Fard Johnmar's Take On The Jupiter Research Blogging Report
Fard Johnmar writes a critique of Jupiter Research's Blogging report.
Jupiter had suggested in their report that 70% of companies would be blogging by the end of the year. Based on my understanding of the industry, I do find it hard to believe this statement, unless Jupiter Research meant internal blogs. I'd like to hear more from the company on what its results mean?
Maybe there's a slant to a particular industry. If you look at the 29 companies in the fortune 500 who are blogging 21 of them are in the technology and telco industries, see my article about the fortune 500 wiki. Perhaps the survey focused on technology companies? I'd be interested to hear more from the company about who was surveyed for the report.
Blogger Relations Content Strategy Determined By Researching Blog Readers
Conducting an audit of a blogging community is not just about researching bloggers in your company's industry. You also have to understand who is reading the blogs you wish to build a relationship with over time. Content should dictate how you interact with a blogger. But I also think its important to read the comments of a blog to determine who is reading a blog. Not only will you find other great bloggers to read and interact with over time, but also you will build up a profile of the readers of that blog. That profile will then give you the ideas as to what content strategy will attract the type of readers you seek.
The New PR Is Part Of Blogger Relations
Philip Young describes in his post, "What is the new PR?" that there are profound changes happening with the practice of public relations because of the new world of social media. His discussion about the issue was inspired by Stuart Bruce's post around the issue of PR 2.0. Stuart does not believe that PR has fundamentally changed with the introduction of new media. I think I agree with both Stuart and Philip, that PR has not changed and also that online social media has given companies new ways to communicate with their audiences.
Philip Young's posts encouraged me to ask the question: "what are those profound changes?"
I agree that the purpose of PR has not changed in the new world of social media. However, what I think has changed is the division between PR and other disciplines. The lines have blurred. Tina Lang-Stuart said this best in a comment on Stuart's blog, there's now a thin line between professions and disciplines, or, "It's becoming a middlesex-kind-of-society where there's a thin line between journalists, bloggers, vloggers, MySpace networkers, PR and Marketing people."
The reason I use blogger relations to describe the process of a company communicating with their audience rather than public relations is because of that blurring of the lines between PR and the other professions. I see that product managers and customer service people get some of the best results in terms of interacting with their customers by using both a public relations strategy along with their existing skill sets and the new discipline of blogger relations.
Building relationships with journalists was once the domain of PR professionals and company communicators; often most of their relationship was conducted in private. But now that blogs are becoming increasingly important as a way to build relationships directly with customers for some companies, it has also become important for bloggers to build online public relationships with other bloggers in their community.
Often marketing and PR people are not the right choice to be the blogger for a company's blog. Just as typically, the PR professional was not the best interviewee for a journalist's story. The PR professional might have facilitated the interview but the CEO or senior executive was the person the audience and by default the journalist wanted to hear.
The change with blogging is that the blogger facilitates the conversation between other bloggers, rather than the PR professional where the blogger is not in PR. To me this is why blogger relations is not just about public relations but a combination of different disciplines.
Fordboldmoves.com Raises The Stakes For Ford In The Company's Struggles With Sales
Ford recently launched www.fordboldmoves.com a website that features documentary style video's of Ford's next steps in saving the company from its sales decline. The videos seek to reveal the inner workings of Ford. You can comment on the videos and articles at the website.
The site will feature 50 videos over the next year.
I have a few suggestions for the fordboldmoves.com team:
Lose the flash pop-up, its useful for first time visitors, but got old fast the second time I went to the site. The 'Intro' link on the left hand navigation works just as well for encouraging people to click on the initial video that explains the purpose of the site.
I had problems registering for the login for the comment section on the website. A runtime error appeared a few times, fortunately, I am not faint of heart and tried logging back in. Once logged in however, the comment system was a little confusing to use, the login was floating on the page while the comment box is located at the bottom of the page. I did manage to post a comment on an article about buying American, but no comment appears. Hopefully comments are moderated and mine will appear in the next few hours or day.
It would be great if the fordboldmoves.com would let the user know if comments are moderated. I looked through the legal terms and conditions, but did not see Ford's policy on answering comments.
I've previously posted an article about the synthetic transparency of the General Motors Fastlane blog. In that post I suggest to General Motors their blog inform readers clearly that comments will not be automatically returned when a reader comments. Rather, GM has posted a few articles informing readers their comments may not be answered in the future. I chatted with several GM blog readers who told me their expectation as GM is running a blog, when the customer comments, GM will answer their comments. I'd suggest to Ford; that clearly setting expectations on your blog comment policy with customers will avoid blog reader disappointment.
The website represents a great opportunity for Ford to reveal its story to the buying public, it remains to be seen how Ford will react to customer comments and suggestions made on the fordboldmoves.com website by Ford customers. If Ford is able to be proactive and respond to comments, whether positive or negative, I think the website will be a success. If not, I think the website will not help the company with their market share issues. Telling the truth is good, but if market share loss is due to a crisis in brand confidence with Ford, the way to bolster brand confidence is by listening and building the type of cars your customers seek. Listening doesn't just mean allowing comments in the online world, it also means interacting with customers to demonstrate how you will make a change, and sometimes why you cannot make a change requested.
I expect the Ford website to receive 100's if not thousands of comments, the resources needed to manage all of those comments will be a tremendous. Yet, answering the comments of a few hundred or thousand people will make a huge impact on how the company is perceived. That action alone will say we listen at Ford, and when people feel as if their opinions and comments are taken seriously, those people become not just customers, but part of your team.
Update: Bryce Hoffman from the Detroit News called me to comment on Ford's new website. Here's his article, "Behind the blue oval," thanks Bryce for the inspiration for this blog post.
Browster Helps You Eliminate Slogs
Advanced Technology Ventures, based in Waltham, Massachusetts backs a browser add-on company called Browster.
I was a little dubious about the concept of the company, a plug-in for Internet explorer and Fire Fox. However, once I downloaded the plug-in and tried Browster on Internet explorer, and tried the service, I thought the concept behind the technology has some merit. The plug-in allows the Internet user to roll over links on a page, say the Google search engine. When you roll over a link with an associated lightening bolt (browster's addition) a view of the rolled over page appears instantly.
I think browster can help people who search a lot of websites to quickly look through a number of websites. Which gets to why I am writing a technology article today. Backbone uses RSS feed search engines to search for blogs for our clients. We conduct audits around blogging communities and terms. Many of the RSS search engines remove many slogs or spam blogs, but quite a few do get through. Browster makes it easier to identify those slogs, and also identify blogs we do want to include in our client's audit.
In addition, I noticed that Scott Milener's blog is associated with Browster. Scott is the founder of the company, he writes the browster blog which is all about advertising, paid search, browsers and internet trends. The blog appears to be focused at the advertising community.
I am not really sure about the business model for the company. According to the main website, Browster sends ads to users. I have not seen any of the Browster ads. I'd like a better explanation of the model. However I think the technology has great merit, as it will make the process of looking through a lot of websites easier. I recorded 49 links on Technorati.com for the blog, many of the links were just links.
SNCR Journal Submissions & Awards
The Society for New Communications Research is seeking submissions for its new journal.
"The Journal for New Communications Research (JNCR), which will be published in Fall 2006. The Society is seeking articles or projects based on original empirical research, as well as pieces focusing on the theory, strategy and tactical use of participatory communications tools."
The society is also looking for nominations for its awards program.
Awards will be granted to individuals, businesses and educational institutions in the following categories:
-SNCR Professional Awards -- honors leading new communications thinkers, bloggers, journalists, citizen journalists and professional communicators
-SNCR Academic Awards -- recognizes leading work/research/studies from students and academic institutions
-SNCR Business Awards -- honors organizations that are successfully adopting new communications models and leveraging them in innovative ways for business purposes
The deadline for entries is September 8th, 2006, or contact SNCR at 650 331-0083 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am a research fellow and advisory board member of the society, I encourage readers to submit their ariticles or put in a nomination for an award. We are looking for some of the latest research on blogging and social media. If you have not been profiled in the press or blogosphere now is your chance to get noticed.
Umbria's New Blog
Umbria, a social media measurement company has a new blog. Unfortunately, the blog does not allow comments or trackbacks. But as it just launched, I am sure the team is working on putting together all of the elements of interaction.
Lord Saatchi's 'Death Of Advertising' Speech Is 'Utter Rubbish'
My first reaction to Lord Saatchi's speech at Cannes on the death of modern advertising was, "what utter rubbish," however once I listened to Maurice Saatchi's speech on the BBC world service, read the article published in the Financial Times and shifted through his question and answer session on the FT.com site. I realized that Lord Saatchi is both trying to attract attention to his ideas by sounding an alarm about the death of advertising, and pull together a good description of what's happening amongst consumers in today's technology driven world.
I regret I do have some criticisms of Lord Saatchi's article, for instance in this quote:
"for a modern teenager, in the 30 seconds of a normal television commercial, to take a telephone call, send a text, receive a photograph, play a game, download a music track, read a magazine and watch commercials at x6 speed. They call it "CPA": continuous partial attention. The result: day-after recall scores for television advertisements have collapsed, from 35 per cent in the 1960s to 10 per cent today."
Well, have we ever considered that there are more advertisements today than there were during the 1960's?
Here's an exert from the wikipedia article on TV Commercials:
"In the 1960s a typical hour-long American show would run for 51 minutes excluding commercials. Today, a similar program would only be 42 minutes long; a typical 30-minute block of time includes 22 minutes of programming with 6 minutes of national advertising and 2 minutes of local (although some half-hour blocks may have as much as 12 minutes of commercials)."
Even in Lord Saatchi's home country, the UK, "the amount of airtime allowed by the Independent Television Authority and its successors for advertising has risen from 7 minutes per hour in the 1970s to 12 minutes today."
Basically consumers are seeing more ads and therefore because of the volume of material have a difficult time remembering the ads. I think that recall factor applies across all ages, not just the modern teenager.
While I agree people are looking at more media at the same time. The increase in both the amount of media consumption and volume of advertising competition gives an incentive for companies to think about how a company can find better ways to reach customers. Companies must realize that their advertising will take more ads and hence more money to achieve the same return on investment.
In fact I think Lord Saatchi is not really saying advertising is dead but that it's harder to reach your customers through advertising because the audience is seeing so much. Lord Saatchi coin's the term, "one word equity," the idea that each company should focus on owning one word for its brand. I think that's a good idea, but not a new idea. When you think of Volvo you think of Safety, when you think of Starbucks you think of coffee. To me Lord Saatchi's term just makes more sense in today's busy technology and media world.
Lord Saatchi also introduces the idea of digital natives and digital immigrants. Here's Lord Saatchi's quote:
"social scientists divide the world between digital natives and digital immigrants. Anyone over 25 is a digital immigrant. He or she has had to learn the digital language. The digital native learnt it like you learnt your mother tongue, effortlessly as you grew up. The digital immigrant struggles and forever has a thick, debilitating accent."
I did some research on who coined the two phrases Lord Saatchi uses. See Marc Prensky's post on the origins of the terms.
Marc's background is in business and game design. Other people who were involved in developing the term include; Douglas Rushkoff, a film maker and writer, and John Perry Barlow, the co-founder of the electronic freedom foundation, former lyricist for the grateful dead and fellow Harvard Law School's Berkman Center for Internet and Society. All of these people have excellent backgrounds but their history also tells me that you or I can develop equally compelling ideas about what's happening in today's society if we put in the effort to listen and think.
I personally don't buy into the culture of youth that the young are always at an advantage when it comes to using new technology. I think people can pick up skills later in life, but of course if you learn them when you are younger you will be in a better position to use those skills. Rather I think technology adoption is more a situation of a divide between technology access and social groupings. I've met lots of technology savvy college students who don't know anything about blogs and many social media tools, but who are aware of instant messaging, facebook and myspace.
So if you're over 35 don't worry you too can pick up the skills of the web 2.0 economy. To me the fact the young are going to pick up technology faster is true, but that's more a function of culture. I've seen from discussions with twenty-year-old college students many social media tools that are used by older adults are entirely new concepts to them. The real issue is not age but culture for the acceptance of technology. In a way Lord Saatchi actually makes a good argument for dividing people by their level of technology involvement. The greater the level of media use, the more difficult it is to reach them because that person sees more stuff. The concept of "one word equity," works well for busy people who see a lot of media.
Drawing attention to yourself by stating advertising is dead is an effective way to generate publicity, but to me it does not really frame the conversation well. I think the discussion is really about how to be more effective with your advertising and marketing dollars. Lord Saatchi might provide some of the answers with the idea of "one word equity." Though this does all sound like traditional brand ideas to me.
I don't think what Lord Saatchi said was rubbish, rather a missed opportunity as he did not mention consumer generated media, blogging or social media. Now the new world of online social media is a place where the chances of the participants using one word are extremely low. People's attention spans for advertising may be low; I suspect consumer's attention spans for content on blogs and online community groups are high. I think Lord Saatchi is right about targeting a message to consumers succinctly, but he missed a perfect opportunity to discuss how companies might reach consumers who increasing have more of their attention in the new world of online social media.
What's New About Blogging For PR
"PR people step out of the background - some love it and some do it reluctantly - to become part of the conversation. It's becoming a middlesex-kind-of-society where there's a thin line between journalists, bloggers, vloggers, MySpace networkers, PR and Marketing people."
I like this comment because Tina was getting to the heart of what is new about blogging for PR people.
Most Influential Blogger Relations Posts
Taking a leaf out of the natural language processing blog's post, "most influential NLP papers." I wanted to know what were the most influential blogger relations articles, books and posts over the years.
Here's two from my list, what would you add to the list?
-The Cluetrain Manefesto
Max Kalehoff vs. Bill Neal Debate On The Validity Of CGM Research Heats Up
Interesting quote from Bill Neal about the validity of consumer generated media research on the datamining blog. Bill Neal is a well-respected traditional market researcher; he recently gave an interview to Tony Bloomberg that was critiqued by Max Kalehoff of Nielson Buzzmetrics in his MediaPost newsletter article. Here's the quote:
"The bottom line is that CGM research cannot be relied upon for much of anything. So what if it includes some "super consumers", "early adapters", and "extreme loyalists and detractors?" There is no telling which are which. It may just as easily include those who have never purchased or used the product/service, and simply want to express some opinion based on some unknown motivations."
I am personally enjoying the debate, mainly because I've had some misgivings of my own about the validity of CGM. And in the process of exploring those misgivings I've asked researchers from both sides of the isle their opinion of this type of research.
It does seem to me that there should be some room for CGM research in a marketing manager's toolkit. After all, how does a product become popular, or a TV show for that matter? Maybe as Mr. Gladwell states it's the influencers within a community that in the end presage what is going to happen. Has anyone ever considered that question? Or more clearly, maybe it does not matter what the majority think but the influential minority.
Cymfony Defines A New Social Media Term: Influence 2.0
I received an early FYI from Jim Nail on Cymfony's new Influence 2.0 concept and website launches, and where are some of my thoughts about the initiative.
I like the fact that Cymfony has filtered the concepts down to four in a table.
However, I do think that many of these ideas have already been discussed in the community, the cluetrain manifesto being the biggest "influence" on the community. I think the establishment of a wiki sends the right message to the community. Jim, I'd be interested in hearing about who influenced you in the writing of influence 2.0. And I'd encourage you to be as egalitarian with referencing other sources as possible.
Cymfony is basically stating that the old way of trying to influence the community's conversations, pitching journalists, issuing press releases etc does not work in today's world. Where personally generated websites allow more people to have voice in a community's conversation than ever before. And while not all voices are equal, smaller voices do now have a stronger stake in the ground than once they did just a few short years ago.
What Jim Nail and Cymfony is really saying is that because more customers and consumers are more influential than once they were, the rules of the game have changed for companies. A company can no longer afford to ignore the majority of voices, and concentrate on the elite in traditional media. Now that everyone has the tools and the ability to influence the conversation, if a company wants to be successful in a marketplace then that company will have to recognize that their conversation is no longer with just a few elite media people, but potentially because of the new tools of interaction with a company's entire audience.
In essence Influence 2.0 is not about the ability of a company to influence customers, but really about the ability of customers to influence companies. Yes, influence 2.0 is not about a company even trying to influence their audience to accept their point of view; it's really a realization of the marketing concept. The process of identifying customers needs and wants to satisfy them efficiently and profitably. Marketing starts and continues with listening or research, and to me Influence 2.0 starts with listening and conversing with customers to build products and services that meet their needs and wants.
I do think we have to be very careful how we use the term 'influence' outside of the PR community. I think anyone would be concerned when told that a company is trying to influence him or her, unless that conversation is put in context, being new to PR I know I was uneasy when I first heard a company was trying to influence me. I wondered if the company might be trying to play mind games or something!
Rather if you tell the world that you understand the new realities of the marketplace. That as a company you accept that customers have greater power to influence a company, then by putting the focus on the new power of customers to influence the debate I think customers will see the term, Influence 2.0 to mean what it is, a coming together of customers and companies to build better products. The Cluetrain manifesto succeeded in capturing the concept that customers are in the driving seat very clearly. I personally see many of the hallmarks of the concepts of the Cluetrain manifesto in Influence 2.0.
I've personally been struggling to find the right language to describe the new reality of blogging; my preference is for the term "blogger relations", though I've been open to expanding my definition of that term. My recent discussion with Shel Holtz on the topic illustrates the debate.
As an Internet marketing professional, I can tell you what's important in the end is how the community defines a term. A clear definition will produce wider adoption. Therefore I encourage Jim Nail and Cymfony to be open about how the term is used and defined.
Six Stages Of Technological Acceptance For Social Media
Reading Max Kalehoff's post about the level of management acceptance for employees to read CGM on the web in Fortune 500 companies, got me thinking about the 5 stages of acceptance of grief. I wondered if there were any stages of technological acceptance. There are! Andy Budd has developed the six stages of technological acceptance.
Blissful Ignorance - People seem to start in a state of blissful ignorance. They are not aware of what is going on around them and frankly don't care.
Denial - People have heard about this new technology, but it'll never take off and its not something they will ever need to know.
Anger - People don't get why everybody else thinks the technology is interesting and they don't, so they get angry.
Acceptance - Finally people come to the conclusion that if enough people think the technology is interesting, they better start learning about it or risk being left behind.
Understanding - The light-bulb goes on and people start to get why the new technology is so interesting.
Enthusiasm - People get good at the new ways of thinking and actually start getting other people interested in the technology.
Max, for your next workshop, maybe by providing an intro to the six stages, you can make the assumption that every executive moving forward is at the Understanding stage. :-)
Seriously though, this might be simply an issue of the IT department setting standards that have not be considered completely by senior management.
F2F Is Biggest WOM Medium
Don't give up on your telephone just yet. Dr. Walter Carl writes on the WOMMA Research blog in answer to an email question about word of mouth marketing and the differences between ages.
Here's a quote from the post I found particularly interesting.
Face-to-face is consistently high across all age groups (nearly 80%) with no significant differences. Phone is the next most frequent medium, but interestingly it's more prevalent for those in their 50s and 60s. The only significant difference for youths is that teens, 13-17, are more likely to engage in WOM episodes via instant messaging than other age groups. But even among teens the overwhelming majority of reported WOM episodes were in offline settings (either F2F or phone).
I wonder if Dr. Carl has any research on the differences between WOM via F2F, telephone or online? Which medium is best for each industry or product? Or are there any differences between products and industries and the medium used for WOM? Which medium is the most effective WOM medium? I'd suggest the web if you are recommending technology or Internet related sites. You can IM, blog, post, or email the URL.
Boston On The VC MoneyTree Report
There's a debate on the Boston Globe's business filter blog about the best region in the country for tech. Having lived in three of the country's top six tech regions I think I will reserve my judgment. (Silicon Valley, Seattle and now Boston).
However, if your focus are numbers, check out the MoneyTree website provided by Price Waterhouse Coopers, the site provides statistics on the venture capital markets by market, industry, region and value.
Here's the link and image below for the VC stats for investments by region in the first quarter of 2006 from the MoneyTree report. Silicon valley and Boston are far and away the two top tech centers in the country.
Rumor & Gossip Research
Keith Jackson points to Ralph Rosnow's and Eric Foster's article, "Rumor and Gossip Research," published by the American Psychological Association.
I read the article, and paraphrased the following quotes:
"Rumor mongering is viewed as an attempt to deal with anxieties and uncertainties by generating and passing stories and suppositions that can explain things, address anxieties, and provide a rationale for behavior. "
"We can usually distinguish between two types of rumors those invoking hoped-for consequences (wish rumors) and those invoking feared or disappointing consequences (dread rumors). Another is that people have a tendency to spread rumors that they perceive as credible (even the most ridiculous stories), although when anxieties are intense, rumormongers are less likely to monitor the logic or plausibility of what they pass on to others."
"Bordia & Rosnow have uncovered systematic patterns in both the content and level of individual participation, consistent with the theoretical idea of rumor mongering as a collective, problem-solving interaction that is sustained by a combination of anxiety, uncertainty, and credulity."
"We found that denser networks are less vulnerable to social fragmentation from gossip. However, this effect is moderated by "gatekeepers" who tend to position themselves along unique social bridges between other network members. Disintermediating, that is, increasing the density of social connections around gatekeepers, is expected to decrease negative effects of gossiping and to assist in improving norm coherence. Thus, the structure of the gossip network, as much as the content, can contribute to collegiality and understanding as well as to inequality and conflict."
BloggerCON Schedule Published
The schedule and mode of operations is published about BloggerCON next week. Unfortunately I cannot makes the event, when's the next event in Boston?
Is Social Media Research Valid?
Toby Bloomberg's interview with Bill Neal, an expert in marketing research provides some analysis of consumer generated media.
"I have some real problems with consumer generated media as a source of credible and reliable information. In many ways it combines the worst elements of non-scientific research - self selection and advocacy - both positive and negative.
That is, those out there in the Internet world who are generating their own media are self-motivated to do so and are not representative of any defined population of buyers. And, given the fact that they have taken a public position on a particular product or service, it means that they more often than not have exceptional or non-typical attitudes about those products and services. The information they generate may be true, or not true - there is no way to discern which. Therefore, the information generated by those folks is neither credible nor reliable. So, as researchers, yes, we should be listening, but we must be very cautious and skeptical about its veracity and its usefulness."
I've had similar doubts about the reliability of the consumer generated media, as I've discussed in past articles.
However, I also think that consumer generated media can highlight information marketing people just did not think to ask. I wrote about this in a recent article for business intelligence.
Demonstrating Search Engine Marketing Research ROI
Max Kalehoff suggests in this article, "more "search is strategy" talk," that most search agencies will not provide the level of strategic analysis of consumer search patterns their customers could gain from a detailed analysis of consumer search patterns on a website.
I think Max might be right, not because agencies don't want to provide that analysis but the focus of many marketing managers is ROI as Max suggests. Agencies have to eat and if the money is in short term ROI that's where experience and expertise will arise.
Marketing managers have to demonstrate ROI, if greater online marketing research can be shown to provide more ROI over time. I think its possible to increase the demand for greater web site and search analysis services for marketing research.
More and more research I've seen indicates that searchers use search at different stages of the buying cycle. Broad search initially to narrow search and eventually brand keywords once potential vendors have been selected. I think its important as an agency to ask a customer the customer the question do you just want people who are about to buy, or do you want shoppers who are considering their options. The first group of customers will generate more ROI. But if as a company you can increase the pool of potential buyers, i.e. have your company considered as a potential vendor when a customer is ready to buy, in the long term you will have higher over all sales.
I think research can be shown to provide ROI; it's just how you present the benefits of using that data.
What Does Average General Motor's Customer Think Of The GM Fastlane Blog?
To me what matters most is what customer's think; after all they pay your paycheck. Blogging research to me should not just focus on the people who run the blogs, but also the people who read the blogs.
General Motor's Fastlane blog postings have generated a lot of traffic to this blog. I suspect the people who found the blog were not looking for an analysis of GM's blog. Quite a few people who comment on this blog on GM articles, seem by their content to indicate the commentators thought they were addressing General Motors and Bob Lutz. I've interviewed a few people about their experiences on the GM blog to learn about their opinions of the blog. After listening to them, I came to a few conclusions and gave some unsolicited advice to GM about their blog.
I'd like to hear more from GM blog readers, what do you think of the GM Fastlane blog, and what do you think of GM for providing the blog to GM customers? How do you think GM can use the blog in the future?
Here's a listing of all the articles the blogsurvey has covered in the last year on GM:
You Are What You Read
Elizabeth Albrycht is going to graduate school in the Swiss Alps and wrote a piece about her focus for her graduate project. Digital identity. She explained that your identity is in part what you read on the web.
There's the old saying "you are what you eat' and now it seems what you read. Take a moment to scan down your books; email subscriptions and RSS feeds are you reading what reflects you, your personality and your interests?
Blogs Gain More Mind Share
Barb Hefner has a post about Outsell's report on what sources of information are used by 7,000 professionals.
Press releases are outstripping journals and textbooks. And the average respondent to the survey is reading nine blogs.
What Does Blogging More Get You?
Easton Ellsworth thinks more blog posts are important. I think there's a case to be made for blogger burn out, but I do agree with Easton that blogging frequently will get your content in front of more eyes on Technorati.com. The issue is keeping up the content. As I wrote in this post about conversation search engine marketing, if the volume of posts about a topic are high, its in your company's interests to write more about the topic.
Avoiding Blogger Wrath Through Brand Management
Flemming Madsen discusses the issue of blogger wrath and brand management. Flemming gives five prerequisites for a negative story to reach tipping point in the blogosphere:
1) Story true and have merit.
2) The issue/problem/injustice must be clear.
3) The issue/problem/injustice is facing/experiencing should be experienced by several others.
4) The blogger must be a good communicator.
5) Branded online media must write about the story to give it credibility.
Good brand management is all about making sure the promises you make to your customers are kept. There will always be circumstances where a company will have problems arise beyond their control of their employees. As the world becomes even more transparent, think carefully before setting your company for Brand disasters. Your employees and operations people hold more of the keys to your brand's strength than your PR department does.
If something does go wrong be open about the situation. Talk about how you are working on the problem, provide as much information as possible.
Oops! Internal ESRI Blogs Open To Feedreaders?
ESRI the GIS software company has a corporate blog, "geography matters." It appears the company also has a blog aggregator. I subscribed to the company's RSS feed for the aggregator and discovered that the feed is also providing readable content on internal blogs within the company. At first I thought everyone had to register and get a password to the site, but once I'd registered I realized the login was probably for internal employees or customers only. However, I can read some of the secure entries on my feedreader.
The public blog looks good, my suggestion to ESRI about the registration is to put up a notice that registration is restricted, if it is. And if the internal content is restricted stop providing the feeds to the internal blogs. Hey your competitors might be watching!
Robert Scoble Leaves Microsoft For PodTech.net
Robert Scoble, the most famous blogger and videologger at Microsoft is leaving Microsoft for the start up PodTech.net. Robert also co-authored the book, "Naked Conversations," earlier this year with Shel Israel. Robert has done a great job of demonstrating the value of corporate blogging to the business word. His constructive criticism has helped Microsoft emerge more quickly from the Court Case debacle and changed many minds about Microsoft. By showing the human side of the company Robert Scoble really helped to connect people with Microsoft.
Update: Here's the press release from PodTech
Consumer Generated Media Falls By 2% In 2 Years
Max Kalehoff wrote an article for MediaPost today about consumer generated media and the growth of broadband use. He noted that 42% of Internet users had generated content online either through blogs, forums or some other form of social media. These were the latest figures from the Pew Internet Project on American Life, from their May 2006 home broadband adoption survey. I remembered that the Pew Internet life project had stated 44% of Internet users generated content on the web from a study in Feb 2004.
2% is enough for a margin of error within a two-year period. However, I was a little surprised the numbers had not grown more. Maybe as more Internet users acquire broadband, even though the faster speeds make it easier to generate content, the next step of generating content online takes time to learn.
What do you think? Why are the numbers static?
Fard Johnmar Interview With John Cass On Healthcare Blogging
I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Fard Johnmar from the Healthcare Vox blog this week. Check out his site for the interview, the first in a series on blogging and healthcare.
My Review Of Larry Weber's Hosting Of The MITX Awards
Larry Weber, the chairman of Massachusetts Innovation Technology Exchange hosted the MITX Technology awards last night at the four seasons in Boston. Larry provided inspiration and insight into the future of innovation in Massachusetts and social media. Using examples from the past such as Digital and Wang, Larry pointed to the audience as the people who are focused on building the successful innovative technology companies of the future.
After giving the state of Massachusetts technology community a boost, he turned his attention to the growing power of social media. Larry Weber's is PR professional who founded some important technology PR companies. He has worked with traditional media for many years, and last night he explained that he thought the future of the paper newspaper does not look good, both in form and function.
He described how a few years ago he visited an exhibit at the Boston Public Library, and in walking into the entrance he had to pass over the bodies of former PR colleagues lying in front of the building. A joke and to illustrate the market after effects and fall out in the PR industry after the fall of the dot.com bubble.
At the library he saw an exhibit on the history of the newspaper. During the early years of the newspaper around the time of the American Revolution, there were 39 newspapers in Boston and 59 in New York. While now there's only two major papers in Boston and a few in New York. The reason for all the newspapers in the eighteenth century was all the different communities. He also described how initially there was no news in newspapers, only opinion. Eventually news appeared in small snippets, and lastly small business card ads appeared for advertising.
Larry brought us back to the present and told the audience that we are basically going back to the past with social media. Now that everyone can easily generate their own content on the web, the power of traditional media is being diluted. Opinions, conversation and local content will gain more prominence as more and more people learn how to create their own content online. In the next few years you will see even more disruption to traditional media channels and social media will play an even bigger role in the public discourse.
I thought Larry Weber both inspired and challenged the audience to create new technology innovations in the new realm of social media. He pointed to the changes in the public's use of the web, and said that Massachusetts as a region has one of the best chances to capitalize on this new marketplace.
A number of companies received awards for new technology; check out the MITX Technology Awards page for details (Backbone Media designed parts of the MITX website). Backbone Media was also a sponsor for the event and we had a whole table of staff. Backbone's President, Stephen Turcotte presented several awards, including the Security Applications award. The award went to Bit9, and Todd Brennan, the chairman, CTO and Founder of Bit9 received the award. I give Todd the award for the best acceptance speech of the evening; he was excited, had a support group and was very passionate about his product.
I encourage people to attend these events in the future. The content is a lot better than the average awards show. Larry always keeps the audience on their toes with his dry humor and random polls, about technology, sports and politics.
There was also a panel discussion about social media. Moderated by Jason Pontin, Editor in Chief and Publisher of the Technology Review. A fellow Brit, who played devil's advocate and drilled his three panelist to justify the business usefulness of social media. Panelists included John Clippinger, from the Harvard Berkman Center for Internet and Society. David McCall from Microsoft, and Carl Rosendorf from Gather.com.
I thought John Clippinger was the most interesting panelist, and I would have liked to ask him more questions about his work with the department of defense and how the DoD is using social media. David McCall made the biggest gaff, when in the context of explaining the ease of using the web he described how he spent many evenings in his underwear chatting with other online denizens. He recovered by saying he will shortly no longer be working at Microsoft!
The panelists described how social networking sites will become increasing important to Internet users. And that people would spend increasing amounts of time on them. Jason Pontin jumped in to ask what would it take to build an open source connection between all of these different social media sites?
John Clippinger told the audience that several companies are working on building the connections between different social media sites. Many people last night described how teenagers are using MySpace and Facebook social media sites. And those members would like to see more integration.
This discussion reminded me of an article I wrote about the differences between bulletin board and blogs, "Why Corporate Blogs Provide More Overall Marketing Benefits Than Customer Forums." I thought forums typically closed conversation spaces, while blogs are open spaces. And that conversation happens within closed walls in forums while conversations happen between blogs. To answer Jason's question, I think there already exists a mechanism for integration between different websites, its called linking, tagging, commenting. All of the interactive features that blogs use. I think the key for social media sites is to keep themselves open enough so that their content can be shared with the world, but provide access to content development tools through registration.
During the Q&A session, Adam Zand of Topaz Partners, grabbed a mike and told the panelists he completely disagreed with them, he thought that personal connection and face to face meetings are still important to him, his friends and colleagues. While the web has a role to play it's not going to eliminate the need for personal connections.
I agree with Adam's comments, in fact several of the panelists back peddled and agreed that it's a balance between online connections and in person connection. This exchange reminded me of the Pew Internet project, "the strength of Internet Ties," where people did have more social connections through the web. But that it was still important to boost web based connections with telephone calls and in person meetings. See the Pew report and my blog post on the report, " Call your Mom!"
Finally, Larry introduced Nicholas Negroponte as this year's innovation hall of fame inductee. I wrote a more detailed blog post on my personal blog PR Communications last night, as Mr. Negroponte's speech really inspired me. He is selling very cheap laptops to underdeveloped countries, which are quite powerful machines at a very low cost. Larry had made a comment about Mr. Negroponte always appearing in public in a suit and tie. Mr. Negroponte followed up by saying that he had never had a picture taken of him in public without him wearing both a suit and tie. And that also it was same suite and tie, apparently he has 30 of exactly the same suits and ties. Check out Google images, all I see are suits and ties.
Overall a great evening!
The Garden City Blog
My colleague Kristine Monroe and PR professional Chuck Tanowitz are collaborating on a citizen journalism blog about Newton, Massachusetts. Kristine is covering food and entertainment. While Chuck is covering news and life stuff, find out more at the Garden City.
Do You Have What It Takes To Win A SNCR Award?
If you have not heard, the Society for New Communications Research is the place to be for all the latest and greatest in blogging and new media communications. I attended their last meeting in Palo Alto as a research fellow and had a great time because of all the extremely knowledgeable people involved. The event was a who's who of the world of New Media communications. Well the society is calling for nominations for its inaugural awards in the fall.
The awards, which will recognize excellence in the use of new communications models and solutions, will be granted at the First Annual SNCR Research Symposium. Additionally, the award-winning case studies will be published in the New Communications Review.
The SNCR's awards will recognize innovative organizations and professionals who are pioneering the use of social media in the areas of marketing, public relations and advertising, politics, entertainment, academics, and community and cultural development. Only individuals, businesses and academic institutions are eligible to win the awards, but nominations may come from product vendors, consultants and professional services firms worldwide. Awards nominations are to be submitted as case studies, and will be judged by leading editors and industry analysts as well as SNCR research fellows and advisory board members. Awards will be granted to individuals, businesses and educational institutions in the following categories:
- SNCR Professional Awards -- honors leading new communications thinkers, bloggers, journalists, citizen journalists and professional communicators
- SNCR Academic Awards -- recognizes leading work/research/studies from students and academic institutions
- SNCR Business Awards -- honors organizations that are successfully adopting new communications models and leveraging them in innovative ways for business purposes
The deadline for entries is September 8, 2006. Look for the online submission form on the Society's website. For more information, email email@example.com
What Should Your Company Do In The Face Of Anonymous Posts & Comments?
One of the great things about the web is that it allows people to publish content. However, the blogs also allow people to post content anonymously. As we don't know the identity of such sources, this means the reader cannot put the anonymous poster's thoughts in context. What if the poster is a competitor, a disgruntled employee or even an ex-spouse? Without that identity any information should always be looked at with a jaundiced eye.
Blogs, forums and other websites that allow anonymous comments play a valuable role in giving people the opportunity to express their views openly without fear of reprisal, however, there is also the danger that views expressed or facts stated might not actually be true. Yet if you are the object of such criticism if you don't follow up with a comment your company runs the danger of letting a lot of the mud stick.
I've been thinking one strategy to combat anonymous criticism is to raise the issue of a lack of credibility when someone posts or sends in a rumor on a blog anonymously. You would repeat the same message on a consistent basis, that its hard for the reader to really understand if criticism is accurate or fair when we don't know the identity of the person who commented. You'd combat the criticism by commenting on the blog and cite your company's side of the story every time an anonymous comment is made. Consistency and discipline would gain you credibility in this case.
1) Your company tells its story.
2) Your company gains credibility by being prepared to be open. You might ask why isn't the commenter open? What does the anonymous commenter have to hide?
However, you might then enter into enter into a debate with other people who comment anonymously. Ways to combat stop that difficult situation would be to start off by saying your company will not have a debate with someone when the company does not know the identity of the person who comments. By setting a reasonable expectation I think the reader will be more supportive of your company.
B.L. Ochman inspired this post because recently she started the Ethics Crisis. The blog allows people to post anonymously about their worst company or personal crisis. Scroll down on the existing confessions to see examples, unlike the anonymous issue I've discussed in this post, I think B.L.'s confessions feature really allows the community to explore their own ethics and receive feedback. However, I think its better than you be open about your identity especially when you are criticizing other people or companies.
Jonathan Schwartz Blogs About The Layoff At SUN
Jonathan Schwartz the CEO of SUN Microsystems had to lay off 5,000 people this week. The company used traditional channels of communication with press releases. However, Jonathan is also the first fortune 500 CEO blogger and he blogged about the layoff. He gave greater background to the layoff, and the company's plans for the future.
I was interested in reading the comments to Jonathan's post, many early posts were positive but as the days passed many posts are rather negative. But also filled with advice for the new CEO at SUN.