It's been said that perhaps the best thing about social media is that it gives everyone a voice. It's also been said that perhaps the worst thing about social media is that it gives everyone a voice.
There are literally hundreds of millions of blogs on the Internet, which means a lot more interesting and informative content. But that also means it's often harder to find, requiring better filters.
Enter Alltop, a website co-created by Will Mayall, Kathryn Henkens, and Guy Kawasaki in early 2008. Alltop aggregates and organizes content from around the Internet and wants to be known as an "online magazine rack" for users. And it serves well as such.
In aggregating and organizing content from top sites around the Internet, Alltop goes a long way toward solving the filtering problem that many of us have. If you want to find out about the top news in the public relations industry, for example, Alltop has a page that pulls PR content from the top sites and bloggers, so that the most relevant and valuable information is at your fingertips.
Alltop can be an invaluable tool for marketers. This article shares eight ways that they can benefit from using Alltop.
1. Stay on top of the news in your industry
Interested in what's happening in the financial world? Go to http://finance.alltop.com/ and see the latest news from all the top sources on the Internet.
It gives you instant access to what's happening and helps you identify which events and topics are garnering the most attention.
And, obviously, it's a time-saver. With Alltop, you can find all the business news from several sites organized on one site, which makes it much easier to judge the popularity of topics, as well as which subjects are trending and garnering more attention.
2. Improve your writing
Quickly scan the top blogs and sites to get a feel for how they position their content. You can judge their writing style, and see how long their posts are and why their content is resonating with readers.
Alltop is a great way to improve the quality of your titles. By quickly scanning dozens of titles at once, you'll see which ones grab your attention and you'll get a grasp of what makes an effective headline.
3. Keep tabs on the competition
You can track what moves your competition is making by keeping up-to-date on the news in your space. Having access to multiple news sources covering a particular industry means you'll have exposure to what's happening in many companies in each industry.
If your competitors are blogging, you can track their blogs to see the effects of their efforts. That is especially useful if your company is also blogging, so you can compare what's working for your competitors with the results you are seeing from your own blogging efforts.
4. Improve your blogging
If your company is blogging, Alltop lets you quickly check to see what the top bloggers are writing about. You can compare their styles with your own and decide where to improve your efforts.
In addition, you can quickly keep up with what's working for the top bloggers. For example, if several of the most-popular bloggers are giving the same advice for how to increase blog subscribers, that's probably a good indicator that they are on to something.
5. Use it as your feed reader
Let's be honest, most people probably don't use Bloglines or Google Reader to keep track of their favorite blogs, nor do they want to. But with Alltop, you can forgo using a feed reader and keep up with your favorite blogs by creating your own Alltop page.
Once you've populated the page with the sites and blogs you want to track, you can then share that list with other people.
As Alltop co-founder Guy Kawasaki explains: "Because we aggregate the most-recent five stories from each feed, marketers can quickly scan for stories that interest them. This beats the hell out of bookmarking and visiting the same marketing websites and blogs—in fact, you'd never get around to it."
6. Get your blog included, so you get extra traffic
Another way marketers can leverage Alltop is by having their company's blog included in Alltop's directory. That will not only send your blog more traffic but also help raise its visibility and awareness. (You can submit your blog to Alltop here.)
Before you submit, familiarize yourself with Alltop so you can better "sell" your blog and describe what value it would bring to the site. Also make sure that your blog has a feed available that Alltop can find, so that it can pull in your content.
7. Use it as a research tool
Want to draw inspiration from other companies' marketing efforts? Or are you about to switch into a new product division? Either way, Alltop gives you the ability to quickly get up to speed on new product areas and the marketing that's being created to promote those products.
In addition, you can track developments in your industry (which ties back to No. 1). If you're in the retail industry, for example, quickly checking selected sites on Alltop can give you an idea of which way digital spending is trending or whether traditional marketing is making a comeback. You can also see what the experts are forecasting for your industry.
8. Use it as a source of information for your Twitter account
Let's say you've launched a presence on Twitter and are struggling to decide what to tweet about. Kawasaki explains how Alltop can help: "You can use any topic to scan for interesting stories and then tweet them. Level 2: Every Alltop topic has an RSS feed. You could grab the RSS feed and insert it into your Twitter stream using Objective Marketer or Twitterfeed. Then, automatically, you'd have interesting stuff in your Twitter stream 24 x 7 x 365."
Or, Kawasaki continues, "You might not want to take the leap of faith that everything in an Alltop feed from a topic is good. Then you can create a personalized MyAlltop page with only the selected feeds you really trust. Then you take the RSS feed of your MyAlltop page and stick it in using Objective Marketer or Twitterfeed.
"Example. Say you're Starbucks, and you want to amp up @starbucks. You can look at Coffee.alltop for good stories. Or take Coffee.alltop's RSS feed and jam it into @starbucks. Or create a custom MyAlltop page with some coffee blogs [and] some Starbucks blogs (see http://starbucks.alltop.com/), and jam the MyAlltop feed into @starbucks.
"This is an easy way for any brand to constantly output more interesting tweets."
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If you're a marketer, give Alltop a try and see what you think. I am always looking for better filters to find the relevant information I need; if you are as well, Alltop just might be the answer you've been looking for.