I gave a class recently for University of Houston‘s Small Business Development Center on Social Media for Small Business. In it, I encountered an audience far more interested in the “big three” of Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter than they were in blogging.
They’re wrong about that. Blogs are a simple and affordable way to stake out a place that’s all your own on the Web. Take a look at how 12 companies, non-profits and solopreneurs are using blogs to expand their customer/client base and solidify their brand.
33 charts blog: medicine, health, [social] media. Bryan Vartabedian is a pediatric gastroenterologist at Texas Children’s Hospital/BaylorCollege of Medicine. Two of his recent posts are on the AMA’s new policy on social media; and 6 signs [for physicians] that social media is not for you. Fortunately for us, this is not true in his case. Note particularly how he carefully sets a boundary between private practice and the public world of social media.
The PMTeam (Project Management Team) Blog — by Sara Speer Selber. It’s a little awkward including Sara here. For all I know she’s mentored half the people on this page. To sum up how this woman does business, check out her About page. There you’ll find Social Media ROI: Socialnomics and the stern warning: “if you do not have time to watch this video, please do not call on us.” She means it! Sara uses her blog and every hour of her day to connect diverse friends, find funding for start-ups, promote non-profits. She never, ever sleeps, but she does spend an unseemly amount of time at Mam’s House of Ice. If you’re looking for her “office,” you can find her there.
- 3 Geeks and a Law Blog — by Toby Brown, Lisa Salazar, and Greg Lambert. This blog is the product of “3 intrepid law geeks, specializing in their respective fields of knowledge management, internet marketing and library science.” Their posts cover that gamut. Among posts I’ve recently enjoyed is one about the optimum law library [hint: books are optional, coffee, food, and WiFi essential]; and a heart-stopping post about News + Web 2.0 and the hidden downside thereof.
Click “Read More,” below, to find blogs pertaining to
- Retail and Commercial
- Arts, Music, FOOD
Retail and Commercial
- Smart Meals® serves healthy, prepackaged meals and provides customers with the resources to live life to the fullest. These guys also have a finely-honed social conscience, e.g. a partnership with Recipe for Success Foundation to raise awareness about childhood obesity. Truth is, the company does good just by offering a healthy product line and a blog to educate, link readers to worthy non-profit programs, and inspire menu diversity. Surprisingly, their posts aren’t open to comment. Follow them anyway — you’ll learn something and definitely eat better.
- Danielle Guilbeau is like everyone’s best girlfriend. She knows everyone and when she comes into the room a crowd gathers. Those are great qualities in a realtor, great qualities for any businesswoman or friend. If you read Houston Living, you’ll learn some things about properties around town, the details of the Houston preservation ordinance, and a whole bunch of other cool stuff . . . like where the hell to find a decent iced tea in this town and how hard it is to get Splenda with that.
- I learned about Hometta in June, at the TEDx Conference, and they were a revelation to me: a cross between architect-designed housing and mass-market “dreck.” They offer a green, user-friendly, affordable route to home ownership. And their designs are . . . COOL. Any purveyor of product can find things to copy from their blog, Making Modern Plans. All it takes is some careful thought about how to provide ideas for living in or organizing your small corner of the world. Hometta does this, in spades.
- Since 1987, Houston’s Habitat for Humanity has been about the business of building homes and changing lives. Since August of this year, they’ve been blogging about it. As with many small firms and charities, their content is still developing. But, they’re making an effort. In October, Houston Dynamo soccer star Brian Ching raised the money and helped to build a home. In August, Sara Selber‘s friends at We SLGT (Support Local, Grow Together) hosted and coordinated a six-day build. Bottom line: this blog is still getting its sea legs. And one way to help the blogging team and the organization is to follow them.
- By reading the International Rhino Foundation’s (IRF) blog, I learned a group of rhinos is called a “crash,” and “white” rhinos aren’t really white. I also learned that IRF is dedicated to the survival of the world’s rhinos through conservation and research. Their blog is helping them raise money and visibility for rhino protection worldwide. Maintained by Program Officer Maggie Moore, IRF is also rocking the social media: found on Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook among others. Check them out, you might learn something. Below, a wee clip of Andalas and Ratu, via IRF.
- Spacetaker is an arts incubator in Houston’s First Ward (at 2101 Winter Street) where artists can show their work but also learn how to run an arts business, how to connect to patrons and donors, and eventually how to make it in the world. Spacetaker’s Blog is a nice amalgam of artist and patron/contributor profiles, and a heads up to goings on around town in the arts world and beyond. They recently hosted a Winter Holiday and Vendor Breakfast; and one of their most recent exhibits was the Texas Red Road Project by Monica Villareal. The image at right a photo from that show.
- Robinson Marketing for Orchestras, is a fabulous example of how a solo-practitioner can promote a marketing or consulting business online just by providing interesting, helpful content. A lot of Bruce Robinson‘s articles are useful to any marketer, not just an arts one; e.g., Facebook Ads: Targeted Advertising at a Fraction of the Cost. But his Renaissance tastes span a wider gamut of resources and fluff. See, for example, Ten Lessons in Trust to Apply Before a Crisis and don’t miss 20 Orchestral Orgasms.
- Grassman Blogette is the product of local Houston singer/songwriter Jennifer Grassman. It’s a one-year chronicle of her life as an itinerant, independent artist. Through short posts, lots of variety, she depicts the HARD work that goes into breaking into (and supporting yourself in) show business. Sunshine, Bigotry and the Gulf of Mexico offers a taste of Jennifer’s daily life.
- I’m all for arts & music. But, to me, the finest of the fine arts is . . . food. And the finest of all food is tacos. Guns and Tacos, by Jay Rascoe, ROCKS. Finding a blog about tacos is thrilling for me — even though my inner liberal Democrat wrestles a bit with the Guns part. Never mind that. His article Dear Taco Bell Truck: Skip Houston manages to run a spear through Taco Bell and other plastic chainey places, write good copy, and drop in a few links to Jay’s idea of real food. His blog roll is any foodie’s dream. But note, especially, the handy Google map with dozens of handy flags links to Jay’s best picks . . . and, if you’re looking, the local gun ranges.
And there you have 12 of my many favorite local blogs. NOW, let me hear your thoughts about any of these, but also nominees of your own.