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Learning Fast About Online Marketing in 2009

Filed under: Advertising,RSS — Marshall Kirkpatrick @

Many readers here are interested in promoting their work online using new social media. Last month I put up a post on ReadWriteWeb titled Top Marketing Geeks Make Their Predictions for 2009. I thought I’d post it here as well for readers who may have missed it, along with some other resources.

Check out the 25 comments on the original post as well for some interesting discussion. Some readers were very critical and I’ve tried to offer some critical thoughts as well, but it’s clear that marking on the web is here to stay. Hopefully it will be based on a greater degree of authenticity, usefulness and innovation than marketing generally is known for.

For more personal thoughts on new media marketing, check out two of my old posts here Social Media for Marketing and Thoughts on Product Launch Promotion. Both are a touch out of date but should be a good source of some still-valuable resources and advice.

Speaking of resources, if you’re interested in new media marketing you may appreciate this OPML file of Chris Brogan’s favorite marketing bloggers to watch in 2009. It’s a special file of all their feeds filtered to deliver just their unusually popular posts (filtering performed by Postrank). You can download that file, then import it into your RSS reader and you’ll be kept super smart all year long. I’ll be keeping an eye on those feeds, myself.

If you’d like a short, concentrated injection of smarts along similar lines, check out my consulting services, just like these happy people have.

And now the blog post I promised…

marketinglogo.jpgWill 2009 be the big year for corporate transparency, for a global conversation – perhaps for bargain basement online marketing tactics instead of old-school huge commercial campaigns?

Peter Kim, a former Forrester analyst now working on stealth enterprise software company, recently polled 14 of the most high-profile thinkers about social media marketing and asked them what they expected to see 2009 bring. The end product was an attractive 23 page PDF that we’ve embedded below, but we thought we’d pull out some of the thoughts we found most interesting for all you skimmers out there.
(more…)

Thoughts on How to Be a New Media Consultant

Filed under: Advertising,Blogging,My Services — Marshall Kirkpatrick @

I just got a very nice email from someone who found my blog and is interested in moving into consulting as well. I sent them the following thoughts that I think could be of interest to more people than just that one aspiring consultant.

The keys in my mind to being a good and employed new media consultant are:

1. Learn how to do cool new things and blog (well) about them.
2. Let people know that you are a consultant.
3. Make sure you deliver clear value to clients that extends beyond your time with them. Search engine optimization and pageviews are the most common things that consultants try to deliver to clients, but I prefer aiming for education, excitement, comfort with new tools and a sense that they can now be full fledged actors in the social media market themselves. My past clients are now happily reading OPML files I built for them, they see the value of and aren’t afraid of Twitter and they have more skills to use in their own work than they did before we worked together. (They are also doing more complicated things like this, in some cases.) I always aim to over-deliver and I don’t worry about giving clients almost everything I know – this market is too new and too big to worry about teaching yourself out of a job.
4. Stay visible by consistently sharing valuable information with other people. I don’t do that so much on my personal blog these days, but I do it on Twitter, on ReadWriteWeb.com and in face to face conversations.

That’s what’s worked well for me so far. Do other consultants reading here have other high-level points that they think are important to communicate?

I didn’t mention it in that conversation – but I do provide training and advising to other consultants sometimes. (As well as working on projects with clients together.) If you’re a consultant interested in some training on the particular things that I’m good at teaching – feel free to drop me a line.

One of my fantasies for awhile has been to hire other consultants for an hour of their training in whatever they do best. I think it would be awesome to do that once a month. Maybe a trade would be good. Oh, the possibilities are nearly endless. It’s an exciting time to be learning about the internet.

Prioritizing your reading list and doing rapid niche research using AideRSS

Filed under: Advertising,Blogging,Knowledge Management,Reviews,RSS,Search — Marshall Kirkpatrick @

AideRSS is a service I’ve wanted to make creative use of for some time. It’s neat – you supply an RSS feed and it ranks posts in that feed in order of reader engagement. The company is Canadian, too, and Canadian internet stuff is totally hot.

AideRSS scores each post by the number of comments it received, number of times it’s been tagged in del.icio.us, inbound links from a number of blogsearch engines, etc. Thankfully, it scores those posts relative only to other posts in the same feed. So while a post on TechCrunch with 20 comments might score a 5 out of 10, for example, a post on Marshallk.com with 20 comments would score a 10 out of 10! Unfortunately, and this is a big dissapointment, AideRSS is just plain wrong far too often – reporting, for example, completely inacurate numbers for several posts in my feed. Come on AideRSS team, fix these problems. So it’s nothing to bet the bank on, but there’s some real potential here and as a rough guide it could still be useful today. I’ve contacted AideRSS to ask why they are getting things wrong as often as they are.

That’s all well and good, it’s a good way to see which of your posts are getting the most reader engagement (at least via these gestures being measured) and the widget that AideRSS provides is a neat way to highlight your most popular posts – but I know there’s a lot more that’s possible here.

Tonight I tried something unusual, at least it seemed that way to me. I plugged the RSS feed for items I’ve tagged “toread” in del.cio.us into AideRSS. It worked! It appears that the service figured out which were the hottest items in my feed. What a handy way to prioritize! I could grab scored RSS feed from AideRSS, including “good posts”, great posts or only the best posts. Here’s a widget displaying the best posts currently in my “toread” feed, according to AideRSS.



Isn’t that cool? Obviously it would be nice if users could define the number of characters and items displayed in that widget and the metrics used don’t capture anything personalized – but nonetheless, I think there’s some real potential here. (The numbers fetched aren’t always accurate, either – hopefully that will improve.)

Here’s an idea I thought of previously: say you’re looking to identify some of the top blogs in real estate. (Woo hoo!?) I would recommend starting at http://technorati.com/blogs/real_estate and sorting from authority. There’s an export in OPML link there, which unfortunately will not give you anything other than the top 10 blogs in that category no matter what you try to do, but you can import that OPML into AideRSS. You can then see the hottest posts in each blog, in other words: you can get a feel for what that blog’s community of readers takes interest in. So Technorati+AideRSS = easy identification of the biggest interests of top niche bloggers’ reading communities. Sounds invaluable to me.

These are the kinds of ideas I help come up with and implement with my consulting clients; though we wouldn’t want to depend too much on a tool that’s as loosely accurate as AideRSS is today.

If this general idea is of interest to you, perhaps more for personal use than marketing purposes, see also Rogers Cadenhead’s recent post on APML – Attention Profiling Markup Language. I tagged it in my blog and shared items feed, which you might like to subscribe to.

Thanks for reading.

“Should I write an article on Wikipedia?” Blogher as case study

Filed under: Advertising,My Services,Wikis — Marshall Kirkpatrick @

I noticed last week that there was no Wikipedia entry for Blogher, the women-centric blogging conference, blog aggregator and now VC funded company.  Shocked, I twittered that this was the case and my buddy Jeremy Pepper replied asking whether he should write an article.  

This was the second time in a month someone has asked me a question about whether they should be the person to write an article in Wikipedia so I thought I’d share some of my thoughts here.  A Blogher article in particular makes an interesting case study.

Wikipedia has great Search Engine Optimization, can be a good traffic generator and is a good reference source.  People like to have an entry in Wikipedia for their projects for a variety of reasons.  In this case, there ought to be a Wikipedia page about Blogher just so that people can go to this widely trusted source to learn about the project. Who should start writing that page, though?

In general – here are a few things I think are important when considering whether you ought to be the person to write about something in Wikipedia.

1. Conflicts of interest: If you have an antagonistic relationship with something, you probably ought not write about it.  If you have a financial interest in that subject’s success, I am of the belief that it may be ok for you to write about it so long as you practice…
2. Disclosure: Make sure your user page identifies who you are and what you do for a living.  Being open makes a world of difference.
3. Value add: In addition to a neutral point of view, make sure your post adds important value to the Wikipedia community by being truly informative.  Also, the more you have contributed to Wikipedia in general the more any specific contribution will be respected.  
4. Time invested: In some cases, like if a PR agent is writing about their client, I would recommend that in addition to disclosing the fact that you are a PR agent on your user profile page, you should also consider editing the article live in Wikipedia.  Multiple edits over time, even if from the same user, demonstrate time spent on the article in Wikipedia and help demonstrate respect for the platform.

To answer Jeremy’s question about Blogher I first searched in Technorati for his name and the word Blogher, to see what his relationship with the group was like.  He had written some supportive blog posts about the event, which received favorable comments from some people I understand to be leaders in the Blogher community.  I know that Blogher is generally supportive of participation by men.  I also did a google search for this query: site:http://blogher.org “for wikipedia.”  I found one forum thread about the fact that there is no Wikipedia article for Blogher.  The conversation seemed supportive of the idea, people were just wondering who should write it and how it should be done.  The thread seemed to taper off without any clear answers for that question.  That lead me to believe that there wasn’t any clear reason why the Blogher community did not want an article about Blogher in Wikipedia.

I suggested that Jeremy write one up and post it while logged into a Wikipedia account that was clearly tied to him personally.  That way people could see who was responsible and contact him to discuss it if they wanted to. He hasn’t written that article yet, but that’s ok. Eventually someone will write it and I think this is a good opportunity to talk about these questions.

If he does write this article, here’s how I suggest this and other articles begin.  In addition to maintaining a “neutral point of view” and sticking to the facts, it’s important that an article be long enough to satisfy the community of Wikipedians who dislike very short articles.  I’ve had articles be deleted because they weren’t substantive enough.

Since Blogher is an active online community there’s an opportunity to make sure that participants there know that a new Wikipedia entry about them has been posted.  Emailing them or posting to the Blogher forum could be good ways to let them know. Once they know about the article, they will have a chance to edit it as they see fit and help watch in case this new article gets nominated for deletion, as does happen frequently.

Finally, I’d suggest that if you add a new entry to Wikipedia that you check back daily for the first week after posting it to see if any conversation about the article has been posted or if the article has been nominated for deletion.  You can subscribe to the RSS feed for your entry’s history, but there doesn’t appear to be any way to track by RSS whether your article has been nominated for deletion.

If it is nominated for deletion, there will be a discussion and vote.  In that case, you can let people know and provide the URL for the voting page so they can participate in the conversation and respond to any concerns that the Wikipedia community may have.

Those are some of my thoughts about writing articles on Wikipedia.  There’s no guarantee of success in Wikipedia, but if you make a good-faith effort to contribute value to the community (with any interests of your own weighing less heavily than the interests of the community) then odds are good.  You’ll learn more about online social media from the experience of engaging, so in most cases I say yes – write that article.  

I’m going to email a link to this post over to one of my Wiki-loving buddies and see if we can flesh out answers to these questions all the more.

Thoughts on Differentiation

Filed under: Advertising,My Services — Marshall Kirkpatrick @

Saying the following to a consulting client – what do you think?

“Being in close to a service and seeing all its differentiation is not the same as having that differentiation be appreciated in the market – at some point it just doesn’t matter to most people. Offer an API, partnerships with a number of other cool startup contendors, and a different aura (respecting privacy better than Google for example) and you can at least be much more high profile – perhaps moving from being seen by casual observers as an also-ran to being a Golden Boy.”

Like Marc Andreeson, I think the web is not in a bubble. Everyone from consumers to industry bloggers to VCs – heck, developers and your own company, can use some solid strategy for how to deal with the fact that many of us are doing things that basically look identical from a standard distance away. I think APIs and partnerships are great things to think about in this regard. The parties who engage on those levels will take the time to notice how you are different, and the end result will be a much more visible differentiation as a result of your roll in the larger ecosystem. Del.icio.us and Technorati are examples of this, Twitter is too.

Zooomr Relaunching Live by Video

Filed under: Advertising,Reviews — Marshall Kirkpatrick @

It’s 3:45 my time and photo sharing site Zooomr is about to launch a new version of their service. How are they doing it? With a live video chat on UStream! This is a model of transparency for the future. If you come by in time, they are responding to the text chat going on at their UStream page. They’ve also recorded a short video about the new features they are adding.

These guys work hard to build relationships with their users all around the world. They are doing a lot of things that I really admire.

An interface available in more than 15 languages, free pro-accounts for bloggers who write about them, rapid feature development – the list goes on and on. Way to go, guys.

I had the UStream player in question embedded here, but it was leaking audio when my pages loaded.

Social Media for Marketing: What We’ve Done at SplashCast So Far

Filed under: Advertising,Blogging,My Services — Marshall Kirkpatrick @

My new pal Baratunde asked on Twitter last week for info, examples or anecdotes about companies using new online social media for marketing. I thought I should type up some thoughts about what we’ve done at SplashCast so far because I think we’ve done a particularly good job of it. I thought I’d post it here in hopes that others would find it useful as well. It’s rough around the edges but I thought not posting it would be a lost opportunity.

If you haven’t checked out SplashCast yet, you can see just one example of its many capabilities in the podcast player on my sidebar here.

SplashCast’s Use of Social Media for Marketing

SplashCast has hired two experienced social media producers, myself and Alex Williams [that’s Alex on the right], founder of the Podcast Hotel series of podcasting industry conferences. One of our big responsibilities is what I call in-house content production to engage with existing social media communities.

I write blog posts that are accompanied by channels of mixed media content compiled using our company’s product. Alex publishes interviews from events using SplashCast.

My primary media production activity at SplashCast is similar to what I’ve done when working for content companies (TechCrunch, AOL Social Software Weblog, NetSquared and others). I try to break news, publish mixed media content related to existing online discussions and otherwise add value to the media landscape for readers interested in the emerging online video market. The goals of this work are to drive traffic the SplashCast website, demonstrate the potential of our publishing tool and ultimately to encourage people to sign up as SplashCast publishers themselves. Plus it’s a whole lot of fun for me.

The primary ways that we work to build readership for our blog are these:

*Daily blogging, not only about company news but interesting industry news as well. Some of our posts have been deemed interesting enough
to receive thousands of visitors from StumbleUpon, for example.
*Sending trackbacks to other blogs, where our posts that are related to theirs are linked for their readers to discover.
*Leaving thoughtful, value-ad-focused comments in response to posts on other blogs, where our names are linked to the SplashCast site added in the URL field of the comment form.
*Putting relevant bloggers at the center of our strategy for company and new product release PR. That strategy lead to more than 250 blog mentions within 48 hours of our launch, for example.
*Attending events and building relationships with other social media producers, who will think of us later when writing about related subject matter.
*We also use Twitter to stay abreast of what other people are doing and keep friends up to date on what we’re doing at SplashCast.
*Engegement with and inclusion in relevant topical aggregators. This is a big part of what we do. For example, a Google search of Techmeme.com for SplashCastMedia brings back 1,400 results and we’ve now made 15 appearances on the front page of Digg. Both easier said than done, but both great sources of traffic and lead generation.

All of these steps could have been done well or poorly, but because we have two experienced social media producers in house we believe we can effectively communicate in such a way that our commercial message is more implied than it is overbearing. (For another perspective on appropriate marketing communication in new media, see this very smart post written by Jeremy Pepper.)

The high level themes of our work, I believe are the following:

*We find creative ways to participate in conversations of general interest. In particular, we let people publish aggregated collections of mixed media, so we watch the news and see what would be interesting to publish collections like this about. When the DoD banned social media sites from official networks, we published a channel of videos and photos tagged Iraq in YouTube and Photobucket, for example.

*Timeliness has been important – we work hard to cover news as early in the news cycle as possible. That’s a whole other topic that requires its own strategy.

*Helping people do their own work better. This is becoming cliche in the web 2.0 world, but it bears repeating. Our posts on things you can do with mixed media RSS, ways you can tag videos and how you can build a successful website around aggregated media were all big hits.

*Finding the balance between marketing and conversation. It’s no secret that the SplashCast blog is trying to convince people to use our product, so we don’t hide that. We do however try to make our posts compelling enough to be interesting on their own merits, regarding general interest topics, whether you care to try SplashCast or not.

As a result of implementing this strategy before, during and after our initial launch, we had more than 1,000 publishers register for an account at launch, we doubled that in our first month to 2,000 and doubled it again in our second month to more than 4,000. SplashCast player loads are now aproaching 5.5 million.

As a social media service company, it also makes sense for us to do a lot of in house content production so that we know the application, its possibilities and performance issues, as best as possible. That said, I believe that any company can benefit greatly by adding social media participation and content production to the center of their marketing strategy. The use of social media has proven enormously helpful to SplashCast.

The roll of social media in a market sector in a relatively commoditized sector is something else that could use some further consideration.

I hope you’ll stop by SplashCastMedia.com, see this work in action for yourself and create an account to publish your collections of mixed media. If you would like my help in coming up with a strategy like this for your company, drop me a line. I can be reached at marshall@marshallk.com

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