Showing posts with label godin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label godin. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 5

Advertising Annoyance: Food For Thought


“It takes a lot of your prefrontal brain power to force yourself not to process a strong input like a television commercial. If you’re trying to read a book at the same time, you may not have the resources left to focus on the words.” — Robert Desimone, director of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at M.I.T.

That's according to one of the experts in “Rapt,” a guide by Winifred Gallagher to the science of paying attention, as featured in The New York Times today. It's also a book I'll be adding to my reading list, but perhaps not for the reasons Gallagher intended.

The article shares some interesting insights about how our thoughts dictate our world views — we can obsess about problems, drive ourselves crazy by multitasking on e-mail and Twitter, or give the brain a bit of time to focus on and accentuate the positive — and lead to differing realities. While there is ample truth to that, our interest today is a bit more pragmatic in that it reveals some science behind "that guy" as described by Chris Brogan.

The concept was also the cornerstone of Seth Godin's argument that we need to reconsider the interruption model of advertising. He advocated permission marketing, which he defines as the consumer granting permission to be marketed to if they know what's in it for them.

"The interruption model is extremely effective when there's not an overflow of interruptions," Godin told Fast Company. "But there's too much going on in our lives for us to enjoy being interrupted anymore."

Godin is half right in that an overflow of interruptions leads to no one interruption being able to stand out. Where he is half wrong is that permission marketing doesn't necessarily require asking permission to market to people, especially if that permission might lead to future interruptions.

What companies might consider doing is listening. Consumers are very savvy in asking for what they want online. And, if your company is listening, you can provide them the answers that may introduce them to your product or service. You may even send them an e-mail from time to time, provided it has value.

Where companies often go wrong is in their own assessment of what's important. Even in a permission based model, especially those that bombard with e-mail, doesn't account for that moment that the company might have lost permission, or, in other words, lost permission or nurture nothing more than annoyance or aversion.

The tricky part for marketers is that no two people or products or services will ever be the same. Some products and services can support daily news and updates and some cannot. Some will capture public interest for a few days; others for month and years. Everything has a duration.

It doesn't require as much guess work as some might think. The public will often tell you when they've had enough or not. Listening to them and knowing when that might be is the difference between being "this guy" or "that guy," permission or not.

The only difference between being an annoying interruption, pleasant surprise, and invited engagement is much more dependent on an exchange, a dialogue, than we might have ever realized. After all, most companies would prefer to be a focus for awhile rather than an interruption, eventually shuffled off to spam whether you subscribed or not.

Monday, June 23

Advertising Flattens: Where's The Connection?

According to Advertising Age, the top 100 U.S. advertisers last year increased ad spending by 1.7 percent, while measured media spending rose a negligible 0.3 percent for major marketers. This is the most sluggish growth for advertising since the 2001 recession.

However, a sluggish economy is not only to blame. The entire industry is slowly shifting toward including and incorporating social media. While those who already are engaged in social media don’t always appreciate the notion, advertising seems to be slowly remembering its roots.

“There is no such thing as national advertising. All advertising is local and personal. It’s one man or woman reading one newspaper in the kitchen or watching TV in the den,” Morris Hite, who once oversaw Tracy-Locke-Dawson before it was purchased by BBDO/New York in 1982.

Sure, newspapers might have lost significant ground over the last few years, with Peter S. Appert, an analyst at Goldman Sachs, telling The New York Times “I think the probability is very high that there will be a number of examples of individual newspapers and newspaper companies that fall into a loss position. And I think it’s inevitable that there will be closures in this industry, and maybe bankruptcies.” But if we remain true to Hite’s point, we remain fixed on a single, simple lesson that sometimes seems forgotten.

The emphasis on advertising needs to be message over medium.

Again, the best ads connect to the consumer before demonstrating the cleverness of the advertising team. It’s the kind of thing that Seth Godin touches on now and again, except with a somewhat different conclusion on how we got here. Advertising wasn’t always about slapping innovative ads on top of average products. That’s a relatively new idea that deviated from its golden era.

If you look at the difference between golden era Volkswagen advertising and the most recent campaign, it might make more sense. The 1960s advertising carried the right message for the product. The new campaign attempts to give a nod to that era, but without a tangible connection to the consumer. Maybe that’s why Volkswagen sales are off this month, which goes a bit beyond the price of oil.

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Wednesday, November 21

Kindling The Future: Amazon Kindle


“What’s a record? A cassette tape?” — my son, 2007

“What’s a magazine stand? A dust cover?” — his son, 2037

It might look clunky at a glance, but it’s the first generation sneak peek of the future. And like most technological breakthroughs that shock the system, the Kindle, a pricey and apparently improved e-reader, is no exception.

There were 3,200 posts and counting, just yesterday, equally split between positive and negative opinion. There were 398 reviews on Amazon, delivering a divided 2.5 stars. And while Seattlest jumped with comments that included “I wouldn't use it if someone gave it to me for free,” Barnes & Noble saw its stock drop 5 percent.

All because of hyperbole before the first Kindle could ship. Yet, very few people even mentioned this fact. It was too late, with just one more example of how bloggers follow media. Social media chimes in on any story when it seems especially hot. If they don’t, their readers will be discovering new blogs, maybe better.

Here are some highlights that struck me yesterday.

"This is a disruptive approach, the sort of thing only a market leader could pull off. It changes the world in a serious way." — Seth Godin with the marketing perspective.

“It’s not going to revolutionize the industry overnight, though it sounds like Amazon is going to take this business seriously and continue to invest in it.” — Joseph Weisenthal with the tech perspective.

“Whether this will be the death of print concerns me less than if it will be yet another slow down in reading complete books -- the physical or digital kind,” — Valeria Maltoni with the human perspective (my favorite kind).

“That Jeremy is probably right. I’m excited about the new reader to be sure. But getting geeks like me excited by a new “shiny toy” is pretty easy. Getting a large market excited? That’s a LOT harder.” — Robert Scoble with the geek predictor perspective.

“So unless you live in a dark cave (without Wi-Fi) you know that the Gadget News of the Day was Amazon's release of its eBook reader called the Kindle.” — Danny Dumas, with the recap perspective, including Jose Fermoso’s roundup of eight more opinions.

Did anyone notice the media has already embraced this? They’re on the subscription list. It makes them relevant; expect many more articles ahead.

So there you go. Maybe it will be Kindle and maybe not. But there are truths inside the truth because this is playing out much like the iPhone. There was a split decision a few months back. A lot of people came out for and against it. It was all kind of silly.

But today, all that conversation is irrelevant because Apple sold 1.12 million iPhones last quarter, representing 27 percent of the smart phone market in the United States and 3 percent of the overall cell phone market.

Not bad for Apple’s first phone.

Unless there is a serious technological flaw, like charging you to put your own content on it (oh right, there is) you can expect the same with Kindle or the second generation reader that someone is already busy working on. But I don’t want to play guessing games. Instead, I’ll offer two observations.

The hyperbole is real.

Sometimes social media gives permission to craft a runaway opinion for the sake of having one. And there is nothing wrong with that. Opinions are like bottoms and everyone has one. In the age of glass bathrooms, full moons are not only invited, but some say they’re required.

The future is polar.

The Kindle aside, the technology behind it represents an opportunity to educate everyone on the planet (once there is a price point drop), giving them access to the best books ever written. And, it also represents an opportunity to enslave humankind by filtering future content and killing the last refuge of reader privacy at the same time.

“Cool,” some say. “How can I list my blog and get paid?”

Good night and good luck.

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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 BlogCatalog.com 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.

Digg!

Thursday, July 12

Calculating Identity: Career Distinction


After visiting Career Distinction and running its Online Identity Calculator on Tom Cruise yesterday (check the comments on the post), we started to wonder what would happen if we plugged in more people, ranging from notable bloggers to CEO bloggers to CEOs with no direct social media presence.

The mix is pretty eclectic, but it provides some interesting results. Keep in mind that our formula is less than scientific: we used the calculator (beta) to establish whether these individuals have an online identity that matches up with what seems to be their desired personal brand. Since the calculator only offers generalized definitions, we summed up the first three pages of a Google search.

Seth Godin — Digitally Distinct, 10
Desired: A bestselling author, entrepreneur, and agent of change.
Online: A leading marketing author and popular business blogger.

We picked Godin mostly because we had a hunch he would set the high water mark and, no surprise, he did. While there seems to be some slight variation between his desired and online brand, it’s only because the Godin brand overshadows the company he founded, Squiddo. In sum, his brand trends toward top online marketing expert/author (rather than entrepreneur and agent of change) and there is nothing wrong with that.

Johnathan Swartz — Digitally Distinct, 10
Desired: An approachable, likeable, creative, and unconventional CEO.
Actual: An approachable, likeable, creative, and unconventional CEO.

Swartz is the top CEO blogger for a reason. There is virtually no distinction between his online identity and his desired brand — he always presents compelling non-techno babble information to help businesses understand that technological advancements mean market opportunities as opposed to business threats. He does a near perfect job setting the cultural tone of Sun Microsystems and his views mirror what we’ve said for two years.

Jeffrey Immelt — Digitally Distinct, 9
Desired: A hardworking strategist who helped turn General Electric around.
Actual: A relentless workaholic whose biggest hope is everyone else can keep up.

Given Immelt devotes 12 weeks to foreign travel as one of our nation’s leading advocates for globalization, we’re not surprised he doesn’t have time to establish a direct social media presence. Still, as a Fortune 500 company CEO (top 10), others present who he is fairly well, with one small caveat — as much as he is admired, skeptics water down his ideas (despite results), leading us to believe he could score a 10 with a direct presence on the Internet.

Alan Meckler — Digitally Distinct, 9
Desired: A serious business executive and aggressive online CEO.
Actual: A straightforward executive who calls it like he sees it.

As one of the top 10 ten CEO bloggers, we’re not to surprised to see Meckler also scores near the top. There are some identity discrepancies, primarily because his writing and interview style come across as a tough-as-nails CEO when he’s much more approachable than that. Also, his view of Jupiterimages is obviously a bit biased when compared to his view of competitors, but we wouldn’t expect otherwise.

Scott Baradell — Digitally Distinct, 9
Desired: Accomplished brand strategist with corporate communications and journalism experience.
Actual: Journalist turned public relations strategist, which might explain why he never takes the industry too seriously.

With Baradell’s emphasis on public relations, media analysis, and blog entertainment, his online identity tends to shift away from brand strategist. But where his online personality works is that he is unquestionably adept at keeping things interesting. For evidence: check Media Orchard’s R Rating and his anagram post plug of Occam’s RazR among others.

Geoff Livingston — Digitally Distinct, 9
• Desired: A leading marketing expert and top-ranked marketing blogger/author.
• Actual: A seasoned marketing pro, social media analyst, and blogging guru.

For the most part, Livingston has achieved his desired online identity, especially since he has already been recognized as an area marketing blog guru by The Washington Post. Without question, he has some great posts that often cross over into legitimate trade journalism. With a book set for release and several post serials worth reading, he’s coming close to the tipping point. If there is one area to improve, it’s remembering that too much focus on others won’t brand you as a leader.

The Recruiting Animal — Digitally Distinct. 8 (7)
• Desired: The most outrageous and entertaining recruiting blogger and online radio host in history.
• Actual: The most outrageous and entertaining recruiting blogger and online radio host in history.

There is little doubt that The Recruiting Animal has achieved his online identity. He is a classic example of being positively infamous, with his stage name often appearing where you least expect it (even in places his peers might have missed). What’s equally interesting to me is that if we plug in The Recruiting Animal’s real name, his score drops to Digitally Dabbling, but all of the information about him remains on target (just slightly more serious).

Les Moonves — Digitally Disastrous, 8
Desired: A seasoned old school programmer who became CEO of a leading mass media company.
Actual: A CEO with a dated programming vision who calls the shots with little explanation.

Given our coverage of the Jericho cancellation protest (and reinstatement), we noticed that Moonves tends to leave people completely confused. On one hand, he wants CBS to lead the digital charge, but then doesn’t give new media much credit. He dumped Imus and dumbed down CBS News despite what ratings say, yet argued that the original cancellation of Jericho was based only on ratings. Given he has no direct social media presence, his brand is shaped almost entirely by mixed messages that paint him up as a CEO who likes to say “because I said so.”

David Neeleman — Digitally Disastrous, 8
Desired: A relentless innovator who challenged the airline industry to do better.
Actual: An ousted CEO trying to prove his relevance after a company crisis.

I read Neeleman’s blog because I admire what he has accomplished. Some people don’t get this in our coverage of the JetBlue crisis. They won’t get it here either as we’ve noticed a dramatic personal brand shift since his departure as CEO of JetBlue. He insists he is comfortable with the change despite several interviews that suggest otherwise. It doesn’t help that "Montgomery Burns" has taken over his flight log. It’s supposed to be funny, but only it reinforces questionable choices in the face of crisis.

Jason Goldberg — Digitally Disastrous, 7
• Desired: A successful entrepreneur who is leading innovator of the online recruiting community.
• Actual: A young, brash executive who gets caught up in online controversies and spins like there is no tomorrow.

There’s a boatload of information on the Web about Goldberg. Unfortunately, most of it doesn’t seem to have any relevance to what he wants to express about himself or his company. Most of it is about blog controversies, blatant spin, and a sometimes questionable management style. Other times, however, Goldberg even departs from this identity too, which makes people wonder how seriously they should take him. The odd attack-feint retreat-attack-retreat tactic doesn’t help.

Amanda Chapel — Digitally Disastrous, 7
• Desired: A mysterious and provocative foil for the online public relations community.
• Actual: A collective of anonymous writers who believe all publicity is good publicity.

There is a lot of information about the collective Chapel on the Web, but more and more of it has little relevance to what they want to express about themselves. As time goes on, it will be nearly impossible to remove all the irrelevant information. Some people have asked about my interest in Chapel, since they come up on my blog every now and again. Truth be told, I’m more interested in why Steve Rubel, Mark Ragan, and even Shel Holtz continue to feed the Chapel credibility. Is the public relations industry that boring or afraid to debate that it needs an anonymous ghost to do it for them?

Add it up and all of this seems to reinforce the most basic premise of my Fragile Brand Theory. You see, in almost every case listed above, without exception, the closer their personal and online brands are to the reality of who they are, the greater their measure of success in maintaining that brand. It also demonstrates, in a couple of instances, how one handles crisis or controversy can also enhance or erode brand credibility almost overnight.

In closing, just to be fair, we ran my identity too. While there is some discrepancy depending on how you type in my name, I came out with a Digitally Distinct 8 and Copywrite, Ink. with a Digitally Distinct 9. This stands to reason: establishing an online identity for the company ahead of me is by design.

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Thursday, June 28

Controlling Community: John Sumser

John Sumser has taken on a mission impossible because there seems to be a desire to transform Recruiting.com, which is currently defined as blog community portal, into a niche social network that will be managed like an online magazine with Sumser as editor.

It cannot be done.

Sumser is not alone in making the mistake of combining what are opposing objectives. Many companies are struggling with the same self-created issue, which is what often gives rise to community members screaming unfair criticism, blatant censorship, and/or totalitarian fascist rule. Eventually, it leads to protest, exodus, or even negative public outcry beyond the niche it serves.

You can see it all over the net. It ranges from alleged censorship of The Black Donnellys fans at NBC online and Jericho fans during the cancellation protest at CBS online to the broadest brush strokes and ample examples being advocated by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. All of it, big and small, stems from the same problem: a lack of strategic oversight on the part of the site moderators that often leads to gross confusion over whether or not the First Amendment might apply on the part of the participants (mostly, it doesn't), which I'm inclined to write about another time.

Today, I'll stick to the misconception being applied by some companies: they think "if we build it (a framework for an online community of sorts, whether it be a blog, portal, forum, social network, or some combination), they will come." And, as soon as the "open" sign goes up, sometimes they do come — participants who quickly take up residence and build their community.

Did you catch that? I said "their community" because it's the most important part of the equation. Companies that create online gathering places only own the framework; it's the participants who own the community. Because without them, there is no community.

And that brings us back to Recruiting.com. Whereas Jason Davis (former management at Recruiting.com) moderated with a guiding hand, Sumser seems to use the rule of law. After all, as editor, Sumser claims it's his job to ensure the content is worthwhile by some subjective standards only he knows.

While I understand this thinking from someone who often considers social media and blogging as, more or less, immature and brutish (although, mysteriously and magically, not so in many, many places), it represents the direct opposition to developing an online community. You see, the model for editorial control, beyond the loosest guidelines, (eg. no pornography, etc.) is much better suited to running an online magazine or news source like, well, Electronic Recruiting News.

For a blog portal, like Recruitng.com, any sense of community can only be accomplished by applying the simplest of concepts: "it's easier to pull a chain than to push one." That means "editors" must abandon their propensity to manage and attempt to lead.

Real leadership does not work under the rule of law. It requires something else all together. So instead of "editing" and reserving the right to make even the best intended critiques, the moderator who hopes to build a community will see better results if they focus more on making people feel welcome, praising those who provide the best examples, and adding unique value for the residents.

No, it doesn't have to be this way. Recruiting.com could just as easily operate as an online content provider or magazine (in which case, it needs more exclusive content) and a blog portal, giving up on the idea that it is somehow a community (it's not). While this means it will rarely be considered home, the model can work just as well while affording the owners control, which they seem to want.

From a more general perspective, any time a company, organization, or group launches a product, service, or online "something" (or applies sweeping changes to such things), it's always best to develop a strategy first. And, if these things already exist, it's never a good idea to remove previous tactics without knowing what you need to replace them with. Ergo, if you blow little things all up without a plan, you might be surprised to find out some of those little things made the big thing work.

Ideally, developing a strategy can be largely accomplished by understanding the environment in which you hope to operate and your true competitors. Then, you offer added values to your product/service/offering or, at minimum, positive communication contrasts between yourself and your competitors.

Apple and AT&T's positioning of the iPhone is a pretty good example. Verizon's new message, which they think will keep customers from switching to an iPhone, is not.

The bottom line. You cannot be all things to all people, especially when you aren't all things.

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Friday, June 22

Collecting Unconscious: Godin & Maister

Right now, I’m on a plane headed toward Reno to attend a state commission meeting in Incline Village. So I wrote this last night and asked my partner to post it this morning (rather than double up on Thursday and be dead on Friday).

The Internet makes it possible: you can post a piece of the past in the present and nobody knows it, unless you tell them. I found it fitting to mention because this is an odd little post about the collective unconscious, which was Carl Jung’s theory that we can all pull something down from “a reservoir of the experience of our species.”

It happens in my field every now and again. Someone comes up with an advertising campaign at virtually the same time someone else does, leaving some of them to wonder who came up with the idea first. Maybe no one did. It happens on blogs as well. Sometimes two authors write about virtually the same thing even though the inspiration is unrelated. It happened with David Maister and Seth Godin this week.

Maister posted about Passion, People and Principles, which is not only the title of his blog, but also three ingredients that make up a recipe for success.

Passion alone, he rightfully points out, can be dangerous. You’ll seduce a lot of people to your side, but you’ll end up fooling or betraying them. If you have principles and understand people, you risk being righteous but ineffective. You need all three in everything, which is so right, almost no one could add anything to the proposed discussion.

The day before, Godin posted a similar point, talking about drive, which is another way of saying passion.

He’s right too. Most successful organizations are driven by something, for a while anyway (not all drives are sustainable, largely because they neglect the other two ingredients). He then runs down a list of drives associated with some companies (eg. paycheck driven, marketing driven, fashion driven, etc.).

Market driven, which he says most people claim to be but really aren’t, is about creating what the market wants. It seems to me that of all the drives that he lists, market driven is most likely to carry the passion, people, and principles equation. Maybe that’s why it is first on the list.

I always understood, but never really cared for Jung. Still, he laid some important groundwork for other psychologists and theorists, especially in terms of identifying behavioral patterns, dream interpretation, and, yep, the collective unconscious.

Hmmm … I wonder how many times Jung’s name came up in the news during the last month and if that’s why I reached up and pulled down collective unconscious after seeing a coincidental link between two blogs. It’s not the first time; and likely won’t be the last.

Regardless, there is a collective truth to what Maister and Godin offered up. And me, well, I’m content to make my way as a beneficial presence. Maybe you can figure out where that might fit within two contexts. I think it fits quite nicely.

Digg!

Tuesday, December 26

Stacking Online Votes

On Christmas Day, Seth Godin did something nice for a few dozen blogs. He posted them on his blog, Seth Godin, and encouraged people to visit.

By creating a plexo at Squidoo, he enabled others to include their own blog (or blogs they liked) and vote for any they felt seemed interesting. "There is no A list, so there can't be a Z list. There's just good blogs," he wrote.

Unfortunately, one blogger felt otherwise, turning the true spirit of Godin's post into a case study that is similar to the challenges Reddit experienced a few months ago when overzealous marketing types voted their articles up and other articles down. However, unlike the Reddit stacking, Kim Klaver and a handful of her readers were less than anonymous. On her blog, which I won't link to, she wrote: "If we push it to #1, I'll take a screenshot pronto and post it here. We'll be 'Queen for a day.'"

Her marketing tactic worked, driving several readers to vote and then report her blog's progress. In fact, they voted hers up and other blogs down, enough so, that one commenter on her blog finally wrote: “You know, sending an email out in order to ask for votes is really quite lame. ... Deceptive if you ask me. Isn't this the very thing you preach against?” Obviously not.

"I don't mind asking for votes though, since people can do it or not. I might even send out another email, so be forewarned...hehehe,” Klaver replied. "If the blog writers didn't tell their readers about the popularity contest, how would they know and how could they help their favorite writers?"

Klaver seems to have missed the point of the post entirely. It was never meant to be a popularity contest, especially because Squidoo doesn't track IP numbers, only e-mail addresses. This means that anyone with multiple e-mail addresses can vote for whatever blog they like as many times as they like. With Klaver's encouragement, that is exactly what her readers seemed to do.

The most basic Internet tracking reveals the story behind her empty victory; many blogs were voted down despite never being visited. It is a shame, because I visited many of those blogs today and several were worthwhile despite being voted down.

But then again, I suppose that is the difference between Klaver's "new school of marketing" and communicators like me. I subscribe to a code of ethics that includes credible communicators "engage in truthful, accurate and fair communication that facilitates respect and mutual understanding."

Thursday, September 14

Skipping Technology All Together

Seth Godin delivered a great glimpse into what he calls a never-ending adoption curve:

31.4% of Americans don't have internet access.
90% of the people in France have not created a blog.
88% of all users have never heard of RSS.
59% of American households have zero iPods in them.
30% of internet users in the US use a modem.
Detroit (one million people) has six Starbucks.
1% of internet users use Digg on an average day.
Marley and Me outsells Small is the New Big 200:1. On a good day.
.37% read the paper version of the New York Times daily.
Brazil consumes 11% of the world's coffee.
20% of the world speaks English.
98.2% of the households in the US have a TV; virtually all have cable.

My take on all this is a little different from his. To me, all this means is that the more we think we know, the less we really do know. Research often reveals fewer people are like we like to think they are.

Friday, August 18

Reading Seth Godin's Blog

Seth Godin is one of the few bloggers out there that nails communication observations more often than not. Enough so that I'm adding him to our company's blog shuffle for a bit. If you're not familiar with this best selling author, who is uniquely successful with ebooks, or his blog, I certainly encourage you to take a look.

In addition to recently posting which web 2.0 companies are gaining traction, he did a great job at highlighting ESPN's John Sawatsky's take on how not to ask questions. The irony is that many members of the media, and even more politicians, practice all of them without fail. I've included four of the seven below, leaving the rest to be found on Seth's blog.

* Double-barreled questions. Like: "Is this your first business? How did you get started?" You're unlikely to get answers to both. One question at a time.

* Overloading. Ask: short, simple questions. "What is it like to be accused of murder?"

* Adding your own remarks. Again, this is not the time or place to say that you hate Chryslers... You're not being interviewed.

* Trigger words. One famous example of this was when TV reporter John Stossell asked a pro wrestler about the "sport'' by volunteering this about the fighting: "I think it's fake." The pro wrestler hit him--twice. "Was that fake?" he demanded...

Trigger words, by the way, are also sometimes referred to as ''needling,'' which is one of eight zinger questions I teach public relations professionals and spokespeople to be aware of and avoid during an interview.

Closer to home, it's also Jon Ralston's favorite setup, probably because he knows it makes for great entertainment, if not a great answer, as Sawatsky points out.
 

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