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March 28, 2006

Answering Comments On Blogsurvey

Taking a break from blogging while visiting the family in Manchester in the UK. My colleague Kristine Munroe will moderate the comments and trackbacks, however if you do leave a comment I might not get back to you for a week or so.

Posted by johncass at 1:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

How Many Of The Fortune 100 Are Participating In The Online Conversation?

I came across Eric Mattson's post, "Is the Fortune 100 Participating in the Blog Conversation?"Eric was wondering how often big corporations are discussed in the blogosphere. Eric also asked if those companies are participating in the online conversation?

Eric used Technorati.com to determine how often companies are discussed. He counted the number of posts that included a company's name in their post.

I have a few problems with this method, as Spam blogs can really affect the numbers. But Spam aside the numbers do give some overview of the industry.

Eric looked at 17 of the Fortune 100 companies and records the number of Technorati.com posts and if the company blogs, this is great raw data for further analysis.

Posted by johncass at 1:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Fortune 500 Take Lead In Corporate Blogging: Only 0.73% Of Employers Blog - While 4.6% Of Fortune 500 Blog

Chris Anderson of Wired and Ross Mayfield of SocialText developed the Fortune 500 blogging wiki to track the number of Fortune 500 companies blogging; the number is small at 24 or 4.6%. But when you consider the percentage of overall companies that are blogging, is 4.6% really a small number?

With 21 million companies in the US, if we used the percentage number of Fortune 500 firms blogging, 4.6%, for the total percentage of companies blogging that would mean 966,000 companies would be running a blog. If we take out the 15.5 million companies that don't have payrolls, that leaves only 5.5 million companies in the US with payrolls. 4.6% of 5.5 million would be 253,000 companies blogging. See these statistics from the US Government Census on businesses.

David Sifry of Technorati.com in his post, "State of the Blogosphere, February 2006 Part 1: On Blogosphere Growth," states that the blogosphere as a whole continues to double every 5.5 months. David Sifry estimated that there were 5,000 corporate blogs in October 2004 in this post, Oct 2004, "State of the Blogosphere: Corporate Bloggers." It's been 17 months since Oct 2004; therefore if the number of corporate blogs increases at the same rate as blogs in general we might say the number of corporate blogs is around 40,000 corporate blogs. Remember, I pulled this number out of the air, and I'd be glad to hear of any better estimates. From the research my colleague Kristine Munroe and I conducted in the corporate blogging survey in June of 2005 that number seems rather high, it was tough to find a lot of corporate blogs. If the actual number of companies blogging is 0.1 or 0.2% of all companies, or 0.73% of all firms with payrolls. Put in perspective of the total number of firms blogging, the figure of 4.6% of Fortune 500 firms blogging is actually a large number.

The Fortune 500 blogging wiki was developed after Chris Anderson and Doc Searls had sat down to dinner and wondered why more Fortune 500 companies were not blogging. Doc hypothesized that those companies who are doing well would have more to lose from blogging than those that are not. To test Doc's hypothesis, the Fortune 500 wiki was developed. Along with a list of companies from the Fortune 500, the wiki also tracks each company's stock price. Over time the stock price of each company that blogs will be compared with those Fortune 500 companies that don't blog.

Doc, Chris and Ross, I'd suggest that in addition to the question why more Fortune 500 companies are not blogging, I'd suggest we ask the question why so few smaller companies are using blogs to connect with their audiences.

Posted by johncass at 6:00 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 27, 2006

Share Your Marketing Efforts At The Historic Roads Conference

Share your brand and marketing efforts with the Historic Road panel on marketing opportunities on Saturday 29th. Bring hard copies of your branding, ad campaigns or marketing efforts, or ask your marketing questions of the panel by commenting on this blog or sending an electronic copy to john AT backbone DOT com. The panelists will take some time to review several of the submitted materials and answer questions in our Q&A session.

The Historic Roads conference in Boston on from April 27th to 30th is all about "Preserving the Historic Road," I will be on a panel discussion on Saturday April 29th in session 17 called, "Historic Road as a Community Brand: The Marketing Opportunities," from 2:00pm to 3:30pm. Panelists include Carol Lasky from Cahoots, and Christianna Beebe from Cone.

Here's the write up on the session:

Your community has galvanized around the preservation of a historic road. Now, how are you going to get the word out most effectively? How will you ensure that your initiatives are understood and embraced by your constituents? This brand-building session is aimed at historic road advocates looking to think like marketers. The lively, interactive session will illustrate successful strategies and tools to stimulate public awareness and action on behalf of historic road preservation. Participants are invited to share their experiences and challenges.

Posted by johncass at 10:14 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 25, 2006

20 Bloggers For The Northeastern/Backbone Blogging Success Study

We found our twentieth blogger yesterday, just in time for the start of the student interviews. I've sent out emails to all of the bloggers, introducing the student to the blogger. The students should be contacting their respective bloggers in the next few days. And the interviews will happen over the next two weeks.

Posted by johncass at 8:29 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 24, 2006

The Science of Making Money With Search

The Science of Making Money with Search was the second panel I attended at the digital sandbox day at the American Business Media Association one-day conference in New York. Here's an overview of what I found interesting from the panelists.

Mitch Rouda, President eMedia, Hanley Wood

* Bucket of money
* Google takes our audience and advertising dollars
* Google is your home page, customers are using Google to find brand's web pages
* Hugh majority of internet users use search
* Gordon Hughes way of search
* Something happening buzz

Scott Virkler, SVP of Business Development, GlobalSpec

* Engineering web a keyword search engine
* Company provides a vertical search engine to the engineering community
* Company crawls everything and filters out every that's not engineering
* Subscription model on globalspec.com

Mark Holst-Knudsen, VP Content Solutions, ThomasNet

* The Thomas big green books are coming to an end, only on the web now.
* ThomasNet provides industrial content
* 20 million CAD drawings
* When a CAD drawing is downloaded, 80% of the time the product will be purchased

Tim Barngrover, SVP, ClearGauge

* A website is the marketing hub of an organization
* Is ROI relevant in building brand?
* Working with Yahoo!, business.com and knowledgestorm
* You have to ask the question why do people go to your site?

There was no mention of Froogle. A site provided by Google. Companies can register their products with Froogle, if they are selling the product online. Registration is free. Several industrial companies are starting to register their products. One great thing about Froogle is that Froogle results occasionally appear in the top rankings above the editorial listings on the Google home page. So Froogle gives merchants the chance to catapult their products to the top of the rankings without a lot of content.

See my earlier post on another panel discussion, Writing, Sourcing & Distributing Content.

Posted by johncass at 2:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Stonyfield Farm's Chief Blogger Leaves

I just heard that Christine Halvorson, Stonyfield Farm's Chief Blogger is leaving full time employment with Stonyfield. However, she will be working part-time for the company as a freelancer.

Stonyfield started with four Stonyfield blogs, whose content strategy was to target the lifestyles of the customer's rather than write about yogurt, topics included organic farming, healthy kids and healthy babies. Stonyfield cut down to two blogs a few months ago.

Posted by johncass at 1:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Testing A Trackback

I am in Dr. Walter Carl's class and we are discussing trackbacks at the moment. This is a demonstration of trackbacks for the class.

Posted by johncass at 10:26 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 23, 2006

Northeastern Study Email's Sent

Okay, all of the emails to interviewees introducing their student interviewers for the Northeastern study have been sent out. We have 19 bloggers, and only need one more blogger.

Posted by johncass at 10:05 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 21, 2006

Northeastern Blogging Study

I met with Dr. Walter Carl's students last Friday and today for the study on corporate blogging success. We still need one more corporate blogger for the study, so if you have been running your corporate blog for one year, run a brand and would be interested in taking the survey contact me.

Today the students took the existing framework of questions I had prepared with Dr. Carl and analyzed them. Several of the questions were thrown out, and a number were updated. For the next class the students will add some more questions to the list.

The study seeks to understand how companies reached some measure of success with their blogs. We will develop a number of case studies based on the interviews; those case studies can then be used as examples in the industry for how to build a successful blog.

Posted by johncass at 4:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 20, 2006

Hershel Sarbin & Paul Conley On Publisher Engagement

I was lucky to meet Hershel Sarbin at the American Business Media Association digital sandbox day last week. Hershel and Paul Conley run a blog called MagazineEnterprise360. The blog provides ideas and advice on how today's publishers can use new media to engage with their audiences.

Hershel asked me if I had any thoughts on the idea of publisher engagement and accountability with their audiences, and pointed me to a post on his blog, "The Engagement Imperative in Magazine Management."

This mention of the issue of engagement reminds me that if you want to build a successful connection with your audience, engagement is very important on the web. Engagement on your own website or blog is no longer sufficient, any company has to actively engage their audience where they reside, even if that means other blogs and websites. That's why any company should be conducting blogger relations with their audience. As for successful engagement with your audience using blogging, we created some tips on effective blogging that can help with that process, they include:

Understand the fundamentals of Blogger Relations
Create value
Grow and sustain your audience by providing real analysis
Report on community opinion
Respond with comments to build relationships and traffic
Track your conversations
Don't be afraid of criticism
Conduct interviews to generate content and ideas
Promote your blog
Monitor the web for brand names and references


Posted by johncass at 11:28 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 18, 2006

Cymfony's Corporate Blogging Survey

Jim Nail from Cymfony recently asked me to take part in an online survey being conducted by Cymfony and Porter-Novelli about corporate blogging.

Some of the questions include: who actually manages the blog? Who actually writes the posts? How often? What tools do they use to monitor blogs? How often?

I think I've seen similar surveys in the last two years, including the Backbone Corporate blogging survey. However, it's good to get a pulse on what's going on in the industry. Here's the link:

http://www.rmrsurveys.com/t60275

Posted by johncass at 6:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 16, 2006

American Business Media: Digital Sandbox Event 1

I am sitting in the "The digital Editor: Writing, Sourcing & Distributing Content," session. Jim Matthews, the Editorial Director of Aviation Week is talking. Here are some points:

* The newsroom is full of information.

* Important to take existing information and reuse the information on the web.

* Jim thought that bloggers use different techniques from journalists to gather and comment on society. I had the impression from Jim that he thought bloggers don't check sources. Hmm... while that's true in some circumstances, when I think of some of the elite bloggers in the PR blogosphere that description does not ring true to me. In fact I'd say some of the bloggers are rather academic in checking sources.

* Stronger focus on the reader, no longer just about writing a story, but what will the reader do with the content.

* Everyone needs to learn how to write faster, reporters need to synthesize their thoughts more quickly.

* More team reporting, get the teams together and talking about how best to serve the reader.

* Editors write once and reuse, embrace xml models. Can you take a story and reuse the story in video and podcasts.

The next speaker is Diane Burley, the President and Founder of Pure Contemporary Magazine.

* Asked the audience about their knowledge of search engine marketing. Most people knew something.

* When people use search engines they are looking for the truth. Diane suggested that people think that Google is the purveyor of the truth in its top rankings. If you get a top ranking you must be important!

* Diane gave a good overview of what to do to optimize your website.

* Diane described the type of tone her publication uses in its blogs. Edgy, wittier, shorter.

* Made the point the reason why blogs are so successful is because of the nature of blog and linking. Due to conversation.

* Editorial is no longer a cost producer; it's a revenue producer because the editorial content is a way to get high rankings on search engines.

Tig Tillinghast is the publisher of Marketing Vox

* A scrappy publisher who started their company has to know everything about their business. That perspective results in a better-run publisher. Referencing Diane.

* Print dominance is going away.

* Tig's tendency is to go out and talk with customers. Readers and advertisers have negative impressions of trade press.
- Ad buyer's impression: over-consolidated, untimely, press release quality, low reader involvement.
- Reader's impression: Untimely, foreign voice, press release quality, not worth involvement.
- Publishers can correct these impressions.

* Journalists often don't have a background in the industry on which they are reporting.

* Print readership is declining, the readership online is growing.

* New media consumption behavior editorial imperatives

* Readers are reading online - put the copy online.

* Readers exploiting alternative sources, competitive info - produce unique or comprehensive stuff, monthly equals DEAD! Readers are comparing publishers because they often read several publications

* Readers unwilling to pay for online info (mostly) - Don't starve your site trying to subsidize sub revenues.

* Press loves RSS, prodcasts - readers want relevant news.

* Satisfy your reader's needs. Maybe online readers have different needs than off line people.

* Great unique content or be comprehensive, left with SEO as a way to get traffic.

* AP style & voice a great tool but no longer connotes credibility by itself.

* People figure out they like reading something that speaks to them in their industry


Posted by johncass at 11:32 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 15, 2006

What Are The Implications Of 68% Of Internet Users Using Broadband For Your Business

I noticed this article, "Nielsen: Seven in 10 Connect Via Broadband," from MediaPost, or 68% of US Internet users are now on broadband.

As broadband become ubiquitous amongst Internet users, the changing marketplace will affect companies serving B2B or B2C markets. It will become a given your company will offer rich media and video technology through the web. What's your strategy for handling the new broadband environment?

Posted by johncass at 2:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

What content coverage do business audiences want from traditional media today

It's the digital sandbox event in New York tomorrow. I am on the "Voices of the New Media," panel. Several journalists are also on the panel. One question I'd like to ask is, "What content coverage do business audiences want from traditional media today?" I think I have some ideas about the answer, but I wondered what you the reader thought? Or if you have any questions for the panel, I will ask the question and blog the answer. Here are the panelists:

Kathy Taylor, Contributing Editor, Ad Week Magazines

Kathy writes on a multi-author blog for Ad Week called AdFreak. She gives overviews and thoughts about current ads and has been blogging since November 2004.

David Ewalt, Technology Writer, Forbes.com

David writes the digital download blog on Forbes.com. Content is eclectic, generally covering tech issues. I think David just started blogging in 2006, at least I could not find the archives link.

John Cass, Director of Blogging Strategies, Backbone Media (your author)

Geoff Smith, Managing Dir. of Online Product Development, PRISM Business Media


Posted by johncass at 12:34 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 14, 2006

Rupert Murdoch Speech On Blogging & Media

Really interesting review of a recent Rupert Murdoch speech about his thoughts on the evolution of the media industry, Murdoch thinks media is going through a dramatic change and he is putting his money where his mouth is by investing in web related media.

Murdoch said,

"A new generation of media consumers has risen demanding content delivered when they want it, how they want it, and very much as they want it."

Posted by johncass at 11:56 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 10, 2006

Digital Sandbox Day At The Association of Business Media Companies

The association of business media companies has invited me to speak at their digital sandbox day next week on Thursday March 16th in New York. My panel is at 4:00pm on the topic of, "Voices of the New Media." I believe I will be the only non-journalist blogger on the panel. I've got some opinions about the traditional media's coverage of corporate blogging, so I am really looking forward to the panel and discussion. If you have any questions for the panelists or audience let me know. I hope to get the full list of panelists at the beginning of next week.

Posted by johncass at 3:58 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Northeastern University Blogging Success Study Update

Just finished a call with Dr. Walter Carl from Northeastern University about the progress of the Northeastern University Blogging Success study. We are looking for twenty bloggers who have been running their blog for one year, run a brand and blog about the brand on their blog. The study will seek to understand the elements to building a successful blog. And as part of that process will understand each blogger's criteria for measuring a successful blog. We have eleven bloggers so far. We need another nine bloggers. The students in Dr. Walter Carl's class will be conducting the interviews. Walter and I developed the initial framework of questions, and the students will add to them for their own research and interest.

Also thanks to Toby Bloomberg at Diva Marketing for promoting the study.


Posted by johncass at 10:35 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 2, 2006

What Culture Does A Company Need To Adopt To Use Cooperative Marketing Effectively?

In today's session on cooperative marketing at the New Communications Forum, Howard Rheingold of Smart Mobs gave the initial presentation on how cooperation is important for biology and human societies.

Elizabeth Albrycht asked a question of another panelist, Brad Williams, VP Corporate Communications, eBay, and in the process gave me an idea. Part of her question was that in the online world cooperation works well. Elizabeth cited eBay and explained that the cooperation that exists between eBay merchants and customers enables trust to exist for a customer to purchase from individuals and merchants on eBay's virtual marketplace. However, Elizabeth also said that in the real world that cooperative strategy does not necessarily work. I immediately asked myself the question, why does it not work in the real work?

Howard Rheingold had stated in his presentation that during the 19th century, evolutionary biologists knew more about competitive theory and not a lot about cooperative theory. I think I might be safe in saying that in today's world for the majority of companies, competitive strategies are the accepted norm for achieving corporate business goals. Yet with the adoption of the Internet it becomes easier to cooperate with customers, company stakeholders and even competitors. With so many examples of cooperation marketing success in the online world -- Amazon.com's book reviews, eBay's Trust factor, Craigslist.com's community contributions, perhaps cooperation marketing is a better strategy to follow for business success within companies?

Getting back to the question, why does cooperation marketing not exist in the real world in many instances? I'd suggest its because a company's culture is following a competitive strategy rather than a cooperation strategy. If a company wishes to follow a cooperative marketing strategy the first step should be to determine what culture currently exists within the company before attempting a new business model involving cooperation marketing.

Brad Williams from eBay had stated in his presentation that eBay's culture is very open and cooperative. EBay employees will contribute to company discussions in helping to make a better company. And even some employees joining eBay, once the employees have experienced how the culture works at eBay, cannot always handle the level of openness. For eBay their cooperation marketing efforts succeed because that's how the company's culture is hard wired.

I sit on the best practices committee for the New Communications Forum, and part of what we are researching are the effects of blogging policies on a company's development in the use of blogging as a form of marketing communications strategy. We recently realized that culture plays an important part in the initial adoption of a formal set of blogging polices. Working from this understanding and the perspective of today's presentation, I think it would good to conduct a survey about a company's culture to determine if a company's culture is competitive or cooperative. Such a survey would involve a cross section of the company.

I asked Howard Rheingold if such a survey exists. Howard he said it would be good if someone conducted such research and let him know if anyone did. I'd also be interested in getting help from people who are conducting that type of analysis of corporate organizational research on culture, both to borrow methods and read case studies.

Posted by johncass at 3:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Blogging History And The Fall Of Intermediaries

Rebecca Blood is gave the keynote speech at today’s New Communications Forum in Palo Alto. I have tremendous respect for Rebecca’s work because she always puts the latest trends within the context of history. Rebecca described how it used to be ordinary people produced music, but when the music industry came on board, it became harder for people to develop music. Today with the rise of the Internet ordinary people can create, publish and reach a wider audience.

Now I am a family historian. My background is American-British. I was born in the UK, but my Father was from California. My family came from the New England area in the 17h century. Since moving to Boston from Seattle, I’ve been conducting research into seventeenth century New England and the culture. It was interesting to hear Rebecca’s perspective because it describes the culture in New England at that time. Ordinary people really got involved in government, from running the town government to appearing in court on a regular basis. Yet today because we have attorneys acting as intermediaries between people and the court system, it’s very difficult and expensive to use the court system.

Rebecca suggested that because we will not need, as many intermediaries to create content the profession of PR will change a lot in the next few years. Hmm.. maybe this will happen with the legal profession and court systems.

Posted by johncass at 12:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

New Communications Forum In Palo Alto

Great discussion, great food and great music. All elements found at tonight’s gala event to open the New Communications Forum this evening in Palo Alto. I met several bloggers in person for the first time, including Jen McClure, Matt Galloway and Elizabeth Albrycht.

Jen McClure & John Cass.JPG

Jen McClure is one of the founders of the Society for New Communications Research and is the editor of the society’s journal New Communications Review. Jen and her board have done a tremendous job in putting together the new communications forum.

Matt Galloway + John Cass.JPG

Matt Galloway runs the eloquent and authoritative blog The Basement. Matt told me about a great new project he is working on at the moment Buzzophone. Customers have the ability to call a 1-800 number and lodge their opinion, good or bad, about a product, destination or service. Matt’s technology converts the recording into a podcast. Matt had to start moderating the podcast’s due to a few obscene phone calls. I called tonight and gave my thoughts on San Francisco Airport. My colleagues at Backbone Media were discussing the airport the day before. Matt wants to use the technology as a way to improve interaction between podcasters.

Elizabeth Albrycht + John Cass.JPG

It was especially great to meet Elizabeth Albrycht, I’ve been following her blog posts for a number of years. I've always enjoyed her thoughtful information rich posts. Elizabeth is one of the co-founders of the Society for Communications Research, and has worked tirelessly for the industry.

Posted by johncass at 2:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 1, 2006

Blogging In Palo Alto, California At The New Communications Forum

Arrived in Palo Alto, California about 2-3 hours ago for the blogging event of the winter, the New Communications forum. I am attending the special evening benefit for the Society for New Communications Research and Girls for a change tonight. Tomorrow I am on a panel discussion, “trends in search.?


Posted by johncass at 8:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

I Finally Met Constantin Basturea Today

I finally got to meet one of my heroes in the PR blogosphere community today, Constantin Basturea, we met at the Search Engine Strategies Conference in New York. I’ve got a tremendous amount of respect for Constantin for his work ethic on the global PR blog week and work on the PR wiki. His support of the community has really helped everyone in the industry.

DSC_0006.JPG

Constantin Basturea is on the left, and I am on the right, we are discussing some really important blogging issue.

Posted by johncass at 12:47 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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