Mark W. Schaefer has written three books, including best-sellers Return on Influence and The Tao of TwitterHe is also the executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions and the organizer of Social Slam, an annual social media conference. His marketing blog, {grow}, has won numerous international awards, and it was named one of Advertising Age's Power 150, which ranks the top 150 English-language marketing blogs in the world.

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I invited Mark to Marketing Smarts to discuss his recent book, co-authored with Stanford A. Smith, Born to Blog.

Here are just a few highlights from our conversation.

Blogging is imperative now that consumers live on the social Web, but many companies are still getting it wrong (6:15): "The biggest challenge I see for the enterprise-level blog is that companies have been conditioned for decades to advertise, and that's what they've been rewarded for, and that's so easy: You give money to an advertising agency, then you step back and wait for something to happen. That is not the way the social web works....And yet what we're trying to do is force what we're comfortable with—which is broadcasting and advertising—into this new channel, and it's not going to work...[Companies need] to find that humanness, that authenticity, that voice...or [they're] not going to connect."

Effective blogging can help small businesses to outshine larger companies (5:46): "I think small businesses have an advantage over big businesses in this space because the key players in the company are likely to be closer to the customers. Their personalities are more likely to be on the front lines, and I see this often being removed in big companies. The people that own the strategy and the budget might be three layers away from the people doing the work, and they don't really understand this opportunity to be authentic, and to be human, and to be helpful."

A good headline is your ticket to your audience (10:26) "The most important part of the blog post is not what you've written, it's the headline, because people scan. You do not have a captive audience like you do in a newspaper or a magazine, or in your company. You have to earn the right for people to read that, and that starts with the headline."

Influence plays an increasingly important role in marketing (16:31) "To keep [your] readers, is increasingly difficult. It's increasingly challenging. I've got to be better, better, better, better. We all do, and that isn't easy and that isn't necessarily cheap. Now, here's another option. If we have a limited pipeline, why not occasionally borrow someone else's pipeline? If there's an influencer in your market, in your industry, and you can create a relationship with that person and get your message through and use his or her pipeline, it's maybe a more effective pipeline than your own. Why not do that? I think influence marketing is an extraordinarily important trend for businesses to understand, and blogging is part of that."

My conversation with Mark included much more. I encourage you to listen to the entire show, which you may do above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!

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Music credit: Noam Weinstein.

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