Monday, November 16, 2015

Parodying Female-Friendly Advertising? Consider the Alternative.

Disclosure: I am clearly ‪#‎biased‬ because not only was BlogHer a mission-based FOR-profit, but we were obviously heavily advertising and sponsorship supported. As is SheKnows Media, our parent company now.

Now, with that said: I love this oped on by Samantha Skey.

I too both laughed and cringed at the "Jane Street" parody of ‪#‎Femvertising‬.

I understand the gripes behind the satire, no doubt. But I also got a little annoyed.


So given the above truths, wouldn't you prefer advertisers TRY to do a better job. TRY to employ women talent? TRY to bust stereotypes? TRY to empower AND entertain WHILE they, yes, gasp, horrors!, market something?

I would. Every time.

The alternative is much much worse.

Demand continuous improvement? Yes.
Call out points of hypocrisy? Reasonable.
But. Shut companies down completely when they attempt to do good while doing business? I think it's short-sighted.

You keep doing you Dove, Always, Cheerios, Wells Fargo, and all you other brands exhibiting your corporate ethos via #Femvertising...and other CSR programs.

I'm here for it!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Anil Dash on Unintentional Exclusion

I've been meaning to link to two of Anil Dash's posts for some time:

1. You Can't Start the Revolution from the Country Club

2. Country Clubs and Deliberate Design

Anil expresses concern that new tools in development that will potentially push blogging forward, will also be built, designed, informed, and dominated by people who all look (and think) the same, namely privileged white male geeks.

They are both good, thorough posts, and you should read them.

On the one hand, why worry? Despite the tendency of tech tools to be created by privileged people (and there were plenty of women at the forefront of the first wave of these tools...Flickr, Blogger, SixApart, all co-founded by women), it's hard to keep the rest of us out.

Years ago Pew was already reporting that people of color were flocking to blogging at rates disproportionate to their Internet adoption. And we all know BlogHer even exists because women turned to blogging to form community, self-express, and ultimately even make some money. So, it'snot just hard; it's actually a losing battle to keep us out.

It's not hard to understand why: When the mainstream (or traditional, or old) media is even MORE of a country club, you'll ignore a little tone of exclusivity to escape those gatekeepers! Whether a tool was designed for you or not, you can use it. You can't exactly get yourself on TV or in the paper just 'cause.

So blogging allows you to create your own playing field and make the most of it. A good thing.

On the other hand, we founded BlogHer because we thought it matter that women be *visible*, be heard, be properly accounted for,  as new media grew and drove new success stories, new change, new power structures.

I continue to think playing first-string on the existing playing field is still important.

And that's why Anil's posts are important.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The BlogHer Consumer Electronics Study: How Women Shop for Tech

I can't believe I forgot to post this here last week when we released it. I guess I was caught in the CES whirlwind.

So, BlogHer released the latest in our series of proprietary research studies, this time digging into women's perspectives on purchasing consumer electronics devices. We surveyed a BlogHer Network sample and a general population sample to see how those two groups are align and differ. As has been the case for quite some time, the two samples were directionally very similar, differing by degree more than by fundamental perspective or motivation.

The key findings include:

-I know amazing TVs were a centerpiece of CES this year, but women consider TV to be a distant third-place on the hierarchy of indispensable devices. We know we can get entertainment, communication and productivity out of single devices now, and they top our priority list.

-Women continue to identify peer advice and recommendations online as both reliably informational and highly influential. Meanwhile, we continue to turn to manufacturer and retail sites for specs and information, but do not consider that information to be influential to the final decision. Out last two studies have been on fairly technical verticals (automotive and now consumer electronics) and this distinction was stark in both studies: Manufacturer sites were a top information source, but ranked last or next-to-last for influence. You know what else continues to not get much traction as a marketing approach? Celebrity endorsements and "woman-y" products. We just like things super-fast, super-functional, and super-simple.

-Finally, there were some interesting stats about mobile usage...some surprising, some not. Mobile apps aren't yet making a dent as a top information source for tech purchases, but people are clearly reviewing online content about such purchases on their mobiles. It's a huge factor so your content better look and function well.

One other stat that I personally found very interesting was in how different groups identify themselves as shoppers. Now the #1 answer across all groups gender, age, race) is still "Price-Conscious". Clearly we are still concerned about the economy and tech devices are still a serious purchase and serious investment. But 50% of African Americans self-identify as either "early adopters" (defined as pre-ordering or buying day one) or "leading edge" adopters (defined as waiting to make sure there are no catastrophic bugs before buying). This is significantly higher than any other group. Combined with the fact that 70% of AfAms report using a mobile during the tech purchase process, and you get a picture of a highly connected highly tech-savvy population.

Anyway, I hope you will review the study, we think it reinforces a message that manufacturers and retailers still don't seem to fully embrace: Women are buying tech devices, and women want to hear from people they trust about how those devices work. And the people they trust aren't corporate spokespeople. They're "people like me".

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Twitter vs. Google: Clash of the big babies

Today I had a little Twitter rant about Twitter's problem with Google's announcement about their search changes.

It went like this:

Gut reaction is: @twitter is being a baby. They have WORST SEARCH possible for their own product. Why should @google be their search b*tch?

We all know @google algorithms for ranking is proprietary & can change on whim, right? If their results sucked they wouldn't be dominant.

I would use @twitter search (and did use @summize). It's a JOKE how ridic Twitter search is. And they have no one to blame but themselves.


I don't have too much more to say about it.

I may be a Twitterholic, but I've also always been pretty underwhelmed by Twitter's customer service. They ruined search, and they're completely unresponsive to people trying to talk to them via their own tool. Frankly, they ignore support issues via email too.

So, my sympathy level? Low.

but you could probably tell that.

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Sunday, January 01, 2012

PSA: Blogging is not just what *you* do.

As the year draws to an end, it stirs a natural impulse to review and reflect. Analyze and assess. And being human, and therefore naturally self-absorbed, it is also natural to make the most common of blogging faux pas. it goes like this:

I used to have a joke: Everyone thinks "real" blogging is how *they* blog.

Today my joke would be: Everyone thinks that how their own blogging has evolved is how all of blogging has evolved.

The posts about the end of tech blogging as we know it. The posts about returning to blogging, unsatisfied by the snack-sized communication in other forums. You may have read them, but then again, maybe you haven't. It's entirely possible that such posts were written in the echo chamber of other old-timey bloggers like me, who are often mostly paying attention to each other!

So, here are two data points to chew on.

1. According to comScore, the aggregate traffic to "blogs" has increased year over year the past two years at the same rate as the aggregate traffic to "social networks". Now, I get that "social networks" probably is made up of Facebook and a handful of other sites, while "blogs" represents hundreds of thousands of sites, but the point remains: Blog reading is up (and likely ever more disaggregated across the long tail). But this may not be visible to early blog proponents.

Check out Slide 7 of BlogHer's 2011 annual social media study for the comScore stat for the previous twelve months.
You can also check out Slide 8 of BlogHer's 2010 annual social media study for the same comparison for the previous twelve months, but be forewarned, that's a big ole' PDF file.

2. According to Pew, it's entirely true that teenagers don't blog anymore, and adult Millennials show a slight decline in blogging. But every older generation, GenX, Boomer and Senior, shows an increased rate of blogging. (In fact, blogging has increased overall for adults 18+.)

Some have proclaimed this to mean that blogging is dying, but I think it means something quite different: We simply have better tools now for small talk and chatter and transactional connections and activity. Remember how everyone used to joke about not wanting to read blogs because they didn't care what you had for lunch? Well, that joke's about Twitter now. And Facebook. And so on.

[Side note and off my main point: I think we *do* care what our friends had for lunch. And what the weather is like where they are. And how their mood is in general. That's called small talk, and humans do it. We do it in person, and we do it online.]

I think it's pretty natural that as your life goes on, and inevitably gets more complicated, that you look for more outlets for self-expression and more ways to codify your life. Some of those complications may be about career...advancing your career by advancing your ideas. Some of those complications may be about personal life...more relationships, from partners to children to in-laws to parents. Some of those complications may be about the world...more opinions, more passions, more causes.

So, simple stuff has a better outlet now, and it's not blogging (and in case you haven't noticed, it has a real tendency to get broadcast-y...Twitter, I'm talking to you!). I've said it before, and I'll say it again now: Blogging remains the place where substantive conversations can and do happen.

Blogging isn't dying, nor being reborn. Blogging is steady as she goes.

It just may not be where you're used to looking for it. And it may not be about the same things, or by the same people you're used to reading.

The 2005 exhortation to look for new voices that spurred the founding of BlogHer is just as relevant today. Widen your circle, you might be surprised!

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Friday, December 30, 2011

I'm speaking at the 92nd Street Y, with a panel of accomplished women

If you're a New Yorker, or ever have been one, the 92nd Street Y is pretty much iconic.

It's where smart people go talk and smart people listen. You could probably say it's the ultimate intelligentsia destination, and since I'm someone who actually values academics, scholars, artists, and the intelligentsia, the Y is a big deal.

And I'm going to represent BlogHer and moderate a panel of accomplished women there this February 16th.

I know, right? I'm pretty stoked, to use one of the least intellectual words in my vocabulary.

If you check out the link, you'll see the line-up is STELLAR:

  • Sarah Brokaw, who was amazing at BlogHer this summer, and is author of an inspiring manifesto for women, Fortytude
  • Ree Drummond, she of Pioneer Woman fame (and NYT bestselling author)
  • Kathryn Finney, aka The Budget Fashionista
  • Karen Amster Young and Pam Godwin, the daring women behind
Ree and Kathryn were among our inaugural BlogHer Pathfinders at our inaugural Pathfinder Day, helping women see their path towards creating their own media "empire".

This panel will be all about the risks and rewards that we face when forging new paths. The common threads of self-expression, challenging one's self, and passing along the knowledge and wisdom we pick up along the way, weave through all of their stories, and I'm looking forward to bringing that to the 92nd Street Y's stage in February.

I can giveaway a complimentary pair of tickets, so if you're a New Yorker (or close enough) and share what question you'd most like me to ask these panelists, I'll pick a winner at random.

Come on, make my job easier: What do you want to know?

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

BlogHer and partner Lisa Stone on NPR's Tell Me More

Nice shout-out to Lisa, and her place on Working Mother Media's "Most Powerful Moms" list at about 4:50 in this podcast:

Jory and Lisa are both on the list, and both in good company.

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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Steve Jobs, Apple and the intersection of "censorship" and capitalism

I just finished reading the Steve Jobs biography this morning. It's a good read. Jobs was a fascinating character. I took a few lessons away about focus, more than anything, but very little about how to interact with people. Let's face it, Jobs was not someone I'd want to emulate in the people skills department, mostly because I think if you're really genius you can probably build successful products and companies without being a near-sociopath.

But there was one passage in the book which reminded me of one of my absolute pet peeves, namely the way people mis-use "censorship".

Ever since was launched in January 2006 we have had a set of community and editorial guidelines. These guidelines tell the world what kind of online space we strive to make BlogHer. And we enforce those guidelines, including the part where our community managers decide when a line has been crossed from healthy debate and criticism into hate speech, epithets or other unacceptable content. We consider it our job as an online publisher to set (and publish) those guidelines, enforce them fairly, and we consider ourselves to be responsible for the tone and community that forms within those guidelines.

My BlogHer co-founders and I have often stated that we don't believe there should be one code of conduct for the entire Internet, but rather that every publisher online is responsible for their own code of conduct.

In other words, I couldn't agree more with Anil Dash who says: "If your website's full of assholes, it's your fault."

There are people who will call it "censorship" if you don't allow certain content, anything from hate speech to commercial pitches (aka spam) on your site. I think that's utter BS.

There is also the chance that some folks won't like where we or any other publisher draws the line of "unacceptable content", that some will disagree about whether guidelines are enforced fairly.

I once quit a forum for this reason. One of my postings got dinged and removed, and I really didn't see the difference between what I posted and what other members of the forum regularly posted. I didn't stop to get into a lengthy argument with the moderator about it; I just thought "meh, this forum isn't for me", and I found some place else to go talk about whatever it was I wanted to talk about.

That continues to be the beauty of the Internet: No more gatekeepers...create your own platform or find your tribe of other like-minded folks. Not every site has to cater to you, and on the other hand a site that doesn't cater to anybody will fail.

So, circling back to Steve Jobs, Apple and what qualifies as "censorship"

The quote that chapped my hide came in reference to Apple's policies about what kind of apps may be sold in their App Store.:
"Still, there was something unnerving about Apple's decreeing that those who bought their products shouldn't look at controversial political cartoons or, for that matter, porn."
That from author Isaacson himself. Plus there was a quote from the site
"Either that, or we just enjoy the idea of an uncensored open society where a techno-dictator doesn't decide what we can and cannot see."

Excuse me?

The iPhone (and then the iPad) was the first to deliver an actual pleasant browsing experience on a mobile device. The iPad is in fact such a wonderful browsing device that many sites, like BlogHer, don't even auto-switch to their version for it, giving visitors the full web experience.

So, do Apple devices block certain sites from your browser?

No. No, they do not. Go browse all the porn and politics you so desire. On the vast open Internet. If you feel that browser-based access to any kind of content on the entire Internet is not sufficient and that you must have access to certain apps that Apple doesn't allow in its stores, then no one is forcing you or anyone to buy an iDevice and use the Apple App Store. Apple has a right, and I would say the obligation, to set the guidelines for their store, and you have the right not to want to shop within those guidelines. The market will decide, right?

I just hate messy arguments, and this one is messy. Don't be the boy who cried "censorship".

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Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Some discounts for you on my next couple NYC speaking gigs

I'm going to NYC three times within four weeks in October/November. (Yes, I thought about just living there for a month, but it didn't work.)

Among the many fun-filled activities I have planned, I'm speaking at two conferences offering discounts to you, my readers. (Also, to any other speakers readers. And in one case, also to every single BlogHer community member.)

So, here's the scoop:

1. Web 2.0 Expo in NYC, October 10-13
Use the code 'webny11fos' and get 25% off registration.

As always the Web 2.0 conference features a series of web luminaries on its roster. What am I speaking about? Well, it's a new topic for me: I'm going to give a presentation on how to mine your community for more than just brand fans, but for actual full-time employees. When I look over the list of BlogHer's 60 employees, I'm proud of how many we came to know because they were BlogHer community members. And the interesting thing is that this applies not to just folks working in expected areas, like social media execution itself but also, for example, our in-house contracts counsel. A lawyer and a food blogger!

2. PivotCon in NYC, October 17-18
Use the code 'BlogHer30' and get 30% off registration.

I'm speaking on a panel about the new influencers, and I'm just a little stoked because my panel immediately follows Counting Crows frontman Adam Duritz speaking on building new relationships between artists and fans. Don't think it's too often I get to be in the same conference roster with someone in my iTunes rotation.

check out both these events in the next couple weeks and come say "hi!"

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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Term sheet advice for entrepreneurs from GigaOm

GigaOm features a good, nuts and bolts article on the Top 5 things you should know about term sheets today.

They cite:
1. Valuation
2. Resetting vesting
3. Liquidation preferences
4. Protective provisions
5. Expanding the options pool

And they provide good basic info about what to expect and what to look for.

I would only add this: When BlogHer was looking for its first round of funding, Lisa Stone and I met with entrepreneur Caterina Fake (she of Flickr and Hunch fame). She shared some timeless advice with us that I reference all the time, and cite as the single most useful piece of advice I ever got. Her advice was to prioritize:



Before you take a dime, hey, for that matter...before you partner or hire, you better make sure you trust the people involved, that you feel they get you. Perhaps even more importantly, you want them to trust *you*, to respect what you have built. Finally, they should bring value beyond the money...strategic insight, key industry connections, you name it. You're getting hitched, make sure it's a relationship that can last and thrive.

To understand Terms over Valuation as a priority, read the GigaOm post. Hearing high valuation numbers can put stars in your eyes, but as the cliche goes: It's better to walk away with a reasonable chunk of a smaller exit than to have a high exit out of which you get nothing. Usually, if not always, higher valuations come at the sacrifice of favorable terms for the founders and common shareholders. Know what you're signing up for and protect your interests. A valuation does not an exit price guarantee, so don't be seduced!

So there are your weekend words of wisdom!

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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Gut reaction to Facebook Timeline

A friend just let me log on to her Facebook, so I could check out folks with Timeline enabled. Here was my gut reaction to her, after noting that it was indeed more visually appealing than Facebook had ever looked before:

I think that they're biting off more than we as users want to chew. It's too much; it's overwhelming; and seems too complicated to manage. Everything I hate about FB amplified, but prettier.

Here's how social media use breaks down for me:
Pinterest and Instagram: Look at pretty things from people I like
Twitter: Make small talk with friends and see what's hot and trending
Blogs and Google+: Have substantive conversations of my choice with people of my choice
StumbleUpon, Delicious: Share things I like

With the latter function also being part of why people use Pinterest, blogs and Google+.

Facebook is now, what? Hard to follow and still hard to connect dots. But now about EVERYTHING you can possibly imagine. I run away just looking at it :)

I don't know...sometimes more is less. That's my gut reaction.

And her response?

That’s exactly the problem with Facebook. Some of us can look at it and see a world of opportunity but others… just see chaos – pretty, pretty chaos, lol.

I know statistically almost every online adult is touching Facebook at least once a week. more than any other social media service. Next year when BlogHer does its annual study I want to delve into love and hate, though. I know more people who use FB yet seem to hate it. That would be me. Can't deny I'm there probably at least once a day. But almost under duress.

The question is whether there will ever be an *anti*-tipping point for Facebook?

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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Marketing: If You Can't Say Something Nice...

I think I'm old-school.

Perhaps I've missed some new data or wisdom.

Suddenly I see anti-marketing cropping up, and I find myself wrinkling my nose like the Queen of England smelling something bad.

What do I mean when I say "Anti-marketing"? I mean marketing based on criticizing your competitors instead of touting your own accomplishments, features, benefits or advantages.

So, instead of Avis's famous "We're #2 we try harder", in anti-marketing land they might have gone with "We're not like *other* (unnamed, but totally obvious) car rental companies that have [insert lame policy here]!"

One of the most prominent anti-marketing campaigns I've seen in the last year has been's ads that exist solely to say they're not Sharepoint. I'm hardly the only person to notice the campaign being negative, and to complain that it didn't really tell me why I should care about In fact, truth is: We're a user and all those negative billboards and ads did was make me think I should check out Sharepoint to see what all the fuss was about!

My advice is to stop after you've touted what is awesome, unique and amazing about you and your offering. You don't have to be coy about it. And you don't have to give your prospects any funny ideas. If they've been checking out your competitors, they'll know that the benefits you're describing are different or better. If they haven't been checking them out, they probably won't even start, hearing how awesome, unique and amazing you are!

If you feel the need to follow up with a thinly veiled reference to who or what you are not, maybe you're not proud enough of who or what you are.

Just to be fair: I realize this post could be considered a total example of me being all thinly-veiled myself, so I will say it was the billboards cropping up last year that started me thinking about this subject, but it's the marketing that goes on in the social media space that keeps me thinking about it! And challenges me always to remember: Anti-marketing won't fix lack of differentiation...or unclear articulation of differentiation.

It's a small world. Most industries are small industries. Today's competition may be tomorrow's collaborator, both at the individual and organizational level. And I'm an old-fashioned marketer who doesn't want to tear others down to build my brand.

Am I impossibly old-school? Missing the boat? Shooting myself in the foot?


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

My immediate, gut reaction to the news about Steve Jobs

As posted on Google+:

I'm really sad about Steve Jobs. Sad because of what I assume it means. Sad for him and his family. Sad for the rest of us, almost all of whom have benefitted from his genius, even if you aren't a Macolyte like me. (I converted pretty late myself, at the age of 39.)

Sad because, while I believe Apple will survive and continue to thrive, Jobs is an inspirational and iconic figure in the Valley...a symbol of the great come-back, the wronged entrepreneur who proved the others wrong, a symbol of rewarding risk-taking and genius, not only bottom-line thinking. Is everything he symbolizes accurately describe or define everything he is? Well, most of us can never know.

But symbols are about meaning, not pure facts. Sigh.

I also want to share this post from TechCrunch: The End of an Era.

As I said on Twitter, it's not often that TC features beautiful writing. And I don't think I ever remember it making me cry. That post does.

We're also collecting reactions over at BlogHer.

And finally, Anil Dash posted a provocative post about Jobs, his background and his business acumen last week. It's relevant, perhaps surprising, and a good homage.

I'm hoping for the best for Jobs and his family. What else can we do?

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Monday, August 22, 2011

Tory Johnson's got it right!

In her latest newsletter Tory Johnson, business and media diva, talks about her vacation, and about not 100% unplugging. And she describes it like this:

Many of you emailed to tell me to stop working. But the truth is, I'd rather cut back than cut off. Not being connected and in touch is more stressful than reducing my work and doing what's needed from a distance.

That's me. That's exactly how I feel. Do I always balance it exactly right? Probably not. But I'd rather stay in touch than totally unplug too.

Of course I wrote about this on BlogHer last year, with me taking the "stay in touch" side and partner Lisa Stone talking about her radical form of unplugging. (Radical to me, that is.)

I just wanted to share that somebody out there sees my side, and doesn't think it's just a sign of rampant workaholism.

What do you think?

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Saturday, March 19, 2011

BlogHer|bet is this week: A live virtual conference pass is available!

This week the inaugural BlogHer|bet Conference is happening. The "bet" stands for "Business, Entrepreneurism, Technology", and the conference targets women who have a big idea in tech or media and want to take it to the next level.

For some women, that means going out on their own and starting a business.
For some women, that means figuring out how to get their idea heard in a corporate environment.
For some women, that means taking their existing small business and scaling it up...via funding, via partnerships...whatever it takes.

We have tracks of programming covering all the most important issues any such women should be thinking about:

The Business track will cover How To Lead Developers (especially if you aren't one), How To Manage Up (to get your ideas heard and acted upon) and How To Think About "Brand" (especially when your idea is so new, there is no brand).

The Entrepreneurism track will cover The Deck, The Term Sheet and The Exit. That kind of says it all...these are the tools you'll be working with, and this is the stuff you need to know to go out there. No one will look out for your interests better than you, so understanding the jargon, and the meaning behind it, is critical.

The Technology track will cover the three areas of tech that anyone launching a new tech or media concept needs to be on top of: User Interface and Experience, Mobile Distribution and Promotion and Online Measurement and Monitoring.

There are a couple of great keynote sessions too, featuring women talking about leadership and how to demonstrate it, even if you only have one minute to make a mark.

And we'll close out the day by letting four great organizations show the women in the room their options to take the next step. We are proud to have the founders of Astia, J-LAB, the Pipeline Fund and Women 2.0 present their organizations. But more than that: Each of these organizations are bringing someone with them. They're each bringing a woman who has gone through their program and can talk about what it was like, how it helped them and what success has looked like for them.

Perhaps the most important part of the day, though, will be the morning. For two hours over 50 amazing women leaders, from across tech and media, have agreed to sit down for two hours and meet two different women, one-on-one and face-to-face, for one hour each to provide their advice and counsel on specific business issues the attendees are facing.

Who are these role models? They are women who fund and acquire businesses. They are women that have been through the start-up wars themselves and lived to tell the tale. They are women who are tasked with leading large companies into new areas and new directions. They are women who are on top of the latest trends and business considerations. Seriously, check out the speaker's crazy the level of talent coming to share their time and wisdom.

We have been working on this event for the last six months, and I cannot wait to see it come to fruition this Thursday.

I can't wait to thank the mentors, in person, for walking the walk to help women succeed.

I can't wait to thank the attendees, for taking a chance on a new event and taking a chance on their own big idea.

I can't wait to thank the sponsors, particularly our host sponsors Microsoft and Cisco, without whom we never could have launched this new event.

I can't wait to see it all come together.

If you're interested in seeing it too, there are two options:

Live and in person: While we're technically sold out, several attendees are there to support women, but not to get mentored. So we have exactly five slots still open to go through the full conference experience, including being matched with a mentor. You can register here.

Live and online: We're working with start-up WMBLY to power a Virtual Conference Pass. During the conference on Friday you can watch all the programming sessions and keynotes via live-stream...and participate in a live-chat while doing so. The videos will remain available for 60 days after the conference.

You can also wait until after the conference and buy a pass to view the videos for 60-days. That saves you $10. (Although I think the $10 is worth it to be able to pop pin during the actual day and watch live...and interact with others doing so in the live chat).

So, will I see you person or online?

We think you should bet on yourself...and your big idea...and make it!

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Rewriting the New York Times Headline: Blog Use Wanes Amongst Teenagers

Cross-posted from

Today BlogHer was pleased to be quoted in a New York Times article by reporter Verne Kopytoff, provocatively entitled: Blogs Wane as the Young Drift to Sites Like Twitter.

The article was prompted by a recent Pew Report from late last year entitled Generations 2010.

Here's the interesting thing: Blog use is indeed significantly down amongst teenagers. Half as many "blog" now versus in 2006. And those in the 18-33 cohort show about a 2% decline. Yet more of those who are 34+ are blogging, leading to an overall increase. Yes, despite the headline (which, let's acknowledge: The reporter probably didn't write) there has been about a 25% increase in number of "all adults online" who blog.


When I was asked to comment on BlogHer's perspective on the Pew report, I shared four main points:

  • Blogs are where meaty conversations happen

  • Bloggers use other social networking tools to bring more people to their blogs

  • Blogs are the only tool that is going to help you be found with your message even just a few days later

  • Blog use is actually rising amongst adults 34 and older, including women in their prime career and family-raising years

  • Kopytoff focused on the first point above, from our conversation. Pulling this quote:

    Indeed, small talk shifted in large part to social networking, said Elisa Camahort Page, co-founder of BlogHer, a women’s blog network. Still, blogs remain a home of more meaty discussions, she said.

    “If you’re looking for substantive conversation, you turn to blogs,” Ms. Camahort Page said. “You aren’t going to find it on Facebook, and you aren’t going to find it in 140 characters on Twitter.”

    Apparently, Toni Schneider from Automattic agrees with my second point above about how we bloggers use social networking tools to promote our work on our blogs, because he made the point very well:

    In any case, he said bloggers often use Facebook and Twitter to promote their blog posts to a wider audience. Rather than being competitors, he said, they are complementary.

    “There is a lot of fragmentation,” Mr. Schneider said. “But at this point, anyone who is taking blogging seriously — they’re using several mediums to get a large amount of their traffic.”

    I'm not surprised Kopytoff didn't cite my third point about the usefulness of these media as marketing tools. This article doesn't talk at all about the use of blogs in this way, only as a self-expression tool. If, however, you want to see some outside validation of that position, I suggest you read this detailed post by Stacie Tamaki about how her blog is the only tool that gives her search engine juice. If you want to be found by customers, it ain't gonna happen via Facebook:

    s a user of all three mediums I often see friends, particularly small business owners and advocates, only publicizing content to their existing friends on Facebook or Twitter. The same information on a blog would receive far more exposure and that's (imo) one of the main reasons to market at all:

    1. To help people (clients, supporters and enthusiasts) who didn't know about you to discover you.

    2. To reinforce your brand to people who may have heard of you but haven't connected with you yet.

    3. To keep supporters updated so that they can help you by sharing information with others who would be interested to know about you.

    Finally: The headline is indeed provocative, but a bit misleading. A more accurate headline for the article would have been "Blogs Wane Amongst the Young As They Drift To Sites Like Twitter." The article itself definitely makes this point at the very end of the piece, stating that blog use is rising in adults over 34 (5-6%)... rising more than it's waning in the 18-33 cohort (-2%).

    It's only among actual teenagers that there has been a significant drop.

    But the goal for using social media at all amongst teenagers is still weighted heavily towards "keeping in touch with friends and family," which we know from our own research Facebook has taken over from blogs, and serves as its main function.

    Despite the provocative headline, this story is actually more measured than a lot of the "blogs are dying" pronouncements we've seen since the Pew report. So, I appreciate that.

    But as someone who is 34+, I have to say nothing can make you feel more obsolete than realizing that the habits and behaviors of your entire cohort -- of people spanning more than 30 years in ages, and across three generations (Gen X, Young Boomers and Older Boomers) -- is meaningless in the face of what those young 'uns do.

    And if I were such a young 'un?

    I wouldn't appreciate the assumption that somehow my online behaviors and needs will stay static. That I'd never develop a desire or need to present my work via a professional platform. Or want to support a cause or political stance via a social change platform. Or need to pull together a support community around me while going through something as universal as parenting, via a personal platform.

    I don't buy it for a second. Do you?

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    Wednesday, December 29, 2010

    Geoff Livingston goes after "vote for me" syndrome

    On a blog devoted to Bad Pitches, Geoff Livingston explains why he won't be voting for all the people begging him for votes...for conference panels, for blog awards, for "influencer" lists, and so on.

    He says: "For the magazines or products behind it, this is complete self-promotion--and for the request-makers, it feels like desperation!"

    I do feel his pain, absolutely.

    Not even bringing up their egregious Influence Project, but when Fast Company decided to shift from doing their own reporting and homework to name their "Top 25 Women in Tech", as they've done for the past two years, to running a popularity contest instead, I was deeply disappointed. Traditional media goes on and on about the value of "real" journalists and "real" journalism, But I guess they discovered the lure of getting others to do the work for them...and of racking up meaningless, valueless page views in so doing. [Full disclosure: BlogHer was on this list the past two years, and I fully expect us to drop right off of it, given we haven't "campaigned" at all.]

    But I also know why organizations enable community voting...reasons beyond the obvious answer, which is: Link bait.

    Sometimes organizations actually want to honor and act on what their community thinks or likes or supports. And whether you provide a public forum for the community to share such thoughts, or ask for those thoughts in non-public ways, it's unrealistic to think that people won't want their community to support their efforts. For many in the BlogHer community, their communities want to support them...and might feel disappointed not to have the opportunity.

    I also know why collecting such support publicly makes sense for organizations. It answers one of social media's clarion calls: Transparency.

    But it also can set up popularity contests...which are by very definition exclusionary and antithetical to community-building (if you care about building a diverse community, of course).

    Geoff asks for a better way to crowdsource, and I'm with him on that. BlogHer has tried a variety of ways to collect community opinion, and none seem perfect.

    But he's also right that the crowd needs to take a harder look at their community and how they communicate with them...because in all likelihood, their community has radically changed since just a few years ago.

    Back in the day (oh, say, two-three years ago) your community may have mostly been found via your blog and the blogs of those you followed. I'm not going to get all crotchety old man on you and call it the good old days, particularly since I'm a full-on Twitter fiend, but it is likely that people who read your blog chose when and how to read your blog. Whether they visited your site or subscribed in a reader, blog reading wasn't quite a real-time, always-on kind of activity. And it's quite easy to scan headlines, especially via a reader, and decide what topics interest you and dig deeper to read about them.

    Fast forward and now our communities also encompass Twitter and Facebook.And now the headlines pretty much *are* the content, what with that pesky 140 character thing.

    And, at least on Twitter, your community is very unlikely to be going to the landing page of each person they follow and see what they're up to one by They're going to dip their toes into the river of updates coming at them via a Twitter stream or Facebook news feed.

    Twitter and Facebook are also both more conducive to casual banter and keeping in touch with those with whom you have looser ties.

    If you blog about the contest your blog is participating in and ask your readers for support, you are more likely to be reaching people who have a vested interest in you, your success, your blog, your talent. And let's face it: You'll probably blog it once. Maybe once again when voting comes nearer to a close. You probably take great care that your blog content is of value to the reader community you know you have and balance any self-promotion with a whole lot of the kind of content that got you those loyal readers to begin with.

    If you FB or tweet the same plea, however, you're likely reaching that reader community...PLUS a bunch of people who don't really care. I don't mean they don't care in some harsh heartless way, I just mean that they're expecting your banter and bromides in that forum...they may not even really follow the more substantive expressions found on your blog.

    And then add this little wrinkle: Because the stream of information is so full and goes by so fast, you start re-tweeting or posting your little plea more often...maybe once a day. What's the harm? OK maybe once for the morning crowd, once for the evening crowd. So what?

    Well, before you know it you're begging...frequently and annoyingly. The "harm" is that you've crossed a line into spamming. Maybe not for everyone. And maybe most folks are like me and just turn a blind eye to the content that doesn't interest me. "Take the best; leave the rest", that's my motto.

    But it's also likely that a whole lot of your friends, fans, followers and readers think exactly what Geoff is expressing...and just aren't taking the time to tell you or tell the world.

    So we, as an organization, keep looking for that better way to crowdsource that Geoff asks for.

    But we, the crowd, can also be a part of the problem or the solution.

    Which are you?

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    Monday, December 27, 2010

    The early days of Google, and hiring women

    Enjoyed this brief interview with Google's Marissa Mayer in Newsweek.

    She was Google's first woman engineer, and she shares a couple of insights about their early days and how they overtly and openly considered and talked about hiring women as an asset and important to their team. They also made sure at least one woman was on every interviewing team...a tactic I absolutely love.

    Apparently they didn't worry about securing "diversity instead of quality", which is my number one most-hated straw man argument and bad excuse.

    There's a little unintended irony, though, as Mayer talks about not encountering obstacles as a woman engineer in her career. I'm quite sure she didn't (and it didn't hurt to be at one place for virtually all of her adult career, and being engineer #8 to boot).

    But right there in the comments of Newsweek, only a half dozen of which are on display on the landing page, you see one comment about her physical attributes and another asserting she got her job because of her looks.

    As I tried to say on Facebook, before it cut me off without alerting me that it was going to:

    Sad and unsurprising how some of the comments, of course, are talking about Mayer's looks and physical attributes. Mayer says she never encountered obstacles being a woman...and I'm sure in her direct interactions she didn't. But it is an obstacle. It is a problem. It is an issue that no discussion of a prominent woman in tech can happen without this being an accepted part of the discourse. And it is *is* obviously accepted, since it is not deleted.

    Mayer estimates the percentage of women engineers at Google is at about 20%. I'm going to guess the percentage of Google users who are women is at about 50%.

    This interview, which I generally love, and the ensuing comments, which I do not, are part of the reason BlogHer launched our new conference for women in business and technology.

    So, if you're a woman with a big idea in tech or media that you want to see implemented...whether by your own start-up or your place of employment...check out BlogHer|bet (Business, Entrepreneurism, Technology) this March in Silicon Valley. Mentoring, Networking, Programming...all designed to send you out from the conference with your next steps to make your big idea happen.

    More info here.

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    Sunday, December 05, 2010

    Time Magazine on the "Sheconomy"...was there an "aha moment"?

    A couple of weeks ago Time published a piece: Woman Power: The Rise of the Sheconomy.

    The first two pages of the three-page article states something I actually thought was obvious, well-known, old news: Women control household spending. Even in segments thought to be electronics or car repair.

    The third page is about how the advent of social networks has harnessed women's buying power and their natural inclination to compare notes and turned their individual spending power into collective commercial power.

    Again, possibly I'm a little more up on that since, well, that empowerment is what BlogHer's publishing network business is partially built around. But even so, I didn't think this was news either.

    The description of this intersection is, also not surprisingly, somewhat condescending And more than condescending, Time continues the mainstream media's ongoing habit of focusing on this myth that bloggers are just waiting for the next company to bring down with their "wild west" mob mentality:
    "A cross between a girls' night out and the mother of all organizing tools, these networks have given women the kind of muscle that can be a blessing or a bloodbath for those it's flexed upon."

    Interesting that Motrin Moms is still the go-to anecdote, given it was two years ago.

    Ad it looks like Old Spice may be the positive go-to anecdote for at least that long!

    Bottom line: I don't feel I learned something new in the article...and excitement over the "sheconomy" is somewhat tempered by reading a post from six months ago by BlogHer' Feminism editor, Suzanne Reisman: "Why I'm Boycotting the "She-conomy". Turns out that women may indeed be making gains at the top, but we also comprise the majority of those at the bottom of the economic pile.

    As Reisman points out:
    "I want to be excited about women's economic security, I really do. It's just hard for me to get behind these indicators of progress when they don't include most women. If that's what the "she-conomy" means, I'd rather try and improve the regular economy for everyone."

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    Saturday, October 30, 2010

    One week free preview week of Blogging Masters Telesummit

    Last month I was interviewed as one of 13 participants in something called The Blogging Masters Telesummit. We talked about BlogHer, blogging, building online community...we talked about a lot actually!

    For one week you can listen to any of the interviews for free at this URL.

    Here are all the other participants and their topics:

  • Denise Wakeman – “The Viral Blogging System: 4 Simple Ways To Multiply Your Blog Content And Spread Your Message Virally Throughout The Web”

  • Gideon Shalwick - “The 7-Step Video Blogging Blueprint That Helps You Dominate The Search Engines, Drives Massive Traffic To Your Blogs, And Positions You As The Industry Expert”

  • Jack Humphrey - “How To Become A Local Business Celebrity Through The Power Of Blogging That Attracts All The New Clients, Sales And Partners You Can Handle”

  • Regina Smola - “How To Secure Your Blogs From Hackers, Spammers, And Viruses That Will Save You Time, Money And Maybe Even Your Business”

  • Barry Chandler – “How To Use The Power Of Blogging To Quickly Go From Being An Unknown In Your Industry To The Go-To Authority That Everyone Wants to Partner With”

  • Chris Cree – “The Beehive Method: The New Media Marketing System That Gets New Clients And Prospects Buzzing About You And Swarming To Your Business”

  • Vinil Ramdev – “How To Quickly And Easily Dominate Your Niche By Creating An ‘Authority Blog’ Without Needing A Big List, A Big Name Or A Big Social Media Following”

  • Erik Deckers – “The Ghostblogging Method: How To Outsource Your Blogging To Others In Order To Save Time, Get More Clients, And Build Your Blogging Empire”

  • Kary Rogney – “The Tribe Syndication Method That Builds An Extremely Powerful Blog Following And Drives Massive Amounts Of Traffic To Your Websites”

  • Bill McRea – “The 5 Step Autoblogging System That Quickly Multiplies Your Blog Marketing Empire And Makes You Money On Autopilot”

  • Matt Trainer - “The Autoblogging Blueprint: A Proven Step-By-Step Blogging Strategy To Making $1 Million Per Month In The Next 180 Days”

  • Rich Brooks - “How To Quickly And Easily Turn A Boring Business Blog Into A Powerful Lead Generation Machine That Brings You A Flood Of Highly-Qualified Prospects Like Clockwork.”

  • So, if you're interested in improving and amplifying your business blogging, take advantage of the free week to listen to all these folks. After next week, the sessions will be available for sale only.


    Sunday, October 17, 2010

    The Anita Borg Institute is hiring

    I've been on the Board of Advisors for the Anita Borg Institute since early 2009, I believe, and I'm proud to be associated with another group whose mission is so well-aligned with BlogHer's: To create opportunities for women. In Anita Borg's case, they're focused on women in technology. And they have strong ties to the corporate and academic worlds.

    The Institute is now hiring three key positions, and each of the jobs sounds pretty exciting. It's great to know the org is growing, even in this tough economy, so if any of these jobs sound like they're up your alley, I hope you'll go for it!

    Marketing Manager, email if interested.

    Manager, Research and Executive Programs, email if interested.

    Development Director, email if interested.

    Good luck, and maybe we'll be working together soon :)

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