Category Archives: online

To the power of Z

Even though one of the “A-listers” recently corrupted the meme, the Z-list has had an amazing effect (for me anyway)

Rising 70,000 spots in a few weeks makes you dizzy. After rising so quickly, I may get the bends.

But it is artificial since my traffic and RSS subscriptions have only increased slightly over the same timeframe…proving one of the things that Mack intended…Technorati is not the best measure of a blog’s worth. You are. (with apologies to Time)

It’ll be interesting to see what happens to the Z-list 180 days from now.

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Prediction

Prediction: Time Magazine’s announcement of “You” as Person of the Year will be greeted this week in 2 ways…

1) Here in the blogosphere, on You Tube, in WikiPedia, etc…there will be great fanfare that social media has hit the tipping point.

2) The majority of the public will say…”What’s a blog?….”What’s a YouTube?”…”Wiki-what?”

Don’t believe me? Ask the lady behind you in line at the grocery if she’s ever edited a Wikipedia article.

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Pyramid Z List

Hey! I’m at the center of a blogger meme. (and at the top of a pyramid scheme!)

Mack over at the Viral Garden thinks some of the “Z-listers” are getting messed over by the insane way that Technorati ranks “authority”. (Read his original post here)

Mack was kind enough to recognize this blog as one that needs more attention paid to it (frankly, I feel the same way). So, I’m paying the “link love” forward…

Here’s Mack’s original list…
Shotgun Marketing Blog
BrandSizzle
bizsolutionsplus
Customers Rock!
Being Peter Kim
And here are the ones I think are unrecognized…
Presentation Zen
Dmitry Linkov
aialone
John Wagner

Copy/paste the above list and add yours in a blog post.

Since Mack posted this list…about 12 people have linked to me.
And my Technorati rank? It hasn’t moved even though all the new posts are listed. How sad that Technorati is the best tool we have for measuring blogs.

And another huge thanks to Mack for thinking the drivel I throw up here is worth spreading.

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Users First

There’s been quite a bit of talk over the past few days about some remarks that Jim Buckmaster, an executive at Craigslist, made at a media conference in New York last Thursday.

It seems that Buckmaster stated that he has no intentions of “monetizing” his online classifieds service with any sort of advertising. The room full of ad and media folks apparently looked at him like he had a second head.

Why no ads? Get this….It seems that Craigslist’s users haven’t expressed an interest in seeing ads…..Mmmm.

First off, they ARE making money…( a few million a year). They just aren’t doing it with “ads”. Craigslist does a fabulous job of hitting the sweet spot on pricing. The rates they charge for job and for-rent ads in a few of the many cities they serve are high enough to pay the bills, keep other sections and cities free, and still make a very respectable profit…but the price is low enough that competitors can’t keep up.

And that may be one ulterior reason that Craigslist is still ad free. Their success is coming out of what used to be spent in newspaper and other print classifieds. Craigslist may be handing out the free classified smack to get people addicted. When the local newspapers decide that the classifieds aren’t worth the dead trees and ink, the papers will discontinue their classified business. At that point, Craigslist may suddenly decide to monetize their monopolistic position with ads or other items.

But there may be a more pure motive.

Maybe they understand that the user/consumer/reader is what “monetizes” the business. Maybe they see that the most effective long term marketing strategy is to grow a base of dedicated loyal users.

Maybe they realize that a clean uncluttered useful page invites people to return and build loyalty to a site. They see that the customer (the single most important element of a business)should not be harassed by pop-ups & pop-unders, irrelevant email, interstitial ads, floating & expanding ads, trick banners, and everything else that webmasters slap onto a website to make a dollar today…only to cost them $100 dollars tomorrow. They see that you can train a customer to mistrust ALL the content on your page because you’ve tricked them too many times into clicking.

Maybe Craigslist sees that simply because you CAN place an ad on a web property (or any place), doesn’t mean that you SHOULD.

It’s a lot like the story of the goose that laid the golden eggs. The biggest mistake that alot of today’s web (and brick&mortar) businesses are making is developing short term strategies that kill long term gains.

But why worry about tomorrow…when you can make 58 cents today off an AdSense sidebar?

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Amusing is good. I like amusing.

Mr. Cartoons-drawn-on-the-back-of-business-cards and Global Microbrand uber-guru Hugh Macleod over at GapingVoid requested an under 500 word marketing manifesto.

I sent him an expanded version of one of my most quoted posts from back in March of 2005.

The Marketing-by-Committee manifesto on Gaping Void

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State of the UnBlogosphere

David Sifry recently posted the latest State of the Blogosphere.

As always, the medium looks strong and growth is explosive. And as always, the blogosphere is excited about the new numbers.

But, I have a slightly different take on “the state” of the blogosphere. Obviously, Technorati has a very good vantage point to see what’s happening in the blog world…but what about the state of blogs out in the overall real world?

I’ve always maintained that the blogosphere is a long way from being mainstream. But recent experiences have cemented that belief for me.

Recently, I started delivering a new speaking topic called Blogs: Marketing as Conversation. It’s somewhat of a blog101 and a how-to on using blogs to reach out and have conversations with customers. To date, I have delivered it twice and I’m booked to give it a few times in the coming months. The groups that I have already delivered it to include a marketing professionals group and a businesswomen’s group. Both were populated with intelligent informed businesspeople who are active marketers. But in both instances, I found a dichotomy in regards to the audience’s awareness of the blogosphere.

At the beginning of the presentation, I ask for a quick show of hands for…
1) People that have heard of blogs (Usually most of the room)
2) People who have ever read a blog (less than half the room)
3) People who have ever left a comment on a blog (5-10 people)
4) People who are bloggers themselves (2-3 people)

The amazing thing as I go through the presentation is that it’s all new to them. I observe that most take notes on “new” concepts such as Technorati, RSS, Scoble, the long tail, the cluetrain, and a thousand other things that you “inside the blogosphere” take for granted as common knowledge.

Now obviously, there are a few people in the room who “get” all of it. (The handraisers on questions 3&4) They come up afterwards with great questions and want more in-depth knowledge. As I’ve discovered this extreme two-toned group, I’m having to re-do the presentation before I present it again. Imagine giving a speech about the need for a U.S. Mission to Mars in a room made up of 50% rocket scientists and 50% average Joes. You get too technical and you’ll lose the Joes. And you bore/patronize the rocket scientists when you explain that Mars is the 4th planet.

In essence, this is what the blogosphere doesn’t understand. And it’s the biggest danger to the continued growth of the medium. Yes, it’s great that we can have a conversation among ourselves about blogs and bloggers and how it’s going to change the dynamics of communication and marketing. We can point to successes. But frankly, most people are not on the train.

“Well, Chris, you can’t base the entire state of the blogosphere on the reactions of two groups that you spoke to.” OK. Here’s what an attendee of the recent Blog Business Summit had to say about the acceptance…

I enjoyed the speakers at the conference and thought for the most part they were interesting and informative. At the same time, I felt like they are so keyed into the blogosphere that they don’t really know how to relate with people who aren’t. I contribute to 2 blogs right now, I use RSS and Bloglines, I know how to navigate Technorati, I’m somewhat comfortable with del.icio.us, and I know what the term Google Juice means, so I’m probably more familiar with the concept of Web 2.0 than a lot of folks out there. But, I didn’t relate to most of the “elite” bloggers (or bloggerati) at the conference who referred to themselves as tech geeks.
One of the things I would’ve liked to have learned is how to get people involved in blogging. There are many people out there who simply don’t get blogs. I have a handful of friends that contribute to blogs or read them; the rest of my friends think they are just online diaries full of inane ramblings. Sure, some of them read blogs without even knowing it, and I try to point that out, but for the most part they have no interest in the blogosphere. To them it has a negative connation, like MySpace has to me.

My current view of the “State of the Blogosphere” is that it’s like the Shakers. Bloggers are passionate about the blogosphere, but the belief will die out because you’re not creating new adherents.

Yes. Your blog is ranked 9,XXX on Technorati, but the only thing that really shows is your influence with other bloggers. What’s the reach of your blog to the non-blog community?

Right now the blogosphere, for all its power, is equivalent to a room full of people who each have a bullhorn and they’re all talking. Every now and then, they all point to one of the bullhorns and maybe repeat what that A-list bullhorn is saying. And every now and then, someone from outside the room stops and listens, but it’s mostly a closed system.

Here’s my challenge to you.

Get your head out of Dungeons & Dragons a/k/a Second Life and get out in the real world to start promoting this thing that you’re so passionate about. And I don’t mean at a conference full of tech people. Go to a local Chamber meeting, find a small business person, and ask them if they’re using blogs to talk to their customers. When you’re checking out at the grocery, ask the mother behind you if she reads Dooce. Ask a marketing director if she checks a blog search engine for mentions of the company.

I think you’ll be shocked.

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I wonder what they call it in Hawaii

“We want to be a household name.”

That may be the wish of some businesses. But be careful what you wish for. Ask the folks at Kleenex, Xerox, Google, Reynolds Wrap, Windex…who became “household names” and the brand became a verb/noun for a generic item.

That’s bad. And sometimes it gets worse.

Hormel Foods has lost a bid to trademark the the name of it’s own product. It seems Spam is no longer spam.

Perhaps Hormel Foods could develop a email marketing campaign to educate the public that the gelatinous meat was first. They could send it un-solicited. It would be Spam spam.

(sing it with Monty Python’s vikings…)

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