Is This My Eyesight, Or Just The Captcha I Am Reading?
After an avalance of comment spam in the last week, we just implemented CAPTCHA on the blogsurvey blog, Captcha is short for "Completely Automated public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart", and was developed by Carnegie Mellon University, see more from Wikipedia on the definiation.
My colleague Kristine and I were discussing the merits of using catchpa on the blog, as we both prefer to see our comments automatically posted. However, we've seen so much comment spam on the blogsurvey blog Backbone Media has decided to keep content moderation running.
What's your prefererence for writing comments, and moderating comments?
Technorati.com Partner's With Edelman
Edelman's deal with Technorati.com to pay Technorati.com to develop the blog search engine in Chinese, French, German, Italian and Korean is definitely a PR win for the company. However I was a little concerned when I first read the Richard Edelman's post about the control Edelman would have over the new language versions of Technorati.com.
Obviously for Technorati.com finding a partner like Edelman to help fund other language versions of its RSS feed search engine really helps the company compete in this space. Especailly when Technorati.com has Google breathing down their neck.
It seems that Edelman will be paying Technorati.com to fast track development and in return have exclusive rights to the newly developed search engines for just a few months. Edelman is helping the industry by helping Technorati.com to move forward at a faster clip. I've had a few discussions with technologists about the relative value of Technorati.com results against Google's blog search results. Personally I am not really sure which results are better. But I do know that Technorati.com's whole focus as a company is on providing the best conversational results to the searcher. While Google's focus is on providing the best relevant results to the searcher. With partnerships like this and Technorati.com's Who's blogging service. Either through strategy or necessity, Technorati.com seems to understand the power of partnering to provide the best solutions to the customer and beat the competition.
See Richard Edelman's follow up comment in response to some questions from Andy Lark.
"Andy A few facts ,then our strategy First, we are paying Technorati to fast track development of these additional language capabilities. These will be rolling out from July through September in a gradual fashion. Second, this will be open to the entire blogosphere from Jan. 1, no matter whether we got French in July and Korean in September. Third, we are trying to build a competitive advantage in having proprietary use of the product in those four to six months. But we are also conscious of the beta aspect of the Technorati French or Korean product. This walk before you run approach is familiar from your technology company playbook. Fourth, we will be trying to figure out whether there is a global approach which encompasses local plus multi-local, to crisis management, brand marketing or corporate reputation. Fifith, we hear you loud and clear on your view of our taking this proprietary. We will take your opinion seriously. Thanks for writing. Richard Edelman"
Technorati.com's Who's Blogging Service
Technorati.com who's blogging service give bloggers a way to comment on traditional media websites without losing their ability to personally publish, and the service highlights the Technorati.com in the race with other RSS feed search engines. Featured on the Washington Post, Salon.com, Newsweek, and The Nation, Technorati.com's Who's blogging service launched in the 4th quarter of 2005.
I'd like to make a list of the websites using Technorati.com's who's blogging service, and put it on the New PR Wiki. Let me know if you have a Technorati.com Who's Blogging service sighting.
Blogging Credibility Low Amongst Fortune 1000 Executives
eMarketer provides a great overview of the Harris Interactive and Makovsky & Company survey on the "2006 state of corporate blogging," where a number of Fortune 1000 executives are interviewed on their thoughts about blogging.
There's a lot of skepticism about blogging in the results of the survey. I was surprised to read that 15% of the respondents have someone in their company writing a blog related to their company's efforts. That indicates that the fortune 500 wiki might be wrong about the number of fortune 500 companies blogging overall at 4-6%. Unless more companies are blogging below the Fortune 500 in size, the differences in numbers make me suspect there might be a problem with their survey data. The respondents might be weighted too heavily with people who blog or who are positive towards blogging. Therefore if anything this survey might be more positive towards corporate blogging than reality.
As I've mentioned on this blog before, I believe we are in the very early days of companies using blogs for corporate communications. There's not much understanding of the size of consumer generated media, for example 30% of the survey respondents in the poll have a through understanding of what an internet blog is, this means there's more room for educating executives on corporate blogging. Though the survey result show that a high number of executives think their company should write policies to manage blogs written by employees that are related or unrelated with their company, I think this indicates there is a lot of understanding of the power of consumer generated media amongst fortune 1000 executives. I just think that there's not a lot of understanding how their companies can connect with auidences through consumer generated media.
Toby Bloomberg, the Diva of marketing is collecting blogger stories. Check out Toby's new website on blogger stories.
Finding People With A Lack Of PR Experience
Paul Young helps the PR blogging community find people with a lack of PR experience. If you have five years or less of PR experience you can be on the New PR Wiki list for young PR bloggers.
Good to see this sort of list start, it will encourage more bloggers, and give companies a chance to see the sort of talent that's out there.
Tracking Word Of Mouth With The Relational Ethnography Approach
Dr. Walter Carl writes an interesting post about the process of tracking conversations in word of mouth marketing. Essentially, if word of mouth marketing reviews audience conversations to understand how word of mouth happens organically, a researcher would want to track conversations between audience members to discover how the word of mouth process occurs.
Walter describes three approaches, a diary based method, a transcription of the conversations and lastly a transcription of the conversation with additional commentary. Essentially, participants will be asked by an interviewer for their understanding of what was said in a conversation.
Walter tells us the reason for using this last method, "Specifically you want to ask the participants in the WOM episodes about how they make sense of their own interaction and to provide insights that an outside analyst wouldn't have access to since s/he is not an "insider" to the relationship. Here, then, you're gaining insights into how the relational connection and history serves as a basis of influence in the WOM episode."
Walter had highlighted an article in Advertising Age (registration required if you have not subscribed) that discusses a methodology used by the company The Keller Fay Group. Where the diary approach is used to set a benchmark of organic word of mouth events. There's no interaction from a company's word of mouth marketing effects. Walter suggested that those results could then be compared with a company's word of mouth marketing campaign efforts using other organized methods; I assumed that Walter meant the "relational ethnography" approach.
Basically, you can compare the organic word of mouth process with a company-sponsored word of mouth marketing campaign. And see how the company-sponsored word of mouth marketing campaign can be improved upon in light of the results from the organic WOM process.
Though I was thinking what if you get better results from the company-sponsored world of mouth marketing campaign than the organic process? It would be interesting to ask the community if anyone has ever seen that happen.
Searching For Tractors In The Summer, And Decorations In the Winter
Google Trends is a cool and extremely useful new tool for online marketing people from Google. Trending the search volume on keywords can give marketing people tips on when to start spending more money on pay per click ads as the seasons change for products and services based on last year's numbers.
Check out this comparison of the keyword tractor with the phrase Christmas decorations. The seasonality is the complete opposite. Tractors are not used as much in the winter as in the summer, so people are searching for tractor parts and vehicles during the summer. While people look for Christmas decorations during the winter.
Google Trends also provides trend chart of articles on Google News by keyword.
Internet Marketing, Blogging & Online PR intern
Backbone Media is looking for a blogging research intern. The intern will complete a lot of boring tasks and then create some interesting, vibrant content. One of Backbone Media's Interns was second author on a 70-page white paper and report on blogging, and is now working for Backbone Media. You will have to be able to communicate very effectively. Some of the tasks you will undertake will include:
· Blogging research
· Helping with blogging research studies
Please send me some writing samples, if you have a blog your URL and tell me in a short paragraph why I should hire you.
Master's In Business Blogging
Christine Halvorson, formerly of Stonyfield farms, is offering a Master's in business blogging in a one day seminar. You can learn the basics of blogging and also gain hands-on experience of how to blog.
Finding Valid Word Of Mouth Marketing Data
Davetherave at the WOM, Buzz, & Viral Marketing Communication blog for Dr. Walter Carl's class on word of mouth marketing writes, "One of the parts in Anatomy of Buzz gave evidence to the fact people communicate a bad experience to more people then a good experience." Gave two examples of recent poor customer service he had experienced. His post reminded me of an interview I conducted with Mary Beth Weber about the validity of blogging research.
Mary Beth said, "I think if someone is going to blog about a company or product, they will have had either an exceptionally good experience or an exceptionally bad experience. So if you are listening to customer bloggers you may think you have more problems than good, as typically people are more motivated to express their bad experiences."
Companies have to be cautious when evaluating online data, does it represent a valid overview of their audience?
Call Your Mom!
Aaron at the Technology and You blog touches on the concept of synthetic transparency in his discussion of connections between people within social media communities. Dr. Walter Carl commented on the article describing his definition of synthetic transparency, Walter coined the phrase Synthetic Transparency.
I thought Aaron's post was interesting because he suggested that an illusion of personal connection exists in online communities, people might connect with friends over the Internet across the globe, but that virtual connection is not the same as meeting in person. Virtual connection has limits to the level of interaction; you cannot see a person's face in an email.
I recently read a study that described how people stay connected with more people by using the Internet. But that email, IM and blogs are not substitutes for phone calls and personal visits. The study suggested that reliance on virtual communication does allow you to stay more connected. In fact such virtual connections might degrade your existing strong personal connections with close friends, colleagues and family.
After reading that study, I thought I'd make a bigger effort to follow up with calls and personal visits to close friends, family and colleagues as a way of maintaining close connections.
Sorry, I've forgotten the reference to the study, I will post later when I find it.
Consumer Generated Media Sends Traffic To Google
Bill Tancer from Hitwise has a very interesting post about the volume of traffic sent to Google from MySpace.com social communities, "MySpace Tops In sending Google traffic." 8.2% of all inbound web traffic to Google is from MySpace.com, and that's up from 1% of all traffic at the beginning of the year according to Hitwise's numbers.
This is an example of the growing importance of consumer generated media and social media websites in terms of traffic. Search is an important part of a company's marketing mix in today's online marketing world. However with numbers like this direct traffic from CGM websites are something to think about for B2C companies.
Conversation Search Engine Marketing, Effective Blogging & The Long Tail
Chris Anderson in his Wired article, "The Long Tail," wrote about how the web is showing a new economic model that gets past the notion of only the most popular products will sell, the old 20/80 rule. The Long Tail business model explains that online companies are not restricted by limited brick and mortar storefront capacity and have the ability to sell a wider variety of products online. Amazon.com for example sells more titles in its back catalog of low sellers and non-influential titles than in its list of best sellers. Chris Anderson believes that the online "market that lies outside the reach of the physical retailer is big and getting bigger."
Chris Anderson suggests that there are three rules for building a successful long tail business:
* Make everything available.
* Cut the price in half. Now lower it.
* Help me find it.
Google Uses The Long Tail
What I find interesting about the rules for the Long Tail is that the Long Tail is helping Google's advertising model to make a lot of money, over $6 billion last year and maybe over $9 billion in 2006. The search giant has many small retailers to generate a significant proportion of its revenue. Google's CEO thinks small business is very important to Google's business according to a quote on Chris Anderson's blog.
Google's top organic search results don't provide all the results to a searcher but rather focus on providing the most relevant results. Google's method of providing organic search results makes sense, as searchers want the most relevant information and the quickest way to find it. Yet, it's difficult with a major search engine to find the very latest information on a particular topic, unless that website is also one of the most relevant sites on the web.
Bloggers Use Conversation Search Engines
Bloggers have different priorities when using a search engine. A blogger wishes to discover the most up to date blog post on a topic. That's why RSS search engines provide searchers with the ability to find the latest web page on a related keyword topic.
The way a date related search works on a blog search engine is different from a relevancy search engine like Google, RSS search engine look for the latest posts, while Google and other relevancy search engine assess the relevancy of a particular page before giving the page a particular ranking.
I think searchers use Google to find the most influential websites, while searchers use Technorati.com to find the latest conversation surrounding a keyword. Which is why I think major search engines such as Google, MSN & Yahoo! are relevancy search engines and RSS search engines are conversation search engines.
Compared to a major search engine, it's much easier to find obscure conversations about a topic when using Technorati.com. Yet those obscure conversations can be just as relevant to a blogger as the most influential writer's thoughts on a subject.
In public relations there is a reason to target the most influential media outlets, as those publications will draw the most traffic. However, PR professionals understand the benefit of targeting smaller publications or trades that will be more likely be to publish a unique story early in a PR campaign. Once published the story may then be picked up by larger national papers. The same mechanism works in the blogosphere - If you have content that's of interest, even a blogger with a narrow audience will be more likely to interact with you online.
In the blogging world there is the concept of the A list - or the most influential list of bloggers, and a Z list of bloggers are the least influential bloggers. In the blogosphere even the long tail of Z list bloggers should be included in your conversation with your community if that Z list blogger writes good content. Once you have published content even on the most obscure blog it will be read by other bloggers who will be looking for relevant content to them to publish or comment.
The lesson? Don't discount any conversation, as all conversations can have value despite the current influence of the writer. Conversation search engines give bloggers the ability to find the Long Tail of the current conversation on the web. While relevancy search engines don't take into account what's most up to date in the online conversation.
Optimizing For A Conversation Search Engine
The concept of conversation search engines is that you use RSS feed search engines to find the latest conversation in the blogosphere. Surprisingly just as you can optimize your website and blog posts for Google it is possible to optimize your blog posts for conversation search engines.
I say surprisingly because the way you optimize a web page for Google is to make it the most relevant for a particular keyword, and have other websites link to a site. But as RSS search engines don't display the most relevant content but the most up to date content it's not particularly difficult to get listed on an RSS search engine. Rather achieving a top ranking on Technorati.com is more an issue of how often do you have to post to remain in the top rankings?
One question clients often ask me is how frequently do you have to write a blog post? Formerly I'd say 5 times a week. But now after thinking about conversation search engine marketing I ask for a client's list of keywords to determine how often their blogging community is posting articles that contain their keywords? That question depends upon the number of other postings on the same keyword. The greater the volume of posts for a keyword, the more blog posts you will have to write to maintain your ranking on a keyword in a conversation search engine such as Technorati.com.
One way to determine the number of posts you will have to generate is by taking a list of all the keywords you target, and searching on those keywords in conversation search engines. Scroll down to the bottom of the search results and take a quick look to see when the last post was most recently posted. If you make sure you are posting more often than whatever number of days or hours is the last post on the first results page. You should be posting enough to appear on the first page.
Below I have two examples of Technorati.com keyword searches. I've combined two images, both from the first page of a keyword search. The top of the search results that lists the keyword, and the blog entry at the bottom of the search result displaying the date of the last post. I conducted two searches, one for the common phrase "business blogging." And the other search was for the obscure phrase "synthetic transparency."
"Business blogging," had 10,328 posts therefore to maintain a ranking on the first page a blogger would have to write at least every 2 days. For the obscure keyword phrase, "synthetic transparency", there are only 10 posts, and the last entry was written 554 days ago. Meaning you might only have to write an article once a year on this keyword topic.
Now technorati.com has introduced the concept of relevancy within their results but gives blog searchers the ability lower or raise the level of relevancy of date related posts. One big reason for the introduction of the relevancy barometer was splogs or spam blogs. But for those obscure terms posting every few months can easily get you a ranking in Technorati.com on that term.
Using the posting volume date technique for RSS search engines means a blogger can determine how much time is needed to keep a first place ranking, in order to generate the required volume of posts. A blogger can estimate their available time for blogging, and based on the estimated time to blog required to blog by keyword choose a strategy that allows them to keep up with the required volume of posts to maintain a ranking. As with any entry a blogger can include all of the keyword phrases within a post. Don't expect to retain a first page ranking unless you post frequently for a high volume keyword in a conversation search engine. The good thing about this method is that you can estimate with some accuracy how much time it is going to take you to blog in your industry.
Writing and conversation have to be relevant to the community otherwise you are just spamming and will probably not receive any benefits from the community. Effective blogging is also partly dependant upon the ability of a blogger to conduct outreach to their community. The greater the volume of posts on a subject the more opportunity to comment and interact with other bloggers, and the higher the chances of getting links and comments back from other bloggers. That's the reason why the long tail concept supports conversation search engine marketing and effective blogging. Every conversation is an opportunity for conversation, traffic, and linking that will help a company reach its goals.
A Quick GM Response Can Produce More Satisfied Blogging Customers
I've written before about the GM Fastlane blog and how Bob Lutz, Vice Chairman of General Motors does not answer every blog reader comment. Last week Bob Lutz, did answer a reader's comments in the post, "A Quick Response."
The reader nearly had a heart attack when he realized Bob had written a post in response.
"Bob, I almost had a heart attack when I saw my name mentioned in your post! Awesome. Anyway, I am so glad you are reading about all our concerns. Rest assured that I and everyone else is prodding you guys because we want you to succeed...."
".. Thanks for taking the time to respond to my concerns, its a great feeling to know that the car company we all go around trying to defend will hopefully one day never need to be defended. Take care!"SteveG
This back and forth between Bob Lutz and Steve is a great example of both the importance of responding to customer questions, and also the importance of answering questions because you clearly demonstrate to the world you are prepared to treat your customers like people. The dilemma General Motors and other high volume blog is that due to the volume of reader comments, 50 to 200 comments, it's almost impossible for a single blogger to answer all of the comments.
As we see from the response from other blog readers on the GM blog in the comment section of the post, answering your readers does have an effect on the rest of your readership. Clients often ask me about the value of blogging. I explain that it's the dialogue that occurs between a blogger and their audience that matters. A conversation may only appear to matter between the blogger and the reader as in the example of SteveG and Bob Lutz. The consequences for the GM Fastlane blog are larger than that those two people. Other customers read the discussion and are influenced, not just the content but how the discourse happens.
Business Blogging Dominated By Technology Companies In The Fortune 500
21 of the 29 Fortune 500 companies that have a corporate blog are technology and telco related companies. And many of the blogs are aimed at their development community. According to the Fortune 500 wiki only 5.6% of Fortune 500 companies are blogging.
I think it makes sense that technology related companies dominate the ranks of those fortune 500 companies who are blogging. Technology audiences read blogs, and know how to use RSS technology to keep up to date with them. Another facet of the technology industry is pace of change and the need by technology company clients to remain competitive. A blog is a better method of communication with your audience than a standard website. It's a lot faster to up date a blog, both technically and culturally than on a traditional website. Culture plays a big factor in whether a company can blog, but I also think an audience's awareness of blogging culture is important and whether an audience will read a blog and know how to use RSS. Technology industries have the advantage in 2006, but as people learn how to use blogs and RSS, the barriers to entry will come down quickly.
Technology companies dominate the list of Fortune 500 companies' blogging. If we consider the reasons why so many technology companies have adopted blogging we can have a better hope of forecasting those industries that will be more likely to blog in the near future. Those industries where an audience needs to keep up to date on the latest developments will benefit strongly from using blogs. Industries with tech savvy audiences will also have an advantage, but to me it's the competitive nature of industries that will fuel the readership of blogs. Technology companies often have complex products and services that require a lot of customer support, blogs can help provide expertise quickly and efficiently.
Check out this edited list of technology and telco companies from the fortune 500 wiki below.
Blogging F500 Company