blogs using wordpress on the Godaddy servers are vulnerable to being hacked.  This in-depth article has all you need to know about fixing the issue.

The 8-Step SEO Strategy
I have been following this series over on SEOmoz who I think are the best when it comes to the world of search engine optimization. The series by Laura Lippay provides a good starter kit to anyone looking to build up their companies presence in search engines.

Facebook’s latest privacy woes
Privacy continues to be a huge issue over at Facebook and last week saw the company again making headlines. Last week the company released new privacy guidelines in a handy 5,830 page document and people are not too happy. Like Google, much of the value of Facebook lies in it’s massive database of personal information offered up by its members and the social media giant has never been too good at getting the balance right when it comes to defining what information it does and doesn’t own.

That’s it for this edition of the Buzz. What did we miss? Leave your comment or question below.

Blogging Tip #2: Cross-Posting

Written by Kevin Grandia

Crossposting is a great way to reach new audiences and drive more traffic to your own blog. All it means is that when you write a post, you take it and post it on another blog that you have access to.

Warning: I do not mean that you should go out and start another blog where you simply cut and paste your content. This would be very redundant and has very little value – it is also something that Google frowns upon and may actually  effect your overall page rank.

What I DO mean is to seek out other blogs covering the same areas as you are that you think might be open to posting your content.

What you are looking for is either single-author blogs you really respect or large multi-author blogs whose business model is to amass a very large quantity of content everyday. In either case, email the owner or editor of the blog, introduce yourself and ask if they would be willing to cross-post your content from time-to-time.

If they agree take them up on the offer and either post the content directly if they let you or send them the content you would like to have posted. Ensure that you always are attributed as the author of the article and that there is a link back to your blog.

[This is part of an ongoing series of articles on 50 Simple Tips to Better Blogging and you can check out all the previous tips there]