Tuesday, January 31, 2006
Ethan's e-zine, Vision Monthly, is here
Monday, January 30, 2006
The BlogHer Site is Live, Baby!!!
You'll find a new network of (mostly) women bloggers...and you'll be guided to the hot posts of the day in a couple of dozen topic areas by a group of amazing contributing editors. One thing I love about our site and our approach, if I do say so myself, is that we are sending traffic away to the women bloggers on their own blogging turf. If one point of our BlogHer Mission is to provide exposure to women bloggers, then we have to be willing to give up the eyeballs, and hope they'll keep coming back to find other fabulous blogs to read.
Here's the link to BlogHer Con '06 info, which is where I'll be doing most of my on-site blogging.
So check it out, really.
And let's not forget that major kudos go to my BlogHer partner, Lisa Stone, who has spearheaded the site project, and to our BlogHer Advisory Board member Laura Scott for doing the heavy design and coding lifting.
Saturday, January 28, 2006
Note to speakers: no smarmy use of 'she', please
I'm at a meeting of the Executive Board of the California Deocratic Party here in L.A. Lots of speakers, so far all of them male.
And I have some advice: you erase any points you may have been trying to score with your use of the feminine pronoun (whether referring to God or anyone else) if it's accompanied by a smarmy grin and chuckle.
It's a rare man who really rolls those 'she's and 'her's off their tongue naturally. (David Weinberger being an exception I've noted before.)
So practice saying it casually and easily or not at all.
I'm just saying.
What a difference a dollar makes!
Took a commuter flight to L.A. last night on American Airlines. American started charging for little box meals in coach some time ago, but last night I was introduced to a new policy: soda and juice cost a buck. And no pretzels for you without paying that buck.
Gold Aadvantage members and higher got one complimentary beverage, but only one y'hear?
Well, it was amazing how many glasses of water were poured. Seems that no one really needed a soda that badly. A dollar is practically nothing. Buying a soda in the airport would likely cost more, but it obviously stuck in every craw.
Including the flight attendants. She surreiptiously gave more thn one beverage away. She was rather free with the pretzels. And most significantly she was talking about the policy with passengers, including the fact that she bet they would change it back because passengers were so annoyed by it.
Sounds like a rash policy decision decreed feom on high without taking the time to get employees trained and on board with it. Silly airline.
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
One week only: 50% off the Rat Pack Tribue in San Francisco
For THIS WEEK ONLY: if you buy tix now thru Jan 31st for any performance in February or March it will only cost you $35 a pop. That's big savings off the regular $60-$70 prices.
It's retro fun, but with a seriously jammin' swing orchestra. Check out all the deets here.
Order tix online or via phone: (415) 771-6900.
Interesting description of the challange of co-authoring
Not that I'm co-authoring a book, but BlogHer partners Lisa, Jory and I are often working together on communications, and I can relate to much of what he discusses.
Shel's point about each contributor bringing something skilled and unique to the table is right on-point, and will be echoed in the article I submitted to Ethan Johnson's new e-zine, Vision Monthly, when that gets published.
But Shel also contends that, in the end, a single voice must be allowed to emerge. I'd have to think about this one in the context of a non-fiction book. Lisa, Jory and I work on and review each other's blog posts and emails and newsletters to the BlogHer community. In the end a single one of us emails or posts, and that person includes little sayings or colloquialisms that are unique to us. Jory's sign off is "Peace, Love & Links." Lisa says "Let's be clear" and often expresses praise or thanks by talking about building shrines to said person/group we appreciate. I'm sure I have my little things too. But I think we can each contribute to and improve upon general paragraphs of informational content and create a synthesized voice. Would it be harder to keep up for an entire book? Yeah, probably. I can see the tension Shel describes being inevitable. Writers feel pretty damn protective of their words.
He's been there; I haven't, so I consider the post to be chock full of good advice to collaborating writers.
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Bloglines Saga est fini
You might think that you should go to the Account Settings page and choose your language there in the menu item entitled "Language." But that would be oh so silly of you.
No, you must click on the 'Languages' link in the navigation at the bottom of each page (or 'Langue' as I was seeing), and that will let you really change your language.
Mais bien sur! Je ne sais pas pourquoi je n'ai pas penser de ca!
Cross-post: Halley Suitt analyzing American Idol through the business lens
Her biggest question is also fascinating to me: do the untalented one really not know they're untalented?
It may be too cliche to say that talent is in the eye of the beholder, but sometimes it is. If you've ever taken your life in your hands and gone on the American Idol forums you'll find that each finalist has passionate fans. If you dare to say that this or that performance was off-key, or this or that performer is wooden, well, woe be to you.
How can it be? Don't they see and hear what I see and hear?
Well, they do, but they represent a different kind of customer than I am.
Part of any business or marketing plan is an analysis of market segments and competitive offerings. You can make a case for your product idea or your business focus if you can make the case that a market exists. And in some cases the market doesn't have to be huge, if the cost to product and distribute is huge. You will find people willing to invest in low-volume, high-margin products.
Same can be said for art. It's a highly segmented market, and while we may complain that the ClearChannel world of radio, for example, provides only a very limited window into the diversity of artistic expression out there, technology is providing more and more avenues for artists to distribute their work. If you can find the market, and you can distribute to it profitably, you can see your vision come true.
That's what all those AI contestants are hoping for.
UPDATE: Bloglines goes Frenchy-pretentious
First of all, unlike most sites Bloglines doesn't seem to be able to tell you're the same person if you use a different browser. I actually like this, because I can be logged in as my business self via Firefox, which I do daily. And I can still be logged in as my BlogHer self via Safari...which I also do daily.
Most sites don't let you be tricky like that...which leads to much logging out and logging in.
Somehow, though, Bloglines has decided that my BlogHer self is French. (Sort of like when that Wall Street journal guy famously wrote that his TiVo thought he was gay.)
The site is in French. All French.
Now, I can figure out how to do my basic functions, mostly adding to blogs to the BlogHerRoll.
But I can't figure out how to change it back to English. (Let alone why it went all Frenchy-pretentious to begin with.)
For now, it's amusing. Eventually it may get annoying. So, I wouldn't mind some help...
UPDATE: Susan Getgood suggested I find my Account Settings and change the language to English. Sounds reasonable. And even though the links are in French, when I roll my mouse over it, the URL that shows up is easily understood. So, I found my settings. And the 'Langue' was set to 'Anglais.'
Monday, January 23, 2006
Carnival of the Capitalists #190 us up at Patent Baristas
The Patent Baristas kindly linked to our post on Customer Service Lost & Found, but don't miss the literally dozens of other great blog thinking.
I personally appreciate Denise Howell's post pointing us all to great conversations about the impact of RSS feeds on our rights as publishers. Given that I'm noticing more and more blatant content stealing, or at the very nicest interpretation: content mis-attribution, I will be following this issue closely.
BlogHer registration is live!!
Sunday, January 22, 2006
Question about Blog Etiquette: how do you request a link?
The one thing that seems missing from most of these requests is the requestor's willingness to put skin in the game. So I'm wondering if I have a different concept of appropriate blog etiquette in this regard than most people.
Here's my question:
Doesn't it seem like if you're going to cold-email someone, someone on whose blog you have never so much as commented to establish a blogging relationship, and if you're going to ask that person to exchange links with you because you think our blogs are just so relevant to one another, ad my blog just rocks so hard, then...
...shouldn't I see my blog already linked to by you when I go to check out your blog????
I mean, sure, remove it after a month if I never respond to you. But what is this tactic of approaching me, soliciting me, and then wanting me to be the one who commits first? You'd make a lot more positive impression on me, and seem like more than just a link-whoring type if you went ahead and linked first, asked later.
Am I way off base here? Just asking. Because I've never done this whole cold-email ask for links thing, and I don't judge the very act of doing that. But I do kinda judge the execution on the part of some folks.
What think out there?
Friday, January 20, 2006
Vision Monthly: A new printable e-zine is coming
You may notice an intriguing article title in his mock-up of the cover of the inaugural edition: "From idea to sold-out conference in 150 days." That would be an article by yours truly about how we put BlogHer together in a short time frame, even as we were committed to a collaborative, community-based project management and decision-making style.
It probably won't be out for another month or so, but I've subscribed, so I can get an early look at Ethan's handiwork.
SXSWi shows me some love
Not only was he happy to partner with BlogHer, welcoming us to co-produce five sessions at this year's SXSWi, but he has made an all-out effort to increase gender diversity at the conference this year. He told me earlier this week that there will be 110 women speakers descending on Austin this March.
Take that you dinosaur conference programmers who wonder where the women are.
Anyway, he has a little sidebar feature on the SXSWi home page that is a running feature on what SXSWi speakers are out there doing and saying. Today he picks up on my post from yesterday about gather.com.
Thanks for the linky love, Hugh.
Thursday, January 19, 2006
One more thing about Gather.com
There is one way in which I disagree with Mike, and another way in which I think people are missing the boat on what's wrong with Gather.
So, I disagree with Mike about preferring tags vs. categories. I've been open about the fact that I don't get or love tagging. Just recent;y I ranted a bit about how "social search" fills me with ennui over at the Browster Blog.
Any multi-blog network that relies on user tags to create their searchable index is going to run into trouble, IMHO. Why? Because:
a) most of us still aren't into tagging. So your super-cool Web 2.0 crowd will love it, but your regular folks will find it aggravating.
b) tags can easily become garbage in/garbage out. Mis-spellings, plural vs. singular and other minor little differences can create a mess for the user who doesn't want to wade through. Or it can mean some great stuff gets missed or doesn't "bubble up."
And what Mike doesn't mention is the illogic of creating closed networks and soliciting bloggers to blog exclusively on your network. It almost guarantees you wind up with bloggers who don't have followings of their own on their existing blogs (because such bloggers will be much less motivated to abandon their existing blogs and blog only on your network.) Now, there's nothing wrong with wanting to start from scratch and build an audience...but your path to revenue and profit is going to have to be a longer, more arduous one, right?
I like something Dave Winer said a while back: "People come back to places that send them away. Memorize that one." He contends that those who send people away to cool places on the web are the ones who end up making the money. it's completely counter-intuitive if you're from the school of thought that you get 'em on your site and keep 'em there. But I think there's something there.
Smart blogging tactic? Or kinda intrusive? I go with the former.
It was clearly a mass email that basically said "since you linked to post xxx I thought you might find this post I just wrote to be interesting too." And he provided the link.
I thought that was quite clever and showed an attention to his audience, and a level of commitment to his blog. Although, with nine blogs, I do document when I've blogged where, I certainly don't make the effort to take each post I complete, figure out what similar posts I have written, who linked to those posts and decide to send them the link to the new post. I mean, if you did that regularly, and made sure your emailed links were scrupulously relevant as promised, it would have to biuld traffic and increase subscribers.
Back to Mr. Snitch: I of course clicked to the post.
And herein lies the dilemma, because relevancy is in the mind of the beholder.
Now, to me, the emailed post is only sort of related to the original post. His original post was about "7 Styles of Blogging", and was, somewhat ironically, included in a post of mine about how to manipulate your blogging to increase traffic.
The new post is about the emerging business models for bloggers to make some money, focusing on a new Boston-based content-aggregation endeavor, Gather.com.
As it happens I am interested in Gather, but I'm still not sure if the two posts are all that closely-related, and that makes me wonder if some people would just find this tactic intrusive and too self-promotional.
I decided that I certainly didn't mind...and here I sit linking to Mr. Snitch several times. But then I know I'm on the mercenary capitalist side of the blogging equation. So I appreciate his ingenuity and commitment.
What do y'all think? Would this be convenient or would it bug you?
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
Customer Service Lost & Found
Recently I signed up for online access to my primary credit card account. When I logged in I saw a second credit card sitting in my "account." No activity, no history, but it was there with a $5K credit limit. I immediately called to get rid of it, whatever it was.
Turns out that Chase had bought the portfolio of a company I had had a credit card with years ago. And even though I thought I had closed down that card, it was still there according to the old company. When I told the customer service rep (CSR) to close it, she did a nifty little job of convincing me I might want to keep it. How did she do it?
Well, it wasn't the fixed low APR (7.9%) because I pay off my bills every month.
And it wasn't the lack of annual fee.
And it wasn't because I need the credit. I have a bunch of available credit on both my credit card and via a home equity line.
No, she told me the card offered a 5% rebate on all groceries and gas bought with it...and that you could get either cash back or miles good on any airline. And I thought, well, I have to buy groceries; I have to buy gas. That 5% could be $10-20 a month...which is a couple week's worth of feeding my iTunes Music Store addiction! So, I said, "sure, send it on over."
She double-checked my address first. And even though Chase has my correct address for my primary card, my old address was still attached to this old card. I gave her the new address and a scant two days later I received the card via UPS.
I did the whole call to validate thing, entered a PIN and stuck the little guy in my wallet. It was a little harder than normal to get that sticker telling you to call to validate the card off the card, and it left a lot more sticky glue on than usual. And this should have been my omen.
That evening I went to get gas. I swiped the card, punched in my zip code. No authorization. Tried again. Gave up. Used other card. Actually called the 800 number right then. Discovered the address change I had walked through on the phone didn't really happen. You know, one of those black hole experiences. OK. Did it again.
Next day: had to buy groceries. Swiped the card, entered the PIN. Didn't recognize the PIN. Tried twice, and again had to switch to the other card.
I promptly went home and closed the account and deactivated the card.
Was that too hasty a move? Don't care. They had me, even though I didn't need what they were selling. And then, just as easily, they lost me.
Moral: when you're not necessary it ain't hard to abandon you at the first sign of inconvenience!
Client Browster mentioned in PC World
More importantly the program is live and ready and waiting for customer input.
Browster's home page
More on the Open Design Program
The Browster Blog (with yours truly as co-author)
PS-I find the comments on the PC World post pretty amusing too.
Monday, January 16, 2006
Carnival of the Capitalists, presented by WordLab
I don't recall submitting 2 posts, but nonetheless, there they are...my post at HealthyConcerns about the "Wal*Mart bill" and a post from here about blogs as a marketing channel.
Sunday, January 15, 2006
Cross-post: Review of Jeremy Wright's Blog Marketing
This is the second book I've read that has purported to be about how to use blogs as a revolutionary new marketing tool. In both cases, as a marketing person, I felt the books would have benefitted from a more accurate title. If you are looking to understand blogs as a general business tool, and to get high level information on all the various ways they can streamline and modernize your business, then this book will be helpful. If you were looking for an in-depth look at how to craft a blog marketing strategy that integrates with your company's existing marketing strategy, and then how to build a tactical plan, and then how to set yourself up to be able to measure how successfully you're executing to plan...then I have yet to read the book that provides that information.
Saturday, January 14, 2006
Does ROI by another name smell as sweet?
It's a great post.
I personally wouldn't call this a Web 1.0 vs. Web 2.0 measurement discussion. What is happening here is that people are beginning to see the web as the best channel to achieve existing marketing targets and goals that were formerly being achieved via other channels.
And it's more of a Mass vs. Niche discussion.
Let's take the example of my former life in the cable industry. We of course had a web site, but not selling direct-to-consumers, it was not an e-commerce site. So the expectations were that the site project the right messaging to those who might happen upon it. I was in Product Management and Marketing, not PR and Marcom, but I think it's safe to say that there was no major SEO push, no effort to proactively get people to our site, only a concern about what they would find once there.
We did not do national advertising...not TV, and not even national press except for very large events like our IPO our significant acquisitions we were a part of. We focused a lot of the PR budget on industry-specific publications and events. We were playing to our niche. Investing in our niche
But even that isn't as niche as you can get. The major cable trade shows were attended by thousands of people who might stop by our booth...mostly driven by a desire to see what cool tschotke we might be giving away. The industry rags had circulations in the thousands. But of those thousands, it was still going to be some much smaller subset who actually had any influence, let alone power, over a purchasing decision involving our company.
What this new channel of blogging can do for a company is winnow down your audience to those people who have some specific and targeted interest in what you're doing and talking about. You can use a blog to reach your niche and only your niche.
Steve reveals his daily visits stat: about 4300. And he's in the Technorati Top 100 (at #67)! As Steve say: "As most bloggers can attest, for even the most successful sites, traffic figures are low by the standards most are accustomed to."
But consider this: let's say you advertise or publish a contributed article in an industry rag. I've had articles published in CED (circulation 23000 via PDF circ statement.) Communications Technology has a circ. of 18000. (PDF circulation statement.) While you're at it, take a look at CED's ad rates.
Now, think about what percent of people who receive these magazines (and many of us receive them for free without having asked for them) are even appropriate targets for your company? What percent actually open the magazine up? How many actually read the articles? If you placed an ad, how many people even peruse the ads? What percentage of the monthly circulation (which is less than Steve's monthly traffic) have you really reached?
Now think about a blog. What percent of the people who visit that blog have been reached? Have viewed the content?
If you're placing those contributed articles to position your company as a leader in a particular emerging technology, for example, you could be doing that better in a blog. I think it's almost a simple equation. Clients and others often struggle to wrap their heads around how to justify blogging, advertising on blogs or even monitoring the blogosphere. BUt I believe it is only because this is a new medium. I look at those CED ad rates and wonder how anyone justifies those! I think about how much my theatre clients pay traditional PR agencies to get them listed and advertised in newspapers and sometimes even on the radio...and how little opportunity they have to measure the impact of those ad placements.
Why do they do it? Because they have always done it. How many trade shows has your company gone to with the sole justification being "it will look bad if we don't go"? How many companies would question now that they absolutely must have a website, but have absolutely no idea what it really does for them?
Someday a blog program will be just as de rigueur as these other marketing channels. Does that mean I think blogging ROI has to be just as much of a mystery? Not at all.
I'll be speaking on a panel about measurement at the NewComm Forum in March. Clients are often shocked when I show them the number of different sources and criteria I use to analyze blogs in their niche and decide which ones are relevant to them...quantitative and qualitative criteria. So, I was most intrigued by Steve's suggestions of other measurements that matter besides eyeballs when assessing a blog:
"For example, if your goal is to promote thought leadership, I would track mentions on Google, media references to the blog, PubSub counts and more. If search engine optimization is your blogs purpose, traffic is surely important but then again so are the kinds of keywords that searchers are using to arrive at your blog site. Are they the right keywords?"
These are the new ways we have to think about measuring success...and notice it starts with what your goal is. Thought leadership? SEO? Revenues? (Yes, it can be revenues.) Customer engagement?
What other goals and measurements matter to you?
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Wow, talk about a bad mis-read of statistics
Just of the top of my head I remembered that between the most recent Pew study and an earlier Perseus study the number usually is pegged somewhere between 42% and 52%.
I checked out the study to see if I had missed some big news, or if maybe ComScore had missed looking at all of MySpace. LiveJournal and Typepad or something!
But no, just a really sloppy read of a statistic in the report.
Comscore divided 400 of the "biggest blogs" into seven (non-exclusive) categories. They then tracked which categories received the most traffic. So, in the quarter tracked the domains that were categorized as falling into the "Women" category received 8% of the traffic.
So, not only is the 8% referring to the patterns of readers, not the demographics of bloggers, but since there's little additional information on the study's methodology it's not quite clear how a blog would have the "Women" category attached to it. By virtue of being written by a woman? Or by significant focus on "women's issues?" Not sure.
Look, Cakim has a worthy goal to the piece: encourage women to see blogs as an instrument of social change.
Great, but by vastly underestimating the number of women bloggers out there Cakim makes a statement like "Is the number of women publishing blogs enough to push for change at a large scale? Unfortunately, not yet."
I don't think so. I think the timing is perfect.
Monday, January 09, 2006
The Carnival of the Capitalists is up at the Social Customer Manifesto
Lest you think that means dry MBA-type content, never fear, the Carnival is full of submissions from people looking at marketing and market trends from a feet-on-the-ground perspective.
Chris kindly pointed to our post in response to Seth Godin's question about whether marketing is lying or idea distribution (my summary, not Seth's.) I cry, "none of the above!'
So check it out.
Friday, January 06, 2006
Encouraging diversity takes more than complaining...
And more and more women are catching on. Cases in point:
Rachel from Fishbowl NY notes that her very own MediaBistro colleagues asked exactly NO women to make predictions for 2006. None. So, she complains, and then she gathers predictions from women in the field herself. (Hat tip: Nichelle.)
Susan Mernit notes, with no little measure of snark, that O'Reilly Conferences remain in the Dark Ages with their conference on emerging telephony featuring NO women speakers. None. But then Susan also sez: here's about 4 qualified women in the field she can name off the top of her head...they were unavailable, right?
And of course I didn't just complain about Richard Wuhrman's appalling lack of women speakers at his entertainment gathering, I gave him my recommendations for 3 women that would rock his conference.
So ladies, let's start getting specific. We know the competent chicas, let's toot their horns.
(And that goes for anyone out there who is looking at the diversity issue from another angle...give 'em the names, ranks and serial numbers.)
Thursday, January 05, 2006
In case you were wondering: I am not this "worker bee"
I'm the Queen Bee, don'tcha know?
But maybe I should send the guy one of my T-shirts from Cafe Press...what do you think?
At last...my desktop is complete again.
So, I've changed my email forwarding so that workerbees emails come to my desktop app via Gmail, rather than .Mac.
It is pathetic that I pay $100/annum for .Mac service, and my only option for addressing a catastrophic service failure is to submit an online form. Oh, but they promise that they'll try to get back to me within 24 hours.
If all I used them for was email I would cancel the service right now.
But they also host my personal blog and my personal Photo Albums. I could certainly migrate to using Flickr full-time. I could certainly explore taking on hosting of the blog through my workerbees host. But the thought of migrating kills me.
Sigh. Why does every service provider, application and tool for the computer, whether online or not, eventually let us down?
Client launches Open Design Program
Client Browster wants to change that. They have launched a new Open Design Program, created to be an ongoing program that solicits and rewards user input and ideas for product design and interface.
And the rewards are pretty cool...cash, iPods etc...did I mention cash? They are going to give $10K away per quarter to the 3 users who submit the best ideas (as voted on by other users and the developers.)
Here's a link to the press release.
Here's a link to the CEO's post on the Browster blog about it.
They're also going to hold an onsite Open Design day at their offices in San Francisco in February. If you're interested let me know.
Content borrowing on message boards...would quotation marks kill these people?
Anyway, all I'm asking is whether some quotation marks would kill these people.
Urgent: Worker Bees email address is not forwarding
If you have sent email to my workerbees.biz address, it ain't getting through.
Please send to:
This may in fact have been going on since last night, I'm not exactly sure.
This month's Silicon Veggie: a confession
Also, please go to An Animal-Friendly Life to read blogger Eric's take on my column. I appreciate his commentary which is probably longer than my actual column.
At 18 years old I can't imagine trying to switch my cat's diet now...it's hard enough to keep her at 7 lbs. as it is, but if I ever get a new cat it's good to know there is some updated information on what you can feed them. Thanks Eric!
Tuesday, January 03, 2006
So, if you feel so inclined, I'd feel much obliged. (Psssst....that means vote.
Bloggers wax rhapsodic over book retreads
So, where's the "but..." you ask?
But...you'd think that bloggers could hold off waxing rhapsodic and starry-eyed over Guy Kawasaki's new blog until he blogged something substantial that wasn't basically an excerpt from one of his books!
The DICEE stuff? From Rules for Revolutionaries. I remember it well. I liked the acronym then. I like it now.
The Mantras vs. Missions? Art of the Start.
I don't know if they're 100% word for word excerpts, but the concepts are certainly from those books, and I didn't need just my memory to tell me that, a quick Google search did it. I don't know whether to praise Guy for not using each post as a mini-opportunity to shill his books (although they are conveniently placed in the side bar) or to damn him for posting as though these are his original bloggy thoughts, not concepts for which he is already known.
Maybe I'm just cranky because I've been sick, but really, fawning bloggers and commenters are not that attractive. Stop anointing him the new blog king before he's done anything blog-note-worthy. Bring back the usual piss and vinegar please.