Update: This post was linked to by the BBC today, it’s the second time I’ve had a pull quote linked on the Tech section and I always get the most hillariously hostile comments! This one’s my favorite from this thread: “Blogging is like wearing a coat that says I am Billy No Mates.” Is that adorable or what? Much nicer than the really crude stuff I got last time. Keep up the good work BBC readers!
I was honestly woken up last week by the fear that I would stop blogging because Twitter is so much more compelling. The desktop tool Twitterific even more so. That’s not entirely the case, but I have been Twittering many a tweet lately. I thought it was stupid when I first heard about this short messaging system but now I love it. I won’t write an ode to twitter here, but just wanted to note my current affinity for very short form writing. Believe it or not, launching the blog editor page, coming up with a title, spell checking, chosing a category – is just more work than I want to do to share many short thoughts throughout the day.
I do want to write a long post here asap about media embargoes. I think they’re fascinating and the one we’ve got at SplashCast on an announcement we’re making tommorow morning has been an interesting experience to see unfold. So I’ll post some thoughts about that here soon. Thanks for stopping by!
To follow up on my last post about how blogging may have benefitted the just acquired Hitwise, I left the comment below on a post at Gigaom today about the rapid growth of Scribd. (Om: “What we have heard from multiple and reliable sources that the company was offered $5 million on a post money valuation of $10 million, but passed on that offer. “)
What’s Scribd? It’s an embeddable document viewer, particularly for PDFs! How exciting is that? Actually, it can be pretty exciting. The company’s leverage of social media, Digg specifically, is similar to but above and beyond what we’re doing at SplashCast. This is really forward looking, paradigm changing stuff. Below is my comment on Om’s post and an example of a Scribd embed in action.
One thing Scribd is doing is hitting the front page of Digg with incredible frequency. They are posting really timely, funny, crowd-pleasing PDF content (who knew such a thing existed??) and they are getting piles and piles of Digg. We at SplashCast are using a similar strategy – using content delivered through our service to participate appropriately in social media conversations – but while we’re very proud of our 14 Digg front page appearances in the last 4 months, Scribd is the leading example of this tactic. They hit page one 9 times in one month and had more total diggs in that time period than all but 9 other domains on the web. (for stats see http://elfurl.com/qvabu )
Heck, we even provide similar functionality for PDFs, but online humor isn’t my strong point and the people at Scribd are leveraging the heck out of it for big traffic and visibility. I’m sure this is only one of many factors, but the strategy does work – even for user acquisition. We’ve doubled month over month since launching and I’ll bet Scribd is seeing really awesome growth in new users. It’s awesome that some of that visibility is translating into potential financial support. It reminds me of the boost Hitwise can’t help but have gotten from blogging (see http://elfurl.com/c486t ) To some degree, these are stories illustrating a new paradigm: vendors who participate in conversations can really benefit from it.
Megacorp Experian has acquired Australia based website traffic analysts Hitwise for $240 million, it was announced today. That announcement really caught my eye because Hitwise has done an incredible job of using blogs and participating in social media to raise the company’s profile. I can only assume that this has helped it raise revenues and thus contributed to its acquisition. What other traffic stats company puts out really interesting, timely data for free on a regular basis? What other companies write blog posts that hit the peak of Techmeme? What other traffic companies provide the fodder for thought provoking, informative posts on blogs like TechCrunch, Gigaom, Mashable and many, many more – on a regular basis?
Three cheers for these folks coming down off the “I see the traffic, now here’s a quarterly press release” high-horse that their competitors are too often on. Blogger Andy Beal writes similarly this morning. “All of those great charts that Hitwise so freely provide us,” he quips, “have paid off big time for the web intelligence company.”
A Google search of Techmeme for Hitwise has 2,400 results; only Comscore can come close to that among the major traffic analysts. (The little startup I work at has 3X the number of Techmeme appearances as traffic analyst leader NetRatings, for example.) [Update: The folks at Compete.com just emailed me to point out their extensive engagement in the blogosphere. Plus, I’ll add, they advertise on blogs, which is very cool. I think their numbers are funky, but whatever, they are totally raising their profile by leveraging social media. We’ll see if they can be as smart about it as Hitwise, though.] Outside numbers tracking is a crap-shoot game, no one really trusts anyone’s methods all that much – so the best you can do is to be highly visible in a positive light.
Specifically, three cheers for LeeAnn Prescott and Heather Hopkins – two women whose ability to see what the tech world is interested in and shape the conversation by providing pertinent data, thoughtfully presented early in the conversation. Remember when you didn’t give Photobucket a moment’s thought? Guess who posted numbers about their huge market share and got tech bloggers talking about them? LeeAnn Prescott. Who blogged about it when Bebo reportedly passed MySpace in traffic in the UK for the first time? Heather Hopkins. Blog posts like this have changed our understanding of the web 2.0 market.
I’m sure the smart blogging strategies Hitwise employed were just some of many factors leading to the company’s acquisition for $240 million, but I think company blogging and these bloggers in particular deserve some serious recognition.
Hey local buddies – I want to make sure that BarCamp Portland is on your radar. It’s coming up next month. What’s BarCamp? If you’re not familiar, it’s a network of technology “unconferences” held in more than 30 cities around the world, with no preset agenda. I just put together a SplashCast channel of RSS feeds for BarCamp videos on YouTube arround the world. This should give you a taste of what it’s like.
In case you missed it (I basically did) last week was observed as Video Blogging Week 2007. The honorary queen of the event was the fantastic Irina Slutsky, whose newest project, the Vloggies Show, is not to be missed. VideoBlogging week has been a great way to take a look into the breadth of video blogging that’s going on around the web these days. It’s awesome!
Participants in the event could post their video blog episodes on any hosting service they chose and then tag it videobloggingweek2007 in MeFeedia. Pretty cool stuff. What kinds of videos were included? Well, lest you think video blogging is a small thing – there were more than 900 videos uploaded last week! Over at SplashCast we indexed the RSS feed from MeFeedia and created this crazy huge SplashCast show. It’s not all 1k videos, but it does include the most recent 168 videos in the MeFeedia feed. And, believe it or not, any new videos given the same tag will automatically appear in this show as well. So check it out to get an idea of the breadth of the participants. It takes a few seconds to load for the first time, but there’s a whole lot of video in there and after the first time you press play then advancing to other shows is very fast.
If someone wanted to put this live content on their own page they could do so with ease. Pretty cool, huh? Lots of fun video blogs here to check out. Hover over the blue “i” in the bottom left of any video for a link to its page on MeFeedia, complete with description and website links.
This is the kind of thing I took the job at SplashCast for. It’s just a preview of some incredible functionality the company is going to roll out next week. Three cheers for RSS feeds and online video!
Posted last night a profile of possibly my favorite SplashCast user – GrowingGoodness.com. Fascinating situation. This guy collected 35 “channels” of video from YouTube related to local, organic food, displayed them in SplashCast and then built an awesome site around them. The site is so proffesional looking and such a valuable resource – and the video channels are so compelling – that now people from the local, organic food communities are submitting original video to GrowingGoodness itself. I love it – I actually think it’s a great example of an emerging art form. If this sounds interesting to you, go check it out and don’t forget to visit the site’s blog. If you want to share some Digg love and get this story out to a much larger audience, here’s the link. I love stuff like this! Totally makes my job feel fun and worth doing.
Warning: Unusually mean stuff coming. Do you remember the ajax chat plug-in for blogs that launched a year ago February called 3Bubbles? I didn’t think so; unless you watch every new app closely or follow the work of old school advisor types, you probably couldn’t have cared less over the last year about 3Bubbles. “3bubbles is going to be wildly popular with bloggers,” Michael Arrington wrote in his review when the company launched. Wrong! Though Arrington’s pied piper blog post led 40 other bloggers to link to his review, 3Bubbles today looks like a cold fish. The company’s blog, linked to on the front page, hasn’t been updated in 9 months! That’s slower than TechCrunch posts in the morning! They didn’t even post about John Edwards using the service, though there’s a badge on the front page. John Edwards uses such an excessive number of Web 2.0 apps that if yours is on the list – odds are it’s not going anywhere.
Arrington was concerned that 3Bubbles might not be able to handle the massive traffic influx headed its way. He forgot to mention in the post that that traffic was likely to be dispersed across Mebo, Gabbly, InCircles, GeeSee and goodness knows how many other services just like this that launched in 2006! Man oh man did that guy give me a hard time when I worked for him if I gushed about someone without mentioning any competitors! Maybe he was just got distracted by all the players and lost his head in enthusiasm!
Why the hostility? TechCrunch is holding a contest calling people to mock the site about how how wrong it’s been about a review or market forecast. I’m still embarrassed about falling for the April Fool’s joke – so in love and respect, I thought I’d oblige! What did 3Bubbles do to deserve this mean spirited post? Nothing, really. As someone working at a company staring into the startup abyss, I shouldn’t be so nasty. There’s just no other way to participate in the contest! What kind of blog runs a contest like that?