Mar 29

Blogger Samples

Tonight at the Problogger meetup, I met up with Keith, from vibrator.com (do you need a warning that that link is NSFW?) As an e-commerce site, it is very web2.0; there’s a pretty good blog, all the right prompts to delicious, digg, technorati etc and the UGC competition – submit your own erotic story.

Furthermore Keith is quite happy for bloggers to get samples to test and blog about – and I’m pretty sure he won’t need them back ;-) Considering the other blog is called Behind the Buzz, that could be something to think about!

Mar 27

Social Media Club NY Mar 27

Jay Rosen (Newassigment.net) talking about Assignment Zero

When Tim Berners-Lee designed the web, he created a platform for people to collaborate, so scientists could share data. It is a giant collaboration machine. but it has developed more as a broadcast media, print, tv, cable to web.

so what are the consequences for journalism, investigative reporting, when we have falling costs to locate people, share info, collaborate. so like-minded people can find each other, collaborate and make stuff for value. see OSS, Wikipedia, others. So with NewAssignment.net what are the consequences for journalism,

this is a research project; to spark innovation, to develop new knowledge, to push forward platform of open source reporting.

So how do you do reporting under open conditions? the fist attempt is Assignment Zero, joint project with Wired magazine, they have shared some costs, e.g. hiring an editor to carry project to the end.

So can you take a big trend story, out there in 100s or 1000s of places, break it up into parts, develop online, assign to people, write stories and publish the best of the results. an open invitation to participates to join in that behaviour. can you do stories with 100s instead of 2-3?

Have 700 members in 2 weeks, they expected 250 in 2 months, with 100 or so real contributing. biggest problem is organising all of these people. Thye have joined, got blog, have email address. have said intend to contribute. Most members have put photos, They are known.

The heart of the site is the assignment desk (very crudely designed). List all the topics under the big story about the spread of crowd-sourcing.

There are forums to discuss new stories, complaints, a survey, the survey is open to all- looking at motivations across the various types of open source projects.

Most of the editors are professional journalists. we have a Director of Participation. to do this, you need a traditional editor and then you need someone to organise the people..the Director of Participation.. One drives the story, the other solves the people problems. We are deluged now under the cost of interactivity, we have 3x as many people as expected. we do not have the staff to manage this at the moment. then you have to organise volunteers to absorb this costs, to add to the solution, to organise more people. to keep the people there.

The Dir. of Participation’s background is in political campaigns, have understanding of organising people horizontal. The equivalent roles in tech companies are community managers.

We think it will be a 2-3 month project. so what do we get? Wired will have a big feature about everything we will do, and newassignment.net will also publish an editors cut of everything that came in. a big package of stories here, a big feature on the mag. everything is CC, so things can be published elsewhere as well,.

Also (today) starting a second project with Huffpost, following 12 Presidential candidates; create a group blog, with networks of 50-100 people, feeding material to one blog, doing a microbeat. there will be backstage forum for the network to discuss the news, sort out things etc.

Audience Questions

Q: how do you accommodate for standards of journalism, from writing to vetting stories.

A: we are trying to practice open platform, capture the benefits of openness but we know there are cots. the tricks are to have benefits and reduce costs. one of costs is about knowing the credibility of the participants. we are not going to prevent people joining, but have strict controls on what we will print. exercise controls at the final gateway. if we can’t reach you by phone, then unlikely to give you stuff essential to do. there’s no single solution to it. you have overlapping measures that add up to a workable solutions

Q: Dan Gilmore had Bayosphere for a while, the main difference here is there is an editor, far more of a focus.

A: this is a second wave attempt built on what happened the first time round. the first was about building platforms for people to do their own thing – that is what blogging is This is far different – one story into 100s of parts. we can do stuff that are as good, and stories that they would not attempt, that would not be feasible.

Q: what is the business model

A: this is not a business; the costs for this project are over 40k for one this one story, but we do not know what will come out of it. the costs for the first may not be the same as the second. will you get costs savings? not sure, but will get increases in quality and volume. the crowd become a way to make the crowd reliable. it is no a cheaper journalism, but a better one that is done on bigger subjects

Q: how about faster?

A: Last weekend the Justice dept, dumped 3k page of emails, see how talkingpontsmemo.com spread out the work, asked readers to help them out. posted 100s of pdfs, asked people to analyse and find the stuff. they did it overnight.

A: Sunlight foundation got people to check members of Congress employing family members- took a weekend – then all were fact checked and there was a high degree of accuracy.

Q: in terms of wikis, how would you describe the difference?

A: in starting this, we could learn from first wave of projects. take a step beyond that. 2ndly he biggest gains would be in hybrid forms, where you have openness and also some controls. there is structure and chaos. if anyone can sign up, this is the opposite of a controlled newsroom. it is going to be a mix of openness and controls, professionals and amateurs, order and entropy. the only way to find it is through practice, not ideology nor theory. I’m a tenure professor of journalism – who’s going to tell me I can’t. the cost of trying things is plunging so the cost to learning new things is plunging. no paper will do this. most journalists are very protectionist about this, defensive. I don;t have to care at the moment, we can do it without them. I put out an appeal for pros to help with it, when we got to 450, got 25 people interested. we have some problems, we did not design the pages properly. we are redesigning now, so you will find info and who the editor for the pages who is the contributor is, you can join a topic when you want to work on it, and you will know who your collaborators are. we add a blog for the editor to address the contributors.

Q: will we see the reporting that has gone on?

A: will we see their notes, what they add to it. They post in their ‘notebook’. which shows on the front page. Open source code site is built in drupal, all code is there, we need to find developers.

Q: is there a back channels or open channel for the participants?

A: when we redo the topic page. you will find discussion and deliberation at the page – publicly. when we do other stories, we may add some confidential stuff. we do it story by story. if the best thing for the story is to be confidential, then we will.

Q: why do you need a professional at the top – does not community do it already? can’t you do it like that?

A: it';s possible we will get there, but when starting this I could not work out how to do this without some pros. if we could get there, and have almost no pros, then that would be fantastic discovery..a self informing public, a wild idea. but right now I don;t know how to do it, how to create the controls. I think the biggest gains will be with the hybrid.

Q: At the moment, my reporters notebook is covered by laws to keep me out of trouble, what about this notebook, how is this handled?

A: it;s a complicated questions. I have thought it through with lawyers. write now, all we can do is differentiate the edited from unedited. there is a belief that the libellous material is in unedited material then some protection (common carrier). this is not yet proven, we do not know that the courts will say. it is not exactly clear. this is an experiment in shared responsibility and liability. if I had checked with all lawyers possible, then they may say I could not do it. but I have to innovate. you have to solve the practical problems that you run in,. the knowledge that you develop to solve the problems is the goal.

Mar 27

Justin.tv – Voyeurism to the extreme

Justin.tv is the latest attempt to show a life on camera. Whereas before the webcams were tied to the PC, tied to the line but digital and mobile prices have dropped enough to make this a viable option. 24 hours a day, Justin wears a camera on his hat and streams his life to the world.

This is pushing the boundaries; Justin has said he will wear the camera thoughout the day, whatever he is doing. To help in the viewer ratings, this includes dates and what potentially comes after (although not sure if he can do that, what with the various laws about data retention). It’s ‘fun’ to watch, in a weird way. I;ve said that Twitter is fascinating for the gossip reasons; this takes that idea far further.

But one unfortunate result, given the blog conversations over the last day, is some of the commentary that takes place in the live chat; comments about Justin’s sexuality,the people he sees. The women he sees and interacts with. Justin.tv has been praised by the usually early adopters. When they are watching it, I’d like to see them in the chat standing up and guiding the conversation to a place less derogatory, when it slips too far.

Mar 27

Help on CSS and search

Can anyone take a look and see what I’m doing wrong. My search does not seem to search – if I use the term Twitter it does not pull up my recent post about Twitter.

And the site does not display correctly on IE7 (and I think 7) in that the rightest sidebar falls off and moves to the bottom of the page. Which I guess is to do with widths and I need to play with some relativity I think. Any help gratefully received. Cheers.

Mar 26

The Ugly side of the web

I’ve been following this for the last few hours and just getting angrier and angrier. Kathy Sierra, one of the best, brightest and most compassionate bloggers that I read, has been receiving death threats and just sheer, unadulterated, vicious, abusive behaviour from other people through comments and blog posts. Kathy’s post points at some people who are allegedly involved, but we need to wait until it clears up and confirmed who is involved, as identities can be misused.

What the fuck is going on? Why does this happen again and again. The only people I know (in real life or virtually) who have been threatened and stalked have been women. What insecure, small mindedness, misogynistic behaviour takes over people to do things like this. Over 50% of the blogosphere are women, yet we continually get the refrain that they are not A-list, that they are not speaking at conferences. This is why. Put yourself out there, show that there is no difference and you get the anger and vitriol poring out from people who think they are better just because they have a Y chromosome. I’ve seen this again and again, from comments on videos we have put out there as a marketing campaign, from reading comments in the cesspit that YouTube and other sites can become; others have seen it as well. It’s said that the web is self-correcting, that it routes around trouble. But I rarely see it doing that with this type of behaviour. The big sites need to stand up to this. put a stake in the ground and ban it; give the tools to the content producers to stop it. The law needs to support this stance and prosecute as far as they can. In the UK, it is difficult to prosecute unless they ave done something; it may be too late by then. It needs to change. It can not be tolerated. I sit here contemplating getting out there more, looking for more opportunities to speak after last week, but this makes me think again. Makes me think I should just draw back into my shell and not do it. And that is so wrong, should not be happening. My thoughts are with Kathy, and with the others who seem to be caught in this maelstrom of hatred and jealousy and hope and pray it works out well.

Update: After doing more more reading, I think I want to clarify that my rant above is about the general attitude that is common. It’s about expected behaviour, not legal allowances. I believe in free speech – even if we (UK) do not have the same ‘right’ that the US laws allows – but just because it can be said does not mean it should be. And moving beyond ‘meanness’ to threats does break US laws. Whatever the outcome of this particular situation, it’s going to be a long time and a hard battle before the attitude in general clears up.

Mar 26

Me on the couch



Me on the couch, originally uploaded by RachelC.

On Saturday, Kleenex and the Let It Out campaign hit Times Square, New York. With the couch and a big box of Kleenex tissue for passers by to write all over, it looked like it was a good day for the brand. After having worked on it for quite a while, it was nice to actually see something outside the website and get to sit on the couch itself. I loved just sitting there and listening to the comments as people walked by and realised what we were doing – great brand recognition.

Mar 26

Behind the Buzz up and running

My other blog, Behind the Buzz, has finally had its makeover and is up and running in the B5Media template. Thanks are due to Eric for his wonderful logo.

That blog will focus on marketing and advertising and the stories behind the campaigns, looking at how buzz is being generated and the resulting ‘content’ that comes along. This one is going to stay with my personal musings, technology assessments and conference reports. With appropriate cross promotion where required. Please take a look over there, but stay around here as well ;-)

Mar 23

BlogHer Biz – Closing Keynote

Closing Keynote: Is the Ethos of the Social Media World Changing How We Conduct Business Online and Offline? Lisa Stone moderates this discussion about whether corporate leaders are seeing and leveraging more ideas generated from the outside in and from the bottom up as they lead their household brands into the future. Lisa is joined by iVillage President, Debi Fine, Google VP of Search Products and User Experience Marissa Mayer, Redbook Magazine editor-in-chief Stacy Morrison and WashingtonPost.Newsweek Interactive CEO Caroline Little for the discussion.

You are being charged with continuous innovation. Can you tell me one thing that you have done that was unthinkable

Stacy – we have built the site twice over the last few years. We used to do all the work inhouse; we were going to put all the magazine content online, we were going to have blogs; the website was first opportunity to set out my vision. Comments were going to be open, we were not going to edit etc, all of this was startling, asking about cannabilising sales etc. The benefits of getting people to read it outweighs any sales lost.

Caroline: we launched 2 participatory blogs, on religion, bring in all sorts of religious leaders, have experts respond, readers ask questions etc. it;s the second highest traffic blog we have done.

Debi: ivillage, the thinking was that ivillage and the today show were synergistic. they are building on each other; we were taking 2 major brands and trying to merge them and make the relationship productive. Trying to integrate without losing either value, it was important, felt is was important to create blueprints for success. It is just the beginning, using that blueprint across the network. As a newly acquired business, have to show up with what we can do for you, not asking favours. Had to give a fully baked, end to end strategy which is now getting traction. It needed to be reciprocal relationship and the today folks were ope to this. we are a content source as well now, we are making progress,

Marissa: as we look at tools that we have built, it is about powering the suers, look at blogger and YT. building a culture that empowers people who have ideas to take the ideas and make them reality, give the 20% time,let them think of their own ideas.

Lisa: do you hire differently, with social media changing how you work (or not)

Stacy – magazine publishing is like a miniature tribe, a slumber party. I’m used to a team that drinks the koolaid, so I hire people that get the same mission. i bought in a team that did not know exactly where I was going; we’ll find out who is good and not, I asked people to edit their personalities, understand what part of their lives belong to NY, what is public, I started to teach my team about managing my persona. When I launched the blogs, we just went to see who was good at it. We coached them, they did not have to do it. I told them I did not know what was coming next and we are working our way through it. You have to be secure in the fact I will figure it out, I tried to reduce their anxiety, keep giving me feedback and we will work it out. Content has doubled, and no-one has quit.

Marissa: Google has a unique atmosphere where teams are fluid, there is not a strong hierarchy. Analysts said to me that orgs tend to mirror the processes they put in place. In google, the culture resembles the networks we work on. People fill in with what they are good at; there is respect for experience and inexperience.

Debi – we have changed what we think of talent and culture. At ivillage, the reason we are seeing the the traction, as the team is hybrid in its nature, different from magazine, but far more similarities. Culture is driven by people and product and that is how you drive a product. We have people from many different backgrounds; there is loyal tenure and fresh perspective.

Caroline: there is a tendency to think the paper will never change; and even in our own group I saw this happening. I hired a skunksworks group, young people, extreme programmers, work differently from team This has been a challenge and gets people thinking in a different way.

Lisa: how often are you in reactive mode vs actually innovative:

Marissa: it varies. on whole, we are much more reactive than proactive. we have lots of users, problems we have to deal with. but a little bit of innovation goes a long way, that yields tools and products go a long way.

Lisa: what is the rate of return for the 20%

Marissa: I looked at last 6 months, what products came from where. About 50% of new features/products came from the 20% time, You do need to do reactive./operation work

Debi: it’s pretty equal, we have a business that has been there for over a decade and trying to lots of new things all the time. we are respectful of our heritage but doing due diligence of what should change. We are 6 mnths in, we are being wisely respectful an mindful.

Stacy: I’m not reactive, I don;’t live in same world. I am recontextualising the brand now; questions of context are paramount, I’m not up to minute. I think about women a lot of time. I spend a lot of time playing games online, the innovation comes from the mundane, thinking about women. You have to create delight, that what makes people come back. And on April 9th we’ll see some results

Caroline – we are reactive. 100% of the time. What I find important is to keep innovating. Contextualise what we are doing and where are we going.

Q: With all the innovations.brands, what have been the biggest hurdles measurement wise.

Debi: the toughest area is budget. We have to understand for ourselves and then communicate well throughout GE which is numbers driven. We have to fit into corporate structure. Education is focus.

Stacy – the Hearst digital group is new; we are in the honeymoon phase and we will figure it out later. They made a significant investment; it is early for us. 2 teen sites went live last monday and things are going really well, all inventory sold. The company is feeling confident.

Q: Content distribution..we have 3 destination media sites and a search engine to find the sites. What is the future, who is the key portal, are you dependent on the consumer knowing where to go or will we see more partnerships. exclusive content.

caroline: search on the web is a big challenge. I don;t think anyone will hold the door. Findability is a huge issue on a site, within a site. navigation and usability is one of the biggest challenges.

Lisa: the old model, build it, market it, hope they will come. is there a destination site anymore.

Stacy – I do not think there will be, except the super retailers. with redbookmag.com, it will never be a big giant. ivillage gave us a lot of traffic but replaced this by making simple content deals with MSN.com, drive 25% of online subscriptions. We get partnership deals. I’m not looking for a lot of big deals, looking at a lot a small sites as well. Create community by finding women where they are. The long tail relates, when talking about how big brand need to relate.

Lisa: Caroline, you have a ad network

Caroline: I don;t think like a destination site, we look t engage, our bloggers, trying lots of different things.

Debi: the portfolio approach is important, we are looking at existing audience and the new stuff. we are trying the new stuff ans see what sticks but in a way that is strategic

Lisa: Marissa – what is the future of search, where do you want to be

marissa: there will continue to be the notion of a destination site, with brands that have fans. a lot is about growth, finding new content. there are trends, we see breaking down paradigms. see google, netvibes, my yahoo, small modules of content. we have google gadgets, on macmac OS, vista, there are pockets of in that are coming important for distribution, they are less of a commitment. I would not make netflix my homepage, but will take a module to put on desktop or homepage. the commitment is less, I will make it part of my experience. the modules are interactive, functional, content flow by and that is compelling.
I think that search os just starting; keywords are limiting, instead of what the page is about. we want to see richer forms of interaction, contextual finding, desktop follows you and have modules that change as you go. new forms of asking the question and answering it, video and images etc. looking at how to bering back richer results and extend how people interact with google.

Q: Sue Thomas – I run online degree in new media. they students want careers in providing people with new media. Often those who write best for new media are not the traditional people. what qualities are you looking for?

debi: we talk a lot about what works and does not. There is a sense of urgency for immediate result. We can try people out and see if they work and get immediate response. they have to find a place their voice resonates.

Stacy – still think traditional trained journalism schools make the best, can be trained in formats but the core skills about research etc are still valid. You need a bit of everything…you also need to do sizzle copy, (hardest to find people) to do short and to do long form.

Caroline: we run online newsroom; I think abut flexibility. A print journalist may take video and photographs that go on site as well as story in paper. Think about how to tell story with different assets.

marissa:> You need to have the fundamentals, in a growth industry, new media can give all of these and so a lot of opportunities.

Lisa: what are people used for searching:

Marissa: mobile is very small and we may have to invent something different; keyword search is bad on the phone. Google has a lot of data from phones, look at Japan, they do train schedules, news, games etc, we need to put together something for the space, eg maps is the highest used tool. Find places. easy to find things. as we get gps on phone will get even better. Web-based searches are interesting, some come to destination site and others use the search box in the browser and in the desk top. The browser box, 30-50% use the box, a lot of people skip the homepage, so we have taken our doodles and echo them on the results page as people are skipping all the time.

Q: are you monitoring, how are you identifying people.

Stacy – no, not yet.
Caroline – we use technorati and we keep an eye on what is being said but not full monitoring.
Debi – when i think about the force of the consumer, that customer rules and has always done, but now with a much tighter hand, she’s in charge now, we need to be in a predictive state. Our users crated our ads.
marissa -obviously we are! google analytics, lots of tools. we are a data driven culture and less political. we have the law of large numbers. the designers, whose design gets picked becomes political, we can just run them both and do a/b testing and see what wins. really sophisticated tools. Google alerts was one of my projects, so I run it for google and see daily snapshots. assume the PR dept is aware of all the stories were placed, fro their reports you cannot tell which are largest etc, the alerts give me the digest of what is happening. I use that. Look at Tech, daypop, slashdot, you get a lot of excitement

Lisa: you describe something that is revolutionary -you tell us.

Stacy – but magazine covers have been done. there is precedence.
i
Q: how do you predict the audience readiness? once we do it we know the audience was ready, but how do you know what to pick?

Marissa: we look a lot at growth, we look at the trends, the growth. earlier eric asked which questions are products are successful. we looked at month over month growth, some were 5%, but that is what the web is growing at. Look at YT, MS they area growing really fast, 25%. less than 10% then not good, over 15% are great. Comcsore etc ad at actual number, but good at relative numbers, growth rates, has less to do with buzz but with broad growth over a number of months.

Q: are you paying attention to AI research, natural language processing etc?

Marissa: by background is AI; a lot of the researchers look at it, we think that is where the big wins will come from.. Look at our overall infrastructure. Look at our spelling feature. it is built off our query stream, we look at patterns, we can do amazing corrections over time, Now we see people using google for spelling. We offer it in 140 languages, This is a UGC effort. we do 20-30 languages and take volunteers from round the world to translate. Weather Underground offered more languages than google – it got people to help, now we get people to help on the pages. Spell correction is in about 50 languages.

Q: you are all ad supported, so how have all these changes affected your outlook

Debi: Advertisers are more interested in integration; align assets with advertisers. they are looking for us to be solution driven. The expectation is for us to address their solutions. The onus is on us to align assets, and raise the bar with performance.

Stacy – I worked in the bridal market, it was deeply colluded – buy ads, get dresses in mags. I challenged this strategy. We worked away from a million dollars of unprofitable ads. And changed it. Bridal was so backwards it was ahead of its time. I want to have relationships with advertisers, they are not ness smart enough in what they want. I don;t run a magazine I create a tribe of people, I know women, I can help you advertise. I can drive it forward and create the partnerships, it is experiential not an advertising platform. All about being the driver seat.

Caroline – it’s a little different for a news organisation. it’s a fun time for integration, and innovation.

Q: UGC on sites – what is the future on sites like yours.

Debi – we are open that we are aggregating content. you need the receptivity of audience and the organisation.
Caroline – about half of our blogs are by non-employees. I want more content like that on our site.
Stacy – when we relaunch..you;ll see. YOu have 2 layers. You tell us, what is your recipe, what do you do after a bad day. In magazine, it;s been there for a while. We are inviting specific bloggers, doing blogs to tell stories.

Lisa: you are describing how you are educating advertisers? And the former audience are educating us. Where do you see yourself in 1, 2, 3 years.

Marissa – changing the paradigm of computing for people. storing everything on google, accessed from anywhere. Makes sense to store in the cloud. Easy to share, facilitate sharing. this is our vision. making computing portable.
Debi – our audience is loyal, we have no1 site in UK and that is our blueprint for moving forward.
Caroline – we want to make the difference to keep news gathering alive and well.
Stacy – I have no ideas, but want to reinvent the mag, that we are relevant.

Mar 23

Blogher Biz – RFP for Engagement Measures.

An RFP for the Measurement Industry

Where is the blog measurement tool that could measure more than “eyeballs”, more than “authority” via inbound links, and could begin to approach measuring influence and relevance? Jory Des Jardins moderates this discussion between Amy Gahran, Elizabeth Lee and Jenna Woodul as they scope out what is, is not and ought to be available.

Jory: there is no way to measure influence, this panel will take a look at what is there and what is missing. There is a large disparity of opinion across different groups. We want to look at the different ways and get to some agreed place.

Jory: so what are we dealing with. As head of business dev with Blogher, I work with a lot of companies that want to measure the blogosphere. We work with traditional ad servers, we get the traditional stuff, but much cannot be tracked – ajax etc screws page views; a blog post is different to a page view, how do you value this? Is the page view dead?

Amy: no, but it is on lifesupport. They are useful, but not on their own, need context.

Jory – agencies are doing it right any more? You said the old agency mindset is no longer useful

Amy: all page views are not created equal, nor are all blogs. Technorati authority look at page views and inbound links to assess authority, this is stupid. you may have a blog with 200 hits, which come from the influentials, than that counts. Sports and pop culture, is that influential??? but high page views. Agencies, look for easy solutions, need more context than page views.

Elizabeth – I work with edelman; looking for the influentials. it is not static. you need to understand each individual, look at the partnership opportunities. Our won network asks this, looking for something similar to traditional media, where there are long term relationships. From a agency, pageview will always have some value, but putting it into larger context, commenting, blogging etc. Web is best representative to track WOM, with standards and structure behind research.

Amy -the same blogger may be influential on some topics and not others within a genre.

Jenna – useful, if you get 1% post to page views, then they are engaged. It is about the people, what are they doing, are they coming back, what actions are they doing when they get there. In early 1984, with AppleLink Community, late at night, one person, would keep hundreds of people online over night. so whatever the technology, it is always the people. It is about the engagement that keeps people coming back.

Jory: with Blogher, we got a lot of people set up with advertising. the stats that the bloggers had did not match the stats of the 3rd party ad server, by 40%. Bots and spiders do not get tracked by ad servers.

Jenna – we charge people based on pageviews. So when billing, customers did not want to pay for bots etc. We had to convince them that there was value for that. We see spiders, from search engines, so how many are new, how many return, so we can see how much the cost was for returning from search engines.

Q: how do talk to clients about identifying the top clients?

Elizabeth – we recommend doing in depth research; we recommend some online monitoring, could be one time to ongoing. we try and map out who talks and who listens. for niche topics, there may be a blogger just for that topic or part of the category. Who is listened to? it is part of much larger research picture. Then you have to see if they are open to be engaged by you; we develop different types of lists for different reasons.

Amy: I go about it a little differently; i go about backwards. I see who is listening. As specifically as possible what are the goals and who do they need to reach – what is the specific group. I try and find the discussion forums and see what they are saying and what blogs do they recommend.

Jory: Who uses technorati? Almost everyone. So what’s wrong with it?

Amy: they do not do a good job for relevance. icerocket and spear are better, does not filter out blogspam.

Elizabeth – use authority level to remove spam

Amy – i get better results to begin with icerocket/spear,

Jory – they all pick up slightly different.

Q: (Toby) Technorati can track different feeds for the same blogs, can confuse measurements.
Q: I still have not been able to claim my blog, so don;t like them…

Jory – so influence. So lets define. What do you look for?

Jenna – it is engagement, what do other people do as a result of that. the more engaged a community, the more sense to do things. Loyalty is 45x higher for those that get involved. They buy about 57% more, that come 9x more often stay 5x longer. A recent ebay study, looking at people who had ot been int he community. invited half to join the community, the active participants spent 54% more, did 4x as much listing and sold 6x as much. (and the lurkers also increased). See Harvard Business Review/Community 2.0 conference.

Elizabeth -the process of inciting change in thinking and behaviours, from source that is relevant and has a audience with vested interest.

Jory – it varies by the client..

E: one would be relevant frequency, how relevant is it to what you are seeking. How often do they talk, how close a match. then there is reach, but relevant reach, who is listening. Also identity, qualifications of the blogger. What authority do they have?

Amy: go to writeconversation.com, see the posts. organisations are busy about worrying who they are influencings and don’t worry about how it is influencing the organisation. when it comes to things that effect economics and other things, there are accounting systems, I was thinking about how influence can come into your organisation. So ideas can come in (R&D), insights from diverse perspectives, you get validation and motivation from people paying attention(HR). There is good will. (PR) And there is trust. (money/Sales) All of these things can be related to internal departments. Instead of through traditional metrics take to the accountants, to HR etc to see how to measure.

Jory: So Alicia, Harper collins, what challenges did you have bringing blogging over to them.

Alicia: the resistance was 2fold; publishing was traditional. they want to keep control and control how they look in public. blogs are not easily measurable; how do we do ROI. My response was you can;t, it is qualitative. We did an experiment, when we had one book with no media and we had virtual book tour with 40 influential parenting bloggers talking about this. Initially the feedback was fear (internally). they wanted to ask to take posts down, we did not let them..but there was a lot of conversation. Our amazon ranks jumped from in 1000s to 200s. there are a lot of people who do not see blogging as powerful as a newspaper review. It is slowly happening.

Q: I know the NYT are reading my blog for ideas and stories. this influences out as well. I comment in the papers.

Jory: How do we make it concrete?

Elizabeth: when we do audit, we recommend and then ongoing monitoring. you get valuable consumer insight. we recommend a full scale audit, so you get a benchmark, get measures at the beginning. we go out and determine what the client is looking for; is it the brand or the topic, the subtopics etc, look at competitor set. Look at how much chatter, how much relevant chatter. then what exactly are they talking about. Find out what they are really interested in. Next, who is talking about the stuff. Where are they talking, where do they choose to talk. After that, then links, citations, where are they getting the info, what do they share. finally tone and sentiment, we use tools and the human eye. We always tell clients about technorati, boardreader.com, Buzzmetrics is a partner; they have brandpulse; intelliseek is another tool they can provide. Brandpulse helps automate searches in the space, but is a heavy investment, so for smaller people, look at agencies that spread out the costs. Buzzlogic, their definition of influence changes – relevance (how keywords match up), occurrence, popularity (inbound links) attention – relevancy of inbound links. they have a algorithm and can be tweaked according to your objectives. They also map connections, between the influencers.

Jenna – Visible Technologies allows you to reply to people from an interface (Truview and Trucast) ; allows support representatives to reply (buzzlogic does this as well). Allows you to track things.

Amy: i deal a lot with news orgs and independents; I’ve got some low tech tools. Look at the server logs; google analytics is OK – visualisation is nice and it is free. Best way is omniture, still pay but worth it. Great interface, easy to use. All give you the referrer logs. very useful to see where people are coming from. Have a desktop feedreader, to allow opml import and export; this allows me to share search feeds across people; I have not found web based service for flagging and sharing items in a group. I use Newsfire on the mac. Comment tracking tools are important, but mostly suck. Co-comment is buggy, works well in general. co.mments is also there. I tend to use both of them.

Q: (Anil) your brand does not get that many mentins normally. SixApart may get 250 posts a day, I spend time going through it. I delicious things, I have an internal blogs. I just search on icerocket, sphere, setting things up, it’s like dashboard. I do the saem search on lots of tools, save each one on a tab and open regularly. There are only 2 of us, we do it quite well. we bookmark after answering, so we can track. On boards, people feel it can be intrusive, that they are in a private conversation and do not like big corporates butting in.

Jenna – if you have moderators on boards etc, get them to manage it and get them to pull out things.

Q: Is there something that is not an enterprise cost?
A: Buzzlogic appears to be a reasonable cost. It seems to be the most affordable tool found yet.

Amy – use your brain and use them well.. What are your goals; the more specific you can be about your goals then more specific the communities that you are targeting; then budget is more effective.

Q: (Michelle) – feedburner, you have your eggs in one basket. is there an alternative?
A: nothing really bought up

Jory – how about listening

Amy: it depends on situation and timeframe. you have to prioritise. I work with papers etc, and a lot of reporters were not happy with blogging; a friend of mine was not happy but then started to relax, to ask for opinions. He worked the environment beat, not a lot of space in paper, so started posting on blog, getting tonnes of comments, and the editors then allowed him more space in paper.

Jory: How do you make case for corporations? How do you create cases.

Jenna: they all have different reasons. if looking for buzz, then page views is important. Others are doing research, doing online events; eg a car company found out that moms wanted a extra cupholder which kid can reach. Campbells launched a soup, sent product out, got invaluable information. If other users are answering the questions, you can see how much support costs are being saved. Each customer wants something different.

Jenna – we are looking at creating an engagement scale…so we say the level of engagement. So we would like to track over lifecycle of a user.

Elizabeth: we are looking at it, trying to rank. We decided to build a proprietary tool to do the measurement, to match activities and input and output. We want an organised way to track and are working our way through it.

Amy: In the last session,Lena West said you cannot quantify ROI without looking at the whole daisy chain. So can we get an addon to linked in or something to track the networks? It would be cool to have a tool to track what we do and the results, track influence and favours. (this is a real application, Hilary Rosen -from the LWord. Ourchart.com)

Mar 23

Blogher Biz – Effective Blogger Relations

Notes from this session (and there is a hand out I’ll type up later)

Forget “the” A-List, Find Your Blogging A-List: Effective Blogger Relations

Identifying relevant bloggers in your space. The tools to determine their authority & influence. Effective outreach without backlash. Featuring blogger Elise Bauer, marketing consultant Susan Getgood and Michelle Madhok, longtime expert on women online.

Susan: So why would you reach out to bloggers?

Michelle: bloggers have a diffusion media; understand what is the volume of the traffic and how influential is the blog. Not about impressions but who you impress. Have to work out if right place for you.

Susan: if bloggers link to you, the inbound links are gold for SEO results; they are disproportionally influential in the marketing stuff?

Q: so what sort of communications?

Susan; they are like and not like a journalists; they are also the audience and potential customers. They have a different stake in it. A reporter may not use the product. They may not be as objective, not as nice i you screw up.

Elise: never form letters. Often they are not addressed to me, no intro. Even if know name, then not distinguishable; we share pitches across the food bloggers – we laugh at the form messages.

Susan: I get 4-5 press releases a week as I am a list. Nothing else. you have to be relevant. if someone writes a blog about food, about scratch cooked, don’t send cake mix.

Q: Issue with numbers that may be influential, how to narrow them down to fit in the work day.

Susan: bloggers are like the journalists; there are 10-15 journos on your A-list. bloggers are the same thing. You have to find which ones are right, what they write about. What are the ones that focus on what I have to write about. You have to read and know the blogger. Tailor what they are saying, only 10-15 that are worth reaching out.

Michelle – please do not send hard copy press releases. As PR, publish RSS feeds – with contact info so I can get back to them. Know the ecosystem you want to be in. Look at Quantcast, as a blogger get on it.

Q: Elisha (harpeCollins). I read the blog for a long period of time; some bloggers don;t have name on the blog, so I can;t address it to them,

Susan: if you read regularly, it will be pitched correctly. Write to them as a person. I have never written about a product adn I get all kind of product pitches.
Michelle – try whois.

Q: is there an easy way to figure out who are the top mom bloggers
Susan: start with Blogher or come to the conference!

Susan – if you reach the 10-15, they will write about it, they have an spreading influence.

Elise: I got an email from someone asking for site visitors and page views. I wrote back asking them about why, who are you, how much money do you make??? It was a PR person, representing a company, pushing products. Do not ping anon and ask traffic!

Susan: never ask a blogger to write about you and your products! See the sheet for dos and don’ts.

Q: (origins) we get emails from bloggers asking for info, 3-4 a week. So sometimes when they ask to be on the list, I’ll just send them a releases as I don;t have time to craft personalised. IS that OK?

Michelle: last week origins invited bloggers to an event, but there is still a divide between journos and bloggers. I love Lancombe, they had a big blogger event, they have a RM mailing list; talking about the blogger buzz and sends their mailing list to the blogs.

Susan: this is making your outreach exclusive, something that you are not giving to reporters. They launched greenstone and did a set of conference calls, asking a question of Gloria Steinem. They were giving access to something not normally there.

Q: (Beth, Conde naste) what about anon tips that may or may not be from a publicist. It has worked (ie Gawker). I want attention

A: Michelle – will publish if a good tip.
A: Susan: think about who you are reaching out to. if it is a site that attracts anon tips, then OK. Others it works. Think who your reaching too, talking the way they would like to be talked to.
Michelle: some mags are sending mass emails out to bloggers, see our new mag, link, see our new vid, link to it. So I write back asking them to link to me first. It is not a one way street , you have to generous.

Q: how can you wrestle with all the fast changes, how you change the topics. How can you invest without getting screwed
Susan: read backwards in time. you have to have an understanding of what they are writing about.

Q: I work with Amazon.com, met with Robert Scoble recently and asked the similar questions. His advice: Look back at who may have written about stuff recently, who has launched a similar product.

Susan: monitor keywords as well. See who is writing about it, you will catch new stuff.

Q: so what about linking back, how to do it?

Michelle: it depends what you are after. I think quid pro quo. Similar linking. needs to be a supportive back and forth; it has to be on par if relevant. Bloggers have enough influence as print.

Susan: so what does work?

Elise: working on a carnival, Cook with Tea, asking if the blogger was working on a post and saying would be happy to send you some tea, Adagio Tea. When dealing with smaller blogs, that are not used to being pitched. They get excited about it, will mention you. They sent different levels of gifts based on page rank (i figured out later). They never asked for a link, for a mention. just aske dif could send tea.

Susan: there is benefit on both sides; they have no obligation to write about you.

Q: Liz from Mom101 – KY Spray Mist. Approached me, sent this lube to all these parents and bloggers, cos it was hilarious and fin they got coverage all over the place. keep in mind how high interest the posts may be. KY may be more interesting to write about then pineapples – can they have fun writing about it.

Q: one of my clients is an alpha dating site and they want to invite relationship bloggers to sign up and try it. and that could be a lot of effort/barriers to do as a ‘first date’

A: Susan: ask the bloggers. Ask them feedback on the site, ask for their advice, they may not write about you but you will be info back. You may not get a hit the first time, but work at it

Michelle: think what you can offer the audience, what offers you can do for the readers.

Q: (Anil, Six part) Get the basics right, get the names right, eg look at what the mail merge does! It gets obvious whether there is respect.

Q: a friend advised the PR people not to chase up if not writing up.

Elise: I only write about things I don’t like when want to advise people not to waster time and money. I HP printer did not work!

Q: (HP) bad stuff is just as valuable feedback, can follow up how to make it better

Q: (Harper) I review fiction. Someone sent me an erotica book, something I did not normally cover. I have site guidelines, I will not follow up. I worked 3 floors below this person and had to remind them!

Susan: ask them if they want the products first

Q: (Redbook) It can be burdensome to get product; we ask about sending things back. We get a lot of samples, we appreciate that. This is someone saying we have faith in the product. Look at the size and practicality. But it can take a long time to get to it; it does not mean we do not like it…one follow up is reasonable, there is so much product; you get the repeat contacts,those are the ones I may put aside; it;s not my job to teach them how to do it as there are so many people who do it well.

Q: is there an agency that focuses solely on bloggers etc

A: there are people focused on it…..(missed this)
A; Pierce maddy is one that does it
Susan: it may not be right at the time, you may get results

Elise: follow up could be asking if received what sent, but not chasing write ups.

Q: you have to connect across the outreaches. PR and blogger, some people do many roles.

Q: (Fleishman hillard). How do you balance your outreach – blog or print?

A: Nicole (Cosmo) you have to work with contacts, everyone is structuring it differently. Cosmogirl has the staff writers doing the web stuff; so send stuff to the regular ones. Know your company.
A: (RedBook)everyone is doing it differently. We have hired bloggers, so different content. I’m happy to serve as clearing house for the bloggers. And other magazines may have a different views.

Michelle: I send out weekly emails of ‘i thought you would like to see’ sending back to PR people.

Q: we are used to chasing with traditional media; and you don;t get clippings with blogs
Elise: I send out links to the PR person that I have written. I will return favour and tell you I have written

Susan: offline is going online. And you can reach out in the similar way to when they were print only. Have to read and understand how they write and get pitched. Know what they care about, we have to be more deeply emersed

Q: do not live and die by technorati and alexa – I asked the Pr agency. they only sent out stuff to certain ranked blogs,

Elise: you don’t ness know the full influence from alexa rankings. Influence is more than links. It’s who they influence. think about relevancy as well; some of the smaller bloggers are happy to receive the stuff and write about it I get pitched every day and it goes straight to trash, write only if like it The smaller ones may take more time and write about it, and give you valuable links.

Q: (HP) it’s hard to educate the old world ROI POV, that it i more valuable to go to a focused blog.

A Susan: does it move the needle. if you get sales it is working. So why are you reaching out. It has to drive sales.

A: Elise: SE ranking is a result; one product I loved, i got on other food blogs. The rank went from 17th page to first page in 2 months though being talked about.

Q: this is how offline networking moves into online networkings, we help people build business.

Q: I help small companies transition; it is an evolution…

Q: (HP) it’s about longterm and explaining the benefit. we want people to keep coming back for a lifetime, all the stuff, not short term spike.

Susan: think about influence. if you only need to get to 10 people, you look to where they read. they may not be a perfect niche; there is not one for every single possible interest. It’s not the size of the audience, but their readers.

Michelle: you can see the ecosystems, using Bloglines, see what everyone reads. Find the common sites.

Q: if you want me to write, let me know the keywords, put them in the info. that helps me and you.

Elise: you can ask them (if you have a relationship, find out the keywords)

Susan: as a blogger, you can ask; put on your blog guidelines. Describe what you want.

Elise: use the words in the release.

Q: HP – so what can we do to help bloggers, what do I feed back

Michelle – share out the love, point to the bloggers writing.

Elisa: when I ask for producer, send me the expensive one, not the cheapest. Send the one that you want to appear in photos. don’t skint, you are trying to impress me.

Susan: if you have your own blog, write nice things about the bloggers, link back to them. You have to care and write about them.

Michelle: don;t send samples if you can’t spare it, as I may not be able to send it back. Eg an underwear company that wanted the underwear back!!!

Q: (redbook) i send things back as I do not want burden of accepting an expensive gift). We are bloggers and professional journalists. PR companies should ask me what I want, find out what I will write about.

Q: Sheryl(Club ophelia). do the same rules apply to teenagers, in building out the list?

Q: (Cosmogirl) we are trying to build a community stuff, looking for teen bloggers, to help with this. Looking at technorati and finding stuff that is not ness applicable. they do not have the best attention span, what is good today may not be good tomorrow. Find the networks as well, not just the specifics.

Q: do people pitch you on political issues? Are you open to that?

A: Mom101 I wish there was more. I;d rather write about issues that affect all moms rather than canned peaches! It is huge untapped opportunity.

Susan: Nokia had a blogger outreach site, with the stuff that they have for bloggers. You may think of that.

Mar 23

BlogHer Biz – How to Build Your Audience

How to build traffic by leveraging technology and building robust community. How to optimize your site to build search engine traffic. How to use syndication (RSS) & subscriptions to build recurring traffic. How participating in the bigger blogging community drives traffic and comments. The works. Featuring mega-blogger Elise Bauer and Vanessa Fox, who can address the issue of SEO from the biggest SE of them all, Google.

Only made the second half of this; busy having hall conversations as you do. So I missed Elise and came in to listen to Vanessa.

Vanessa looks after webmaster central for Google.

So why is search important? With search your audience is telling you exactly what they are looking for; this is not broadcast advertising. People are looking for what you have.

You’ve all probably used google?? (laughter results). We want the searcher to find exactly what they are looking for, our goal is to get them off our site and onto yours.

First of all we have to know the pages exist. First, the discovery process, we follow links from other pages. So having a blog really causes a lot more people to link into your site. Reading this magazine yesterday, there was a question from a reader asking about a blog on the corporate site; the example was a site the jumped from 81 to no 1 on the search after blogging. Keywords links drive ranking.

You can also submit your sitemap; we accept an RSS feed as a sitemap.

Q: dynamic sites/CMS? A: there are scripts you can add to your site that helps build the sitemap which we explore. Really helps the site assessment.

You want to make sure your pages are crawlable. can we access the pages?

Q: my ecommerce site is ranked but not my blog? Why not? A: have you been able to tell if the sites are indexed? I’ll show you a few tools to see what you can do.

You need to be access pages and there is another aspect of getting text from pages. Blogs are easy, they are text; we ar a text based search engine. Flash and images are a problem. For blogs you can have video and audio; js or ajax also causes problems. So turn off everything and see what the text is. And it is not just for searches; look what you can see over the mobile device. You have to think about screenreaders, other access points. Putting the extra elements in there – think about what is necessary. Have a graceful failure point.. We are working on improving our ability to crawl ajax, but not there yet. Provide the alternatives.

Q: What about text in images.

A: We can read alt tags – so use proper language. Don;t use logo as your alt for the logo. We look at caption and description around it.

Once it is in there, We crawl, calc page rank and we build the index.

We look at what pages are linking to it, are those sites relevant for the search. Links should be relevant links, not just high rank links; relevance is as import. With blogs it is much easier; you write about stuff and interesting relevant sites link back

Think about the content and what you write about it. What words do people use to look up your site, your product. Use them in the writing. Looking at a site for real estate, which is a search term the writer was after, nothing on the site was about real estate, just houses for sale. Look at what people are using.

Here are some tools: wordtracker.com, yahoo keyword selector, google adwords selector tool. etc etc (links will be on blog, google.com/webmasters blogs..) Slide links will be posted on BlogHer.

So about the LOng Tail. Blogging is great way of capitalising on the Long Tail.
Look at what searches are been done, don’t ignore the longtail terms.

The older style of site was a a home page pyramid, starting there and moving through. Now, entry points are multiple. you don;t rely on one page, they can start everywhere and anywhere.

Zappos got 21% of searches for shoes; Nike got 1%, was ranked 14th for ‘shoes’. But a year ago when you looked a the site, there was nothing there at all, the only reason we knew about it was other people linking to it. It was all flash, not text to index. So when you link, you should use good words! Do as search for ‘click here’ see how useless that is. Make sure the anchor text is good for links you do internally.

Q: my friend showed me a shoe site with the terms all ‘hidden’
A: so this may not last very long and we will probably remove from index. Look at the guidelines, we don;t allow sites that show us something different to waht the user is using. So putting white text on a back ground can be seen from crawler but not user. This will work for a short period of time, we will find it and remove from index. Go to webmaster tools and sign up, you can see where you are. You can say you have fixed it and be let back in.

Q: how about the image, video searches?
A: we still index text; we have a tool for putting metadata on your images which feed into the image searches – Image Labeller.

Q: is there a tool to see how your site is indexed? A:we have several things; I’ll do a quick tour.

Q: I’ve been highly ranked for a number of terms, then suddenly disappear? Why?
A: we have changed things, we are re-indexing every day, not every 6 months. There may be other things going on; the tool swill help you pinpoint the problem.

Looking at Nike again, there’s no shoes in the text as seen from search engine.. Look at Zappo – it has about 15 mentions – in relevant places.

Make sure your title tag is descriptive; the description tag is import – get keywords in the blog posts. Make sure each is unique.

Think of search engines as another browser – you have to design site for that as well.

Links, both in an out, help us get a better idea of the context of your site.

Avoid link exchange/link farms – that will get you banned from index.

Buying links – we think of those as advertising, so not included in page rank.

Blogs are great for links, it’s updating, you talk about interesting things. make sure your blog links back to corporate site where appropriate.

Q: text links vs image links?
A: text links are the way to go; if using images make sure the alt is relevant.

Mar 22

Flickr and Photo classifications

Flickr have finally released their photo classification and categorisation system, along with some improvements into how it communicates the status of help calls. Given the wide range of photos available on the site, there have long been issues with differences of opinions about what was considered ‘decent’ or art, about what could be shared with the world and what should be kept between friends. The new changes allow users to categorise their photos and then to select what type of images they wish to see. Open to all, no problem it’s as easy as only seeing the safe ones.

* Uploading: The new system enables you to categorize everything you upload by Safety Level (safe, moderate, restricted) and Content Type (photo, art/illustration/cgi, screenshot). So as an example, you can set a default preference to tell Flickr you generally upload safe screenshots.
* Searching and Viewing: The reason you need to place your content into the categories above is so that content filters can be applied later on, both in search and in your general browsing around. There is a new search preference available to you, where you can choose what content you’d normally like to have show up in searches (e.g. photos and screenshots), and a safety level you’re comfortable with.
* Your Account: You can now set up default categories for your uploads and set your SafeSearch preference. As a bonus, you can also hide your photostream from public searches on Flickr (and from any 3rd party sites that access Flickr via our open API)
* “Flag This Photo”: The “This may be offensive” link has expanded to a widget where you can change the categories associated with individual images, and we’ve updated the Organizr so you can edit stuff there too (both individual photos and in batches)
* We’ve heard your feedback: The status of your account is now noted on Your Account page.

Great news to help you manage your experience on the site.

Mar 22

BlogHer Biz – some case studies

From the BlogHer Business conference, being held in New York over the next 2 days, some quick fire casestudies of different sizes of companies using social media to support their businesses

Susan Getgood and Shirley Frazier – GiftBasket Business Blog

There are 2 blogs on the giftbasket business; have lots of information about this business. a $4.8billion business. I help educate people, find plenty of news and share out. I speak around country on this subject, help people find their niche. One is Solo Business Marketing, for people who work alone and need marketing advice. I have an experimental blog, laughingchow.com, all about photography tips, helps people have a good time. Uses wordpress.

Q: so why blogs and not a ‘website’

A: they are complimentary to a site; SBM started as a promotional tool for my book, and then added on a website. GBB was the site first and added the blog to complement. I get very few if any comments, but I get a tonne of traffic coming through.

Q: so how do you measure results.

A: it comes from the sale of my educational materials. They sell well, I have the best selling books on gift baskets; I follow people from blog to the site to the sales. the other part is through the passive revenue, I use multiple ad serving idea, and GBB draws a fair bit of revenue. GBB people do not know what is a blog is, but they come to the site, see the contextual ads and click on them. the third way is from speaking engagements, they increase. before the blogs I had 20-25 engagements a year, now they are almost doubling. the blog gets more traffic through search engines. they get cited quicker than the sites, people can find me, when looking for specific niche topics.

Q: so blogs have been successful

A: I was dragged kicking and screaming, but very successful.

Q: so what advice would you give the solo business people?

A: be proactive in having and maintaining you blog; it was difficult for me to understand at first, but kept looking it up and learning. the sweat is worth the effort. it;s like running your own newspaper; it;s nice if the press finds you, but this way you have your own voice, can solicit opinions, its good to share your voice around the world.

Q: do you get people coming who do not know what a GB is?

A: not really, but get a lot of referrals for people who are just starting.

Elena Cantor interviews Caroline Little from Washington Post

Q: we were talking about newspapers that were getting it. at the washington post.com you;ve been doing it a while

A: we publish newsweek, post and slate. we got on the web 10 years ago; a lot of what we were doing 3 years ago was just re-purposing paper info, but i felt we were not doing enough. the post is a local newspaper but the web is global, so 90% of the readers come from outside the market and never see the paper. I felt we needed to reach out and utilise the web. we’ve made mistakes, but it’s important to make mistakes otherwise you are not doing new things.

Q: so when did you decide to be blog friendly; when you were weighing those risks, what were you saying to the journalists.

A: the risk side internally was not that much. suddenly the journalists had a whole audience that they never had before. we opened everything up, There were issues about pay etc, but most people were happy. A lot of grief came from when we had bloggers who were not from the WP, but comments came that these people did not write for paper, and were representing the WP.

Q: mistakes?

A: one of our writers had alleged plagiarism problems, which was difficult for all of us. When we posted comments, we have had a lot of issues in our politics area, we had some totally irate people, the comments were useless at some point, we shut down the comments as they were mean and threatening. and we written up for shutting down, we were the first to do this and we got slammed.

Q: so what is the opinions out there?p
A: we have taken the position that the web is open; our role is to help people in navigating the web; hopefully we provide enough of a road map that people will come back to us as we contextualise it. we link out. Other sites have taken the route that they never link to a competitor, we link to other news sites. We do link to competitors, why wouldn’t we. There are different approaches about how you will provide news, what to put behind walls and we would kill our national aspirations if we did all of this.

Q: so how are you evaluating?

A: I evaluate based on …we won an Emmy last year, we have a lot of rewards, our audience grows, our revenue grows, Our goal is to make revenue to support the newsgathering. but it is working

Q: how are journalists reacting to change?

A: it’s across the board. some want it to reflect the papers, others think it is the coolest things and want to do more

Q: where is it going?

A: the paper may not go away, and we have to think about news gathering on multiple platforms. the paper delivers the most revenue and that tends to be the most dominant mindset; apart from the economics the audience story is so different and we have to be thinking about reaching in different ways and it is tough coming from an entrenched position but we have a shot.

Q: you link to bloggers if they link to you

A: that is our benefit, if we can help, people are having a conversation; people are talking about important issues; we have 12m readers online, we never had this before.

Q: when you started this, so what is the biggest surprise?

A: the more successful you get the harder it is. surprised at success in multimedia as not a core strength. there is an intimacy that comes with blogs, its a different way of reporting. video that works well on the web is very intimate, we do not have a lot of boundaries and it is interesting to see that media evolve.

Lena West interviews Carmen VanKerckhove

A: New demographic is an anti-racism company. I have 2 blogs, one about intersection of race and pop culture, and the other about anti racism parenting and a podcast about americas addiction to race.

Q: why open a public free for all about race in america?

A: i stumbled into it. I had no strategy. I started the blog before the company. I was inspired by angry asian men blog; i wanted a blog like that to track media representations of mixed race. The podcast was the same way, we wanted our radio show. we are open and honest, we joke, it is not PC, so we separated the two, then we realised that our brand was our attitude, we do not make it a scary subject, you can treat it casually. at this point we needed to tie it all together. The blog was too much of a catchall, so we decided to focus and split into 3 different ones, The new one deals with race and workplace issues.

Q: you started without a strategy…but how are you doing now. How do you do it!

A: I’m really passionate, it does not feel like work. They are not just marketing tools, they are a core part. I do seminars, i do grassroots as anyone can join in these conversations. I do lot of timed blogging, blog in spurts and then they come out throughout the week.

Q: so how stay time relevant?

A: the preposts are not ness time sensitive. I also publish my delicious links daily. that gives me some relevant content is I run out of time.

Q: what are your results?

A: I have got a lot of media coverage, CNN, Newsweek, etc etc. Established my reputation and I get called upon to give my opinions, Speaking engagements have increased, clients have come through blog or podcast, I’m starting to see a payoff, all this time I’m seeing a strong connection.
I got interest from daytime talkshows and a book agent. I don’t have huge amounts of traffic, Racialicious has about 1500 a day month. the Anti-Racist Parent blog about 2-300 a day week, not huge amounts, podcast 1-2k downloads per episode. so you can accomplish a lot in your niche without huge traffic.

Q: what’s the one thing you wish you had known?

A: don’t forget your traditional email newsletter; there is still value in this. Put on your homepage. I always have some kind of free offer. I have so many sign ups since doing the offer. Make it obvious who you are and what you do, so people can contact you. I idiot proof my sidebar, make it clear what I do, It cuts down confusions.


Maria Niles Interviews Staci Schiller from Wells Fargo Bank.

Q: please give us some history?

A: it started in 2005, we delved into Stagecoach island, we saw comment sin blogs etc and thought it was another way to talk with customers. we have a lot of history and our first blog was about the 1906 SanFran earthquake. we thought it would be a short site, we thought it would die after the anniversary. we continued to get traffic on the site and it evolved, into a disaster preparedness and advice site. From there we were hooked. We decide to keep going.

Q: and now you have more?

A: the Student Loan DOme is about college financing and managing debt. its a pretty wide audience. we researched and found few people talking about this; there is a lot of angst, We looked at it from an education POV, providing guidance. A good opportunity to talk to people in a new way. Our customers were online, we wanted to be there.

Q: how do you manage all of this, in a highly regulated industry

A: the SLD is multiple audiences, have bloggers at different phases of life. I did not have any debt, so wrote a post early on explaining this. We try and make it a humanising piece of the bank, with names and faces and stories. It took a lot of convincing for the compliance and legal people, we had to be persistent about it. Compliance reviews every post I put up, this is a bank.. they are doing that to protect me and the bank.

Q: what are the results?

A: The earthquake blog continues to evolve, it looks at history in general, traffic continues to grow. On the SLD traffic grows, we get spikes at certain times of the year.

Q: any challenges or successes?

A: one of the rewarding things is that the community has embraced it. I’m a real person, and people come and seek advice and i feel fortunate that I can o this.

Mar 22

Blogher Biz: A brief history of Social Media

Notes from the first session, which a combination of introduction about the jargon and social media and discussion from the audience.

A brief history of social media

What is social media?

the title is the state of the social media world…so let’s see what you were talking about over lunch about your case studies.

1. Dove, Evolution, was not just put a video on YouTube, they did UGC ad on Superbowl. Linking SL and RL, asking questions in SL being relayed to a press conference.

2. Blogher…one of the best SM case studies, that came from te community of women, saying it was wrong that women bloggers are not heard. Twitter is a good study = microblogging your daily activity.

3. Burning questions – how to track and measure and get and understand ROI.

4. BQ: now you have the blog how do you make it relevant to your audience, how do you get a new audience, how do I get them to interact. How do you keep staff motivated.

5. Forwarding happens a lot, sometimes when people are too embarrassed to comment (eg a recent one about a penis festival in Japan). the ones that gor forwarded can be regarded as better, as it could be capturing a new audience.

So, did anyone hear of something that surprised them? No…

Twitter is being used in the’wrong way’, there are lots of different ways to use it. But we are business conference, so here’s a few things – the 6 word twitter contest, the news feeds, the weather on twitter. So you could use it to give updates….

So some of the use explore about when you go to far, when to engage without crossing a line.

A brief History.

at the beginning, around 2000, we assumed that we could build a site and no one would go away. In 2002, the portal deals were not working, the internet does not ness keep people. Web2.0 is about eeping people, about making it more relevant to people.

In 2002 Heather Armstrong was dooced, the next year Scoble was hired for Microsoft. In 2005 GM started a blog; a the last Blogher GM brought cars along, they bring it to you/ The blog was a big stepping stone, laying out their problems.
2004 we had kryptonite issue; this was apivotal moment for companies and blogs; got reported on NYT from blogs breaking it.
2006, a little strange. Walmart had jounalists blogging without disclosure. this was not just the fault of the agency, of Walmart but also the bloggers as bloggers should be more savvy.

(and here someone did ask waht is flickr)

So what’s the line between citizen journalism and blogging

A: jounalism is not a role it is a series of practices; anyone can commit acts of journalism; we do not have licenced journalists in this country. Try and hide things and it will come back to bite it.

People often say we need a code for this blogger and that blogger; but professionals have codes and if you are blogging as part of a profession, you follwo that code.

Q: what about outside the US? How about China. Who is working with RoW traffic. Who caters for a wider interest than US.
A: in 2007 their are more people with access than here.
A: Minty, we provide parenting advice, UGC, and almost everything is outside the US.
So with a global audience, daypart is irrelevant.

Where are we today?

We are slightly more cutting edge then general enterprise world. 65% have a blog, 25% use video/audieo (out of the audience). Enterprises are far less. 63% of enterprises (a porter novelli survey) were blogging cos they thought they should. similar to having a website cos you have to. 57% did not have blogging guidelines. 76% have noticed an increase in traffic and attention. 71% were not happy with their interaction (but f they are doing cos they think they have to, they have no incentive)

One person had a conversation with an author who was scared about having a blog cos they may leave comments. And why wa he wanting a blog – to be part of the conversation. Can;t have one without the other. But talking to a lot of people go to the fear factor.

Q: we have been working with Macy’s, doing a project for black history month, got involved with bloggers, fashion bloggers, who got to speak to their favourite designers.

So who is reading. Pew says 39% of US readers read blogs, even if they do not know what it is. 24% of genY read blogs. more and more it has B2B implications as well.

Buzzwords…lets explain

Web2.0 speaks to an ethic. we allow comments, participations
Open source is ‘user generated’. it is participatory, community generated, not a free for all. They key is learning how to shepherd the conversation, make it useful
These are ‘push’ technologies; RSs, Twitter, etc are all push, giving the content where you want it, not where creator wants it.
Widgets are spreading, a great way to get your content on other site. but it is difficult to measure your effects, no page views.

A-list…we’ll explore tomorrow, usually means a ‘known’ list of prominent bloggers, but whom are not really known outside a small group.

Influence – there is no one way of measuring, it means something different to all.

Longtail…what social media can all be about;

[Many people had heard of all the words, but they were new for many as well]

Now onto values buzzwords. Blogs and SM are just tools; you can do plenty of things with them. So how do you measure a new way of doing things; you no longer push, you have a conversation with your customer. Look at authenticity, community, conversation, disclosure, engagement and transparency. They all come down to trust and respect. you have to approach different topics in different ways. Be clear on what and how and why you are doing it.

So why does i matter and how has it changed our work? It’s impossible to capture all the ways it has changed, Our credibility of brands etc depends on how you appear in the new distributed media, matters more than what you put on corporate website. Working with consumers is key to determine how you are received. So how when working in real time, with changing tech, how can you still achieve profitability. So if you don;t focus your budget on the fact that the internet is the majority medium, you need to change that,

Back to the audience…open discussion on what happens next?

Comment: NYT, recently started publishing permalinks, without registration or payment, you can blog it, and WSJ does not do that. You point people through and hit paywall for WSJ. Hopefully, more major news corps will get it and allow their content to become more popular.

Comment: I don’t talk about stuff if I can’t permalink. So I won’t talk about products and news I cannot point to

Comment: we have to balance SM tools and where our audience is. Look at USAToday. WSJ audience is probably still reading on the train from Connecticut. so if we get too far ahead of audience, what can we do.

Comment: a lot of trends with blogs and communities is the changing face of learning; you move away from a course/book and now people can take learning into their own hands. It will change how corps/orgs are going to do learning and training.

Comment: working with environmental journalists who were technophobes, did not use laptops etc; but give them smartphones, then they were away. Had to find the right form to make it easy.

Comment: anyone here have thoughts about changes to how mind works; anyone talk to teenagers about how they use it.

Comments: (professor from De Montford) we are working on a theory of transliteracy, across all media. divisive to say somethings are tech based and some not, it’s al the same kind of things. It’s about stripping away domination of print and going back to multiple ways of communicating, stripping way barriers.

Comments: blogging is more than just the publishers; readers are going to consume in a number of different ways. you have to meet many needs. The exciting part of tech is unification of tech and the spreading out, giving multiple ways of reaching content. we live in the echo chamber, we get it but much of the world does not. We should be figuring out how to deliver the content in the way that the readers do. do not coerce the readers to do it your way.

Comment: I disagree, as many of us in the room are on the front line with consumers/customers.

Comment: at TED there was a great conversations bout copyright laws. It is about allowing people to co-create and remix, that could be part of the future.

Mar 22

NBC and News Corp announce deal

Read the press release. The content companies are joining up with AOL, MSN, MySpace And Yahoo! to provide premuim video content – does this mean DRMd and subscription?

“This is a game changer for Internet video,” said Peter Chernin, President
and Chief Operating Officer of News Corporation. “We’ll have access to just
about the entire U.S. Internet audience at launch. And for the first time,
consumers will get what they want — professionally produced video delivered
on the sites where they live. We’re excited about the potential for this
alliance and we’re looking forward to working with any content provider or
distributor who wants to take advantage of this extraordinary opportunity.”

“Anyone who believes in the value of ubiquitous distribution will find this
announcement incredibly exciting,” said Jeff Zucker, President and CEO of
NBC Universal. “This venture supercharges our distribution of protected,
quality content to fans everywhere. Consumers get a hugely attractive
aggregation of a wide range of content, and marketers get a novel way to
connect with a large and highly engaged audience.”

I love that they think that they are providing what the user wants, as if they are the only ones, as if the web goes to YouTube for their health and not to watch great content. The release is full of PR speak – do these guys really talk like that? And if they do, please let me never meet them, with their borgified market speak they sound quite boring. Would I use the service – yes, if it gives me the content I want at the place and time I want and is not over encumbered my advertising as they try and squeeze every single drop of money from everywhere they can.

This is not about the consumer getting what they want; this is about dinosaur media companies being dragged licking and screaming into an web reality. The consumer is already taking your programmes, you are only just know getting onto the bandwagon. No doubt the content will be good, they will get viewers – there is a tendency for most people to do what is ‘right’. But be real with your vain announcements – remember, we’re all talking about you, how about answering back in a human voice occasionally.

Mar 22

Blogher Business Conference

I’m sitting here at the start of Blogher Business conference getting introduced to the format and kickstarting the day with some networking. I’ll be blogging the sessions throughout the day, subject to connectivity.

Mar 20

Google Personalisation

Google have long been known for their clean simple interface – a search box and a few links, making it simple to understand what to do. And then they brought out their personalised pages, for you to add your own data feeds, widgets and tools. Now they take this a step further, with the ability to change the style and image on the page.

First of all, choose your style from the six themes offered:

Google Theme Chooser

Then pick your favourite graphic. There’s some really cute art here, with lots to look at

Google Lake

The themes change throughout the day based on your location…I’ve started with the Sweet Dreams one. They are calling out for you to suggest new themes they can implement; but I’m pretty sure that at some point there will be a way to add your own theme and images.

Update: Tony has been digging and found the themes have some Easter eggs

Mar 19

Twitter – A study

This is a tale of Twitter, about what it is, what it does, what people think about and what people have done with it. It’s more of a case study, pulling together lots of posts and articles out there already. Yes, I could use a bookmarking tool to collect them, but I need to put together such as case study , so into the blog the information goes. And it’s long! So skip this post if you are tired of it! And if you Twitter and read blogs you’ve probably seen most of it anyway ;-)

What is Twitter?

Twitter was “born as an interesting side project within the offices of Odeo in March of 2006.” It’s a free service that sits astride SMS (texting), IM and the web; after creating an account you can post your stream of 140 character posts, small snippets of consciousness, detailing the minutia of your life – or more important stuff. I’ve seen travel information, social meet-ups arranged, engagements and pregnancies announced.

You can send and receive from any of the three channels depending on your preference. Work across all 3 or just choose one. Personally, I just use the web interface; if you go for the text version either choose your friends carefully or make sure your plan can take volume.(although from a UK perspective, paying to receive SMS is weird) Or you may end up twittering something like this.

JasonCalacanis: oh sh@#$%@#$%t… jsut checked my tmobile bill: 2,367 extra messages… $236.70 in extra charges!!! does tmobile have unlimited?!?!?!?!

Subscribing to Friends?

Did I say friends? Yes, as with other ‘web2.0 tools’ you can make your own network of friends. Know their Twitter address? Then you can subscribe to them and receive all of their messages – see the FAQs for details. When you subscribe, the system sends an email/text to your target and gives them the offer of subscribing back. So you will share what they deem to share’ with some people it may be once a week, others many times a day.


Why Twitter and not a blog? Or Dodgeball?

Dodgeball is a similar SMS system, where you can subscribe to friends and they can follow you, but it is focused on locations, letting people know where you are. Check into a place and it will tell your list, so they can find you and you can get together for social activities (or work!). And a blog is usually longer length and usually works across one channel only, the web, although there are hacks to get the info on other channels. The rational and emotional reasons behind using Twitter seem to be different. Dodgeball is geographically constrained to cities where it has a presence; blogs are perceived to take work (and should). Twitter is easy, global (with the IM and web), thoughtless in that you can just post a stream of thoughts. It’s just easier

The Growth of Twitter

Twitter has been going about a year, with a public life of about 6 months; it had its one year anniversary during this years SXSW, a tech conference that undoubtedly gave the service the push that it needed, taking it a tipping point. Andy, at waxy.org, has take a look at the growth of the service, using the message IDs of Ev Williams to chart the number of messages being sent over the service. Andy also provides the raw data for you to manipulate as well. And read the comments, some interesting insights/guesses into how the back end is working as well as challenges to the analysis.

TwitterGrowth

There’s another set of growth numbers from Data Mining. So far I have not found any numbers for subscriptions, how many people are joining up, but they are probably following a similar curve. But they are growing faster than anticipated:


Our growth projections were too humble!
Things are a bit slow over the web parts of Twitter until we add more dedicated machines

And today the inevitable chart site popped up, looking at the top 100 users – go and take a look at Twitterholic.com. Amongst certain types (who know who they are!) this will promote the battle to be top, to be seen to have the most ‘friends’, the most followers, the most readers and subscribers. But size (of followers) is not everything. Dunbar’s number gives a level for how many people you can interact with comfortably; whether this applies to Twitter I’m not sure, but it shifts the use of the service from an interaction between people who know each other to a broadcast mechanism.

Top Twits

Looking at the numbers, you can also track the connections. Starting off with Scoble in the centre, here’s a visualisation of all the circles (for which I can’t find the original reference, just the image…).

Posting to Twitter

It’s pretty easy to post your thoughts to Twitter using the three main channels, but there are a growing number of tools that allow you to post exactly as you want to.

Twitterific:
a Mac widget, it allows you to both read and post your tweets to the service.
Twitteroo: a similar widget for your PCs.

Both of these allow you to post and read from a desktop without having a browser window open. If you are working in a browser but don’t want to open the Twitter page, you can always try the Firefox Search plugin from Ludicious, the treats the search window as in input tool to Twitter. I like the warning they have, reminding you to switch back to your normal search engine, just in case you tweet your next search term.


Twitter Users

It’s not just you and me that have a twitter channel. News organisations, conferences and services all have feeds available, such as the BBC, CNN. The Press Association is going to be feeding headlines from the UK budget into Twitter, as well as Second Life. Politicians are also using it, as one of the many ways they are tapping into social media – take a look at John Edwards.

And if a suitable feed is there, you do not have to wait for the organisation to put their own twitter out there. Tom Morris has taken the output from the London Tube delay announcements and turned these into Twitters to which you can subscribe. Kosso has also done some interesting things in posting; the first is an anonymous posting interface called confession. As expected, the tweets can get rather extreme at times, don’t subscribe if you are of a nervous disposition. The second one takes advantage of the @sign that has emerged as a way of responding to people. Use that to send a tweet to dictionary with a word and it will go and look up the word in the Urban Dictionary and provide the first definition back to you (as long as you are subscribed). Try looking up the word twitter (nsfw!).

Using Twitter Streams

The presence of an API has allowed plenty of mash-ups to be made. Kosso is feeding tweets in and out of Second Life using BlogHUD. And take a look at the work that Dave Troy has done. First of all, TwitterMap (no longer active) which plots you on Google maps and shows your and your geographical neighbours tweets. Next up is Twittervision (no longer active, which shows tweets from around the world in a never ending stream of useless info on a map. It’s fascinating! Dave has also thrown up Twittersearch (no longer active), allowing you to search for terms across the public stream. And if you want to see what links people are sharing across the service, here’s Twitterbuzz.


The Reaction to Twitter

You love it or you hate it. You find it banal and useless or the best thing since sliced bread. You feel that the competition that is sneaking in is spoiling the community or you want nothing more than to get read more people and increase your numbers. Go search posts on Technorati or delicious. Posts that have caught my eye (mainly from people I read anyway):

Luis at elusa.com with post about how Twitter can help build networks and relationships. Like many, it appeared his opionion changed completely after he had started to use the system,

here is a weblog entry that I have put together where I have listed 10 reasons why I strongly believe that Twitter is actually a very empowering social software tool that would help knowledge workers improve their already existing social networks. Yes, that is right, 10 good reasons why you would want to continue make use of Twitter or why if you haven’t gotten started with it yet, it may be a good opportunity to do so now.

danah gives her thoughts on the geek use and likens it to MySpace use of bulletins amongst peers. Bringing up the text restrictions from a US perspective gives you some of the problems that the system may have trouble with a wider adoption in this age group (and a great comment explains why the US system is so stupid with receiver paying)

The techno-geek users keep telling me that it’s a conversation. Of course, this is also said of blogging. But i don’t think that either are typically conversations. More often, they are individuals standing on their soap boxes who enjoy people responding to them and may wander around to others soap boxes looking for interesting bits of data. By and large, people Twitter to share their experience; only rarely do they expect to receive anything in return. What is returned is typically a kudos or a personal thought or an organizing question. I’d be curious what percentage of Tweets start a genuine back-and-forth dialogue where the parties are on equal ground. It still amazes me that when i respond to someone’s Tweet personally, they often ignore me or respond curtly with an answer to my question. It’s as though the Tweeter wants to be recognized en masse, but doesn’t want to actually start a dialogue with their pronouncements.

Tara explains her passion for the service with a detailed post about how and why she uses the service.

Do I think Twitter scales? Nope. I don’t think community ’scales’, either. I look at my long list of friends and feel I need to start switching some off (although it’s an insanely difficult decision because I’m actually interested in learning more about the people who update rarely as well). I have found it insanely helpful as well as entertaining. It IS crack. It IS distracting. It has also created an awesome ‘efficiency’ in my life…an emotional efficiency so to speak, where I have 140 characters to vent and get to connect with others that do the same.

The comments also include one of the best soundbites from Alan :

is Twitter therefore just Hello! magazine for the geeks ;)

Kathy Sierra has a brilliant post on how Twitter could be the final straw in breaking the brain bandwidth and rounds up a lot of the reaction.

We’ve all been at the brain bandwidth breaking point for the last five years. Email is out of control. IM’ing sucks up half the day. And how can we not read our RSS feeds, post to our blogs, and check our stats? If my Cingular cell phone sends me a MySpace alert and I’m not there to get it, do I exist? But email, IMs, social networking, and blogs are nothing compared to the thing that may finally cause time as we know it to cease. I’m talking, of course, about Twitter.


The future of Twitter

It’s made the Wall Street Journal. It’s hit the mainstream. It’s the number 1 search on Technorati today.

Twitter on Technorati

The volume of posts in last week has at least quadrupled.

Twitter Posts on technorati

What this means, I don’t know. Does anyone yet? Somewhere there has to be monetisation, running this type of service with this type of growth needs some revenue from somewhere. Showing it to colleagues today there was confusion about why, questions asked about what it can be used for, could it be used for advertising, would the most subscribed start monetising their stream of tweets – so instead of Pay per Post you get Pay per Tweet, micropayments. (A step I definitely don’t agree with). But could it be used the other way, as part of the attention economy. Put out what you are after and let the advertisers find you? Whatever is in the future, the immediate problem is scaling; the system is flaky at times and has been down a few times today. But this could be seen as a good problem?

Keep an eye on the Twitter blog for more information, plus links to more opinions about the service. Or try the (unofficial) wiki. One thing that does appear to be on it’s way is grouping of contacts; not sure whether that means on the sender or the receiver end yet, just have to wait and see.

Mar 19

Dinner with Ewan Spence

Ewan Spence is visiting New York for the next few days, so Eric and I thought we’d see if anyone wants to meet up and grab dinner. Tomorrow evening, Two Boots pizza, Grand Central food court, 7.30pm. We’ll be easy to spot, Ewan’ll have a kilt on!