Mike Vizard, former editor-in-chief of Infoworld and CRN, former editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise and now entrepreneurial blogger with the IT Business Edge Network, attended CSC’s Technology and Business Solutions Conference in Orlando, Florida, recently, as did I. One evening, CSC hosted a social event by the Hilton Orlando pool and Mike generously gave a couple of hours of his time to talk about the technology industry and the evolving media landscape.
Mike’s blog is called “IT Unmasked” and he definitely unmasked for me some of the mysteries of blogging today. A few of the topics Mike opined on can help all PR professionals:
Being a Denver Nuggets fan, I was recently reminded that Mark Cuban has said some off the wall things. Having said that, he often provides some very interesting and thought provoking ideas on the world of social media. His recent post in late May “Who Cares What People Write?” is a good example of the latter.
Cuban shares some interesting ideas around “Outties” (content creators that fit into professional “Outties” as well as amateur “Outties”) and “Innies” (who are “passive consumers of web writings” or consumers who “read watch and listen to the professional “Outties” and ignore the amateur “Outties”"). The idea being that professional “Outties” are generally established, branded sites with strong/large readership and amateur “Outties” are people looking for an audience (commenters, retweeters, reposters, etc.) who are creating content to be discovered. Read his post for the full scoop and he closes with a pretty interesting wrap up of the concept…
The moral of the story is that on the internet, volume is not engagement . Traffic is not reach. When you see things written about a person, place or thing you care about, whether its positive or negative, take a very deep breath before thinking that the story means anything to anyone but you.
It was also a concept expanded on by the Progress & Freedom Foundation’s Senior Fellow and Director, Center of Digital Media Freedom Adam D. Thierer. Adam’s blog does a nice job of framing Cuban’s thoughts and adding some additional parallels to them around Power Laws as well as Chris Anderson’s Long Tail theory.
I think the one area that is not captured in either blog is the importance of recognizing the conversation that is happening — whether they are driven by the professional or amateur “Outties.” While I agree with Cuban that volume is not engagement and traffic is not reach, but I also believe that all comments, re-posts, link backs, tweets/re-tweets, blogs expanding on a topic or theme, etc. (like this one) are part of the conversation that is taking place. The collective conversation is the piece that matters for brands.
A simplified example of this would be to search for your brand on Twitter and see what’s being said. One person with 15 followers may be saying something that may be able to be dismissed, but if 10, 20 or 50 people with 15 followers each are saying something, after you take your deep breadth, it may be worth taking a closer look and joining the conversation.
The role of communications is indeed changing and how we think about creating or sharing a message is something that needs to be considered. I think this is one of the key reasons companies are starting to act more like publishers or content providers — to ensure anyone (either professional or amateur) can participate in their story, share it and share their perspectives on it.
Regardless of which outtie you are thinking of or the innie you are trying to reach, always consider the importance of helping foster conversation through your communications initaitives.
So I’ve been toying around with Twitter a lot more these days. So much so, I have been abandoning my blog. I think more and more we will start to see the quality of blog posts decline with the emergence of microblogging - thanks to Web 2.0 tools such as Twitter. Twitter gives you the option to update your network/ neighbourhood on what you are doing in a mere 140 characters.
The instantaneous nature of this means that you can easily update those that are following you on what you are up to and track what others are up to as well. I was originally critical of Twitter but I am starting to find it more useful in a professional work sense. In fact, in my perception it is taking over Facebook as one of the most valuable social networking sites.
The interesting thing here for me is that you can apply it to every day work. My Twitter neighbourhood, albeit small, is a circle of PR people and journalists. The aim = to expand my small neighbourhood! Anyway, I digress…
Although many of the posts that we upload don’t necessarily provide too much insight - I find out when people need to go to the bathroom, what they had for breakfast and when they are on the train but on several occasions it can really useful. You can pick up a lead on a story that a journalist is working on, what topics he/ she covers, when he/ she is going overseas, find out what they think of products they are reviewing and reporting on, what topics light a fire under them and so forth. It’s a great way to keep your finger on the pulse and stay in contact. Now that I think about it more, I would actually compare this to LinkedIn - it seems to be quite valuable as a professional networking tool.
I’d be surprised if blog subscriptions weren’t in decline due to the rise in Twitter feeds. This has strong implications for mobiles as well. These days, new and emerging technologies are mirroring the lifestyle trends of today’s consumers’. As people want to access to real-time information from friends, access to news, entertainment, and be able to communicate from anywhere at anytime - we are finding that today’s technologies such as mobile phones and web 2.0 tools such as Twitter are accommodating these needs.
Feel free to pipe up if you have some answers because I haven’t done all my homework in this area. Are we seeing a trend now - as people become more time poor are we seeing blog posts getting shorter? Rather than well-researched, quality blog posts - are these increasingly becoming short excerpts and randon bursts of one’s thoughts?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this…
Imagine my surprise when I arrived at work only to find a few blog post links in an email mentioning that I ranked number 29 in the Top 50 Australian Marketing Pioneer Blogs. This said list was compiled by Julian Cole. See below.
|2||Servant of Chaos||9||5||8||6||6||5||39|
|3||Duncans Tv Adland||6||5||7||6||8||5||37|
|5||Better Communication Results||8||3||6||5||6||6||34|
|7||Small Business Branding||7||3||0||8||7||8||33|
|14||Business of Marketing & Branding||6||5||6||4||4||1||26|
|16||Australian SEO Blog||4||4||5||4||6||1||24|
|17||Wide Open Spaces||8||5||4||3||3||1||24|
|28||Mark Neely’s Blog||7||3||2||2||3||0||17|
|31||In my atmosphere||6||4||0||3||2||1||16|
|34||Pigs Don’t Fly||6||4||1||1||2||0||14|
|36||Australian Small Business||6||3||0||0||4||0||13|
|37||The Jason Recliner||4||4||1||2||1||1||13|
|42||Zero Budget Marketing Ideas||6||3||1||1||1||0||12|
|46||Arrow Internet SEO||7||2||0||0||1||1||11|
|47||The Sticky Report||7||0||1||2||0||0||10|
|48||Naked Communications-The Flasher||8||0||0||1||0||1||10|
|50||Send up a larger room||7||0||0||1||0||0||8|
The blog list was compiled using a set of criteria, including Google Page Ranks, Technorati Blog Reactions, Alexa page ranking and Blog Lines. Additionally, a subjective ‘pioneer’ score was also included, measuring the ‘blog’s ability to have pioneering thoughts about marketing’.
The Top 50 Australian Marketing Pioneer Blog list will appear in the August edition of Marketing Magazine. It will also be updated every three months, with the next update this September.
I try and give my blog as much love and attention as possible, but unfortunately find that my time tends to get cannibalised elsewhere. This new found, albeit short, burst of fame is exactly what I need to give me that extra bit of motivation to make sure that I am regularly contributing my thoughts on the latest emerging technologies and Web 2.0 developments and how these are impacting on the marketing and PR disciplines.
Here’s to crawling up the ranks Stay tuned for the next instalment!
David Carlson: Social Media and Traditional PR