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August 2008

Standing Out

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Jeremiah Owyang wrote an interesting post yesterday on how you can get noticed.  In a world where everyone and every company is screaming to stand out from the rest it can be tough to get people’s attention.  Jeremiah recommends that companies and individuals follow 7 guidelines to get noticed:

  1. Have a goal
  2. Develop a unique brand
  3. Get personal
  4. Attend local events
  5. Lead events
  6. Be interesting
  7. Archive your achievements

For details on what each of the above points entails check out Jeremiah’s blog.

What I was most intrigued to see on this list was “attend local events.”  I find that a lot of people neglect the real world interactions that are necessary to get noticed.  In fact attending local (and non local) events is probably one of the biggest things you can do to get noticed.  It’s not enough to communicate while hiding behind a computer.  You need to get out there and let people know who you are.

Events like Blog World Expo are designed not only to educate individuals and corporations about social media, but they are also designed to give you the opportunity to network and meet other people.  Ask anyone who has been to one of these events and they will tell you how valuable they truly are.  Partnerships and mutually beneficial relationships arise all the time for in person interactions.  Maybe you will meet one of your favorite bloggers who will let you write a guest post on their blog.  Perhaps you will meet an exective who is interested in your ideas and wants to implement them at his/her organization.  Who knows, maybe you will meet an author who wants to quote something you have written about.  These are all ways to get noticed that result from attending events.  Don’t be scared to put your blog URL or your twitter account on your business card, that way when you hand them out, people know exactly where they can find you.

Without the real world interaction you are most likely not going to reach the level of “noticeability” that you are looking for.

how have you used events to get noticed?
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Does Malaysia Hate Bloggers?

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Imagine being a blogger living in a place that requires you to register with the government (if you’re a blogger).  Well, if you live in Malaysia this scenario may actually play out.  According to an article on techdirt Malaysia tried to increase tourism with a social media campaign that involved inviting a bunch or journalists to come visit and write about Malaysia.  As you probably may have guessed, one of the journalists wrote about her unpleasant experience in Malaysia which caused the tourism minister of Malaysia to blow his top.

According to the techdirt article:

“He claimed that anyone who quoted a blogger would be disgracing themselves. This certainly seems like someone not knowing when to stop digging his own grave. Honestly, the only person disgracing himself has been this particular minister… but the end result loops all the way back around and the Malaysian government wants bloggers to register themselves”

So here we have another classic problem that many large corporations face when trying to get involved in social media…fear.  “What if someone says something bad about us?”  Well, no big deal.  What corporations (and governments) need to learn is that even negative feedback can be turned into something positive by listening to and responding to the complaints that people have.  Instead of lashing out against bloggers the Malaysian tourism minister should have listened to what the complaints were and then should have worked to rectify them.

What do you think the best course of action for Malaysia is?

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A Facebook Movie…Really?!

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Facebook, the social network we have all come to know and love over the last few years, may be moving to the big screen.  That’s right I’m talking about an actual Facebook movie.  According to New York Entertainment Aaron Sorkin is going to be writing the screenplay.  For those of you who don’t remember Aaron, he is known for films such as “A Few Good Men” and “Charlie Wilson’s War.”  Aaron is also well known for being the creator of “The West Wing.”  Aaron’s IMDB page has more information on his work.

Aaron has a Facebook fan page on which he states:

“I’ve just agreed to write a movie for Sony and producer Scott Rudin about how Facebook was invented. I figured a good first step in my preparation would be finding out what Facebook is, so I’ve started this page. (Actually it was started by my researcher, Ian Reichbach, because my grandmother has more Internet savvy than I do and she’s been dead for 33 years.)”

Two questions immediately popped into my mind when I heard that there may be a facebook movie.

Why is someone making a Facebook movie?

Who cares that someone is making a Facebook movie?

So now the speculation begins, who on earth is going to play Mark Zuckerberg?  Cnet thinks Jason Schwartzman I say it should be that fellow from “Napoleon Dynamite,” John Heder.

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Corporate Social Media Principles

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This morning Business Week wrote an excellent post on corporations adopting (or not adopting) social media called, “Social Media Exposes the Corporate Psychopath.” The article addresses the need for corporations to get over themselves and their fear of social media.

According to a poll by Harris Interactive, corporations are seen as one of the least trusted overall entities (compared against congress, law offices, etc). Social media can help increase trust between users and corporations by allowing corporations to become a bit more transparent. What exactly is transparent? Well transparent is actively engaging in and interacting with your users, transparent is answering questions and addressing concerns directly, transparent is providing more company information via a public medium such as a blog, transparent is giving users more insight into the corporate culture and company goals.

Businessweek calls this need for companies to engage in social media, “21st Century Responsibility” and I couldn’t agree more. According to G. Michael Maddock and Raphael Louis Vitón (the writers of the Businessweek article) there are 3 fundamental principles that corporations need to adhere to in order to master social media.

The first principle is “architect a proper presence”
This deals with identifying your communities, both who they are and where they are, and understanding how to engage with those communities.

The second principle is “Gain Credibility Based on Your Target’s World View”
This principle basically states that you should do what you can to help your communities instead of trying to always sell to them.

The third and final principle is “Co-Creating Dialogue Where Your Company Reaps the Benefit of Exchange”

This principle focuses on building actual relationships with your communities by exchanging ideas and emotions.

These principles make for a solid foundation that companies should follow if they want to succeed in the social media space.

What do you think about the above 3 principles?  Would you add any more?

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Technorati Snags BlogCritics

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We just received word that Technoarti has acquired Blogcritics.  As many of you know Tehcnorati is considered to be the authoritative source on the pulse of new media and their recent acquisition of Blogcritics may be a sign that they they are looking to switch directions with their company. Blogcritics is an online community of bloggers that publish on topics ranging from movies to technology.  Blogcritics currently has over a million readers each month.

So why did Technorati buy Blogcritics?

According to the CEO of Technorati, Richard Jalichandra:

“Why did we do it? It just made sense – as we’ve stated more times than you probably care to hear, our mission is to help bloggers and the people who read blogs. Blogcritics shares this mission, executed in their own unique way by providing a large stage for bloggers to express themselves while giving readers a great array of high quality blog content.”

According to Michael Arrington from Techcrunch, this move signifies that Technorati is looking to move more in the direction of content publishing as opposed to blog advertising.  According to Richard, the Blogcritics blogs are not going to be shown any favoritism in the Technorati rankings.

This could be a great move for Technorati as they continue to grow and evolve.  Don’t forget, Richard will also be speaking at the Blog World Expo in Vegas this year, so don’t forget to register!

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Blogging or Re-blogging? You Decide

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Those of you who write (or are looking to start writing) a blog are most likely using wordpress, if so, then you may be interested in Disqus.  Disqus is a wordpress plugin (also works with typepad, movable type, etc) in that replaces the “comments” section of your blog.  Essentially Disqus is comment management system that allows you to see all of your comments and provides a way to interact with them more efficiently.  I have been using Disqus for around a week and I’m a fan.

Today Disqus launched a new feature called “re-blogging,” which essentially let’s you turn comments into blog posts.  Let’s say for example you are reading a blog about online marketing and one of the commenters lays out a simple 5 step online marketing strategy similar to one you were thinking of.  You can just click “re-blog” and the comment now becomes a blog post.

Here is a video tutorial on how it works

Allen Stern of Centernetworks quickly denounced the plugin saying that there is not a lot of value add.  He also outlined who benefits from re-blogging:

  • The blog publishing the comment gets a juicy bit of content (that’s not in a script code)
  • The source blog receives a seo-rich link back to the source – this is a great way to up inbound counts
  • Disqus benefits as a seo-rich link back to Disqus travels with the Reblogged content
  • Disqus also adds a link back to the commenter’s profile on Disqus
  • The original commenter who spent time formulating the comment gets nothing

So what do you think about the new Disqus plugin, do you think it adds value?

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Blogging as a Marketing Tool

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Companies are starting to realize exactly how powerful blogs can be, especailly as marketing tools.  According to Geoff Livingston, a PR strategist and social media expert, “It’s a phenomenal promotion vehicle for a company, or a great crisis tool or a great customer service tool.”  Microsoft is using a blog for Windows 7 with the hopes of building an overall better product that satisifes customer needs and wants.  In fact, there are a lot of fortune 500 companies that are using blogs to engage with and interact with their users.  Some of the fortune 500 companies with blogs include:

  • Sun Microsystems
  • GM
  • Cisco
  • Raytheon
  • Oracle
  • Starbucks
  • IBM
  • FedEx
  • and many others

An article by the Washington Post quotes Bill Marriott as saying: “that’s the importance of public relations, of advertising, of everything we do and this [blog] is just another channel.”  A blog also shows the personal side of a company leader.  People like and appreciate the human side of corporate America.  It’s not always about business and when a company leader opens up a bit, readers respect that.

A blog is indeed a powerful medium with many benefits such as:

  • allowing readers or prospective employees get a sense of the corporate culture or work environment
  • creating an online presence that builds brand equity and awareness
  • allowing readers to post feedback directly on issues or features that they may or may not like
  • shows the personal side of a company or a company leader
  • let’s companies and individuals build quality relationships with loyal readers or users
  • allows companies or individuals to make important news or event announcements

These are just a few of the many ways that companies can use a blog as a valuable marketing and relationship building tool.

How are you using your blog?  How is your company using it’s blog?

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Facebook is Trying a New Way to Serve Ads

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Facebook is going to be rolling out what they are calling “engagement ads” to users.  These ads are going to be grouped into 3 categories: (source Jeremiah Owyang)

1) Comment Style Ad: Members can now leave comments on these advertisements, much like wall posts. Brands that are focused on entertainment, new product rollouts, autos and apparel are well suited. The ad can show up to 4 comments per object, and the activity spreads to the users newsfeed.

2) Virtual Gifts Style Ad: Brands can now create virtual items that users can share, spread to each other. This wildly popular behavior within applications and Facebook is suitable for consumer products, entertainment, and some media.

3) Fan Style Ad: A play off the Facebook pages, users with a persona affinity for a product (like Apple) can become a fan, triggering a notification to their network, and could then tie on social ads. Will work great for established brands, like guitar hero, passion products, luxury products, or any brand with a rabid customer base.

I think Faceook has an interesting approach towards ads.  The success of the advertising industry should not be measured by how much cash is pumped into the industry as a whole but in how the click through rates are increasing (or decreasing).  Currently Facebook ad campaigs have a click through rate of approximately 0.04% which is really quite low.  I’m sure that by making ads more engaing, Facebook is hoping to increase their click through rates while being able to serve a much more targeted selection of advetisements towards it’s users.

According to Tim Kendall, the director of monetization, the goal of these “engagement ads” is to build “ad products that users can interact with in the same way they do with other things on our site.”  Currently only a few select brands have access to this new ad platform but Facebook should be rolling it out on a massive scale sometime toward the end of this year.

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Ma.gnolia, Going Open Source

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Most bloggers usually do their due diligence before they begin writing a post.  One of the ways to do this is to go through bookmarking sites to find things of interest.  In fact when I find things on the net that I want to read later, I bookmark them.  It’s a great way to organize information as well as dicover new information.  This morning Ma.gnolia announced that they are doing to take the open source route.  Many of you may be familiar with the larger book marking site Delicious; but Read Write Web has an excellent list of why Ma.gnolia is cool. Among some of the reasons are:

  • “OpenID support, so much support in fact that Open ID is the only way you can get a Ma.gnolia account now.”
  • “Social features. Delicious is trying to be more social than it used to be, but Ma.gnolia does a much better job of it. Sharing with groups is really easy and you can “thank” anyone for bookmarking a particular URL. That’s cool.”

The goal behind what Ma.gnolia is doing is to obviously increase the amount of people that are using their platform.  There needs to a much higher level of interaction and community amongst users and the open source model may be the way to go, but only time will tell.

According to Cnet, the new version of Ma.gnolia will be available later this year along with several new features that include:

  • A new stream view that shows you the freshest bookmarks of people you’re friends with on one single page.
  • Support for both OAuth and OpenID, with the latter making it easier for people to sign into hosted builds of Magnolia.
  • Sidebar customization
  • Theming

I’m actually very curious to see how the new open source version of Ma.gnolia is going to play out, do you think this new approach is going to increase the network effect?

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Google, Coming to a Cell Phone Near You

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Word on the street is that Google and Verizon are close to cutting a deal together that will allow google to be the default search browswer on all verizon phones.  The mobile search market is still relatively new and to be honest, the Iphone is probably one of the only phones out there that even makes internet browsing on the phone an easy and enjoyable experience.  Venture Beat also mentions that google has a worked out a deal with nokia earlier this year to be places on all of their phones as well.  If we think google is big now, just wait until the mobile search market takes off.

According to Silicon Alley Insider:

“Some 17 million mobile subscribers use mobile search, according to comScore M:Metrics. That’s a pathetic 7% of the U.S. mobile market — which means some 93% of mobile subscribers aren’t using mobile search.”

The obvious reason that google wants to be first on the mobile search scene is because google thinks that more can actually be made through mobile search than through desktop/laptop search.  Mobile advertising is going to be a huge new revenue stream that is very untapped and will probably remain so for at least another couple of years.

A quote from Webpronews by Eric Schmidt says:

“We can make more in mobile than desktop eventually.  The reason [is] because the mobile computer is more targeted.  Think about it: you carry your phone everywhere, it knows all about you.  We can do a very, very targeted ad.  Over time, we will make more money for mobile advertising.”

I think this trend toward making phones more like little laptops is also going to give rise to an increase in mobile blogging.  WordPress already has a nifty little mobile application that let’s you write and post to your blog from the iphone, but are we going to see mobile blogging really take over?  Eventually I think so.  One of the things bloggers do the most before they write is research topics via google.  If searching on mobile phones became as it easy as it is on laptops, then I think mobile bloggers will start springing up all over the place!

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