Showing posts with label Technorati. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Technorati. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 13

Twittering Choices: Social Truths

"We're hearing your feedback and reading through it all. One of the strongest signals is that folks were using this setting to discover and follow new and interesting accounts—this is something we absolutely want to support." — Twitter

That is how it happens with online services. After Twitter went out on a limb and made a fundamental change to its service, specifically the option to receive public messages from people they are not following, the entire community pushed back, many of them rightly calling it a disaster. Some are saying that this might be the change that lifts friendfeed to the forefront or even cause Twitter to fail outright. That leaves only a few who, well, disagree.

After receiving the feedback, Twitter did what it ought to have done in the first place — communicate with its community. However, as Mashable points out, addressing the feedback and returning the function that many participants enjoy are two very different things. Now, Twitter, a service that participants made the poster child for authenticity, looks like it whitewashed the real reason behind the change.

You can track the customer comments right here: #fixreplies. It's a rough critique of a service change and testament to why communication continues to remain a struggle for social networks.

Choice has always been a fundamental part of the online social equation.

What does the change really mean? If you are not familiar with Twitter, you might not understand the service change. Simply put, someone could write to you (probably because you were talking about a subject that interested them) by including the "@" in front of your account name. That message, or tweet, would appear in your thread, making it easy to see and respond to.

Without that service, you may never know someone sent that message to you, unless you followed him or her from the start. Not everybody used the service. People had a choice. For people with thousands or hundreds of thousands of followers, they could choose to see only those messages from those they followed. For anyone looking to meet new people, not so much.

Personally, I've grown to like Twitter. I like it enough that I speak about it from time to time. I especially like it because they've always given their participants choices. And, I hope those feelings don't change since they say they "learned a lot."

But there is something else to learn: Never become too attached to a tool.

Online tools change all the time. And very often, the change is not for the better. Technorati, once the premier place for bloggers to connect, seems to be struggling. MyBlogLog has become fairly flat. Entrecard spiked on the promise of cash, but now that's eroding. Hey! Nielsen is in redesign. And Utterli, after rebranding, just isn't the same. There are hundreds more. Some of them long closed.

All of them have one thing in common. At some point, usually when unduly scared or overly secure, they start making big and rapid changes without communication beyond their inner circles. Jumping on the advice of high profile "experts" instead of regular members, they might even feel smug to make them. But then, after awhile, they notice that the inner circle is all they have left.

Choice has always been a fundamental part of the online social equation. And ultimately, members may choose to go somewhere else.

Friday, August 3

Balancing Acts: Social Media Measures

A few days ago, Lee Odden had a similar idea. Although I have a different conclusion, Odden’s piece is a must read for anyone hoping to understand a little more about combined ranking systems.

My decision to take a look at them began the day after I posted about Ad Age’s acquisition of Todd And’s Power 150. Jane S. (Jericho Saved) left a comment, asking “Is Todd’s considered to be more reliable than BlogPulse? Is BP even reliable?”

Other than BlogPulse being a better topic measure and Todd's being a better niche industry blog ranker, maybe the best answer is that most social media measures provide insight, but these insights are often misleading. Here is the oversimplified truth behind some of them:

Google PageRank relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the Web by using its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual page's value (the more links, the higher the page relevance). Importance: it provides an indication of how many other pages are sourcing "searched" information from that page to determine its search rank. Triviality: sometimes you don’t have to be first to be relevant (and not everyone searches on Google). (Bonus: Mac users can get a free dashboard widget at Apple.)

Alexa Traffic Rank is based on the usage of millions of Alexa toolbar users. It is the most common gauge to determine traffic. Importance: it provides an excellent snapshot to see which direction your Web site is moving from a broad perspective. Triviality: traffic doesn’t necessarily mean you are getting the right traffic. (Bonus: Terence Chang recently offered some tips about Alexa.)

Bloglines is a free online service for searching, subscribing, creating and sharing news feeds, blogs, and Web content. Importance: the more subscribers and bookmarkers, the more likely these subscribers will visit your blog. Triviality: There are many subscription services, which is why some people are now pushing FeedBurner as a better measure. However, keep in mind that some subscribers are likely to add a blog to multiple readers, which means the measure is likely less than. (Bonus: ProBlogger asks if full feeds increases subscription rates.)

Technorati tracks 94.9 million blogs and over 250 million pieces of tagged social media. Its authority system, which is one of the most criticized (for some reason), ranks blogs based on links from other blogs in the last 180 days. Importance: the authority rank indicates how many other social media participants consider your post relevant enough to comment about it on their blogs. Triviality: Meemes and other link lists can artificially inflate ranking. (Bonus: Make Money Online shares one strategy.)

Digg and other news aggregators allow user submitted content to be voted on by a community. Importance: a post that gets "dugg" by hundreds of members will most certainly increase traffic. Triviality: member alliances can increase diggs on content with little substance. (Bonus: Digerati Marketing recently posted some Digg tactics.)

Social Networks can include any number of places, ranging from to Facebook to Linkedin to (if we’re being honest) Twitter. Almost all of them (including Technorati, which has "favorites") have some sort of “connection” mechanism. Importance: friends can mean the difference between exposure and no exposure. Triviality: it’s relatively easy to make friends and connections. (Bonus: If you ask, 90 percent of those asked will add you, unless you are a troll.)

Content/Frequency/Comments is another measure that has been around for a while. It was recently re-popularized by Edelman’s complex Social Media Index. Importance: the frequency of posting and number of comments all contribute to increased traffic. Triviality: posting too frequently buries good content and comments can all too easily be inflated. (Bonus: Here are the top ten tips that have been around a long time.)

Conclusion. Everybody likes the rankings, traffic, comments, diggs, and, well, whatever (yeah, me too). They create conversation, attract attention, and demonstrate momentum even when social media pundits weight the numbers toward those areas they excel (and we all know they do) or attempt to game the system.

At best, it seems to me that it is these measures and the gaming of them that slows social media from becoming more mainstream (as it makes the average business owner skeptical of blogs). At worst, it detracts from what communication people are supposed to focus on: the company's overall strategy and the true measures of success (like market share, sales, etc.).

Put plainly, Seth Godin doesn’t have a successful blog because he ranks 8,311 on Alexa or 13 on Technorati. Godin has a successful blog because his online brand is consistent with who he wants to be perceived as and, more importantly, he sells a lot of books (The Dip, released May 10, is still #447 on Amazon).

In sum, the best measures of success come from achieving results that are derived out of a sound business strategy. Certainly, any of these measures can help provide a performance snapshot (assuming you avoid the temptation to game them), but the active pursuit of them won't do much more than distract from what really matters.


Thursday, May 17

Adding Content Value: Social Media

It seems almost too fitting that the same day I was discussing digital media on The Recruiting Animal Show, Alexandra Berzon, writing for Red Herring, reported Technorati, the blog search engine that tops Google, is sending more and more users to photos, videos, and music instead of blogs.

Some people like Greg Sterling of Sterling Market Intelligence think that Technorati risks diluting its value proposition. I think it is part of the natural evolution of social media, adding content value beyond a well-written post.

Does that mean everyone should abandon their blogs and skew toward digital media? No. It simply means that communication is becoming more integrated and better equipped to deliver content in different forms and on different formats.

With that change comes the increased potential to turn the content value of a blog into tangible income generation (or income marketing as I like to call it). Sure, doing so does not come without risks. It seems relatively easy for social media to become a distraction for executives and support staff. But to me, that seems more like a time management challenge than a problem with social media.

Revenue Potential

As social media evolves, it seems almost certain that blogs, podcasts, and video will develop new ways to generate income beyond Google AdSense (not that there is anything wrong with it) and ad banners. Specific, but not necessarily exclusive, to digital media — pay-per-click advertising on original programming; pay-per-download or direct purchase of compilation sets; on-demand show merchandising sold over the Internet; and the potential for platform distribution syndication — all seem like obvious solutions.

Considering Risks

Of course, that is not to say that digital media is the best use of social media for everyone. As Harry Joiner, Marketing Headhunter, pointed out on the radio show, there are potential barriers for bloggers hoping to shift to digital media: technological constraints, content development, and time famine among them (eg. when will I have time to sell my product or perform my service?).

They are very valid points. As I said, it's certainly not for everyone. If you (or your consultants) are more comfortable with blogs, podcasts, or video, then by all means, add that in the mix for consideration. No content is often better than bad content.

Communication Strategy

There are solutions if you think strategically. After all, smart business communication always means that your tactics are dictated by strategy and not the other way around. Social media, let's never forget, is a communication tactic (not a strategy).

Two great examples come to mind. Check out Carl Chapman's post, "Why I Do I Blog?", and you'll see what I mean. ($170,000 in business seems to suggest that he is getting the right visitors.)

Now imagine what that draw might be with worthwhile video content to augment it. Certainly, the best shows with the most potential will require some planning and care. But employing video to add value to blog content doesn't have to be rocket science. David Maister recently demonstrated that with a well thought out video presentation on his Passion, People and Principles. (To me, the topic even provides a loose link to this subject. Time investment in non-billable hours can increase sales.)

In both cases, their businesses or professional expertise drive the content. It more than makes sense, it's strategic. Maister does it especially well given his mix of products and services.

Finding Solutions

For individual recruiters or other independent professionals, teamwork may provide some solutions as social media moves forward. For instance, The Recruiting Animal Show seems to drive the point home. As a host, Animal brings an infectious, often funny, always compelling format to the forefront. (As a side note, he recently earned national exposure in Canada as a recruiting expert because of, in part, his blogs.)

Sure, he has a show and it's his show (and his alone). Yet, other recruiters also benefit from the show through their participation and the show benefits because of their willingness to lend expertise.

David Manaster, CEO of ERE Media, Inc. and Jason Davis, who recently launched RecruitingBlogs, a social network for recruiters, often ask great questions and provide experienced answers on the show (they certainly did yesterday).

There was some question about ROI, but I think it's unfair to simply count callers. Given the show can be listened to any time after its first run, traditional ratings just don't seem to be the right measurement. Not to mention, when it comes to social media, the number of visitors pales in comparison to capturing the right visitors.


As Albert Einstein said: imagination is more important than knowledge. This certainly seems to apply to social media. After all, imagination in marketing has been the deciding ingredient for hundreds of companies throughout history, much more than any winning formula followed by others.

Come up with an idea (or let us help you discover one), temper it with strategic communication, and then fine tune what will make the right mix of content and business communication. For big companies, it might even be easier than for small companies. But then again, nothing makes a small company look big than its own show.


Saturday, May 5

Embracing Change: Technorati

With all the buzz about social networks, I'm not surprised Technorati is embracing change. Not all the changes taking place warrant a news release like its partnership with PR Newswire (prompting public relations practitioners to take a harder look at social media). Some happen silently, seamlessly, and seemingly overnight.

One of the quieter changes taking place over at Technorati is how they organize "Favorites." Considering Technorati is the recognized authority on what's happening on the World "Live" Web by tracking 79.2 million blogs, I've always felt its Favorites List was grossly underutilized. That's likely to change in the days and weeks ahead now that Technorati has added "favored by" user icons to every blog overview page. There is also a "Favorites" widget that shows the last three posts from your favorite blogs on your blog, along with a search box limited to blogs you like.

I first noticed these changes a day or two ago when I was reorganizing my own "Favorites" list. The format was different, prompting me to notice a new "fan." So I clicked on over to our blog overview page and, well sure enough, there was an icon of "some guy" who seemed vaguely familiar to me.

Of course he looked familiar; he isn't just "some guy." He is none other than Geoff Livingston who writes the very poignant blog called The Buzz Bin. I had just added him to my Favorites the day before, shortly after learning more about his blog. But that's the way online networking works: linking to blogs you like because they have relevant content.

Technorati's improved approach to Favorites will certainly help do this too, provided bloggers avoid the temptation to participate in too many "Favorite" exchanges and link swap experiments. No, there is nothing wrong with such trades. However, if every blog becomes your Favorite, then you risk diluting the list's relevance in much the same way traffic generators damage analytics.

For example, it doesn't make sense for us to employ a traffic generator like AutoHits on this blog. Random traffic has virtually no meaning to our objectives. (We are testing AutoHits on another project, however.)

The same can be said for Favorite lists anywhere: if you add everyone just because you're hoping for higher rankings, then it really isn't a Favorite list at all. Heck, you might damage any chance of capturing measurable results beyond click-throughs. However, used wisely, you can create a great list of resources for you and your readers.

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